I've been meaning to write a series on my wedding day tips for approximately 87 years... but wedding season just keeps happening which means that blogging doesn't. But, somehow, today I've managed to take a brief respite from editing to offer some advice to my future couples, and anyone standing at the bottom of the mountain that is wedding planning. I get asked questions about the day and I always love to help wherever I can, so I'm going to compile them in a blog series in the hope that someone out there will find it helpful.
Disclaimer: any tips I have are based purely on my experiences as a wedding photographer, so of course there are plenty of other aspects to consider. They may be completely useless because of other circumstances or simply not feasible for your day, in which case, please do feel free to ignore me.
So, the first stop is the preparations. For most weddings, I personally shoot around 60-90 minutes with the bride and her chosen posse, capturing details such as the dress, jewellery, flowers, as well as all the fun of getting ready and general merriment. The large majority of what I shoot here will be candid; I want the images to portray the beginning of the story, the building of the excitement and progression to being ceremony ready.
1. Get ready in the largest, brightest space you possibly can.
If you have options, I would strongly advise going for somewhere with plenty of natural light and plenty of space to move about in. Your make-up artist will be just as grateful as me! Aside from being more photographically flattering, it's far easier to get make-up looking spot on if the light is good. It can often be super busy and chaotic especially if you do have hair and make-up professionals - they will bring tonnes of equipment with them - and this is where the need for space comes in. if you're limited to a room in a house or similar, just do your best to clear any unnecessary clutter before the big day to maximise space. It'll feel much more relaxed and give myself and beauty technicians room to move about easily.
2. Clear the decks
This comes in to the space point, but is more about keeping on top of mess on the day. I'm all for showing the real story and if there's stuff everywhere, any photographer like me will happily shoot it because it's part of your day, but think about what you do and don't want in the photos. If you're not keen to have random items of bridesmaids' underwear strewn across the place, encourage everyone to keep all their bits and bobs tidied away. Also, be aware of having open suitcases on the floor because I will at some point probably trip over it backwards.
3. Get some good tunes on
Having your favourite music on in the morning will calm nerves and create a lovely atmosphere. Some people are naturally very chilled and others are more likely to have butterflies, or maybe birds of prey, swimming around their stomachs, but whether it's to keep you feeling relaxed or build the excitement of what's to come, I always think it's a great addition.
4. Never underestimate the complexities of a wedding dress
Despite most people having had a practice with one person putting the dress on, it's often a long time before the wedding. Along with the nerves and time pressures of the wedding day, it's really important to make sure you have someone who can definitely do it, and that you know how long it will take. Those dresses with 800 buttons down the back? Takes ages. Especially with a manicure.
5. Leave enough time at the end
This is painfully obvious but the amount of times where I've been to weddings and it feels as though there's HOURS before everyone needs to be ready, yet the last 15 minutes are a mad rush... Get everyone to pack their bags and sort their shoes and make-up and phone chargers well in advance of leaving, because you can guarantee there'll be at least one person hopping around the house with one shoe unable to locate their clutch. This one is especially important if you want any fully ready photos of you and bridesmaids before leaving.