How to plan for the best wedding ever!
Few things in life make us as happy as a happy couple totally in love and enjoying their big day! On the flipside of that, it can really cast a shadow on the wedding day when the bride or groom are stressed out! As wedding photographers, we have the ultimate insider look during the day as the majority of our wedding day is observation, so we get to see everything! Between last year and this year our team will have shot over 100 weddings and there are some definite trends we’ve picked up on to help you have your best wedding day ever! These 10 tips will help to ensure that you spend more time enjoying your wedding day with the people you love most!
One of the biggest differences we’ve noticed with couples who enjoy their wedding day the most vs those who appear to be a little more on the stressed side of things, is that they planned ahead! By planning ahead, you allow yourself the ability to hit the proverbial cruise control heading into your wedding knowing that everything is taken care of and done, the only thing left to do is get married and party! When you start the planning process late, you have to force a lot of things into a short amount of time like meetings with potential vendors, site visits, tastings, possibly dance lessons, and everything else that comes with daily life on top of planning for a wedding. Not only does this make you feel rushed but often times some of the best vendors book well in advance of 6 months to a year so now your options are limited which can also cause some stress. Take it from us, start planning your wedding at least a year out and if you’re finding you have a crazy schedule like work, school, sports, etc. consider hiring a professional wedding planner to help you with the process!
Don’t get caught up in the little details
Mason jars or wine glasses? Should the table linens be baby blue or sky blue? Should we have the caterer bring 3 types of BBQ sauce or 4? (the answer is 4 by the way) Do you see where I’m going with this? One of the things we get to see as we help our couples with the planning process is sometimes you get so focused on one thing that leads to another, that you can easily forget the big picture before you know it. It’s definitely not something you want to concern yourself too much with on the big day. As long as your guests are having fun, and more importantly you are having fun, everything else will always work itself out.
Hire a professional for your music
Whether you decide to go with a DJ with a full set up or a live blue grass band, hiring a reputable professional can really help your wedding day go as smooth as possible. It can provide just the right ambiance for your wedding ceremony, and plenty of fun for your reception afterwards! Especially if you want to dance at your wedding and you want your guests to join you, having a music professional can make or break your reception. One thing a lot of people don’t realize as they are going through the planning process as well, is your DJ will often times help coordinate much of the reception in terms of tempo, breaks in the action, and fun games for you and your wedding guests to participate in! Plus, if you want your family and friends to fully embrace the wedding and have fun, it helps to not have them constantly running back and forth to the Iphone connected to the speaker system to change up the song every other minute. It never fails, usually you end up with a group of 5-10 people chilling around the phone or lap top (insetad of the dance floor) all night as you can imagine, there’s no flow to the evening and they never let an entire song play through!
Invite the people you want to be there
This may sound like an obvious one for those in the beginning of the planning process, but for those that are already full speed ahead, it can be harder than you think, especially if your parents are helping pay for a large portion of the wedding or you live in a smaller town where ‘everybody knows everybody’. I will tell you that the weddings we’ve most often seen the brides and grooms having the most fun at are the ones when they’ve invited exactly who they want to be there and not surrounded by dozens of people they may not know or have only met once and mom wanted to invite them. It creates this presence of awkwardness and on one of the biggest days of your life, who wants to feel like a stranger at their own wedding? We maintain friendships with many of our clients long after the wedding day is over and the thing we hear consistently and most often about ‘any regrets they may have’ is inviting too many people that they didn’t really know. When asked why, they usually respond with something along the lines of “I didn’t want to feel bad for not inviting…” Remember, this is your day, have fun and surround yourself with the friends and family you want to be there!
Make sure to do a test run with your hair & make up
This may or may not have crossed your mind, if it has, your instincts were so right! If you haven’t definitely consider this option, even if you have to make time/a special trip to get it done. Many of the hair and make-up artists we work with are masters of their craft and execute to perfection on the day of. However, there have been times we’ve seen a bride absolutely lose it before the wedding because someone could not get her hair and make-up right. To be completely honest as someone on the outside looking in, in all of these instances, the hair and make-up looked great however, it wasn’t specifically what they were wanting, only to find out last minute, it wasn’t something their hair and make-up artist could do. It’s your big day, make sure you look your best, and make sure you look how you want! Plan ahead and hire a professional willing to show you what they can do beforehand! Sidebar, this will also help you gauge about how long hair and make-up should take for all of your bridesmaids so you can effectively plan your timeline.
Give your mom something to be in charge of, but don’t let her be in charge!
Moms are the best! They give us life, care for us, bestow their wisdom upon us and love us unconditionally J so this is not a knock on moms, more so it’s a what to watch out for. Generally there are two types of moms that will go to a wedding. One is relaxed, calm, having fun, enjoying all the festivities around her and most of all she is filled to the brim with joy to see her daughter/son tie the knot! Then there’s the other type of mom that shows up to a wedding. She’s critical, nothing the venue staff does is right, to her the vendors could always be doing a better job, and though she has taken it upon herself to take on the role of day of coordinator, it feels more like she’s the day of master sergeant. From her perspective she is just trying to be helpful to make sure the wedding goes as well as possible, from everyone else’s vantage point, she’s bossy and abrasive. If you’ve read through both descriptions, you likely already know which one of these your mom falls under. If it’s the latter, fear not there is still hope! As we alluded, mom just wants to make sure you and your soon to be husband or wife have the best day possible and she wants to feel like she’s contributing. Give her something to be in charge of! Some moms are very hands on and love the DIY décor or floral arrangements. Some are very social and love to greet everyone coming in to make them feel welcome, whatever it is, make sure to give her some responsibility so she feel s like she’s in charge of something. She’ll be so focused on this, it will let everything else around you flow as it should!
Have an unplugged wedding
Trust us, it’s so much better this way! Not only do you not have to worry about guests getting in the way and ruining once in a life time moments during your wedding ceremony, but throughout the night, people can engage with each other and socialize. Too often now at weddings people are sitting at their tables updating their facebook statuses all night and more recently we’ve noticed, many guests can’t even dance anymore without having their phone out the entire time taking selfies while dancing or going facebook live for 10 minutes straight on the dancefloor. Your photographer will also love you for this! Last but not least, we can’t stress enough how many times people (bless their hearts) are oblivious to the fact of where they go with their bodies because they are living through their phones. We’ve even had it to the point where parents of the bride and groom have literally stepped in the way of one of us or our team members to take a terrible at best I phone shot. Probably the worst situation we’ve run into was when a venue owner stepped in front of one of our shooters with his Ipad during the first kiss of the wedding ceremony. We share this to say, most people think it won’t happen to them, but unfortunately, it happens. Don’t let it be you, go unplugged :)
Make time for golden hour couples pictures
Most wedding photographers are going to be well versed in the art of using flash when things get dark or creating fun shots and toning the light down a bit when it gets real bright and harsh. But if you are looking for those gorgeous soft lit photos that make up the majority of our portfolios, then totally make time for these! Not only is this the perfect time to slip away from the rush of the wedding and enjoy a few moments with each other, but this will help assure that you’ll have some beautiful couples photos from the wedding. It’s ideal to schedule these somewhere in the hour leading up to sunset. Generally when we work with couples we try to only take 15-30 minutes to do these as most of the awesome couples we work with want to get back to the party and value a mostly photojournalistic approach to their wedding day, so this gives us a huge window to squeeze these in without throwing off the schedule!
Make sure you eat
One of the things we’ve seen (and it totally happened to us at our own wedding) that can really disrupt a good mood is not having time to eat. “WHAT!?” Sounds crazy right? Odds are you’ve spent countless hours planning or collaborating to pick and choose all your vendors and catering is one of those wedding vendors you probably put a little bit of extra research and time into. Making sure the menu options fit your needs and budget and also making sure it’s delicious! We know all the effort that can go into narrowing down just the right one for you and the crazy thing is, sometimes the bride and groom don’t always get to sit down and eat. Odds are you’ve likely been running around all morning pre-ceremony with butterflies, thus not really allowing you to nourish yourself. I cannot tell you how many times after the ceremony and family pictures the bride and groom say something to the effect of “let’s eat!!!” lol. But what often ends up happening is you sit down to eat and before you know it everybody comes up to talk to you guys while you are at your table. Time flies by and you maybe got in one or two bites if you’re lucky and the crowd of people has finally died down and you’re thinking to yourself, “yes time to eat!” but then your planner lets you know to keep everything on schedule, you need to move on to the next scheduled event in the evening. Now you hungry, and rushed….not a good formula for enjoyment of your wedding day. From just witnessing this at many weddings over the years, we’d always recommend making at least 10 minutes of quiet time for you to eat and possibly asking your DJ to request that no guests approach your table during the meal. This usually works out smoothly and then it allows you to eat and float around the reception to spend quality with those guests after! It extreme cases ask your photographer to pull you aside for ‘pictures’ and just bring your food with you (trust us this works).
Behind all of these tips is a little bit of love. That love is for our couples, to enjoy their wedding day and remembering to have fun! Weddings have become such a big business and there’s sometimes this feeling like you have to ‘keep up with the joneses’ when it comes to weddings. At the end of the day remember, you are going to be married and that was the point of all of this. Everything else is just icing on the cake and the cool thing about a wedding day, it’s one of the few times you can have your cake and eat it too!
-Jenny & Joe