Tips for planning a wedding
Q: You’ve worked at a lot of weddings over the years. What are some things you have seen at other weddings that you would give me tips on to make my wedding run smother or better?
- Hire a wedding planner. Not only will they be able to give you some great advice but they will ease you from so much stress that you otherwise would have had to endure. My suggestion is let the professional you hired do and concentrate on what they were hired for. Caterers are good at making food, let them cook. D.J’s are good at getting your guests up and dancing. Let him play the music. The venues event person is okay, I’ve noticed they often disappear for large amount of times and no one can find them when you need them. Your wedding is just another day at work for a venue staff member and their primary job is to make sure you are in and out of the venue at your specified times and you don’t break any rules while you’re there. Professional wedding planners and coordinators never disrepair. They are there the entire time working with both you and the other vendors making sure everything is staying on task and running smoothly. For a professional wedding planner, your wedding is their passion. This is what they love to do and are good at doing, otherwise they wouldn’t have started their business. They also help find you the best deals so you will end up saving more money. Please remember if you do not hire one that I am not a coordinator and it is not my responsibility to do so on your wedding day. I am there to document your day and I will be focusing on that and not making sure everyone in the wedding is doing what they are supposed to be doing. With that being said, I do always have a timeline with me and know what to be ready for when. If you want to hire one but do not know where to look. I highly recommend Lindsey or one of her team mates at http://www.oohlalaweddings.com/ as well as Jessica and her team from Dreams on a Dime
- Consider going Unplugged during the ceremony. We never ask our clients to not allow their guests to take photos at their weddings. That would insinuate that our photos are more important than theirs. They are not. Both are equally important, just for different reasons. However, we do feel that at certain times having clear shots of you without Iphones and Ipads sticking out in front of us is important. Like when you are walking down the isle. IF you do not want to go unplugged during this time, please consider asking guests to not stick cameras and phones into the isle. We also really prefer to not have to compete with guests during the ceremony and or important events for spots to get great photographs of you. We have had guests get mad at us for being in a great location and stand in front of our lens to get the shot they want with their cell phone which will indeed interfere with us and capturing what we were paid to capture. Because our clients are paying for the images we take, we feel our clients deserve to have clean and uninterrupted images.
- Video / Filmmaker We love working side by side with other creative artists. If the Film crew will be arriving before us we ask for one of these two things. Have us start the same time they start or do not get dressed (especially the groom) until Adam has arrived and have had his time for prep photos as well.
- Have a list of all the groups you want photos taken of during formals and please hand that list to a capable family member to help organize the groups for photos. I will not know who you want in your formals so I should not be in charge of making the groups for you but I will take their photos for you. If I am to call any groups it will be immediate family only. That includes parents, siblings and grandparents only.
- Dress up! Ok guys, this one is for you! Make sure your clothes are fitted to the T and go for the bow-tie over the tie. Go out and buy a suit or tux. Avoid The Mens Warehouse like a plague! Seriously! I have never once seen a suit from that place that looks good and fitted correctly. You don’t want to look back at your wedding images and the only thing you see is your outfit because of how unhappy you are with the way it looks. Trust me! Adam and I were married before we were wedding photographers. We were uneducated and no one gave us any tips. Every. Single. Time. Adam looks at one of our wedding photos, he mentions how he looked ( he rented from The Mens Warehouse because it was cheap and easy) You do not want this! You want to look at your photos and see the two of you having fun, in love and how fly you looked. Not only see the ill fitted suit. The can’t tailor your suit properly to fit you correctly because some other body needs to wear it in two days. Your wife will be spending thousands on her dress. I think its appropriate and ok to spend 500+ on your outfit. Plus you should own at least on suit. I won’t leave you hanging, here are some other places you can get a suit or tux for your wedding. At big department stores like Nordstrums and Neiman Marcus you can find brands like Kennith Cole, Hugo Boss, Versace, Ted Baker. Some other stores would be J Crew, Banana Republic, Tomas Pink, Zara, Black Lapel, Emporio Armaini, Indochino (these are custom made and you will need your measurements) So remember no matter where you go you still need to get tailored but at least they will actually be able to tailor you correctly! Go for the wing tip shoes and don’t forget to match your belt and shoes =)
- Up-lighting and dance floor lighting. It makes a huge difference. HUGE! Just the extra couple hundred dollars seriously adds thousands to the look of your event. If you are not into purple or blue go for the amber tone. It adds class, warmth and that extra jazz to really make your event stand out. You can even mix amber and purple for a really pretty effect . Mixing blue and purple can be really pretty as well. The one thing I would say do not do is the d’j’s laser light show for the dance floor. While it might be cool while you are dancing, you will end up with colorful laser light dots all over your faces in the pictures. It ruins the photos. So many times I’ve had a photo that could be a breathtaking image only ruined because of the laser party dots all over the couple a faces and outfits. Up-lighting = classy and perfect. Laser show can be saved for your Halloween party. If you do get them please do not let your DJ use them until after the important dances.
- Go for statement centerpieces. You do not have to spend ten thousand dollars on flowers to achieve this look. You can use already tall flowers in a tall vase. You can also save money by putting them on every other table rather while having smaller flowers on the opposite tables.
- While tall centerpieces rock, they don’t rock when they are in front of your face on the sweetheart table or the head tables. Keep the flowers low or to the sides of the sweetheart or head table so you don’t block your face from all the photos while you are there. Otherwise your toast photos will be expressionless. You can always make your table stand out by decorating around it like this and this
- Details! They bring so much to the wedding and help make the story of your wedding come together fully in your images. The littlest touches can add such elegance to your wedding and make your photos even more beautiful. Think about the chairs! Even if you do not dress up all of the chairs , dress up the head table chairs with unique chairs that stand out from all the other ones or add in some flowers or chiffon to dress them up! For example – HERE, HERE, HERE. Think soft romantic and classy. Add the shimmery table cloths, designer plates, desert tables, and unique alter. If you are having a daytime garden wedding, request that guest wear derby or London style hats. If you are having a new years wedding requests that your guest bring their favorite carnival style face masks or dress in sequence to really bring together your party. It really is all in the details.
- Consider ditching the garter and bouquet toss. Most of my couples have been opting out of these traditions and for good reason. It doesn’t break up the dance floor and it keeps the reception classy.
- Hire a professional makeup artist and hair stylist. Unless you are a pro, don’t do it yourself. They know what products to use and how to make it look great for the camera. Don’t forget the false eyelashes. They really go a long way to helping your look.
- Cake placement is important for photography. So many times I see this beautiful wedding cake that my couples spend hundreds of dollars on stuffed in the corner of the reception site with just a pain wall behind it. Sure you might have cute little goodies around it but it doesn’t change the fact that it is still up against a boring wall. Dress up the wall behind the cake with flowers, a backdrop, things that bring in more visual interest. It may take a little more work but it’s worth it!
- Decorate the wall behind the head table. Just like the cake, you don’t want boring things behind you! It’s not visually interesting. See examples here, here,
- The Room you will be getting ready in is just as important. Please read this link to learn why choosing the larger more fashion forward room is better then the average Holiday Inn. Think about Air-bNb instead of a hotel room. Same amount of money (or less) More room, more light and way nicer decorations. I’m telling you, the things you are surrounded by really does have an effect on your images.
- Invitations. Don’t forget to bring them to the wedding. I need to photograph them during preps. Ask your florist to bring a few extra foliage and flowers on to the wedding site for me to use for stylizing the details. Flowers look really pretty when used in some of the images. You can also send me your invitations/save the dates and any other stationary prior to your wedding so I can spend time stylizing them. Please let me know what flowers, colors/theme you will be having so I can bring things in to help the imagery process of the stationary. However it is not guaranteed that I will be able to get the exact flowers from your day.
- Rain. It is always good to have a back up plan if you are having an outdoor ceremony or reception for you and your guests. Or get married under umbrellas! For portraits, we can handle the rain as long as I can cover my gear. Have fun with it! Play in the rain and lets get some amazing beautiful images together in the reality of your day and what the beauty of nature throws at us!