Where to begin? While nobody can truly predict all of the ups and downs that will happen on your wedding day, here are just a few tips and best practices we've taken away from our brides, grooms, and wedding day experiences.
Last minute changes to prep locations can have drastic effects on the photography plans. Coordinate with your photographer. Tuxes are returned. Dresses are cleaned. The venue is cleaned, and the limo drops you off...At the end of it all, your wedding day flies by leaving only memories and pictures to help you relive all those magical moments. Don't make them an afterthought.
Photos of the bride and groom typically far outweigh large group photos. When planning your photo schedule, ask yourself this: when is the last time you saw a large group of the entire wedding party hanging over a mantle? Better yet, how many times have you seen a picture of the bride and groom over the fireplace, entrance, or in the master bedroom?
Be mindful of the needs of grandparents and older relatives when planning family portraits. Limit the number of times they have to get up and down or linger at the photo site so they can enjoy the day, too.
First Look sessions are great tools and do not detract from the moment the couple sees each other prior to the wedding. They do, however, allow the photographer and couple to stage the photos make sure the photos turn out like the couples want. They also allow the bride and groom a few minutes to break down the nervous barrier prior to the ceremony when they cannot talk to each other. It's a really precious moment if it's what the couple choses to do. Each couple is different and does need to have their wedding the way they want it, however, the First Look does not detract from the special occasion that is seeing your soon-to-be wife walking down the aisle or soon-to-be husband waiting to take your hand and say "I do".
If the bride and groom so choose to not see each other prior to the ceremony, either plan another session for their portraits or accommodate the need to get the photos by ensuring you are prepared to be AWAY from the guests for
a few minutes to allow the photographer the time and environment to give you the portraits you want and deserve.
Plan a few small breaks in the action for the day. The bride and groom need a chance to have a small snack or meal to keep up their nourishment and spirits. Hungry people are not always happy people, and it's certainly harder to get a smile when you can't take your mind off that tasty snack you wish you'd picked up on the way to the venue.
Larger groups of people require greater coordination and increase the likelihood of hiccups in the schedule. If you have a larger bridal party, be aware of this and ensure you are prepared to cut some poses if necessary to ensure you get the key ones. Portraits take some time. Approach the planning for the day's photos with the thought of how likely you are to actually want a posed portrait with this person vs that person. If shots throughout the ceremony, reception, and events of the day with one person are all you can envision in your home, there may not be a need to pose them in a portrait. This is not to say that you don't want them there, love them tremendously, or are thrilled to have them share your happy day with you, but there is only so much time available and it had to be prioritized.
Kids in weddings are terribly cute, generally...if your plan includes small children or babies, please be mindful of their needs: naps, meals, etc. Also, babies can't regulate their temperature as well as adults. If the portraits are going to be outside, keep the flower girl and ring bearer in mind when setting up your schedule.
Please be respectful of the significant equipment investment made by not only your photographer, but your videographer and dj as well. As a general rule, these things do not play well with small children. If they (wedding event personnel) are worrying about children or people bothering their equipment, they are not able to provide you with the services they are present to do.
Communicate the portrait plan to all involved. Receptions and post-wedding actvities are generally relaxed and somewhat "dressed down.". If members of the bridal party are expected to be in portraits after the ceremony, they need to know to remain in their tux, suit, dress, etc.
It's your wedding. Don't be afraid to be the voice of it. Communicate your plan to the vendors and bridal party. Plan for closed portrait sessions. Portrait sessions with open guest attendance prolong the time it takes for everyone as Sally, Bob, and Uncle Jim angle to get the same photos and keep people in the pose your photographer just set up. This can raise stress for everyone, including your photographer...in the overall scheme of things, this roughly equates to asking the dj if they can spin the turntables or requesting the officiant to hold off for a second while they come up to talk about the purity and symbolism of the rings. Photographers generally don't mind when the cameras come out during the ceremony or at the reception, but leave the portrait work to the person hired specifically for it.
Shoes: the bridal party will be on their feet most of the day. Shoe choices for them can have an effect on numerous things. High heels and soft dirt don't mix well. Any members of your bridal party with knee or ankle problems may have difficulty making it all day in them. Bridesmaids, more often than not, end up barefoot for the majority of the day because of uncomfortable shoes. It's much easier to change into them immediately prior to the portraits and ceremony so pack a comfortable spare set.
Food is a great tool. Bridal parties are habitually late for portraits. Planning an afternoon meal for the bridal party is a clever and fun way to ensure they're all there and ready on-time....and you all get to relax and have a bit more fun along the way.
If planning a large reception, it is often a great idea for the bride and groom to plan to have a separate set of plates prepared to grab a bite between ceremony and reception. Guests love to stop by and say congratulations, so it's often hard to grab a bite to eat at the reception without having to take a second to thank grandmas distant cousin Gertrude for taking the time to stop by your wedding. Nobody ever means or wants to seem rude to the guests at their wedding, but face it, accidentally or intentionally, it happens. You'll be on your feet all day and possibly night. You need food, too. Planning to grab a quick plate away from the crowds is a great way to renew your energy and ensure you're both looking and feeling your best to enjoy your reception and the company of your family and friends.Most of all remember it's your day. It should be how you've dreamed it. Find the right vendors and people who are helping you with it. They're going to be a significant key to its success.
Finally: Relax and ENJOY! At the end of the day, regardless of the mishaps, you will be married to the love of your life!