This journey has been a fun one, after my last wedding of 2016 I have photographed about 75 weddings (crazy right?!)! With many weddings under my belt, and after being a bride myself as well as a bridesmaid, I have learned a thing or two about wedding days! There are so many things that can truly help your wedding photographer crush it on your wedding day! No doubt, they'll crush it no matter what, but these little tips will help them even more! Not only will your wedding images be so much more, but hopefully you'll learn a thing or two to truly help you enjoy your wedding day experience even more!
Those are some strong promises. But I'm a firm believer in the following tips & I am so pumped to help each of you along in your planning process. If there's anything I learned as a bride, it's that all the information and decisions to make can get so overwhelming. As always, feel free to ask any questions, any at all & I'm happy to answer them! I definitely don't know all the answers, but I'll do my best to help!
Let's get right down to it! These tip are in no particular order, and these are not the end all be all by any means. These are just a few items that I have found to be particularly helpful along the way!
Tip #1: Request a full wedding gallery from potential photographers.
Surprisingly, I don't get this request very often! Many photographers websites or social media platforms show a beautiful highlight real, and let's be honest, those are so fun to look at and swoon over! When searching for your dream photographer, it is a wonderful idea to request a full wedding gallery. With a full gallery, you are able to see a wedding day from start to finish, getting ready through the grand exit. It's a perfect way to see how your photographer runs a wedding day, uses light throughout the day, and gives you a wider picture of how their work looks from start to finish!
Tip #2: Do a hair and make up trial prior to the wedding day.
To some, this is a silly one, but I cannot stress this enough! My sweet brides who decide to do bridals with me have a hair and make up trial on the day of their bridals. It's a two for one deal! However, if you opt to not do bridals, I highly recommend to have a trial for hair and make up to ensure that you truly love both on your wedding day.
This will eliminate any stress during the getting ready portion of your day, as well as enabling you to build trust with your hair and make up artist! On my own bridal portrait day, I learned that my curls didn't hold as well as I wanted them too. So on the wedding day we changed a few things and my hair was perfect & held its curl all day long. I wouldn't have known that without a trial!
Tip #3: Set up a well lit & clutter free getting ready space.
Oh man, this is one of my favorite tips! Your getting ready space can totally change the look of your getting ready portraits! My style is light and airy, so I prefer a clean space with lots of windows and natural light. I can't speak for all photographers, but I bet most of them would say a resounding "amen!"
Whenever you and your girls arrive to your getting ready space, make one room your clutter free room. Hang your gorgeous dress in there and keep it closed off to the overnight bags, snacks, and changes of clothes. That way, when you go to get in your dress you have a clean & clutter free space for your portraits!
Tip #4: Have your details ready ahead of time.
Two to four weeks before the wedding, I love to send my brides an email with all the last details and information on my end. This email includes a little tidbit about their bridal details! I request that they put their shoes, earrings, jewelry, garters, rings, and invitation suites in their shoe box. This helps you get organized and ensure that no details are left behind on your wedding day. Plus, it has all of your details in one place for me when I arrive! Double win!
Tip #5: Feed your people (no really)!
This is a silly one, but y'all, make sure to feed your bridal parties lunch while getting ready! Such a small detail that often gets overlooked (totally forgot this on my own wedding day, OOPS). My sweet bridesmaids had breakfast at our bridal breakfast, but we didn't really eat until we got to the church around 3pm. At that point, they were having to walk down the street to Jimmy Johns in their dresses to grab a quick sandwich before the ceremony. Seriously, bless each of you haha!
Having lunch for your bridal party ensures that no one gets hangry! Also, it helps to keep people around once we get to the reception for full bridal party photos, there's less of a chance of loosing someone to the cocktail hour table if they've had something to hold them over! Also - as a photographer I request to eat at your reception the same time you do. No one likes to be photographed with a mouth full of food, so I like to eat when you do because nothing is being missed! I pick up my camera as soon as you're finished eating & get right back to it!
Tip #6: Florals can make all the difference.
I was never a flower person until I started photographing weddings. When I was planning the bouquets and boutonnieres for my own wedding, I remember being so overwhelmed because I didn't know a thing about flowers! Pinterest helped me a ton, but even more so, our florist helped my vision come to life. I remember the moment my bouquets showed up while we were getting ready, they were so full of color and so beautiful, I loved them!
The simplest of weddings can truly be brought to life with beautiful flowers. Even if you aren't a flower person, I can guarantee that you'll love your bridal party photos even more with some gorgeous blooms!
Also, y'all, I cannot tell you how many of my sweet brides have shown up to their bridals with a bouquet that they flat out didn't like. Or, the bouquet trial isn't exactly what they had envisioned for their flowers. Bridal portraits offer the perfect opportunity to have your florist do a trial run for your flowers. Even if you don't do bridals, I strongly suggest doing a bouquet trial to ensure they're exactly what you want. Yes, it costs a little extra, but 8 times out of 10 it is so worth it because the bouquet needs a little tweaking before the wedding day!
Tip #7: Communicate & plan your ceremony start time around golden hour.
Prime time for bride and groom portraits is about an hour before sunset. It's important to take the time to look up the sunset time for your wedding day (hey hey farmers almanac) & plan your ceremony accordingly. During the summer, a 5pm ceremony time is very common & it allows a generous amount of time for family formals, bridal party, and bride and groom portraits before sunset! This time of year, sunset is around 5pm, pushing ceremony times up to 3pm to ensure for plenty of light.
Thinking this through prior to sending out your formal invitations is crucial. With your ceremony starting at a prime time, this ensures more optimal light for not only your ceremony, but also you bride and groom portraits! Planning your schedule around natural light is something your photographer can help you with! I always work with my sweet couples to plan their wedding timeline. You can view my mock schedule here, each schedule is specific to each wedding day, but I always use these as a starting point!
Tip #8: Prepare for family formals ahead of time.
Another thing I love to communicate with my couples is planning for family formals after the ceremony. I have typed up a document that I send out 2-4 weeks before the wedding and simply have them type up their specific list, you can view that document here! This ensures that no family member is left behind, and helps keep us organized and efficient when photographing family formals.
This part of the day can be the most stressful if it isn't planned out well. Make a list (and check it twice, haha) and make sure to share it with your family prior to the wedding day. Many times, my couples share this list with their family at the rehearsal dinner. That way, each family member knows they are needed and don't disappear after the ceremony during portraits!
Tip #9: Make a back up plan.
I specialize in outdoor weddings, so I have definitely experienced all sorts of crazy weather on a wedding day! From rain, to annoying mist, to intense winds, to gorgeous sunshine, I've witnessed it all! Y'all, weather changes and things happen, but it's so outside of our control. Make a back up plan just in case, even if that means planning for a tent or a back up space for your ceremony in the off chance that you have unfortunate weather. Also, prayer goes a long way y'all ;)
It had rained on and off during Kathleen and Jake's wedding day (pictured below), causing them to have to move their outdoor ceremony indoors. But hey, no rain was going to steal their joy that day! They pressed on and handled the situation with grace. The rain eased up in time for portraits and I mean.. dang!
Tip #10: Don't sweat the small stuff!
Seriously though, don't sweat it. Just like the weather, wedding days can be unpredictible. Stuff will happen, and handling those situations with patience and grace will make all the difference. My prayer is that you wake up on your wedding day feeling calm, relaxed, and confident. You're marrying your best friend, don't let anything steal your joy that day, and remember that you will be married at the end of it all!
I hope some of these little tips help you along the way during your planning process! But even more so, my hope and prayer is that you enjoy this process. It goes by so fast, it's so fleeting, and at times you'll wish it away so that you can just be married already. Please know that you're not alone in feeling the stress & feeling overwhelmed. It is so normal to feel that way, even during a season that should be joyful and exciting. I wrote a whole blog post on the blunt truth behind all of the bliss when Braden and I were engaged, and those words still hold so much truth (view that blog post here).
At the end of the day, your wedding day will be absolutely perfect for you and your husband. No matter rain or shine, Jesus planned it out so long ago. He has orchestrated every single detail, but even more so, he has bound you with love within marriage. Wow, what a gift!
Here's to planning marriages that are more beautiful than our wedding day!