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The Lovely Find Feature & Wedding Day 101

Hey hey! Yesterday turned out to be pretty exciting! I’m officialy listed as an Arkansas photography vendor for the Southern Vendor Guide on The Lovely Find! It’s another fabulous wedding blog, and I’m so excited to be working with sweet Amy, who runs it! Be sure and check it out, it’s a good read!

The past couple months have been a little slow around these parts, but I blame it selflishly on a certain 6 month old needy puppy! I don’t regret backing off from photography lately for a second- I’ve had so much fun soaking up every moment at the new house, while raising our crazy canine! I’m anxious to get back to shooting more, and Jenn’s wedding in two weeks should kick things off nicely!! I’ll get to debut the new camera, which I’m thrilled about! I’m still working on my new website design, which, if you know me at all, you know this could take ages because my evenings lately have been consumed with running! I’m hoping to work on it some tonight, fingers crossed!

I’ve been thinking for a while about doing a FAQ blog post about weddings from a photographer’s/newlywed standpoint. Just yesterday my friend Jenn was asking me the common “day-of time schedule” question- “how long do we need for ____?” So, after putting on my inner wedding planner cap, I helped her settle on a schedule for the day. Just call me Franck. But really, I started thinking some things that I HOPE my brides think about in advance, and I know I surely did! So brides- PLEASE, at least consider these things. I promise it will only make things run smoother and turn out nicer for YOU! Here ‘goes!

Disclaimer: These are my opinions only. I just wanted to gather up a list of things I’ve learned from shooting weddings and having my own 🙂

1. Give your photographer an idea of bridal party size- how many ‘maids and dudes, family size, etc. It helps to know ahead of time so we can start brainstorming fun ideas. And for formal family pictures, it helps to have an idea of how large the family is so we can alot the appropriate amount of time for these, and not be surprised the day of! Be sure you let said family members KNOW that they will be needed for formal photos the day of. There’s nothing more stressful than hunting down 3rd cousin Suzy because no one told her to stay around for photos.

2. If you and your ‘maids are getting ready together in a certain location, consider the sources of light available. Is it a dark room in the basement of the church? Is there a big window that will allow ample sunlight to pour in? I know for my wedding, I had all of my bridesmaids and I get together in a large hotel suite. I scoped it out before we reserved it and made sure that the sun would be on that side of the hotel at the time of day we would be getting ready! A little ocd yes, but multiple windows provide beautiful natural light, and will make your pictures turn out that much better. So, consider getting ready near a window, you will be thankful later. Plus, sunlight makes you HAPPY. Who wants to be getting ready for the happiest day of their life in a dungeon?? Location location people!

3. Let your photographer know how important the “getting ready” shots are to you. Some of my favorite photos from my wedding day are of me and my best friends getting ready and hanging out. They show the true excitement for the days’ events, and are some of the last moments when ALL of us would be together in one place…probably for a very long time, if not ever again! I cherish these. Let your photographer know if you want them there from the very beginning of curling your hair to putting on your mascara. I always suggest it, but some brides “don’t really care” about the photos before they put their dress on. But, trust me, you’ll want to see them later!

4. Have a friend do your makeup. It’s cheaper, and will add special meaning. I originally wanted to have a “professional” do it, but after several run-thru’s, Allyson practically was! She, my mom and I all went to Mac Cosmetics and had one of their artists give me a “wedding day makeover.” That way, Allyson could watch and see how they applied everything, and then we purchased only the things we deemed necessary. We did a couple practice trials, and by the time we got to the wedding, we both felt confident. Also, those moments spent with her applying my makeup on my wedding day, just us, are some of my favorite with her. We laughed and maybe cried, and were able to take a deep breathe and come to terms with what was about to happen! I’d hate to have spent those precious moments with some chick from Clinique that I barely knew. But that’s just me.

5. Speaking of makeup, DO IT BY A WINDOW! A. natural light makes putting on your makeup evenly 1000 times easier, and B. the light provided again, helps your photos.

6. Take your maid of honor/matron of honor with you to your final dress fitting. OR, at least be sure and teach them how to bustle your dress accurately BEFORE you’re rushing around heading to your reception. Although confusion makes for funny photos during this moment, it will be stressful to you and you will end up telling them to hurry up so you can just go dance with your husband already!

7. While you’re getting ready, (in between hair/makeup/putting on your dress) your photographer will be rushing around trying to take photos of “the details.” Do them a favor, and try to be organized. If you care about these shots. Be sure you are aware of where your shoes, garter, jewelry, dress, bouquet, etc, are located so they can swoop them away easily and quickly and take those perfect detail shots that you will later love. Allocate this task to your M.O.H. She will be your go-to superwoman the entire day!

8. Where you put your dress on is important! Do you want to have those classic big mirror shots? Do you want to be by a window? Do you not care and just want to throw it on in the middle of the room? You decide! Lots of photos of you putting on your big poofy bliss will be taken! Try to move away things that you don’t want in your pictures, i.e. clothes on the floor, bras, bags all over the place. You’ll appreciate having clutter free photos later. Of course, some of those things help add to the “story” of the day, but I sure wouldn’t want anything distracting the attention from YOU! And of course this is mainly our job, the photographers. We got your back and promise to  make sure the shots are perfect!

9. Communicate with your mom about what you want her to be wearing during this time. I know that sounds silly, but my mom freaked out for weeks about whether she should already have on her dress or should she just wear something comfortable. Your mom will after all, no matter how much planning has been done, will be running around like a crazy lady. Communication is key. The day is all about you yes, but your mom’s heart is extra delicate on this day and her brain will be mush by this point. I told my mom to just wear whatever she wanted because she didn’t need to be in any formal photos for another like 2 hours so I didn’t want her stressing about getting ready early.

10. Regarding communication, you have permission to be a little EXTRA Type A during your wedding planning journey. It will make the day-of go EXTRA smooth. Figure out a schedule for the day, (I’m a pro at this now, I LOVE making timeframes!) and type it up and send it to every single person involved with the wedding- bridal party, parents of flower girls/ ring bearers, wedding planner, florist, videographer, photographer, family, etc. You might even go as far as having a FAQ section- just bullet point things you think you might get asked alot. I did things such as- what time were bridal party needed for photos, did they need to get their stuff out of the church before or after the ceremony, were they going straight to the reception or waiting for more photos, what time were family photos and who was included, what time was I putting my dress on, how should their hair be done, did they need their bouquets for pictures, etc. I also made a list of everyone’s phone numbers. That way, if anything happened, everyone could be in contact with whoever they needed, and I, the bride was OFF THE HOOK! In fact, just give your cell phone to your M.O.H. She’s got it covered. And if she doesn’t, why is she your M.O.H.???

11. First look. First look. First look. What is a first look you ask? Today’s modern brides have figured out a way to see their groom and eat their cake too. But really, it’s the best of both worlds. Instead of the traditional “seeing each other when the church doors open,” consider seeing each other before all of the craziness starts for the day, and have a few moments just to yourselves. By doing a First Look, you get the advantage of extra time taking photos of JUST the two of you, a romantic moment you will never forget when he sees you in your dress, and the added benefit of being able to take ALL your photos BEFORE the ceremony. That way, once you say “I Do” you can head straight to your reception! You won’t keep your guests waiting, and the food that you paid so much for won’t get cold 😉 AND your photographer will love you forever. More time for pictures (in the pretty daylight) makes for one happy, happy, happy photographer. Don’t worry, I PROMISE that moment when the church doors open/ you come beaming around the corner and you see your groom will be just as special as you always dreamed it would be!

12. Consider a first look with your dad. After all, he loved you first. I did one with my dad and brother because I had kept my dress a total secret from them the entire time. I’ll never forgot my “first-first look”. Make sure your photorgapher knows about this. The moment is priceless.

13. Have someone, be it a wedding planner, aunt, or close friend, be your “day-of coordinator.” Someone needs to be in charge of making sure everyone is where they’re supposed to be, flowers get delivered, and the ceremony starts on time. This person should also coordinate the rehearsal. They will be a lifesaver! If they’re really on top of their game, they’ll bring with them an emergency kit- full of band aids, tampons, needle & thread, advil, kleenex, bottled water, and granola bars.

14. Give your photographer an idea of where you want to take your group photos. Inside at the alter? Outside? By trees? Next to the church? In a field? If you have a special request, make it known. We will make sure the location is perfect and if the lighting isn’t right we will break it to you gently, but if you’re totally against a certain place, let us know! I did NOT want to take family photos inside the church at the alter, so my photographer made sure and found a pretty place outside!

15. Say your vows outloud to yourself at least once before the actual ceremony! (Your minister will probably have you do this at the rehearsal) You don’t want to stumble over your words in front of everyone. Or maybe. It’s always cute. Make sure you understand what it is you will be saying to your groom- it will make it even more special as you commit your life to him in front of your friends and family.

16.  Make sure your ceremony has again, plenty of light. If you’ve always dreamed of getting married amidst a room full of candles, that’s cool too, and your photographer will figure it out. It’s their job to adjust, duh! But really, remember what your photos will look like post-wedding. Is there going to be a terrble glare on you guys the entire time? Are the lights above you going to cast shadows on your bridal party? Figure this out at your rehearsal! And it’s not just about your photos, but you want your guests to be able to see you clearly. After all, they’re there to support you guys, and they’d appreciate being able to have a good view too! You won’t even remember how the auditorium/location was lit afterwards anyways 🙂

17. Consider hiring your photographer for your rehearsal and rehearsal dinner as well. Spend an extra $200-$300 to have those  once in a lifetime speeches documented, those tearful hugs recorded, and all of those cute details your groom’s family worked so on hard to make it perfect for YOU. Your rehearsal dinner is probably the LAST time in your life when ALL of the people that both you and your fiance love the most will be in the same room together. Celebrating YOU. Supporting YOU. Loving on YOU. You will be so thankful you did. Often times rehearsal dinners get overlooked, but in my opinion those are some of the most precious moments from the entire weekend. They are your last hours as a ‘single’ lady, and last hours to be a ____ (insert maiden name.) In less than 12 hours, it will be your wedding day, and in less than 24 hours you will be MARRIED. And sidenote- your photographer can scope our your wedding location beforehand. Usually a nice thing to do 🙂

18. Do what you WANT. If you want your bridal party to dance back up the aisle- do it. If you want a jumping picture- do it. If you want a ridiculous cake topper- order it. If you don’t want to have the traditional bouquet toss or garter toss, then who cares. Do what you WANT. It’s YOUR day. When you look back thru your photos, you want to be able to say “I’m so glad I did that!” or “I’m so glad I picked that!”

19. Let your photographer know when things change. If you suddenly decide to start getting ready at 9 instead of noon, make sure your photographer knows so they can be sure to be there on time!

20. This is something I WISH I had thought to do. Have your friends and bridal party hashtag # your wedding. They will all take fun, candid pictures throughout the day and if they #yourwedding them, you’ll be able to look back thru them immediately after your wedding. How fun! I didn’t have Instagram when we got married, (gasp, I know!) but I loved seeing pictures that friends had tweeted. Even on our honeymoon we could keep up with photos that we were tagged in, and it was such a fun sneak peak before our actual professional photos.

21. Lastly, Enjoy every second. Yes, you’ll fight with your mom. Yes, you’ll freak out if your dress is a little tight. Yes, something you really want won’t be available in time. Yes, it will be cloudy when you hoped it would be sunny. Yes, things might go a little differently than what you wanted. And they will only be as big of a deal as YOU make them. Try to remember the things that you will look back on and actually remember most. You’re gearing up to marry the love of your life, your best friend, and the vows you make to him are what this entire day is about. Don’t get too wrapped up in the details if things go array.

Keep calm, and MARRY ON!

Well there you have it. 21 things to think about from a wedding photographer and newlywed herself. If you know of someone getting married soon who might benefit from this, pass it along!

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