Every Bride wants a stress-free wedding. With over a decade of experience photographing weddings, I have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly from just about every type of wedding. Trust me when I say I have some amazing advice for any Bride embarking on the journey of planning her perfect day.
1. Stick To Your Timeline
Creating a realistic timeline is absolutely critical when it comes to making your wedding run smoothly. The best person to consult with is, believe it or not, your wedding photographer! An experienced wedding photographer will know exactly how long it takes them to complete each of their responsibilities throughout the day. Your photographer’s advice on when, where, and how long to schedule for things like Bride and Groom portraits, Family Portraits, and even First Look is very important.
Make sure to take into account travel time between locations and time for guests, family members, and the Bridal Party to transition to each section of the day. Moving people around may only take five to ten minutes, but add that up over 10 transitions and you could find yourself running hours behind schedule if you haven’t prepared appropriately.
Think about planning a break for the Bridal Party and Family to relax and have a meal. This is something that can be scheduled while your photographer is busy shooting something that doesn’t involve you. For instance, the ceremony and/or reception space details. You will be so glad to have time to eat something, use the restroom, and retouch your hair and makeup.
I provide a rough draft photography timeline right when a Bride books with me. I create it based on information provided by her about the photos and formalities she wants to include on her wedding day. This timeline can be used as a resource as she continues planning her wedding. This is also a really useful tool when scheduling the Ceremony and Reception times.
2. Hire Experienced Wedding Vendors and Let Them Work For You
There’s a reason you should invest time into finding experienced vendors that will make your day as beautiful, memorable, and stress-free as possible. They are professionals and have ample experience dealing with all kinds of weddings and situations. Properly vet your wedding vendors and then put your trust in them and their expertise. They will help guide you not only on the wedding day, but with the planning and preparation as well. It is your wedding vendors’ job to make sure you have an exceptional experience. Let the dream team you have assembled do what you have hired them to do: make your wedding day as beautiful, enjoyable, and memorable as possible.
I have a list of highly talented and reliable wedding vendors that I am happy to share with my Clients!
3. Create a Shot List With Your Photographer
You’ve hired your dream photographer whose expertise is making sure every moment of your wedding day is captured. More than likely your photographer has a list of photos they know they need to take: portraits of the Bride with her Bridesmaids, the First Kiss at the end of the Ceremony, the Daddy/Daughter Dance at the Reception, etc. That being said, it is a great idea to put together a shot list with your photographer of family photos or other unique moments. That way, you both make sure nothing is missed.
I provide my Brides with a Shot List they can customize so we can stay organized and remember to get photos of all their important family members and special moments.
4. Consider Having a First Look
I absolutely love First Looks because it gives you and your fiance the opportunity to see each other for the first time in a private setting. Without all the pressure of your guests watching, your significant other will more than likely be candid with their reaction and feel free to become emotional. You can also take this time to say a few quiet vows to each other or exchange gifts. Scheduling a First Look allows extra time for all of your portraits while you are fresh and looking your best. This means the span of time between the end of your ceremony and beginning of your reception is shorter. Your guests will be so grateful not to have to keep themselves busy during a marathon Cocktail “Hour.”
Bonus – you get to spend the majority of your wedding day WITH your significant other, rather than spending the majority of it apart.
5. Allow Your Photographer To Guide You
Allow your wedding photographer to guide you towards the best light, location, and posing that will make you look and feel your best on your big day. I love collaborating with my Brides on ideas for where to shoot all of their photos. I make a point to schedule a pre-wedding walk through where we can make those decisions together. It’s so wonderful when my couples trust me and take my advice on when and where to go, while also being flexible if lighting conditions change or unexpected weather becomes and issue.
6. Schedule Time for Golden Hour Portraits
The best light of the day is during “Golden Hour,” which happens during the final hour before sunset. Golden Hour is a photographer’s dream because the sun casts a heavenly glow. You will not regret scheduling your timeline to include 20-30 minutes for Bride and Groom portraits during this time, as they will mostly likely be your favorites from the whole day.
7. Prepare and Gather Items for
The rings, bouquets, wedding invitations, jewelry, boutonnieres, shoes, cuff links, and perfume are all gorgeous details that shouldn’t be forgotten! These items are often a Bride’s somethings Old, New, Borrowed, or Blue. Each tiny detail is some of the most sentimental items at your wedding! I love to take time in the morning to document each of them in an artistic way. It is most helpful when a Bride has boxes set aside with her and her fiance’s pieces so I can get right to work as soon as I arrive.
If I have to gather them myself, it really cuts into the time I have to create beautiful keepsake photos of the intimate details.
8. Embrace the Unexpected
You have spent the last six to twelve (+++) months planning every details of your wedding. It’s one of the most important days of your life and it’s completely reasonable for you to want it to be perfect. My biggest wish for you is that on your day, you can sit back, relax, and enjoy it. To truly be able to do that means you must embrace the unexpected. There are so many moving parts that something is bound to go off course. Rest assured knowing you hired the best vendors in the business (see #2 above) who will know exactly how to handle those hiccups. Your job is to laugh it off and continue soaking up every precious experience.
9. Be Yourselves and Have Fun
Smash cake in your partner’s face! Whisper all the dirty secrets. Get down on the dance floor like no one’s watching! Light sparklers and skip under the starlit sky. Pop bottles, take shots (after all the formal photos have been taken, of course), and make faces at your best friends. Enjoy the night and have the most legendary celebration ever!