Five Tips to Help Your Wedding Day Go Smoothly | Hilary and Garrett at Snowshoe Mountain
This summer has been one wild and crazy ride -- mostly because it was my busiest wedding season ever and, simultaneously, I was in the final months of pregnancy.
I’ve been really lucky with my pregnancy in that I’ve been healthy, had relatively few symptoms, and have been able to remain active for its entirety. But juggling a full-time wedding photography schedule while working full-time in radio while pregnant is not for the faint of heart.
Needless to say, a few things have slipped through the cracks in that time period -- keeping up with blogging being one of them. But as I approach my due date, I’ve also backed off on shooting (my last wedding was a few days shy of 38 weeks) to allow myself to catch up on editing and other things, including delivering as many galleries as possible like this one, before this baby makes an appearance.
Hilary and Garrett in Snowshoe
Hilary and Garrett’s Snowshoe wedding was my first wedding of August.
If you’ve never been to Snowshoe in the summer, I highly recommend it. Both West Virginia and Virginia can be unbearably humid and hot from about mid-April through mid-October sometimes. But Snowshoe, being high in the mountains, runs a solid 10-20 degrees cooler than the surrounding areas, and there is almost always a soft breeze.
My body runs hot anyway and pregnancy has definitely not done me any favors in that regard, so shooting an August wedding in West Virginia where I wasn’t swimming in sweat was a real treat.
Hilary got ready at the gatehouse at Snowshoe while Garrett and his groomsmen were in one of the condos. This couple has been together a long time, and friends they’ve made over those years gathered from all over the country for their day.
Their pup Nelly made an appearance briefly before the ceremony for a few portraits before being whisked away to the comfort of air conditioning and belly rubs.
Anita’s Flowers did the florals, DJ Franky Frank was the entertainment, Sarah’s Bakery made the dessert bar, Nicolena Devito did hair and makeup, Christopher Starcher did the videography, Adrianna Pearcy Photography Second Shot, and Snowshoe catered and coordinated.
Five Tips for Your Wedding Day
Now onto the good stuff. Over the last couple of years of shooting weddings, I’ve noted things that help make wedding days go more smoothly. Here are five for you to consider for your own day.
Bring a Pair of Comfortable Shoes
This is a tip for both brides and grooms, but particularly brides. It is 100% ok to have the fancy shoes for your photos and ceremony, if that’s something you are into. But by the time you get to your reception, your feet will probably be hurting. And painful feet on your wedding day are just -- why do it? So make sure to pack a pair of comfy sneakers or flip flops or flats for the dance floor. They don’t have to pretty -- honestly, no one is looking at your feet at that point -- but you do want them to be something you can move around in and that will allow you to enjoy the rest of your day.
Or skip the fancy shoes entirely -- Hilary just wore flats on her wedding day -- and as you can see from the dance floor, they were a really, really good choice.
Something is Going to Go Wrong
It’s pretty much the law of wedding days that something will go wrong. Something will run late, your dress will get a stain, a key person will be sick -- SOMETHING. And honestly, you won’t be able to do anything about it. So let it go. Stressing about things you can’t control will just make you miserable. By the time you get to day of, just let things fall as they may. Enjoy the day for what it is. And I promise, how you react to an experience matters far more than the details.
Carve Out Time to Eat
You have paid allll of this money for your catering. And wedding days can be really, really long. You want to make sure you are well hydrated and fed for it! One idea that I recommend couples consider is to have your venue set up a table somewhere removed from your guests. It typically doesn’t take you that long to eat, but if you go through the line first, you can then have a few minutes to breathe, enjoy some alone time, and actually enjoy the food you’ve picked out together.
Get as Many Formal Photos Done Before the Ceremony as Possible
The only time of the day I typically do formal photos is family formals and a few of the bridal party altogether. That being said, if you do all of these photos at once -- especially if you have a big family -- it can be incredibly draining. Standing and smiling for shot after shot is hard to keep up.
So I recommend you split them into half before the ceremony, and half after. Sometimes we can even knock them all out before the ceremony if you’re doing a “first look.”
If you’re not doing a first look, then typically we will do all of the bridal party and family separates before the ceremony (so mom + bride, dad + groom etc.) and then use the after-ceremony time for bigger group combinations. Again, breaking it up this way just makes for an overall more pleasant experience for everyone.
Don’t Cheap Out on the DJ/Band
If you’re not having a traditional wedding, then this part probably doesn’t apply. But if you are planning on having a dance floor at your wedding then, seriously, don’t skimp on the entertainment. A good photographer is going to capture your day forever, but a good DJ or band is worth their weight in gold for keeping the party going. Sure, a friend can play an iPod and there are lots of people up and coming, but learning how to work a crowd, adjust and help people have a good time is a learned skill. A talented DJ or band is frankly the difference between people leaving after dinner or your guests dancing the night away.