I feel like most people have been to a wedding at some point in their adult life. You’ve experienced a wedding to some degree. Even those that have had their own wedding have experienced a wedding on a whole other level than as a guest attending a wedding. However, nothing comes even close to experiencing a whole wedding as a photographer. We experience every little detail, every accident, everything that can go wrong (or even right). I’ve collected a number of pieces of advice for couples when it comes to planning their wedding and when it comes down to advice on their actual wedding day. This advice has come from a combination between planning my own wedding and from experiencing weddings while photographing them. I’ve made a list of these pieces of advice below in hopes that it helps couples preparing to or in the process of planning their wedding.
General Planning Advice
1. Make a List
Be like Rory Gilmore and make a list. Make lists of your must have items for your wedding from most important to least important. Rank your vendors for the most important to YOU. This can actually help you to create a budget to make sure the most important things are top on your list and paid for with your budget. This is typically a preliminary step in planning because you can start to make lists of different vendors as well. Make a list of your top choices for DJs or Photographers or Venues. Write these things down. Trust me, it’ll keep you organized.
2. Make a Budget
Budget talk is never a fun thing. However, it is so important to budget finances. It’ll help you to see the big picture when it comes to your money. Making a budget for your entire wedding will help you to organize things and figure out what you can afford and what you can save up to get. Put all the things you made in your list in your budget and figure out what it all will cost, then figure out if you can afford it. Most vendors have their set pricing when it comes to packages and what they sell their products and services for, but some vendors are willing to work with you so that you can afford them. If you have a budget, it really helps vendors to figure out if you’re going to be a right fit.
3. It’s YOUR Wedding Day!
I know wedding planning can be very stressful. Whether you are using a wedding planner or if you’re DIYing the planning yourself it can be stressful and overwhelming. You will have family and friends coming at you will suggestion after suggestion and they definitely mean well because they want to help you. However, do not ever forget that this wedding is YOURS and what YOU want is so important. If you want to do something non-traditional and crazy, but your family isn’t quite sure about it, do it. You don’t want to have any regrets after about your wedding day and this is supposed to be a once in a lifetime event.
4. Don’t Sweat the Little Things
On your wedding day, there will be something won’t go the way it was planned. It just happens. It’s best to just brush it off and not worry about it. The view point I had on my own wedding day was that if something goes wrong, I can’t change it and I can only move forward so there’s no point in worrying over it. I was photographing a wedding at one point and I was with the bride while she was getting ready. Her mother came in saying that the sign stands they had for some of the signs were broken so they didn’t have anything to put the signs on. They were all worried about what they were going to do so I turned to the bride and told her “Don’t sweat it. Your guests won’t even know that those signs were supposed to be there. So they won’t know any different”. It helped to ease her mind.
Advice From a Photographer’s POV
A lot of the advice below will definitely help you help your photographer out.
5. Make a Timeline
It is so important to actually write out a timeline for your wedding day. If you type it up and print copies and give them to people who may need them (family members, wedding party, vendors), it will definitely help everyone know where they need to be and when they need to be there. A timeline helps to reduce confusion and miscommunication. I, personally, give all of my client couples a timeline to fill out. My timeline is definitely centered around the photography portion of the day, but it can also help to create a starting point if you want to create a mega timeline for everything. My timeline goes over venue names and addresses and times in which different events during the day happen. It also allows the couple to give us everyone they wish to have in their formal portraits to help to get through the list a lot faster on the day-of. It helps us, as photographers, and our clients make sure we’re all on the same page before their wedding day even happens.
6. Groom and Groomsmen Getting Ready
If you are having a second photographer and they are to document the gentlemen getting ready, we always ask that the men have their pants and shirt on before we arrive. Do not put your ties, cufflinks, or jackets on. Not putting these items on really helps our photographer to be able to capture all of these details before you’re completely ready. We can get some fun images by doing it this way. We also ask that the rings are with the Groom and Groomsmen as well before we arrive. This way the rings are together and we know where they will be so that we can quickly photograph them. They can also be with the bride and bridesmaids as long as they’re together, but we just recommend they are with the groomsmen because typically the best man is the one that holds onto the rings.
7. Bride and Bridesmaids Getting Ready
Before we arrive we ask that you get your dress, your jewelry, your shoes, and any other items together so that when we do arrive, they’re ready for us to take and photograph. We like to get these items photographed first. I don’t like to promote being a stickler about timelines and sticking to them because I will say, you will be late all day. However, if you kind of time everything out centered around your hair and make-up artist and your photographer during this time, it will help to keep everyone on time.