Read vendor review
This is important. Anyone can put on a good face or give a good phone call to book a client. Be sure to read reviews on all of your vendors, especially the ones you will be working with all day. Yelp, Facebook, The Knot, Wedding Wire, word of mouth… all of the above will help ensure that you inevitably end up with people you like and want to be around on your wedding day.
read your contracts
Contracts are boring. No matter what the contract is for, it’s boring. But you must read them. As a photographer there are so many small details I have had to include in my contract for the safety of my business as well as details that secure my ability to do my job during a wedding day. Read all of the details, even the fine print. There is nothing worse than receiving an email a few months down the road stating that you have done something which breaches a vendor's contract. We know it’s rarely malicious, but you don’t want any legal issues after the big day.
guests + families
guests with cameras
We all know that Uncle Bob and Aunt Sue want to get THE BEST photograph from the ceremony. The one shot that they think nobody else will capture. So they stand in the middle of the aisle with their 2005 cell phone, their iPad or point-and-shoot camera, and block everyone’s view. This is also including the photographers’ view.
It’s not rude to ask your guests to please put their cell phones and camera’s away until after the ceremony. Have your priest, officiant, the groom, or a guest announce just before the ceremony begins that they want everyone to enjoy the ceremony, be present, and how you promise to share the professional pictures with everyone later on. Or better yet, have your florist or planner design a pretty sign at the entrance to your ceremony stating that you’d like all guests to enjoy the ceremony without their electronics. Otherwise the best pictures we may be able to capture of you walking down the aisle will have your family and friends, along with their cell phones, lining the aisles and blocking the best view for both the photographer, groom, and all of your guests.
prioritize budget for vendor
When choosing vendors and details for your wedding day, prioritize. Everyone wants the best of everything, but for most people that isn’t completely feasible. Decide what your #1 priority is. If it’s flowers, find your number one florist and make that your top priority for your big day. If it's photography, find that one person that you know will capture your day exactly how you have been imagining it.
Here is a website that will give you the average cost of all wedding vendors based on zip code. Enter the zip code of where you are getting married and you will see a full breakdown of the average pricing for each. This will give you a realistic idea of what you can expect to pay - *www.costofwedding.com*
be sure you like your photographer
Your photographer is going to be in your face most likely more than anyone else (after your makeup artist leaves). We will be all up in your space from start to finish (Partner In Crime). Make sure you like us! An engagement session is a great way to get to know one another and also see how you will work together before your wedding day. If you don’t want to opt for an engagement session give your photographer a call, Skype with him/her, or get together for coffee. It’s nice to have a familiar face to help you throughout the day and it will also relax you much more.
share details with your family
before your wedding day
Before your wedding day your photographer should be sending you a “Shot List” or something of the sort. This is a standard list of all the family and bridal party images that will be taken on your wedding day. You should add and remove any images you do or don’t want taken and send back to your photographer. This is to ensure that your photographer captures all of the formal images that you want throughout the day. We all know Mom wants a photo with the bride, groom and grandma. These are the images outlined in your Shot List (refer to above). Talk with your parents and families before the wedding day and make sure you notify your photographer of any shots they would like taken as well. Assure your parents that all of the photos you have requested will be taken and they can relax and enjoy the day.
ask to see a full gallery
When hiring a photographer ask to see a full wedding gallery from start to finish. As business people, we show off our best work. But let’s face it, every image can’t be magazine-esque so they don’t get posted on our social media outlets and website. By seeing a full wedding from start to finish you’ll have a solid idea for that particular vendor's style.
save your feet
Beauty is pain, we all know this. However, there is no reason to be in pain during your entire wedding day just because you want to wear pretty shoes. Check out "Pre Heels" (Amazon.com or at Walmart for $15). This is a spray for your feet (put on the tops and bottoms) that helps your feet not to slide around in your shoes which drastically cuts back on foot pain. POINTER: It will dull your nail polish so be sure to throw a paper towel over your nails before spraying. It also has a strong smell that lasts a minute or so, it's best to spray this on your feet outdoors.
trust your photographer
You are paying a lot for your vendors. It just so happens that your photographer will be working with you most likely the most on your big day. Prior to your big day the two of you should have a full timeline, rundown of the day with locations, transportation routes, as well as a Shot List. A Shot List has all of the family and bridal party formals for your photographer to check off. This ensures that every important formal photo is taken. Trust that they will capture these images for you. You are paying them enough, you shouldn’t have to worry about the small details. You should be hiring them based on loving their work and trusting them, so let them do their thing.
less can be more
Especially with the current styles in the wedding industry, you don’t need to have sparkle on every chair, flowers in every corner, and hanging details covering the entire ceiling of your venue. Yes, of course you can do so if that is your vision, but there are so many budget friendly ways to have an absolutely stunning and classy Pinterest-worthy wedding without completely breaking the bank.
you'll get what you pay for
In this business 90% of the time you'll get what you pay for. If you are looking for a “good deal” and aren’t concerned about the quality just be prepared for what you may end up with. People have worked their way up with their prices and generally, what they are charging is directly reflected in the results. If you were ordering a prime rib you wouldn't order a Kraft cheese stick on the side. The same goes for wedding professionals. If you are planning a $50k wedding and hire a $2k photographer, in almost every single circumstance your images will show that you hired a lower end photographer and your $50k wedding will look more like a $15k wedding.
ask your videographer +
photographer how they work
When hiring a photographer or videographer be sure to ask them how they go about capturing a wedding day. If you don’t want a videographer standing 2ft away from you in the center of the aisle blocking everyone’s view during the ceremony, be sure to ask if they do that! Ask your photographer if they pose everything out, if the whole day is mapped out prior to the event with poses and specific locations or if they go with the flow and work off the bride and groom. If you’re more low-key and you want more of a candid style, someone who is heavy on stiff poses and likes to be in a fully controlled atmosphere isn’t right for you. If you would prefer standard wedding images that capture all of the necessary shots and less of the candid, off-the-cuff images, be sure to hire the proper person.
keep styles flowing
Social media and online wedding guides have become completely overwhelming. I have no doubt that every girl from ages 18-32 has at least 3 wedding day boards pinned to Pinterest. It’s tough to nail down one style and stick to it but it’s very worth it to keep your focus on one look and follow that as a guide. When you have a giant mix of different styles it takes away from all of the special details. When you look back at your images there is very little flow throughout the day when you have too much going on and clashing. Hiring a wedding stylist or planner can be a major help and will help take all of the creative duties off of your shoulders. Find someone with similar taste and you won't have to worry about a thing.
fit is everything
I have seen over 100 brides in their gowns and this is a make or break on your wedding day. Fit is everything. If your gown is the most stunning gown you’ve ever seen on a mannequin but in person is far too big or too small, the effect is lost. If you are bigger in one area, be sure to have a dress large enough to cover that area and to be comfortable. There is nothing worse than pulling a gown up or down all night to keep proper “necessities” covered while you break it down on the dance floor. It's also much more flattering. Sexy comes in many genre's and on your wedding day the classier version of sexy goes much farther.
get free stuff
I personally always thought it was cheesy…until I found out the perks. Wear your “Just Married” attire on your way to your honeymoon! Most airlines will give you champagne, perks, free goodies, you may even get upgraded depending on the availability or serenaded by the flight crew.
don't forget to eat
I have seen more than one member of a bridal party “go down” during a ceremony due to skipping out on meals throughout the day. Not to mention, you paid a lot of money for this food. So enjoy it and try everything! We know everyone is excited, but don’t forget to fuel your body before you party! Stay hydrated, especially on those hot summer days and be sure to shift your weight while standing on the altar. Nobody wants to do a Trust Fall during the exchanging of vows.
pay your contracted fees on time
Many vendors have late fees. Be sure to keep all of your wedding information together in a binder, divided emails, a planner, whatever works best for you. Set reminders on your phone to keep yourself on a calendar schedule because you don’t want to lose out on vendors or rack up unnecessary late fees. People don’t hold dates without deposits!
loosen up for your engagement session
It’s rare, but I do have grooms that love the camera and love being in front of the camera with their special lady even more. Realistically it’s not every day that you and your boyfriend are holding each other’s faces or staring into each other’s eyes while being photographed. So if your guy is absolutely dreading your engagement session, or if you are dreading your engagement session, have a drink beforehand. Not 5! Just one or two. It will make a world of difference and take the edge off.
leave extra time, plan accordingly
No matter how much planning goes into the day everything will most likely not run perfectly on time. There will be a car accident on the highway, the organist will be running late to the church, a family member of the bride will get lost in transit, etc. You can only control so many things so be sure to leave cushion time for everything. Nobody wants extra stress on their wedding day and you don’t want to miss any important parts simply because things were planned back to back. A lot of money goes into every detail so in this case, “time is money” certainly applies.
first look vs no first look
benefits of a first look:
- De-stressing: Fewer butterflies. Many couples are not fans of being in front of a crowd with all eyes on them. Some folks feel that in order to enjoy their ceremony and feel calm they must see each other beforehand.
- Private time: This gives you a few moments alone with your significant other prior to walking down the aisle. If you want to cry, laugh, kiss, hug, etc. you can do so without all eyes on you.
- You can join cocktail hour. Majority of First Look couples choose to do a first look primarily because they want to join cocktail hour and spend time with their guests. The general timeline for photography without a First Look is that formal photography takes place directly following the ceremony during cocktail hour. This alleviates that need.
- The sentiment of “Let’s do this together” comes into play. A friend of mine was married a couple of years ago and told me he wanted a First Look because he was able to spend a few moments with his wife and it was more of a thought process of doing this as a couple. "We are here, we are ready, let’s do this together." Rather than a blind walk down the aisle to one another.
One alternative to combining both of these ideas is to leave extra time for yourselves. If you prefer not to have a First Look you can always start cocktail hour later in the day after your ceremony. For example, if you have a 1pm ceremony finish, you can have your cocktail hour start at 3pm and leave the time between for photography. Your guests may have some time to kill, but this will ensure that you have enough time for photography and you can also join your guests during cocktail hour before entering your reception.
#2- Pick a place to meet, just like the cute photos you’ve seen posted online of a bride and groom each standing on one side of a wall without seeing one another. You can hold hands, talk to one another, you just can’t see one another. Sometimes this is all couples need to take the edge off before they walk down the aisle. This doesn’t help with your photography breakdown but it may loosen you up and get out the nerves before the big moment if you're feeling anxious.