On the most beautiful Saturday in April, I married my best friend. I sat down my camera & picked up a bride's bouquet. Instead of wearing black & running around behind the scenes, I wore white & the loveliest lace veil.
As someone who is in the wedding industry, I thought I knew a good bit. Wrong. I was wrong. There was so much that I didn't know. For example, how much food it takes to feed 150 people or how many options there are for table linens. And now I know why it takes a bride a few days to respond to emails, we've got a lot of things going on. Meeting with other vendors, working a full-time job, trying to sweat for the dress & make time for your fiance. I understand so much more now.
So, today, I wanted to share with you my experience as a bride & provide a few takeaways that might help a future bride in the process too. Below you will find 10 tips that will hopefully help you in planning your big day!
TEN TIPS from a Photographer who became a Bride
1. Hire a wedding professional planner and/or coordinator. I get it, you've got Pinterest & you know what you want to do; but trust me a professional will guarantee that your vision will come true. As a photographer, it pains me to see someone asking the bride logistical questions the day of or the mom on her phone trying to find out where the flowers are when her daughter slips on her dress. She's missing that moment! Trust me hiring a professional is worth it, even if it's just for the day of.
2. Make it your own, not a Pinterest board. Goodness, I sound like I hate Pinterest. I promise I do not. I used it as a launch pad. For instance, what colors should I use? Oh this is a beautiful gown, let me save this image for inspiration. Or cute ways to ask my nephews to be 'ring bearers'. Ways we made 04/28/18 our own? We allowed everyone from our bridal party to purchase their own attire. Each tie was different & every dress flattered each girl.
Our families are both big reasons why we are here today & so we wanted to highlight them in a special way. So being the wedding photographer that I am, we took photos from their wedding days & displayed them. I also knew that I wanted to honor my dad who passed away eight years ago in happy ways not sad ones. I wrapped my bouquet with the collar of my dad's shirt so that he'd be there holding my hand every step down the aisle & at the reception shared a dance to the Temptations' "My Girl" with all the dads/daughters in attendance. Little touches that make your wedding day unique to you & no one else.
3. An Engagement Session is key. I am a photographer for a reason, I prefer to be behind the camera. And when you do get me in front of it, it's like I forget what to do with my hands or to smile naturally. I always encourage my clients to do an engagement session because it allows them to become comfortable in front of the camera before their wedding day. Ya'll, it's so true. My husband, Richard, even said so, too. "I was actually able to enjoy the moment versus focusing on whether I was doing the pose correctly.”
4. No rules, it’s your day. If you want three cakes, have three cakes. If you don't want to toss the bouquet or garter, don't.
Confession: I always thought I wanted to elope or at least have some sort of destination wedding. But, the more I thought about our "perfect" wedding day, the more I wanted to celebrate my marriage to Richard in our city. He grew up in Mobile & I have lived here for 10 years. Mobile is home. So we decided to have a small intimate ceremony with just our immediate families & bridal party a few hours before hosting a large reception at The Pillars of Mobile, Alabama. Again, no set rules my friend.
5. Be flexible. I am not the most adaptable person, but when things don't go as planned you just have to go with the flow & make it work a different way. Rain might change your ceremony from outside to inside. Hair & makeup may take longer than anticipated. So my best advice: remain calm, trust your photographer who added that buffer of time into your portrait timeline & be okay with taking bridal party portraits after the ceremony.
6. Eat! I always tell my brides to eat because no one likes a hangry bride & then I turned into one! (*Let this be my formal apology to Elizabeth, Allyson, Cheree & Bryan.). Being the Chick-fil-A addict that I am, I had breakfast catered for my girls & I as we got our hair done that morning. Then for lunch ordered sandwich trays from Publix for us & the groomsmen. Unfortunately, I didn't have time to grab a sandwich before stepping into my dress...not my best moment. By the time the ceremony was over & we were taking pictures, I started to get hangry. Our original plan was to eat before being announced at our reception but we were a little late due to pictures. (Y'all, golden hour was just too pretty to miss; so happy we got those gorgeous portraits in Washington Square. They are some of my favorite from the entire day!) So as soon as we got to our reception venue we were announced, shared our first dance & then went into a private area to eat while our guests enjoyed brunch for dinner as well. Ten minutes of sitting down to eat allowed us a moment to ourselves before interacting with our guests & gave us fuel for all the dancing!
7. Make time for a Mother/Daughter Date. Girls, your sweet momma has probably dreamed of this day since she first held you in her arms. During the week of my wedding, my mom & I checked into the Battlehouse Spa for an afternoon. And it was just what the both of us needed. Time to relax & not worry about running errands. Time to chat & soak up the big life changes that were taking place soon. Because as soon as your bridesmaids roll into town, you hit the ground running. So set aside some time the week of your wedding for your mom, whether that is a spa day or a coffee date.
8. Remember your vendors. I am not saying this because I am one. But now that I've been on the other side of camera, I know how hard they work to make your day the absolute best. Sure tips are appreciated but a simple "thank you so much for everything" can make their day too. I consider myself the luckiest bride because I surrounded myself with my dream team. They truly went above & beyond & am a forever grateful.
9. Pick your best friends to stand by your side. I cannot tell you the number of times I have heard "well I was in hers, so I have to ask her to be in mine too". No, absolutely not. You should always choose those who have supported you & will continue to throughout your marriage. Sure you were best of friends 10 years ago but did you call her when you knew you went on your last first date?? You need to surround yourself with friends who make you laugh, keep you calm & hold your ballgown when you have to potty! #weddingdayreality LOL
And most importantly...
10. On the day of, your only job is to get married. That’s it. I am a planner to my core & was a little stressed the week of my wedding. I just wanted everything to come together perfectly. And the reality is that months of planning are gone in simply 24 hours. So I knew when I woke up on April 28th that no matter what happened that day my only task was to get down that aisle to Richard. It was a day to soak in every moment & enjoy celebrating our love with all of those closest to us.
I can, in fact, say that it was the best day ever.
Shout out to all the vendors who made my wedding day the best!
Planner | Heather Pfefferkorn, Classic Events – The Pillars of Mobile
Getting Ready & Reception Venue | The Pillars of Mobile
Ceremony Location | Washington Square Park
Second Photographer | Jacob Bennett
Photographer’s Assistant | Allyson DeMouy
Caterer | Chef Rob Stephens
Florist | Sarah Beth’s Florist
Cakes | Cakes by Judi
Hair Stylist | Mallory Gleason, Root 43 Salon
Makeup Artist | Courtney Matthews
DJ | Jason Skelton, DJs by the Bay
Rental Company | SOHO Events & Rentals
Bride’s Gown | Bella’s Bridal & Formal, Birmingham
Groom’s Suit | Samuelsohn, Oak Hall, Memphis
Jeweler | Lou’s Jewelry
Custom Painting | Melissa Munger