As a Baltimore wedding photographer I have the honor of documenting an average of 25 weddings a year. In my career I’ve seen a lot of what works well and what doesn’t work well. Now that I’ve been on the other side as a recent bride, I have even more insight as to what matters, what doesn’t and how to make the day run smoothly. Here are my top wedding tips for making your big day a success from the perspective of a recent bride and wedding photographer:
As the saying goes “you get what you pay for”, and that is very true when it comes to wedding vendors. While everyone has a budget to follow, I recommend prioritizing a team of vendors who know what they’re doing, have your best interest at heart and people who you trust to help bring your vision to life. Most often this comes with a hefty price tag but I promise it’ll be worth it. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Check out my recommended vendors.
I have preached this for years and I can say honestly that this was one of the best decisions I made. While my venue coordinator was great, she ultimately is there to protect & serve the venue. My day-of coordinator was a rockstar and helped with things such as taking decorations from our getting ready location to the venue, setting up signs & place settings, offering to get food for the hungover wedding party on the morning of the wedding (lol), problem solving when unexpected guests showed up, helping my disabled mom to her seat, coordinating with other vendors to keep to the timeline flowing, hand out thank you cards/gratuity and so much more! If you rely on a friend, family member or the venue I can almost guarantee you or your vendors will feel more stressed out.
While my goal is to create stunning images of you & your partner on your wedding day no matter the location, there’s some things we can’t avoid. For example, I had a wedding one time where the decorations & carpet were very bold colors. But, the wedding theme was black & white. The photos from the beginning of the day vs at the venue didn’t have a consistent look because of that. And the couple shared they wish they would have thought about that when selecting their hotel. I knew I wanted my wedding to feel earthy, moody & eclectic. So I made sure the hotel we picked matched that vibe (The Revival, if you’re wondering). Also, if we had rain I wanted to make sure we had a good indoor option for photos that didn’t look like the generic lobbies you find in most hotels. If you can’t find a hotel that matches your vibe try Airbnb or VRBO!
I could write an entire post on this one itself. Commonly I hear my couples say “I want a fun, packed dance floor.”, and I love those weddings! But are you making decisions to make that a reality? My suggestions may not be what you want. But after attending hundreds of weddings over the years and implementing them at my own wedding with great success, here are my top tips to make that happen:
Hire a DJ or band that knows how to bring the heat. (sorry not sorry but you’re not going to get a club atmosphere with a DJ who plays Baby Shark, the Chicken Dance or 50 slow songs or line dances).
This is controversial but in my opinion, skip the super young kids at the reception. Nothing sends guests home early like a screaming, tired kid.
Make time for dancing, but not too much time. Realistically there’s not many people who want to dance for 3 or 4 hours straight. 1.5 – 2 hours of dancing seems to be the sweet spot. Coordinate an after party if you want to keep the party going longer than that.
As a follow up to the last point, don’t start the dance floor too early. No one wants to go hard to “Get Low” when the sun is still shining. Design your timeline so that dancing doesn’t start until after the sun goes down.
Limit the amount of activities you have at the reception. For example, if you’re constantly stopping the music for things such as the bouquet toss or a game, people are going to start to fade out. Additionally, try to keep the extras to 1 or 2. For example, a photo booth is a nice extra to have that will give guests something to do when they break from the dance floor or on their way to the bathroom or bar. But if you have a photo booth, yard games, arcade games, food truck, etc. then it’s going to send everyone in different directions.
As amazing as your vendors are (assuming you hired good peeps!), we aren’t mind readers. I included an inspiration photo for my florist because I liked the style of the arrangement. I failed to mention that I didn’t like the color of that arrangement. And on the day of my wedding I got something different than what I envisioned. They were beautiful nonetheless, but it was my fault for not making that clear. On the flip side you don’t want to overwhelm your vendors and stifle their creativity. For example I love to see what images you’re drawn to but prefer not to receive a 5-page shot list.
I had the upper hand on this one since I create wedding timelines all the time for my couples. All of my vendors shared that they were thankful to have enough time to get everything done without feeling rushed. As a result I didn’t feel stressed & neither did my spouse or wedding party. Unless you’re eloping, my guess is you’ll need at least 8 hours of photography coverage (I hired mine for 10 & was so thankful for it!).
Don’t let perfect become the enemy of good. While you can create the best vision board and plan thoroughly. Not everything is going to come out exactly as you think it will – and that’s ok! For example, I noticed during dinner that none of the 100 taper candles I bought were lit. This fell through the cracks unintentionally but no guests cared because they were still pretty & we were having fun. Try not to let the little things stress you out. Prioritize enjoying the day with your spouse, family and friends!
This is not your parent’s wedding! Or aunt, or mother-in-law or anyone else’s. Even if someone else is helping you pay for your wedding, it doesn’t mean they get to call all the shots. My partner and I paid for our own wedding. Which means we didn’t have to answer to anyone else and I have no regrets! I promise you’ll have way more fun if you do what makes you happy. For example, cake is cool but really what I want after drinking & dancing is something savory! So while we still had dessert options for our guests, my partner & I decided to skip a cake and cut a pizza together instead! 10/10 recommend!
Ready to book your Baltimore wedding photographer? Drop me a line and let’s do this thing!