Getting married is so exciting yet also stressful! You are so worried that you are going to forget something. Maybe you just don't know where to turn for help. This bridal guide is designed to help you navigate this tricky wedding planning. This guide was built on my experience as a wedding photographer and also insight from a few other vendors who were willing to share their expertise!
Your Wedding Makeup
As a bride you want to feel happy and secure with your makeup choice. Let's face it, without really good makeup your photographs could come out different than you wanted. I spoke with a local beauty expert, Mrs. Eden Hunt, of Bliss & Blush. She gave some amazing advice on wedding make up and skin care! Here are some tips she recommends to brides to keep your skin looking healthy and wedding day ready.
Wedding Skin Care
Schedule monthly facials with an Esthetician at least 6 months before the wedding. (Only if facials help your skin. Some people have reactions!)
Drink plenty of water to keep your skin hydrated.
Stay consistent with a skin care routine.
Eden suggest that you should enhance your natural beauty so that on your wedding day you look like the best version of yourself. Keep your makeup fresh, glowing, and neutral! Use a long-wearing foundation, setting powder, and setting spray to make sure your makeup doesn't budge and looks great for your photos!
Another fun tip would be to have your maid of honor keep a lipstick and pressed powder on hand in case you need a touch up! Also, remember SPF for your day to day makeup is great! It is not great for your wedding day.
Last but certainly not least, it is so important to have multiple trial runs for your makeup. Your first trial should be before you have any photos taken! The last thing you want is to have photos taken with makeup you are not happy with.
Your Wedding Details
You found the perfect dress, now what wedding details would you like to include with your dress? After you have decided on the wedding dress details, what do you do to get them wedding day ready?
After you have had your bridal portraits photographed, it is super important to check over everything you wore! Sometimes you get dirt smudges on your dress so be aware. If there is time, you may need to get it dry cleaned. This is a great time to decide if you need any more alterations. The last thing you want is your dress not to fit properly!
Your shoes will definitely need to be touched up! This is also a great time to find out if the shoes you will be wearing are a good fit for you. It is important to remember not to add any noticeable sole pads or plastic caps on the heel until after they have been photographed.
On the day of your wedding, one of the first things your photographer will ask you about are your wedding details! Your wedding details consist of things that are sentimental to you for your special day.
Here are a few examples of popular items for wedding details
To make your wedding pictures run smoothly, try to have all of your wedding details in one spot. When getting your wedding details together go ahead an d remove all stickers and tags. This makes a photographer's life so much easier!
Tips for the Groom
Grooms listen up. I know you guys don't have to have a whole team to get you ready. When you pick your suit up, be sure to try it on! I cannot stress this enough. The last thing you want on your wedding day is for something not to fit properly!
If you decide to have real bow ties or standard ties, make sure you are able to tie them! This is where a lot of time is spent on the groom and groomsmen. A really good solution to this would be to have ties that are already tied. Also, please remember to keep all of your details together! This includes but not limited to.. suit, shoes, socks, belt, cuff links, watches, or any other items you will be wearing that day. Not only will this make your day less stressful, this helps the photographer capture some detail shots in a timely manner.
Make sure to designate someone to help pin boutonnieres. This is important to make sure they are placed on the correct side, and that they don't move. Pinning can be done by the mother of groom, groomsmen, or maybe even the florist! Please do not ask the photographer to do this. We will miss great getting ready shots, or that special moment between the groom and his mother.
The next tip is talking about the alcohol consumption while getting ready. I understand you may need a little something to calm the nerves. I always advise the wedding party to pace yourself! The last thing you want is to be stumbling down the aisle, or even missing that special photo you were hoping to capture.
Guys, this is your big day too. Have someone designated to answer all the questions people will bring to you. So many grooms get overwhelmed when vendors or family are looking to them for answers. You can't even enjoy your day if your running around trying to resolve questions.
The Wedding Coordinator
A wedding coordinator makes the biggest difference in your wedding day! Whether they help you from start to finish with your planning, or just the day of to assist you in the details of your day. Your coordinator is there to help your day run smoothly and more efficiently. Not only is it important to have one for your ceremony, but they are also wonderful during receptions. So many brides forget that the reception needs coordination! Once you arrive to your reception, the party can begin. It is so important to have someone helping the DJ/Band with the timeline of events.
If you decide to ask a family member to help you coordinate your wedding, be sure to ask someone who knows both sets of families! This is important when you are trying to do family photos. Pick someone who is sweet, but also tactful in how they communicate with people.
Wedding coordinators do a wonderful job of making sure the bride and groom have nothing to worry about on their special day. They take care of any issues with the vendors, guest, or the miscellaneous mishaps on a wedding day! A coordinator also helps a photographer out so much with orchestrating first looks, or even just getting family members to line up! They wear so many hats and are worth the investment on your wedding day.
A timeline of your wedding day is so helpful for all of your vendors, and especially your wedding party. Your wedding coordinator can help you plan the day and communicate your needs and wants to everyone! I cannot stress enough how important it is to have a timeline. I know it may seem crazy, but having a little organization goes a long way! You may not know when to cut the cake or toss the bouquet but a professional wedding coordinator does! Not only can they help you organize one, but they help you stick with it.
Now I realize sticking to a timeline may be stressful at times, but I promise having one in place is better than not. Your reception will run so much more smoothly and your guest will want to hang around longer! The number one reason guest leave is when they feel like things are taking way to long to happen. It may sound crazy, but it does happen.
Hiring A Photographer
This next topic I may be slightly biased on. :)
Choosing your wedding photographer is so important, and there are so many options. I have come up with a list of what I think will help you choose the right photographer for your special day.
Your budget! This is one of the biggest factor when hiring your photographer. Nobody wants you to go into debt for a photographer! I will say in this particular industry 9 times out of 10 you get what you pay for. Choose someone who has a lot of experience in wedding photography! I know photographers can be super expensive, but they are totally worth the investment! The photos taken at your wedding are memories you want to remember forever! Investing in a professional photographer is the best way to guarantee those moments won't be lost.
Style! When you are looking for your photographer look at their work. Do you like that its light and bright, or would you rather it look dark and moody. It is also very important to notice their style of posing. Is it more candid or more traditional? Notice the body language in the photograph. Are you looking for sunset shots, or any kind of night photography? Going through a photographer's galleries will show you their capabilities. Never hire without seeing the photos you are wanting!
Your wedding photographer should feel like your spending time with a friend! Make sure you like them as a person because you will be spending hours of your time communicating with them.
What have other brides say about them? Did they love their photos? How was the photographer's customer service? How did they handle the stress of the wedding day? All of these questions are important to know before you hire! Make sure to read several reviews of the service the photographer provided.
There are many different options for sendoffs. My particular favorite as photographer would be sparklers! With that being said before you buy any you have to make sure your venue allows it. Some venues don't like the risk sparklers bring, but if they allow it go for it! There are few things you should know when purchasing sparklers.
Make sure they are smokeless! Not only does it make the task for your photographer to capture epic photos tricky, but it is also difficult for your guest.
Check the length. If they are short sparklers half of your guest will have a lit sparkler and the rest will just be holding a hot stick!
Make sure you have a container to dispose them safely.
Also, stay away from colors. Keep the sparkler color to white!
First looks have become very popular over the years. Some brides choose to not do first looks with their groom which is completely okay! If you are looking to add more photo opportunities then this is a great option to have especially if you have a fall/winter wedding. The value of first looks add so many sentimental moments to your day.
First looks with your groom can be so sweet and also takes some pressure off for the ceremony. There is more than one way to do this.
You can actually set aside a few moments before the ceremony to see each other. If you want to have a few minutes before, but do not want to see each other before the ceremony, you can stand on opposite sides of the door. You can hold hands, talk, pray, read letters to each other and maybe even shed a tear or two.
If you want to wait until the ceremony for that first look, I have the perfect option for you! If you have a long approach to the aisle, have the best man turn the groom where he is facing away from the aisle. Once you have made it to the end of the aisle, and your gown has been fluffed to perfection, the best man can turn him around. The expression will be priceless! Either way, these are moments you will cherish forever.
Here are a few other first looks you may want to consider for your wedding day.
Father or the Bride / Stepfather of the Bride
Grandparents of the Bride
Mother of the Groom with the Groom first look
Bride & Groom Portraits
After the ceremony is over most couples are ready to rush off to the party which is completely understandable! As a photographer, I love getting that time with just the bride and groom for their own photos. This time is the first moment you have as husband and wife! I promise everything that happens after becomes a blur. Take your time with each other! You will never get that moment back. As soon as you walk into your reception you will be pulled in a million directions! You will barely remember who you talked to, what the reception looked like, or even who was there. If you can't do your photos after the ceremony make the time during the reception while the guest are busy!
One of the most frequently asked questions I receive is always about bridal portraits. What kind of frame should you get, or should you use matting? Should I print a canvas? Most brides who have a bridal session plan to have a print or canvas of their favorite photo. I have a few tips that will help you choose the best option and the quality for your portrait.
Get a high quality print. This is so important! If your photographer offers to print the photo for you let them! They have access to photo printing labs. Your print will not only look better, but it will also last longer. If you decide not to get your print through your photographer use another reputable printing service. Do not use a company that does not print for photos! They use cheap ink and photo paper, you will just be throwing your money away.
Framing. Most brides will go to Hobby Lobby and find a frame on sale. Which is great, but not so great if you are wanting the photo to last! Taking your print to a frame shop is the best decision to make. Not only will they help you choose the appropriate frame for your style, or home decor, they will also advise you on what kind of matting to use. Matting is so important when framing a print! It makes the print look great, but also keeps the print from being directly on the glass. Years of a print sitting directly on glass will ruin the print over time. Fun fact! If you get a canvas instead of a print you won't have to put it behind glass.
I understand most brides have a budget, and you don't always think about the bridal portrait in the budget. I guarantee taking these measures to print and frame your bridal portrait will make the biggest difference! It will be worth the money you spend because it was last decades instead of just a few years.
Most brides choose to have ceremonies outdoors nowadays. Every now and then I get to photograph a beautiful church wedding. This is great not only because it is air conditioned, but it also reminds me of the importance of the ceremony. Most indoor areas have some sort of lighting arrangement. If you are approached about what kind of lighting you want pick normal white lights. Not only will it be less distracting, but it will also save your photographer a lot of time!
Another important thing to remember when getting married in a church are the rules. Some churches will not allow a photographer to be in the room while the ceremony is going on. This is a great rule for the photographer to be aware of so they can be properly prepared for the situation.
When you are planning your wedding day, have you decided if you want it to be an unplugged ceremony? Do you want only photographers taking pictures or do you want your guest to be in on the fun? From a photographer's stand point it is best to have your guest follow the unplug rule. It is very difficult to work around outside cameras flashing, and snapping away! Not to mention your photos will most likely have people holding cameras in them. Now, if you want your guest to be taking pictures too that's perfectly fine!
Planning Your Sessions
After you have booked with your photographer you are probably wondering when to schedule you engagement session. This depends on if you are planning to send out save the dates. Those should be sent out 6-8 months prior to your wedding date. Be sure to plan your engagement session according to that timeline.
During your engagement session if you plan on bring your furchildren bring a friend along to help assist you when they aren't being used for photos!
Your bridal session should be scheduled after your last alteration. This does not mean wait two weeks before your wedding! Give your photographer at least a month to get you through your bridal portrait process!