Hi, we're Hunter and Sarah, a husband-and-wife, luxury wedding photography team. We’re also educators, helping other photographers build profitable and sustainable photography businesses.
After leading our HSP Brides Facebook group for the last couple of months, I noticed that there was a demand for wedding planning tips on some of the lesser-known parts of the wedding day. This blog series of Wedding Tips is meant to tackle the topics our expectant brides want the most!
Although Hunter and I absolutely loved our wedding day, being relatively newer wedding photographers and unexperienced in most things wedding-related, there were a handful of things that I would do differently. These are the pieces of advice we give to friends, and if I could travel back in time to the fall of 2016 and give myself a few pointers, these are the three things that I would change!
The first mistake I made was a critical one: Hunter and I tried to stick within a tight budget and organize everything ourselves, including the entire wedding day, without help. Now I’m an organized woman, but I was not ready for this. Although the months leading up the wedding felt like a semblance of organized chaos, the wedding day itself was where we really felt the lack of some organized coordination.
The problem was, since there was no “point-person” for day-of operations, it was me by default. And I was a little busy, you know, getting married! So people were either afraid to ask me questions, or they asked me a hundred questions about the smallest of details. Either way, it was a lot to handle on a day with a lot of emotions! Overall, the day went relatively well and there were no major catastrophes. But it was the little things, like when someone lost the seating chart on the way to the venue, and the reception seating ended up being a total free for all. 😂 Do yourself a favor and AT MINIMUM let a coordinator arrange the vendors and answer the questions, so you can focus on the most important parts of the day – your fiancé and your guests!
Even if your venue doesn’t require a coordinator, you should find some space in that budget for a Day-of Hero! Most wedding planners have various packages, so you can find someone to help you on the day, in the weeks leading up to the wedding, or even plan the entire affair from the start. No matter your budget, find a way to hire a planner and then thank me later. Or better yet, thank your planner because they will be the real, behind-the-scenes MVP of your wedding.
You’re probably noticing a theme here, but in the months leading up to our wedding, I decided that we could save money while also creating a bridesmaid-bonding activity by buying our wedding flowers wholesale, and putting together bouquets with my bridesmaids the night before the wedding. “I’m pretty crafty, I can make some bouquets, right?!”
Wrong. I ordered flowers from Costco and by some MIRACLE they arrived in great condition. We’ve since heard horror stories about some bulk flowers arriving in a horrid state, wilted and wasted before the rehearsal even starts! I chose really basic flowers (again, we were balling on a budget), but since Hunter and I’s wedding, not only have we seen some incredible floral arrangements, but we’ve even seen our exact same flowers arranged by a professional florist, and we absolutely regret not investing in a pro.
The only reason that our wedding bouquets weren’t a complete and total atrocious mess was sheer dumb luck. After a few moments of me and a few of my bridesmaids struggling terribly to put together even a halfway decent looking arrangement, one of my bridesmen revealed that had worked for a florist growing up, and he just happened to know how arrange a bouquet. Another straight-up miracle for team Sheldon on our wedding weekend! But guys, save yourself the time and the frustration and just hire a florist from the start! Better to have a single amazing bouquet for you than you and all your bridesmaids decked out with mediocre flower arrangements.
Although this is our third mistake on this blog, it was by far the one we regret most. When Hunter and I got married, we hadn’t yet shot any weddings with a first look, so had no idea just how incredible they are! We stuck with what we knew and waited for the ceremony to see each other, saving ALL our family, wedding party, and husband and wife portraits for after the ceremony – and boy do we regret it! Not only did we have to wait to see each other until later in the day, but we missed our entire cocktail hour. There are so many people who were at our wedding that we literally didn’t know were there until we saw the reception photos after the wedding!
Had we done a first look and done all of our family and wedding party photos before the ceremony, we could’ve spent more time with our guests and less time taking photos that could’ve been taken when our guests weren’t there. On top of that, every time we explain to new couples what a first look is on a wedding day, Hunter tells our grooms what he felt when he first saw me in my wedding dress. He tells them about how desperately he wanted to run up to me and hug me and tell me how gorgeous I looked! But it was the middle of the ceremony, so he stood respectfully and watched me walk the aisle with a smile. The first time we really had a moment to ourselves was after driving away from the wedding!
The biggest restraint our couples have about doing a first look is that they want the moment that they see each other at the end of the aisle to be special, and we totally get that! But let us quell some of your fears and tell you that we have seen a lot of grooms break down and cry at the sight of their brides walking down the aisle, just a few hours after their first look! The first look is a wonderful, private moment on a highly emotional (and public) day, but the sight of his bride walking down the aisle to him, ready to make that commitment and vow is indescribable. Nothing can detract from that moment. So, don’t deprive yourself of more time together, and do a first look!
There are a million little things people would change about their wedding day – styles change, food taste varies – but these three things are constant factors in every wedding. You will have flowers at your wedding, there will be so many unexpected things to address and questions that you’ll have that you probably don’t want to delegate to a friend or family member, and if you invited them to your wedding you will probably want to spend time with your guests and talk to them. Let my advice serve you and help you to maximize your time on your wedding day so you can leave the details to a professional and enjoy more time with your soon-to-be spouse and guests!
Check out more segments from this blog series!