Colorado Wedding Photography – Top 10 Tips for Brides, from a Wedding Photographer turned Bride, Part 2

Welcome back to part 2 of these lovely tips for brides & couples planning their wedding! If you are reading this part but haven’t seen the first installment, you can click here to read the first part of the list.

Last time we talked about a few things that most people don’t think about, and other people just won’t tell you. If you have read my blog for any length of time you know that I’m pretty straightforward. I kind of tell it like it is. Nicely, of course, but realistically. So here we go with part 2 of my Top 10 Tips for Brides & couples planning their wedding.

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6. Choose your priorities, and know them.

As a photographer, it pains me to admit that photography is not the most important aspect of every single person’s wedding day. But… wh-wh-what?! Okay, I get it. Maybe. Truthfully, it just doesn’t matter as much to other people as it might to me, and I accept it, begrudgingly. While that may not be you, maybe there are other things that just aren’t super important to you. For me, it was the tables. I’m decorationally challenged people. My coordinator asked me what color linens I wanted, I said “umm… if we have black it won’t show if I spill, right?” Yep, that was my first thought in the color of the linens. My mother was horrified, but I knew that those kinds of things just weren’t that important to me. My husband is a musician, and we knew that music was going to be at the top of our list of priorities. We had an amazing DJ who took care of so many things that evening, and played the type of music that my husband and his friends enjoy – even if other people are a little confused.

Choose your TOP THREE priorities, and know that most of your wedding budget is probably going to go to that. Click here to tweet!

I haven’t actually done the math, but a quick estimate brings to mind 25% – the amount of our wedding budget that went towards photography. That’s a HUGE portion for one thing! But that was really, really important. Music and food were the others – we wanted to really have a party that people enjoyed, that wasn’t over the top cheesey, and that people would talk about for years to come. Our budget reflected those priorities, and our TIME did too. Which moves us nicely into the next tip…

7. Have a timeline, and make sure to set it according to your priorities.

I don’t know how to say this nicely so I’m just going to say it – if you want amazing sunset photos but can’t build 30 minutes into your timeline at sunset to get them, you’re not gonna get them. At all. Certain things take a lot of TIME – things that you might usually disregard. And sometimes, certain PEOPLE take lots of time. If you know that someone is always late and you have family pictures at a certain time, tell them to come early. These little things – 5 minutes here, 10 minutes there – will completely throw off the timeline for your day, and can make you late, missing out on certain things that you really wanted to do or have.

Photo credit: Verve Studio

This is one of my most favorite photos from our wedding day. It’s a courthouse, in downtown Denver. We got married in Littleton, CO. That’s about a 30-45 minute drive from one to the other. Not only that, we did our first look downtown, and all of our wedding party photos downtown before the wedding. Can you IMAGINE the craziness that would have ensued if we told our wedding party to meet us down there? I don’t even want to think about the stress that would have caused. Solution? We hired a limo, for ONLY this portion of our day. We all went from the venue downtown together, had our first look, our photos, and not only is it one of my favorite photos, but it is one of my favorite memories too. When we were driving back in the limo, we were singing and laughing and had a BALL with our friends and family that are close to us. How did we accomplish such a feat? We built in several hours into the wedding photography and timeline so that we could do this.

Your timeline is so important, please do NOT ignore this part of your wedding. If you want amazing wedding photos, build time in for that. If you want to make sure that you have a specific exit, build in time for that. All of these things that you are seeing on Pinterest require investment – and not just monetarily, but an investment of your time. Which, on your wedding day, is crazy valuable.

8. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

This seems like another no brainer, right? But if you are one of those people that does everything themselves, you’re going to have to get over that. And no, I don’t know anyone like that… *whistle* Okay okay okay – I am one of them. I hold onto the things that need to be done because I want to make sure they’re done right. But if you don’t let go on the big day, you will be stressed ALL. DAY. LONG. I have kind of a funny example for this one, but I will also leave you with some reviews that I posted of my wedding professionals, because I believe that hiring the right people will make or break your wedding day. They will be the ones you ask for help!

We got married in September. While it wasn’t enormously crazy hot out, it wasn’t exactly cold either. Anyone who has worn a wedding gown knows that usually there are about a million layers that go with it – the petticoat, the gown, sometimes slips, bustiers, etc. After our wedding and during the reception, I was DYING. The kind of hot that is about to send you passing out into the bar, it wasn’t pretty. I went outside to try to cool off, and was fluffing my dress to try to get some air underneath all of those layers. The gorgeous Chris, West’s wife (our amazing DJ) came outside and asked if I was okay. I must have looked pretty ragged, she jumped UNDER my dress and took off the petticoat for me. Talk about above and freakin’ beyond. I needed help, and at that point I didn’t know how to ask for it because I was so out of it. I was immediately cooler and hugged her, and went back inside to enjoy the reception.

Your family, friends, and most of all professionals are THERE to help you. They want to celebrate and they want your day to go as wonderfully as you do. Ask for help, let them help!

9. Ask your photographer the important questions.

I cannot tell you how many times I have been asked what I wear to a wedding. A quick kind of apology to all of the wedding websites that tell you to ask this question, but if you have to ask that question, you clearly don’t trust the person you’re asking to dress professionally and you probably shouldn’t be hiring them. Can I get an AMEN!?

So with that being said, what questions should you ask? Of course there are the necessary ones – package inclusions, digitals, delivery, how many photographers, blah blah blah. But what about these – How long can I expect to wait to see my wedding photos? I heard a horror story a few weeks ago about a bride that waited over a year. Over a YEAR! Here’s another thought – What can I do to make sure these photos turn out to be amazing memories of my day? Again, that timeline is HUGE! But there are other things to think about, such as posing and lighting, that a professional photographer will know. How much post-processing do you do on the photos? If a photographer is telling you again and again “don’t worry I’ll Photoshop that out” – chances are, they’re not getting it even close to right in camera. Yes, Photoshop does amazing things. But it’s not everything. Photography is primarily about lighting, and if a photographer doesn’t know how to manipulate that light, sometimes not even Photoshop will save the images.

This is something that could be a completely separate post, so I will leave you on this point with this: Hire someone you trust. Your photographer will be with you ALL DAY. Do you really want to hire someone that you can’t stand talking to for an hour when you ask these questions because they’re so annoying and talk about themselves the entire time? I think not.

10. Last but certainly not least – enjoy your day, let things go.

I can’t help but think that the show Bridezillas would be completely without content if people would follow this rule. There are so many things to organize and keep track of. And as a matter of fact, I’m going to show you something that I’ve never shown before, something that my photographer was making fun of and teased me, saying he was going to take a picture. Now this is just a quick phone snapshot, so don’t go too crazy with technicalities.


That’s right, my wedding binder. A peek into the craziness. Tabbed with pockets, complete with all of the contracts and information that all of the people I worked with sent to me. Printed out even – despite my usually being paperless – so that they could all go into one pretty place. The tabs even match our wedding colors people, I’m organized.

I can practically FEEL your eyes rolling from here, don’t judge me. ;)

This photo doesn’t even include the massive to do list that was compiled a week before the wedding, with all of the little things that had built up and been left to the last minute. I planned on making CD’s of music as a wedding favor for all of our guests, and two days before the wedding, something in me just snapped. Not bad snapped, I didn’t freak out, but I kind of got to the point where I was like “eh, oh well.” I didn’t do CD’s. We did bottles of wine, I didn’t get my precious favors that matched the theme. But I let it go. Was it important to me, sure, but it wasn’t one of those priorities. Was it worth screaming at someone about? Heck no. I let it go.

Photo credit: Verve Studio

This was part of our dessert table. Tom wanted doughnuts at the wedding. Everyone else said “NO you can’t do that, it’s tacky!” He didn’t have a lot of requests when it came to the wedding, and really, who doesn’t love Krispy Kreme? It wasn’t worth an argument, I let it go. The doughnuts were a HIT by the way, how many times have you had Krispy Kreme at a wedding?

Let me be blunt: you can hire the most amazing professionals in the world, and there will always be things that happen beyond everyone’s control. Cakes fall. Kids throw up. Weather changes – especially in Colorado. When you are dealing with an event that has so many people combined with atmosphere aspects that you can’t control, shit will happen. And make no mistake, it WILL happen. Having the right professionals will make ALL the difference in the world, but even if you find out about something, or if something happens in front of you and you feel like everything is crumbling – LET. IT. GO. I promise you, there will be no cake blunder in the world that will excuse your behavior when you’re screaming at someone in front of 125 of your closest family members and friends. When your husband forgets the special shoes that you spent hours on the internet picking out and has to wear his tennis shoes, by all means, give him a little bit of hell and tease him. But let it go – don’t freak out. Don’t start the rest of your lives together with yelling and screaming. There will be plenty of time for that in your years to come.


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