A Lot of times when it comes to puzzling together your wedding day couples assume what should be done and when it should be done and maybe don’t ask or take their vendors advice for the best route to take for their wedding day. I understand it is your day and you want everything to go as close to a vision as you had so that’s why it is important to discuss your day with the vendors, explain to them what you would like to do and then they can either make suggestions on how to improve your idea or make sure it goes as close to your vision as possible. Ensuring you talk to your vendors and explain what you are hoping for versus just assuming it will happen is always best so you know you are happy with the end results.
I always have couples asking me if they should do a first look on their wedding day. If you are unsure what a first look is it's when a bride and groom see each other before the ceremony. You get to meet in a private location and have an intimate moment with your significant other It sometimes creates for more emotional images as a groom may not be embarrassed to shed a tear alone in front of his wife whereas at the church he may try to hold his tears in so he doesn’t get embarrassed. It is also a time when the bride and groom can calm their nerves too and enjoy the rest of the day. An easier way to answer the question to have a first look or not is do you want to stay as traditional as possible or not? It really is a personal preference in the end. One great thing about having the first look is with my clients first looks usually last around 15-20 minutes with just the bride and groom and we end up creating some amazing images as both the bride and groom are on cloud nine with seeing each other for the first time on their wedding day. Once we are done with just the bride and groom then usually wedding party and family will come along to do their photos. If you end up doing this route and taking all your pictures before the ceremony it in the end allows you to enjoy the rest of your day with your guests and socialize with everyone else who is important in your life. While you are doing this we are going around taking photos of you hanging out with old friends or doing details of the cocktail hour and every other detail that is important on your wedding day.
Picture lists are a huge part of ensuring that what you want documented gets documented. I send my clients two forms to fill out. The first form is a family picture list which is straight forward and lets me know which family members will be in what photos. When it comes time to the family photo portion of the wedding day I only allocate 30 minutes for these photos. If there are 10 photos on your list and we only get through 6 in 30 minutes I highly recommend we stop taking the family photos and finish them during a down time in dinner. Family photos are important no doubt about it, but so are the portraits of the bride and groom that will hang in their living room or in their bedroom for the rest of their marriage. It’s best to try and find a balance with how many family images are appropriate. Discussing this with your photographer will definitely help and they can make suggestions on the best paths to take.
The second picture list is called the significant photo list. This list is what helps make your wedding “yours” versus just another wedding that is photographed. This list includes details that have family ties for images. An examples of this is maybe the bride has her mom’s veil wrapped around her bouquet or maybe the groom is using the same tie that his dad wore on his wedding day. Knowing more about the photos that connect with your family and the story behind them will help me take a photograph in a way that represents the meaning behind it as well.
Communication is the #1 thing a couple should do with their vendors and it is also the #1 thing vendors should do with their client. I myself check in with my clients at least once or twice a month to ensure their wedding is on track. At the same time when I do this I may also receive a piece of information that may be related to photography even though the couple may not think it is.
Another benefit to making sure there is constant communication from both sides is if there is a scenario we are unsure of 3 months before the wedding we can fix it immediately and well before the wedding. If I didn’t check in with couples monthly and only talked to them during a meeting a week before their wedding, all these new ideas that they came up with over the last few months may not be doable from a photography aspect. To put it simple it’s easier to figure things out as you go with your wedding versus making a big list and worry about it a week before your wedding and be in panic mode.
In a perfect world the last month before your wedding should be set in stone and you should just be having your final meetings with your vendors to re-confirm everyone is on the same page and possibly do final payments with vendors.
A wedding planner is the backbone of any wedding that is flawlessly put together. A wedding planner is a person who knows anything and everything and is such a great person to have on your wedding day. They are the ones who think of things outside of the box and know every little random and potential obstacle on a wedding day and know how to fix it without interruptions. They are someone who stays in constant communication with your vendors ensuring everyone is on the same page with your wedding day. A great reason to also have a Wedding Planner is IF something happens on your wedding day a Bride and Groom would be the ones usually having to deal with it, but if you have a wedding planner they can most likely solve it quicker than the couple because the couple will end up having to stick on their schedule to ensure they get their photos taken as well. Unless your wedding budget doesn’t allow you to book certain vendors I highly recommend listening to your Wedding Planner with which vendors to book. They have worked with certain vendors time and time again for valid reasons and as the saying goes. “Why fix something if it isn’t broken?” The last thing I can suggest is don’t question what your Wedding Planner is doing and don’t have control over them. If you end up controlling what they are doing you will not get the best experience possible from them. Trust them and if you want something done in a certain way, explain to your wedding planner what you’d like and they will pick the best route with your idea in mind and ensure it works out.
Do your research.
Hire a photographer who has a good track record, has an established portfolio and shows real weddings on their website as opposed to creative shoots. It is also very important to ask the photographer to see a wedding in its entirety versus just seeing blog post of a wedding which may only have around 50 images, I also recommend looking to see if your photographer has positive reviews about them. Websites like wedding wire and google reviews are a great resource for this.
The way you act with the photographer in your initial meeting will determine how your wedding day will unfold with that photographer.
I always say the initial meeting is like going out on a first date. We always have the “set” questions we ask each other but then if we are comfortable with each other conversation will just start to unravel. If this happens to you and you get off topic with your wedding and talk about a movie that just came out or shows you have an interest in, that may be the person you want to hire.
How does your photographer dress for the initial consultation
The initial meeting is also like a job interview. Suit and tie may not be necessary but if a photographer shows up in running shoes and workout clothes as opposed to clothing you would wear to a nice restaurant that may help in seeing how the photographer appreciates their business or not.
Ask your photographer about other vendors
9 times out of 10 if you are hiring all your vendors in the city you are getting married in, chances are all the vendors know each other. This is also important because the vendors know how they work together resulting in a greater client experience.
Ask your photographer how they prep for the day
It sounds silly but ensuring your photographer has a good head on his or her shoulders is important. See if they answer by saying something along the lines of I have multiple forms (questionnaires) the bride and groom fill out which include a wedding day timeline, emergency contact numbers, or if they have multiple cameras for backup, an indoor location if it rains. If the photographer you are meeting with sounds like they have planned for every worse case scenario, rest assure it's one less thing to worry about on your wedding day
If the photographer uses a second photographer ask about the second shooter.
Whenever I meet with couples I tell them I can’t guarantee them exactly who the second shooter is but what I can promise is it is also someone who owns their own professional photography business and has a vast amount of knowledge about a wedding day.
Ask about the turnaround time for your photos
I always return final edited client photos within 2 months of their wedding day. If it is over a 6 month turn around I would ask the photographer why such a long process.
Ask about what is fully included the wedding collection
When you are initially emailing a photographer back and forth they most likely will provide you with a wedding collection for your wedding. If you are happy with the cost of the collection the next step is to meet with the photographer. Once you discuss your wedding day and everything ask the photographer to explain the wedding collection to you in full detail so you understand what you are receiving.
Ask them about the payment process and to see a contract before officially hiring them. Making sure you are comfortable with the legal side is also very important. Once you feel that everything makes you happy hire your wedding photographer and start planning the photos with them for your wedding day.
Hire a professional to ensure that all aspects of your day are /taken care of. Photographers with experience just know for a fact the bride walking down the aisle is an important shot and so is the dad giving away his daughter right after that. Someone with experience will know this and keep shooting where as someone with little experience may not continue shooting this scene from beginning to end.
Hire a photographer that makes sense for you as a couple. Your wedding photographer is going to be with you on your entire wedding day and ensuring you are comfortable with he or she will give the best results. Yes make sure you like the photographer's imagery but being comfortable with your photographer will show in the images and show you as a couple in the best way.
In 1 paragraph describe to your wedding photographer how you envision your day, then see if they have weddings that reflect what you are hoping for. Usually, couples will say I love candid shots and a ton of details. This is a very vague answer so say something along the lines of candid shots of my family are very important to me but the relationship my mom and I have is very strong and is something I want to show in images. Also at the same time ask the photographer if they have photographed at the venue you are getting married at. If they have photographed at your venue before this will help in your decision on who to hire.
Keep communication with your photographer. Keeping your photographer “in the loop” will ensure they know your wedding day inside and out. I email my clients at least 1 or 2 times a month just checking in with them to see if there is anything new I should know. Sometimes couples say nothing has changed or sometimes couples say they ended up adding something to their wedding day. The couple may think it's not important to photography but depending what it is it may be.
Make sure you are having your wedding day, not a Pinterest wedding. I had a couple recently in a consultation say to me what is one tip I would give them to ensure that their wedding is as unique as possible. I told them to avoid Pinterest as much as possible. If you use Pinterest you end up following a styled wedding trend that may not be you as a couple.
The morning of your wedding should be a time when you hang out with your bridesmaids or groomsmen and just relax and prep for the day. During this time I do my best to make sure I have very little involvement and let the morning unfold naturally. I don’t want to add any unnecessary stress to the bride if I don’t have to. Here are 5 ways to ensure the morning of your wedding runs as smoothly as possible.
Try and de clutter certain things in your house so there is less background distractions in photos. I’m not suggesting renovate your house and repaint the walls but if there are small items like blankets, TV remotes on the coffee table or slippers on the ground hide all these things. The easiest way to think of this scenario is to pretend you are selling your house and you want to have it ready for an open house
Wherever we do the images of the bride getting into her dress make sure there is as much natural light as possible. If this is not an option a photographer should have proper lighting gear to help produce light in a scene.
Have bridesmaids or groomsmen keep all their extra clothing, bags, or purses in a room where we would not be taking photos. This will avoid items being all over the house and reduce the background distractions in images.
If you are setting up a breakfast table with food and snacks keep this set up in the kitchen away from where images may be taken.
Try and have as few people there in the morning as possible. The less people there in the morning the less street you will have. I have seen it sometimes in the morning at a bride's prep location where everyone wants to help and has suggestions (which is great) but it sometimes becomes overwhelming and stressful more than anything.