"Ask not what your photographer can do for you, ask what you can do for your photographer."
I'm totally kidding. It's all about what your photographer can do for you! But, having said that, there are a few things you can do to help us HELP YOU on your wedding day. Here are 10 good ones:
1. Send an invitation
Obviously I already know I'm invited - you're paying me to be there! But sending an invitation helps me prepare for your day in subtle ways that you might not have considered. It gives me a glimpse into the tone and style of your wedding day. Sure, before the big day we have had meetings and photo sessions and countless emails and I've asked you an unnerving number of questions...but seeing it all put together in your invitation design and wording helps an artist complete the vision we've been trying to develop. Plus, I can then bring it with me to use in one of the detail images I'll be creating.
2. Put all your details in one place
Speaking of detail shots - round them all up for the big day - rings, special cuff links, shoes, bouquets, your "something blue", invitations, wedding day schedule, etc. You'll want pictures of these special features of your big day and I'm going to make sure I capture them...but the less time I have to spend on rounding up everyone responsible for each individual piece, the more time I can spend capturing the other important aspects of the day as well.
3. Assign family duty to your all-knowing bestie
Any time you attempt to corral the whole
crazy eccentric unique family into a billion photo compilations within the time span of 15 minutes, you're bound to board the crazy train encounter a few challenges. They wander around the venue when they were told 100 times to be at that exact spot at that exact time. They don't listen at all are preoccupied. Some are wasted already have participated in early celebrations. Since I've never met aunt Suzie and don't know the difference between her and your new mother-in-law Betty, you'll need someone there who knows the ins and outs of your family and can easily round them up for the pictures. He/she is invaluable in saving from wasting time asking every poor woman who looks older than 40 "are you aunt Suzie? No? OK. Are YOU aunt Suzie?" A well-connected bestie can make or break your stress level.
4. Make sure your photographers eat when you're eating
It's a common idea to feed the photographers (and other vendors) after all the guests have been served. Understandably, as we're the low men & women on the totem pole that evening. Guests reign supreme. I get it. But hear me out. You eat first, then your guests, then us. By the time the last of the guests are served, you've finished your meal and you're now walking around, greeting your loved ones. While I can
slam food and drink with the best of them eat very quickly when I'm working, you can only benefit from ensuring that your photographers (and videographer, and DJ, for that matter) are ready when you are. You want me to capture those moments when you visit your guests. So though it might initially seem contrary to the totem pole mentality, that one small change means more photos for you.
5. Provide a vendor list
So many people are involved in making sure you have the best experience possible on your big day. Knowing ahead of time who these valuable professionals are helps me to prepare ahead of time by contacting them and initiating a working relationship before the big day arrives. The relationship between the DJ and the photographer is CRUCIAL to ensuring the success of both parties, as well as your experience. I also like to have the information for your caterer, flowers, decor, coordinator, makeup, etc. Since I take pictures of all their hard work and planning, they technically help me do my job and I'd like to credit them when I post those images. Plus, it helps me foster relationships with vendors so I can help future brides who are planning their wedding, too.
Flowers by Tawnee MarieFlowers by Tawnee Marie Wedding Reception photosLovely cake from Cakes by April Wedding Reception photosCupcakes catering through Cakes by April (oh my gosh these were so good!)
6. Set a schedule with me before you book hair and makeup
Oh girl. I love me some good hair and makeup artists - a bride who feels fabulous LOOKS fabulous in all her photos. It's a super important aspect of your wedding planning. But hair and makeup are NEVER finished on time. And I'm not slamming the makeup artist - sometimes its your fault because you were late, sometimes you both decide on last minute changes and that takes more time. Sometimes its because you didn't do a pre-consult and it simply takes more time than you anticipated. It happens. But seriously, it happens every. single. time. So in your schedule, you have to allow more time than they say. And your pre-ceremony formals of you and your girls, your family, your dress, etc.? The ones you all think will take 30 minutes for a "few snaps and poses" and then you can head on to the ceremony? Nope. Not even close. Pre-formal pictures take AT LEAST two hours. I'm not kidding. Even if you "only want a few pictures". But why would you only want a "few" pictures anyway? You invested in me, USE me. So if your ceremony starts at 5pm, and you schedule your hair and makeup at 3pm, you will not be taking formal pictures before the ceremony.
7. Get personal. I need to be all up in your business.
I should be in the know about everything - from the surprises you've planned for your family or guests, to the fact that Nana made the long trip for the wedding and you know this may be the last big family event for her. I want to know Nana and be there to capture her special moments with you. And there's nothing worse than being in the middle of changing the lens on my camera as I learn for the first time that the groom is keying up for a surprise dance he choreographed for his unsuspecting bride. Yes,
I'm the bomb and I'm stupid fast at cramming on a lens and running to capture a surprise moment. But I sure would love to capture the first surprised and adoring look on your face as he takes the mic.
8. Consider a "first look" before your ceremony.
I know I know. Tradition. Some brides simply cannot bring themselves to upend tradition, and if that's you, I will not pressure you. It's your day and it should be designed around your preferences. But if you're willing to consider a different approach, this tip is for you.
Emotional reasons: Choosing the "first look" option gives you a private moment with your soon-to-be spouse to take in the emotion of seeing each other for the first time. It allows for us to take a good number of photos of you together and even include some cute "first look" themed photos. It's a private moment just between the two of you (and me) during one of the most significant days of your life. Sometimes it's just special to carve out that sweet time with your soon-to-be spouse before you embark on the craziness of the ensuing party.
Practical reasons: You can limit that time to just bride/groom photos, or you can opt to do most or all formal photos at that time, as well. The more photos you take then, the less we have to take after the ceremony, which means the sooner you can move on to the reception and enjoy the party. And sometimes you just don't have a choice. If you're planning a sunset ceremony, that means it will be dark when we would traditionally take your formal photos. Yes, an experienced professional will still be able to capture images in a night setting. But do you really want all these classic photos with a pitch-black background? Didn't you choose your venue for its scenery and/or special features? None of these features will be in your forever images if we take the formal pictures at night.
9. Consider an "unplugged" wedding.
I know the trend is to come up with a hashtag to represent the happy couple's big day, and it's exciting to see the flood of incoming images from your friends and loved ones. Consider requesting an exception during the ceremony. You've put a lot of money, time and effort into this day and there are sooooo many reasons to ask your guests to put away their devices. It's a beautiful moment - encourage them to experience it in its fullest, not behind a tiny screen. You look radiant - you're practically spewing beams of light as you walk down the aisle. However, all those guests holding high their technological trophies as they aim to be the first to hashtag that photo on Instagram, will ruin the sweet ambiance you tried to create with your expensive venue and decor. Let your guests know that you trust your capable photographer to capture it (assuming, of course, you invested in someone who has experience with weddings. If not, that's another blog for another day) and you want them in the moment WITH you.
10. Give credit on social media.
OK, I admit it. This one is all about helping me. Would it help if I told you it would make me REALLY happy? 90% of my business is referral-based. So if you love your images, and I kid you not - I lay awake at night praying that you do - then let everyone know! (But, true to the title of this blog, referrals bring you a little somethin somethin, too. Depending on the referral type, you'll receive cash or print credit. You know, because I love ya.)
There are so many caveats to creating that perfect day. My job is to capture the memories, the ambiance, your loved ones...and any experienced photographer can provide you with spectacular images, even without your help. But helping us help you simply ensures you get even MORE spectacular images.
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