Wedding planning tips from wedding photographers around the world
Your ultimate collection of wonderful wedding tips, as told by the experts
The idea of planning a wedding sounds fun and exciting at first. It's your big day, a fairytale to welcome the next chapter of your life. The adventures you'll experience as a married couple and the victories you'll achieve together await you. The idea of researching and preparing for the best day of your life feels full of possibility. But then comes the daunting part of wedding planning; what to wear, who to invite, where to celebrate your ceremony, and a whole lot more. Don’t let the nitty-gritty of it all outweigh the fun part of planning. Enjoy the process. You deserve to look back on planning your wedding day with fondness. To help you enjoy your wedding preparations, we asked 85 wedding photographers their top tips to achieve a perfect wedding day. This collection of ideas ranges from tricks to choosing the best photographers to secrets on how to make your wedding day run smoothly.
1. Make sure you feel comfortable with your wedding photographer
2. Identify and communicate your wedding priorities and
needs to your photographer
They should consider going through an exercise that we call the WAVE (The Wall Art Vision Exercise). In this process, we ask our clients to envision a space on the walls of their homes where they might hang a large print from their wedding. We ask them to "describe that photo to us." We ask follow-up questions to help them dig deep into their visualization. Through this, we gain a full understanding of their style preferences, their priorities, and their overall needs/desires from our photography services. This exercise allows us to better plan our shoot time around the best locations and lighting too. We're able to understand posing preferences, compositional preferences, and more. For example, does their wall art feature an editorial photo of their families in the reception ballroom? Or is it a golden hour, wide-angle sunset photo of the couple kissing in a dipping pose? Whatever their preferences are, we need to plan for it!
- Pya Jirsa
3. Remember that it's your day
I've photographed over 150 weddings over the years, and the majority of brides spend their entire day stressing. The small minority who seem to be relaxed are the brides who've kept everything simple, or rather, have done everything how they WANT to do it not how they think they NEED to do it. Decide what's most important to you and your partner to be. Do you really need all those fancy table decorations just because your last friend who got married had them? Do you really need a trendy donut wall or a gif photo booth? Remember, the more 'accessories' you add to your big day, the more there is for you to worry about. Keep things simple, and remember the reason you're getting married in the first place. It's not a show. It's your day.
4. Have a detailed timeline for pictures and stick to it
One of the biggest issues with taking pictures after the ceremony is that the guests are waiting for an excessive amount of time for the wedding couple to arrive and start the meal. Guests are left hungry for hours at times. So be considerate of your guests. If you do have a long-planned photoshoot, be sure to offer plenty of hors d'oeuvres and entertainment in the meantime.
5. Weigh the human connection and comfort that you have with your potential photographer
The photographer that you hire will be 100% tied to the memory of the experience you had while creating your wedding photos. It could be the most beautiful photograph in the world, but if the memory it brings is that of being overly posed by an overbearing "creative," then what good is it?
- Founders of Style & Story Creative & Six-Figure Photography
6. Go for photography that is more than weddings
Personality Chemistry is key! - Look for a wedding photographer who has a positive, can-do attitude, someone who listens to you and understands your vision. This is also a reason why you should have an engagement session. You will be able to spend some time with your photographer and get to know their working style. The more at ease you feel during your wedding photoshoot, the better chance you have at creating beautiful wedding images together.
Consistent body of work - Even if they come highly recommended, you should look for consistency in their aesthetics and overall quality of their coverage. An experienced photographer should be able to send you real wedding galleries to show that they can consistently deliver quality wedding photos.
Connection with their work - Make sure your wedding photographer’s work is aligned with your style and taste. Every photographer has their unique vision and style, which includes their shooting and editing techniques. Don’t hire a wedding photographer and expect them to shoot like someone else’s work that you like.
Get referrals - Word-of-mouth is a strong indicator of a photographer’s reputation. If possible, find several trusted sources of referrals for a photographer you’re considering hiring. You can also look online to see how often the photographer’s work is being published and printed. It’s a good sign that a photographer is producing great, quality work, consistently.
7. Discuss your most important details and align your priorities ahead of time
Plan early so you get to enjoy all the vendor meetings and not feel pressured for time. Get to know your vendors as well. It's important to have professional vendors with really great energy on your day. It makes a difference! And most importantly, let all the worries go on your wedding day and enjoy the ride.
8. Do your own thing!
It's always good to get advice from family and friends, but don't let anyone else completely take over and influence your wedding day. We often see couples getting stressed because they want to live up to the expectations of their family and friends. In the end, they can't enjoy their wedding day the way they should. It's your wedding day and you should get to have it exactly how you want!
- Tommy & Laurene
9. Don’t hire the first photographer you meet
Speak at length with your favorite choices and your runners-up. And when you’re interviewing photographers, make sure you ask hard questions. If you’re worried about how or if you’ll be posed for portraits or how the photographer will interact with your guests, make sure you get good answers. Three of the most revealing questions you can ask are: How many full weddings have you photographed? How many weddings did you photograph last year? Can you please send me links to two complete wedding galleries that showcase your work at an event similar to our event?
- Rob Greer
10. Give yourself more time than you think on your wedding day
Weddings are very complex, full days. With a generous timeline, you will be able to enjoy your day without as much chaos and stress. Double your preparation time and pamper yourself a little bit. How does that sound?
11. Talk with a lot of photographers whose images you like and hire the one that makes you feel the most comfortable
If you feel tense in front of the camera, it will show in your wedding photos. On the other hand, if you are relaxed and enjoy the experience, your photos will look amazing. As wedding photographers, we need our clients to open up in front of the lens and let us capture their genuine emotions. Unfortunately, most people put on a mask when they are in front of a camera and become a different person. Most brides love to see their wedding photographs and not those of another person. So my dear couples, be yourselves and live happily ever after!
12. Look beyond the highlighted 'best of' images of a photographer
Are you able to tell how each photographer handles different lighting situations? How they capture the different parts of the day, not just the portraits? If you still feel like maybe you haven't seen enough from their Instagram or online portfolio, ask photographers you're considering if they can show actual full wedding day galleries. This way, you can get a good, realistic idea of how each photographer approaches and documents a full wedding day. If you like what you see, you can move forward knowing they're a good fit to capture your wedding memories!
13. Always meet your potential photographers
See their work and chat with them. Most importantly, see whether you get on. Also, keep calm during your wedding day. Let others worry for you. Just take it all in, enjoy as it happens and savor every moment.
14. It's YOUR day, so do it YOUR way!
Dresses, flowers, photography, videography, wedding venues, food, wine - the list goes on. They are all very personal choices on your wedding day and they should reflect YOUR personality. The wrong choices can put a damper on things. Stay strong during the planning process and don't be too heavily influenced by some of your much-loved family members and friends.
- Liam & Bee
15. Want to make the most out of your wedding photographer? Do your research, check their portfolio, and see what other people have to say about them
The proof is in the portfolio - Always ask to see the whole wedding gallery. That's where you can see the quality. If you love photos where people look very relaxed, look if a photographer delivers those. If you love family photos, see if they are included in the full wedding gallery.
Price - If you are spending thousands on your wedding day, I don’t think it’s a good idea to try to save $200 or $500 by booking a cheaper wedding photographer. So many people regret that decision. Remember, your wedding photos and memories will stay with you forever!
Style - You need to ask yourself which style suits your needs to avoid getting disappointed with your wedding photos. There are a few different styles you can see online: Reportage, where NOTHING IS STAGED! If family photos are important for you, this may not be a perfect fit for you. Traditional, where there is a lot of staged photos. Quirky, where style is more playful. Perfect for people who love to have fun in front of the camera.
Editing style - Are you looking for a dark, moody look, or something very bright and colorful? Again, check the photographer's portfolio and full wedding galleries to see which suits your needs.
Reviews - GOOGLE REVIEWS! It's very important to see Google and Facebook reviews. This is where you can hear from other real brides and grooms who have worked with that wedding photographer. I would not recommend a wedding photographer that is not well ranked on Google.
Do your research - Be careful if you are booking a photographer based on someone's recommendation. What is amazing for your best friend or sister or brother may not be the same for you, so do your research on the referred photographer first.
Connection - Most importantly, when you look at photos, see if you can also picture yourself at those photos. If you feel a connection, then YES, this photographer is for you!
16. Shop around for your wedding photographer
Don’t limit yourselves to those nearby, as most will travel quite a distance! This way, you get more choice and can find a photographer whose style you love!
- The English Wedding Blog
17. Look at Pinterest for inspiration for décor and style
But don't get too sucked into trying to show your photographer every pose or photo you want to recreate. The truth is that your wedding is different. The sky, location, and poses that look best for everyone will all be different. Hire a photographer you trust enough to get unique and beautiful photos that are perfect for you two and your day!
18. Be you!
I always see plenty of couples that get way too deep into planning and end up forgetting that this day is supposed to be about them. Although your guests are supposed to enjoy your big day too, remember that it's ultimately a reflection of who you are as a couple. There will likely be a ton of opinions, but yours is the only one that matters. I am a big proponent of it’s your day so you should do it your way, but I don't want my couples to miss on all the benefits of a first look. You get to enjoy some time together before the chaos, go to your cocktail hour, calm nerves, have all your photos done before the ceremony, take note of the weather - the list goes on but there are more bonuses than not.
19. Create a celebration that is reflective of you and your partner as a couple
You can do this in so many ways: Choosing music that you both love together, picking a location that is meaningful to both of you, choosing food options you both love or naming the drinks or desserts after something reflective of your relationship. You can ask your best friend or favorite aunt to officiate your wedding. You can choose to have a smaller or bigger wedding based on how you enjoy parties together. You can mix and match elements from your family's traditions into one ceremony and so on! The possibilities are endless to create a celebration that is a reflection of who you are together and the unity of your friends and family coming together to celebrate your marriage.
- Brian & Christina
20. You can never go wrong with an experienced photographer
A photographer with experience can handle most of the expectations. They know exactly when to photograph the groom as he first sees the bride walking down the aisle. They know how to achieve the perfect sparklers shot, and what to do in the event of rain or snow. If you do have a specific budget and the photographer you like offers a more expensive collection, I advise to share it with the photographer. He or she might be able to offer a deal, especially if you like their work and their personality. You can still get a good deal with a photographer that is new in the industry. Just ensure that he or she is someone you can trust.
21. Don't worry too much about the pictures
Select a photographer you can trust and let him or her do the rest. Remember that if you're relaxed and happy on the inside, it will show on the outside. Keep it natural, effortless, and enjoy your day!
22. Dare to be yourself on your wedding day
A lot of people might want to influence your day - your immediate family, parents, and friends. But please remember that this day is about you and it only happens once. Dare to be bold, confident - dare to be yourself. It will show in the photos!
23. Find a photographer who will fit your style and needs
Ask how the photographer works and how he or she captures these amazing moments in their photos. If you like fashion photography, then look for a photographer specializing in fashion/wedding photography. Also, make sure that you connect with your photographer and that you're both on the same page of your needs and his/her skills.
24. Figure out your top wedding priorities & vibe
Don't sweat the small stuff. There is always something that will not go exactly as planned. And that's okay. The purpose of this day is to celebrate your journey together, so stay cool and enjoy every second of it.
25. Maximize your budget according to priorities
When it comes to planning a wedding, there are a lot of factors that come into play. But one of the biggest constraints that you will need to deal with is your budget. Make sure you are spending your money on the things most important to you. Ask yourself, what do you value? Maybe you and your significant other fell in love by going to dinner every Friday night at a certain restaurant and you want them as the caterer. Or maybe you are addicted to music and want to hire your favorite local band to play at your reception. Only you and your partner know what is truly important to you as a couple. Once you know, you can then begin to prioritize your budget around those things. If your number one goal is to get married at your favorite wedding venue, then maybe you can scrape some money off the open bar and only serve beer and wine to save some money. The trick here is to spend more on what's important and less on the things that don't hold as much value to you.
Consider what will last - After the cake has been eaten and the dress is hung in a closet, the only thing you will have to remember this special day are the photos from your photographer. This is why your wedding photographer is so important. Prioritize what you value while also thinking about what will truly last. We have heard from so many people that they wish they spent more on their photographer for their wedding (and we are one of those people).
Think about value more than price - Comparing two vendors based completely on price is kind of like comparing a pair of Nike shoes to cheap Target flip flops. Just because one vendor is cheaper doesn't mean you are getting a better deal. Six hours of wedding coverage from a fantastic photographer will get you more amazing images than having 12 hours with an OK photographer. When comparing vendors, yes the price is a factor, but also think about the value they are providing. A small delicious cupcake makes a better dessert than a giant poorly made cake.
How you feel matters - The way you feel about your photographer and the other nitty-gritty of your special day are the only things that matter (unless your mom loves flowers and she is paying for the wedding... but that's an entirely different topic). Keep in mind that on your wedding day, you will spend more time with your photographer than your spouse! If you spend more money on things just to make someone else happy, you are taking money away from what makes you and your spouse happy.
26. Plan your wedding around experiences rather than just "checking boxes off a list"
People get so wrapped up in a timeline, going on a photo scavenger hunt and the production of things. We find that the most memorable images after 10 and 20 years are the genuine ones that have real memories and experiences attached to them. This is why we don't fake things on a wedding day. Hire an experienced photographer that will allow moments to unfold naturally, but can also step up when needed and create memorable moments for their couple. This leads to another important piece of advice, which is to hire a photographer with a ton of weddings under their belt. Experience is everything when it comes to the madness that is a wedding day. After all, a wedding day is just constant problem solving....where to shoot, how to light it, moving distracting furniture, having a personality a family wants to be around for 10 hours. All these along with the ability to lead the show if needed, sizing up important moments, recognizing family relationships when you don't know them, and most of all, just anticipating how moments will play out and having the foresight to see it coming and be ready. This all comes from experience shooting a ton of weddings for many years and growing into an experienced professional. Remember, you pay for the experience.
27. Enjoy yourself
The most important thing is creating a new family and celebrating that with loved ones. Realize that something somewhere will go wrong. And that's OK, especially if you are working with vendors who are good at making things turn out for the best regardless. Drink up every moment, realize that any stressful moments or imperfections will just be part of your story to tell the grandkids, and have the best time of your lives.
- Ryan Brenizer
28. Embrace the day for what it is
This is the longest/shortest day of your life, and it is going to happen the way it is going to happen. Do your best to plan for a stress-free day and then ride the ride. Enjoy the moments, embrace the emotions. Don’t fear the tears. You will remember the not-so-perfect moments vividly, so paint them with the emotional brush of peace and perfection, even if it doesn’t feel perfect at the time.
29. Make your wedding fit your relationship
Your wedding day is about the two of you and your most important people, so cater to what you all enjoy. This could mean a friend as your officiant, holding the ceremony in a roadside field, or even getting dressed together. There are no wedding rules. Also, hire the best photographer you can.
30. Don’t let the weather bring you down on your wedding day
You can’t control it, and worrying about it is only going to leave you disappointed on what should be one of the happiest days of your lives. Just roll with it and make the best of it. If you hired a great photographer, they’ll make the best out of the unexpected!
31. Always remember what this day is really about
It's not about the cake or the dress or the flowers or the music. It's about two people who are madly in love and want to spend the rest of their lives together. Couples can get sidetracked easily and then forget the reason why they are getting married in the first place. Don't let the hustle-bustle distract you from the important stuff.
32. Find a photographer you can fully trust
During my career, every one of my favorite photos came about due to access and trust. When clients trust their photographer, they let their guard down and allow us into their inner circle. Images made from within that circle are the ones that truly resonate — they’re intimate, full of emotions, and very powerful. Sometimes, they’re not the prettiest, but pretty photos are generally scripted, produced and boring. These real moments that arise from the trust are pure images that tell the stories of my clients — of their families and friendships and relationships. They are meaningful. Too often photographers get bogged down in shot lists trying to recreate scripted moments of other people, and that just doesn’t work.
33. Be dedicated to selecting your wedding photographer
You must pick a photographer who’s style, aesthetic and creativity you truly love because you will have to live with the photographs they make. Selecting your photographer solely based on price can cost you a lot more in the long term.
34. Trust your vendors!
You hire them because you have seen their work and love what they do. Do not stress over every little detail. Just let them do their "thing" while you and your spouse relax and enjoy your amazing wedding day with friends and family!
35. Schedule breaks into your timeline
As we help our couples build their wedding day timelines, we always encourage them to schedule breaks into the itinerary. If your wedding day is a constant thing right after another, especially if it’s built solely around photography, it could easily replace your happiness and excitement with stress. It may feel awkward to just have empty/blank space, so to help with this, we recommend scheduling time blocks. Enjoy a brunch/lunch date with your wedding party rather than just scarfing down food on the go. Write letters to one another. Read your vows in private, whether that’s to each other during a first look or when you're alone. Even when we take our brides and grooms aside for their portraits, instead of directing the entire time, we have them sit by a window, look out, and reflect on their favorite memories of one another. As simple as it sounds, these “scheduled breaks” will help you remember the best parts of your wedding day, rather than the anxiety and exhaustion of a tight schedule. If you're running behind during any part of the day, this will leave plenty of wiggle room for the unexpected.
36. Always go for the professionals
Save yourself the stress and hire a professional wedding coordinator/planner, at least on the day of your wedding. Allow yourself to be 100% present during your wedding day.
37. Remember this is YOUR Wedding!
Not your mom's, not your sister's. It's yours, so do what you want! In my opinion, a wedding should be about the couple exchanging their vows to one another and making promises. That's why I focus more on elopements - it's more about the couples focusing on each other and their love rather than pleasing a long list of people. Family is still important, of course. I recommend to my couples to have a house party instead and invite their family and friends to celebrate with them. That's a perfect opportunity to show an awesome slideshow of their elopement pictures!
38. Get a photographer whose style and company you actually enjoy
When you're looking for a wedding photographer, there are multiple factors to consider before you hire someone. First, you want to make sure that you like their photos stylistically. Try to figure out what type of images you're drawn to and start there. Instagram can be a great resource for this initial research. Beyond their photos and style, make sure you like their personality. You'll end up spending a lot of time with your photographer on your wedding day, so you want to make sure you like their company! Also, take into account their professionalism. Are they responding to your emails promptly? Are they adding value to you beyond just the wedding day photos (ie: helping with your timeline to ensure that your photos have the best light possible)? Hiring your wedding photographer goes beyond just pretty photos. Don't forget the other factors too.
39. Hire a wedding planner
They are immensely helpful and will help alleviate the stress when trying to make decisions, planning out a timeline, strategically placing the decorations, etc. You will be getting professional advice from your planner versus having to make guesses on every detail of the wedding. Having your wedding planner on the day is also very helpful for you, the vendors, and the guests. They will facilitate the timeline and make sure that everything is going accordingly. If not, they can delay the timeline and bring back things on time.
40. Don’t over-schedule your wedding day
Pad your timeline so that you don’t feel like you’re rushing from one thing to the next. Your wedding will already go by super fast, so having a little downtime will help you feel more relaxed and let you savor what’s happening. The downtime is also the perfect chance for spontaneous moments (that make for great photos!) to happen.
41. Take a moment, step back, and reflect together at the end of the night
Last dances are a great time to let all the emotions of the day settle. Reflect on how amazing it is that you’re married, you had a beautiful celebration, and your friends and family came from all over to celebrate with you! Those few moments that our couples take to soak in the day are often some of the most special moments they share as a newly-married couple!
42. Find a photographer that is the right personality fit and style for you
Make sure you meet them, get along with them and respect their work. Then the whole process of the day of photography will go a lot smoother!
43. Remember to take a breather
Stop, take a deep breath, look around, and enjoy all the hard work you have put into creating this day with all your friends and family. As a wedding photographer and meditation instructor, I tell couples that it's normal to stress. It's normal for your head to be buzzing with a million different ideas, thoughts, and anticipation. I'll ask my couples to feel their feet and to take deep breaths. All these tricks work to ground people and help them be more in-the-moment.
44. Always think about the light!
One of the first things you should do when you’re planning your wedding is to check the sunset time. From there, you can create your day (and your photos) around what you want before and after the sun goes down. Especially in those winter months with an early sunset, you’d be surprised at how many couples end up accidentally scheduling a wedding outside in the dark! And if the sun sets early but you still want those natural light photos, consider doing a first look.
45. View FULL wedding galleries when comparing photographers
Websites and Instagram feeds tend to be carefully curated, full of highlights, and that can be pretty deceiving. Looking through full wedding galleries of real weddings will give you the best insight on how “good” a photographer is – and it is where you’ll see the difference between photographers.
46. Find a photographer you can connect with on a personal level
This doesn't mean that you need to look for a photographer to be your new best friend. But remember, you'll be spending more time with this person than anyone else except your significant other on your wedding day! A quick meeting or phone call with your potential photographers can help you figure out which photographer is the best fit for you.
47. Don’t try to control your day on the actual wedding day
It’s all in the planning. Just have a great time full of happy smiles and heartfelt hugs. Let those crazy moments happen. No one will know if any small detail isn’t quite as it was planned!
48. Don't hire someone just based off of the portraits they show on social media
Make sure you're hiring someone who will give you more than a few epic portraits. If you want photos to preserve the moments you care about, document the people you love, and tell a story beyond a handful of epic sunset portraits, it's worth doing a bit more homework!
49. Remember the reason why you are getting married
It is exciting to plan for our wedding. Then, before we know it, we start focusing on budgets, on what theme to choose, which venue and ceremony to go for (outdoors vs. indoors), which flower arrangements, and more. We sometimes forget that weddings are about two people and two families getting together. Of course, we want to make the day as beautiful as possible for our families and guests, but at the end of the day, it should be a day to celebrate you and your partner. So have fun planning your wedding day. Be excited. This wedding should be about the two of you and your reason for being together forever.
50. Allow enough time to get ready
I suggest one hour per person for hair and makeup and add some buffer time. This is important so you won't get stressed during your big day. You have a lot to do and prepare for the whole day, so make sure you allocate the right time for each. You can start the day off on the right foot this way and have fun the rest of the time.
51. Don't underestimate the importance of 'vibing' with your photographer
Having a photographer that feels like a friend will make your wedding day more enjoyable. After all, they'll be by your side all day - from the moment you get dressed to your grand exit. When evaluating a photographer's work, prices and details, be sure to get a feel for their personality too.
52. Enjoy the day as much as you can
Some photographers may show just a couple of wedding portraits on their site, but you want to see how they professionally document the entire day. You want to ensure that they're professional in all areas of day and different lighting scenarios. This way, you will know what to expect when you receive your full gallery of images with no surprises.
54. Remember - this is YOUR wedding!
If you have some unique ideas that you want to incorporate into your wedding ceremony and/or reception, then you should try to do so. Well-wishing relatives and friends are going to give you all kinds of recommendations, but they may not fit with how you visualize your wedding day. You can listen to their ideas, but if you decide that you would rather do things YOUR way, then that's what you should do. Some of the best weddings I have photographed were those where the bride and groom had some really unique, creative and fun ideas that allowed them to express their personalities in their ceremony and reception. So don't be afraid to do something different just because a friend or relative doesn't like your idea. It's YOUR day!
55. Relax and enjoy your day
Surround yourself with experienced wedding suppliers. Let them take care of you so you can fully enjoy your celebration of love. The best wedding photos come about when you relax and forget a little bit about the craziness of the whole day.
56. Do some soul searching before planning, and remember to embrace the imperfections
What makes YOU happy? What stresses you? Where is your happy place? Plan one of the biggest and most memorable days of your lives around these questions. If a big crowd makes you anxious, DON’T have a big ceremony with 200 people or so. If you’re happiest staring at the mountains while chilling around a campfire, then celebrate by “staring at the mountains around a campfire.” It's your day, so make it a representation of who you are and who you aspire to be as a couple. When it comes to wedding planning, plan for perfection, but embrace the imperfections too. Have a solid plan to give you the best possibility of fulfilling your dreams, but embrace what the day gives you. Rain or shine, it’s all pretty amazing if you let it be! And remember, have fun planning together, celebrating together, and creating a LIFE together! Make sure to hire a photographer that captures all that fun so you have a solid reminder when times get a little rocky.
57. Focus on your marriage, and invest in what you really care about
We believe it is way more important to keep marriage your main priority. Spend time prepping for that with premarital, reading marriage books, or attending a marriage conference. Put your money into what you love, into things that will make you truly remember your wedding day. Also, make sure you invest in a great photographer to document every amazing moment!
58. Find a photographer who's work and personality you love
Your photographer is someone who will share every moment of your wedding with you. So, when you meet with your prospective documentarian, be sure to get a good feel for how they operate. Do they make you laugh? Do you feel comfortable around them? In addition to confidence in their ability to make a final product you'll love, make sure their presence is one that will enrich the overall experience of your wedding day!
59. Center your day around your love and your celebration of that
If every wedding decision is made through the lens of what you hope and dream your day to be, whether it be big, small, extravagant or not, that is what will matter. Making sure those moments are stress-free and filled with love will make all the difference. Choosing vendors you know will create a stress-free wedding or elopement day and who will take care of things for you and make sure you’re having the best time is a SUPER important aspect of this. Enjoy your wedding day with your person and savor those moments, because it is truly what matters most in the end!
60. Consider a first look on your wedding day
This isn’t just about your big “reveal” moment or the groom’s reaction. Of course, that’s a massive part of it, but your first look is one of the only times during the day that you’ll have entirely to yourselves! If your photographer sets it up as I do, we have a full hour for first look time and couples' portraits immediately after. You get to knock out all of those nerves right off the bat, and then truly soak in the joy of the day - and that’s all before the ceremony even begins! I promise it won’t ruin the emotion of walking down the aisle. If anything, this just enhances your time together on a day that is all about you two.
61. Set a positive tone for the day
Surround yourselves with full-hearted, genuine and fun people that will help you to feel the way you want to feel on your wedding day. Consider who you want to have in your wedding party, who you want to spend the morning getting ready with, and which vendors you can fully rely on on your wedding day. If someone feels toxic or negative to you, remove them from your day.
62. Do whatever YOU want for your day
Want to elope with just the two of you? DO IT. Want to have a huge party and invite all your friends and family? DO IT. Be true to yourself and you'll have no regrets.
63. A perfect wedding is about choosing professionals and choosing to surround yourself with positivity
Choose wedding vendors that are tried and true. Don’t waste precious time trying to recreate Pinterest photos. Let the professionals do it for you. Surround yourself with fun and positive people on your day, especially your vendor team. Great energy among the team will make your day even better.
64. Front-load your coverage.
Sometimes my couple’s eyes get a little wide when I tell them that, ideally, I like two hours with my bride and one hour with my groom before the ceremony. But the reason I tell them to do this is simple; that’s when a TON of photographic magic happens! The “getting ready” time isn’t just for slipping into your gown or putting your tie on. This is the time I use to get my couples comfortable in front of the lens. It’s the time I use to get beautiful detail shots, jaw-dropping portraits, and fabulous, raw photojournalism moments. After the getting-ready moments, if you have a first look (which I highly suggest), you can also get all the formal family shots done BEFORE the ceremony. That makes everything run oh-so smoothly after you say "I do!" If artistic portraits are important to you, follow this formula. Give your photographer the time they need to create ART early in the day. Ideally, you want about five total hours of pre-ceremony and ceremony coverage and about three for post-wedding coverage.
65. Plan your engagement session ahead
Here are my top engagement session tips:
Think about the location - Where did you meet your fiance? Can we incorporate that location into your pictures? Do you have a favorite coffee shop or hiking trail? I always love to include anything personal or sentimental into your photographs that will make them unique and reflect your personality as a couple.
Include your pets - My Boston Terrier is like our baby so I know how much those four-legged fur balls are a part of the family.
Trial run - Do a makeup trial run before your engagement session. You will feel and look beautiful, and your photos will be that much more stunning.
To match - You and your partner certainly don’t have to match but do consider how the colors you are both wearing will look in a photograph. Think about different shades of the same color, complementary colors or neutrals with colorful accessories and shoes.
Feel free to bring a change of clothes - Jeans and t-shirt are perfect for a more casual feel. A dress with heels and your groom in a crisp button-down will create a more formal or dramatic image. Of course, always let your unique style shine through.
Plan ahead - If you are planning on using these photos for a “save the date” or for the invitation, then it would be helpful to know when you need to send it to the printers so the photographer can get you the edited images on time.
66. Your day is not about anyone else
It’s about you, your babe, and your pledge to spend the rest of your life together - and the way YOU want to celebrate that moment. Don’t get caught up in what your Great Aunt Carol wants to eat for dinner or the specific color your cousin wants to see your bridesmaids wear. Your day is about you two, what you guys want, and not about anyone else’s expectations or desires. If you and your babe love to adventure outdoors together and have a favorite hiking spot, choose THAT as your ceremony location. Your wedding doesn’t HAVE to be at the church or any venue! I’m super passionate about helping my couples find spots that truly fit them and who they are while still fitting the needs of their guests. Don't want to share handwritten vows in front of all your guests? Share private vows instead, right after your first look. Don’t want to have a big, fancy, seated dinner? Don’t do one. Private, intimate, candle-lit dinners can be JUST as fun and make it easier for you to spend quality time with the people you truly care about! You don’t have to have a wedding with guests, a bridal party and a reception. If eloping with just your babe (and maybe your immediate family or BFF’s) feels like it’s more "you", then do it. Just because other people choose to have a traditional wedding, doesn’t mean that you have to do it too. Your day deserves to be one that you two can utterly enjoy and be yourselves throughout.
67. Hire the best photographer you can
After your wedding day, all you have are your photographs to remember the best day of your lives. These precious memories increase in value as time goes by for generations to come. Putting these photos in high-quality albums will make for a priceless first family heirloom.
68. Don't do anything you don't want to do
No matter the type of wedding you're planning - a traditional church ceremony, an adventurous elopement or anything in between - you only get one day to celebrate your love, the way you want. Trying to please everyone will only add stress.
69. Make sure you like a photographer's full body of work on a wedding day
A wedding is made up of more than one posed gorgeous photo, so ask to see a full wedding gallery. Their work should speak to you all the way through. We use a documentary approach to a wedding to tell the full story of their love. This way, the couple can be brought right back to these photos 20 years later and remember the emotion of everything that was happening all around them. Great wedding photos should tell your love story.
70. Have fun!
Don't think too hard on how perfect your flowers have to be. Your wedding day should reflect who you and your soon-to-be spouse are as a couple. If you are laid back, have a chill and relaxed wedding. If you are chic and classy, bring out the lace tablecloths and pastel color palettes. If you are drawn to a certain color or have a favorite book or movie, add those touches into your day. Seriously, have fun with it! Most of us will plan for over a year for a single day that we get to share with close friends and family. The last thing you want to remember is how long you spent deciding on the perfect tableware or seating chart. Have fun and celebrate with your friends and family and dance the night away with your new hubby or wifey!
71. Dedicate some alone time for just you and your partner
The day goes by fast, so take a few moments alone for the two of you to take it all in. Sneak away to a secret spot and do a first look. You would be surprised to learn that most brides and grooms don’t get to enjoy any alone time. So make sure you schedule a moment for just the two of you, even if it’s only 10 minutes.
- Bryan and Anh
72. Give yourselves time and space to be alone together on your wedding day
The day goes by quickly and you deserve a moment to soak it all in together. I always try to end sunset photos by having my couples close their eyes and get as close to each other as possible. I ask them to sync their breathing and take in as much of the moment as possible - even the small details, like the smells and sounds around them and the feeling of their new spouse’s hand. I tell them to take as much time as they want while I get ready for their grand entrance.
73. Be UNAPOLOGETICALLY you!
Your wedding is about you and your partner. There is no right or wrong answer here. If you want to bypass reading vows in public and do it in a secret area, then do it. If you want to wear a black or colored dress, DO IT. If you want to have your wedding on the side of the mountain with just the two of you and have a party later, DO IT. Do what feels most right to you. Choose the flowers that YOU love and choose the dress that makes you think, "DANG I look amazing!" Sit down with your partner and write out who you are as a couple. That is always a good place to start. Write out your favorite things to do together, and maybe incorporate that somehow into your wedding. It is a day to celebrate YOUR love with each other forever, so it might as well be exactly what YOU want and no one else's.
74. Wait until you find a photographer to set the time for your wedding ceremony...
Especially if it is an outdoor wedding ceremony. Most photographers have certain times that they shoot for the most flattering light and are very aware of lighting changes. They often know about the venues and can suggest the best times to hold a ceremony. Some couples choose a random time and have already sent it out on their save the dates before they even book a photographer or consult with them. So before anything else, talk with the photographer, venue owner, and wedding planner about the best time to do the ceremony so that there will be beautiful, even, and flattering light where everyone (and the venue) can look their best.
75. Make sure you vibe with your vendors
Choosing a photographer and/or videographer you get along well with is important, because this person will be with you for 8+ hours on the best day of your life!
76. Eloping is an option
If the idea of a huge wedding stresses you out, eloping is always an option. There's no reason to be stressed out on the biggest day of your life.
77. Don't sweat the small stuff
78. Make your wedding your own
Try not to worry about what others want your wedding to look like. Add your personal touches. Go big if you dreamt of a big celebration. Go small and intimate if that's more your style.
79. Expect the unexpected
Things may not always go exactly as you have expected, so if things run late or something is forgotten, don’t let it ruffle your feathers. If you allow everything that unfolds to be an adventure that is part of your special day, everything will be special. Weddings are very unpredictable. They can go out of control very easily, so if something goes wrong, let your Bridesmaid or Best Man or someone you can trust handle it for you. There is nothing you can do other than forget about it and enjoy your day as much as you. It’s gonna fly away pretty quick, I know that by experience! Your wedding is not a fashion magazine photoshoot. It’s real life, so whatever happens, happens. Your photographer should just be there to capture it. If something unpredictable happens, just let it go. You are gonna have a good laugh in a couple of years while looking at those moments captured.
- Bruno Rosa
80. Find some alone time to sit and be with your spouse
Find five minutes to just disappear from the world and take a few moments for yourselves. Make a little time for you and your spouse on this day. I promise that you will not regret stepping away to have just a few private moments with the love of your life. These could very well be the most important and memorable moments from your entire day, just sitting and soaking up the importance of your commitment to spend the rest of your lives together. When you are working out your timeline, tell your wedding planner, photographer, maid of honor, or whoever you trust with planning that you want 5-10 uninterrupted minutes with your boo to decompress and just be together.
81. Things are going to go wrong on your wedding day
But at the end of the day, you'll be married to the person you want to spend your life with. Your job is to make it to the moment when you are speaking those vows to each other. Let everything else fade away. I try to say some version of that to every bride and every groom we work for. Because we've been through enough weddings to know that there's always something that doesn't work out just right, but as long as they make it to that moment together, it's all worth it. Just let it happen. Don't get caught up in the problems. Focus on why you're there and who you're celebrating with, and you'll have a perfect wedding day to look back on, no matter what goes wrong.
82. Make your day epic!
Does it scream YOU? No decision should be made unless the answer is a resounding YES! Never be afraid to be different. Traditions are great but don't let them trap you. Some of the most memorable weddings I have shot are the people who went against the norm. They were not being different just to be different - theirs were different because it represented their personality. Don't hold back! Your guests are going to follow your lead. If you let everyone see how much fun you are having, your guests will too. Nothing is better than seeing a couple let loose on their wedding day. The wildest, most electric wedding receptions are always the ones where the bride and groom lead the charge.
83. Value the time you and your partner take to sit together and choose how you want to celebrate your love
Consider together what aspect or vendors you want to prioritize when setting your budget. If you are foodies, focus on your caterer, baker, or coffee stand. If you love savoring memories, interview several photographers to get clear on the artist's style that would best represent your wedding day. If you're known for dancing 'til you drop, you better get the best DJ you can find. Don't worry too much about the details that aren't important to you. When the day has ended, you can slip out of your up-do and bow-tie and smile, knowing that sharing the most authentic version of yourselves was how you started your marriage.
84. Trust your photographer
Photography is about lighting. The light at your venue is going to be completely different on your wedding day than the day you previewed it. Your photographer would be incredibly happy to help you design a timeline that works best for the size of your wedding party, your photography goals, and your ceremony time to create the best images and portraits for you. Trust them to do their job! Don’t try to tell them what to take photos of or give them a shot list. If you are trying to give them a shot list, you are removing your photographer’s ability to be present, capture special unique moments, and to observe and recognize the things that make your day inherently YOURS.
85. Choosing your photographer isn't just about the price. It's about connection, consistency, and experience.
When hiring a photographer, not only do you need to connect with their photos emotionally, but you need to make sure you are hiring someone who has the experience and is consistent with what they provide. If a photographer you love is out of your budget, don't be afraid to ask if they offer payment plans. These are photos that will last forever, so the investment of this should be considered to be of utmost importance. Aside from that, here are some other tips we can share on choosing the perfect wedding photographer:
Ask for a few full galleries - Make sure the work throughout each wedding feels consistent with editing. Just know that each wedding is unique, so lighting, location, and even the colors of the wedding will translate differently from wedding to wedding gallery. Make sure each gallery on their own feels consistent too.
Connect to the photographer's photos - Some photographers love capturing details. Others, couple portraits or candid moments. Whatever draws you to that photographer, make sure that you are connecting to their photos.
Don't be fooled - 'they offer more products than this photographer'. You can always go back and order albums, prints, canvases and more months after your wedding, but you can never go back and add more coverage of your day. Invest in the experience a photographer can provide for your wedding day coverage, not in how much you can get with your budget.
Don't Pinterest your photographer - If your photographer is spending time looking at the list of photos you saved on Pinterest and trying to duplicate them, instead of capturing you and your spouse to be the way you guys are, you are doing your investment and photographer a disservice. They could be missing out on moments or unique photos particular to you two.
Think Lighting - Lastly, take note of the beautiful window light when getting ready. Make sure that on the day of your wedding, you direct your hair and makeup artist to the closest window light possible. This also helps when you are getting into your dress, or for you grooms out there getting into your suit or tux! Candid photos are taken when they unexpectedly happen, but if you can have some control, at least start the day with beautiful window light vs crammed in a bathroom with horrible light!
It's easy to get tangled up in trying to perfect each detail of your wedding day. But if you focus more on weaving your soul and personalities into your celebration of forever, you're guaranteed a wedding that's enjoyable from the planning stages to saying "I do!". To ensure your special day runs smoothly, choose your photographer wisely. Hire a photographer that focuses on telling your story and beautifully capturing your commemoration of pure love for each other. Lastly, accept the fact that things may not go exactly as planned. Make room for the unexpected. Sometimes, it's the unexpected moments that make your special day more magical!