On June 3rd I got married to the most caring, patient, talented man I know! It was a dream. As a wedding photographer, I’ve naturally helped, supported, and planned both friends’ and clients’ weddings. I’ve been along the bride and groom’s side the entire day from getting ready to the grand exit more times than I can count, but yet being the bride gave me a completely new perspective on this lovely thing I get to take part in: Wedding photography. So, here’s a few tips and lessons learned that I’d love to pass onto current and future brides. Let's dive in!
1: Trust Your Photographer
As you enter the wedding planning process, usually there’s an introductory meeting with your photographer right when you book, and then again about a month or so away from the wedding. Both of these meetings are super beneficial because not only does it let you get to know each other a bit, but it’s also a time meant for you to be honest about your ideas and obstacles that have arisen, so that your photographer can lend their expertise! Chances are, they’ve been a part of too many weddings to count, and can help you problem solve in order to achieve the vision you’ve been wanting all along.
For example, my husband and I have a one-and-a-half year old dog that we both simply adore as she entered our lives right as I moved back home to Bismarck and is terribly cute (I know, I’m biased, but hey!).
At that point in our dating relationship, we both knew it’d be ‘our dog’ some day and so when it came time to talk through ideas for the wedding we thought it’d be sooo amazing if we could get her a floral collar and have her walk down the aisle after the flower girl and ring bearer. But… as you can imagine, that plan logistically had some holes in it, so come my final meeting with our photographer about a month out, we were simply going to forget the idea. But, then something magical happened. I was open and honest with our photographer about it, and then she gave us some simple suggestions that resulted in a solution!
Instead of not doing anything at all because our initial idea fell through, our photographer helped us create a moment with our dog that we’ll treasure forever. Trust your photographer, brides! They are both willing and great at helping personalize your special day so be honest, and listen to their ideas.
2: Your Wedding Photos Are Incredibly Priceless
I know this isn’t big news, and may sound a little biased coming from a photographer, but after being in the bride’s position I finally realized just how truly, priceless they are! Our wedding day was amazing in every way and filled with so many treasured details and people, so now that its said and done, what parts do we have left to take and hold onto?
The photos (and video, but I’ll save that for later). That’s it.
The location is used for recreational purposes, the family and friends flew back home, the decor has been packed up and sold, the florals have wilted away… even my dress has been cleaned and tucked away for safekeeping!
Literally, nine months of planning every moment of my wedding day is now dependent on the memory of it. (Which, might I add, doesn’t account for all the things I didn’t get to experience like allll the delicious foods that I didn’t have time to eat, or the guest book table that I wasn’t able to sneak away to.) This is precisely why I hired an amazing photographer that captures those details, and why you should too.
In the planning process, there’s so many decisions to make like what vendors to choose and what’s in the budget, so let me just encourage every bride out there to invest in your photography! Please don’t let all your planning go away after the day is done, and rather let the beauty resonate for days, months, and years to come! Both you, your family, and your future family will treasure them so much. Seriously, you won’t regret it.
3: Give Yourself Time With The Groom
I think the most often phrase I heard while leading up to the wedding day was, ‘Enjoy every moment, it goes so fast!’ If you haven’t heard it yet, just wait… its coming. With all of the commotion of the day, it can be really hard to focus on the moment at hand, but it is possible… you just need to plan for it.
Do yourself a favor and request time with just you and the groom at some point of the day. This could be before the ceremony to just rest and relax, make out a little and laugh, maybe even to take a few photos, or it could be after the ceremony to celebrate together before getting bombarded by all of your guests. (Guests, I absolutely adore you and are so grateful, but let’s be honest… everyone starts talking to the bride and groom the second they enter the reception!)
For my wedding, we scheduled in a first look time before the ceremony to see each other, get any nerves out, and to just have fun taking photos.
We also had a quick sunset session following the ceremony to, again, take a deep breathe, soak in the moment, and all the while let our photographer capture it. It was possibly the most memorable part of our wedding day.
Looking back, these are the photos I think I will treasure most! After all, it is OUR wedding day. We’ll forever be able to remember the emotion we felt for each other, the smell of the fresh, crisp air, the sound of the birds chirping, and the gorgeous sight of each other at our very best all because we took the time to be together on our day, and let our photographer share in the moment. The day flies by, so make sure to schedule some intimate time with your groom.
4: Family Photos Are Work
I had a fairly good idea of this prior to the wedding as I’ve had to track down missing family members, kids crying, and everything in between at previous weddings that I’ve photographed, but for the bride its no less work! Its almost as if you feel a sense of duty for getting everyone together in order because you know them personally, all the while not wanting to miss a photo that you’ll want down the road, and….by the way, trying to avoid the gross, stiff smile and instead produce a stunning, natural smile for each photo.
As a bride, there’s really no way around this. Family is important, super important, and its a blessing to have as many of them present as possible. But, you can plan and prepare for this chaotic part of the day by writing out your list of family photos and sharing it with your photographer. If they know ahead of time what you’re looking for, then they can orchestrate, gather, and do all the hard work for you come the wedding day. It’s also key to tell your family to be there 15 minutes ahead of time, trust me!
With a plan in place written down, an early arrival of the family, and a great photographer, you’ll be all set to have a swift, easy-as-possible family photo time of the day.
5: Don’t Check The Weather
Seriously, don't do it! Just, don't. I know just how incredibly tempting this might be, especially if you’re having an outdoor wedding day like myself, but believe me, checking the weather won’t help anything. As a photographer, I know that the weather only gets about 50% accurate about a day before the wedding.
But as a bride, it was so tempting to check it the very second the weather report came out weeks in advance. Here are three reasons why you don’t need to check it:
The weather will be, what it will be. Planning and looking forward to your wedding day can be emotional bearing enough, don’t add another thing to your plate! If the weather truly is bad, the people involved with planning your day will be there to supply a plan B and make it work.
Let your photographer decide the locations. From the very beginning, do everything you can to cast your vision to your photographer so that when moments like these happen, the photographer knows exactly where to go in the case of bad weather, all the while making it consistent with your style and theme. They most likely have backup locations from previous events, and so they’re a great resource to depend on.
Enjoy getting married! I know, I’ve heard this so many times, but at the end of the day it really is true… no matter what the weather brings, you’ll have so much fun and be married forever with your favorite person in the world! Rain!? Get some romantic, cozy umbrellas. Wind!? Show off your dress as it soars in the wind. Snow!? Buy some heavy-duty, cute, scarfs and mittens that will add some color to your attire. See, there’s really nothing to worry about. Lean on your photographer and friends, and it’ll be amazing no matter what the weather brings.
6: Give Room For The Details
You’ve probably spent hours, days even, looking at Pinterest and pinning your favorite ideas, and then crafting with your girlfriends to make sure each and every detail is just perfect. The truth is, that 90% of these details end up being at the reception. And to be honest, from my wedding-day experience, I got to see about 50% of them while I was amidst celebrating and enjoying it all.
Now, that’s not to say that they aren’t important!! They certainly are, and can really make your day stunning both for you and for your guests. But, that is to say, it’s super essential to give your photographer time to photograph them all so that you can remember and experience everything you missed once the day has come and passed.
There are a few ways to do this. First, make sure to communicate what the really important details are to your photographer in your planning sessions so they can make a special note. While every detail is great, some are just a little bit more prized than others.
Secondly, plan a time during the day when the reception area will be mostly quiet before the guests enter, so that the photographer can sneak away and capture some of those elements. This could be during your prep time before the ceremony, or after the ceremony as you greet all of your guests.
Third, there are ways to create a simple barrier that will signal to guests that its not quite time yet. Use a rope, twine, you name it, to kindly block that area off all the while adding to your overall aesthetics. Plus, this will make it more of an event when the guests do get to enter!
All of these things will create some space for your stunning details to be photographed and remembered forever.
7: Just Sit Back
Okay, so this isn’t really related to wedding photography, but it’s still an incredible reminder. When your wedding day comes, its no longer time to plan, create, stress, or whatever else might come about. This is the day you’ve waited ever so anxiously for, and have worked so hard towards. So, now, its time to relax, take a deep breathe, and soak up every last second. The colors, the people, the food, the scene, your GROOM, everything. This is your time to embrace it all and let others finish the rest. Let loose, and have some fun! Smile, dance, cry, scream, its your day!
Bonus: Video Is The Best!
As a photographer, I’ve always enjoyed and appreciated the art of video, but when it came to the wedding I wasn’t sure if our budget could handle investing in a videographer. After all, they’re usually more expensive than a photographer (which is totally justified!), and we already had a fantastic photographer.
Although, since my husband is a filmmaker, he insisted. And, man, am I glad we hired a videographer! Watching our wedding day enfold second my second after its passed, is the greatest gift. Even just a month after, there’s so much I could already easily forget, yet now I have it all on film to always remember and bring us joy. From now on, I will always recommend getting a videographer. Always. Invest in video, and invest in photo. You'll thank yourself later.
Your Wedding Day Will Be Amazing
Planning your wedding from start to finish is both fun and hard work. You want everything to be just right so that this day will be one to forever remember. But, without a great wedding photographer or videographer, those details and moments might forever disappear. If you want your special day to forever be remembered for the stunning day it was, invest in your photographer and follow the tips above. You'll be so prepared and love every minute both on the day of your wedding, and the weeks, months, and years to come. Cheers, brides!