A Photographer's Top 10 Wedding Day Tips
After shooting hundreds of weddings, I am overflowing with wedding advice. Here are my top 10 tips for a great wedding, starting with the most important one first:
1) Don't choose a big, heavy wedding dress
Don’t get a a big dress. You will be hot and miserable your entire wedding day.
I say this from experience, having watched countless brides melt in their heavy dresses in Montreal's steamy summer heat.
Summer is hot. The less clothes the better. You don’t want to be walking around for 14 straight hours in the heat, wrapped in miles of heavy fabric.
Think light… flowing... weightless…
2) Don't wear super high heels
Right after saying "NO" to the heavy dress, say "NO" to super high heels.
Your feet will hurt. You will be miserable. Wear something comfortable. No one will see your feet anyway.
It also doesn’t work to say “OK, I’ll wear the high heels going down the aisle, then switch to lower heels for the rest of the day.”
The dress is hemmed for the shoes. When you switch shoes, the dress looks folds up on the front and looks bad.
3) Wear a veil - they look awesome in photos
What little girl hasn’t draped a towel over her head and said “Look at me! I’m a bride!” Veils are so wedding-y. So classy. So fun. When will you ever get another chance to wear one? They also look amazing in photos.
4) Avoid strapless wedding dresses
Avoid strapless wedding dresses. I know. They're pretty. But trust me - you'll spend the entire wedding yanking up the front of the dress.
Getting into the limo (yank!), going down the aisle (yank!), during the photos (yank! yank! yank!), at the cocktails (yank!) during the first dance (yank! yank!).
Strapless dresses are also super tight. They have to be to stay up. It's just no fun being squeezed into a hot tight dress for 14 hours.
Again, think light… flowing... weightless…
5) Don't get a big bouquet
I know... it sounds ridiculous.. but again, I can't tell you how many times I have heard brides say: "Man, these flowers are HEAVY!!" while we're doing photos.
Also, get strong, durable flowers. You want something that will stand up to being carried around all day.
6) Make sure there's enough time for family photos
Make sure you pick a photographer who takes family photos seriously and does them really well, or you will be disappointed.
You want beautiful posed family photos that your family can display on the mantle with pride (first photo) and hopefully catch the cute moments between poses when everyone stops paying attention (second photo), and you end up with something far more relaxed and natural.
7) Ask your photographer to pin the boutonnières on the groomsmen
I call myself a professional photographer / boutonnière pinner. I don't know about other photographers, but I suspect it's the same for most.
Most groomsmen struggle with this, which is why I usually do it for them. You see gorgeously dressed men with a flower in one hand, a tiny pin in the other, and a look of total panic on their faces.
"Which side does the flower go on?" "How high does it go?" "Do you pin it from the front or the back?" "How about I just put it in pocket?" And my personal favourite: "I did it! Does it look crooked?"
I usually pin everyone's flowers on, except the grooms. For him, I let whoever the designated person try to do it (usually the mom) then take photos while they struggle to get the darn thing on. Once I have my photos, I take over and pin his on too.
8) Get table shots at the reception
Ask your photographer to do table shots. Again, don't assume they will, as many don't.
Table shots are when the photographer asks half the people at the table to stand up and go behind the people who remained seated.
While these pictures are not “high art,” these are some of the photos you'll look back on the most.
It’s everyone you know and love. Plus, it’s a fixed moment in time. People die, move, get divorced, remarry, have babies, etc. Looking at your table shots is like visiting a time capsule, especially as time goes by.
9) Hire the best DJ you can afford
Your DJ will make or break your party. A good DJ can read the room and get everyone dancing - not just the young people, but the old people too.
DJs also make you a schedule for the evening, bring backup sound equipment, set up lighting, take song requests from guests, and make sure everything happens when it should, all night long.
10) Have an open bar
If you can’t afford to offer your guests an open bar, reschedule the wedding until you do. Being cheap with your friends and family is a just a bad way to start your new life together.