The majority of our wedding clients have never been married before (although the current divorce rates are making the concept of a “return” wedding client not so far fetched), and I’ve photographed hundreds of weddings, which makes me kind of an “expert by-proxy”.
I’ve seen it all, and it occurred to me today that there really are 10 major wedding mistakes that should be easily avoidable and seem pretty obvious in hindsight… but if this is your first wedding, then, what hindsight?
That’s where this little gem comes into play. Trust in this sage advice and I just might save you some stress on your big day.
Do a “Dress Rehearsal”: I mean it. Rehearse putting on your dress. Nothing throws off a carefully planned wedding like a complicated corset taking a virtual army of mothers and bridesmaids half hour to cinch, hook, or thread when you thought it would take 5 minutes.
And with that in mind…
Practice Bustling the Dress: Bustling is usually pretty straight forward, but sometimes those little ties and/or hooks can be pretty good at hide-n-seek. Whoever you select for your crack team of “bustlers” needs to have a detailed knowledge of where to find your “bustling hardware” because the last thing you want to deal with before you finally get to relax and party is a long, drawn out bustling of the dress (and your DJ constantly poking in and saying, “So, any idea how much longer before we do the introductions?”).
No Fake Tanner / Over Tanning: Let’s do the math here: Most likely your dress is made of the most delicate light cream and white materials, pure and clean (just like you). Fake tanner is orange/brown. You will probably sweat on your wedding day. Sweat makes fake tanner run… on to your wedding dress. Under the armpits and top of the bodice are common victims, but believe it or not the front of the dress gets a little copper rub-off most often from your forearms! Let’s review: Don’t use fake tanner, ever.
Now for over-tanning: Authentically tan skin does look stunning in many warm sunny environments in that gorgeous white dress. However, certain details often escape the attention of our average well browned bride. Firstly, don’t ever tan anywhere in the weeks before your wedding day where you can’t go in the buff because you will not be liking the white and ever-so-obvious tan lines from you bikini top (i.e. only use tanning beds). Secondly, don’t over do it. You will not like the leathery look of overly tanned skin in your bridal portraits, or (God forbid) you get sun burned! (Do I really need to explain why being burnt is bad for photographs?)
Eat something: Many of our clients have the completely natural tendency to avoid eating much or any food the morning of their wedding due to nerves, or over drinking the night before…
This may sound and feel like a good idea at the time, but please bear in mind that by the time we really get going that day, you might be a little low on the blood sugar and:
a) pass out during your ceremony.
b) become a little cranky
c) become really, really cranky. (And this is supposed to be a party, remember?)
So save your your fiance, your wedding party, and your poor wedding photographers the grief and nibble a little throughout the day.
The Immaculate Dress: Do not assume that your dress cannot get a little dirty. Especially the underside of the train and hem. It touches the ground, so it will get dirty, and the best part is, no one can see it! I get such a kick out of brides who want the shot in the grass or field or off a trail in trees or something and then look down and see bits of stuff stuck to the tulle and freak out! It’s OK, as long as there is not a stain, you’ll be fine. That’s why you have bridesmaids, to pick tiny pieces of stuff out of your tulle and veil before the ceremony. Hello! And in the worst case scenario where you do get visible stains or dirt on the visible parts of the dress, you’d be amazed how little if any is noticeable on the photographs, and if they are just have them removed!
Not-so-Timely Florists: The wedding vendor (other than the photographer) who can really hold things up by being late, is the florist. Photography grinds to a halt if the bride insists flowers have to be in all the post-getting ready pictures (which is definitely preferable) and there are no flowers. Florists often take multiple contracts for the same day and are sometimes running behind from their earlier appointments. And always ask if they can take care of the wedding party’s flowers first, before they do any ceremony and altar flowers.
Have Sensible Shoes Available: You’re going to be on your feet all day. It will probably be the most standing you’ll have done in a while. Have a pair of comfy shoes to wear and give yourself a break. Plus, if your wedding is outdoors or we’ll be heading outdoors for photography, high heels tend to aerate lawns for free, if you get my drift (I’ve even seen heels break because they sank so deep into the lawn).
For more formal shots where we won’t be able to see your feet under your dress, feel free to slip on some comfy shoes, and pop the hot shoes back on for the moving stuff.
No Aisle Runners on Lawns: This has a lot to do with heels on lawns, but I’ve have yet to see a runner on a lawn that doesn’t trip someone up coming down the aisle. The heels drive it into the ground and it gets all bunched and folded by the time the bride makes it down, and she’s usually the one who gets tripped up.
And the same goes for windy areas. Unless you’re going to have tent stakes every foot, the wind picks up runners like a giant kite.
And speaking of wind…
No Unity Candles Outside: Unity candles just don’t work outside. Most of the time you can’t even get the candle to light, and if it does light, it blows out a few moments later. That kind of ruins the symbolism, don’t you think? The only time I’ve seen a unity candle light outside in Colorado was on a rare day with only a gentle breeze and they had a HUGE hurricane vase around the candle.
Unity sand is a great alternative. You each have a different color of sand (usually your wedding colors) and you pour alternately and together into a crystal vase of some sort and the pouring sand creates these amazing swirls and designs within the vase. It even works in wind!
This Ain’t Your Momma’s Photography: Until the ’90’s wedding photography was a predictable, bland and stale mix of aesthetics that remained unchanged for decades. It was predominately formal, posed pictures and tons of altar formals with bad lighting. Wedding photography today is a sexy, stylized, spontaneous experience and no one can identify with this less than the parent’s of most of our clients. They will usually insist on an absurd number of photographs involving 2nd cousins and crazy aunts. And by all means, have the extended family in your formal pictures, but just make most of the formals into group shots and not individual combinations.
I’d love it if every couple saw each other before the ceremony (you can get the huge bulk of the photography done before), but if you don’t see each other before, you absolutely must not overestimate how much photography can be done during the cocktail hour between the ceremony and reception. Our focus at that time as modern wedding photographers is getting the sexy “wow” shots of the couple (together) and fun, creative shots of the wedding party. So, if your altar formals are too extensive, we can end up rushing our most important photography in order to get you to the reception on time (and you do not want to keep your guests waiting).
And there you have it. Please feel free to add to, or correct any of my sage advice here. I’ll sleep better tonight knowing that I just made someone’s wedding go a little bit easier.