how to: have an awesome wedding (and get amazing photos of it) {Terre Haute, IN wedding photographer}

Are you planning a wedding? Is your head spinning with ideas and details and questions? After seeing and photographing lots of weddings over the past few years, I've seen lots of things that work really well, and some that don't. Here's a little list of random suggestions. Don't take this as a list of things to have to do. Everyone (and every wedding) is different, so something that didn't work well for someone else might work great for you. These are just suggestions! I'm sure this post will be edited and added to later as I think of more, but here's a start:

1. Remember that the wedding is about you and your fiance, so you should do what makes you happy (unless you're going to seriously offend a parent or grandparent...then you might want to rethink). Feel free to change the ceremony up to make it your own (if the church and/or officiant will allow it). Don't want to do the unity candle? There are tons of really cool alternatives out there...the hand ceremony, the sand ceremony, the cord of three strands, and lots more. The reception is all yours...don't want to do a bouquet toss? Just skip it. Want to add something else? Add it. It's your day and it should be about celebrating your new marriage, not about doing what everyone else expects you to do.

2. Unless the church has an awesome bride room (Centenary United Methodist in Terre Haute has an amazing one), you might want to consider getting ready at home or at a hotel (if your wedding is in Terre Haute, the Hilton Garden Inn has great suites with good light). If you get ready at the church, you might get stuck in a Sunday School room (with toys on the floor and posters on the wall) or, even worse, in the basement. It might not sound like a big deal, but you'll be much more relaxed in a nice, roomy, un-cluttered space. And your photos will be much better.

3. Delegate all the little jobs you can. Get someone else to deal with anything you can on the actual day of the wedding. You should be relaxing with your bridesmaids and excited about getting married, not stressed out because the cake is late.

4. Seriously consider getting all the photos out of the way before the ceremony. There are so many great reasons to do this. Check out this blog post for some of them.

5. Consider lighting. If you're not a photographer yourself, you probably don't know what to look for, but if you get married in a church, look for one with nice big windows in the sanctuary. If you're planning an outdoor ceremony, try to find a location that's shaded by a building at the time of the ceremony, or plan for an evening wedding (an hour or two before sunset is usually good). Please, please, please do NOT get married outside in full sun at noon! Not only will the light be horrible and harsh, but you'll be squinting and uncomfortable.

6. If you're having the ceremony or reception outside, have a backup plan in case of rain or extreme temps.

7. Make sure flowers are delivered (and pinned on the guys) before the photos. Not only will you want them for the photos, but it's good to give you one less thing to worry about.

8. If you can afford it, hire a wedding planner! If you're getting married in the Wabash Valley, Jeanette at Simple to Elegant is awesome! Not only will she take care of all the little details for you, and take care of decorations, she's also great at keeping things flowing during the reception.

9. Choose your bridesmaids carefully. Don't pick someone you think you "should" if it will stress you out. Pick your closest friends or family, those that will help you relax and have fun! Keep your day drama-free!

10. No matter how comfortable you think your shoes will be, bring some flip flops or slippers for later in the evening. Your feet will hurt! Pick a dress that fits well, works for your body type (example: don't wear strapless is you're self-conscious about your arms),  and that you can move and sit comfortably in. It sucks to spend your whole day being uncomfortable or constantly adjusting your dress.

11. Find out if the church is air conditioned...if it's not then you don't want a summer wedding there!

12. Make sure to eat, even if you're not hungry. If you don't you'll get hungry later when you don't have time to eat, and that can cause all kinds of problems...low blood sugar, fainting, moodiness.

13. Have lots of water handy, especially in the summer.

14. Have a well-thought-out timeline and make sure everyone has a copy of it...but be flexible! Make sure to plan plenty of time for photos.

15. Make sure you and your maid of honor or mom know how your dress and bustle works. If there's anything other than a simple zipper, make sure someone is with you at your fitting and knows exactly how to do it.

16. Veils are awesome for photos. They just are. Nothing says "bride" like a veil. You can always take it off after the ceremony.

17. If there will be lots of kids at your reception, consider having something special for them to do. At one wedding I photographed several years ago, they had a whole separate room for the kids with pizza and music and games. Or just have some bubbles and paper and crayons around. Or maybe a photo scavenger hunt with disposable cameras.

18. Use Pinterest. It's awesome. If you don't already know about it, read this blog post. If you want a little inspiration to get you going, here's a link to my wedding ideas board.

19. Hire a great photographer. If possible, meet the photographer in person before the wedding. Make sure you "click". Find someone that you can trust to capture the moments (little and big) for you. If you're in (or near) the Wabash Valley, I'd love to hear from you! Click the links at the top of the page for more information, pricing, or to contact me.

20. Make sure to give your photographer a heads up if you have any sentimental details you want captured, or something unusual planned during the ceremony or reception. Feel free to share any shots you've seen that you love, but don't feel like you have to give the photographer a detailed list of every shot you want. They know all the basics and only need to know family member's names and anything out of the ordinary.

21.Decide what's important to YOU. Spend your money and time on those things.

22. Have a pretty hanger for your dress. It looks way better in the photos and it's a nice keepsake. You can get them custom-made on etsy, or just get a nice padded or wood one. They're way better than the plastic one it will come with.

23. Limit the family photos to people you're actually close to. I recommend parents, siblings and maybe grandparents be around for the formal photos, and if you really want other family members in an image, just plan for one or two photos of the whole family instead of lots of small groups. It saves time and sanity for everyone.

24. Have FUN.

25. RELAX! Don't sweat the small stuff. At the end of the day, you'll be married, and that's what's important. If you're stressed, you won't enjoy your day nearly as much as you should, and it will show in your photos. Just enjoy your day and celebrate with your friends and family!

And...because no blog post should be without a photo (especially on a photographer's blog!) here are a few of my favorites:

If you're looking for a wedding photographer in the Wabash Valley or surrounding areas, I'd love to hear from you! Just click here for more information, or here to contact me.