Will and I celebrated our fifth anniversary in January, and it was so much fun to see a few pictures from our Martha’s Vineyard wedding up on my favorite blog last week. For those of you who might not know, our background is in photographing beautiful, destination weddings. We still take on a handful each year, and I absolutely love shooting them. It’s also lovely to be on the other side, having been through it, so that I feel that I can talk to my clients and friends about our experience, personally and professionally, and what it’s like to go through the planning process (of course I know that it is different for everybody!).
Listen to other opinions. I remember when we were planning ours, it was all such a mystery. My mother loves design and entertaining and so was very hands on and I am so grateful for that — I think she shot down most of my ideas and man, was she right. So lesson one for me was: listen to your mother, or older and wiser companion 😉 or at least don’t shut out their ideas entirely.
Spoil your guests. I think one of the biggest lessons I learned is that in our experience, the wedding was about so much more than Will and I. It was a coming together of the families, and it was also very much about my mother being able to celebrate with her family, and to spoil them, and that was such a joy. In my view, the wedding should be about your loved ones coming together to celebrate with you and you should cherish and spoil them. With that in mind, it’s nice to allocate some of the budget to figure out how to really indulge your guests to let them know that you are SO happy that they came.
I recently photographed a wedding where the bride and groom had tucked a hand written note under every guest’s plate thanking that person for being there with a specific, direct note/anecdote — pretty amazing! No, it was not a small wedding. It took a lot of time and effort and was incredibly thoughtful. Our wedding was a lot smaller than that, and we had a custom robe and towel made for each guest (on a bulk wholesale site); it actually ended up kicking off a family tradition of one-upping the robe for every guest at all of our family weddings. Ridiculous but we all still have ours from each!
Hire a planner, or at least a day of coordinator. If you aren’t working with a planner, I do recommend hiring a day of coordinator. It was a last minute decision for us and such a worthwhile investment. It allowed us, Will, Mom and I, to be guests at the wedding rather than fussing over logistics.
Hair and make up trial, do it! Even if it’s on yourself! A hair and makeup trial is a must. I was so casual about my hair and make up at the time, I didn’t think it necessary. I didn’t end up feeling like my make up was totally “me” on the day, and while I was very lucky to have a family friend help me with my hair and he did a fantastic job, I think I realized that in the end, I would have felt more comfortable wearing it in a more familiar style rather than trying to jazz it up for the big day. Not a big deal, but it is nice to feel like you are the best but most familiar version of yourself for your pictures. I do recommend not going to wild! You do need extra make up for your wedding photos, too!
The photography is really, really important. Even as a photographer, I don’t think that I realized how important it was until it was our wedding. Those are the memories you walk away with and they shape your view of the day — they are so powerful, and I really recommend feeling totally connected to the style of the photographer that you hire (and the personality of that person, too). I love our photographer but because we (me) were so casual (and a bit behind in terms of getting ready), we missed some critical moments like I didn’t get one of just mom and I — and she’s my best friend.
Those are most of my go-to pieces of advice, hope they aren’t too preachy! Do let me know if there are any specific questions. xxx