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Thursday
Mar042010

Wedding Planning 101

OK, what the heck does a photographer know about planning a wedding? I mean, all we do is show up and shoot, right?
In actuality, it is the photographer who is essentially the mole of every wedding. It is the photographer who is there from beginning to end, has seen what works, and what doesn’t, and we notice when things run smoothly, or not, and why!

First of all, if you do nothing else first in planning your wedding, re-frame your mind, your thinking, your entire DNA and reboot...you are now a Bride and a Groom.

The first thing to do is plan for TWO budgets. Create a low-budget wedding, which will get you into Heaven with a fast pass. Then plan a higher-end gluttony budget, which will result in a temporary stay in Purgatory. Why two budgets? Because this will allow you to really clarify what means the most to you, and what you can do without! Think about it! When you have to sit and think about what is MOST essential to your day, your priorities are set and you have that referral base to refer to when you start to get out of hand and the local psyche ward needs to be summoned with their ceremonial bridal straight-jacket.

1.    Once you have determined what is most important to you, get those vendors set in stone EARLY. Did you know most photographers book about six months in advance?


2.    Saturday is not always the best day to get married...There are many vendors who are willing to adjust their rate for a Friday night or on a Sunday! The most popular day to book is Saturday, so the demand is there and the pricing on all vendors as well as locations are at their peak. Also, really think about an off-season wedding! You’d be surprised at the extra-delightful tone you would receive on the other end of the line by vendors if you approach them with a January, February or early March wedding. This is slow time for the industry and everyone has come off of the holidays. This is a great time to look for deals even from the most elite vendors ;0)


3.    Don’t be afraid to look at vendors your other vendors recommend. First of all, if they recommend someone, there’s usually a reason. The vendors I recommend, I’ve seen in action, I love not only their work, but their personalities!!!! Remember, as I said, vendors are people too, and the personalities of your vendors will help to dictate the personality and vibe of your entire day! You may have found a florist with gorgeous flowers, but what if they don’t work well with others, what if there are certain restrictions with the church or with the reception area and they get super cranky and upset the planner/coordinator and then the florist doesn’t care as much as they used to so your flowers show up an hour late and the photographer is off schedule and the portraits are late, so the mother of the bride is cranky which results in an argument which is heard by the priest…..well….you get the idea…

4.    On items that mean a lot to you both, make sure both bride and groom meet with each and every essential vendor together. I was pleasantly surprised when my manly hubby-to-be actually cared which flowers we used! You end up learning a lot about each other and realize that the decision-making you are enduring and sharing together in planning a wedding is a wonderful blueprint opportunity for how you will be making other decisions in the future. This is a time, which will be the barometer for future negotiations. Don’t be afraid of this experience, embrace it and realize that this event is a gift to yourselves as a couple embracing the rest of your lives.

5.    Remember that a big wedding is not always going to be the most memorable. Well, to rephrase….you may remember the debt….but please, from the bottom of my digitally archived heart, know that your guests really don’t mind if they don’t go home with a silver plated shot glass from Tiffany’s. (well, ok, I’ve secretly longed for such a treasure, but we’ll keep this to ourselves…)

6.    Your friends love you, THAT’s why they are there! OK, you may have some social climbers and dysfunctional family members as well, but in the end this is a party for you and your loved ones. Period end of story. Don’t forget this when planning your wedding. Select flowers which make you FEEL beautiful, which will brighten the hearts of those you love. Don’t go picking bouquets to impress. If you choose elements for your day because they feel right to you, it will all fall into place. This may seem whimsical, but I’ve seen it over and over again.

7.    Don’t be afraid to hire a wedding coordinator for Day-Of services! Many coordinators offer this service at a minimal expense in the larger scheme of things!!! It is a GIFT to yourself and your family, your mothers especially, to have that one contact person for all of the vendors, who ensures that your day will go smoothly. They do it all that day…and are your best friend so that your maid of honor and best man can do their jobs of tending only to you, not running around trying to contact the linen guy because the tables aren’t set yet!

8.    If you are getting married outside, if there is even a 10% chance of rain, MAKE SURE YOU HAVE BACK-UP TENT PROVISIONS!!!!! Make sure the site, or your planner has this locked in. I shot one of the most beautiful weddings in Malibu where it got completely rained out and the entire table settings were drenched,favors were ruined, and the entire reception had to be reset during the ceremony...

9.   Think of your wedding as your baby which is growing and festering inside. It is your belly, nobody else's, and you have the right to tell anyone not to touch it. Your wedding is your personal space, to be respected. Yes, if your parents are paying for part or all of it, it is the loving thing to do to inquire as to their suggestions, but in the end it is up to you as to how you will remember your day.

10.  Most of all, remember NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS, LIFE IS ABOUT STORIES! Not every wedding is going to be perfect, there will probably be little things here and there which can go wrong, but at the end of the day there are only three people who need to show up: You two, the minister, and well…..let’s make it four (your photographer…;0)

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