You fell in love. Then came the ring. And now comes the wedding. Congrats on your engagement! You’re about to embark on something wonderful and beautiful, but first, you need to make it official. Arriving at the altar should be a special moment in your life, but often, most couples find that just getting to the wedding day can be difficult and stressful. Planning a wedding may come easy for some people, but for most, it ends up being a hair-pulling experience. I’ve been through it myself, and trust me when I say that it is better on the other side 🙂
While I can’t necessarily make all the decisions for you and plan your seating chart or pick out flowers, I can give you some useful tips for how to make sure your wedding day is memorable, runs smoothly, and that you have some fabulous photos as well. I want to exceed your expectations
1. Location Location Choosing where you will have your ceremony and reception is usually one of the first things you’ll need to decide. Rustic, urban, garden, elegant, or scenic – there’s a lot more than you think! Make sure you also think about parking, traffic, and transportation time between locations if your ceremony and reception are at different locations.
2. Dressing room I usually start photography coverage in the dressing room with the ladies. This helps me tell the story of your day. Make sure you pick a room with plenty of room and lots of light. Tidy up non-wedding items like purses, jeans, and shoes. Put flowers in vases and light some candles. This space is just as important as your ceremony or reception, and having a beautiful peaceful space to start your day will lower your stress level a lot! If you’re hoping for pictures of the guys getting ready, make sure the space is close by to make sure everyone is ready at the same time.
3. Pamper Yourself I encourage you to look your very best, though today probably isn’t the day to experiment with a new hair color or make up. Get your hair and make up done at a salon, and they will ensure you look your very best. I also encourage you to go for a trial run of your hair and makeup, and if you want to get the most bang for your buck, schedule your e-session for the same day.
5. Have a back up plan You’ve planned a beautiful outdoor ceremony. But what if it rains? Make sure you have a back up location, just in case.
6. Be yourself The more you are true to yourself when you plan your wedding day, the more you’ll feel right at home. If you don’t like fancy or formal, then go for something more low key. If you want to party all night long, then get an awesome DJ or band. Know what you like, and go for it. If certain wedding traditions are not your thing, that’s fine. When it comes to photography, encourage your guests to be themselves as well. Let kids cut loose and skip the forced say-cheese smiles.
7. Make sure you eat Get some food in you! If you have an evening wedding, don’t skip lunch. Keep in mind, you’ll be standing for photos and a ceremony, and skimping on food leads to weak legs and potential fainting. Also, remember to chow down at your reception and enjoy the food and cake. You paid for it, so enjoy!
8. Think about the details. It’s all in the details. Thoughtful details like incorporating your mother’s locket in your bouquet, having antique napkins at your reception, or his favorite color for the groomsmen’s chuck taylor shoes – there are TONS of ways to personalize your wedding day with little details. I definitely encourage you to think about how the little details will reflect your personality and style.
9. Ditch the receiving line There are many ways you can greet your guests, but this one is by far the slowest. If you feel strongly about interacting with each of your guests, I recommend greeting each table at your reception.
10. Keep it simple Unless you’re an over-the-top kind of person, keep things simple. Remember what this day is all about – proclaiming your vows before the most important people in your life. This is the start to your marriage, and so consider it part of the foundation. What will you remember in 10 years? 20? 50? Those are the things that are important.
11. Be comfortable Bridal gowns and tuxedos are not the most comfortable apparel, and neither are fancy shoes. Bring along a pair of comfy shoes, or consider a change of clothes even. I had a friend change into 1940s dress and heals and do a swing dance for their first dance!
12. Formals First I highly recommend family and group portraits happen before your ceremony. Gathering 20+ people together can be quite chaotic, so make sure you have a designated time and location and that it is communicated clearly with all participants. By doing formals earlier in the day, you’ll have more time to spend with your guests and enjoy your reception. Family formals usually take about 35 minutes if everyone is ready to go. Bridal party portraits can take anywhere from 30 mins – 90 mins depending on the size of your bridal party, and if you have more than one location in mind.
13. The Shot List If you have a must-have photo you want taken, let me know ahead of time and I’ll try my best to make it happen. I have a list of group photos I take for formals that include standard groupings that I’ve found work for most weddings. However, if there are any family relationships or dynamics that you think will complicate the portrait time, please let me know!
14. Alone Time During the Golden Hour Photographers refer to the 2 hours before sunset as “the golden hour.” This is when the natural light has a soft glow and portraits look stunning. I encourage couples to plan their ceremony time so that it starts 2 hours before sunset, and then to plan some alone time alone immediately following for some special portraits together, which usually happen during the first part of cocktail hour. Not only will you have some beautiful photos, but you’ll also have some much-needed time to connect together after your ceremony.
14. Consider a First Look Did you know that the tradition of waiting to see each other at the altar dates back to arranged marriages? It was to insure the groom wouldn’t back out if the bride was ugly! My, times have changed!
Seeing each other for the first time should still be special, so I recommend couples do what I call a first look. A first look can be at a church, garden, or even at your home. A first look is your chance to see each other before your formal and group photos. I’ll capture those first moments you see each other, while still remaining out of the way so you can have some time to yourselves. This will enable us to take photos of you as a couple, and of your family and bridal party, before your wedding ceremony. This means more time with your guests and that you’ll be less pressed for time.
If you choose not to do a first look, that is perfectly okay! Just know that you’ll have less time for couples, family, and bridal portraits.
15. Trust me I’ve photographed many weddings, and experienced my own wedding day. Relax and enjoy your wedding day. Celebrate with friends and family, and have a good time. The more you just enjoy yourself and experience your day, the more I am able to capture the true moments that matter most.