Photography is about capturing those honest, genuine moments in life. Callum wants to photograph the fun and happy moments at your wedding; the snorting laughter to the biggest smiles, big fat hugs to your mother crying of happiness, and everything in between. This Niagara & Hamilton Wedding Guide will give you some amazing ideas and suggestions for planning your wedding.
Planning your wedding does not have to be complicated. We are constantly updating this page to give you as much info as possible so you don’t have to spend hours on Google, and can get back to enjoying life.
Planning & Timing – The Complete Niagara & Hamilton Wedding Guide
Let’s start with timing! In situations where the venue dictates the ceremony time, it is best to start with the ceremony time and work backwards and forwards from this established point. If you control the entire timeline, we find it best to work from a preferred portrait lighting time, like a sunset.
Callum will usually arrive to capture getting ready about 45 minutes before you put on your dress. Our start time is always flexible, Callum can arrive earlier to capture more of the story if needed.
If you are having a first look. This is the next step after capturing getting ready. Callum will give you ideas of the best place to do a first look. Time dependent, you will want to be joined with your wedding party for group photographs after the first look. We can also take photos with the immediate family but again, it’s dependent on time. This whole first look process will take about an hour from the beginning of the first look. If there is enough time before the ceremony, you may want to consider doing some of your portraits then as well.
The ceremony. Arrive at the ceremony between 30 and 45 minutes early so you have cushion time before the ceremony. You will have time to relax and keep yourself hidden before the ceremony begins and this eliminates the risk of any guests seeing you.
After the ceremony. If you did pre-ceremony family photos, we will take the remaining family portraits that you would like. If you did not do a first look, we will take all the wedding party and family portraits now.
I like to send you straight from the photos to your cocktail hour so you can enjoy the celebrations with friends and family.
Portraits. During the summer, we’ll stay in the shade or we can plan to have your portraits done as the sun is starting to set. The most dramatic and romantic images come from sunset, but my role is to always make it look epic. In addition, to beautiful photos – portraits are a great time to take a minute to breathe and enjoy a little time alone.
Dancing. Usually a photographer captures the first hour of dancing, we find this is more than enough time to capture the atmosphere. If the sun is setting late or the stars are out, Callum will often grab you both for lovely night portraits when possible.
Timeline Example (8 hours):
1pm – Start of Coverage
2:15pm – First Look / Portraits / Wedding Party
4:30pm – Ceremony
5pm – Cocktail Hour / Family Portraits
6pm – Reception/Dinner Start
7:30pm – Sunset Portraits
8:30pm – Dancing Starts
9pm – End of Coverage
Timeline Example (10 hours):
12pm – Start of Coverage
1:30pm – First Look / Portraits / Wedding Party
3pm – Ceremony
5pm – Cocktail Hour / Family Portraits
6pm – Reception/Dinner Start
8:30pm – Sunset Portraits
9pm – Dancing Starts
10pm – End of Coverage
Planning For Light
Good light makes all the difference, but can be quickly forgotten. It affects much more than your photographs. During ceremonies, look at your location and anticipate where the light will come from. We highly recommend having your ceremony time as close to sunset as possible, to allow the sun to no longer be over top of your guests and wedding party. This will mean no sweaty guests, no sweaty bride, and no sunspots on either of your faces. The ideal situation is the sun behind you and the officiant, keeping the sun out of your eyes as you exchange vows and rings. If you have the choice, choose a shady location, to keep you and your wedding party cool.
In the summer, a ceremony between 4-6pm allows the sun to start to recline and give you more flattering light.
For winter weddings, consider having your family and portraits completed before the ceremony to avoid losing the available light that is in short supply at this time of year. Winter weddings mean the sunlight has disappeared by 5pm. Completing your important portraits before this ensures any sunlight keeps you warm and the pictures perfect.
Hamilton Portrait Locations
Hamilton has no shortage of beautiful locations to bring your wedding party, or just yourselves for portraits. Our favourites are:
Royal Botanical Gardens Cootes Paradise Sanctuary
+ a bunch of micro-breweries who love a good visit (Hi Grain&Grit!)
These rockstars can handle anything, and then some. You will love them!
Hamilton Wedding Venues
Niagara Wedding Venues
Vineland Estates Winery
Inn On The Twenty
Peller Estates Winery
Konzelmann Estate Winery
& if you’re looking to elope, see our guide on eloping in Niagara here!
Niagara & Hamilton Hair/Make up
Do a trial run before your wedding to make sure you love your look!
Local Dress & Suits
The Bride’s Project
Bella Mia Bridal
Down-to-earth, creative, fun and most importantly, masters of their craft.
Niagara & Hamilton Florists
Kei Muto is the gal to go to in Hamilton for floral.
Decor & Design
These DJs will keep your slow-dances slow, and your party electric. Spinning mixes of classics and modern tracks with just the right amount of class.
These foodies know how to excite your senses, and as a massive foodie, I can never recommend them more.
The Salted Pig
The Little Cheesecake Company
Niagara & Hamilton Hotels
Things To Do in Hamilton
This city has so much to offer, and the surrounding region too. Here are a few places your friends and family from out of town can check out before or after your wedding.
Dundurn Castle, Hamilton Farmer’s Market, Locke St., James St. North, over 50 waterfalls to explore, Niagara Falls & Niagara-on-the-Lake aren’t too far away either!
What To Do When It Rains
Rain is essential for the planet, and sometimes it rains on a wedding day. Haven’t you heard that rain on your wedding day is good luck? Don’t let a little rain add stress to your day; we’ve photographed lots of weddings where it rained and we will make sure your wedding day is still amazing.
You should make a back-up plan for your ceremony and keep it in your back-pocket (and a few umbrellas in a car close by!). We recommend see-through umbrellas with big ‘J’ handles which will be beautiful for photographs. If you have a rainy wedding day, the rain will add beautifully creative element to your wedding day.
Callum is a Wedding Photographer chasing people in love around the world and making photographs that stand the test of time. Growing up in rural Ontario, Callum and his partner moved to Southern Ontario to be connected with community, the trails and the local food and drink scene. You can learn more about our life here!
We hope this Hamilton Wedding Guide helped you get some ideas for your wedding day, and leave me a note if you’re looking for something specific!