Your Wedding Tips for Planning your Big Day
WAHOO!! You’re getting married!
There are probably a lot of things going through your head to plan your perfect day. Guest lists. Venues. Decor. It can be overwhelming, but remember why you’re doing it. You’ve found your person and you’re starting your next adventure together. Slow down. Take a breath. And enjoy every minute of it!
Here are a few things to help you plan your day.
I love the getting ready part of the day. The pure excitement and anticipation is tangible, and it makes for great candid shots. It’s also a great opportunity for us to “warm up” a bit. You, your love, and I have already had time to get to know each other, as for the rest of your friends and family, I’m just a crazy girl asking them to stand by the window to do their hair instead of the cramped bathroom.
In order to tell your whole story, I’m going to capture as much detail and emotion as possible. A small, dark room, with suitcases exploding everywhere takes away from the mood of the morning, so here are a few things to keep in mind:
Clutter: There is going to be a lot going on, but the less clutter there is the more the attention is on you and your loved ones in the final images. If you can, keep all the bags, changes of clothes, towels, etc. tucked away. That would be a huge help to me!
Light: I can direct more when I’m there, but try to get set up in a room with lots of big windows. Window light is the most natural (don’t worry, you don’t have to know what this means, just trust me). I will probably get you to turn off most of the other lights. An orange tungsten light is not the best for colour, and we don’t want your skin to come out looking orange!
Hair/Makeup: Whether you have a friend or professional doing your hair and makeup they will want as much light as possible so set up by the windows. This will work best for them and for me! Win win!
Loved ones: If you are able to get ready in a big room, where everyone can be together, that’s ideal. If I’m chasing individual people around, I’m missing potentially great moments, interactions, and reactions. Plus, when everyone is feeding off each other, it’s a great way to keep the energy alive!
Don’t forget about the groom: All of the above applies to the groom as well! The images will also flow together a lot better if you both have lots of big windows and minimal clutter.
Last but not least, once you are totally ready, I will steal you away for a few minutes to get some individual shots. It’s a great time for you to take a moment to breath and take it all in!
Everyone has their own preference on where they want to get ready. One option that usually comes with great window light and minimal clutter are AirBnB’s. There are a ton of cute affordable options out there! If you want any thoughts or insight into the best place to get ready, send me some photos or a link and we will figure it out together!
Once the ceremony starts, it tends to be pretty non-stop. Everyone wants to congratulate you, there are timelines to keep, and you two usually don’t have a moment alone. A first look is a great opportunity to take a quiet moment, just the two of you, and appreciate the amazing step you’re about to take together.
Here are a few reasons why I always recommend doing a first look:
It’ll put you at ease: After months of build up and the anticipation you’ve been feeling all morning, seeing your love for a few quiet moments will set you at ease and take away some of the nervous jitters before standing up in front of your loved ones.
It’ll give you a moment to say ‘Hi!’: Once the ceremony begins you probably won’t have time to to say ‘Hi!’, or ‘Wow… You clean up good!’. Take this time to do that and more. Give each other a hug and a salty, tearful kiss. Stand in silence taking it all in. Whatever you gotta do. This moment is just about you two.
It’ll allow for a better flow for the rest of the day: If you’ve already seen each other before the ceremony, then we can get all of the family/bridal party shots done, freeing up the timeline a bit. You will all be at your freshest, and your loved ones will be able to visit and enjoy the cocktail hour right after the ceremony. Trust me, no one has ever complained about this! This also means that we can get to the couples portraits right after the ceremony, and you will be able to enjoy your cocktail hour as well, rather than just the leftovers!
However, if you have grown up dreaming about your big entrance and everyone seeing your love’s reaction, that’s ok! It’s your day, so let’s do what makes you happy!
As I mentioned, the best time for family/bridal portraits is before the ceremony. It compliments the timeline the best, you will all be at your freshest, and your loved ones will be able to enjoy the cocktail hour right after the ceremony. Trust me, no one has ever complained about this!
I recommend coming prepared. We can work together to prepare a list of the “must get” family shots. This way I can make sure I get everyone, we can stay organized to keep this task on track, and happening as quickly as possible (ideally we will only set aside about twenty minutes for group portraits).
I encourage you to set aside two 20-30 minute time slots for your couple portraits. One right after the ceremony and one around sunset.
Don’t worry, I have my reasons. After the ceremony the pressure is off, the nerves are gone, and you are beyond excited that you just got hitched. This is when we will get most of the huge smile, happy dancing, can’t stop touching each other shots. And right before sunset is when we’ll have the best light. By this time, you two have had a chance to soak it all in and we can get some of those great moody and romantic shots.
Splitting up the time also gives you two a break from the camera, and a chance to visit, eat, and enjoy every moment of your day!
At this point we have already worked together, so we know how each-other works. This is a great advantage as we can dive right in. When I give you cues you will know what I mean and I will know how to best react to your mood!
Outdoor ceremonies are my favourite. The light, the mood, the space for me to move around. All these things allow me to capture the best images. However, depending on the time of day, outdoor ceremonies can be tricky. If they are midday, harsh shadows and bright sunlight are a concern. This combination doesn’t come across well in images. Everyone will probably be squinting or have big shadows under their eyes, which, let’s be honest, isn’t flattering on anyone.
If you can, have your ceremony later in the day, closer to dusk. This will give us the best light, just make sure you leave some space for time delays as well as couples portraits after the ceremony. If your ceremony is midday, set it up so that the sun is behind you two and the officiant. This will give us the most even light.
If you are set on having your ceremony indoors, I recommend trying to find a place that has space to move around (down the centre aisle, up front, and around the sides), in addition to as much natural light as possible. Just like when you’re getting ready, if it’s dark or there are two many different light sources, skin tones can look off.
Again, if you want to send me some photos or links of places you are thinking of, we can figure it out together!
If you haven’t heard this term before, it means asking your guests to keep their cameras, phones, tablets, GoPros, and any other devices tucked away during the ceremony. Just like everything else so far, there are a couple reasons for this:
It keeps your guests focused and in the moment: If your loved ones are concerned about getting a certain shot or changing the batteries on their devices, they probably aren’t fully listening to your vows and they may end up disrupting or blocking the view of people around them. An unplugged ceremony encourages them to sit back, pay attention, and bask in all the glory of your love!
It lets me do my job better: If your guests are concerned about getting the “big moment” shots like the ring exchange or your first kiss, it means that they are in the centre of the aisle, which, yes, you guessed it, is right where I want to be. If I don’t have to worry about knocking anyone over, I’ll be able to focus on getting the best possible shots for you, which you will be able to share with everyone!
Capturing and honouring the mood you have set for your day is very important to me. I don’t want to disturb authentic moments or draw attention away from you two. This is true from beginning to end and is the reason why I don’t use a ton of flashy equipment or big flashes during the day. I’ll only bust out a flash for the party/dance. There are usually a bunch of different lights set up by the DJ, so mine will blend in.
The best combination of lights for the reception is candles and white twinkly lights. If you use enough, they provide a great, even light for the images. Using too many different lights can cause, you guessed it, orange skin tones! So keep it simple.
While DJ lights are great for the dance party and setting an energetic tone, they aren’t the best for your first dance or any other special slow dances (father/daughter, bridal party, etc.). If they can be left off until the dance party starts, then the mood will continue to make sense with what’s happening in all your images!
You’re almost there and, hopefully, some of this has been helpful. As you’ve gathered, consistency and mood are key components in getting the best images for your love story. Here are a couple more things that are going to help make this happen:
Receiving line: Everyone you have invited to share in your wedding day is there for a reason and they are going to want to congratulate you, but receiving lines can take up a ton of time! They can also put a halt on all of the energy you have built up during the morning, first look, and ceremony. So, if you can, try to just sneak away with the immediate family or hop right into a getaway car. As always it’s up to you, just let me know what you want to do and we will make the schedule work!
Dinner: In order for me to be able to capture speeches, toasts, and candid shots of the guests, I have to be in the same room. So if I can eat while your other guests are eating, I will be refuelled and ready to go for all of those special moments!
Slideshow: Slideshows have become very popular at weddings and can be a great way to look back on your journey together. But they can also add one more thing to the already crunched timeline and, let’s be honest, at this point everyone wants to drink and be merry. If you are including a slideshow, my advice would be to have it playing on loop throughout the whole evening. This way people can enjoy it at their leisure, and it doesn’t come between anyone and the dance floor.
Timeline: If you’re looking for a more in-depth look at wedding day timelines, check out the blog A Practical Wedding. They have a variety of timelines broken down to the minute!
I’m happy to help, so if you have any questions say ‘Hi!’