I have been a wedding photographer for over 10 years now, with over 300 weddings across 4 continents. I like to think I have seen my shares of weddings, the goods and the bads, and all the awesome wedding plannings that have taken place by some pretty creative people. I thought I would use my wedding photographer experience and share my thoughts on 20 things that could help to make your wedding day and wedding planning more fun and memorable.

Wellington wedding photography of Josie and Nik 0177_

0- Get a wedding video, so important if your wedding budget does allow it

This is so important that I gave is a ranking of 0 instead of 1 🙂 I know that wedding photography is an absolute must in every wedding planning and wedding budget. At the end of the day, the wedding images are the only things you have left after your wedding day is well and truly and over, except for the other half of course. The wedding images will help you to relive the memories and bring you back to the days. And this is exactly what the wedding video can do, and so much more. I always tell people, the wedding film is not about being a compliment to the photography, but an entirely different way to capture such a special event. There are things that wedding photography cannot do justice for. When you have moving images, along with music, and possibly spoken words, the emotion impact is indescribable.

For your wedding anniversaries, valentine days, or any time you want to relive your wedding day, it will be the wedding video that you will always reach out first, well before the wedding photos. And when you want to share it with your children in the future, they will enjoy watching the wedding video so much more.

1 – Rain or shine, you will still get married

Rain is beautiful, soft, calming and romantic. Rain also brings people alot closer together physically on a wedding. I remember one of the most memorable wedding that I have ever done was in Mahia Beach, and a storm came our way just before the ceremony. So instead of a beautiful seaview, about 100 of us got cramped into a tiny little pub, and people had to stand on chairs, bar top, each other, in order to see what was going on. But then, whenever there was laughter, it would fill the room, echoing at every corner, and the joy and the smile and laughter would just ring and ring. Such a magical atmosphere. I don’t think such joyous atmosphere would be felt if we had done the wedding ceremony outdoor. Also, some of the best wedding photography is done in the rain and the moody sky.

2 – Allow the professionals to use their skills and experience to help you

You would have taken many hours to choose and decide and book your wedding vendors, simply because they share the same passion and vision as you for your wedding day. So allow them to do their best, which then allow you to do your best, which is to enjoy the day with the people who are most important to you.

3 – Of course you will be late to your own wedding

This is a given. I can’t remember if any of my brides have arrived exactly on time for their wedding day.s  Just remember, no weddings will take place without the brides.

4 – Mingle with your guests after your wedding ceremony

This is something I highly recommend to anyone getting married. This mingling time is just so special. There will be many people whom you would not have seen in a long time. Not only that, this is the first time on your wedding day that you get to actually say hi, just after you get married. Don’t loose this moment, especially with your families. Everything else can wait.

5 – Do not have a photo shots list

Trust your wedding photographer to do their job. Certainly if you have special requests, please do tell them. But don’t create a list of must have that is pages and pages and length.

6 – Your wedding dress will get dirty, get over it

I do feel very blessed that all of my brides so far have shared this mentality, and just allow themselves to enjoy the day, and the wedding photography, which tends to get the dress dirty for outdoor locations. I have brides who would happily walked and skipped and ran in the rain to get those epic and artistic photos. You only have one chance, so make the most of it.

7 – Make sure you have a family and group photos list

Family photos are often done after the wedding ceremony and before the bridal party photos. A family and group photos list allows the wedding photographer to quickly work through the groups without missing anyone and wasting time finding people. Normally the MC would help with gathering people. Groups photos are super important memories of the day, but they can be very time consuming if not organised.

8 – Don’t do too much by yourself on the day

It is your wedding day. Let others help you so you can relax, soak in the atmosphere, and enjoy it with the people around you.

9 – Be yourself is the best way to get the best wedding photography

Many brides and grooms are anxious about their performance infront of the camera and whether their wedding photography would be good or not. For my part, I always try to allow my clients to naturally enjoy the day, to laugh, to giggle, to make jokes, to be silly, and to be themselves. While I can pose and position my clients for the best lighting and angle etc, I cannot control their smiles and the way they look at each other. The only way I can get those beautiful and authentic moments is to allow the clients to be themselves.

10 – Only open the floor for speeches if you have time

Most weddings that I have been to have specific order of speeches which will limit the allocated time for this important part of the reception and wedding day. Some wedding speeches definitely go alot longer, while others barely last a minute or so. In some cases, the brides and grooms would then open the floor for others to stand up and speak and give personal words. This can be good and bad. It brings people together, and can bring alot of laughters and cheers and memorables moments. However, for large weddings, this can drag well into the night and delay other events like the bands and the dancing. My advice is that if you want to open the floor for wedding speeches, try to allocate a certain amount of time, and encourage the wedding MC to be strict and let people when would be the last speech of the night, so at least others would know not to put their hands up anymore.

11 – Take advantage of the golden hour if possible

With photography, and wedding photography is no exception, lighting is everything. This is why I always try to take advantage of the golden hour, as the sun starts to set, whenever I can. The colour is gold, and light is soft and magical, and with the sun being so low, we can get beautiful back lighting that can be so whimsical and ethereal. Golden hour wedding photography is definitely highly recommended. Just make sure you don’t plan your wedding reception speeches around this time. Sunset does not wait for any of us.

Wellington wedding photography at golden hour with Chelsea

12 – Things will go wrong. Just smile and concentrate on the important things.

After many months of wedding planning and decisions making, your weddings will still take place. Things will no doubt go wrong. Gosh, it might even rain or snow or hail, but your weddings will still take place. Enjoy the day and ride the wave and remember what is important. It is the stress of the little details and the imperfections and other’s opinion that will ruin your day.

13 – Break the rules.

It is your wedding day. It is all about you and your loved one, as well as all the important people in your life. We are all unique, and so are the love stories. Just make sure the wedding planning and the wedding is about you and the celebration, instead of worry about how it would look on instagram and facebook and what not.

14 – Provide sunscreen and insect repellent

Such little things but can mean so much for the people there. As you can imagine, not many wedding guests would bring their own sunscreen or insect repellent, so be nice and thoughtful and protect the people we love.

15 – You can never have enough food and alcohol, especially BYO

It sounds simple and silly, but I have been to several weddings where the wedding food just simply ran out and people had to share and portion. At least, it does provide funny wedding stories and memorable moments afterwards . Still, its always good to be over prepared when it comes to food and alcohol. You just never know how happy people will be on your wedding day, especially when they are surrounded by other happy wedding guests 🙂

16 – Kids, enjoy them and allow them to fill your day with fun and laughter

This is a bit of a controversy I feel. There is certain a wedding trend where kids are not allowed at weddings to reduce the stress involved in dealing with noisy and sometimes annoying children. Being parents ourselves, kids play a huge part in our lives, and this is true for many of our wedding guests. Kids are supposed to be noisy, and annoying. But kids also bring alot of love, love that we celebrate on wedding days. If you can tolerate their presence, the children will bring so much joy and memories to weddings. I love it when I see beautiful kids table setups at the wedding reception, or the little things that the brides organised for the kids to wear and do during a wedding day. I remember for one wedding, we had to wait for 30 minutes as the family forgot some stuff for the flower girls. Even when we were running late, the bride and her whole family was more than happy to entertain the kids, dress them up, fix them up, without a single sense of urgency or annoyance or irritation. Such a beautiful and welcome sight on a wedding day.

17 – Make sure you invest in a good PA system

Your friends and families all gather to see you two getting married, and hear the words that will be spoken. So just imagine the disappointment if they cannot hear anything. Its like watching a movie without sound. Even on a clear and calm day with the wind, the back half of the crowd would not be able to hear a thing for an outdoor wedding. On a windy wedding ceremony, probably on the front row can hear something. Beyond that, it is hopefully as the wind would disperse the sound almost completely. This is why I think every wedding should invest in hiring a good PA system, especially a wireless one to make it safer for everyone. In terms of wedding budget, this might only cost $100 or so, but it will be well worth the wedding cost.

Wellington wedding photographer with a wedding cake

18- Your wedding day is about the people

Invest in the people, and the time to mingle with the people. After the ceremony, say hi to as many as you can. During the reception, make your way around the tables, inside and out. Cherish the fact that you have the chance to see so many important people in one spot. This reunion won’t happen very often.

19- Wedding planning is a journey, not just a destination

As you can imagine, your wedding plan will take many months and involve many decisions. It is a journey, and the more you both enjoy the journey, the more you will enjoy the day. And the reverse if also true, the more you stress on the wedding journey, the more you will stress on your wedding day. So focus on what is important, and just go with the flow.

20- Wedding favors are cool, but they can be very time consuming

I have heard so many wedding stories from so many brides about the amount of time they have spent on wedding favors for their wedding guests. This can add stress to the over all planning, and as stated above, its a journey. If you want to do wedding favor, think of something unique and personal. For example, ene couple gave everyone a jar of home made cooking spice that they made, just how cool and personal is that, and would not have involved that much work.

21- Your run sheet is only a guide, not a drill timetable

Think of the run sheet as a plan, a guide so you and others can be on the same page. However, things will always run late, and surprises will always crop it. If you need to run late, then so be it. Just communicate and let everyone knows. Try to be mindful of others, but still remember that it is your wedding day, and enjoy it with your second half.

Bonus Tip – GET SPARKLERS

My goodness, you can never go wrong with beautiful sparkler wedding photos. You just need wait for the night sky to come and be dark enough. Make sure you buy plenty of sparklers as it can take a few go to get the perfect wedding image. Be patience with your photographer as nigh wedding photos are never easy. But the results are always stunning.

Wellington wedding photographer Binh Trinh with sparklers and Melissa wedding photos Melissa 6574_

I hope the above list will give you some food for thoughts about your very own wedding planning. I love having fun, and I love it when my couples can enjoy the wedding day with me. Your wedding day will go by so fast. So make sure you take a breather every often to soak it all in, the atmosphere, the sounds of the laughter, the cool breeze at night during sunset, etc. And if things hit the fan, just laugh and then laugh some more. I have had a bride who saw her wedding cake fell off the table as she was about to walk down the aisle. She just smiled and carried on. No one knew about it until they made jokes during the reception. It was a pretty wedding day as you can imagine.

So enjoy. And if you have any other advice for future brides and share any tips from your own wedding planning and personal experience, please comment below.