Over the past decade I have always been the photographer, guest, or bridesmaid, never a bride. However, this past October that all changed for me and man, did this teach me A LOT about being in my client's shoes! I now know how it feels when you are overwhelmed with decisions, how in the three months leading up to your wedding date you are freaking out about all of the little things, and how sometimes you just ask yourself, why didn't we just elope? Well, I can you tell you this, I am glad we didn't! I LOVED my wedding day. After all of that planning, all of that effort, and all of that money spent, that day was worth every ounce of it.
Now having been in your shoes as a fellow bride, I want to share with you a few things that I learned having been on the other side of the lens:
Practice Makes Perfect: Rehearsals and rehearsal dinners are very important, but not everyone always has these. I cannot stress enough the importance of these. When you practice your ceremony this helps everyone know where they should stand/sit, what their cue is for when they walk down the aisle, a foreshadowing of how the ring bearer/flower girl will do (or won't do lol), and of how the ceremony is expected to go. It will make everyone a little more confident and take a bit of the stress away. Also, if you have a friend or family member that is ordained and is your officiant, like we did, it helps them also become at ease with what they will be doing. And for the dinners; they don't have to be extravagant or expensive. You can have them in a variety of ways all the way from a BBQ in your backyard to a fancy restaurant with a private room. Another tip; try and have these two days before your wedding date so you don't risk the chance of having a little too much fun the night before your big day!
Something Will Go Wrong: Let's face it, something is going to not go as planned that day. Let's just hope for minor things and not something like someone dropping the cake or a bridesmaid not showing up. I've seen a lot of things go wrong at various weddings I have photographed and each bride has a different reaction, but my piece of advice is still the same, this is your beautiful day about celebrating your love for each other and no matter what happens, just remember why we are all here. I had to heed my own advice on my wedding day when certain guests didn't show up, people ignored the seating chart, and various other things, all minor, but still frustrating. But, I always thought back to why we were here and that was all that mattered. Then I would look at my groom (now husband) and everything else would just fade away. It was truly the perfect day.
Let Them Eat Cake: It's so true! As the bride and groom you barely have time to eat your dinner let alone your cake! With guests coming up and greeting us at our sweetheart table and constantly getting up to give hugs and hand shakes, by the time I got to my green beans they were cold. So, consider having the DJ make an announcement to save greetings and congratulations for the bride and groom until after dinner. Also, have someone run over and grab you both a couple of pieces of your wedding cake, cupcakes, donuts, or whatever your dessert may be. Otherwise, you might just be waiting until your 1 year anniversary to taste your cake!
Clean Up on Aisle Five: At the end of the day (and a few martinis), the last thing you want to do in a ball gown and/or a tuxedo is clean up. If your venue space does not provide a cleaning service for outside vendors and cannot keep your items overnight, be sure to have some designated guests to make sure that everything is cleaned up and removed for you. And remember it's your wedding night! Don't feel guilty asking for this! Someone will be more than happy to do this for you.
Hey, Mr. DJ: I cannot stress the importance of hiring a great DJ (or band) that is familiar with hosting wedding receptions. Chad and I were lucky to be able to hire a long time friend who happens to be an amazing local DJ, DJ Carbon, a long with DJ, J Skratch, to be our DJs for our reception. Not only did they spin amazing music for us to dance to, Carbon was an amazing MC. I cringe when I hear a lot of brides say that they have a great iPod play list and will just put it on shuffle because I don't think your iPod can announce you into your reception and I also don't think your iPod can announce your first dances, your cake cutting, or your bouquet and garter toss. This is your wedding day! You deserve a fantastic MC to give you your grand entrance!
and Of Course, Photography: It would be totally silly for me to not mention this! I stress to you, not just because I am a photographer, but because I was a bride! Your photographer is going to be with you the whole entire day. You are going to get to know each other pretty well as this is a very emotional day. I offer engagement sessions in each of my packages because I want to spend more time with you before the wedding and get to know you as a couple. Our amazing photographer, Lois, did an awesome session with us and she had a great opportunity to learn more about Chad and I and how we interact together. Therefore, on our wedding day, we all just had a great time and she provided us with images that truly represented us as a couple, down to every little detail. And the best part is, we have our photos to look back on that day and relive that moment. Our flowers have dried up, our food we barely touched, but we still have those images. These are the things that stay with you. These will be the things our children cherish after we are gone, and so on. Photography was a super important thing to us, not just because I am a photographer, but because I know how I look at my parents wedding photo and I know how much that means to everyone especially since my father has passed.
My last and final piece of advice is this, HAVE FUN! This is one of the best days of your life. As your photographer, I do everything I can to help make your day go smooth. I wear many hats that day besides photographing your wedding. I am your wedding planner, your moral support, and there was even an instance where I had to grab a mic up and help when the DJ (friend of the family with a laptop and a playlist) just didn't know what to do. Even before I was a bride I knew the importance of this day from being the hopeless romantic that I am and a woman who had always dreamed of her own wedding day.