Guide to a smooth Wedding Day
I love weddings! Taking a moment to reflect, It’s humbling to admit I have been active in this industry for nearly 10 years and over 125 weddings under my belt. WOWSA!
Yes, I should get a gold star. With all that I have witnessed and experienced, I could write a full book about weddings. Not necessarily how to photograph them, but how to “survive” your wedding day. Which brings me to this blog post. I’d love to share a little “wisdom” or insights if you can call it that.
I can honestly say, I’ve seen a lot of weddings done well. I’ve also seen many weddings done not-so-well. From tears during ceremonies, first meets and heartfelt moments. To screaming in my car out of frustration, venting how the day could have gone so much better, if only the couple had planned a little more. The greatest weddings are often the most humble ones. Money does not always equal great and the other way around. Small tight budget weddings aren’t always lacking – they tend to pull the most at my heartstrings.
Wedding planners and coordinators are wonderful if you can find a good one. When doing your research, find someone who has experience; ask them how many weddings they have assisted with. The one with more weddings will have the most experience to get you through even the biggest mishap. (Fingers crossed it’s not needed — but it DOES happen!) Your coordinator should be kind, understanding and BOLD. Someone who can make things happen the day of. Don’t skimp here– your day depends on it. Even if you need to hire “Aunt Mabel” explain the details, go over them numerous times, give a detailed outline of how you envision your day. Details are important.
Consider the Following:
Encourage your guest to unplug:
Take your wedding unplugged. I do include in my contract that if I’m hired as the photographer, no one else may follow me around. I do not ban other camera’s ~ as I understand the importance of the day. I know your guests want to capture part of your day also, but when all you see in the crowd is a sea of phones help up, you can’t really enjoy the expressions as you exchange vows. Not to mention, it’s so tough from my point of view to see past anything other than the oversized ipads and cell phones. I recommend taking your wedding to a new level ~ unplugged. Yes, it’s a thing. Add a cute sign to your decor asking your guests to kindly leave their phones and cameras in their pockets. Encourage them to enjoy your wedding with their eyes, not through electronic screens.
We can take this in the opposite direction and encourage guest to take pictures. TSP offers the selfie station. We love when guest take pictures, as long as they “stay out of the way” ~ snap away as an i-tographer. If you can’t beat them join them…? At your reception we set up a station where your guest can make prints directly from their phone using our wireless connection and printer. At the end of your night, you will receive a box filled with images from your event. There are always 2 ways of doing things, one way is not always right, but it’s your day. You set the stage.
Be Aware of alcohol policies at your venue:
I’m not opposed to couples and wedding parties enjoying a cocktail or a few beers; but please consider the amount and the appropriateness of the drink. A morning mimosa, a toast with wine, a mixed drink during dancing — all great things if your convictions allow. But if the venue doesn’t allow drinking or you’ve not purchased insurance to consume, along with a bartender, respect the venues space and don’t sneak it in. It’s disrespectful, and you run the risk of getting fined and your drinks taken away.
Let me encourage you that if you plan to drink on your day, please do so responsibly. I’ve seen too many inebriated wedding party attendants not “all there” during pictures, and too many slow moving brides and grooms who are unable to think clearly enough to really know what’s going on. It’s your wedding day- be present. Soak it in– fully conscious of everything. You’d hate to miss the beautiful details of this once-in-a-lifetime day.
Go through your vows ahead of time:
Go through your wedding vows, like really go through them with your fiance. Talk about what they mean to you. If it’s canned material that your officiate brings to you, please know you have every right to tweak this, or better yet, write your own vows. Too often I listen as the bride and groom repeat after the minister, only to get jumbled up on the wording because they don’t know what it all means. The wedding is about the covenant being made – make it meaningful!
Planning meal times into your day:
Carve out time in your day to eat properly. Remember your body needs enough fuel to last all day long. For summer wedding especially, please also drink enough water to stay hydrated.
Consider the “first look”:
The precious first look – possibly my favorite part of the day! It’s more common now, than what was practiced even just 10 years ago. I will always respect my couples and their wishes no matter which way they choose to schedule their day. But if you break it down and truly think about it, it can save a lot of time to set up a first look; plus all the emotionally filled images pre-ceremony. It’s always just the couple and the photographer (lurking in a corner)- nobody wants a huge fan club watching as they share their intimate emotionally charged moments. The first look is a great way to release any pre-ceremony emotions. It also sets the stage to experience a whole new set of emotions as you begin the walk down the aisle. Not to mention– we can set up the photography timeline and get the bulk of the formal photo’s done before the ceremony- which can leave more time to PARTY!
I have seen this many many times, where we just run out of time. The couple is on a “budget” and can only pay for XX time for wedding day coverage. Thus the first dance may not be covered by the photographer. Think outside the box. There is always a way to get events covered, the timeline may need to be tweaked a little. At the start of the reception, the DJ announces the couple for the grande march. As they enter the front, they can go directly into their first dance. Then eat dinner and cut the cake while their guest are finishing their dinner. Timeline problem solved. No need to wait for the first dance to happen after dinner. Of course you may need to still include the father daughter dance and mother son dance, this can occur after dinner or after the grand march. Depends on how you wish to stage this. Talk to your DJ & your photographer, they may be able to assist you in getting the most out of your coverage.
Buy multiple lighters for sparkler send off:
If you plan to have a fancy send off with sparklers; since rice is no longer encouraged due to choking hazards to birds. Please think it through and talk with your planner about how to best arrange this send off. If you have only one lighter, and you light and pass it down, the sparklers at the beginning of the line will clearly be snuffed out by the time the last ones in line are waiting to get lit. You’d think this is common sense- I can assure you, it’s not. This type of send off takes planning. The secret is to come together in the center and light all at once, or make several groups of lighters. Also be sure to buy the LONG sparklers or the Wedding Day sparklers. Be safe. Fire/kids/alcohol is not always a good combination.
DON’T OVERLOOK THESE DETAILS:
Have a Trial Run of your hair and make-up before the big day:
Please do a trial run with your hair dresser and make-up artist prior to the wedding day, so that you are not surprised with the outcome on the day of. There is never enough time to re-do one or both of these things.
Think if your hair style and how your veil will fit into your style. If you have a fancy up-do and want to show it off, consider placing the veil below the style. If you have a “bump” type style, or lots of curls you don’t want flattened, do not place the veil on top of your hair as this will flatten your curls and bumps you paid for.
Will you wear your veil all day? Is it easy to take on & off? Think about the length of your veil and all the hugs you will be getting! More often than not, I hear a little yelp from the bride because someone pulled her veil too hard. Is your ceremony outside? How will the wind blow your veil & is it secure enough to withstand the superman effect?? There is so much to think about and this topic may deserve it’s own blog.
Special Ceremony Event:
If you are having an outdoor ceremony and you want to incorporate a unity candle, sand ceremony or knot tying. Please take into consideration candles and wind are not always a good combination. I witnessed too many failed Unity Candles in the outdoor setting. You may want to consider the Sand Ceremony. BUT then again, if it rains outside your sand will become sticky and mud-like. Which may become difficult to poor into a bottle or glass vessel. The alternative is a knot tying ceremony. I have enjoyed watching this; plus you get a unique piece of artwork to display in your home. I have also witness a special hand ceremony, where everyone in the bridal party is included. The officiant will talk about how it takes a village to raise a family. It takes your friends and family to survive the “real” world. Very cool – google it.
Designate someone to steam out any wardrobe wrinkles.
Make sure someone knows how to use a steamer. Better yet, have your dress & veil professionally steamed a few days prior to your wedding.
If you must steam garments the day of, please be sure to leave plenty of time. DO NOT wait until the photographer is ready to photograph these items.
Also be sure to steam long before it’s time to put the article of clothing on, giving it plenty of time to dry. There is nothing worse than “limp/wet” dresses.
Have a Helper other than a Bridesmaid:
Some of the smoothest wedding days have been those where the bride had a help to carry her dress or flowers, lipstick, and extra hair accessories like bobby pins, hair spray and safety pins. Designate someone to attend to you, but not necessarily one of your bridesmaids. They will be needed somewhere else during this time.
Don’t forget your mom — you may wish to have a mother-of-the-bride helper. Mom’s have SO much on their plate the day of the wedding, trying to get everything perfect for their baby girl! We want mom to enjoy the day just as much as you. Designate a mom-attendant that can help alleviate any of her worries. You or your mom can thank me later.
Another thing to think about, consider who will bustle your dress. This process takes time and someone needs to be aware of the pattern of the bustle, so that you are not help up in between the ceremony and reception. This person should be near you all day – there is nothing worse that trying to track down that ONE person who knows how to bustle….. and you are stuck waiting or don’t know where they are. Thankfully if I am your photographer, I have seen enough bustles and spent enough time “under the dress” I am more than happy to assist with this process. It certainly isn’t rocket science, but I can be confusing to someone who has only seen it done 1-2 times. It’s easy to “forget” how to bustle when the time comes.
Hire Food and Cake Servers:
Please check with your venue or caterer to make sure that after you and your groom cut the cake, you have someone designated to cut and serve it to your guests. It will not serve itself. I have experienced a groom serving his own wedding cake!! He should be mingling and enjoying his party.
Yes, I am a photographer. During the wedding day I am also a hair dresser, a cake server, a dress fluffer and bustler, bartender, a sparkler-lighting assistant. I can place veils, arrange flowers and pin boutonnieres. Tie a tie like nobodies business, seamstress to ripped groomsmen pants (yes) and hem a dress in lightening speed. I can coordinate large groups, small groups all with the crack of my whip and still bring out fun genuine smiles. Wouldn’t it be nice if all I had to do was take pretty pictures of the emotions and the details of the day instead? Non-the-Less, I am there for my clients 150%. I am hired as a professional “whatever” My goal is to help make every wedding day imperfectly perfect. Now that is service with a smile.
Contact us to see how we may help you ~
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