Common questions while planning your wedding | Photographers Edition
While wedding planning can certainly be a fun and joyous time, it can also be a stressful and even pretty confusing at times. After all, it will probably be the biggest party you’ll ever throw in your life. The best way to avoid problems later on is to ask your wedding planning questions early.
That’s why I put together these questions on planning your wedding, with a photographer’s twist! These are the most common wedding planning questions I get from brides-to-be. Hopefully these questions and answers will help you think through the different scenarios, pros and cons, and help you decide what will make the most out of your wedding day.
In no particular order, here are 10 of the most common planning questions (photographers edition) that brides often ask me:
How do I find my wedding photographer?
When it comes to finding your perfect wedding photographer my website is a GREAT place to start (juuuust sayin’ haha). But in all seriousness, you can find a wedding photographer by simply getting recommendations! Ask some of your recently married friends and see who they used, ask on Facebook, browse some Google reviews, take a look on Pinterest and view images you like and see if they are available for your day. Another amazing way to find a photographer is to check out wedding blogs and look at real weddings that a wedding photographer actually photographed. While you’re browsing around on Google or Pinterest, a lot of the time, the links will send you directly to that photographer’s website and/or blog! For a blog post, most photographers will post and share images from the start of the day all the way until the end!
How long should my photographer stay for?
How many hours you require your wedding photographer depends on your day and also what images you would like. So first things firsts, you need to consider your entire day. What time you be getting ready, if you’ll be traveling to your ceremony, what time the ceremony will start, how long will it last, what time will you get to the reception, what time will you be having dinner, when will you cut the cake and will will you will have your first dance! You get the idea.
I know this is a long list, but it gives you a timeline for some of the day and will allow you to figure out how many hours your photographer will need to be present. Most photographers will have packages for the whole day and even some will allow you to add on additional coverage hours, if you need to! Be sure to ask that photographer’s option on what they think will be necessary too for what you’re wanting.
Your wedding images are your story from the entire day! So be sure to have your photographer present as much as you can!
What is a second shooter? Should I have one?
A second shooter is a second wedding photographer, a second person there on your day capturing photos from a different angle. The benefits of this is you can have one photographer with the bride capturing shots of you getting ready, and then the other getting shots of the groom. The is great if you want shots of both getting ready, but are staying in different locations.
On your day your photographer cannot be in two places at once, so a second shooter allows different angles to be captured, different angles as you walk down the aisle, capturing guests faces and their emotions. Of course with a second shooter there is an additional cost. Make sure to speak to your photographer, usually they will have a second shooter included in their package or they can inquire with a photographer friend or someone within the industry to help for your special day.
What is an “unplugged wedding”?
An “unplugged wedding” is starting to become more and more popular! It is simply a wedding without phones, cameras, iPads; a wedding without technology for you and your guests to just sit back and enjoy.
Why this way? Today, we live in a world where everyone has a smart phone, where they can take a photo and upload it instantly to social media for friends to see. However, you have paid money and have hired a professional wedding photographer to take professional pictures. They are here to capture the day for you, there is no need for friends to take photos during the ceremony especially.
A pro to having an unplugged wedding, is that during many weddings, guests will actually step into the aisle where the bride is walking down and actually block the view of the wedding photographer. This can cause either hours and hours of editing time for that photographer, or it can block the shot for that photographer completely – causing them to miss the shot due to that guest. I will speak from experience. I had a wedding guest step into the aisle with her iPad, where the bride was blocked until about half way down the aisle. Thankfully, there were still plenty of images for the couple.
Should I provide food for my photographer?
Make sure to chat with your photographer on this one. Some photographers will bring their own food and like to get away for a few minutes, to have a break. While others may appreciate and enjoy a small meal at the venue. In my own personal opinion, I enjoy for myself and my assistant or second shooter to actually have a small break and get the chance to have a meal that is provided by the couple.
What is a first look and is it a good idea?
Some believe first looks can take away from the big reveal while others find it private, intimate, and that it can take away all those wedding day jitters. However, this decision could also depend on your ceremony and reception timing. In a nutshell, a first look is when your groom gets to see a private viewing of you before the ceremony.
For couples who choose to have a back to back ceremony and reception, a first look can be extremely beneficial to your timeline. With a 4:30pm ceremony and 5:00pm cocktail hour you may feel rushed to get all of your family photos, bride and groom portraits, and all bridal party images completed during cocktail hour. Not to mention any reception detail images you want your photographer to capture of your reception space.
A first look might be recommended by your photographer and wedding coordinator in this situation because you’ll be able to get all of your portraits done without having to rush.
When should we send out invitations?
The best time to send out your invitations is 8-12 weeks before the wedding date. This gives enough time for planning and sending back the RSVP card in time. For out of town weddings, it may even be nice to send invitations out more than 12 weeks in advance to give guests a little more time to arrange travel plans.
When should RSVPs be due?
As recommended by wedding coordinator vendors, they recommend setting your RSVP date to be 4+ weeks before the wedding date. Many caterers require meal counts 30 days in advance these days, so this gives you enough time to send final counts to them, as well as finalizing seating arrangements and getting your seating chart finalized.
Wedding coordinator vendors recommend keeping track of RSVP’s and any meal preferences in a spreadsheet as reply cards are received. Doing so will cause less stress at the end and all you have to do is tally a final count.
When do we photograph family formals?
Photographing family formals works best following the ceremony. This way, all of your family is there together and we can just ask them to stay for about 25 or so minutes afterwards and capture those images. I suggest having a detailed list of photo combinations and specific names (not just grandma/mom/aunt) for the photographer so he/she can proficiently work through the list and send guests off to cocktail hour.
What is a receiving line and should we do one?
A receiving line was a very common thing when our parents and grandparents were getting married. Now, not as much. You probably know what one is, you just don’t know what the technical term is. A receiving line is hosted at the end of the ceremony. It’s where the entire bridal party lines up with the couple and all of the guests walk through and congratulate the couple. Honestly, in my opinion I don’t feel as if it’s necessary to do one.
The tough thing about receiving lines is that they often suck up a lot more time than one might realize that cuts into your timeline. It can be blamed on technology and our attention spans, but nobody (especially your guests) likes waiting in line.
A couple alternatives to receiving lines:
— Do a first look so you can attend your cocktail hour to visit with guests
— Go around to each table at the reception (be sure to start with family, elderly guests and your parents’ friends first – your friends will be on the dance floor if you don’t make it around to their tables).
— Host a welcome party after your rehearsal dinner the night before the wedding