1. SUNLIGHT - First and foremost, plan your wedding around the sun so that your photographer can get some photos of you in natural light! I recommend having your ceremony end with 1-2 hours of sunlight left. The closer you get to sunset the better the light gets. The last hour of sun is called "golden hour" because the light is magic and literally warmer. During golden hour the sun is also very low on the horizon which makes for amazing backlit images and softer images in general. If sunset photos won’t be possible on your wedding day you should highly consider doing a first look sometime before ceremony. You will find more info on this in tip number 2 below.
2. CONSIDERING A FIRST LOOK - This topic goes hand and hand with planning your wedding day around the sun. I understand that many couples will follow tradition and choose to see each other for the first time during the ceremony. However, here are some things you should be aware of depending on the logistics and time of year for your wedding. If your wedding will take place in the fall or winter it is extremely important to plan for a first look or an earlier ceremony so that you have at least one hour of natural light to take formal family and bridal portraits. If your ceremony ends after dark and you haven’t done a first look earlier in the day, your bride and groom photos will have to be done with flash. It’s not the end of the world, but just remember flash isn’t as good as natural light.
Here are some other benefits of having a first look before your ceremony. First and foremost, a first look gives you more opportunity to capture bride and groom photos. When it’s all said and done, these bridal or bride and groom photos are more likely to be the ones you print as enlargements and hang in your home. Having a first look also gives you the option to knock out photos of the entire bridal party together and possibly start family formals. The more formals you get done before the ceremony the less you have to do after. This will potentially keep your guest from waiting as long and get your party started sooner!
If your wedding is during the summer and in Texas, then an outdoor first look earlier in the day might be a bad idea. The last thing you want to be is sweaty before your ceremony so you will need to consider your options. Since the sun sets so much later in the summer you might be able to sneak away from your reception for golden hour photos.
3. HAIR & MAKEUP - In my experience, hair & makeup cause the most delays on the wedding day time and time again. I recommend you be completely finished with hair & makeup at least 2 hours before your ceremony. If you are unsure about timing or the skills of your hair & makeup professionals then pad that time even more. It's much better to be ready early so your photographer can get a jump on photos of you and your bridesmaids in their robes and then formal photos in their dresses.
4. DETAILS - Have your details together in one spot. These include the dress(s), your ring(s), jewelry, garter, shoes, and any other things you want to include like perfume, purse, something old, something borrowed, something blue, etc. Also having the brides flowers is helpful. Sometimes this is not possible because they are in another location. Having these things organized and in one location will help your photographer and save time. I have encountered several weddings where the bride and groom have each others rings before the ceremony. Im not sure where this comes from but its best to keep your rings until the photographer has had a chance to capture them. Just so my brides know, I try to photograph the dress the very first thing because I don't want it to be seen by the groom or delay you from getting into it. Also, if you have a special hanger for your dress don't forget to bring it!
5. CLEAN UP - It's funny that I even have to mention this but I find myself continually having to clean up after bridesmaids and prep bridal rooms. These beautiful bridal images don't just happen on their own. The scene has to be clean so you don't see underwear and mimosa glasses in the background. Have your bridal party help keep the bride & groom suites tidy. :) Less time cleaning = more time taking photos.
6. SMILE! - Believe it or not, at times I have to tell a bride or groom to smile! Oddly enough its the ones who didn't hire a wedding planner. lol Thats another topic I'll cover later. My point is, weddings can often be stressful but when you look back on your wedding photos you don't want to see that in your faces. I know it's not as easy as it sounds, but try to enjoy your special day. Things rarely ever go perfectly but one thing you can control is the expression on your face. Smile your way through it. Now some of my clients aren't very smiley. That's ok too. Just relax. Remember it's YOUR DAY! When it's time to take your bride and groom photos, forget the rest of the world and get lost in each other for a few moments. These are your memories for a lifetime.
5. SAVE FUN LIGHTS FOR LATER - Please, please, please ask your DJ to save the fun lights for general dancing. That means no colored or spot lights used during your first dance or parent dances. When used your clothes and skin are going to take on the color of these lights. You don’t want to look like Incredible Hulk in your first dance photos! lol Also when really bright strobes or spots are used it can blow the exposure and details out making it harder for your photographer to get the best images. Do yourself a favor and help your photographer out by saving the fun lights for later! They look better during the “Wobble” anyway. :)