My name is Justin Wright and I have photographed over 250 weddings. I have been a full time wedding photographer for 7 years and absolutely love my job. I live in Nashville, Tennessee but have photographed weddings everywhere from Colorado to Australia.
Weddings are different than any other type of event. There is no other event in your life where you invest as much money and time planning a single day. You want your wedding day to be perfect, and I am going to share 7 tips that I have learned from all my experience photographing weddings to help you make sure it is.
# 1 Make Your Day About the Marriage and NOT the Wedding
Planning a wedding can get totally insane with the pressure of family input, the constant stream of extravagant weddings filling your Pinterest board, and working within a budget that is practical but also sufficient to make your wedding day dream a reality.
There are going to be days in the planning process and maybe even on your wedding day when you want to pull your hair out and scream.
When you find yourself in this place, just close your eyes, imagine the face of your future spouse, and remind yourself that the point of the wedding is the marriage, and as long as you are married at the end of the day…everything has gone according to plan.
If you have this mindset going into your wedding day, it will make all the difference in the world.
I’ve seen Brides literally able to laugh through the disaster of cakes toppling over and dresses getting ruined because they have their vision set on the marriage, and not the perfect wedding.
#2 Hire a planner
A wedding planner is a great investment if you are looking to have a guide for the wedding planning process and to eliminate a ton of stress on the wedding day.
You can give a good wedding planner a rough vision of your wedding day details and they will make it a reality. Wedding planners have a list of contacts that they have worked with and trust so you don’t have to take any chances on your big day.
If you don’t hire a wedding planner to help with all the details at least hire a wedding planner for ‘day of coordination’ to handle all the logistics.
If you don’t hire a wedding planner, You are the wedding planner.
Every question and headache from family, friends, and vendors you hire will be coming straight to you.
Do you really want to be telling the DJ where to setup so he can find a good power source on your wedding day? Hiring a wedding planner allows you to enjoy the day and be present with your new spouse, friends and family.
#3 Share the Timeline with Family and the Wedding Party
It’s time for family photos but Uncle Bob wandered down to the reception and is taking tequila shots. I’ve seen this scenario a hundred times.
Once you get the timeline nailed down, email it to the entire wedding party and any family that will be in photos. A good time to remind people about the schedule again is the night of the rehearsal dinner.
There typically isn’t a lot of time to ‘piddle paddle’ at weddings. If the timeline gets too far behind it will cut into other important photos or even possibly delay the reception.
#4 Create a Family Photo List
Often times the most stressful part of the day is the ‘family photos’ portion. To help make this part of the day go by smooth and fast, create a list of the family shots you would like to have prior to the wedding.
If your photographer has a list of names and groupings, all he has to do is call out the names and get them into place. Planning ahead and creating a list makes it easier on everyone and also ensures that you get photos of all the different family combinations you want.
#5 Choose your Battles
I don’t know what it is, but weddings can bring out the ‘crazy’ in people who are usually very sane. You will be surprised about the very strong opinions voiced by family members through out the wedding planning process.
Figure out what is really important to you about your wedding and make it a priority.
For me it was photography and all my wife wanted was to get married in a white steepled church. We fought for those things and let her mom, who loves planning, choose the rest. You may have a longer or shorter list than us. It doesn’t matter as long as you know what you want to fight for, and which things you are okay letting go of.
#6 Create a Budget Around Your Priorities
Once you fight your carefully chosen battles and have your list of priorities, budget accordingly. I want you to think about the last wedding you attended. What do you really remember? Do you remember the flowers? The food? Can you even recall the Bride’s dress?
What do you want your family and friends to experience and share on your wedding day? And more importantly what do You want to experience?
Your wedding day will fly by in a blur, and although details are fun and even important sometimes, it is more important to discover what holds value to you as a couple, and invest in those things.
I have photographed $10,000 and $1,000,000 weddings. They were both beautiful, guests at both weddings had a great time, and you know what, at the end of the day both couples were married to the person they chose to be with for the rest of their life.
#7 Surround Yourself with Professional Wedding Vendors
Weddings are a different kind of animal. They have a certain flow and personality that takes time to learn. A seasoned wedding professional knows what to expect, how to overcome common wedding day obstacles, and how to put you at ease when things don’t go as planned.
After shooting 250 weddings there are very few things I haven’t seen.
I’ve had a mother of the groom trapped in an elevator.
I witnessed a carbonated glass bottle hit the ground, shatter, and shoot a chunk of Coca-cola laced shrapnel into a bridesmaid’s leg.
I watched a drunk and very misguided group of groomsmen fill the groom’s brand new Ford F150 truck with baby powder and sardines right before the grand exit.
I’ve also seen weddings executed poorly by inexperienced planners, causing a lot of stress and turmoil for the couple. I’ve seen bands that make a potentially awesome reception a total dud because they played all the wrong songs at the worst times, and took breaks without having music going while they were gone.
Surrounding yourself with highly professional and experienced wedding vendors is one of the best ways to ensure that you have the wedding day you have been dreaming and planning.
Thanks + Additional Tools
I know these 7 tips will have a huge impact on your wedding day if you put them into practice. You only have one wedding, don’t take any chances. I also highly recommend checking out Wedding Wire's awesome wedding checklist tool. It will help you accomplish all things I talked about and more!
I love getting to know the couples I work with and telling their unique story through beautiful images. If you need an experienced photographer you can trust with your wedding day, send me an email or give me a call because I would love to talk with you.