Wedding day pro tips

We all know weddings can be OH SO STRESSFUL. My main goal (besides providing you with stunning images) is to educate my brides and put them at ease. From helpful planning tips to how to take your images to the next level, here are some pro tips you should definitely consider.

A sunflower Bridal bouquet.

Hire a coordinator

There are millions, MILLIONS of reasons why you should hire a wedding planner. All too often brides become so stressed out planning the wedding on their own and it becomes an overbearing process. Anything and everything will be 100% more enjoyable and easy for you if you just hire one. If a planner isn’t in your budget, opt for a Day-Of Coordinator. Things WILL go wrong on your day, and its best to have a coordinator handle all the decisions rather than every vendor bothering you ALL day when you should be relaxing and getting pampered with your bridesmaids in the morning! I’ve seen it far too many times where a bride is unnecessarily bothered hundreds of times throughout her big day. DO YOURSELF THE FAVOR!

Engagement and wedding rings on a wedding invitation

know your Vendors

This one is pretty self explanatory. I believe you should definitely do your research and get to know your vendors rather than “price shopping.” I’ve heard horror stories of vendors (caterers, bakers, DJs, photographers, florists, etc.) just not even showing up. It’s important to read their reviews- and make sure they are RECENT ones available, speak to them on the phone- or better yet meet them, look at their work, ask them questions, get to know how they operate, and ask them “what if” questions. A reliable vendor will happily answer your questions, just don’t go crazy and take up hours of their time. It’s important that their style matches your vision. If you hire someone strictly based off price, you get what you pay for.

Beautiful bride and her bridesmaids.

Trust ME!

Seriously, TRUST ME. I help my brides with creating a photography friendly timeline so that there’s no rushing or stress involved on your big day. Also trust my location decisions- I know good light when I find it, and GOOD LIGHT is far superior than a perfect background. Be sure to educate your bridal party to cooperate as well. If cousin Steve is drunk out of his mind before the ceremony, its just going to complicate things. The faster we get the bridal party portraits done, the more time you have to enjoy! CREATE a family portrait shot list. This is a MUST. I require my brides to send me a list of a maximum of 20 family groupings, so that I can just read off and call names to get it done quickly. Family portraits should only take around 20 minutes.

A bride and groom share a first look.

Consider a First Look

First looks are literally the best currently trending portraits. I know many brides that are very against it, but the history of this tradition isn’t romantic AT ALL. It originated from arranged marriages, where the groom wasn’t allowed to see the bride before the wedding in case she was UGLY and couldn’t back out. A first look gives you and your fiance the privacy and intimacy to see each other before anyone else. You wont have hundreds of eyes staring at you when you opt for a first look. And once you’ve had your first look, you enter your wedding the same exact way, but you are more connected than ever. Hoping your groom tears up as you walk down the aisle? Sensitive grooms probably will during the first look AND even as you walk down the aisle! Depends on the person! An in-depth blog post about first looks will be soon be posted!

Bridal bouquet of red roses and succulents.

Flower Power

Your bridal bouquet is so important on your wedding day! Even if you have a small budget, opt for a REAL, and elegant bouquet, and choose simpler centerpieces for your tables to cut costs. From your sneak peeks, the blog post, to your wedding album, the bouquet will shine through and be the anchor of your images. I use the bridal bouquet in your bridal portraits, in your just-married portraits, your family portraits- basically all portraits! I also use it for detail shots- it’s literally the MOST photographed detail in your entire wedding. Don’t skimp out and get a boring bouquet. I encourage my brides to get what they REALLY want- because it’s the element that will show up more than anything else in your photos. Even if you opt for a non-expensive dress, go big on your bouquet to amp things up!! As I mentioned before, TRUST ME! :)

A bridal portrait in a tall grassy field.

the perfect dress

As a photographer, I always ask my brides and grooms about their body insecurities, so that I can do my best to pose them in a way that’s flattering and will make them happy! I don’t edit any body shapes in post-processing because I truly believe each body is beautiful, but I am educated in how to make you look your best. The number one female insecurity are her arms. (Guilty) So here’s the thing, AVOID A SLEEVELESS DRESS if you don’t like your arms. It’s common sense really. Plus, sleeved dresses are SO in style right now, and they photograph so much more beautifully. The main perk of not having a strapless dress? Not having to pull it up to adjust your boobs every five minutes. Try on a variety of styles. If you see something you don’t like, don’t settle. If you do opt for a strapless and are insecure about your arms, consider a cape! It’s classy!

Engraved Tiffany necklace bridal gift from the groom.

Details Matter

Want blog-worthy wedding photos? Wedding day details come second to beautiful bouquets to setting the tone of your blog post, album, and gallery. I request my couples to have all the details ready in a bag, because when I arrive the morning of your big day, that’s where I start my process! I’ll ask you to include the full invitation suite, special dress hanger, rings, shoes, veil, any jewelry, family heirlooms, your bouquet, your dress, bridesmaids dresses, garter, perfume, hair piece, etc- basically all the details that you’ll be wearing! As for grooms, I request boutonniere, shoes, socks, tie, cuff links, tie clips, cologne, and any jewelry. These details may not seem like a big deal, but it’s all part of what makes your day unique! Details are the NUMBER one importance to blog-worthy weddings!

A table set for wedding guests.

Stick to a theme

Whether you have a theme or just a certain color palette, stick to it! This is important. With all the magazines, wedding shows, and Pinterest, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Your details should all work together and not be confusing to guests. If you are choosing a rustic theme, securing an art museum as your venue, or having a modern dress probably wouldn’t be the best choice. I also suggest considering your colors and theme depending on the season. Dark colors tend to work better in fall and winter, while pastels scream spring! From a technical standpoint, if you are choosing an outdoor setting with lots of greenery for your venue and portraits- please for the love of God don’t put your bridal party in green dresses! Of course everything is totally your choice- but just a suggestion. ;)

Unplugged ceremony wooden sign.

Unplugged ceremony

Consider having an unplugged ceremony. There’s nothing worse than your professional wedding images having everyone with their phones out trying to capture you walking down the aisle. Some guests even get out of their seat and into the aisle to get a better iPhone picture of you. NO NO NO! Have you seen that viral video of a wedding photographer shoving an evil stepmother out of the way during the first kiss? Yeah, I don’t want to be put into that position. I can guarantee my images will look better than Aunt Susan’s iPhone picture. Also please ask your guests to leave their cameras at home. I’ve seen so many uncle Bob’s with their entry level DSLR camera using flash during weddings, which can get into a professional’s (my) way. You’re paying a lot of money for PROFESSIONAL photos, so leave all the picture-taking to me! ;)

Bride and groom kiss during a sparkler exit.

Planned Exits

Planned exits can be so much fun and result in some pretty amazing photos! There are ceremony exits and reception exits that you could incorporate into your big day. Ceremony exits are immediately following your ceremony where everyone lines up outside the church, or just outside the ceremony venue and tosses something such as confetti or flower petals- (personal FAVE), or where everyone holds balloons or streamers, or even having your guests blow bubbles (another fave) for a few quick and fun photos! Traditionally, rice or birdseed were used, but those aren’t as fun to photograph. Reception exits usually take place when its dark, so brides opt for sparklers or glow sticks. Personally, I prefer ceremony exits when it’s still light outside!!

Bride and groom portrait

The Timeline

Creating a timeline for your day is essential! It’s important to have set times for each part of your day that I’ll be photographing, and considering sunset time is key. If you’re having a Fall or Winter wedding, the sun sets pretty dang early, sometimes as early as 4:30pm! Its crucial to plan your ceremony and reception start times in a way that leaves us enough time to get your family formals, bridal party portraits, and just married portraits before we lose valuable light. So if the sun sets at 4:30pm, have your ceremony end at around 3:00 so we have enough time for everything. Each one of those portrait session is 30 mins- give or take, so consider having a cocktail hour for your guests while we get the portraits done. If you’r doing a first look, everything except family formals can take place BEFORE the ceremony! It’s a win-win situation!

Ring shot of bride holding her bridal bouquet