After five years as a wedding photographer, I have truly seen it all when it comes to how couples say, “I do!” From the great to the…not so much. Weddings days should be flooded with nothing but joy and overwhelming love. They definitely shouldn’t be stressful or chaotic, but far too often, that’s what they become. So, I’d like to offer some of my top stress-free wedding tips so you can plan your dream effortless wedding day!
Match your timeline to the light
This is the first tip that I tell every single one of my clients, and it is downright vital if you want beautiful light in your images. I always recommend doing couple’s and bridal party portraits during golden hour. So make sure to check what time the sun is going to set on your wedding day and plan for photos. The last thing you want is to be eating your wedding dinner during the world’s most beautiful sunset!
Schedule at least 40 minutes for couple’s portraits
One of my favorite parts of the wedding day is when we step away from the celebration for quiet photos. Weddings can be very chaotic, and finding alone time for the couple is so important. During each wedding, I try to give my clients 10 minutes of alone time before I start taking photographs. This way, they can soak everything in and take a break from the details of their day. And this feels like common sense, but it’s worth emphasizing: the more time you spend taking photos, the more photographs you will get! It will also allow your photographer more time to be creative.
Hire a day-of coordinator
If you are having a large wedding, I highly recommend hiring a day-of coordinator! I have witnessed too many weddings where the bride, mother of the bride, a sister, a cousin, etc. has been forced to adopt the role of the coordinator. And, trust me, you don’t want this to happen on your wedding day. You’ll really want to enjoy every last moment of your day and for your loved ones to do the same.
4. Tell your family members about family portraits in advance
Things can get super awkward at weddings, especially when it comes to family photographs. To avoid this, I highly recommend telling your family members who exactly is in each of the family photos. Showing them the list can also be beneficial if you have a large family to ensure no one is missed. If you have a large family, I recommend having 10-15 different combinations.
Bonus tip: Don’t let your family members take iPhone photographs during the portraits! It slows down the entire process, and can occasionally ruin photos.
5. Stick to your budget and decide what you want to invest in.
Weddings can be so expensive. They can be a downpayment on a house or the cost of a brand new car. I always recommend sticking to your budget and think about what vendors you want to invest in. What do you want the outcome of your wedding to be? What is your vision for your vendors? What vendors do you want to invest in?
Spend time with your photographer before your wedding day or book an engagement session
On your wedding day, you will spend a tremendous amount of time with your photographer. Because of this, you’ll definitely want to ensure you vibe with them well and know how they function during a photo session. I always plan engagement sessions with my couples so they can get to know me and I can get to know them! I love feeling as if we are friends on your wedding day! And you’ll feel infinitely more comfortable in front of the camera this way.
Plan your wedding for yourself and your fiancé
I have seen so many weddings where the wedding was focused on the family and their needs. It is so important to customize your wedding to what you want. Do you want a smaller, more intimate wedding? Do you want all your second and third cousins at your wedding? Do you want your parents’ friends at your wedding that you haven’t spoken to in 10 years? Think about who you want at your wedding and how you want your wedding day to look. It will make your wedding much more meaningful.
If possible, schedule your portraits for BEFORE the ceremony
Each wedding timeline is different, but if you’re planning a first look, I highly recommend trying to finish all your couple, bridal, and family photos before the ceremony. That way, you can immediately celebrate with your family and friends! But flexibility is key, and it might work better to plan your family photos for post-ceremony. Whatever you decide, just make your decision clear to your photographer in advance.
It’s completely OK to have a smaller wedding…or even to elope!
Eloping — or planning an intimate wedding celebration — can be so meaningful because you are choosing to do it for yourself and nobody else. Larger weddings often bring family drama or more stress. So, if you’re nervous about expectations or your vision being overwhelmed by others, consider eloping as an option.
Have an unplugged ceremony
I highly recommend enforcing an “unplugged ceremony.” An unplugged ceremony is one where the couple asks guests upfront to keep their phones and cameras put away until the reception. This eliminates those awkward photos filled with phone screens during the most beautiful moments of your celebration.
11. Pick a spot for your couple and family photographs beforehand
12. Write out your family list beforehand
13. Tell your family members who exactly is in the family photos
14. Hire vendors that match your budget and vision
15. Finish all your couple, bridal photos, family photos, before the ceremony.
16. If you want details photographed, put all of them in a box for your wedding photographer when you are getting ready
17. Go over your contracts with your vendors in detail
18. Don’t ask your wedding photographer to take an iPhone photograph during the wedding day.
19. Consider having your wedding on a Friday or Sunday because it may be cheaper
20. Share your timeline with your close family and friends
Let me know if you have any other questions about these wedding tips!