Planning a wedding is a lot of work! As a wedding photographer who has been in the industry since 2008, I have gathered a ton of wedding day tips. To help you plan the perfect Austin wedding, I’ve gathered the best tips for planning your wedding day! Read on, and get ready for some seriously powerful planning knowledge.
#1 Hire a Wedding Planner
As I mentioned in my blog post “5 Tips For Planning A Wedding In Austin”, my number one tip is to hire a wedding planner! Weddings are complicated events, with so many moving pieces and vendors. A wedding planner will help ensure your wedding is not just beautiful but runs smoothly. They can help you pick the perfect venue, come up with rain backup plans, and communicate with your vendors. By having a wedding planner, you can sit back and enjoy your wedding day!
I’ve seen so many brides sitting in the hair & makeup chair with their phone glued to them, answering stressful calls + texting back family members who are setting up their wedding. Talk about overwhelming! Instead, visualize yourself sipping on champagne, chatting with your favorite people in the world (including those family members who are relaxing rather than setting up!) + listening to some relaxing tunes. A coordinator is an invaluable way to create a more beautiful + relaxed wedding day where you actually get to enjoy it!
#2 Plan Your Timeline with Light in Mind
Always plan your wedding timeline with the sunset in mind. I suggest having the ceremony at least two hours before sunset, so you can ensure we have time to get pictures after the sunset. Even if you want a sunset-lit ceremony, it needs to be held at least one hour before sunset. The listed sunset time is literally when the sun goes down – so remember that when picking your ceremony time!
If you are doing a first look, we can have a later ceremony, since we will get most of your portraits before sunset. However, if you are not doing a first look, an early ceremony is better! Remember, we will have a short window to get bride and groom, bridal party, and some family portraits. And the more light we have, the better!
#3 Bring Your Wedding Invitation Suite
On the day of the wedding, don’t forget to bring your wedding invitation suite! I like having all the pieces – from the save the date, to envelopes and stamps. Plus, bring your wedding rings and ring boxes for your photographer to capture. My biggest tip: have your maid of honor be in charge of this! Have them gather all the items ahead of time and bring them, so the bride doesn’t have to remember. Your wedding invitation is so important. They are the first glimpse that guests will have with your wedding, and we want this to be part of your story to remember forever. I also suggest having any jewelry, shoes, or accessories laid out and ready to go. Don’t worry about having a variety – as a photographer, I love laying out all your meaningful items!
#4 Plan Out the Formal Portraits
The wedding day goes by so fast – so don’t forget to include formal portraits in the timeline! I suggest working with your photographer and planner to find the best time for this. Your photographer will want these details outlined prior to the wedding day, so they can make sure everything gets captured. As a wedding photographer, I always create photography-specific timelines. I also work with the coordinator to make sure there is enough time to capture everything that is important to my couples.
#5 Pick A Large Getting Ready Space
Your getting ready suite is so much more than just a room – it is one of the most important backdrops of your wedding! This space will be the backdrop of the first few hours of your day, so there are a few things to make sure it has included. Make sure you pick a place with plenty of space. A standard hotel room will often be too crowded if you have a larger bridal party. So make sure you find a space that has plenty of room for you to get ready! You will need space for hair and makeup, a large bathroom, and plenty of room for the bridal party. Also, make sure it has plenty of natural light. Natural light is the best kind of light for photography. And of course – keep it tidy! The last thing you want are wrappers or water bottles in your pictures.
If your venue has a provided bridal suite, make sure to check it out. Make sure it has enough light and space and will work for your wedding. I’ve seen brides be put in elementary school classrooms at churches or big boardrooms at hotels to get ready in which are cold and not photo-ready. There are ways that you can discuss and work around every challenge, including a not-so-great getting-ready space. Discuss it with your photographer and coordinator prior to the big day!
#6 Be Ready For Getting Ready Pictures
Depending on your timeline, your photographer will arrive in the last hour or so of your getting ready time. So many brides are now having cute getting ready outfits for their bridesmaids to wear, and your photographer will want to capture that! So if there is a special outfit, make sure everyone is wearing them and ready in those outfits. Your photographer will capture some fun pictures of everyone together when hair and makeup are complete. After that, it is important for the bridal party to get dressed quickly. Many brides are opting to have just a few important people help them get into their gown and then having a “reveal” with their bridesmaids after they are dressed. This includes anyone who will be in these pictures or the reveal- so don’t forget mom or grandma!
#7 Hire Professionals
A wedding day requires a lot of moving pieces – so make sure to hire professionals! While you might have some family members who want to help out, hiring a team of professionals will make your wedding day 10x better! Not sure who to hire? Ask your planner or photographer! As a photographer, I know a lot of incredible vendors in the Austin area.
#8 Pros And Cons of The First Look
A first look is when the bride and groom see each other before the ceremony. While I love a first look, not everyone has to do it. Let’s talk about some pros and cons!
Pros: It is is beautiful + intimate opportunity for you to see each other for the first time (aka you can cry as much as you want!). You also get more time with your guests with a shorter amount of time needed after the ceremony for portraits. Normally if you opt to not do a first look, you have to get all of your portraits, including bridal party and family, done during the 1 hour (or less!) cocktail hour.
Cons: But if you have dreamed of the moment when you walk down the aisle and see your partner, we want to make that happen too! It’s important to have a discussion with your photographer prior to weigh the pros and cons of both in order to come to the best decision for the two of you.
#9 Add Magical Light to Your Reception
Don’t forget the lighting in your reception! Depending on your venue, it might get really dark in the evening. When you tour the venue, make sure to ask to see some images of it at night. Lighting comes in so many forms: uplighting, candles, cafe lights – the more, the merrier. It can add so much magic to your reception lighting by adding depth & drama to your reception photos!
#10 Choosing a Videographer
Adding video to your big day will be something you will cherish for years to come. This is also such a great item to have in case some guests cant attend. You can share the video with your family and love ones! When finding a photographer, ask your photographer for who they love to work with. Everyone has a different style. You want to make sure that you choose a videographer that jives and works well with your photographer.
I’ve seen everything when it comes to the day of. Videographers who choose to dominate the day and do whatever works best for them without working in tandem with the photographer. Videographers who bring a small army of equipment and leave it all over the reception and mess with the overall ambiance you are trying to create. As photographers and videographers, we are both there to deliver beautiful products for you to remember your day forever. It is important for us to be able to work together.
#11 Splurge On Your Bouquet
If there is ever a place to splurge in your floral budget, the bouquet is it! This is just as important as your shoes and accessories. You will have TONS of photos with it placed beautifully in front of you, so you want to make sure it enhances your look and isn’t an afterthought! In general, florals are so important to me. They really bring your day alive + add color and texture to you, your wedding party + your venue space.
#12 Don’t Forget To HAVE FUN
Your wedding day should be focused on fun + love! As a photographer, it’s my job to ensure you have photos you will love and cherish forever. Your job is to enjoy the day and just spend as much time as you can with your sweetie, and family!