It’s no secret that this is my favorite part of a wedding day. Not only are these few hours before the ceremony filled with so much excitement and anticipation but I also love seeing you in your element around all of your closest friends. This time includes some of my favorite moments of the day; you putting on your dress, opening your gifts, reading letters, all the first looks… I’m getting so excited just thinking about it! These are moments you are never going to want to forget!
The unfortunate thing is that this can also be one of the most stressful parts of the day. There’s a lot that could go wrong but most of the time it just ends up with everything running behind. Once people start to feel rushed, that’s when the true mess begins.
So how do we avoid this and make this the best experience?? After photographing dozens of weddings, I’ve definitely noticed a pattern and have come up with a few suggestions to help assure that everything runs smoothly.
Be Ready With Your Details
One of the first things I do once I arrive at your wedding is photograph all the details. This means walking around the venue getting photos of the environment and various spaces as well as grabbing all your personal details like the dress, jewelry, invites etc. This is not always high on the priority list but it’s still very important which is why I like to do it as the first thing. You put so much thought and time into finding all these little things that going without would make your final gallery feel incomplete. So, having your details gathered and ready to go when I get there is a huge help! I always recommend putting everything in a box and handing that box to one of your bridesmaids to be responsible for. Doing so will save me 10+ minutes of tracking all these items down which in the end means I get to dedicate more time to photos of you!
If you’re trying to figure out a list of what all the details could be, here’s the list I send out to all my couples:
- Dress + veil
- Other Jewelry
- Vow Books
- Perfume/Cologne Bottle
- Any other small items of significance
- Any cute design items you love
Keep in mind, you definitely do not need to have every single one of these items. Many weddings I’ve photographed have only provided a few of these items, but if there’s anything that significant to you then you will definitely want to have it photographed.
Show Up Early
If you’ve already started planning your timeline then you know that wedding days are scheduled down to the second. Every minute counts and being late is something we are all trying to avoid. The easiest way to get things off to a bad start is by showing up late to your venue. On average I would say people show up 15-30 minutes late to their venue time which means that’s 15-30 minutes less that I have to make sure I get all the photos I need for your gallery. 😬
I suggest that you plan to arrive at the venue 10 minutes before your scheduled time. Most venues won’t have an issue with it and all your vendors will love you! Because the second we arrive we like to get straight to work.
Plan For Extra Time
Going along with the point above, running late is never a great thing. In the end it doesn’t completely matter because it’s your day and the ceremony is not going to start without you, but it definitely isn’t without its consequences. When you’re running late you feel all this pressure to rush through everything, which is exactly the opposite of how we want you to be feeling. On top of that, your bridal photos are always the time that gets cut short and before you know it you’re left with less than 15 minutes for photos. So basically, you want to try and avoid running late as much as possible.
If your schedule allows it, I always suggest scheduling extra 5 minutes here and there (or even for each item) so that if you do run late you have a bit fo a buffer to make up for it. It’s also super important that when you do create your timeline, you communicate with your photographer because they are going to be the one running the show. Your photographer has done this before and knows how much time they need to get the photos you want. For example, it really only takes 5 minutes to put on your dress, but in order to get the pictures of you slipping into your dress, mom zipping it up, taking a few moments to hug/cry, and then putting on all the accessories you will want to schedule about 15 minutes. And then if you ended up scheduling too much time and you’re running ahead of schedule, then you’re one of the lucky ones and get to relax until your ceremony!
Keep The Party Small
It’s tempting to invite so many people to get ready with you before the ceremony. Spending this time with all your favorite people dressing up and getting ready for a “big event”; It’s kinda like the best parts of a sleepover all condensed into a few hours! However, this is a situation where you definitely want to try to keep the numbers small and only invite the most important people; wedding party, siblings, parents, that’s pretty much it. Unless you actually are that close with your aunt or mom’s best friend or whoever, having them around will add to the mess. Too many people in the room can slow you down and distract from what’s important. You want to only feel excited and positive during this time and including a bunch of people may end up making you frustrated.
If there’s people in your life you want to see before the ceremony but getting ready isn’t going to work, include them in a reveal! Ask them to come a little bit early to the ceremony (once you’re all done getting ready) and include them in a first look. You’ll get the opportunity to share that special moment with them without interrupting any other important moments.
Hire A Second Photographer
If you’ve read my blog post about why you should hire a second photographer then you already know why this is crucial to making all the pre-ceremony activities go smoothly. This is one of the biggest tips I can give you that has the potential to make everything easier, but especially during getting ready. A lot of times this is the part of the day that your photographer feels most rushed. They have to run back and forth between the couple and make sure that everybody gets all the photos they need. That can be very overwhelming for one person and leave a lot of room for missing photos.
Instead of having to go through all that, when you hire a second photographer I’m able to focus all of my energy on you while my second focuses on your partner. This allows us to get twice as much work done in the same amount of time and nothing gets forgotten. With 2 photographers we can usually get all of getting ready plus wedding party photos, photos with your parents and immediate family, and first look (if you so desire). And as I always like to remind people, the more you get done earlier the less you have to do after the ceremony.
Having a stress-free getting ready portion of your wedding day is absolutely possible and will set you up to have an amazing rest of the day. There’s no need to worry when you’ve got a team of friends, family, and amazing vendors ready to do anything to make it all happen. Follow these tips and you are on track to have a smooth wedding day!