Wedding Day Tips: Day of Reminders

It's Wedding Wednesday!

Your wedding day is finally here.  The planning is finished, and today you'll be embarking on a new chapter of your lives together, celebrating this wonderful day with your friends and family!  Somehow, during the time we're getting ready, we forget all of that.  While we're getting ready for the day's events, we somehow still manage to stress and panic about the tiniest of details.  As a past bride, I have some wedding day tips for you to keep your nerves in check! 

Shaina Lee Photography | Connecticut Wedding Photographer | Destination Wedding Photographer | Cabo San Lucas Wedding | Mexico Destination Wedding

1. Get good rest the night before your wedding.
Your wedding day is busy and hectic at times.  Trust me, you'll want to get a good night's sleep to keep you going throughout the day!  If you're the bride, you and your bridesmaids will start the wedding prep much earlier than the guys (on most occasions, they relax and watch football all morning, and only need an hour or so to get ready!).  

2. Pack snacks for wedding preparation.
To help keep your energy levels up, don't forget to pack snacks!  Often times as the bride, we have so much going through our heads that we forget to eat.  On my wedding day, I totally forgot all about food (luckily my sister (and maid of honor) had me covered!).  Without it I don't know how I would have made it through the day!  My husband and I were busy greeting each of our guests during most of the dinner hour, and only had a few bites of our meals.  Since this is quite often the case, don't forget to pack something healthy and easy to eat while you're getting ready!  Also, you won't want to get dehydrated, so remember to bring water, with straws so your lipstick looks flawless!

3. Have a bridal wedding day kit filled with the essentials.
Again, I'm lucky my sister, had my back on this one!  She packed a basket filled with all kinds of things, including items I never would have thought to bring with me: aspirin for headaches, a protein bar to keep me going, water, a travel sewing kit with scissors (at the very least, you'll want the scissors to cut tags off of dresses and such), band aids, lip balm, hand lotion, tissues and more!  Trust me, you'll want to have more than enough tissues around.  You WILL shed tears of joy, laughter and excitement on your wedding day, and you'll want to avoid your mascara from running down your face!

4. Get all of your details together before your photographer arrives.
To keep your wedding day timeline flowing nicely, be sure to gather your details together and have them ready for your photographer before they arrive.  Trust me, they will thank you for it!  Bridal details include the rings (engagement and both wedding bands), shoes, jewelry, dress, veil, hair pieces, bouquet, perfume, wedding invitation suite (including the save the date), as well as your something old, new, borrowed and blue.  Grooms, this means you too!  The groom's details usually include tie or bow tie, cufflinks, watch, shoes, cologne and boutineer.  Don't forget to gather any personalized items that you had made for the day, too!

5. Stick to your timeline!
As I mentioned above, you want your wedding day timeline to go as smoothly as possible.  When writing your timeline, always keep in mind that it's better to allow for extra time for each part of the day than to cut everything short.  Being short on time only causes stress for the bride and groom, which is the last thing you need on your wedding day!  If you have to travel from a wedding prep location to a ceremony location to a reception venue, you'll want to allow for extra travel time, just in case of traffic (knock on wood!).  Be sure that your bridal party and essential family members are aware of the timeline, so everyone knows where they have to be and when.  The more organized you are, the more efficiently your day will go!  This helps tremendously when it comes to allotted times for photos.  You want to be sure you have plenty of time for bridal party formals, family photos, as well as time alone for romantic wedding couple portraits.

6. Don't let stress get the best of you.
As brides, we've spent so much time planning the details, that we want everything to be perfect on our big day.  I hate to say it, but wedding days aren't perfect.  When you think about it, nothing in life is absolutely perfect!  And that's totally okay!  Trust me, I've been here.  I spent countless hours imagining how every minute of my wedding day would go.  When I realized that none of my wedding guests blew the bubbles I had left out for them when my husband and I shared our first kiss, yes, I was bummed (because I know they would have looked AMAZING for a ceremony exit photo), but I was more excited about the fact that I had just married the love of my life!  The important thing to remember is to not get hung up on the little details.  Wedding days have hiccups.  That doesn't mean you can't enjoy the day that will be one of the best in your life!

7. Breathe, smile and have fun!
IT'S YOUR WEDDING DAY!  You've planned for months, and now is the time to celebrate.  Bask in the love from your family and friends that will surround you and your partner on this beautiful day!

Past brides, what wedding day advice do you have to offer to brides-to-be?

Shaina Lee Photography | Connecticut Wedding Photographer | Destination Wedding Photographer | Cabo San Lucas Wedding | Mexico Destination Wedding

Tips for Brides: Advice from One Bride to Another

It's Wedding Wednesday!  Today I am starting a new blog series to help all of my lovely wedding couples with the many steps of wedding planning. 

In today's post, I'm writing to you not as a wedding photographer, but as a past bride.  There are plenty of things I learned during (and even after) the time my husband and I were planning our wedding, that I wish I had known or given more thought to beforehand.  Today, I'll be sharing a few of those things with you!

1. Take the time to figure out your budget.
I touched upon this in my previous post (and will do a more detailed post about wedding budgets in February).  Figuring out your budget is essential if you want to move forward in your wedding planning.  Once Arturo and I figured out how our parents would be helping us out, we decided out how much we wanted to set aside (we chose to over-budget, just to be safe).  Knowing your total wedding budget will help you to figure out how many guests you'll invite, which dress you'll buy, which venue you'll host your reception at, and more.  Speaking of wedding venues...

2. Don't waste your time looking at dozens of venues.  
Now, I didn't look at dozens of venues (we actually only looked at Tashua Knolls in Trumbull, and decided it was perfect for what we were planning), but I did email with about thirty different wedding venues around Connecticut and New York.  I had found plenty of venues that I loved, but was aiming WAY out of my price range on many of them.  To be honest, I started venue hunting before we had the budget chat with our parents, which is why I had fallen in love with several of the locations I'd emailed.  It's a good thing I didn't take a tour of any of these, otherwise I REALLY would have been upset!

3. Delegate, delegate, delegate!
I will admit, I am a terrible delegator!  I loved planning my wedding, and had such a hard time putting other people (aside from my husband) in charge of even the tiniest tasks, even if they offered their help.  Trust me when I tell you, as hard as it may be, take others up on their offers of helping you out.  It will definitely keep your stress levels down!

4. Write a wedding day timeline.
As a photographer, you would think I would have written out a wedding day timeline for my own wedding!  Psssh, no, that did not happen.  Overall, the day went smoothly, because I knew how long each portion of the day would take (and I had my wonderfully talented friend and fellow photographer, Heather, to keep everything in check!).  I HIGHLY suggest writing out a timeline for your day.  If you're unsure of where to start with this, no problem!  I work with each of my wedding couples to write out a timeline for their day to ensure each portion of the day is as relaxed as possible, without feeling like we're short on time.  See more about wedding timelines here.

5. Stay calm and enjoy your day!
When your day comes, just remember that YOU'RE GETTING MARRIED!!  This means that you shouldn't be preoccupied with the little details that aren't perfect (because in the end, few people (if any at all), will notice those things but you).  The day is to celebrate you and your partner, not the tiniest of imperfections.  Relax, take a deep breath, enjoy your family, friends and most importantly, this new chapter of life with your partner!

I could go on and on about these tips, and more.  Stay tuned for more Wedding Wednesday posts for more information on the bits of advice listed above, plus many other ideas for wedding planning!

Photo Credit:  Heather Testa Photography

Wedding Day Timelines: Why You Need One and How to Write It

If you're anything like me, you have no idea where to start when it comes to planning out and writing down your wedding day timeline.  I was so ahead of the game in my wedding planning in every way except for this whole timeline thing.  To put it simply, I was a hot mess each of the dozen times I even attempted to put a comprehensive schedule together.  Luckily, I did know what parts of our day were most important to me and my now hubby and  HAD to be photographed, so I planned around the timing of those events.   

Generally, a full day of wedding day coverage includes the following:

  • Wedding Day preparation (hair, makeup, getting dressed, etc.)
  • First Look or No Peeking sessions
  • Bridal portraits of Bride & Groom (or Bride & Bride / Groom & Groom)
  • Bridal Party portraits/formals
  • Ceremony
  • Family portraits/formals
  • Reception

Looking at this list probably makes you think, "I should be good with just a few hours of photography coverage."  Let's take a closer look at the details.  I've put together a sample timeline featuring 6 hours of photography coverage, which you'll find below:

SAMPLE WEDDING DAY TIMELINE WITH 6 HOURS OF PHOTOGRAPHY COVERAGE

3:30 Tail end of getting ready candids of Bride & Groom
4:45 First Look session at the park (15 minute drive from preparation location)
        -Solo portraits of Bride & Groom together
5:00 Bridal Party portraits at the park
       -Full bridal party
       -Bride & Groom with flower girl & ring bearer
       -Bride & flower girl
       -Bride & ring bearer
       -Groom & flower girl
       -Groom & ring bearer
       -Bride & bridesmaids
       -Bride & groomsmen
       -Groom & groomsmen
       -Groom & bridesmaids  
5:30 Portraits are finished, bridal party drives to ceremony location to freshen up (30 minute drive)
6:30-7:00 Ceremony
7:00-7:30 Receiving Line (maybe longer; 200 guests means 30+ minutes!)
7:30 Family portraits
        Bride's Family
         -Bride & Groom with Bride's parents
         -Bride & her parents
         -Bride & mother
         -Bride & father
         -Bride & her siblings
         -Bride & Groom with Bride's siblings & spouses (children included)
         -Bride & grandparents
        Groom's Family
         -Bride & Groom with Groom's parents
         -Groom & his parents
         -Groom & mother
         -Groom & father
         -Groom & his siblings
         -Groom & Groom with Groom's siblings & spouses (children included)
         -Groom & grandparents
8:00 Leave ceremony location for reception location (10 minute drive)
8:15 Bridal party enters reception
8:20 First Dance
8:30 Dinner, toasts and speeches
9:00 Parent dances
9:10 Cake cutting
9:15 Bouquet & garter tosses
9:30 Photographer exits

Pretty detailed, right?  And the above schedule is an on time schedule!  Could you imagine if anything or anyone was running late?  This timeline only left 15 minutes for solo portraits of the Bride & Groom (I usually like to grab them for an hour or so to do these portraits, even if it is split up into smaller time frames throughout the day)!  In all reality, wedding days are never on time, and do have little hiccups that can cause a set back in the timeline.  As you are planning your wedding, keep the above list and time frames in mind.  Every wedding is different (which is what makes it uniquely yours!), but my general recommendation is to never go for less than 6 hours of photography coverage if your shot list looks like something I have laid out above.

Of course I've also photographed weddings for 8 or more hours.  Usually, the longer the photography coverage, the easier the wedding day photo timeline plays out.  Below is the same shot list from the 6 hour timeline, but with 8 hours of photography coverage:

SAMPLE WEDDING DAY TIMELINE WITH 8 HOURS OF PHOTOGRAPHY COVERAGE

1:30 Tail end of getting ready candids of Bride & Groom
2:45 First Look session at the park (15 minute drive from preparation location)
        -Solo portraits of Bride & Groom
3:30 Bridal Party portraits at the park
       -Full bridal party
       -Bride & Groom with flower girl & ring bearer
       -Bride & flower girl
       -Bride & ring bearer
       -Groom & flower girl
       -Groom & ring bearer
       -Bride & bridesmaids
       -Bride & groomsmen
       -Groom & groomsmen
       -Groom & bridesmaids  
4:00 Portraits are finished, bridal party drives to ceremony location to freshen up (30 minute drive)
5:00-5:30 Ceremony
5:30-6:00 Receiving Line
6:00 Family portraits
        Bride's Family
         -Bride & Groom with Bride's parents
         -Bride & her parents
         -Bride & mother
         -Bride & father
         -Bride & her siblings
         -Bride & Groom with Bride's siblings & spouses (children included)
         -Bride & grandparents
        Groom's Family
         -Bride & Groom with Groom's parents
         -Groom & his parents
         -Groom & mother
         -Groom & father
         -Groom & his siblings
         -Groom & Groom with Groom's siblings & spouses (children included)
         -Groom & grandparents
6:30 Additional solo portraits of Bride & Groom
6:45 Leave ceremony location for reception location (10 minute drive)
7:30 Bridal party enters reception
7:35 First Dance
7:45 Dinner, toasts and speeches
8:30 Parent dances
9:00 Cake cutting
9:15 Bouquet & garter tosses
9:30 Photographer exits

Wow... right? What a difference there is between the two timelines.  Overall, the 8 hour timeline is less jam packed with wedding day events, allowing you and your soon-to-be husband or wife to enjoy your day.  And you should!  Your wedding day should be stress free (because all of the stress came during the planning process)!  From my experience as both a photographer and a bride, longer coverage allows for more time to relax.  The wedding party didn't have to worry about the next event around each corner, and they had more time to enjoy the party.

So remember, while planning out your timeline, don't forget to take the following things into consideration:

  1. Starting your timeline- The ceremony start time decides it all.  Plan out your timeline around the ceremony, so you know when to start getting ready, when you can carve out time for bridal portraits, formal photographs, etc.
  2. Lighting & Weather- An hour or so before sunset is the best time for outdoor photographs (i.e. solo portraits of the Bride & Groom).  During the spring and summer months, when the days are longer, it's easier to get more outdoor photographs.  Also, the word that should not be said on a wedding day: RAIN.  Have a backup plan and/or location in case of inclement weather.  *Note: If you're up for it, I'm not totally against doing some out outdoor shots in the light rain or snow!
  3. Shot list- What photos do you and your partner want captured on your wedding day?
  4. Number of locations- How many locations will you be traveling to for photography purposes?  If possible, choose locations that are closer together to cut down on travel time.
  5. Travel time- How long does it take to get from one location to the next?  **Be sure to account for potential traffic, especially if your wedding falls on a holiday weekend.
  6. Wedding party & family sizes- Bigger wedding parties and families means it takes more time to get everyone together for portraits.  Some members get a little restless or even cranky (especially young children, which is why it's best to photograph them first).  I like to tell my couples to nominate someone who is familiar with everyone in each grouping so they can gather them for each group photo.  Doing so helps to keep us on schedule.
  7. Remember that your wedding day only comes once.  Your wedding photographs are a way for you to remember it all forever!
  8. Have more questions?  Just ask!  I'm more than happy to help you write out a timeline to ensure we capture the details of your day!