Before choosing flowers, colors, venue, and more envision the feel you want for your entire day. Then with each following decision see if it will fit into your plan. Then think of the logistics you need to address to make it happen (parking, time for travel, sunset times, crowds, large wedding parties and large families require more time for photos, etc.) If you’d like a low-key relaxing day you might want only one venue and few formal events—to keep things simple. If you want an event-packed day, more planning is required, so hiring a coordinator might be necessary. Either way I highly recommend hiring a coordinator so that they can keep the day running smoothly, address any problems that may come up, and make sure all the details are taken care of. They will save you and your family stress, and result in an overall more enjoyable day. With a coordinator I am better able to focus on my job instead of having to spread myself thin and worry about keeping the wedding on track and dealing with issues that may arise.
One thing to think over, if either of you wear glasses. They can be difficult to photograph if they are not anti-reflection/glare lenses, and if they are transition glasses (meaning the lens darkens and lightens) I highly recommend getting new lenses, otherwise, you’ll appear to be wearing sunglasses in all the outdoor photos.
When choosing a location for getting ready, consider its appearance—a location with space for all your gals, and good daylight is best for photography. Also, if the prep location is close to the wedding venue it’ll cut down on travel time.
Ask the florist to bring the bouquets and boutonnieres to the prep location (instead of the ceremony location). That way, I can get lots of great flower photos before they wilt, and they’ll be there for any portraits taken before the ceremony.
Make sure you have practiced bustling your dress, and that one of your bridesmaids knows how to do it.
Please bring a nice hanger for your wedding gown for its photos. A simple wood hanger works well, or on etsy.com you can find some personalized hangers. Also, have you dress hanging on its hanger, along with all the items to be photographed (shoes, jewelry, garter, and any other special items).
Please bring a copy of your save-the-date and invitation to be photographed.
With all the excitement the prep location tends to turn into tornado zone. To keep it pretty for photos, please ask your bridesmaids to keep the room fairly tidy,
For putting on your dress, if you’d like certain people to be there, please tell them ahead of time and have them arrive dressed nicely.
The number one thing that makes weddings run late are hair and makeup appointments. They tend to take longer than the time quoted, so tell your hair and makeup stylist that they need to be done a whole hour before they actually need to be finished. They will want to do everything to make you look great, so give them plenty of time.
The lighting on your wedding day affects what sort of makeup to use. Indoor photos will generally be taken with flash, so it’s important to use powder to combat shine. For the outdoors soften makeup a bit as it can easily look too heavy or harsh in sunlight.
Don’t go changing—don’t try new skincare products, or anything that may irritate skin during the wedding countdown. Don’t be tempted to get cosmetic or skin treatments too close to the date, especially if you haven’t done the procedure before.
Exfoliate and moisturize—don’t forget that the most important step is good skincare for a clean, smooth base. Soft, supple skin will be the best canvas for any makeup to look great on.
Build from a solid foundation—be sure that your foundation is the right color and formulation for your skin. Color correcting concealers, like green/yellow for redness, and peach/yellow for under-eye circles are a much better choice than simply layering on more makeup. Remember that redness will be easily picked up in photographs so take care to balance that out, and stay away from more pink based foundations.
Define eyes and brows—while its important to line and define eyes so they pop in photos, keep in mind that dark shadow will make eyes recede and look smaller. For big bright eyes, highlight the inner corners and brow bone with an off-white, light pink or pale gold shadow.
Make sure brows are properly framing the face- you’ll look better and younger with defined brows.
Skip the glitter—radiance-enhancing or shimmery foundations make faces look too slick and shiny for photos. Keep the sheen only on cheekbones and the cupid’s bow for highlighting purposes. Always finish the t-zone with powder, and and blot any oiliness as needed.
Make sure everything stays put- use waterproof/smudge-proof eye makeup, and bring touch-up makeup to use throughout the day. Dark lipstick, unless touched up frequently will look messy. Typically a gloss works well.
For great ceremony photos the key is to have even lighting (all in shade or all in shadow) on the bride and groom, officiant, and ideally the entire wedding party. So when choosing the direction of your ceremony’s layout consider the sun’s angle. When creating the ceremony layout it is best for photography if there is room for me to move around- area on both sides of the seated guests, a wide enough aisle to move in, and when doing decor on the chairs it’s nice if I can move in and out of them- I prefer if ribbons aren’t hung from chair to chair because it prevents moving in and out of rows.
During the ceremony please have your wedding party stand side-by-side, versus in front of each other so that each person can be seen in the photographs.
The background behind the ceremony will be in every ceremony photo- make sure there are no distracting elements. Discuss the placement of the speakers with the DJ, and have them set them as far off to the side as possible. Also, wireless lapel mics are preferred, so there will be no mic stand in the photos.
For churches discuss the lighting with the church coordinator—for very dark churches please have them turn on all the lights. Ask about the rules regarding the use of flash. Also, sometimes just barely changing where people stand during the ceremony can make a big difference.
Prior to the ceremony, just after guests are seated, I recommend having the officiant make an announcement to have guests shut off their phones. They also could ask guests to remain seated when taking photos- I’ve had quite a few weddings with guests that remain standing in the aisle or constantly get in my shots throughout the ceremony, making it difficult and sometimes impossible for me to get “the shot.” Or if you can think of that particular relative that is known for doing this you can ask them ahead of time to remain unobtrusive.
For the processional, it’s nice when everyone processes up the aisle, versus having the men come in from the side- it provides more opportunities for procession photos. Also consider what the background is for the processional—make sure there are no distracting elements, such as signs, garbage cans, etc.
is a “first look” right for you:
How it works – The bride and groom get ready separately, just like “normal.” When you both are dressed and ready, I take the groom to a place with great light to wait for the bride. The bride then walks from behind and when she’s a few feet behind him, the groom turns to see her. At that moment, you’ll completely forget we’re there, but we’ll capture the smiles, tears, laughs and kisses. Chances are, the “first look” photos will end up being some of your most treasured. It’s a great special moment for just you two to be together.
By seeing each other before the ceremony we’ll be able to take most of your portraits before then. Then we’ll most likely be able to finish the rest of your portraits before your cocktail hour is over so you’ll get to spend more time with your guests.
If you wait until the ceremony to see each other, we’ll have no choice but to do all your portraits after the wedding. This is no problem if you’re doing an afternoon wedding, but if it’ll be dark after your ceremony, our options for creative portraits are limited, to say the least.
After your ceremony your guests will head over to the cocktail hour. You’ll be excited to see them and might even feel bad leaving them waiting while you take pictures. Your coordinator will be pulling you towards the reception, your family will be telling you to hurry up, and your wedding party will be ready to party! Getting all the photos done before the ceremony, when there’s no rush and nobody waiting for you is much less stressful. I promise!
Please tell the family members that will be in the photos ahead of time so they know to remain nearby after the ceremony and to await direction. Prior to the wedding day, choose a family member or friend to help organize and find everyone.
Please make sure the reception decor will be setup prior to the ceremony and will be accessible for photography. If there are any extra special details/decor please make me aware of them so I can make sure to get photos of them.
Venues with soft daylight are best for photography if the reception takes place during daylight.
Please look for any eyesores: exit signs, fire hydrants, signage, etc., and ask the venue about having them removed or covered for the reception.
Check the backgrounds behind the head table and cake table, and other important events. Try to choose spots preferably without windows or mirrors directly behind them- this makes it very difficult for photography.
If the DJ can provide additional up-lights, and lighting on the dance floor it creates much more interesting party photos.
end-of-the-night & farewell:
It can be a wonderful end to your wedding day to have your DJ invite all your guests to form a circle around you to dance to the last song. Then for your exit you could have a farewell with all your guests lined up and you can provide them with bubbles, confetti, sparklers, ribbons, etc (make sure to ask your venue what is not allowed) and they cheer you as you make your exit. You’ll just need to find someone to be responsible for organizing this.