10 Wedding Day Tips From a Wedding Photographer
Updated: Feb 26, 2020
You are getting married- congratulations!!!! There are so many little details to think about when you plan a wedding. After being a part of so many weddings, going to wedding shows and networking with other wedding vendors, I have learned a TON! I wish I had known what I do now, when I got married, because I would have done some things differently- and I will tell you exactly what in this post.
Here are my top 10 tips for your wedding day-
1. This is you and your fiance's day! Make it about the two of you- because that's who it's going to be day in and day out right? What makes the two of you unique- what do you want your day to be about- what will make it memorable and fun for the two of you?
Every wedding is totally different and unique. From the decorations, the venue, clothing, food etc. Do you want it to be super traditional, or totally non-traditional? Some ceremonies last 1 hour, and others have lasted 10 min, with the reception being more of the focus. You only get this day once, so do what makes the two of you happy. Also be open to suggestions of parents or family you are close with. When I got married, it was very much a non-traditional ceremony and day. Our good friend married us on top of a mountain with our closest family and friends. I did not have a wedding party, or carry flowers. The beauty of our surroundings were all that we needed. I didn't even want my father to walk me down the aisle, but at the last minute, my father told me he really wanted to, so I said yes. Looking back, I am glad he insisted, because it meant a lot to me in the end.
2. Make a timeline of the day with your wedding planner AND photographer well ahead of time- even before sending out the invitations if you can. It's important that your photographer is part of the timeline planning because there is a certain amount of time that must be allotted for getting particular photos. In particular, most couples like to do sunset photos, because that is when you get the best light of the day. Time must be carved out in the schedule about 45-min prior to the sunset to get these, and the best, best, best light only lasts minutes. It's too stressful trying to re-arrange everything last minute to do this. Also, hire a professional photographer- really just do it! I have another blog post on why it's a good idea. Even if you can only hire one for a few hours- just do it!!!! Honestly, when I got married, I did not hire one. I had several friends who were great photographers, and they got some great shots, but they couldn't fully enjoy themselves because they were taking photos and...... this brings me to the next tip!
3. Make a shot list and have a friend or family member be in charge of rounding up those people on your wedding day. Think of all of the photos you want well ahead of time. There are even some generic sample lists to start from on the internet-https://www.google.com/search?q=shot+list+for+wedding&rlz=1C1SQJL_enUS815US815&sxsrf=ALeKk02JPZsCJAJyIybhgMBDI1dHjl07Aw:1582747232334&tbm=isch&source=iu&ictx=1&fir=jCHLnBVcOk9prM%253A%252CldMmq4setJ2N-M%252C_&vet=1&usg=AI4_-kTgIPNSx6w9aVppAPHjrH7ywO4uIw&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjEs7X0gPDnAhVLJzQIHWEICy4Q9QEwAHoECAoQHA#imgrc=jCHLnBVcOk9prM:
Yes, I forgot to do mine for my wedding day, and now I am left without one single photo of just my mother and I or just my father and me. It makes me sad to think about it. I also did not have my photographer friend come with my mom and I when I got my hair done the morning of, and I really wish I had some photos of her and I getting ready. So take it from me- I am guilty- hire a wedding photographer and make your shot list well ahead of time. I also had a client last year whom I asked for a shot list many times prior to the wedding day. She never got one to me, but had her sister make one. Well a month after receiving her photos she asked if I had taken a particular family shot, but I didn't have it in my collection. Because I didn't also receive the shot list, I couldn't double check it during the wedding day to make sure we had gotten them all.
4. Getting ready/details- I have another blog post about how to prepare for getting ready shots, if this is part of your timeline. The biggest take always are to give your photographer enough time to capture the details and getting ready. If you have your getting ready area tidy- this will save TONS of time. Also, have all of the bouquets and boutonnieres ready to go prior to the photographer getting there and have all of your small details such as rings, an invitation, shoes, in 1 box ready to go. If I had hired a professional wedding photographer, I would have had some really nice photos of our rings, and my hair done with the babies breath in it(the same that my mom had on her wedding day).
5. Prior to the ceremony remind your wedding party to look up, walk slow and smile as they come down the aisle. Also, try to remember to do the same. People tend to get really nervous while walking down the aisle and look down or away, and then almost run to the alter, which makes it very difficult to get a good shot.
6. If you plan on doing a big entrance to your reception, again don't rush through it. Stop and pose or kiss in front of your photographer to get that moment.
7. Make sure that you and your DJ have made a timeline for the events during the reception and talk with your photographer as well to make sure there is enough time for sunset photos etc. Do you want to have first dance, cake cutting, money dance, parent dance, bouquet/garter toss etc?
8. Getting photos with guests. Do you want just candids of you and your guests? Do you want to go around to each table and snap a photo with them, or do 1 large group photo with them? Let your photographer know well ahead of time, so that you can plan for this in your timeline. If you choose to go around to each table, plan on about 4 minutes to chat and snap a photo for each. Again, this is why I should have hired a professional photographer. Looking back, I would have loved to get a group shot at the reception.
9. Don't forget to eat. Make sure you eat a snack before the ceremony(plan ahead and have them packed or have someone bring you food while you are getting ready) and make time during your reception to enjoy your meal. It's important so you can stay in a good mood and have the energy you need to get you through what is often a very, very long day.
10. Last but not least- don't overthink and stress on your wedding day! There will be changes in the timeline, and something always runs late. But, that's ok. As a photographer, I can always readjust the schedule or change things around if needed. Just go with the flow and it will turn out to be a truly memorable and fun day- I know mine was.