16 great Wedding Tips from a photographer’s point of view!

A little while ago one of our former Brides asked me some advice on wedding tips to use in an article she was writing.. that I could offer - from a photographers point of view!
Julie and I talked about it and this is what I wrote on the subject. 

Some great points and advice gathered from 20 years of wedding photography experience. 

Wedding Tips from a photographer’s point of view!

Today’s brides are very well organized – this helps so much on the day of the wedding – be as prepared as you can be and ENJOY the day!  Here’s some tips (you might not have thought of) – from the photographers point of view!

1         Be sure to go over your timeline with your photographer – we have a pretty good idea of how long things may take and what can hold you up. We may have some good suggestions to make the day run smoother. The most important advice – is to leave MORE than enough time – you don’t realize how fast the day flies by and your mind will be in a million places!
A wedding Planner is an invaluable help, plus have plenty of helpers (whether you have a planner or not) – and not just your bridesmaids – they have their own agendas too! 

2         Think about the location of where you are getting ready – especially if we are starting our coverage there. (We love to capture the excitement and anticipation of this exciting time of the day) A home is nice and personal if it is not too cluttered or has too may people around.  
A lot of brides have used the bridal suite at a nice Hotel – often where you may end up for your honeymoon suite or where out of town guests are staying. They are usually very spacious and treat you royally – often preparing a spread of fruit or bagels etc (not too messy of course). This may even be complimentary – just check…

3         Leave PLENTY of time for hair and makeup!!!!! – MORE than what they suggest – if there is one thing that gets you late on the day of the wedding – this is it!  They are perfectionist (which is good) but don’t always seem to care how much longer that takes! And, what if you are not totally happy with something and need her to redo something! If you have a lot of girls and moms to get done – consider hiring more people – it is best to have a separate person for makeup if you can.  When you start off running late – the whole day is off. Use professional hair and makeup artists –and have a trial run before hand on you!!

4         When we get there, it is nice to have all the details ready that we can photograph while you are finishing up – we like to have the flowers, shoes, rings, invitations, anything else special you will have.  We love to display the dress beautifully – a nice pretty hanger helps to makes the photos great. (We’ve seen some that have their name in them, or even just say bride.) Make sure the florist gives you a nice sturdy box, with vases of water to hold the flowers when not being used.  Make sure you have paper towels with them so that when you take them out – you can dry them off! Flowers being here make the photos of the girls better too!

5         As women photographers we like to be there to capture the excitement when the dress goes over your head. The girls helping you should be dressed already – if you prefer more privacy, we can step out until you are ready to zip all the way up for that photo. This is a personal preference for you and your photographer.

6         Be sure you have plenty of extra bobby pins, safety pins, mini sewing kit, touch up make up, comfy shoes to change into if need be, nylons, non messy snacks, even bagels and cream cheese.  Lots of water bottles too! Don’t forget umbrellas if there is a chance of rain (most likely. if you bring them you won’t need them!)

7         If you have an early afternoon ceremony – that is usually next and you go right to it.
Often couples arrange the time of the ceremony later so guests don’t have to wait long before the reception.  In this case we discuss the benefits and your feelings about seeing other beforehand.  If you decide to, we arrange a special private time when you first see each other in all your wedding finery, and have a special moment where you can say things to each other without the whole world watching – hey – you are your own best friends – why spend so much of this day hiding from each other! Many brides have said they loved it and that it calmed them done so much – then we have plenty of time to go have fun and perhaps go to personalized special locations etc – before the day get really hectic!  This is YOUR day – ENJOY!

8         The romantics are often the favorite part of the day – make them personal – if time and distance allows – arrange to go to places that mean something to you  Again leave plenty of time!! We love Detroit urban shoots, any downtown, a favorite park, etc. Plan and scout your route and locations ahead of time.  – This is your snuggle time with each other, the wedding party and those closest to you! ENJOY!!
If you are hiring a limo or party bus – make sure they are there in plenty of time. (we’ve had to wait for limos) PLEASE - if you want a cooler of special drinks or smacks – have this done ahead of time and ready to go. It is so frustrating and time consuming to have to find and stop at a party store! ENJOY each others company – have fun, but don’t go overboard on the drinking -

9         Make sure you leave time to touch up make up and breathe before the ceremony begins – we usually leave at least 30 minutes before at the ceremony site. This should be a time to relax, calm down, take care of any last minute things and get ready for the ceremony!

10     During the ceremony – don’t worry about us! We are there to capture what is going on – not be a part of it and make a pest of ourselves! We try to touch base with the presiding officiate to make sure we know what our restrictions are – and stick by them. We will flash during the processional and recessional (that is usually OK) but NOT during the ceremony itself – nothing is more distracting from the sacredness of the ceremony! (That is what tripods are for!) Please make sure your guests know this too – we have had relatives sneak up on the alter and flash photo s from behind etc – You may know who might go overboard – try to warn them. Photos of you coming up and down the aisle are fine!
This is where at least 2 photographers are so important to our way of thinking.  Someone has to be up front to catch everyone coming down the aisle – but where is the emotion? – in the back with you and your dad as he walks his baby girl down that aisle!  Besides, you and your dad walking away up the aisle is usually a breathtaking image! During the ceremony we like to have one photographer in the back (and/or balcony), one on the front right side so they can capture your face during vows and if we have an assistant – he can be on the other side.

11     Alter Returns – These should not take more than 30 minutes and it is important to be organized and quick.  Make a list of the relatives important to you for these – usually this is more for immediate family – Parents siblings, family of siblings, grandparents, anyone very special to you, plus the wedding party. We usually do family first so that they can go attend to their friends and family, then the wedding party so they can gather stuff and get all ready to go and then the 2 of you. It really helps to have someone there to help so they can gather people up and get them together. We really may not know who your special uncle Bob is!
More extended family can be photographed at the reception in most cases. Please do not have anyone trying to take photos as we take them at the alter – that just takes so much more time and we want all eyes at our camera – not all over! (Nobody would like those photos)

12     Receiving lines and releasing aisles has not been as popular lately.  You have NO idea of how much time this can take!! Especially if you have not done any romantics yet – this really cuts into your time. Even the guests don’t usually like waiting in line. If you will be taking the time to go around and greeting your guests at their tables after you are done eating – this is much more personal and better use of your time.

13     Please do arrange to feed your photographers – it has been a long day for us too.  Sometimes the hall will convince you that they will have a vendor meal in a separate room for us – but most of us (we sure do) like to be in the same room – if something spontaneous happens – our camera s are right there beside us and we will get up to capture it! If you need to ask us to take something, we are right there! This is better for us to capture the details, the toasts and the beautiful overviews of your venue also.

14     Cutting the cake – we will have gotten details of it before and we will pose you so that this looks natural. Please be courteous and not smash cake in each other’s faces – We hardly ever see this any more (thank goodness) – but be nice!  If you are doing something else special around this time – be sure to warn your photographers.

15     Work with your DJ or band ahead of time – so you know how the party will run – be sure to let your photographers know what all you will be doing in special dances or special events so we are ready. We will ask and work with them too, as a team. If you like the garter and bouquet – do it and have fun, if not, a lot of couples are doing the anniversary dance instead. All married couples get on the dance floor and are eliminated by how long they have been married – you end up with the longest married couple – often special people like grandparents – who can give you a little advice on how they got that far! You may even give them the throw bouquet the florist gave you!  I truthfully like the idea of honoring those that made it instead of making fun of those that did not! Either way – have fun – you can do both too of course!

16     Try to have most of the special dances and events done relatively close to the beginning of the party!
How long we stay here depends on the arrangements you have set up with your photographers. After these are done, we like to catch a little bit of the fun and (mood, flavor?) of the party – but we do not have to be the last ones to leave.  ENJOY your party!

Wally Spice and Julie Proudfoot
Wally Spice Photography