Wright Photography and Video Wedding Tips and Advice
He finally proposed, and you said yes! Now it’s time to make plans. This page was created for all the new brides out there who are excited about their wedding day but may have questions on what to do before you say "I do." This was written based on what we have learned from past experiences at weddings. We hope you find the information useful.
I said, "Yes!" Now what?
Great! I know you are both happy and ready to prepare for your big day. First things first: When will you have your wedding? Almost all weddings are on Saturdays, although we have had a few weddings on other days of the week. Choosing a day several months away will allow your guests plenty of time to plan their schedules around your big day. Your wedding date will coincide with your Honeymoon plans (although some choose to take a Honeymoon at a later date). Do you want a Fall getaway to the mountains or a warm trip to the beach? Consider both the Honeymoon destination and season of the year when planning your wedding day.
What time of day should I have my wedding?
When determining the time for your ceremony, consider these factors:
- It often takes several hours for you and your bridesmaids to get hair and makeup done. All too often, we have seen brides running behind because hair/makeup was not finished at the expected time due to unforeseen delays, and then when things are running behind, the bride gets stressed out. Allow plenty of time to get ready. A good rule of thumb is to add an extra hour to whatever time frame you already had planned.
- Will you be having a first look? Seeing each other prior to the ceremony will allow time to get most, if not all, photos done. After the ceremony, you will be able to go straight to the reception. If you choose the traditional route and don’t see each other until the ceremony, allow at least 30-45 minutes after the ceremony for pictures. Of course, we can do all the bridal photos and groom photos separately before the wedding, and then after you say "I do," we can finish with the larger group pictures.
- What type of reception will you have? Do you plan to have hors d'oeuvre or provide a full-course meal? This will depend on the time of day you have the reception. If it is held in mid-afternoon (2:00pm to 4:00pm) guests will not be anticipating a full meal but would like to have some type of food. If the reception is held later in the day (4:30pm to 7:00pm), guests will be expecting a meal.
In summary, plan your day to allow enough time to complete the hair and makeup, photos, and the appropriate time for the reception based on the type of food you will be serving.
Wedding planning is stressful! Should I elope?
Some brides want to "go all out" and make it a very memorable day of celebration with decorations, ushers, a full course meal, an open bar, a DJ, and many other things. Others don’t want to deal with the stress and costs of planning the wedding, so they choose to have a private, low-cost ceremony with close family. This is your wedding so it is your choice. Our photo/video packages can accommodate the smallest to the largest of weddings, and everything in-between.
Where should I have my wedding?
Weddings have traditionally been held in churches, and it is still a popular option. However, many choices have become available more recently. Event barns, banquet halls, lake sides, and beaches have grown in popularity. When choosing your venue, keep these tips in mind:
- Space: Does the venue have enough room for all the guests to sit? Is it handicap accessible? Do they have ample parking? Are there separate, large rooms for you and the groom to get ready? Is there a romantic setting available if you are doing a first-look?
- Costs: When considering your budget, many venues have a wide range of costs that usually start in the thousands. When setting your budget, prioritize what is most important to you. Are you looking for a rustic barn, a lakeside gazebo, or something simple outside? Does the venue have the necessary accommodations like a kitchen for the caterer, rooms for the party to get dressed in, parking, and space? Find out what the vendor will provide (chairs, tables, flower trellis). Some venues charge by the day, so if you have a wedding and reception that lasts late into the night, the entire venue will have to be cleaned up and reset before the next day starts. Otherwise you could be charged for an additional day. Also, venues often require a deposit and list of rules to follow. You may be held liable for any damage caused by guests. If money is an issue, churches usually rent their buildings for a low cost. If you attend that church, chances are it will be available to you for free.
Should I choose a traditional wedding or "first look?"
The traditional wedding day is arranged so the bride and groom do not see each other until the bride walks down the aisle at the ceremony. Photos of all the bridal party and groomsmen can be done before the ceremony, but arrangements have to be made so the bride and groom don’t see each other while taking the photos. After the wedding ceremony, the bride and groom’s photos will be done. The traditional wedding has the element of surprise—when the groom sees his bride all dressed up as she walks down the aisle, it is an emotional event for both of them.
The first look is a more modern trend. It's arranged where the bride and groom will see each other before the ceremony in a private setting. After the bride and groom are ready, the groom will stand somewhere with his back to the bride. The bride will then approach from behind, tap him on the shoulder, and he will turn around to see her dressed up. This is also a very emotional time for the couple. Sometimes the couple exchanges a gift after seeing each other. We have also seen where the groom won’t see the bride, but the bride will see the groom while he has a blindfold on. Regardless of how the first look is done, the photographer can begin taking pictures of them, the bridal party, and family, and most of the pictures can be done before the ceremony so that the reception can start on time. This helps with the time frames of the day, but our company can accommodate either option.
What are some special things I can consider during the wedding?
We have seen many weddings. Candle ceremonies are common where there are two small taper candles and one large candle. The two tapers are lit by the mothers of both bride and groom at the beginning of the ceremony. Later, the bride and groom take their respective taper candles and together light the larger candle, and then they blow out the taper candles. This symbolizes the joining of a new union. Other options we have seen are sand jars where there are two colors of sand, and the bride and groom together pour their own sand into a larger jar creating a beautiful array of color and design. One couple used a cross that is assembled by the minister as he inserts three pegs to secure the pieces. Another couple braided together a strand of three cords. There are other options, but we do recommend you create some type of keepsake for the wedding.
In addition to keepsakes, another thing to consider is the music. Do you want to have singers or just play music over the speaker system? We have often seen a memorial table containing pictures of deceased relatives. Sometimes an empty seat will be left in the ceremony with the name of the deceased and perhaps a picture or flower.
Also, considering giving a gift to your new spouse. We have seen brides give a photo album of boudoir photos to the groom. Another option is to write personal letters to each other to read before the ceremony (this looks great on video!). Any type of special, personal keepsake can be used to help commemorate your big day.
How long should the ceremony be?
This is up to you and the groom. We have seen ceremonies last about five minutes and some last over an hour and a half. What do you want during the ceremony? Do you want the minister to give a religious explanation about marriage and unity? The length sometimes depends on the traditions of a religious denomination. Or, do you want to have it simple where the minister announces your intentions on joining a union of husband and wife? Will there be special songs or cultural traditions performed? Most weddings we have been to last between 15 and 30 minutes.
What is the typical order of events in the ceremony?
We have generally seen variations of the following format for weddings:
- An usher or the groom will first seat the grandparents. A special song is usually played at that time.
- The mothers are seated next. Similar to the grandparents, a special song is played and the usher or groom will seat them on the front row.
- The groom enters with the minister from the back of the building or from a side room. Sometimes the groomsmen enter with him, and if that is the case, they usually have a special song played.
- The bridesmaids enter next, and they also have a special song. Sometimes they enter one-by-one; at other times they are escorted by a groomsman. If the groomsmen do not escort them, then the groomsmen will have already arrived to stand next to the groom.
- Next, the ring bearer(s) enters from the back of the church.
- Following the ring bearer, the flower girl(s) enter from the back of the church. There are times when they arrive with the ring bearer. Their song will usually be the same as the bridesmaid’s song.
- The audience is asked to stand. The bride then enters from the back with her father, and a new song is played.
- After the bride has come to the end of the aisle, the minister will ask, "Who gives permission for this woman to be married to this man?" The father or significant figure who escorted the bride will say, "Her mother and I.” The groom then meets her and escorts her back to the altar, and the ceremony continues.
- The minister will talk about marriage. During this time the vows will be said, the couple will light the candles, pour sand into a jar, or create some other type of keepsake item for their wedding day. Then, the minister will have the groom kiss the bride, and they will be announced husband and wife.
- After this, the couple will walk arm-in-arm down the aisle and the bridal party will follow. If you have ushers at the wedding, they will escort the grandparents and mothers back.
- The couple and bridal party then form a line in an open area of the venue and are greeted by guests. This is known as the "receiving line."
Where should I have my reception?
As previously discussed in "Where should I have my wedding," space and costs are the biggest consideration. If you choose to have your reception at a different location, consider this:
- Location: How far from the ceremony venue is the reception venue? Will guests have to drive a great distance? Is it easy to find?
- Space: Is there enough parking? Are there enough tables and chairs for all the guests? If there will be dancing, is there a dance floor? Will there be the necessary accommodations for the caterer (kitchen, room for buffet, room for guests to line up, etc.)?
- Costs: There is a big market for reception venues, as is the case with private ceremony venues. Remember there will be a deposit, rules to follow, liabilities, and time restrictions.
What is the typical order of events in the reception?
We have generally seen this format for receptions:
- The DJ plays music chosen by the couple while the guests arrive and are seated. The guests are offered a salad or hors d'oeuvres to eat while they wait.
- The bridal party arrives and they are announced as they enter the room.
- The bride and groom are announced next as they enter the room.
- The bridal party starts the buffet line, then the guests line up behind them.
- After eating, the bride and groom have their first dance.
- Then, the bride and her father dance.
- Next, the groom and his mother dance.
- The maid of honor gives a speech to the couple.
- The best man gives a speech to the couple.
- The bride and groom cut the cake and feed each other.
- The bride and groom intertwine their arms while they share a drink.
- The bride throws her bouquet to all the single women.
- The groom removes the bride’s garter and throws it to the single men.
- After all these traditions, the dance floor is open and the party continues.
Do you have any other helpful advice?
- Delays: From our experience in weddings, it is always the case that something causes things to run behind. From hair and makeup being late, to family members running behind, to someone searching for an article of clothing…there is always a delay. These cause unnecessary stress to the bride. Allow extra time in your day for the preparation and ensure everyone knows beforehand what time they need to be at the venue to get dressed and prepare for pictures. A check list is always helpful.
- Shoes: A beautiful dress is not complete without matching shoes. However, we have seen where the bride is in pain from the shoes, and as we go walking to do pictures, her feet hurt and the expression on her face shows it. While you can choose to wear nice shoes during the ceremony and photos, it would be a good idea to bring some flip-flops or sandals for when you have to walk significant distances for outdoor photos. There is a new trend of doing rustic weddings where the bride wears boots, so this would be a comfortable alternative. We've also seen bejeweled tennis shoes and sandals with bows, gems and pearls.
- Stress: We have seen otherwise friendly brides become a "bridezilla" due to unforeseen problems. At almost every wedding we have been to (including our own in 2008), something has gone wrong. Although it’s often very minor, it can cause unnecessary stress. Just remember, when things go wrong, you are making memories. Let it be a fun day and don’t sweat the small stuff. Your wedding will happen regardless of the little nuances. Have fun at your wedding and enjoy the celebration.
Do you have any money saving tips?
Our business was created to help people on a budget, but that’s not to say we have not worked high-budget weddings. We know what it is like to live paycheck-to-paycheck, and the great costs of a wedding can really set a person back. A couple should not start a marriage in debt. Here are a few suggestions to help save money.
- Venue: Renting an event center for your wedding will cost a great amount in comparison to renting a church. If you attend the church where you want to get married, you may be able to use it free of charge. Also, your minister may perform the ceremony for free, although it would be respectful to give him a monetary gift in return.
- Food: Some brides choose to have the meal catered, but to save money, make arrangements with both families to have a potluck. That helps even out the costs for food, and a home-cooked dish is always appetizing.
- Music: While some hire a DJ to play music during the reception, you could instead play music for free by using your phone or laptop’s music library and playing through a Bluetooth speaker or hooking it into the venue’s sound system.
- Decorations: Local home decor and crafting stores offer frequent sales on their silk flowers. The big name crafting stores almost always have a weekly coupon for 40% off one item (or a variation of that), so as you plan your wedding, use the coupon once a week to get an item on sale. You could also have a friend or relative do the same for you. It is best to have the company’s app on your phone so as to easily access the coupon and keep track of sale items. Some companies offer rentals, and this is cheaper instead of buying decorations that you will never use again. Some venues will provide the decorations as part of their package.