I’ve been a bride and I’ve photographed weddings. No matter how small or how grand your wedding is, it’s going to fly by in the blink of an eye. With so many things happening at once, its easy to overlook all the little details. While some of these little details really aren’t so pressing, there are a few that, when remembered, can make the world of a difference in flow of your day how your wedding photos turn out.
As your elopement photographer, I feel that it is part of my job to prepare you as best as I possibly can for not only the most beautiful images, but also for a smooth and stress-free timeline. To help you in your preparations, I have put together a few suggestions that I believe can truly elevate your wedding day and give you the best possible photos.
Consider Your “Getting Ready” Space
Natural light is always the best light. When looking for a space to get ready, or even when hunting for the perfect ceremony or reception locations, I highly recommend searching for a space that provides plenty of natural light from multiple angles, as well as little to no need for any artificial lighting. For the best indoor photography, I always recommend turning off all overhead lighting, and all artificial lighting if possible, which will help avoid any unflattering shadows or color casts on skin. It doesn’t matter how talented your photographer is, these things can not be completely corrected in post-production.
Instead, aim for spaces with large windows, tall ceilings, and light colored walls to ensure the most flattering photographs. If you don’t know of anybody with a suitable space you can use while getting ready, I always suggest looking to rent a space through AirBnb or VRBO as opposed to renting a hotel room. Home rentals often offer so much more space and character, and can double as a place for you and your wedding party to stay the night before the wedding!
The party doesn’t have to wait to start until after dinner; prepare a coffee or mimosa bar and put on your favorite tunes while getting ready. Nothing is worse than a bored, sleepy wedding party in the hours leading up to the wedding. You want to create an atmosphere of celebration!
When it comes to your bridal portraits later on in the day, I always do my best to bring a portable speaker to each of my couple sessions so you’re welcome to sync a playlist on your phone and play your favorite songs while we photograph your portraits. Many studies have proven music’s ability to evoke powerful emotional responses, which is exactly what we want when photographing just the two of you.
A tidy space makes for a much more photogenic space. I know it can be difficult, but I highly recommend you and your wedding party aim to keep things consolidated or off high surfaces so their isn’t too much clutter in the background of your images.
However, all you can ask is for everyone to do their best – don’t let a little clutter get the best of you! People need things, especially on wedding days, so if things can’t be tidied once the photographer arrives, it’s not the end of the world.
This may be the most important piece of advice I could ever offer you – practice good communication! Share the timeline and your expectations with everyone before the wedding day, including attendees and vendors. To do this, I suggest having a conversation in person or over the phone with each person, then sending a group or individual text messages a day or two before the wedding summarizing the timeline as well as all of your expectations for each person.
I definitely do not condone bridezilla or groomzilla behavior. However, clear and concise communication can make such a positive difference in the overall flow of the day. Just remember to be helpful in your communication, don’t nag!
Another suggestion – write down the names and phone numbers of all your wedding vendors and at least two wedding day contact (one for each person getting married), then snap a photo. Send the photo of the contact list to each of your vendors and members of your bridal party ahead of the wedding just in case!
A few other suggestions…
Hair and Makeup
Brides: Have your hair and makeup done first
I know, I know. This is probably the opposite advice you’ve heard from every hair and make up artist out there, who often prefer to work on the bride last so she is as fresh as she can possibly be. The problem with this is that often times, by the time it’s finally the bride’s turn to get pampered, time is no longer on your side and things will feel rushed… the complete opposite of how you should feel on your wedding day!
Although your hair and makeup artist may disagree with you, I highly highly suggest requesting you be first in line for their services so you’re able to really sit back, relax, and not stress about the time. Once your photographer arrives, you can always hop back in the chair and have your photographer capture your hair and makeup artist applying a few touch ups or final tweaks.
One of the biggest things that so many couples forget to do on their wedding day is EAT! Happy tummies equal happy hearts! Including a proper breakfast, lunch, and dinner can make the difference between ending the day in joy, and in ending the day feeling sick and miserable.
If you’re looking to avoid that heavy and bloated feeling, I suggest staying away from any greasy or carb-loaded foods and avoid consuming large quantities all at once. Instead, snack frequently on light and nutritious foods such as fruits, veggies, and nuts frequently throughout the day.
Assign a friend to be the “day of helper”
Although you probably already worked with your photographer to generate a family photo list and a must have photo list, I highly recommend asking a family member or member of your wedding party to assist your photographer in pulling everyone together when it’s time for formal photos.
Immediately following your ceremony, all of your loved ones are going to want to say hello and talk to one another, and there’s probably going to be a lot of people running to the bar. People are going to disperse quickly, which will make it difficult for your photographer to everyone posed and put together in a timely fashion. Assigning somebody who knows who people are and who will be able to quickly run around and gather people while the photographer sets up the next shot will make your formal photos go a lot smoother and quicker, allowing you to get back to your party.
Enjoy your first kiss!
Okay, you’re finally married – don’t be afraid to enjoy the moment!
If your first kiss is just a second long, this won’t give your photographer nearly enough time to snap the perfect shot. Our cameras are fancy and expensive, but they still require an extra second or two just to focus correctly. By slowing down your first kiss, your photographer will have plenty of time to not only to compose the shot perfectly, but also ensure it is in focus! The best part of all this? A few extra seconds to really enjoy the moment with your honey!
Don’t forget about the details!
A few days before the wedding, put everything you would like photographed (invitations, shoes, jewelry, etc.) together in a small garment bag and keep in a safe and convenient space. Once until your photographer arrives, they’ll likely want to photograph these details first, so having it all handy and consolidated will make that process go so much smoother.
Although they aren’t necessity, bringing along a few of the following extras can add a little insurance to your day:
- band-aids (in case of heel blisters)
- bobby pins and clear hair ties
- clear gel deodorant (nobody wants white marks on their wedding clothes!)
- dress steamer
- double-sided fashion tape
- lint roller
- mini sewing kit (needle, thread, safety pins)
- tissues and q-tips
Outdoor Wedding? Don’t Forget to Gear Up!
Personally, nothing is better that an outdoor wedding. There’s something so magical about surrounding yourself in nature when making your utmost promises to your best friend. When you’re outside, the lighting is better the air is fresh, and you don’t have to worry much about decorating because nature often does all that heavy lifting for you.
However, if you’re having your wedding or elopement outside, you should like long and hard about also bringing along a jacket, proper shoes, and bug spray or sunscreen. While the outdoors always makes for a perfect ceremony location, you’ll almost always run into the chance of rain, wind, or cold weather – elements that don’t make for a comfortable situation. I totally understand wanting to look good on your wedding day, but it’s very hard to look good when you don’t feel good. The more you can do to prepare yourself for any weather situation, the less stress and discomfort you’ll have to deal with in the end.
Click here for even more tips on preparing for your destination elopement!
Bumps in the road are going to happen – that’s just how life works. At the end of the day, all of the little mistakes that pop up along the way are just a little character added to your day, and if you forget a few things, it’s not the end of the world! No matter what, your day will be beautiful because you get to marry your best friend, and what could be better than that?!
Other Elopement Planning Resources
I’ve been a bride and I’ve photographed weddings. No matter how small or how grand your wedding is, it’s going to fly by in the blink of an eye. With so many things happening at once, its easy to overlook