As I work through the busy “wedding season” things cross my mind at every wedding where I think “I should remind next weekend’s bride of this” or, “Oh, I wish I would have reminded them of that!” So, I came up with 20 things (at least, for now-I could add more later and update the list!) from a Wedding Photographer’s perspective that could prove to be beneficial to you (and your photos) come wedding day.
Brides, no worries, we know that you have a gazillion things to worry about and remembering some of these things doesn’t necessarily come naturally to the top of the “I need to remember this for my wedding day” list, so, I put it together below! Think of it as a “let me help my photographer out” check list! Some of these things have proven to help with photos, help with story telling, and help things run smooth!
So, here goes! Have questions? Email me at email@example.com
1. Make a wedding day timeline and don’t be afraid to ask your photographer for help! We’ve seen wedding days start a hour late, and to the minute on time, and we can help with this, so please please don’t be afraid to ask! Also, share this timeline with your DJ, florist, bridal party and family, to ensure they all “get it.”
—> For more info on wedding day timelines, CLICK HERE!
2. When you’re putting together your makeup bag, shoes etc. for the location you’re getting ready, make sure to grab all the “story telling” aspects and have those where you’re getting ready. When your photographer arrives, it’s awesome when all these things are in one place. Plus, it makes the photo taking of these details go faster, and allots more time for say, candid shots of getting ready! Things that I personally love to have where the bride is getting ready include: Dress, shoes, flowers (see tip #3 for this), perfume (if you’re wearing any), garter, gift exchange (if you’re doing one), a copy of your invitation, any specific items you’re wearing (something borrowed, a grandmother/mother’s ring, broach, hanker-chief etc.), you AND the grooms wedding rings + your engagement ring, veil, all jewelry you’ll be wearing and anything else you’d like to include). Side note- bring a satin, wooden or special hanger for your wedding dress to hang on! (It looks prettier in photos)
3. Ask your florist to have your bouquet, the bridesmaids bouquets and the boutonnieres delivered to where you’re getting ready (or, make sure they’re with you). Since a lot of couples do most of their formal photos a few hours before the wedding, it’s great when the florals for the bridal party are with you. (plus, then we can photograph them with all the other “getting ready” details.). If it doesn’t work out that way, it’s ok, but it’s typically helpful!
4. Have your bridesmaids be ready and dressed before you put on your dress. This sounds like an odd tip, but in general if all the girls are ready, helping you finish, the photos look more cohesive, and then you don’t have “stuff” everywhere during the “dress” photos.
5. #4 leads me to #5. Once the bridesmaids are ready, “declutter” as best you can for where you’ll be putting your dress on. You’ll notice a lot of photographers edit the “putting on the dress” images to black and white. One reason, is that the area is so cluttered with shoes, hangers, makeup bags, cell phones, food etc that it distracts from the bride putting on her dress.
6. Contrary to how long it takes to say, put on a pair of jeans, it takes more than 5 minutes to put on your wedding dress. For real, it really does. Most brides spend at least 15 minutes “putting on” the dress. Why? Because you it takes time to button/zip, adjust the bustle, adjust the veil (if you’re wearing one) and then do a few last minute “primps,” especially because once you see yourself in the mirror, you’ll be taken a back, and want to take a minute to just breathe!
7. If family photos begin at 4pm, tell them 330pm. Even if you have the most prompt family on the planet, Aunt Sally might need to run to the car last minute to grab her lipstick, your nephew might need his diaper changed, someone might be stuck in traffic (or the bathroom). Yep, happens all the time, so give them a little wiggle room!
8. Before your bridal party walks down the aisle, remind them to smile! Sometimes bridesmaids or groomsmen have the “serious” look when walking down (maybe they’re worried they’ll trip) but yes, “smile were excited” looks are the best!
9. Ask your guests to put down the cell phones and DSLR cameras and enjoy being in the moment with you during the ceremony. A lot of times guests can be very distracting, or take away from “the shot” the photographer you paid for is getting, because they want to document everything via instagram, facebook etc. 9 times out of 10 I have no issue moving out of the way of Uncle John standing in the aisle-but honestly, it’s so refreshing to see guests just enjoying being in the moment with you! This is also called an “unplugged” ceremony, and I highly suggest it!
10. #9 brings me to #10! If your bridesmaids, groomsmen or family members are big into social media-instagram, facebook, twitter. Ask them to hold off on posting until after the bride and groom have seen each other for the first time (whether that be at the first look or at the walk down the aisle). Otherwise, as you are patiently awaiting seeing your bride/groom for the first time and updating your Facebook status, you might get an accidental “first look.” That’d be lame!
11. If your dress gets dirty or someone spills a bit of wine or coffee on it, we can photoshop that out! A few times brides have been so upset with the bottom of their dress getting dirty. Which is totally understandable, but most of the time they get upset only because they worry it will look that way in images. Promise, we can photoshop that out!
12. Pinterest isn’t a bad thing (atleast, I don’t think so). I love to see my bride’s pinterest boards for 2 reasons. #1 is that it gives me an idea of what their vision is, and #2 is gives me an idea of the style they like, or say a specific shot they have to have. For me, I won’t 100% replicate an image, but if a bride has a few pinterest inspired ideas that they want me to recreate (in my own way, with my own spin) I totally welcome it!
13. Mom and Dad may have additional family photos they want the photograph to take. Yes, I do have a shot list of the formal photos with family members that I give to my couples, but come wedding day, about half of family members will ask for additional shots. This is OK! It only takes 30 seconds to do the shot, and it makes them happy, so it’s a win-win for everyone! If we’re in a super pinch for time, we can always write down the shot (so we don’t forget during all the excitement) and snag it later. This is why it’s important to hire a photographer that’s willing to be flexible!
14. This should be up higher to the beginning but practice bustling your dress! If you don’t plan to bustle it until the reception that’s totally fine, but whoever is going to be “the one” to do it, practice with them (have the dress shop show them, or mom, or whoever was shown how). I’ve seen the girls take a solid 20 minutes to bustle the dress not because they don’t know how but because they weren’t shown how. **Side note, this photo below is me bustling the dress!
15. Consider grabbing an extra pair of shoes that are more comfortable for photos, just because of walking/grass etc.
16. Plan for the weather (especially for the Pacific Northwest Weather). As photographers we scout locations at your venue for photo ops, and depending on the weather, covered locations as well, but if at all possible to have a “fail safe” plan just in case weather stinks, you’ll be glad you did!
17. Relax, Relax, Relax! This is your day, the day you’ve been planning for what feels like lightyears! Take a moment to breathe and let it soak in!
18. If you haven’t booked your photographer yet (whether it’s me or whether you’re reading this states and states away and haven’t chosen one yet) book a photographer that you genuinely like. Yes, 9 times out of 10, staying with in the cost that you allotted for photography matters to a point, and obviously feeling a connection with a photographer’s images matters, but actually enjoying being around that person is of the utmost importance. The biggest reason for that being that you spend ALOT of time together on your wedding day! Depending on your “love language,” if email conversating works best for you, or a skype/phone date, or coffee and chit chatting in person, making sure you feel like you are on the same page with your photographer matters. It matters to BOTH of you! I can honestly say I’ve never booked a wedding with a couple I didn’t feel certain I had a connection with. This all aids in created completely genuine images.
19. This is something I hands down wish I would have done at my own wedding, for my mother’s sake especially. Hire a coordinator or day-of coordinator. It’s so nice to have a “go-to” person come wedding day to make sure things flow, are organized, someone to ask questions etc. If your budget doesn’t allow for this, at least have a great go-to person that knows family members/bridal party names, knows the “low down” of the day, and isn’t afraid to be assertive.
20. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and communicate! If something doesn’t feel right, if you want to change something, don’t be afraid to ask! My brides email/text me all the time with what they think are “random questions” but in actuality they really aren’t random! Making sure that you’re happy on your wedding day matters! So, if you want to move start times, want to add extra hourly coverage, want us to know a family dynamic etc. that is great! For me, there is no such thing as over communicating these types of things. The more we know about your wedding day, the better we can document it!
Photographers/brides, want to add something, have an additional tip? Email me or post it in the comments! firstname.lastname@example.org