Advice that will help photography excel for your big day!

I've learned a lot within these last few years in the wedding industry. I've noticed habits or little (photography related) details couples miss when planning a wedding. There are so many, but for this blog I am sharing with you 7 things you should keep in mind when wedding planning. Let's start with #1 . .

#1 - Pick a picturesque venue

Other than the rings and your partner, the only other things you're going to keep and hold onto from your wedding will be your photos. So be sure that when you are Venue Hunting, you pick a venue that has picturesque locations (ie. A garden, lake, gazeebo and others). If everything is taken care of "inhouse" you don't have to worry about loosing time traveling from hotels or local AirBNB's. Take full advantage of the provided "bridal suite". Sometimes some weddings take place at a conference room within a major hotel or at smaller venues that focused alot on how the inside looks, but forgot the outside. Whichever venue you go with, make sure the scenery is what you would be okay with as the backdrop for your pictures

#2 - . . or hire a great decorator

You would be surprised the magic a good decorator can pull off. There is no shame to be had if you cannot afford a dreamy, picture perfect venue. Yes, you can go the DIY route, but who has time for that? Remember! The less stress the better. Florals, Uplighting, Centerpieces and candles can make your venue look like a million bucks. If you visit my "Friends" page (click here), you will see a listing of local decorators I trust!

Decoration for a plain conference room at a hotel

#3 - Family Formals & The List

Ok, Ceremony is over and now you are lining up for the family pictures. But where is mom? Ahh! She went to say thanks to the officiant. How about brother? He went to the bar.

I've seen this happen many times before. However, with Weddings By Ray we have avoided this for some years now by creating a list beforehand. This list will be compiled of names of the people YOU (the couple) would like formal pictures with after the ceremony. We then have everyone readily available to the side, for pictures. Get them in, get them out. I recommend creating a list with your photographer if you don't already have one, to guarantee a smooth and quick family photo session.

#4 - Outdoor Ceremony & Lighting

No one ever warns you about the harsh sun on a July wedding, or that the sun sets earlier during an October wedding. When planning, if you are having an outdoor ceremony, please consider starting it at a time when the sun is not as strong and ruining the lighting for your landscape (5pm depending your time zone). Avoid you "the couple" squinting at each other, sweats, uneven lighting and more by simply choosing a later time when the sun is much lower. Avoid 1pm or even 3pm weddings depending on the time of year and time zone. Perfect ceremony time for an August Wedding in the East Coast, 5pm. Here are a few examples for you to review.

1pm ceremony. Bride has harsh light while groom has dark light. This photo has been edited to look better than the original light conditions.

Examples of harsh sunlight

Harsh light Oct. 12th Ceremony projecting leaf shadows

Harsh sunlight for 1pm Ceremony

Very hot, sweaty 12pm Sun, August Ceremony

Even/Good Lighting during ceremony

Shaded ceremony area using the landscape, avoiding harsh light

Nice even sunlight, June 5pm Ceremony

Perfect 5pm Sun

#5 Don't waste your time/money making or buying an "Unplugged" ceremony sign

No one reads. I've seen it countless of times. People spend all this time crafting a neat sign that says "This is an unplugged wedding, please put cell phones away . . " Only for people to walk right by it without even considering it. Buying one on Etsy won't save the day either. The best approach would be to ask your DJ/MC or Officiant to make a small announcement while everyone is seated, before the ceremony begins. - You might not notice it then, but when you receive your photos, you will dread those cell phones and iPads tunneling down your isle.

#6 Choose other "professionals" wisely

Choosing other pros "vendors" (ie. DJ, Videographer, Planner, Caterer) for your big day can be a tough task. Some couples don't know where to start or decide to splurge on something and "cheap out" on others. Sadly, many people get into this industry thinking they can make quick cash, and leave the couples to regret their decisions in the end. Be careful with who you hire, and make sure to ask questions and interview your potential vendors. If the price seems too good to be true, it very well might be, and you might end up with someone without experience or unprepared for a wedding.

For this wedding, this videographer stood next to the bride and groom the entire ceremony.

#7 - Get yourself a fancy Wedding Dress hanger

We make sure to capture pictures of the dress. The last thing you want in the photo is the original plastic hanger that comes with the dress. This is forgotten alot. They are really easy to find on sites like Etsy & Amazon. The good people over at TugHill Customs also help design and make these for you, fully customizable.