Wedding Planning and Photography
Don’t allow poor planning, a bad photographer, or your lack of experience ruin your wedding and capturing all the memories. Knowing how your wedding should be planned and photographed will help you keep your memories alive and fresh.
erpbyalyson.com gathered information on planning your wedding and how to document your milestones through photography.
*** 12 Months Prior to Your Wedding ***
Create a Wedding Budget
The wedding-related decisions to be made over the next several months will be heavily influenced by the wedding budget you determine now.
You and your partner need to evaluate your finances and factor in any money that family and friends will gift you for the wedding.
Once you establish a budget, it is vital to stick to it. When all is said and done, you’ll want something left over rather than plunging into debt.
Choose Your Wedding Ceremony Date
Before moving forward with any planning, you must determine your wedding date. Look ahead and be mindful of family events (anniversaries, birthdays, reunions, religious occasions, etc.), holidays, sports or cultural activities, etc.
Choose a date that works for you, your family, and your friends (especially if you are having a destination wedding). With enough advance notice, your friends and family can rearrange their schedules (and travel plans) to be there for your special day.
Book the Wedding Ceremony and Reception Venues
After setting a date, it’s time to book your ceremony and reception venues. Procrastinating on this may reduce your options and leave you with something you may not want. Consider booking a venue that dually serves for the ceremony and your reception, eliminating any travel between the two.
Tip: Hire and consult your wedding photographer. They may know the details and operations of the venues you are choosing from (and may have examples of the photography taken at them). Your photographer can help you arrive at informed decisions.
Tip: If you are planning to hold your ceremony outside, special use or party permits may be required to use that land. Check with your local municipality.
Define Ceremony Participants and Guests
Decide who will participate in your wedding party and confirm their willingness to participate. These people help you maintain a sense of order and continuity throughout the planning process. They will also be the people supporting you as you marry your partner.
Work on your guest list. Create a spreadsheet with columns for 1. A mailing address, 2. Phone numbers, 3. RSVPs, and 4. Other relevant information (food restrictions, special needs, etc.).
Hire Vendors for Your Wedding
Wedding vendors tend to book up fast, up to a year in advance. Some of the vendors you should book include:
Videographer – Hiring a videographer allows you to relive your wedding day over and over. The professional video they produce can be shared online and with family and friends. You can also send copies to those unable to attend the wedding.
Note: You will need videography because the full effect of vows, toasts, and music can’t be fully expressed through photography alone.
Photographer – A professional wedding photographer knows which moments to capture with appropriate settings. A professional photographer also knows how to stay out of the videographer’s way.
Tip: Hiring a wedding photographer early in this process gives you access to ideas and information you may not have thought of during the planning process.
Florist – Consult wedding magazines and websites to visualize how you want your arrangements to look. Ask candidates if they can create the look and feel you want.
Caterer – Your caterer should be well-experienced in weddings and versatile enough to attend to any guest’s special needs or food restrictions.
Tip: Your wedding venue may have in-house catering or a recommended company.
Band or DJ – Hire a band or DJ that has experience playing at weddings and can play the styles of music appropriate for the culture, religion, and attendee’s general age group.
Tip: Read each contract before signing them. Make sure all the vital details (date, location, time, deposit, payments, etc.) are correct.
*** 9 Months Before Your Wedding ***
Assemble Food and Beverage Menus
Now is the time to consult your caterer to assemble your food and beverage menus. Take the following into consideration:
- Guests with food restrictions/allergies
- Adult and children’s menus
- Alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages
- What appetizers will be served
- How many and in what order each course will be served
Schedule a tasting that includes your partner and wedding party. You can choose which food and beverages work best together.
Tip: Invite your wedding photographer to the tasting (and other planning parties) to document the road to your nuptials.
Purchase Wedding Attire
It is essential to purchase your wedding attire early. This allows time to make alterations. You should schedule fittings – typically 2 or 3 for wedding dresses.
Reserve Guest Hotel Space
If you are having a destination wedding or expecting out-of-town guests, now is the time to reserve a block of hotel rooms and transportation to accommodate them.
Create a Wedding Website
Create a website that displays the date and time of your ceremony, travel information, recommended accommodations, and other information, photos, and videos you’d like to publish. Research the following free sites:
Tip: Choose a website that offers the tools that make your planning easier and more organized.
*** 6 Months Before Your Wedding ***
Plan Your Honeymoon
Planning on International travel? Verify your passports and make certain they will not expire while out of the country.
Tip: This is also the time to see your primary care physician to get any shots or medical clearances you may need.
Tip: Check for any international and local travel advisories by visiting travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel.html
Consult Your Wedding Officiant
Confirm that all necessary legal documents are in order for the wedding. These documents can vary by state, county, and religion.
Clothing for the Wedding Party
All dresses and suits need to be selected and ordered now. This allows five to six months for arrival, fitting, and tailoring. This also allows time to sort out any mis-shipments.
Invitations and Save-the-Dates
Acquire stock for your invitations and save-the-dates. If you want hand-written invitations, hire an experienced calligrapher now.
If your budget allows, you can have them made by a print shop with as much or as little detail as you like.
Tip: This is also the time to send out the save-the-date reminders.
*** 4 Months Before Your Wedding ***
Order the Wedding Cake
Before deciding on a baker, arrange several tastings. Popular bakers are generally in high demand. You should confirm their availability and hire them now.
Take your wedding shoes to your first fitting so your tailor can adjust the length for your look.
Wedding Hair and Makeup
Make appointments to see multiple hair and makeup artists. Take pictures of each of the results as a reference before deciding which to hire.
*** 3 Months Before Your Wedding ***
Finalize Food and Flowers
The availability of food and especially flowers, may be affected by the seasons. This is the time to finalize your wedding menu(s) and flower arrangements.
Once you settle on your menu, print them or have them printed.
Finalize the Order of Your Wedding Ceremony and Reception
Spend time with your partner, wedding party, and vendors to go over the sequence/timing of your ceremony and reception. Once you are satisfied with the order of events, print programs for attendees and all of your vendors.
Tip: Of your vendors, your photographer should be invited to actively participate in this process. Their knowledge of wedding proceedings and potential interruptions may prove to be priceless.
Purchase your wedding rings. Doing this now will give you adequate time to have them resized and/or engraved.
*** 2 Months Before Your Wedding ***
Contact Wedding Vendors
Call all of your vendors to go over their participation in your wedding. Any questions or doubts must be resolved now to avoid confusion on your wedding day.
3 Necessary Meetings
There are three meetings that must happen:
1. The DJ or Band – Coordinate the music to be played for each stage of your wedding. Bringing a playlist/wish list of specific songs would be helpful.
2. The Photographer – This meeting should take place at the wedding venue. Talk about the locations/backdrops that appeal most to you and what wedding shots you consider a priority.
3. The Videographer – You’ll want to do a complete walkthrough at the venue. Discuss the moments you want recorded and what visual effects you’d like included in your video’s final edit.
Mail Wedding Invitations
Mail your wedding invitations. Set a cutoff date for RSVPs (3 weeks after the postmark date).
*** 1 Month Before Your Wedding ***
Confirm Wedding Vendors
Contact vendors to confirm all arrival or delivery times. Make as many final payments as you can.
Get a Marriage License
Marriage licenses can take up to ten days to be issued; make sure you have enough time for this process. Order multiple copies of the official document; one will be required if you or your partner will be altering your name.
Schedule a Final Fitting
This is your last fitting. However, you can cancel this fitting if your dress still fits you perfectly.
Assign Seating Arrangements
You should now be able to assign guest seating arrangements. Make a detailed layout of the venue, then use sticky notes to place and arrange your guests.
*** Week of Your Wedding ***
Leading up to your wedding, the following should be your final tasks as you hand over any other duties to your wedding party:
- Send a timeline to the wedding party. Include all of their contact information and make a note of those you have assigned tasks
- Send your final guest list to the caterer, including any food restrictions for any guests
- Send the complete guest list to your venue(s)
- Book a spa day including a manicure, pedicure, and massage for the day before your wedding
- Pick up your suit or dress (or arrange for its delivery)
- Write checks for any vendors you have to pay
Your Wedding Day
The only things left for you are to get dressed, walk down the aisle, and get married!
In this article, you discovered a timeline and essential information to help you plan and document your wedding journey.
Making a plan far enough in advance with defined milestones will help you create the wedding of your dreams without the stress of short deadlines and undeliverable services.
Haphazardly piecing together the components of a wedding will result in an unpleasant spectacle leading to embarrassment and bad memories of what should be a magical day.