Wedding planning can be incredibly fun. After all, this is one of the biggest celebrations in life. You get to pick the venue, decide who to invite, who your bridesmaids and groomsmen are, find the perfect wedding dress, hire your favourite photographer, get your engagement photos done, etc. However, with all the decisions you have to make, it can easily become stressful. It is most likely that you have never planned a wedding before. There is a great amount of expectations for you to plan a “celebration of a lifetime”. Most importantly, it is perhaps the one day where all your friends and family from both sides will be gathered at the same place! To ensure you have a successful and stressless wedding, here are some tips from my experience as a wedding photographer.
1. Planning Your Timeline
Always consult with your photographer. Photographers have attended countless wedding, trust that they know how much time is needed for different parts of your wedding and what a great timeline looks like.
Leave room for delays. Underestimating the length of any event means you will have to delay the entire chain of events that follow.
2. Getting Ready
There are usually a lot going on in the morning but it is important to keep the room clean and tidy. Keep your bags, suitcases, laundry, food, etc. in a separate room or at a corner.
Natural light by windows are the best for photos. Allocate at least 10 minutes for portraits of you and your bridesmaids/groomsmen after getting ready.
Besides hotel rooms, a cute AirBnB (with beautiful light, decor and design) can be a great alternative.
It isn’t always true that “heavy makeup looks great on camera”. I use natural light and my photos reflect more truly to what is there.
3. Wedding Dress
If you can’t move freely in your wedding dress, you won’t be able to shoot comfortably in it. Obviously, the choice is up to you, but keep in mind you will have to walk around, dance, and sit in it all the while looking happy and comfortable.
4. First Look & Portraits
A first look is when you see each other for the first time after getting ready. For some, this can be an emotional moment, while for others this can be fun and exciting. Whichever it might be, a quiet moment alone before the ceremony is the best way to calm your nerves.
After the first look, we can get your portraits, your family and wedding party portraits done, leaving you with more time at cocktail hour to greet your guests.
It will be helpful assigning a bridesmaid or groomsmen the task of gathering family.
For an outdoor ceremony, it’s best to put the sun behind your officiant. This will help avoid you squinting or being harshly lit in ceremony shots.
Hand-held mic or lapel mic (instead of a mic stand) would be best to keep the ceremony shots clean.
Unless you are planning an intimate wedding, I recommend against receiving lines. They can be repetitive and end up taking a really long time.
6. Consider an Unplugged Ceremony
An unplugged ceremony is when you ask your guests not to take photos during the ceremony. It allows them to enjoy and truly be present without distractions from their phones. It also keeps the ceremony shots clean and the aisle open for me, which is especially important for the kiss and the walking-down-the-aisle shot.
Your officiant can do a quick announcement before the ceremony, or you can place a sign at the entrance of the ceremony area. At the end of the day, it is up to you to decide if this is important to you!
7. Couple Portraits
I recommend three time slots for portraits: after the first look (15 mins), post-ceremony (15 mins), and during sunset and twilight (30 mins).
If there is not enough time, sunset portraits is the best option. I highly recommend this!
Please allot at least 20 mins before the reception area opens up to guests for me to photograph the details: the table settings, centerpieces, etc.
Mood and lighting: market lights and candles set a gorgeous and romantic mood, just make sure you use enough so I don’t need to use my flash as it will take away the ambience. The more lights the better!
Colourful lights are fun once the dance floor opens up, just make sure they are kept off the first dance and the parent dances.
Vendor meals are usually prepared after all guests start eating. If possible, I prefer to be considered a guest, not a “vendor” for timing purposes. I usually eat when the couples eat, that way I am free to shoot any events that follows, such as the toasts, speeches, dances, etc.
That’s it! Hope this guide is helpful! As always, feel free to email me if you have any questions.