I go to weddings. A LOT OF WEDDINGS! :)
At last count, it was close to 200. And I’ve seen everything that works and doesn’t work. Here are my top 10 tips and suggestions to help you have the best wedding possible.
1. Leave time for moments to happen. If we spend most of your wedding day racing from from location to location, event to event then there’s going to be no time left for anything spontaneous to happen… And those spontaneous events are the moments that make the best pictures. It could be a reassuring hug from your dad, grandma breaking out the moves to some music in the limo or just a quiet moment with you and your new spouse. So when you’re figuring out your schedule, drop 15 minute chunks of ‘nothing’ into the schedule…. We don’t need 3 hours for pictures or 5 different locations. We need time for people to relax and be themselves.
2. Hire a wedding planner. Even if you’re a hardcore DIY kinda girl, hire someone to take care of all the little details on the day. You don’t need to be involved in babysitting a flakey DJ or last minute seating chart changes. Spend your time and energy on your loved ones and leave the stress to a pro…. but make sure you hire an actual pro! Not your friend who loves weddings or the planner just starting out! The only thing worse than no planner is an incompetent planner! :) I’m happy to provide some great recommendations.... Cynthia or Crystal would be a good place to start.
3. Spend the money on a good photographer. I know, shocking coming from me right? But hear me out. It’s such a cliche, but like most cliches it’s true, but the only thing you will have in 20 years to remember your wedding are the pictures. The cake will be eaten, the dress will be donated, the DJ’s music will have faded. Those pictures I take will be the only thing your kids will ever know about the day you started your life together. I know it’s easy to get wrapped up in the ‘things’ about a wedding, especially since photography is the one thing your guests can’t see (and be impressed by!) on the big day but it’s really, really, really important. Ditch the stretch limo you’re only going to sit in for 20 minutes. Scale back on the wedding favours that 90% of the people drunkenly leave on their table anyways. Spend the money on what matters.
4. See each other, and take most of the portraits, before the ceremony. I know your mom will probably hate this... but honestly? It makes the day sooooo much better! Why? Couple of big reasons… first, you get to see each other earlier in the day so you can relax. Second, it makes the scheduling so much easier for your guests. Instead of them having to amuse themselves for 3 hours they can go straight to the cocktail hour and enjoy themselves.
5. Lighting. Remember back in my 3rd point where I talked about not spending money on things other than photography? yeah, ignore that when it comes to lighting. If your venue offers uplifting, pin lighting,spotlighting etc etc…. GET IT! It makes a huge difference to how your wedding will look in both pictures and to your guests.
6. Delete your Pinterest. No, seriously. Delete it. Your wedding is your wedding, there’s no point in trying to make it look like somebody else’s. Embrace you and your own quirky sense of style. Besides, 90% of the stuff you see on Pinterest is from styled shoots. What’s a style shoot? It’s a fake wedding set up by people in the industry to create content for wedding magazines and blogs. No wedding actually looks like these shoots and they just create unrealistic expectations for real brides. When I photograph your wedding I'm going to find the amazing moments and beauty unique to that day.
7. Smile. Yes of course it’s your wedding day and it’s going to be one of the happiest days of your life but if you spend the entire day worrying and stressing about all little things it’s going to show in pictures. This is another big reason why should hire a planner (see point 2!). Smile, laugh, cry and everything will work out. Something will go wrong during your wedding. Limo is late. Power goes out at your house. Bouquet isn’t exactly what you wanted. But I always say ‘If that’s the worst thing that happens, this is going to be a great day!’.
8. Talk to your officiant about pictures. I can’t tell you the number of times where a couple has assured me that their priest/minister/officiant is cool with pictures and then 5 minutes before the ceremony starts I’m giving a draconian list of restrictions about what I can’t shoot, where I can’t shoot from and when I can’t shoot. If you’re ok with this, then I’m ok with this but too many times it comes as a complete shock and the couple is disappointed with not having great pictures of their ceremony. If you’re looking for an officiant that does an amazing job does a great job working with photographers then I’d recommend going with Martti and his team over at KettleCreekWeddings.com
9. Take 5 minutes for yourself. During the reception and sneak away with your new spouse and go for a little walk. The time away from the hustle and bustle will do you good and it will give you a chance to reflect on the day and soak it all in.
10. Invite only the ones you truly care about. I know that you’ll be getting a lot of pressure from parents and friends to invite so-and-so and so-and-so's best friend but unless that person is really an important person in your life… ditch them. Every B list person you invite to your wedding means that you get to spend less time with the people on your A list and those are the people that matter. Those are the people, and the time you spent with them, that 20 years from now will be the memories you cherish.