EMBRACE THE UNEXPECTED AND ROLL WITH IT
It’s your wedding day: Live It! Your wedding is uniquely yours. Allow your day to be whatever it will be. Whether that means a necklace you bought and then forgot to wear, raindrops sprinkling on your outdoor ceremony or your reception running a little behind schedule – be flexible, remain calm, and keep a positive attitude and an open mind. Allow spontaneity to surprise and delight you.
Pinterest is a great resource to explore themes, styles and DIY projects to create for your wedding. It is not, however, best utilized as an opportunity to send inspiration boards to your photographer in hopes they will recreate or mimic photos created by other photographers of other couples.
Enjoy living in your day – not someone else’s.
You know those elegant wedding photos of a bride and groom in a sun-drenched field with lush rolling hills, gorgeous floral décor draped from the roof of a rustic farmhouse and baby goats in tuxedos prancing around near a lake? Those are called “Stylized Shoots”. While magazines and bloggers love rich detail shots of all that incredible eye candy, these aren’t real weddings. At an actual wedding, those goats would be eating the bride’s bouquet while guests are swatting away horseflies and groomsmen would be stripping down to hop in the lake to escape the humidity. The wedding industry is your billion dollar BFF, always offering you unsolicited advice to turn your wedding into a fairytale. The fact is every minute of your fleeting wedding day is at a premium: Don’t take time away from capturing real moments to recreate the vision of what someone trying to sell you advertising believes your wedding should look like.
Wedding Planners aren’t just for Million Dollar Weddings – they’re for every wedding couple who values saving their time, money and a whole lot of headaches. A wedding coordinator may not only save your sanity by helping you through the major stages of your wedding planning but may also be able to negotiate with their preferred vendors.
While it’s true that some venues offer an on-site coordinator, make sure you understand that the scope of their job begins when you arrive for your reception and ends when the dance floor opens. These venue coordinators won’t be there to review contracts of other vendors, to guarantee those vendors arrive on time and perform to the details outlined in their contract or to orchestrate the multitude of tasks throughout your day such as remembering your unity candle, placing your sign-in album out for guests during cocktail hour or collecting your gifts and safely delivering them after your reception.
Quite often, in order to prevent chaos from ensuing on a client’s wedding day, I step in to demonstrate how to tie a bow tie, pin boutonnieres, direct guests which side of the aisle to sit, help brides bustle their dresses, and even demonstrate how to cut a wedding cake. And though I always want to help my clients as much as possible, do you know what I’m not doing while I’m doing all the things a wedding planner does? Photographing. During these moments my cameras hang by my side while I perform the tasks necessary so the show can go on. Having an experienced wedding planner on your side means that your photographers can do what they do best – capture photos – instead of orchestrating all the little things that could and often do go wrong on your wedding day.
What’s a First Look? It’s when the couple see one another for the first time before their ceremony in order to have a few minutes alone and capture portraits before their ceremony.
It’s true,… weddings go by in the blink of an eye. Your First Look is the one time throughout your entire day when you can slow down, savor the moment and be truly alone together. This private moment can set the tone for the rest of the day, calming your nerves and providing an opportunity to connect before you are standing together in front of a church filled with all of your family and friends. If you’re prone to stress or anxiety, a First Look can also be a calming alternative.
Your Associate Photographer will lead one of you to a remote location and phone your Primary Photographer to prompt your partner’s arrival. One usually approaches the other and will often tap them on the shoulder in order for them to turn around and see their partner for the first time. From here, you embrace while we capture the moment in a photojournalistic regard with minimal direction allowing the two of you your private time and space.
Delegate! Delegate! Delegate!
A lot of couples have a tough time delegating tasks because they have a specific vision, don’t want to trouble friends or family or trust only that they can execute the tasks themselves. You are loved by everyone at your wedding and they want to help you have an incredible day. Don’t be afraid to utilize others’ strengths so you can relax and enjoy your day.
CARVE TIME FOR PORTRAITS
Set aside time to create your wedding portraits. Seriously!
One of the most important parts of your wedding day is taking the time to create artistic portraits of you two. Make sure to spare a minimum of 30 minutes for your portraits so you can have memories of just the two of you.
This is one thing that couples tend to not consider (or not even know they have to consider) but be aware that the light changes throughout the day and different light will result in very different photographs.
For example, if you’re having a winter wedding, it will likely start to get dark around 3:30 and therefore you really need to consider hosting your ceremony early in the day to give your photographer an opportunity to capture great portraits and your group photos before the light starts to fade unless you intend to capture indoor portraits the entire day.
When looking at venues, think about the light in each room. Is the room you’re getting ready in small, dark and cramped? Are the ceremony room walls covered in dark wood that is lacquered in resin and will reflect a flash? Is your reception venue covered in mirrors? Remember, photography at its core is simply capturing light; if there isn’t any light, there’s only so much your photographer can do without using various artificial lights and flashes.
For your reception, the more lighting you can afford, the better. We love uplighting, candles, chandeliers and Italian lights. One of our favorite event professionals is MDM Entertainment who provide all types of creative lighting solutions for your wedding reception. See http://mdmentertainment.com/chicago-wedding-lighting-and-special-event-lighting
Before you book your church be sure to ask whether photography is allowed and if there are any restrictions. It’s important for your own peace of mind to understand if there are any restrictions in advance such as where your photographers can stand to photograph your ceremony or when your photographers can use flash.
Generally, the best time for an outdoor ceremony is 2 hours before sunset. This ensures the sunlight falls more evenly on the skin tones (no harsh shadows) and is consistent for both the bride and groom (so you don’t have one person in the light, and the other in shadow).
UNPLUGGED WEDDINGS: THE NO CELLPHONE ZONE
If you value seeing your spouse coming down the aisle and would regret family and friends blocking that amazing view and compromising your memories, consider asking your officiant to make an announcement before the ceremony about the use of phones during the ceremony’s processional and recessional.
PLAN AN ENGAGEMENT SESSION
Engagement Sessions are a great way to not only practice in front of the camera but to get to know your photographer and familiarize your posing styles before your wedding day. Your wedding photographer will also be able to find out how you photograph and you’ll get some cute shots of the two of you to display on your walls, as Save The Dates, or at your reception. I always bring my associate photographer to your engagement session to act as my location lighting assistant which provides a great opportunity for you to meet the second photographer for your wedding.
TRUST YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER
Of all the wedding photographers I know, one of their biggest gripes is when a client hands them a detailed shot-by-shot list of every single thing they want photographed – the dress hanging in front of the window, the shoes, bride getting into her dress, dad looking proud, etc. Trust your photographer. I’ve been capturing weddings for almost 15 years and am very thorough in documenting each and every one of your details and moments throughout your day.
If you have something particularly sentimental or unique that you’d like photographed like perhaps a piece of jewelry passed down through your family or a DIY project that you spent days on, then be sure to let me or my assistant photographer know as we will make sure your capture it for you.
INVITE YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER TO YOUR WEDDING
If your photographers are on the guest list, they will be seated with the guests, which ensures they are always with you and will never miss a moment of your reception. This also ensures they are fed at the same time and in the same location as your guests instead of far away from you and the action when your speeches, toasts and first dance are occurring. Food is energy and energetic photographers are exactly what you want when you have hours of dancing ahead of you. Plus, if you remember to send your Photographer an invitation to your wedding they will photograph it.