As a bride (and groom), you’re planning what is probably the biggest day of your life. It’s expensive, it’s important, and just about everyone you know will be there. Cue anxiety. No doubt you’ve thought about what can go wrong and if you want the real truth, just about anything can happen. As a wedding photographer, who has been involved in hundreds of weddings of various different styles, sizes and budgets, believe me when I say that I’ve seen it all. But that doesn’t mean that things will go wrong on your wedding day, especially if you’re prepared.
Organising a wedding is really like organising a massive event. Ask any event planner what their secret is, and they’ll tell you it’s all about coordination, and thinking about how if one thing slips, it could have a knock-on-effect on other elements of your day. It’s probably safe to say, that many of you aren’t event planners so this is all new to you. And so, with this in mind, I’ve taken everything I’ve seen and learned over the years to prepare a bumper blog post to make sure your wedding is the smooth running day it should be.
The great thing about your wedding venue, is that you’ll have one point of contact for the day. Your go-to person will assist in making sure everything goes exactly to plan. This individual knows everything from the importance of timings to all the finer details you’ve planned, so make sure you pay attention. And because wedding venue coordinators are so fully involved in the wedding planning process, the team at Drenagh House have shared their expert advice on ensuring everything goes to plan at your wedding venue.
1. Timing is key. All the elements of your wedding day should work in perfect harmony. With your venue, discuss time schedules and what must be achieved by a certain time throughout the big day, especially if you are having evening entertainment.
2. Try and stick to this schedule as much as possible. While you probably won’t be paying much attention to time on the day, the venue will keep you posted.
3. Don’t forget about the guests who don’t drink alcohol at the drinks reception. It can be embarrassing to realise you’ve forgotten about them as they sit empty handed.
4. Know your ‘go to’ person within the venue. This person will be your personal point of contact should you need anything in the run up to the wedding, or indeed on the day itself.
5. If your photographer hasn’t been to the venue before, have them call to it to source potential photo locations and meet the team.
6. Don’t let the speeches drag on too long. This is one of the most common problems at receptions. Try to keep them short and sweet and avoid opening up the floor to speeches. This can delay the first dance and ultimately reduce the length of time for your evening entertainment.
7. Less is sometimes more with the decor. Pay attention to what is already in your reception room as often you won’t need to add too much to it.
8. If you are staying overnight at the venue, leave all your belongings there a few days before. That way, everything you need will already be there and you can easily get your hands on it.
9. Don’t forget to relax and embrace every moment as this is what the last few months or even years of planning comes down to.
The wedding morning
A smooth running wedding, starts with a carefully coordinated morning. You may think the wedding morning is simply just about hair and make-up but there are a few essentials to consider.
1. Have robes and slippers for the bridal party. This is especially important if you are having pre-wedding photos, as matching robes can look great. Plus, they serve the advantage of being easy to get in and out of, avoiding damage to your newly finished hair and makeup.
2. Prepare an emergency kit. By now, you’ve probably realised that preparation is key, and this is where an emergency kit comes in handy. Appoint a bridesmaid to prepare a kit with everything you might need, such as safety pins, white chalk, hair spray, hair pins etc.
3. Avoid dress dramas. On your wedding day, a needle and thread shouldn’t be needed, but you’d be surprised by how many brides have to be sewed into their dresses. A dress fitting a few days before your wedding is essential. While many shops encourage you to pick up your dress weeks before your wedding, go to a dress maker the week before, try it on, do up any zips and buttons and check it carefully. When you’re sure it’s as it should be, place it back in its bag, and hang it up in your home, out of site.
It’s also a good idea to have a steamer handy. Bridesmaid dresses are often made of chiffon, which is prone to creases.
4. Remember food and drink! With all the nerves, it can be easy to skip breakfast, but with your wedding meal hours away, make sure someone has prepared breakfast. If you’re planning on having a glass of bubbles, pop a bottle in the fridge the night before.
5. Don’t forget about your feet. If you’re a bride on a mission for the perfect wedding photos, a pair of wellies or flat shoes will come in extremely handy. Whether it’s photos on the beach, or walking through greenery, save your wedding shoes and opt for something a little more sensible as we find the perfect backdrop.
Hair and makeup
One of the most common problems – which results in the bridal party showing up late to the ceremony – is hair and make-up running over. Here, Claire from Moods Hairdressing & makeup artist, Rosemary Wright share their top tips.
Claire from Moods Hairdressing recommends the following:
1. A trial is essential! I would never do a bride’s hair without carrying out a trial first. It isn’t as simple as just putting your hair up. Both you and your hairdresser should leave the trial knowing exactly what is happening with your hair.
2. Get to know your hairdresser. If you aren’t using a hairdresser you already know, make sure you get to know them in the run up to the wedding. Call in for a trim and blow dry and build up trust with each other so you are comfortable on the day.
3. If you opt for hair extensions, please be aware that working with these can be tricky, so it’s essential that you bring them to your trial.
4. Don’t be late. Whether you’re going to a hair salon or a hairdresser is coming to your house, being on time is of the upmost importance. The last thing your hairdresser wants is for you to be late for your wedding so stick to timings and nobody will be stressed!
To ensure your wedding makeup is flawless, Rosemary Wright suggests the following:
1. Firstly, check out various makeup artists online to determine which one most closely matches your own style. Some makeup artists specialise in more natural makeup, while others prefer a dramatic finish, so choose one whose style closely matches what you envision for your wedding.
2. Next up, always book a trial in order to see if you like what they do. If you are planning on wearing tan on your wedding day, it is important that you attend your trial, wearing your chosen shade. This will give you the best possible idea of what your makeup will look like on the day. On the subject of tanning, I also recommend having your tan applied by a professional for your wedding and to have a trial too. This avoids potential tanning fails in the run up to the wedding.
3. Always wear white to your trial. A pink top, for example, will reflect a different tone on your skin.
4. Prepping prior to both your trial and wedding day is key. Ensure your skin is exfoliated and cleansed free from all makeup. Apply moisturiser beforehand to allow time for it to fully absorb into the skin. Prepping your skin before your makeup artist arrives will save time on the day. Finally, have your eyebrows shaped and hair removal carried out by a professional.
5. When booking a makeup artist for your wedding, go with one who has a reputation for turning up. If you have heard horror stories from friends or family who have been let down, steer clear. No one needs that drama on their wedding day.
6. The week before the wedding, I always recommend brides give me a quick call. This allows us to confirm all the details, check timings and add on any other people, if necessary.
7. On the wedding day, have a bridesmaid carry some loose powder, lipstick and blusher. This is all you’ll need to touch up your makeup. It should have real staying power and last long into the night.
8. Timings are crucial. One hour per person for makeup should be enough. Write out a schedule of who is having their makeup applied and at what time and let everyone know that this is strict and that they need to be on time.
9. Remember, if you tell a makeup artist you’ll go to their salon and then decide that you’d prefer them to come to your house, there will most likely be a difference in cost. A call out fee is required to cover time away from the salon and travel, so don’t be alarmed by this.
Believe it or not, I’ve seen brides unhappy about their wedding flowers. To avoid surprises on the wedding day, Jil Peterson from The Stables Flower Coshares her expert advice.
1. If you want luxurious, professional flowers for your big day, go to a designer, rather than a high street shop that specialises in funerals etc.
2. Use social media to check out a designer’s work and then allow them the freedom to create your look.
3. Consider the guest experience when allocating the appropriate budget to flowers. One jam jar posy on the reception tables of a grand marquee can be a disappointment.
4. Book early to avoid missing a designer whose work you have fallen in love with.
5. Allow your floral designer to guide you in the look and how the flowers play their part in the overall set up.
They’re responsible for getting you to and from your ceremony and venue, so they need to be reliable! When booking wedding cars, think about how far you are from your venue, in order to work out your wedding day timings. Don’t forget about factors such as the time of year and where you need to go. Couples often have locations such as mountains or beaches in mind for photos, so just make sure your chosen mode of transport can cope with this. Think about how many stops you need to make too as how long you will be away from the venue will have a knock on effect for the rest of the timings for the day.
Last but not least, as a photographer, my goal is always to ensure you are presented with a set of photos that you will treasure forever. Here’s my advice on how you can make sure you love your wedding photos.
1. It might sound obvious, but if you want good photos, book a professional, rather than giving the responsibility to a friend with a good camera. Wedding photos serve as a reminder of your wedding day for the rest of your lives and so if you want professional images, call on the services of an expert photographer.
2. A great way to get to know your photographer and to feel comfortable posing in front of a camera is with an engagement photo shoot. I offer couples a half hour session in front of the camera to allow them to get used to it, and a few digital images to take home. Furthermore, for an additional cost, I offer a full engagement shoot at a location of your choice, with a diverse range of images.
3. You’ve booked this photographer for a reason – you like their work and you’ve got a report with them so don’t spend weeks worrying about your photos. Put your trust in their capable hands, safe in the assurance that they’ll capture every detail of your day.
4. One major aspect to consider is lighting! Light changes throughout the day, which will result in very different photos. If you’re having a winter wedding, the light fades much earlier so you may need to consider having your ceremony a little earlier to afford your photographer more time.
5. Living in Northern Ireland means that the weather isn’t always kind to us and facing the possibility of having rain on your wedding day will mean that you are well prepared to handle it. Face cold, wet weather with appropriate footwear, blankets and umbrellas. Check out my post on winter weddings here for great advice on how to handle adverse weather conditions.
6. Your photographer will act as your own personal clock on the day. I always watch the time as the day goes on, so that the couple don’t have to stress about it. This helps ensure that all the vendors work as cogs in a wheel and the day runs smoothly and according to schedule.
In summary, your wedding day is one of the happiest, not to mention biggest days of your life. The elements of your day should all work together in perfect harmony. Carefully coordinating timings and working with a team of reputable suppliers will ensure everything goes off without a hitch.
To enquire about my availability for your wedding day, get in touch here.