Wedding Insights from your Newlywed Photographer

I love weddings! Really, LOVE them! I love attending them, I love photographing them, I loved my own wedding. Well. I loved my wedding DAY. I did not love the planning process. Thank goodness it’s a once in a lifetime thing because I NEVER want to plan my own wedding again. And while I was not born with the planning gene and wouldn’t want to do it again, I do think I have some valuable takeaways from the process and the day itself that are worth sharing.

Be a smart shopper. Make a list of all of the “little things” you need for the big day. Guest book, garters, cake topper, invitations, drink koozies. Find what you want, put it in your online shopping carts. And wait. Discounts, sales and coupons will appear! Black Friday sales are golden! And then select a few things to purchase each month and take it one step at a time. It’s less overwhelming to do it in little chunks, trust me.

My second encouraging word of advice comes from not only my experience as a non-planner bride but also from my photographer’s perspective and it’s important. Hire a wedding planner! If a full blown wedding planner isn’t in the budget, find a really awesome Day Of Coordinator. This probably should have been tip number one because I think, aside from finding the person you’re going to marry, this is at the top of the list. Having someone there who’s sole responsibility is making sure everyone is where they need to be WHEN they need to be there is key to a smooth running wedding day. I highly recommend this person being a hired professional rather than a well meaning family member. This is so your coordinator is able to put their full focus on the priority of the schedule without the distraction of also being a beloved guest. As your photographer, I provide a detailed schedule for your wedding day but since my priority is capturing all of the precious moments, it’s challenging for me to also be tracking people down for photos and keeping an eye on the clock as well.

This one comes from the perspective of being a bride but also from being a bridesmaid. Spoil your bridesmaids a little. Seriously. Specify a portion, even a small portion, of your wedding budget to do a few little things for your ladies. Because, let’s be honest, they are doing a lot of budgeting (without hesitation, of course) to be there for you!  And I know those wedding budgets get tight (I reeeeeally do) but, refer to tip number one, it makes things easier! And I’m not talking extravagant things for this. I gave my girls little brown paper bags with a few small goodies, gift card and a handwritten thank you note! Because, at the end of the day, your bridesmaids deserve a HUGE thank you!

Traditions are important. YOU are far more important. This was a big one for me! I’m a born and raised southern girl who participated in all the traditional southern festivities growing up – including the white dress, white glove, country club debutante ball at 18 years old. My point is, “Traditional” was a word that got thrown at me a lot! I actually cried into my dinner one night, about a month before the wedding over everyone else’s ideas of what I “should” be doing. And a million other reasons. My advice is this, it’s okay to pick and chose your traditions. Do something because it’s meaningful to you, not because you feel like it’s something you’re expected to do. My dad walked me down the isle. I had my old, new, borrowed and blue (because it’s my favorite color). And it meant a lot to me to be wearing my grandmother’s pearls. But I didn’t toss my bouquet. Luke didn’t have a groom’s cake. And Canon in D was nowhere to be heard. There is no right or wrong way to do this, what worked for me might not work for you and that’s exactly my point. Do what you want. Include the things that will help make it the best day of YOUR life!

Enjoy your day. I know this sounds obvious but think about it. Really enjoy it while it’s happening. Live in the moment! You’ve spent months and months planning this day and when it finally arrives, be there for it! You’ve done all you can do, prepped all you can prep and probably run through every scenario of things that could go wrong but it’s time to set it all down and let it happen. Relax while you are pampered with hair and make up, laugh with your girls while you get ready. Let your mom button your dress and fuss over the perfection of it all. Anticipate the moment when your groom sees you for the first time. Let emotion in. Stop. Breath. This is happening. This day that you have dreamed of. I dreamed of this. I’ve prayed for this. It’s happening right now. Be sure to stop and tell yourself that. It will go by in a flash but don’t take a moment of it for granted!

So for what’s it worth, that’s a little of what I learned and realized over 13 months of wedding planning. I’m no expert, in fact I’m the exact opposite! But I know I’m not alone so as someone who is finding my own place in the wedding industry, I couldn’t help but thrown in my two cents. Until next week, friends!

Love, your untraditionally traditional, smart shopping, newlywed photographer!!



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