WEDDING PLANNING TIPS
with love from your photographer
DETERMINE WHAT IS IMPORTANT TO YOU
So here’s the deal. Your wedding should be a celebration of your love and your commitment to your partner— that is the most important part HANDS DOWN! Figure out what that looks like to you and roll with it. That could mean the three of us go to somewhere magical to elope and then come back for a tiny party with your best friends the next day. Awesome. It could mean you want to invite anyone and everyone you know because you want to be surrounded by all the people who love you. That’s awesome too! Maybe you hate cake. Maybe you love s’mores. So do that! Maybe the idea of having all eyes on your for the “special dances” makes your skin crawl— so skip them! Or we can sneak away for you all to have a first dance in private. It seems simple, but it’s easy to get caught up in what is “expected” especially during the reception events and I am here to tell you that it only matters if you care about it— otherwise get rid of it! Think of me as your “doing whatever you want because it is YOUR wedding” coach. I’ve got your back!
I WANT YOU TO HAVE A FUN DAY
As you might have already guessed I really want you to enjoy your wedding day. I could go on and on, but know I’m going to do all the formal photos as quickly as possible so it is painless for everyone. I’ll help squash issues behind the scenes so you never knew they were a thing. I’ll be fighting for you and your priorities all day long. I also want to make sure you are comfortable! When you are shopping for your outfit be sure to sit down, wander around a bit, and see how you feel. I LOVE being able to photograph you all interacting with each other in a more natural way during the couples photos, but if you can’t move in your dress without assistance it makes that hard. I’ll say it again: this day is about you and you should do whatever you want. However, you should think about if you would rather have natural and spontaneous portraits together or a gorgeous five foot train. I can’t answer that— only you can. (P.S Bring flats in case your other shoes do you wrong.)
TIMELINES CAN BE HARD BUT THEY DON’T HAVE TO BE
Before you lose your mind trying to create a timeline remember I’ve done this hundreds of times. We can meet up for coffee or do a phone call to talk about what you want your day to look like OR you can just email me anything you have set in stone and I can send you back a starting timeline. I’ll break down the best way to spend the time you have with me while factoring in if you’ll be doing a first look, when the sunset is, the distance between venues, etc. This will give you an idea of how much time is needed from a photography stand point and allows you to have a good framework to discuss with other vendors and each other to determine a final timeline.
WINDOW LIGHT IS YOUR BEST FRIEND
Getting ready in a room with lots of windows (or at least a large window) will make your images look amazing. I try my best to turn off other unneeded lighting around the room so we don’t have a ton of different light sources, but without windows it can feel a little dark. (Pro-tip: north facing rooms will get the best light, but any windows will work!)
AIRBNB IS YOUR SECOND BEST FRIEND
Some people get lucky and have access to a large, gorgeous (and window-filled!) space to get ready in. If so, that’s totally awesome! If you don’t I STRONGLY recommend finding an airbnb rather than a hotel room. Hotels can be cramped and lack personality. Find a space that fits with the mood of your day so we can create unique & gorgeous images!
DON'T FORGET THE DETAILS
I love creating still-life style photographs of your details. Don’t forget your invitation suite! These shots do an amazing job of setting the vibe for the day. If you have all your items gathered in one spot it makes things really easy for us both! Some items I like to use for these: all the rings (wedding bands & engagement), invitations, jewelry, hair pieces, flowers, ribbon/belts, shoes, perfume, or other significant small trinkets you’d like included. It’s totally up to you, but by having access to all those small things I can work some magic. If you’ve got people wearing boutonnieres, bowties, or cufflinks I like photographing those too!
BANISH THE CLUTTER
There is nothing worse than a pile of fast food remnants, shoe boxes, tote bags, etc. in the background of all your getting ready photos. If you have access to two connected rooms make the room with the best light your “clean room” and the other room your “trash room.” All clutter can live in the trash room while you look fabulous and clutter free in the clean room.
The first look is one of the best things you can do for your timeline. We can get nearly all the formal photos done before the ceremony so afterwards you can get to celebrating with your friends and family as quickly as possible!
MORE TIME TOGETHER
It’s hard to get time together on the wedding day, but the first look allows you to have a private moment together PLUS you get to keep on hanging out leading up till the wedding. It’s win-win.
CALM THOSE NERVES
It’s easy to get stressed out on your wedding day and lose focus of what it is all about. Every single time I watch a first look I am AMAZED by how much couples just feel better. All of a sudden you are tackling any issues that arise together and all the stress and all the nerves just fall away. You’re getting married because you love being around this person— full stop!
First and foremost, you want your guests to be present in the moment with you and they can’t do that while fiddling with their camera settings. It can be really distracting visually to have a range of phones, tablets, and cameras all in the air for your photos. I’ve had people lean out into the isle as a couple was entering, exiting and even during the first kiss! It can easily ruin a photo (or at least block a preferred angle.) Be sure to let your guests know if you would like your ceremony to be unplugged with an announcement before the everything starts.
THINK ABOUT LIGHT
You don’t want to worry about squinting into the sun for your whole ceremony! Setting your ceremony spot up in the shade of a tree or with the sun directly behind you (or both) will help make the photos look better and will keep you from squinting and being uncomfortable. If you aren’t sure what would work best, just ask! I’m happy to help!
We have tons of options for your portraits together, but usually I break them up into three smaller sections during the first look, right after the ceremony, and around 20 minutes before sunset. This gives us the greatest diversity of lighting for the photos, but also each of those times just feels really different emotionally during the day. It also makes sure you aren’t stuck taking a bunch of photos in a row and are instead doing really easy 10-20 minute hangouts throughout the day. I want to keep it fun!
Another option is adding a day after session— if you have some portraits you really want done, but you know can’t be worked into your timeline this is for you! Basically we’d meet up the next day somewhere really awesome and get some more adventurous portraits than you’d be able to on the wedding day. No timelines, no worries about getting dirty, no worries about how the day will go. Just full marital bliss somewhere awesome. Let me know if this is something you’re interested in adding!
Cafe lights, candle lights, etc, all add to the mood for your photographs and for your guests! If you add enough cafe lights I can shoot without a flash which is AMAZING! I like documenting how the day actually felt - which is better done without flash. I also find it to be annoying for your guests to be hit with a bright light all night! You can get cafe lights (aka market light or globe lights) and pretty affordably ($20-$40 a string, depending on length) PLUS they would be really cute in your backyard afterwards. It doesn’t take much to light up an area— just a couple of strings!
You spent so much time, money, and effort making sure your reception decor was exactly what you wanted and I want to make sure it’s documented! This is typically best during a cocktail hour while the guests are in another area. If you aren’t doing a cocktail hour or don’t have a way to keep guests out of the space, it can also happen about 30 minutes before the ceremony. My main goal is to have 15 -20 minutes alone in the room to get your cake, centerpieces, any other decor, and those wide shots of the space! Just let your coordinator or catering team know when I’ll be in there so they can have everything finished up and all the candles lit.
I like to eat when you all eat so that I don’t miss anything. If you seat me at a table where I can have a view of the sweetheart or head table that is awesome— and really essential if you are having a served meal. If you’re doing a buffet I’ll usually go right behind the wedding party so I can finish up before any of the events kick off. If your venue counts me as a vendor sometimes they’ll insist I hide in a backroom to eat— usually after the guests, so it makes it more likely that I’ll miss something. Don’t let them hide me!
DJ PARTY LIGHTS
So colorful party lights can be really fun when you’re on the dance-floor, but they are best saved for after the special dances. Talk with your DJ and make sure they know that you’d like them to hold off until a little later on. Another heads up, those little green and red dots can make people look like they are sick or under attack— talk with your DJ or coordinator about how you’d like the dance-floor to look! Maybe it’s party lights, maybe it’s ambient lights, maybe you bring in a fog machine. You do you.
ALSO OF NOTE
If you know me at all, you know I don’t do those group "table shots" and in general leave people alone to enjoy the reception while focusing on getting those candid moments throughout. HOWEVER, if you see someone you love and want a photo with (maybe your college roommate, maybe a great aunt that wasn’t in family formals, etc.) please give me a wave and I’ll grab one for you! I don’t want you to spend the whole night posing for photos, but just because someone didn’t make it into the formal groupings doesn’t mean they aren’t important to you. I’m always happy to get those images for you (and I’m usually faster than someone’s partner struggling with the iphone in the dance floor lighting)