Sorry to not be delivering my “a Photo a Day” blog post today as I usually do on Mondays! I am out of town and writing this on my iPad 😉
I got married before I photographed or attended a wedding. Though I had no idea how to plan a wedding, thankfully my mom did because otherwise I would have a lot of items on my “I wish I did this at my wedding” list.
Now, because I do love the value in unique wedding planning, I don’t want to advise extraneously but there are a few items that really are a MUST and I will tell you why.
Give your guests a meal. It has become mildly common to only serve appetizers, desserts, or finger foods at a wedding reception. In their defense, this could work. Say, instead of providing a meal the couple gave suggestions for where everyone could grab some dinner and then they held their nontraditional, but very entertaining reception outdoors and still provided dessert and drinks. The trouble is that not providing a meal feels like a slap in the face. All of your family and friends have not only come from far and wide to celebrate your wedding day but they have bought you an expensive or thoughtful gift as well. To not say “thank you” by at least providing them food during such a long day just isn’t remotely hospitable. Think of it this way, you wouldn’t invite people over to your house all day and not feed them ever would you?
Small gap between ceremony and reception. Again, this is a hospitality recommendation. It never sits well with your guests when their belly’s are left rumbling for hours on end. I also understand that it it your day, but be considerate. Before I became a photographer I assumed that the wedding photographer’s were responsible for keeping the bride and groom from the reception so long. Now I’m not so sure because whenever my bridal party is late it certainly wasn’t on my watch. If a bride and groom asks me how to schedule their day I typically ask for 1.5 hours between the ceremony and reception, 30 minutes for family photos and 1 hour for bridal party and couple pictures – I could do less time if it was easier to rally family members and keep everyone on track. With the providence of a cocktail hour this time goes quickly with the guests. And your photographer should be skilled, timely, and reliable enough to close the gap between ceremony and reception.
Hire a phenomenal DJ. Some couples are very skilled at creating a playlist for their reception. However, a DJ doesn’t just control the music. In fact, I would argue that their most important role of the evening is controlling the flow of events. The weddings that don’t have a DJ, or a skilled DJ, end up suffering in awkward moments and confused silences. I’ve photographed well over 50 weddings and I can’t recall a reception that ran smoothly without an incredible DJ. Your DJ is the most important reception detail, so you should see a fun spirit and sense of organization and responsibility in the DJ you hire.
Don’t pick your wedding budget before you do your vendor research. You only get married once. The most common phrase I hear from clients is “we are on a budget.” Well of course you are. The trouble is, most couples clearly pick their budget before they have looked at the numbers and as a result they hire vendors for cheap and their wedding takes hits because of it. You can get crafty and wiggle around pricey items in a lot of areas but with photography and a DJ I would HIGHLY recommend picking those budgets after significant research. This may sound biased but the most common wedding woe I hear about a bad photography experience. Your photographer is in charge of these most important life memories, make sure you adore and trust them. And, as stated above, your DJ is responsible for the life of your party but they also contribute to the quality of those memories and to the quality of photographing those memories. Your cake, flowers, decorations, and venues are important but your loved ones and moments are more important. I actually had friends buy and put together my wedding flowers, my grandma made our cake, our decorations consisted of things like 5 cent goldfish and goldfish crackers, and we had our ceremony in my parent’s backyard. For just a few ideas 🙂
Don’t let your best man get drunk before his speech. Enough said.
Do you have any wedding planning advice to share?