I've created my free 'Wedding Day Guide' to give you some helpful tips & tricks when planning your wedding. I've been to a lot of weddings over the years and I've seen weddings in all shapes & sizes. I've definitely learnt a thing or two about the planning process along the way. I completely understand each wedding is unique & every couple will have their own way of doing things. But I hope you find one or all of these nuggets of information useful.
My free wedding day planning guide covers the following points.....
- Making your day personal
- Locations & Logistics
- Pre-wedding shoots
- Ceremony & Timings
- Getting ready shots
- Confetti Shot
- Group Photos
- Dogs & Kids at weddings
- Couple Portraits
- Music Ideas & Dancing
- Sustainable Factors
- Flowers & Other Stories
make it personal...
First & foremost my number one piece of advice.... 'Make your day personal to your relationship'. Just because your friend did their wedding a certain way, it doesn't mean your day has to be anything like it. Every couple & relationship is unique, so have a think about what's really special to you both. If you love nature & hiking, then why not go down an outdoorsy theme. If you absolutely love live music & go to loads of gigs together, make sure music is a key part of your day. If you love secondhand & vintage style, then why not rock a vintage dress or decorate your venue with vintage finds. If you're quiet and not into the big party vibes, then have a cosy & intimate wedding day that reflects you. If you love food & cooking then do something special for your wedding meal. Make sure you do something that makes both your souls sing!
Your wedding is about you & your love for one another - so make that count. I totally get it, at times it can be challenging to feel like you have to please a lot of different people, so be reasonable but don't feel pressured into doing something that doesn't feel right for you both. I also understand everyone has a different budget & prioritises different things when it comes to spending. But making your wedding personal doesn't have to make it expensive. It could be a really small thing that means a lot to you.
location, location & logistics...
This leads on nicely from making it personal. Finding your perfect wedding venue is part of making the day your own. But another important thing to factor into this is the 'logistics' including, transport links & accommodation. If your venue is in the middle of nowhere, that's great, but make sure you provide transport on the day or give all the transport options to your guests ahead of your wedding. Find out if guests are able to camp & stay overnight (are there any costs for this?) People don't usually have a problem with travelling to your wedding, but they do mind not knowing all the info up front. So make it easy for your guests if they are putting the time & effort to travel to celebrate your day. If your venue is tucked away & not easily found via Google Maps, then provide some thorough directions or a little map ahead of time. Trust me, the last thing you want on your wedding is is 100 phone calls from all your stressed wedding suppliers & lost wedding guests.
Another point on this is parking. It's very boring but often important & overlooked. If you're getting married at a Church, is there a car park on site? I've photographed so many church weddings when guests walk in 10mins late because there was no parking nearby and they weren't made aware of this beforehand. Equally, if your church or venue is in a busy city centre, parking nearby can often be challenging, so make sure you provide the full details of the nearest carparks ahead of time. Your guests will really appreciate all this info.
Finally, if you have any guests with disabilities, wheelchairs or there's going to be a fair few pushchairs on the day, then do have a think about the accessibility of your venue. While a Grade II listed building can be a beautiful backdrop, there's often no lift facility which can make it a challenge and less than ideal.
pre wedding shoot...
Booking a pre-wedding session with your wedding photographer is not only a great opportunity to get use to feeling more comfortable in front of the camera, but a fabulous way to get some epic portraits of you together in great location different from that of your wedding venue. The photos will be a more relaxed & laid back style. I'm always encouraging my couples to choose a hike, picnic spot or any location that has a connection to their relationship. If a pre-wedding shoot is something that appeals to you, then check out the 'Optional Extras' on my investment and pricing page for more info.
ceremony & timings...
Timings for your day really depend on the time of year you're getting married. If you're having a Spring/Summer wedding there will be an abundance of daylight which makes things a bit easier & allows for flexibility throughout the day. Between 1pm - 2pm are very popular ceremony times.
If you're getting married in the height of summer then consider the fact there could be a possible heatwave ( July & August). Outdoor summer ceremonies are always appealing, but you will want to avoid the height of afternoon sun & heat. Opting for a later afternoon 3pm - 4pm ceremony is a great way to avoid the light being too harsh and intense for your guests. On a bright summers day you will still have so much light after your ceremony for portraits and candids and you might even get a beautiful Golden Hour. But find out if there is shade at your venue for your guests? If you've got a venue with indoor space then ask if they have Air Con for the hot summer days.
The clocks change come October and this is where things can need a bit more consideration as the daylight hours will be limited. And the weather is another thing to factor in. I've created a 'Winter Wedding Planning Guide' which covers some more details for planning a winter wedding. So I hope you find that helpful too.
getting ready moments...
If you're not getting ready at your wedding venue or at home, then see if you can find a location that has plenty of natural daylight. Windows are your friend! Airbnb's with neutral vibes make really good backdrops for getting ready shots - clean & simple. There's also some very groovy AirBnb's & hotels which can make a cool vibe depending on your style. Finding somewhere fairly nearby to where you're getting ready will cut out a lot of stress, so you don't have to worry about getting stuck in traffic on the way to your ceremony. If you want to be super eco-friendly then why not find somewhere a short walk away.
While some people might not want getting ready photos (that's totally fine) it can be a nice way to ease you into the day and get use to having the camera around. Not only will it warm you up to the camera, it's great to get some beautiful portraits taken in all your finery when your hair, make up and flowers are all super fresh. When you see yourself with all those elements combined together for the first time, trust me, you will want a photo! It's not vain to want a photo to document you feeling absolutely gorgeous. Just think it's something to look back on when you're old & wrinkly and think phoaaar "I scrubbed up well!" So embrace it and you'll make the most of having a professional photographer around. You'll also get some lovely documentary style shots of any friends & family that might be with you when you're getting ready.
confetti or popcorn?....
Whether you've got confetti or popcorn at the ready (make sure it's biodegradable) it's always best to get this chucked at you straight after your ceremony as you exit as newlyweds. I appreciate for some people this is quite an important shot, so I always get your guests arranged outside for you and give them a few confetti bombing pointers. It's such a fun part of the day. I will come and get you when we're all set and give you a big countdown. My best advice is to walk nice and slowly (remember your photographer will be walking backwards) and embrace every second. Oh and keep your mouth shut, unless you like the taste of petals!
Would you like a side of confetti with your cake? Check with your venue if it's okay to throw confetti inside. Some venues are fine with this option and it can be a nice option if it's a particularly soggy day outside. If you would like your confetti shot arranging as you arrive at your reception then this is absolutely fine. Just let your photographer know what would suit your day best!
Group shots = fun shots...
'BE THE ENERGY' and have a blast. That is the best way to get fun group shots! Keep in mind organising group photos on the day always take longer than you think. Especially if Auntie Brenda has wandered off to look at the table decs and Uncle Boris has nipped to the loo. It can be like herding cats, especially at larger wedding venues where guests can hide. So keep it short & sweet - not only will your guests thank you for it, it will make you feel more relaxed on your day.
My best advice is to keep it to 6 core group shots and perhaps one big wedding party photo of all your guests (if there is enough space & the weather permits). It works well if I can get high up and hang out of a window! Having a relative or someone on hand to help me round up your guests & relatives always works a treat and helps get through the list more smoothly.
I want you and your guests to have fun with your group shots, so there not all stiff & awkward, so I will encourage you to dance, sing, smile, laugh and for kids to photobomb you. If you have fun with it and embrace the group shots, then it won't feel like a mission on the day. Instead it will be some of your fun memories to look back on. It works well to get group photos done straight after your ceremony, so if kids (and adults) get a bit dishevelled afterwards, then at least you've got a photo of them all looking fresh!
dogs & kids...
Those of you that I've followed my work for a while now, will know that I'm a little bit dog obsessed. I have my side passion project 'Pooch Perfect Photography' which is dedicated to our four legged best friends. So if you want to include your pooch at your wedding, that's absolutely fine with me. Just make sure you check my camera bag or boot before I leave your wedding......they might be coming home with me!
Think about having a dedicated dog handler or pet sitter on the day. It usually works well if it's someone your dog knows and is happy to be with. Weddings aren't that much fun for dogs, so keep it short and sweet. It's best to get some photos with your bestie and then send them on their way, so they can go off and decompress. There are plenty of great dog sitting businesses that will happily come along . Hurley's based in Ladybay in West Bridgford offer an excellent wedding service as well as dog grooming to get your pooch 'wedding ready'!
If kids are welcome at your wedding that's absolutely awesome. Kids often have a blast and enjoy running wild and free outside. It's great if you can plan a few activities for them like an 'I spy chart' or if there are some lawn games outside for them. Sometimes if there's a lot of kids, couples plan a little kids disco before the adults hit the dance floor which can work nicely.
COUPLE PORTRAITS...JUST have fun!
"Anna - there's just one issue....we both hate having our photo taken!"
If I had a pound for every-time one of my couples said this to me on zoom call. While I photography in a very natural & documentary style, I do offer direction so you feel relaxed and at ease. I totally get it - it's not normal to have a camera following you around all day but if you have fun and enjoy your day, your love & energy will shine through in your photos. It's a lot less daunting having your photo taken with your other half than it is having a solo portrait taken for a boring work headshot. So remember, I'm here to make you look good - trust my direction and if it does feel a bit cringey, then laugh and be silly, because those are the shots I'm all about and the shots you've probably seen on my website!
music & dance fever...
"Trust me you can dance!"
If you're all about having a good old knees up with all your friends & loved ones then you'll probably want your wedding photographer to hang around to capture all those dance floor antics. I'm all about those party vibes which is why I created my 'Whole Shebang' 10 hour photography package, so you get the full story of the day as it unfolds.
Live music always gets the party started, from surprise Brass Bands to Rock n Roll acts or some soothing Acoustic Music, Mexican Mariachi Band and vibrant Dohl Drummers. Take your pick....there's so much to choose from. But live music is a great option if you love the party and want your guests to get up and have a big old boogie. It will make for some great dance floor photos too.
THE SUSTAINABLE FACTOR...
Here is a little list of sustainable factors you can consider while planning your wedding or micro wedding...
1. Find a florist that works with or grows beautiful seasonal blooms or opt for a dried bouquet that will last after your wedding & can be arranged around your home.
2. Supporting local businesses – if you find a photographer and videographer, florist, baker, stylist, caterer who is local then this will help reduce their travel emissions and also make things easier during the pandemic if any travel restrictions are in place
3. ‘Something Old & Something Borrowed’ – Sourcing second hand pieces like your dress, shoes & accessories is a great way to add unique touches to your special day but also helps reduce waste
4. Working with an awesome stylist to get the exact theme you want, means you won’t waste money buying things that you might not use and might be thrown away after. Remember your wedding stylist will have an epic box of tricks that they can reuse & recycle
5. Finding a unique jeweller that uses recycled materials is another way you can find one off pieces that are ethically hand produced. Or again why not look for something secondhand. There are some beautiful rings and jewellery already out there.
Check out my full Sustainable Bridal Wear feature over on LOVE MY DRESS
Above is the lovely Lucy rocking her 96yr old Grandmother's wedding dress. What a beautiful moment captured for the family to look back on and cherish. It's moments like these that really do mean the most!
If you're currently looking for some 'Floral Inspiration' ready for your wedding day, then please check out my dedicated blog post, 'Flowers & Other Stories' which has loads of inspo pics and links to lots of local suppliers.