Wedding Ideas, Observations, Various Hints & Tips

Hello. Originally from England with an Australian twist, I've had the pleasure of working as a full-time wedding photographer in upstate New York, Vermont and Massachusetts for many years. When I think I've seen just about everything, I still get surprised. I love it. Safe to say, you'll likely have lots of suggestions from family and friends, but remember its absolutely okay to be unique and different. Make it your wedding. Massive cliché, here, but planning a wedding is like putting a jigsaw puzzle together. Slowly but surely, everything will fall into place without your stress level escalating rapidly. You likely know what you want (and what you don't) so go for it, do whatever makes you happy. Keep things simple and stress-free as much as possible so you can really enjoy the whole experience of planning your big day.

In pretty much random order, I've listed a few mostly practical wedding hints and tips. Hopefully, one or two of these suggestions will help you enjoy your wedding just a little more.

• Whatever you do, don't gamble and settle for average and ordinary as you'll regret it. Hire wedding professionals with the expertise and experience to surpass expectations and work with your budget. Your wedding will be expensive so demand make sure you get a return on your investment. Hire people who love what they do and are excited to be working for you. Plus working with a specialist is huge as such a BIG gamble hiring a company that offers to do everything. Chances are pretty good a DJ company isn't experienced with photography and/or video (or photo booths) as they sub-hire 'ringers' who aren't invested in the business OR your wedding AND who often have no personality. Plus, reality is, if they were experienced and passionate about what they do, they would have their own business or work for a specialist and not be a 'jack-of-all' trades. I'm off my soap box now.

• The best plan of attack is to contact a variety of professionals and find the service and style that best meets your needs and budget. Then, let go, relax and leave everything in their capable hands so you get to actually enjoy your wedding. Proper planning is huge, but don't micro-manage especially on your wedding day. If you watch Bravo, you know the brides I'm talking about.

• Trying to control every little detail on your wedding day may seem like a good idea, but can easily end up having the opposite effect. If you want to have an unforgettable day, be flexible and let your family and friends help. Delegate without cracking the whip too much. 

• Makeup and hair can take longer than expected and are reasons brides are often late getting ready. A good idea is to start appointments at least 30+ minutes earlier than you think you need to. Make sure you get a time from your stylist when he/she will have you done. Same with makeup. Never go last behind all the bridesmaids and moms as that will guarantee you end up really getting stressed. It's your wedding day and everything really should be about you. Your fiancé will understand.

• If possible, fix your lips after you get dressed as it's easy to accidentally get lipstick on your dress layers and fabric when adjusting and fluffing. Keep a towel handy. A bottle of champagne/wine too for that matter. That can really help keep things calm.

• Have your iPod set up with some of your favorite tunes when you're getting ready. It may help calm nerves a little too. Everyone, not just the bride, can get stressed.

• Think about comfort over style for shoes. Don't spend the most important day of your life in agony because you want to impress with stiletto heels. If you're not a heels person, don't do it. Your shoes are mostly hidden from view anyway and it's hard to smile (and dance) when your feet are killing you. And rental shoes for the groom can be miserably uncomfortable so not a bad idea to have a backup pair of his own dress shoes, work boots, tennis shoes handy at the reception just in case.

• Your dress is going to get dirty especially after your ceremony. This happens to all brides and virtually no one will notice so don't panic. Accept this as part and parcel of a fun and happy wedding and go with the flow. Plus, have a good dry cleaners lined up later on.

• Too many brides worry about the weather. If there are a few sprinkles on your day so what. You'll make it work. Plus, one way or the other you'll likely be under cover most of the day anyway. Surprisingly, pictures of a couple under a Brolley can be fun. Okay, maybe that's stretching things, so knock on wood lets hope it doesn't rain on your wedding day.

• You may wish to let your dressmaker know your wedding is two weeks earlier than it actually is, especially around prom season. This will avoid last-minute panic and unexpected delays with your dress adjustments not being ready on time.

• The lucky sixpence (or penny) in the shoe (or any other heirloom pinned on under your dress) for good luck and good fortune dates from the Victorian era. Some brides like this tradition. However, for comfort, rather than taping or placing it in your shoe or dress, keep things with you in your bridal bag. It's also more secure this way.

• Mentioning your bridal bag, consider including headache tablets, perfume, tissues, lipstick, lip gloss, mints, safety pins, a nail file, sanitary items, deodorant, etc. In the words of someone else, 'Be Prepared'.

• If you're hiring a limo or party bus, make sure they don't rush you as some companies are notorious for that. Plan your booking time carefully so you don't have the car(s) arriving 45 minutes earlier than needed when you could use that time later on.

• A few guests ALWAYS arrive late for ceremonies, and brides don't like walking down the aisle with stragglers still arriving. My suggestion is consider listing your ceremony time 30 minutes earlier on the invitation. This way, you may get to walk down the aisle almost on time. And you make time your friend this way which means you get to your cocktail hour sooner which is the way it should be.

• If you're late you're late, but some officiants who aren't so friendly can be very particular, especially if there's another ceremony (or confessionals) following your wedding. 

• Don't expect too much from young children in your bridal party even if they are usually well-behaved. Kids will be kids. They get very excited (or have a meltdown) and can suffer from pre-wedding nerves too especially if they're ready for a nap. Accept this may happen and often does when it comes to the beginning of a ceremony. Keep in mind, whatever they do will likely be pretty entertaining. At some point, you just have to go with the flow.

• Let friends and relatives know before your wedding it's okay for them to step away during your ceremony if their baby is screaming like a banshee. Guests much prefer to hear your vows not wailing children. Amen to that I say. Plus, absolutely okay to make your wedding a 21+ adult-only day. Nieces and nephews aside. 

• Make sure you designate a person to pin boutonnieres on the blokes as push comes to shove, men being men are usually in no rush to wear flowers.

• Mentioning the men, make sure they don't bring their phones to your ceremony. Always shows through any pocket in pictures. Plus, is it really crucial to have a phone during a ceremony? I half expect the groom to pull out his iphone 10 and change his FB status after the ring is on his finger. I've never seen a bridesmaid with a phone, but more often than not the men have theirs stuffed in their pants pocket. I'm a professional. I can say that.

• At your rehearsal, ask the officiant marrying you if he/she would mind hopping to one side before your first kiss at the end. This will prevent their face/neck etc. showing right behind you which really looks weird in pictures.

• Consider not having boutonnieres, a pocket square/hanky works great in suits. Looks very elegant and classy even if it isn't folded right. Double-sided tape is great for keeping it in place too so it doesn't slip down the jacket pocket too..

• Many bridesmaids (and brides) race down the aisle and end up almost on top of each other. Leave plenty of space in-between and work the aisle like the models on Project Runway. Confidence photographs VERY well.

• If your dress isn't too tight and your heels aren't killing your feet, take a deep breath, enjoy the moment and smile. No gloomy looks for pictures. It's a wedding not a funeral.

• Attention brides. You ARE queen for a day so smile, keep your flowers low (they've got to compliment your dress not cover it up), time your aisle walk to the music and bring it. Take it all in. Enjoy that moment. These are your memories. Don't rush.

• Remind dad (or whoever's walking you down the aisle) not to pull your veil off if you're wearing one when they bear-hug you as they give you away. Plus, give them a nudge when they start walking over your train in a rush to sit down.

• Don't be strangers during your ceremony. Many couples look as if they've never seen each other before and don't even look at each other. Yes, you're going to be anxious, nervous, excited, barely breathing, major league butterflies going on etc., but hold hands, talk, be together as best friends should be. This is the person you're marrying.

• Most of all, make sure you look at each other during your rings and vows. You are not marrying the officiant. In other words, try not to say "I do" to the person marrying you. Just looks very very strange.

• Despite what your mom may say, the vast majority of couples skip a formal receiving line after their ceremony and your guests will really thank you for that. The advantages are they you get to cocktail hour much sooner and your guests aren't waiting in line forever. When it's hot and humid this can be plain miserable for everyone and, believe it or not, only having parents in the line doesn't move guests through any quicker. They (the parents that is) still tell life stories.

• Let your officiant know you don't want your wedding certificate folded. You may wish to frame it.

• Bubbles or petals after your ceremony are great fun. If you're having a church ceremony, you may have to check it's okay as they have a lot of rules. Whatever you do, don't throw rice. You'll regret it. Think not just of birds it apparently harms, but your hair, your veil, your dress, your eyes will never be the same as you'll have rice hitting you everywhere.

• Instead of a formal receiving line after the ceremony, many couples (and parents) will mingle and visit with guests during cocktail hour and/or dinner. It's far more enjoyable this way and you get to chat with friends and family you want to chat more with.

• On the biggest day of your life the last thing you want is ordinary. You don't want ordinary flowers. You don't want an ordinary cake or cup cakes. And, you definitely don't want to gamble with an ordinary Photographer. No way. Here's an idea, hire Paul Saunders Photography if you haven't already.

• There are many amateur wedding DJ's and photographers who lack the talent and experience to get results. If you're okay with ordinary pictures that mostly look like snapshots a guest could have taken, you'll save money, but likely regret it afterwards.

• Many couples like to see each other and shoot their first-look pictures and family formals prior to their ceremony. The advantages being they're more relaxed and get to enjoy all their cocktail hour. You'll just have to crack the whip[ and get all immediate family picture-ready pre-ceremony so you're not rushed.

• When hiring Videographers, choose wisely. Most couples don't like bright video lights that blind guests and ruin the soft, low-light ambiance you have in your reception. Like with pictures, low-key and unobtrusive is often the best filming style. These days, most digital video cameras are amazing and don't require lots of additional lighting.

• Make sure, too, your videographer is creative and captures your wedding story documentary-style. Far too many videos are dull, boring and predictable. Let me know if you need any suggestions. Always delighted to help.

• Your wedding day goes by too fast and you should be together with friends and family not missing-in-action. You want to be able to breath and enjoy your cocktail hour. It's your first chance to really relax as everything up to that point has been non-stop. 

• Find a photographer you will be comfortable around and one who helps you enjoy your day. This way you'll relax and enjoy everything much more. Did I mention I love fun and making sure couples don't miss their cocktail hour. Plus, will never make you feel like a statue with a camera stuck in front of you. I hate those kind of pictures too.

• Have an at-a-glance emergency phone and email contact listing for all wedding services you hire. Keep this info on your smart phone of course. And if you've still got a Verizon LG Revere 2 Basic Flip Phone. Good luck. Maybe time to upgrade.

• It's best for younger children to sit with family during dinner or have a baby sitter so young parents can have a 'date night' at your wedding. 

• Many wedding couples prefer adult-only ceremonies and receptions. Unless they are teenagers, younger ones can be a distraction with their running around, rolling across the dance floor, screaming, and will likely enjoy games and pizza more. Parents will then get to enjoy a rare night out together. (My wife does want me to mention at this point that I love children and hope one day we'll have our own grandkids).

• With reception seating avoid having older guests too close to the DJ or Band. Younger guests will likely be okay with louder music so put them by the big speakers.

• This is almost a repeat, but worth repeating. Cutting corners with your entertainment budget is a huge mistake. To put in perspective, it's amazing the amount some couples spend on flowers that will be long gone in days and have little lasting impact compared to the investment they make in their DJ or band. Like you, your guests attend many weddings and know when they've had a great time or not. The quality of your entertainment will largely determine how much fun you and your guests have at your party. 

• With rare exceptions, a friend or relative as your DJ (and photographer) can spell disaster. Don't do it. You want your reception to be unforgettable not boring and dull. Hiring a professional with experience and expertise will make a huge difference. I think I've made my point. I'm back off my soap box.

• A DJ with a spectacular light and laser show and a bright neon sign with their name plastered everywhere is not critical for a great reception. It's their personality, style and professionalism that counts. Most of all, that they play the music you want. 

• Flowers are lovely, but can be very expensive. Sometimes less really is more. Most venues (ballrooms and barns) already look very nice and need little extra decoration.

• Many mothers (and grandmothers) prefer wrist corsages or small hand held bouquets instead of pin-on flowers that can be rather awkward to wear especially on thin dresses.

• Candles often work much better than flowers as table centerpieces. They provide great ambient lighting, warm up faces, and allow people to see each other easier. 

• Instead of traditional table numbers, use themes. Honeymoon destinations (London, Sydney, Paris, Rome, Myrtle Beach et cetera), favorite colors, types of flowers, cheeses. Anything goes. Be different.

• Save dollars and get candles from stores like Michael's, AC Moore, Target, etc. Two or three large candles (perhaps on a mirror plate) look very elegant. You can even sprinkle petals to add a splash of color.

• You'll be amazed how many brides use Central Market florists at various Price Choppers. The value, service and selection is outstanding. Then, with all your savings, you can upgrade your photo coverage and get my everything included, super-deluxe, Platinum plus package.

• It's your Wedding Cake so if you don't like the typical chocolate or vanilla be creative. Ice cream, carrot cake, marzipan, even banana pudding can make delicious alternatives. Have a Rhubarb pie. Get something you like so you'll have cake to take home.

• If your Caterers are flexible, avoid forking out for a huge cake many guests never end up eating anyway. Approximately 60% serving slices relative to your guest count will be more than adequate especially if left on a dessert table for everyone to help themselves. Having to-go containers always a great plan as some guests love to take cake (and cookie treats) home.

Most couples avoid the garter and bouquet routine. Options include just throwing the bouquet, giving it to a mother or grandmother, an anniversary dance presentation to the oldest married couple, or just plain nothing. Full stop. Remember it's your wedding so be unique. Sometimes the fewer interruptions post-dinner the more fun your party will be.

• If you do wear a garter, test it before your wedding day as they tend to fall down. Make sure it is tight and doesn't create a line through your dress. You can always keep it in your bridal bag and put it on later at your reception.

• Your Reception will be over before you know it so dance the night away every chance you get. After all, it's the biggest party of your life. 

• Most of all, the absolute best way to make sure everyone enjoys your wedding is for you to enjoy it yourself. After all the planning and preparation, that's all that matters. Have lots of great food and great fun. 

 

QUESTIONS. Please let me know if you need any help with questions and/or suggestions for wedding professionals or services. Email is the best way to reach me at paul@psphotography.com. I will always get back to you very promptly.