I may be a little biased (being a photographer’s wife), but I believe that photography is one of the most important parts of your wedding day. Aside from your undying love, it is the one thing that will truly last forever.
My husband is a wedding photographer and videographer, and I have been able to tag along as his second shooter. After a couple of years of being behind the camera during brides’ most special moments, I’ve learned a few tips along the way. Keep reading for some ideas to help keep your wedding day running smoothly!
The timeline is one of the most crucial parts of your day! Most photographers will help you plan your timeline before your wedding day. It will organize when you’re taking your photos, when you need to be ready, and when the bridal party and family members need to be ready for photos.
Always add a little bit more time than you think for the bride and bridesmaids to get ready. It’s so much better to be able to sit and relax a bit than to be running behind!
Your timeline will help ensure you have all your photo bases covered, and it will set the pace for your day. Be sure and give it to every family member and member of the wedding party well ahead of time so they know when to come.
KEEP YOUR "GETTING READY" ROOM NEAT
When twelve ladies are getting ready in one room with two outlets and 24 cans of hairspray, it can get a little chaotic. Take a few minutes the night before your wedding to prepare your getting-ready room. Have your mirrors and extension cords and hairpins ready. You can set up a corner that won’t be visible in pictures for all your bags or messy things you don’t want seen.
No one wants an emotional picture of your mom helping you get your veil on with a Walmart sack, flip flops, and Cheeto's bag in the background. A nice, clean space will help your photos shine and keep the focus on you and your loved ones.
Your photographer will most likely ask you ahead of time for a list of pictures you want to get. The family photo section is where it can get a bit tricky. Be sure and list all of the photos you want with your family members as well as any information that you think might be helpful. For example, it helps to know if a grandparent can’t walk very far, and then your photographer can plan the family photo location around that.
After you list all the shots you would like, I’d encourage you to send the list to both the bride's and the groom’s mothers. They can help check to make sure you’ve got all the important photos covered or request photos that they would like. This will cut down on last-minute requests on the wedding day and keep that session flowing smoothly and quickly.
GET YOUR ACCESSORIES
Your photographer will take pictures of your dress, veil, and any accessories that you have ready. When you are preparing your getting-ready room, go ahead and lay out your accessories so your photographer can grab them when he or she first gets there. This includes your dress, veil, shoes, and bouquet. You can also use this time to show your unique style. Get a cute hanger for your dress, bring your wedding invitation, a fancy box for your wedding rings, your perfume bottle, hair clips, and garters. The groom can also prepare his suit, tie, shoes, cuff links, watch, pocket square, boutonnière -- anything that you want captured in the detail shots!
If you have some leftover wedding decor like strips of fabric, flower petals, or lace, you can also set these out. Your photographer may use these in the flat lay with your accessories to tie in your wedding colors.
PREPARE FOR OUTDOOR PHOTOS
You may take some styled photos outside, and there are some things you can do to prepare! Have a little pair of flats ready to slip into while you’re walking to and from your location. Walking over rocks and through fields in heels and a wedding dress can get a little difficult! If your photographer doesn’t have a second person to help you with your dress, you can designate a friend to help carry your dress as you walk so it doesn’t get dirty.
If you want a lot of photos outside, you may also want to plan your hair accordingly. Having strands of curls hanging down to frame your face is beautiful but can be a bit frustrating on a windy day. You may have to fix those curly strands several times during the photos to get the look you want. Then have your curling iron ready after the photoshoot to touch up before the wedding!
And I saved my number one tip for last:
HAVE A FIRST LOOK
This is my number one recommendation as a wedding photographer! There are a few benefits to having a special first look session with the bride and groom before the wedding. First, it helps your day go more smoothly. You can get most if not all of your pictures done before the wedding. With those all out of the way, you can then spend the rest of the day enjoying your wedding and the reception. And you won’t keep your guests waiting at the reception while you spend an hour or two finishing up photos.
But the main reason I love first looks? They are just beyond special and intimate. A bride and groom seeing each other for the first time walking down the aisle is iconic and so meaningful. However, a first look can be so much more intimate and private. You two can connect and spend as much time laughing and crying and delighting in each other as you want. Some of my favorite photos are when a groom sees his bride for the first time. In a first look, you are both in the picture and so much emotion is captured!
A first look can set the tone for your day. It gives you a time to connect before the busyness of the day and remind yourselves what this is all about -- your love!
I’ll end with a tip that I learned from my own wedding, not as a photographer: Plan and prepare as much as possible before the big day. Make all your lists, recruit all the help, go over all the plans, give all the directions and orders to all of the people (ha!). But then when your wedding day comes? Relax. Enjoy it! Let it be. If something goes wrong, it can be a funny story that you laugh about while you’re relaxing on your honeymoon. On your wedding day, the most important thing is saying “I do.” So let someone else worry about getting the candles lit, or the grandparents in the right spot, or the correct music playing. Today? Just enjoy knowing you’re about to say “yes” to your very own fairytale.
*all photos by Timothy Gothra Photography