Brianna Helms Photography

Wedding Guide

Michigan Wedding photography

Brianna Helms

Welcome I'm

Thank you so much for choosing me for your wedding day! As Port Huron wedding photographers, I understand that wedding photography is one of the larger investments you're making of your wedding day. For that reason, I am simply honored you chose to work with me!

While every wedding is different, even the simplest weddings have a log of moving pieces leading to the big day. I like to help you make it all happen!

I designed this guide to guide you through your wedding planning process. I hope you find this wedding guide beneficial as it walks you through everything from the engagement session to the timeline to which fabulous wedding vendors to pick! I am so excited to be working with you and I can’t wait to get to know you better over the next several months!

Thank you again for choosing to work with me and please don't hesitate to let me know if I can offer any additional guidance throughout the wedding planning process!

Before your wedding day

I strongly believe that your wedding photographer should shoot your engagement session. It is the best way for you to become more comfortable in front of my cameras which will make your wedding pictures even better. This is why I include a FREE engagement session in my wedding packages. I've created an entire guide dedicated to outfit tips, location, ideas, timing considerations and more!


Engagement Session

Wedding vendors

Make your day incredtible 

I believe in the important role quality vendors play in creating a stress-free wedding day. I've worked with many of the vendors below and we can't recommend them enough! This is not a paid list - I chose these vendors for both the quality of their work as well as their professionalism on the actual wedding day. Click learn more!


Whether you choose to do a First Look or the traditional "no see before the ceremony" I will work with you on making sure you have the best timeline and plan for a stress-free wedding day.

If you're choosing to go traditional, you'll need two different sets of photo times: images taken before the ceremony and images taken after the ceremony.

You'll need to plan for about one hour of pre-ceremony bridal photos (bridesmaid's and bride's) and about one hour of pre-ceremony groom photos (groomsmen and groom's ) at separate times. You'll also need 30 minutes of combined bridal party portraits, 30 minutes of combined family portraits and at least 30 -45 minutes of couple's portraits after the ceremony if you're not doing any portraits together until after the ceremony.

If you're doing a first look, photos can be done all at one time, taking an average total of 2 hours pre-ceremony (although I also LOVE grabbing just the two of you for a few additional bride and groom photos at sunset!)

If you choose a traditional aisle reveal, all we ask is that you keep your ceremony time in mind when planning your wedding.

If you're planning a sunset ceremony or an evening ceremony, it's best to do all photos before the wedding, as daylight is crucial to getting amazing portraits for your families, bridal party and your couples portraits. Making sure we have enough time while the sun is up is a great way to make the traditional ceremony work.

Build the perfect 

wedding day timeline

When you book with me, I will build a custom timeline for your wedding day tailored to you. 

Timeless & Elegant

Wedding details

One of my favorite parts of your wedding day is the very beginning of the day when we photograph all your elegant wedding day details. I know these details have been carefully chosen and are very special to you! Once we arrive on your wedding day, I take about 30 minutes to style and capture those details. I recommend choosing a getting ready location filled with natural light that is clean and free of clutter!

I ask that you put all of your details in one spot for me such as a bag or a table. Some things to get together include; your rings, jewelry, shoes, perfume, invitation, veil, and other keepsakes. Please unwrap your dress but don't worry about styling it - I'll hang it in a beautiful spot!

Bridal Detail Checklist

Wedding Dress

Wedding Dress Hanger


Wedding Shoes


Rings (engagement and wedding bands)

Hair pieces and jewelry


Any other paper stationary you may have

Wedding Vow Book

Any other sentimental keepsakes you would like to include
If you have something sentimental you'd like styled with your details, I love including family heirlooms in my detail shots.

Bonus: I'd love to have a few cuts of the florals you'll be using throughout your wedding day. If your florist will supply me a small bucket of extra pieces I can incorporate those in your detail shots.

Groom details checklist

His Dress Shoes

Socks (if they're fun and special)

Cuff Links

Tie or Bow Tie

Pocket Square


His Vows Book

His Wedding Band

Anything else he'll have that is special or sentimental.

Light & Airy

Bridal portraits 

I know that on your wedding day that your bride and groom portraits and your First Look will be the most beloved images from your wedding day. But your bridal portraits will come in a close third. You’re feeling more beautiful today than ever before. You are about to marry your best friend and the person who sees how stunning you are every day.

As photographers, I love to capture those intimate bridal moments for you to remember long after the wedding is over. From the quiet moments alone with your vows before saying “I do” to your glamour shots styled in hair and makeup like you’ve never seen yourself before, your bridal portraits tell the real story of your day as a bride. Your bridal portraits will be some of the most elegant and timeless photos from your wedding day. Trust us, you are going to love these!

On your wedding day, once your hair and makeup is done and you are in your dress, I will take you aside for your bridal session. I typically spend 30 minutes shooting a bridal session. This is a great way to get warmed up in front of the camera for the rest of the photos during the wedding day. After your bridal session, not only will you feel beautiful but confident!

When it comes to choosing a location for your bridal portrait session, we recommend using locations that are well manicured, clean, and have great variety in indoor and outdoor locations. If you are getting ready in a bridal suite small or doesn’t have very many windows, be prepared to go outside for better light! But don’t worry, we won't take you very far. We want to keep your dress as clean as possible and still, get a lot of amazing images inside and outside.

Make sure to bring your jewelry, your veil and your bouquet to your bridal portrait session! It's nice to have something to hold to make your hands feel a little less awkward!

If You Are Wondering...

Is a first look is right for you?

That moment the bride and groom see each other for the first time on their wedding day is magical. And this is true whether the couple chooses to wait until the bride walks down the aisle or chooses to do a “First Look’ prior to the ceremony.

A First Look is a private moment couples choose to spend together prior to the wedding ceremony. It allows the bride and groom to come together sooner in the wedding day. Most of our couples opt to do a First Look.

While I consider myself a person who values tradition, there are definitely a few good reasons to consider a First Look. Here are 3 reasons to consider a ‘First Look’:

1. A FIRST LOOK allows for alone time during your wedding.

Once the ceremony begins, the day takes off quickly. A ‘First Look’ is an opportunity to enjoy some quiet time alone, enjoy each other’s company, and reflect on all this day means before your day takes off.

Wedding days can be a whirlwind and they tend to fly by. There’s much to do, and a lot of people to see and to catch up with. We always encourage my couples to take a few minutes every so often during their wedding to stop and soak in everything that’s happening.


When there is no First Look, the majority of the pictures have to be taken after the ceremony. Family pictures are generally done as soon as the ceremony ends because it’s the easiest time to round everyone up. Next up is full bridal party, and then bride and groom portraits. This generally runs into cocktail hour.

A First Look opens up time prior to the ceremony for full bridal party pictures and, sometimes, for a few bride and groom portraits (although we prefer to do bride and groom portraits at sunset). This allows the couple to get the most out of cocktail hour, which makes the rest of the evening feel less rushed.


If you’re expecting poor weather on your wedding day, it might be best to plan on a First Look because it gives you more options for pictures. If it is pouring rain after the ceremony, you’ll be thankful you had pictures done in advance.

And reason 3 is for all you cryers out there. If you know the tears are going to fly the first time you see your other half the day of your wedding, a First Look will give you time to freshen up before the ceremony.

First Look or not, the first time you see each other on your wedding day will be special!

Your Entire Family Together

Family Formals

Family formals are your portraits with your immediate family members. This includes your grandparents, parents, and siblings. Your family formals will be done either at the First Look location or immediately following the ceremony.

We’ll place you in the center of a large group photo and keep removing family members and switch a few closer family members in and out so we get photos of you and your parents, you and your siblings, some with the groom and your family, etc. Then we’ll repeat the process with your spouse's family. The whole thing will go quicker and smoother if you let the family know how the portrait process will work ahead of time.

I save photographing the extended family portraits with aunts, uncles, cousins, and godparents, at the reception. This will minimize the amount of commuting your guests do. When we send out our pre-wedding questionnaire, we'll ask you for a list of specific groupings, special situations (such as divorces or handicapped family members & more), but if you want to start brainstorming photos in the meantime, you'll find our typical list below.

Bride + Groom + Bride's Extended Family

Bride + Groom + Bride's Parents & Grandparents + Bride's Siblings

Bride + Groom + Bride's Parents + Bride's Siblings

Bride + Groom + Bride's Parents

Bride + Groom + Bride's Siblings

Bride + Mom

Bride + Dad

Bride + Groom + Groom's Extended Family

Bride + Groom + Groom's Parents + Groom's Siblings

Bride + Groom + Groom's Parents

Bride + Groom + Groom's Siblings

Groom + Mom

Groom + Dad

Bride + Groom + Groom's Parents & Grandparents + Groom's Siblings 

Family Formal CHECKLIST

Please note that this list is just a starting point and that we're happy to take any requested family portraits as long as time allows!

Wedding day tips

Things to Keep In Mind...

1. If you're getting married in the summer months, a "not-so-heavy" snack or lunch time before portraits is always a good idea for you and your bridal party to avoid hungry bellies and passing out!

2. If it's going to be hot, a cooler of cold waters and frozen washcloths can help keep a wedding party cool - especially if your men are wearing lots of layers.

3. Make sure and have your bouquet delivered in time to make an appearance for the detail shots and for your first look. Often they are delivered in water and need to be dried off before use. Having towels handy can help.

4. If you're planning on having a first look with your bridal party or a parent, they often feel more comfortable being fully dressed in their wedding attire.

5. If your reception is at a separate venue, add some "fluff time" so that I can run over to the venue to capture it while it's still "untouched" by guests!

6. I always recommend the bride go into hiding 30 minutes before the ceremony at the absolute latest. Guests typically arrive early to weddings.

7. To help make family portraits go smoother, it's best to have a breakdown of what portraits you'd like and it's really wonderful if both sides of the family have a chance to have their input on what portraits they'd like before the wedding. Supplying me with a list ahead of time, I can go over it and make sure I shoot things in an order that is efficient and won't leave anyone out.

8. During the cocktail hour and the reception, I'll follow you around. Anytime you'd like a photo with someone, grab my attention. I love being your personal paparazzi!

9. I'd love to help you plan your timeline. If you'd like my input, don't hesitate to email or call!

UnPlugged wedding

If you've been to a wedding recently, you may have seen a sign from the happy couple asking for their guests to remain "unplugged" during the ceremony.

And while it might seem like a strange requests to ask guests to put down their phones, there's a pretty good reason for it! You made a big investment in photography and I'm sure one of the last things you want on your wedding day is for my photos of your ceremony to be filled with obtrusive iPhones, iPads and relatives standing in the aisle with their own cameras. In order to help me do the best possible job capturing your wedding, I recommend asking guests to unplug during the ceremony.

I can't wait to start planning with you and getting to know you! If you have any questions or would like to chat, I am here for you! Feel free to email me any time at or send me a text! 2695987739

Above all else, I hope this guide helps make the process of planning your wedding details much easier and less stressful because I want YOU to have amazing wedding! I can't wait to see you soon! Thank you so much for taking the time to read through my Wedding Guide!

Thank you!!!

The                Experience


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Brianna Helms is a wedding & engagement photographer serving in Port Huron, Michigan and destination locations. Now booking 2021 and 2022 Sessions

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