Wedding day tips from seasoned professional photographers
We have been blessed to photograph over 150 weddings over the years and we have learned a few things. This post will definitely help your wedding day go smoothly.
When budgeting for your wedding, know what is important to you and budget accordingly. Cinematography (movie-type-videography) is really gaining popularity but will take quite a chunk out of your wedding budget. If you can fit it into your budget, go for it! Cinematographers do a fantastic job of turning your wedding day into your own, personal Hollywood-flick. But if you are strained a bit, opt for a great photographer and stunning album & wall portrait instead. With portraits on your wall and your album on your coffee table you are creating fabulous conversation pieces when guests come over. Very rarely are you going to get out your wedding video or scroll through your albums on your iPhone when you have visitors. Your wedding album is a must. Having it out and accessible will remind you how special your day was and will bring back the emotions and longing for each other: Keeping your marriage going strong! My husband and I had a wedding video done and we have literally only watched it 2 or 3 times (after 10 years of marriage!) Our goal was to watch it every anniversary but we have failed. Our album, on the other hand, we see daily and look over it with guests often. We also have a gallery canvas in our bedroom that we see multiple times a day. During (or after) a fight, I am constantly reminded of my love for my husband.
Have a basket ready for your photographer as soon as they arrive with important mementos from your day so they can stylize your detail portraits. Having it ready will ensure you get the shots you want without the photographer running all over the place to find what they need. Good things to include are: invitation/program/table menus/any hard-copied literature /bridal jewelry/garter/hair piece/shoes/dress/his and hers rings, any extra décor/extra ribbons used for décor, anything that is your wedding colors/theme. Also try to have your flowers there at a reasonable time for ring/detail shots. Taking this extra step will really help your photographer capture a fantastic, detailed wedding collection!
Decide on your photography hours and make priorities. Wedding photography can be expensive so truly decide on how many hours you need. Do you really NEED the photographer from start to finish? If so, be prepared to break the bank. Hair/makeup shots can often be staged so you can still have them for your collection or have a friend do the hair/makeup/after hours shots while reserving your professional photographers hours for the main events.
Be on time and tell everyone to be ready at least 30 minutes earlier than actually needed. In order for your day to go smoothly and get all the photos you want, timeliness will be a huge factor. Tell your florist to be ready by NOON if your portraits are scheduled to start at 1 and make sure your wedding party and family have scheduled portrait times. If family members are notorious for being late, give them a fake time earlier than actually needed. Also it is a good idea to make sure your hair salon/make-up artist will be on time. Ask if they have other wedding parties that day and if they will have dedicated stylists for YOUR party.
Decide whether to see each other before the wedding for photos or after. Many couples are reverting back to not seeing each other until they walk down the aisle. Make sure your photographer is fine with this (as some are not) and know how to plan your day/photos accordingly.
Tell your photographer to do as many shots before as possible keeping each other hidden while photos are taking place. If you want to wait to see each other, you will generally get less photos. After shooting weddings for many years we know that no matter how much time is scheduled afterwards for photos, most couples are ready to get to the reception and the photo-necessity-mind-frame wears off. We have seen this over and over! If you do decide to see each other before make sure your photographer schedules a “first look.” It’s best to let your photographer pick the best location for this…usually outside/shade works best.
Have an assigned “wedding planner” to help your day move along without problems. This can even be a relative or friend (if you didn’t hire an actual wedding planner.) A few things wedding planners should do: Make sure everyone has their flowers when needed; The guys’ boutonnieres, lining bridal party up for the wedding march down the aisle, reminding them to look at the photographer and smile, keep guests moving when needed after the wedding. The wedding planner should basically have a detailed schedule of the day to keep everything moving smoothly. This will really take a lot of pressure off of the bride. Another good idea is to make sure your personal attendant stays around to help keep your dress tidy and do hair and makeup touch ups.
If preferred, tell your officiant to step out of the way for the first kiss, they can look like a creeper in the back of your kiss photo. Also make sure you know your church rules and ask if it is ok for your photographer to get up close. During-the-wedding photos are very special and getting close can make a big difference.
If you plan on taking some fun photos after the ceremony at another location, make sure you schedule enough time so your guests aren’t waiting around too long at the reception venue. Something couples often don’t take into consideration is the fact that shaking hands/ushering guests out of the church takes a considerable amount of time. If you want time for photos in between the wedding & reception, consider greeting people throughout the night at the reception.
Keep in mind: having a big list of potential photo spots may lead to less-than-perfect shots. If your photographer is a true professional they will have a lot of equipment and need some time to set up at each location. If they are rushed, they will do what is needed to get the shots, but may not be the best quality. It’s a good idea to plan on ONE really great location. But it’s up to you…would you rather have a few locations with rushed/not perfect photos or a bit less variety in locations with the perfect color, lighting and composition?
Decide if you want photos of your reception hall/venue before guests arrive. If you have a fabulous reception venue, it is ideal to get a photo of it empty. If photographers have enough time, they can get the perfect lighting and make your reception hall portrait look amazing. When guests arrive, the hall will quickly become cluttered with glasses, beer cans, waiters, etc…which leads to a less-than-perfect shot. It is also very unique to get a bride/groom shot in the reception hall. Sometimes this may not work out due to time or distance but if you are really proud of your reception hall décor, try to make it work.
Don’t drag out your reception events…First dance, garter toss, shoe game, dollar dance, cake cutting, toasts are all fun parts of your day that you want all of your guests to take part in. We have seen time and time again, couples disappointed that guests leave before many events
happen. We recommend scheduling your main reception events as soon as possible so everyone can take part. Make sure your DJ knows the timeline and exactly what you want.
Speaking of DJs tell your DJ to plan for the following shot after your first dances…bride and groom on the dancefloor and all the guests in the background “celebrating!” Raising their hands up and cheering for you, this is an awesome photo but needs to be scheduled. Have your DJ tell your guests what to do and make sure the photographer knows you want this shot.
You have spend months, even years planning and dreaming of your day, make it perfect with these tips!