YOU ARE GETTING FREAKING MARRIED!
I’ve compiled a big list of tips and good-to-know’s for you to help you get the best wedding experience and photos possible. Take it from me, someone who has been to hundreds of weddings. I want you to have the best wedding experience and photos possible, so here’s my top tips I’ve gathered over the years that are useful for any couple.
I highly recommend an engagement shoot prior to the wedding for several reasons. First off it’s nice to have photos with each other where you’re just being yourselves, not all dressed up fancy in a tight dress and suit, dressed more casual and comfortable like you are in a day to day life. These photos are a lot of the time end up being couple’s favorite photos from their entire wedding experience! Secondly, it’s good to be able to hang and shoot with your photographer beforehand so you can get to know them and feel more yourself in front of them by the time the wedding day comes along so you can be more vulnerable, emotional, and yourself so that I can better photograph all the feels of the wedding day whether it be your mom wiping tears from your face, you busting up laughing at each other, praying with your father before the ceremony, etc. I know it can feel awkward as hell getting your photo taken so having a shoot beforehand to be able to loosen up and realize getting photos taken can be really fun will help you not be so worried on your wedding day so you can be relaxed as possible!
Don’t cram in too many things into a tight schedule, because guess what? There is always something that will go wrong on your wedding day. That’s just how it goes. I haven’t been to one wedding (and I’ve been to hundreds!) where everything goes according to plan. Plan for things to take longer than you think for this reason, as well as making sure everyone can feel relaxed and not rushed all day long. A fast paced tight schedule will always result in stress! Here is a little sample timeline I’ve put together with timing tips for each part of the day.
Getting ready together is such an amazing part of the wedding day that is often overlooked. Some of my favorite photos of wedding days come before the ceremony even happens, as everyone is typically really emotional, anxious, and excited! Here are a few things that will help the time before your ceremony be more meaningful and help the quality of the photos :
GETTING READY TIP
Be intentional about getting ready spaces, it can define your mood for the rest of the day. For example, if you choose to get ready in some crappy hotel bathroom surrounded by everyone’s luggage and ugly furniture and having to worry about packing up all your stuff last minute, you might feel stressed and overstimulated with so much clutter and stuff around you (plus hotel rooms usually have really ugly lighting, restricting colors and creativity in photos). Compare that to a room with soft natural light streaming into a cleaner space with your thoughtful wedding details (shoes, jewelry, hair pieces, etc) laid out and your pretty dress hung up in the window, or outside on a porch where you can get fresh air and not feel cramped, you’ll probably feel more at peace and in touch with your emotions rather than thinking about where the hell you left your glue on lashes and your “something blue.”
Keep spaces clear of clutter as much as you can! I will help with this, but if you can have a designated “clean area” near a window space where you do your getting ready photos, this will make for much better photos focused on the moment rather than the bright pink Victoria’s secret bag in the corner.
Good light. I swear I’ll have you a master of noticing light by the end of all this haha! Try and get ready near a window with natural light coming in, it is much prettier for details and your skin than yellow-ish overhead lighting. Like I mentioned before, keep indoor lights off during getting ready photos so you don’t get mixed colors in your photos (don’t worry, I’ll switch them off if you forget!).
ceremony + reception lighting
When choosing your ceremony location, people typically only think about the backdrop and forget to think about the light at the time of day that your ceremony will take place, which is way more important for you and your guests’ comfort and for the quality of the photos! Here is a breakdown on what to know about each lighting situation.
Backlit : great for photos because it creates a very dreamy yummy look, typically in the evening or early morning as the sun is low in the sky. But they can sometimes be distracting for guests if they are facing directly into it (which is fine if they have sunglasses!). If you’re having your ceremony in the evening when the sun will still be shining on your ceremony location, I would highly recommend angling the set up a little bit to the side of where the sun will set so that it is still dreamy and comfortable for guest’s eyes! If the sun will be low in the sky but light won’t be hitting your ceremony, I would recommend facing your ceremony so that the sun (where it should be) is at your guest’s backs! This creates a gorgeous gradient in the sky with lots of pastel colors and is really really beautiful. Remember that if you’re checking out a ceremony site in the winter, the sun will set in a different location on the horizon/mountain range in the summer, so plan accordingly! You can check exactly where the sun will be in the sky and where it will be shining with the app Sun Seeker on any day of any year, so you can plan around it!
uneven light: I would have to say this is the worst lighting for photos, always resulting really bright blown out patches of the photo and super dark faces which causes the photos to lose a lot of details like people’s faces, decor, colors, etc. It also is uncomfortable for guests at times if its during a hot part of the day, because everyone will be trying to sit in the shade and everyone else is sweating their faces off. It doesn’t have a soft dreamy look and makes photos look pretty awful. If you cant avoid the uneven light no matter what, angle your ceremony so that it will at least be backlit if possible to help with the quality of photos.
Shaded or Overcast: Probably the best case scenario for photos and comfort! Shaded means there will be even light from start to finish and preserves all details in photos like colors, your dress, and it makes your skin look great!
Indoor : natural light coming from a window is ideal for indoor ceremonies, avoid mixed lighting by turning off indoor lights if possible so that the ceremony doest look like a mix of lots of blue and yellow! If you cant use natural light only, make sure the indoor lights are bright so that the photos can have the best quality possible!
Reception Lighting : I cant stress to you enough how important lots of string lights can be for your reception! Think about it this way, the brighter you can make your reception space with string lights and candles, the better your photos will turn out. Low lit receptions end up making the photos poor quality, super grainy losing lots of detail, and usually have to be edited as black and whites to be able to make them look decent. If you have tons of string lights and candles I’ll be able to edit the photos in color, they’ll look better, your skin will look better, and I won’t have to use flash over photos that should have a soft dreamy look. You can get a great deal on string lights at Costco and on Amazon. Here are some examples of good brightly lit receptions
An unplugged wedding basically means you ask your guests to be truly present in the moment with you two during your ceremony by turning off their phones and cameras and waiting to take photos once the entire ceremony and following hugs are over. A lot of people dont think about this aspect of their ceremony until they get their photos back and they regret not having an “unplugged” wedding because there are stupid iPads and phones and cameras cluttering and distracting the viewer from the real moment happening, your wedding! It not only straight up ruins photos, but it can ruin the experience for a lot of your guests as well. Do you really want your grandma to be focused on trying to figure out how to make the zoom work when you’re wiping your tears and your significant other says their vows to you? Do you want your groom to have to lean around people’s iPhones in the aisle to catch his first glimpse of his bride? Or your best friends having to peek through the hands of anyone in front of them with their cameras up in the air? There is nothing wrong with asking people to turn their phones off and be present in the moment with you during the most amazing 15 minutes of your life. Ask whoever is marrying you to announce this while they are asking everyone to take their seats before the ceremony even begins (letting them know that they will be free to take as many photos as they want once the ceremony is over), there is a reason you are paying a photographer thousands of dollars to capture these precious memories for you, and we live in a digital age where everyone can access all the photos I take! I promise to send you sneaks of your ceremony to share with all your friends and family right after the wedding day so they can share it as well! Another idea to make sure people get all the photos they want of the day is to have a Photo Booth for guests to hop in and get photos together to remember your day. Everyone will be happy to comply, and this usually results in a much more emotional connected experience.
let things unfold naturally.
Embrace whatever moments or craziness come! You shouldn’t be stressing on your wedding day, especially over something you dont have control over. Nothing is ever “perfect” and that is just how life goes, there’s no reason to exhaust yourself over making everything seem “perfect.” Remember to laugh a lot and you’ll be just fine!