Updated: Jan 24, 2022
As a professional wedding photographer I have the privilege of sharing in people's wedding day, in intimate detail, and over the years I have gleaned some very useful tips and tricks that you might not have heard of or considered - so I wanted to share a few with you in the hope they are helpful to you at this exciting but often overwhelming time.
Set up a separate email and Pinterest boards for your wedding.
This will avoid mixing things up and potentially missing stuff by keeping it all separate from you personal or work emails. It also limits any spamming for vendors as you can quickly isolate the ones you don’t want to hear from. Having all your wedding info in come place will help you stay organise and is a great start for any wedding planning. You should also start some Pinterest boards for all the inspiration you will need to help you decide on so many aspects of your wedding planning, have a different board for different elements eg dress, venues, decorations, flowers, hair, jewellery, photography etc). You can easily share these boards with your relevant vendors such as your photography, florist, dress designer, jeweller etc
Bridal Party Gifts
Set a wedding budget so you don’t overspend on bridal party gifts. Fun gifts such as personalised bridesmaids robes, pjs, socks, underwear - basically anything with your names, wedding date, Mr&Mrs might have sentimental value for your but can actually waste money as they are only used for the day - consider giving more practical gifts.
Some ideas might be:
Bridesmaid jewellery or hair accessories - these can be worn as part of their outfit on the day and it could be something they would wear afterwards as well
Robes or PJs that match - with THEIR name or initials (no reference to your wedding - they will know where it’ from!)
Presentation Boxed Handmade candles - to light their way in life
Bamboo and Glass or Stainless Steel Waterbottle
Make-up or Jewellery bag - maybe with their initials on
An elegant framed photo of the two of you together at some happy time in the past
Groomsman cufflinks, tiepin, silk tie or handkerchief
Go Offline and have an Unplugged Wedding
Give your phone to your Mum or MOH - they can vet your calls and only take what is urgent (like from your photographer or other essential vendor).
Some venues will organise a special announcement board a the entrance asking guests to switch off their phones - your professional wedding photographer will be taking all your photos that you can share later - let your guests relax and enjoy being “present” and undistracted during your ceremony. Your photographer and videographer will also thank you for it as it will make their job much easier not having you distracted or looking the wrong way when Aunty Flo has to take a snap on her new smartphone!
You might want to extend this to the reception, especially during the formal parts of the evening such as the speeches. No one wants the hear a phone ring or an sms ping at a special heartfelt moment. Encourage those giving speeches to write them down on paper, maybe in their own handwriting, as this can be a special keepsake for the couple, and can even be incorporated into your wedding album if you wish.
Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail
It’s easy to forget that some people coming to the wedding will have travelled a long way and they might have forgotten some things that they will need or they forgot to bring with them to get ready.
Have a Basket of Essentials in the bathroom for people getting ready at your home or hotel, things like Bobbie Pins, Hair Ties, Hairspray, Panadol, Tampons/Pads, Nail File, Dental Floss, Clear Nail Polish, Comb, Hairbrush, Cotton Buds, Tissues, Lip Balm, Deodorant, Mints, Facial Wipes and Band Aids. Your guests will appreciate your thoughtfulness.
Have a Bridal Emergency SOS Kit - you can have great fun decorating the tin or container, but ensure you have the following: Chocolate, Panadol, Mini Sewing Kit, Safety Pins, A No 5 Crochet Hook (to help do up buttons without breaking any nails) Manicure Kit, Scissors, Bobby Pins, Cotton Buds, Clear Nail Polish, Polish Remover, Tissues, Lint Roller, Bandaids, Lip Balm, Mints. Make sure your MOH brings it with you when you leave the house/hotel and have it available to you and your bridal party all day.
If possible have a Dress Steamer rather than an iron, and some gowns are very fiddly and delicate. Also, whilst getting your hair and make-up done ensure that you can get undressed easily to get into your wedding dress. I suggest to brides that they get into their lingerie and have a lovely silky robe over it. That way they don’t mess up their hair or make-up when it’s time to change into their dress and sets them up for nice “getting ready” or lingerie shots when I arrive.
When should the Bride get her har and make-up done? Some people will tell you to be last for hair and make-up but I recommend that your are first for hair and then “next” for make-up. The reason being the bridesmaids can still be getting ready but the bride needs to be ready when the photographer arrives, especially if she wants lingerie shots. Just make sure the bridesmaids are able to stay in a separate or designated area so that they are out of the way for your lingerie and getting ready photographs and not photobombing in the background. Also try as much as possible to keep the room uncluttered, as this will save a lot of time on the day for the photographs not having to move things out of shot.
Fresh Flower Magic
To keep your flowers as fresh as possible you can add some sugar or baking powder to the water they are standing in. This will even preserve them overnight if needed.
Wear in your New Shoes at least a month ahead.
Most people find their new shoes will rub or pinch when they first start to wear them. Especially if they are leather - they will need time to warm and stretch to the contours of your feet. So I recommend both bride and groom ware their shoes around the house at least for a few minutes each day building it up over a month to wearing them pretty much all day - because that’s what will happen on your wedding day and fun need to be sure they will be comfortable. Some brides even have two pairs, one for the ceremony and portraits photographs and a flat pair for the reception to dance in.
Food Glorious Food
In all the excitement of you wedding day and adrenalin flowing you might forget to eat!!! Brides have fainted due to not eating - so make sure you at least have things to nibble. This is just as important for the guys as the girls and includes all those who will be getting ready with you - including your photographer and videographer!
It doesn’t have to be extravagant, a simple grazing board with fruit, sandwiches, cold meats, olives, dip, nuts and cheeses with some crackers or bread sticks will ensure everyone is fed and has the energy they need for the day. Champagne doesn’t count as food and if partaking early in the day make sure it’s in moderation - you need to be with it when you make those vows!
Uber, Taxi or Horse and Cart!
You will most likely have arranged specific transport (a limo, classic car or horse and carriage) for you and the bridal party to get to the ceremony, any photo locations and the reception venue.
However, don’t forget about the end of the night. Relying on ordering an Uber or taxi at the last minute can be disaster! So please plan ahead and book at least a day in advance. Make sure your guests also know where to go, have clear signs or printed instructions so people don’t get lost and end up turning up late.
Should You Use Confetti
Confetti shots can look amazing and can be lots of fun, but most churches and venues don’t allow the traditional confetti due to the mess it makes, so check that out first - is it allowed? Some people use rice, but this was found to attract birds and then bloat them sometime resulting in death - not nice. The trend at present seems to be rose petals, and these seem to be safer and more accepted by venues. Another alternative is bubbles! These can be a lot of fun and also make great photographs, but beware they can cause marks on clothing, especially your wedding dress if they settle on it.
Formal Family Portraits
The thought of these might sound less than fun, but as a record in the family history they are essential and priceless. Weddings are one of the few times that a whole family will get together, with some coming vast distance from interstate or overseas, so it’s a wonderful opportunity to show how much you value and appreciate your family sharing in you day and celebrating with you. Sadly, for some family members this might be the last portrait taken of them. We work with our couples ahead of time in their Design Consultation to make sure we know who the important people on your guest list are and which photos you want taken. Generally elderly people and pregnant women are usually scheduled first (so they can sit down and relax after), or those with young children (with short attention spans). If you have enough time you might also include some of your special friends in these portraits.
Quarantine Sunset Time
After family photos, generally guest go to a canapé time whilst the bridal party have their formal portrais. This may or may not include Sunset shots. The most flattering natural light is the hour before sunset so photographers will often suggest portraits at this time. If however, sunset happens during your reception time and it is spectacular we might have to steal you away for 5-10 min to get some EPIC shots for your album so please don’t schedule any speeches or important things around sunset.
Try to avoid tall centrepiece artwork or vases of flowers, they might look nice when the room is empty but people have to try to talk around them to each other so not nice for your guest and it makes it almost impossible to get good shots of the bride and groom seated and hard to get their reactions during speeches.
What about the Decorations Afterwards?
You want to relax and start your honeymoon (at home or away somewhere exotic it doesn’t matter ) because you want this special time together without interruptions. So arrange ahead of time to have someone collect everything and store it for you to sell when you get home. If you have flower centrepieces you can ask a special guest on each table to take it home as your gift or your could donate it to a hospital or nursing home to brighten their day and so the flowers can be enjoyed a little longer.
Let’s get this Party Started!
Whilst your ceremony and marriage are the highlight of the day, no matter how much time, energy and money you have invested in the venue and food, if there is not much happening at your reception those memories of how much fun everyone had just won’t be there. It’s a rare opportunity that all your friends and family will be together so you want to make sure they have something to participate in. No matter how old or grown-up we like to think we are we all still have the child in us and love to have fun, play games or show our best dance moves!
Some ideas include: a Live Band, DJ, Ballroom Dancers Floorshow, Magician, Games (Heads and Tails, Simon Said, Answer Questions about the couple, Numbers under certain seats for special prize - there are millions of ideas) before dinner starts, during the reception between courses, or after dinner.
Traditional Dance Floor Games such as the throwing of the garter or bouquet (the actual one or a smaller throwing bouquet) are also fun. You can have fireworks or sparklers (get extras long ones and have a bucket to collect them afterwards). These can make amazing photos for your album so coordinate it with your photographer so they can advise you on the best way to get the shots and for you to stop and given them a “moment” like a kiss or dip! You won’t be disappointed if you do!
So get your thinking cap on and make sure you plan for a few fun activities you are comfortable with.
Stay Relaxed and Flexible
No matter how well you have planned things, or how may contingencies you have, every wedding has something that doesn’t quite go to plan on the day - we don’t have control over lots of other things like other people, the weather, traffic jams etc, so just take it in your stride and adapt and enjoy the day - remember it’s not about waiting for the storm to pass its about learning to dance in the rain!
Wishing you all the best with your wedding planning and please don’t hesitate to give me a call to chat if you would like to know more about West Coast Weddings photography and videography and what we can do for you on your wedding day!