I just finished probably my 50th wedding (I honestly don’t know, I have lost count) and my bestest humble advice to give to couples who are about to tie the knot is the following:
– All of these are observations from weddings that I have photographed or videoed –
- Not a time for noobs: Don’t have a person who has never shot a wedding do your wedding. Even if they’re friends with a fancy DSLR doing it as a gift. Your photos will be bad.
- Seasoned can suck: This may seem counterintuitive, but don’t hire the seasoned photographer with 25 years shooting weddings under his/her belt. Why? All your guests will see is a photographer floating around, passing out orders (albeit in a friendly way), and posing everyone. Trust me: Your photos will look phenomenal, but it will seem the entire wedding is about taking photos of models… Not celebrating a couple and their commitment.
- Tell your bridesmaids and groomsmen to go easy on the booze: I cannot stress this enough. Do NOT get buzzed before the ceremony. I know everyone is nervous, and there’s always that friend who thinks that the perfect solution to nerves is screaming “Wooo! Fireball shots!”, but you all will look (and feel) like fools. Tell your wedding party that hundreds of people need them on their A-game. Their job is to throw a celebration for others—not themselves—and pick up the inevitable pieces that slip through the cracks. Ultimately their job is to get two people married. If everyone must party, do it after the “I do’s.”
- It’s a Toast not a Roast. When giving a toast: don’t say “you remember when?” It’s a blessing. Not a bunch of inside jokes strung together. Remind your wedding party about this before they write their speeches.
- Someone MUST tell your guests to explore around: once seated, guests will NOT leave their seats except for food. It’s weird. Very few will wander and explore. They need crystal clear direction. So all of those crafts and things to do around the venue MUST be pointed out to guests. Either the DJ or officiant can do this.
- PNW outdoor weddings are an insane gamble: if you insist on having an outdoor wedding, that’s wonderful, but at bare minimum have a canvas tent over the audience. Immediately assume (and prepare) that it will rain, be too windy, and then blazingly hot. All in 15 minutes. Or just avoid the stress and have the ceremony indoors.
- Do. A. Mic. Check. When first touring the venue, I guarantee that everything will look like a dream and you can picture it all. Very few couples actually consider the technical side. Kindly insist on having a test demonstration of the microphones, including the lav mic that the officiant will wear. And if it’s outdoors? Those mics will pick up rumbling wind, and only 50% of your guests will be able to hear what’s going on.
- Wear comfortable shoes. You’ll be standing all day. If your feet suffer, you suffer.
- Build in quiet, alone-time into your schedule. Don’t even have the photographer there. Just the couple, after the ceremony.
- Don’t draw out the reception: Finish the wedding early. You will feel like celebrating all night, but put a very strict limit on the songs. If you insist on having the wedding end at 10 PM (I know it seems early, huh?), be prepared for only 25% of your guests to be there. (And they are just there to clean up) Yes it’s your day, but simply based off of my observations, the absolute best, most memorable weddings are the ones that are quick, end early, with 100% of the guests waving farewell to the newlyweds.
Its a celebration, not a performance.
When all is said and done, if by the end of the day you are married then the day was a success.