This week we’re going to go through the planning process for your upcoming wedding (or wedding of a loved one)! There are so many moving parts to planning a wedding and everything that goes along with it, so we’ll walk you through the biggest, most important things to book, plan for, and prioritize! We’re basically glorified Wedding Planners at this point since we help our couples not only MAKE their wedding day schedule, but also help them choose their wedding planners, makeup artists, venues, hair stylists, DJs, bands, bakers, caterers, rental companies, etc., so with 10 years of wedding experience under our belts, we can definitely help narrow down the key points in planning your wedding.
Prioritize your Wedding Vendors:
Many of the couples that we work with do actually prioritize their wedding photographer. We have a bias obviously, but your wedding photos ARE truly the only things that you’ll be keeping for a lifetime as a memento of your big day, celebration, and official/ legal commitment to one another. Many of our couples have tried to book us before they even chose their wedding date, wedding venue, or reception venue because they trust us, like us as people, love our photography style, love that we’re two of the highest formally educated (in professional photography & fine art photography) & experienced with 10 years in the business, and that we’re a real couple who busts our butts to make the day enjoyable, flow well, and keep our couples happy rather than stressed-! Even though we’d LOVE to be the first booked, we do need to at least have a FOR SURE wedding date. This is often influenced by an ideal ceremony spot, reception venue, or loved ones’ availability (and your availability/ work schedule and more)! For this reason we’ll base the priorities on these facts.
1) Choose and BOOK ceremony venue OR reception venue (whichever spot is more important to you) which will determine your SET WEDDING DATE.
2) BOOK YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER. We personally book weddings a year to two years in advance, so popular dates go quickly and even unpopular dates happen to overlap often (especially since we are in a college football town and football weekends are largely too busy and booked up for guests to even get hotels).
3) Book your wedding planner-! Though not a necessary cost, it IS something that none of our couples have ever regretted splurging on to help alleviate stress as they both work full-time jobs in their careers amidst other normal life commitments-!
4) If it’s not included with your venue, book the caterers & work your way toward choosing your food-!
5) Book your Band and/ or DJ-! DJs just like wedding photographers may be a one woman/ one man show, therefore book many DJ gigs in advance (especially weddings). Some DJs have many associates available.
6) Book your florist-! Believe it or not florists have to plan WELL in advance to have all of the flora that they need to fill out all of the bouquets and decor at both your ceremony and reception venues-!
7) Book your hair dresser and makeup artist-! There are a plethora of other weddings and events that hair stylists book up for, so the sooner you can book your wedding date with a hair dresser (or salon) and makeup artist, the better!
8) Book your baker-! Whether you want a traditional wedding cake, cupcakes, a tiny cake to cut and other desserts, or something else entirely (like pies!), then you need to book a baker-! Some folks are independent wedding cake makers while others specialize in pies, wedding desserts, or other things.
9) Book furniture, linen, dish, etc. rentals for any other necessary things that your venue doesn’t provide. These are often things that your venue will provide, but some of our couples specifically book their own vendors for these things to cut costs/ choose things in their own style,
10) Book your limo/ bus/ trolley/ whatever is getting you around for the day! MAKE SURE that these folks have an accurate schedule & addresses from the photographers so that they know when/ where to go. We had about 3 or 4 drivers in the past couple years royally mess up and have no idea where they were driving and not even refer to the time or GPS (thus making a bride late to her own ceremony, almost losing portrait time for the couples on their wedding day in a few instances, etc). Having a local driver that’s communicating well with the photographers (and has things already figured out/ in the GPS) is key.
11) Book any TRAVEL to your wedding if you are coming in by plane. Try to get in (land) at least 3 days before your wedding so that you don’t run into any flight issues.
***There are also many other things that you should also get going on planning and doing aside from booking these wedding vendors-! Here’s some of the list of what you should plan on booking and doing leading up to your wedding!
Other Things to Plan for Around the Wedding:
1) Your bachelorette & bachelor parties-! These don’t have to be crazy and could be instead a spa weekend, hiking, or other activities, but you want to plan a month and specific weekend well in advance to pick a weekend that works for all of your bridesmaids or groomsmen. If planning to have these things out of state, across the country, or abroad, it takes a lot of planning and coordination (most of which should fall onto the shoulders of your Maid of Honor/ bridesmaids and Best Man/ groomsmen) what with so many schedules to align and costs associated with getting tshirts, other goodies, lodging, and travel.
2) A date & location for your Bridal Shower. This is again important so that you can book a venue that works for your style and schedule (since venues may book up for birthdays, events, baby showers, etc). It’s also important for your guests to be able to block out that time to be able to attend AND get their gifts in advance.
3) A rehearsal dinner venue. Many folks put this off until the last second and venues are already booked or can’t accommodate the large group of you, so make sure to set this as a priority since you already know the date for the day before your wedding!
4) Register for Wedding Gifts-! These registry links are important to include on your wedding website, Save the Date cards, and invitations, so make sure that you register for gifts you may want! A popular thing over the past 3 or 4 years has been to ask for no physical gifts and instead ask for contributions to your honeymoon fund (adding fun side experiences and trips like skydiving, spa day, etc that can be paid for by guests as a gift) OR new life together! Some people also do the standard registries at B,B,&B, Target, etc. with the additional choice of contributing to honeymoon excursions or life expenses!
5) Your wedding website-! You should set this up prior to sending out your Save the Dates (and of course invitations) so that you can include this website on your Save the Dates-! Guests can keep checking back on the website for lodging suggestions, photos of you two (maybe from your Engagement Session and more-!), details that they may have forgotten, and your love story (if they don’t already know it)!
6) Your Save the Date cards to be designed, printed, addressed, and going out at least 5 to 6 months in advance and your Invitations to go out about 2 months before your wedding!
Things to Pre-Plan for the Wedding Day:
1) Your wedding day schedule & family photo checklist. Your Wedding Planner, DJ, venues, and Wedding Photographer will all have input on this schedule, but ultimately it’s up to you to make sure that there is one and that someone (such as the photographer) is keeping track of it during the wedding day.
2) Tips for those in the service industry who are physically doing a service for you (hair stylist, makeup artist, photographer, etc).
3) Meals for the vendors working over 5 hours straight. In our contract as wedding photographers we say that if we’re working over 5 to 7 hours straight, that we need to be fed (lest we pass out after photographing for 10 to 11 hours straight on our feet in heat).
4) Who will be setting up/ removing decor and WHEN. We’ve mentioned this before in a previous blog post about choosing your wedding reception venue, but in general you need to know when you’re allowed to set up for your wedding (dates/ times), who will be in charge of that, and when you have to have everything removed from your ceremony and reception venues by (and who will be doing that/ when). Some venues will charge additionally if this isn’t done on time, so it’s important to designate loved ones or people who work at the venue to do this.
5) Make sure one or two people are designated to assist with your train and ensure that someone helps remember to put the boutonnières on the men.
Post-Wedding Check List:
About 7 months ago Steve from the car dealership Andy Mohr Buick GMC down in Fishers, Indiana (a suburb of Indianapolis) emailed us this great infographic that they made for couples to work their way through after their wedding day-! We love this, so we wanted to share it-! Full credit to the team at andymohrgmcbuick.com (Facebook page: facebook.com/andymohrbuickgmc ) for these helpful tips-!
We hope that these four checklists were helpful to you and your wedding or for the wedding of your loved one-! Feel free to send this along to anyone getting married or print this off as a checklist in order to make sure that you’re staying on track and haven’t forgotten the crucial details of your wedding-!
**Within these 24 hours mid-week we have 3 Wedding Consultations for 2020 weddings (in addition to the consultations we had here in our Consultation Office over the weekend) and we’ve also still been printing and shipping printed wedding photo orders throughout the week (with the furthest order over this past week going to Boston). This month we’re heading to Arizona (by way of Sedona, Scottsdale, Phoenix, and more), so we’re excited to photograph there and are finishing up editing final wedding photos & spring wedding consultations prior to heading out there-! Next Weekly Wednesday’s blog post will be an April Wedding Anniversary blog post of some of our past couples’ wedding anniversaries that we can’t wait to look back on-!
We’re so happy to be in the midst of Spring already and are looking forward to so many more of our upcoming couples’ Spring weddings-! The weddings this Spring will be at gorgeous locations such as lakes in Michigan, The Armory, the University of Notre Dame, The Oliver Mansion/ History Museum of South Bend, the historic St. Casimir (a historic Polish Catholic church now with huge Mexican roots/ Spanish masses), and more! Our couples just this Spring will be coming in from Chicago (IL), New York, Tennessee, California, elsewhere in Indiana, and more-! This Spring we are also capturing so many Engagement Sessions from Chicago to Indianapolis to Valporaiso to Michigan and we cannot wait for these as well! This Spring is our busiest in 10 years of wedding photography and we’re just so excited for all of the diverse couples that we get to capture within the next couple months! Keep checking back all Spring for these wonderful folks on our Weekly Wednesday blog posts and we hope you have a wonderful rest of your week/ upcoming weekend-!