Don’t forget the little things!
First and foremost, I’m not a wedding planner, florist, hairdresser or a pâtissier. They all do jobs that I can’t do. (Although I do love to bake tasty chocolate treats with my son. We recently made an amazing Nutella chocolate cake for his birthday party. Check it out:)
Super tasty! But I digress. Back to the point at hand.
What I am is a wedding photographer, and of all the suppliers you’ll hire for your special day, your photographer will probably be the one you’ll spend the most time with.
We see firsthand how the day unfolds. From the common mistakes to the ingenious ideas that some couples have. We see what works and what doesn’t.
My previous blog mentioned how I prepare and make plans for any issues I may run into. (Peace of mind: or how I learned to stop worrying and love being a wedding photographer)
But what about you? You are probably busy planning and fretting over all the parts of your day. From big decisions like what venue to choose, to the personal details like what to write on your invites. But in the mist of all that it can be extremely easy to forget about the little things that are a part of everyday life. In fact most of these little things may not even cross your mind. But for me, I see them all the time when shooting weddings. There will always be little hiccups throughout your day and in most cases they can be avoided with a little planning. The end result should mean that you will have more time to enjoy your day, and more time to take in and appreciate each and every moment.
Before your wedding
Some of this stuff needs to be planned a week or two in advance to allow time to get anything you may need. But the main preparation will take place the day before as this is a great time to get a few little things out of the way rather than on your wedding day. These may seem obvious, and in hindsight they are. But it’s a different story when you are trying to get everything organized on your wedding day.
Prepare your bag
Make a list of what needs to go into your bag. It seems a bit silly but hear me out. Of course you know what to bring so why is a list needed? Well keep in mind that you are going to be quite busy the morning of your wedding. Something like forgetting to pack your phone charger is extremely easy to do when rushing around. Do you have all the toiletries you need? Is your phone charger in your bag? Think of any essentials and make a list on your phone. Double check it before you leave to avoid any stress later on in the day.
Wedding Emergency kit
Safety pins, sewing kit, super glue, painkillers, plasters, makeup for touch-ups, water & snacks etc.
These items have amazing abilities to deal with any little emergency.
Did the heal on your shoe just break? Super glue!
What about the grooms zipper breaking? A safety pin should do the job! These are just two simple examples of events that can cause you stress on your wedding day. Be sure to have a little kit (you can buy kits or go the DIY route) with you and any issues that may present themselves can be quickly and easily dealt with.
Does anything still have a label on it? Now is your chance to remove it. What about your shoes? Are they new? It may be a good idea to break them in, and check if you need insoles while you’re at it. If the soles are too smooth you may want to scruff them up for a little more grip. You can also get non-slip pads for your shoes if you prefer. Do any of your clothes have creases in them. Better to fix all clothes related preparations beforehand, rather than trying on the morning of your wedding.
Buttonholes, bustling, bowties etc. If you are a bit flustered or stressed then these tend to add to it. Practice with anything you are unfamiliar with. Even if it's just to refresh your memory. (this includes anyone who is helping you on your day)
The morning of your wedding
Funny enough there is not much to say here. You know what you are doing and what your schedule is. It all comes down to how well you planned and how calm you stay. I will only add two things that people generally forget on the day.
Make sure to eat. I've seen cases where people get too nervous/stressed to eat, and others who leave eating until the last minute. Make sure you get something to eat at a sensible time. It gives you the time to eat comfortably (rather that shoveling it in while running around) and allows you to stay relaxed later on in the day. You don't want to give yourself a headache due to not eating something.
Keep everything you need, like accessories in one location and close by. Knowing where everything is and that their related items are together makes things considerably easier. The room where you are getting ready can become disorganized quickly, which can lead to things being misplaced. Just stay organized and things will run smoothly.
Most suppliers are pretty accurate with their timeline estimates. But there are two areas often overlooked that can upset your schedule. These are your traveling times and your guests.
It’s easy to get a rough idea of travel times by using google maps. However you should always assume that estimate to be the quickest possible time. There will always be traffic and there will always be a delay getting into the car or leaving. People just don’t hop into a car wearing a wedding dress and immediately drive off. These things take time. Likewise when you arrive and get out of the car. You need to get things in order and if there are guests around or someone waiting to give you a drink then you can add more time onto your estimate.
Basically, always factor for traffic, the journey to and from the car along with any dealings with guests or vendors/suppliers. If you lose 5 minutes leaving, another 5 minutes due to traffic and another 5 minutes getting from the car to your location, then all of a sudden you’ve 15 minutes late.
Before the ceremony: Will all of your guests be at the ceremony on time? Some guests have a habit of arriving at, or slightly after the ‘official’ start time. Being a few minutes fashionably late will avoid this issue.
After the ceremony: If you are greeting guests after the ceremony be sure to allow for 30-45 minutes depending on the number of guests. Going around talking to your guests always takes longer than you think. However you can use this to your advantage while everyone is in one location and get the family portraits taken care of once everything starts to die down. Just allow another 15 minutes for the family portraits(if everything is organized well).
If instead you are planning a quick getaway to the venue, then it’s probably good to add on 5 to 10 minutes to your initial estimate. After all your guests aren’t going to let you escape that easily.
Photo related details
Check if there are any restrictions on photographers (videographers too) during the ceremony. Most places have some restrictions which translates to basic common courtesy, like not walking on the altar. Occasionally I’m met with no restrictions but I still display common courtesy and try my best not to draw attention to myself. But there are times where strict rules are put in place, asking the photographer to stay at the back of the church behind all the guests or even not to take any photos at all. These are extreme cases which thankfully hasn't happened to me yet. But it is good to find out in advance about any restrictions. Whenever I get to where the ceremony is taking place (usually 20-30 minutes before it starts) I always introduce myself to the priest/celebrant and ask about restrictions. If I know beforehand about extreme restrictions I can bring some of my amazing Nutella chocolate cake and try and get them to bend the rules a little.
Photo Checklist (Family Portraits)
I have a blog 'How to plan the family portraits on your wedding day' which details the best way to organize them. But be sure to give the list to your photographer before your wedding day. Whenever it’s ready, just hand it over to them. Also it's important to mention to your family members what the plan is. Ideally you’ll have someone to help gather everyone involved, but letting your family members know days in advance of the wedding limits the chance of them wondering off before your helper can actually grab them.
Flowers, Centerpieces, Decorations etc
Try not to place these in areas that may block your photographer’s view. I actually like to use foreground objects to frame photos. So I'm mainly referring to something completely blocking my view. Obviously you don’t know where your photographer will be standing and if something is in they way we can normally move around it. But that's not always possible during the ceremony if restrictions are in place. Think of where your photographer may stand during the ceremony to capture your faces and try and avoid any large pieces in that area. The same applies for centerpieces on your table when you are sitting down during the speeches. An overly big one can block the view.
Special points to consider
I prefer to call it an ‘unplugged ceremony’ rather than an ‘unplugged wedding’ as typically it only takes place during the ceremony, not the entire wedding day.
There are two points I want to mention here. There is the obvious one. That an unplugged ceremony is to allow the photographer clear shots of you walking up & down the aisle (while also allowing the photographer to capture your guests faces looking at you, rather than at their smart phone). After all this is something that can’t be repeated. So any guests standing in the aisle to take a photo or even if they simply reach their arm out to take a photo yields the same results. It blocks the photographers view.
Now it’s completely down to what the couple want. I’ve known couples who are okay with their guests taking photos and are okay with it influencing my photos. If they are okay with it, then so am I. But unfortunately I’ve also had occasions where the couple requested a unplugged ceremony but their guests still blocked my view while taking their own photos. In most cases the main issue was down to communication. The guests were either told after the bride walked up the aisle or they weren’t reminded before they got to the ceremony and people simply started taking photos. I even had one occasion where the priest told the guests before hand, but said it so quietly that only the first few rows heard him. If you want an unplugged ceremony, inform your guests before your wedding day and also leave a fancy/pretty sign (something to catch their eye) outside on the day, reminding all guests to put away their mobile devices / cameras and that this is your decision. All it takes is one person to take a photo and other people will quickly follow suit.
The other point is that any guests taking photos will more than likely upload them on social media while the wedding is taking place (this goes for the entire wedding day, not just the ceremony). Again some couples are okay with that. But some aren’t and it’s something many don’t think about until it happens. Whether or not you want an unplugged ceremony, you should be the one who has the final say with sharing your wedding on social media. If you want to be in control of when your wedding is displayed on social media, then be sure to inform your guests not to post anything until you have given them the allclear to do so.
Remember, any of these decisions are yours, I have no say in it. However people tend to assume that an unplugged ceremony is the photographers idea, which can result in your guests thinking it’s okay to bend the rules. Let them know this is your request for your day. Your guests will gladly abide by the rules when they know it was your decision.
All photos (apart from my Nutella chocolate cake) are from Rebecca & Oscar's first look / portrait session during their snowy winter wedding.