As a bride planning her own wedding, I paid particular attention to the events of the day–the schedule. I called it the itinerary. My groom’s parents made fun of me for it; they’d never really had a traditional American wedding for any of their children so they didn’t know how important it was to get all the deets in order. It is, obviously, very important. As a wedding photographer, I spend a great deal of time working on the wedding day timeline for each of my brides. A good timeline helps get you to everything on time and helps ensure you get the photographs and moments that you want to get on this all-important day.
Creating a great wedding day timeline is truly an art form. I’ve honed the process over the years; with each bride, I’ve improved the process a bit. Or a lot. Wedding photographers have a varying level of involvement in creating the wedding day timeline. I pretty much told my wedding photographer what was happening and when. It worked out just fine. For my brides, I gather as much detail as possible from the bride and groom, run it through a magic information decipherer, and then put together an amazing spreadsheet rough draft for the bride to review and approve.
Questions to ask when creating your wedding day timeline
Do we want to see one another for the first time before the ceremony or during the ceremony?
This is the first big question that defines the schedule of your big day. And this decision is really personal and depends on who the two of you are as individuals and as a couple. Are you two distracted by or intimidated by being in front of others? Do you find it difficult to express moments during important moments? If your answer to either of these questions is “yes,” then you might opt for a first look.
On the other hand: Is tradition important to you? Do you prefer to keep special moments in their traditional place? If so, you might opt for a ceremony first look.
How many pictures do you anticipate wanting?
If mass pictures your goal on your wedding day–plenty of family groupings, tons of wedding party hangout time, and lots of party pics–you might want to be sure to space out your events accordingly. For instance, plan for your guests to have snacks to munch on while you gather your groups together for the appropriate time. We’ve all been to weddings where we waited for what seemed like forever for the bride and groom to show up to the reception. When we had food, the impatience was assuaged–music and food made the wait even easier!
I tell my brides to expect each family gathering to expect at least 3 minutes for each family gathering. And more time with bridal parties equates to more images delivered of the bridal party. When putting together the wedding day timeline, keep this timing in mind so that you can set realistic expectations for your photographer, yourself, and your wedding party.
How far apart are your desired photography locations from your venue(s)?
Some brides have an all-in-one venues, complete with scenic backdrops for photography, a ceremony location, and a party room. These brides don’t have to plan much more than a flight of stairs between events on the wedding day.
If you are traveling between the ceremony location and the reception venue, be sure to allow time for that in your timeline. If you want to go to a specific location for your bridal party pictures or your bride and groom pictures, make sure you have ample time–with a little cushion in case there’s traffic. I’ve even had a bride use Uber to commute from a getting ready location to the ceremony reception.
Do you want getting ready pictures taken? Which getting-ready images do you want?
If you’re looking for the iconic hairspray pictures, you’ll want to be sure you’ve contracted enough hours for your photographer to capture that moment. When will it happen? Ask your hair stylist. Will your make-up be done within the hours you’ve contracted your photographer? Double-check with both.
If you’re not interested in too many getting-ready pictures, you might consider having your photographer capture the final details of getting ready: your mother lacing up the dress, attaching your “something old” earrings, grandma putting on your “something borrowed” bracelet, your sister carefully placing your tiara. This can usually take 15 to 30 minutes to complete.
This is one of the big things to bring up to your photographer during the initial contact or a month or two before your wedding day.
What reception events do you care about?
When planning your reception, keep in mind when your photographer’s coverage ends. The best idea is to front-load your events: cake cutting, dinner prayer, first dances, etc. Obviously, dinner is in there; but you’ll get far more events covered if they are front-loaded. And, honestly, after a while, dance party pictures all look the same. Keep this in mind when planning your wedding day timeline.
How long is your ceremony?
Most of my brides have Protestant ceremonies, which last about a half hour or so. But if your wedding is a Catholic wedding, the ceremony may last significantly longer. Personally, I pause photography coverage about 45 minutes before the ceremony; this chunk of time is important for transitioning, last-minute detail shots, and for a little padding in case Mom is running late or you hit traffic.
How important is it that you have detail shots of your wedding day?
I love detail shots! They really do convey your personalities and the atmosphere of the day. If you love detail shots as much as I do, you should be sure to allow for that in your schedule. For instance, if you want pictures of your dress, be sure to allow time for the photographer to snag your dress before you dress; the more detail shots you want, the more loosely you’ll want to set up your wedding day timeline.
The average American wedding in America was around $32,000 in 2015. Thirty-two thousand! To me, this sounds crazy. Is it even possible to have a debt-free wedding?
If you have ever planned a wedding, you know that the cost adds up quickly. A typical American wedding seems to require at least one venue–sometimes two– in addition to a photographer, food, entertainment, flowers, an officiant, fancy clothing, jewelry, gifts, favors, a rehearsal party, and lodging. Then there are options that many soon-to-be-wed couples tack on: videography, a photobooth, websites, a wedding planner, and even special transportation.
I know that, when I was planning my wedding, I didn’t have, like, any money. And, at least at the beginning, I was paying fo the whole shebang by myself. But we got through planning and executing an amazing day with very little debt.
You can do it too.
Debt-Free Wedding: How To
I’m not going to lie. Having a debt-free wedding will not be the easiest thing you’ve ever done in your life. Think about it this way: You will likely be working the hours to make up for the money saved. If you’re okay with that, then go for it. If you’re not, then you may want to reconsider your endeavor. But, seriously, I encourage you to work for it. You’ll be glad you did after the flowers die, the food is digested, and all that remains is your memories. No debt–just memories. Doesn’t that sound lovely?
Tip 1: Acknowledge your strengths and weaknesses
Admitting we have a weakness is not easy. But if we’re honest with ourselves, we will save ourselves stress, heartache, and maybe even sleepless nights. Honest self-reflection can allow you to save money without you, instead, losing your flippin’ mind during the entire wedding-planning process.
Personally, I don’t like admitting that I am no good at pulling triggers. I am so glad my man is a trigger-puller. I’d have all sorts of plans in process without anything actually happening if I didn’t have someone to make sure I completed the task.
But your weakness may not be the same as mind. Maybe you’re seriously no good at calligraphy; don’t set yourself up for the kind of stress that is failing at something when you could have been honest with yourself about your shortcomings. Just don’t. Maybe you’re no good at planning an actual wedding ceremony. Don’t let your wedding ceremony suffer; find someone to help you organize that day’s goings-on. You won’t regret it.
On the other hand, if you’re really good at making slideshows, by all means: Do it! Especially if you are engaged for a while; this is one of the things you can do early in your engagement and have it knocked out early. Maybe you’re really good at creating centerpieces; many brides enjoy these sorts of crafts and do them in front of the television on weeknights so they can check them off the list.
Be honest with yourself. It’s not worth saving money if you’ll lose it over cake flavors or the reception favors.
Tip 2: Find out who can pay for what
After the new bling on your finger has settled in and the planning begins, sit down with all parties involved–individually, if necessary–and find out what or if they are willing to contribute to the joyous occasion. Maybe your future mother-in-law has only sons and would love to help pay for your flowers. Perhaps your man’s parents can’t float the dough to pay for a rehearsal dinner. Maybe your parents will totally float the bill for your reception. Find out these deets as soon as possible so you can plan your financial obligations appropriately.
Tip 3: Adjust your expectations
Depending on how the money talk goes, you may have to adjust your expectations concerning your big day. If no one feels they can contribute anything to your big day, you may be a little bummed. But think of it this way: What’s important is that you are married to this awesome human being by the end of the day. This may mean scaling down the big day–particularly parts of it that are more costly.
What’s important to you? Do you need a big party or would a medium one suffice? Maybe even a destination wedding would save you in the long run.
You may even get amazing and unexpected news that someone will contribute in a way that allows you to really save some cash and then you can even splurge on something you never thought you’d be able to have.
Either way, take a step back from the excitement and focus on what’s important: Starting your life together. Because, when you know, you want forever to start right now–or as soon as possible.
Tip 4: Delegate it and forget it
This one may be the toughest thing to do ever. Maybe. This also depends on the type of people who surround you. Search for those in your trusted circle who are reliable and willing to offer. If they offer to help with specific things, try to make that work. If they offer in general, which many people may do, keep a list of those who offer and those who you trust. It’s important to tune into the trustworthiness of a person. The last thing you want it to think you’ve saved money only to find out that you have to shell out some clams at the last minute to buy flowers or favors or centerpieces.
It’s important to tune into the trustworthiness of a person. The last thing you want it to think you’ve saved money only to find out that you have to shell out some clams at the last minute to buy flowers or favors or centerpieces. Or, worse, you may trust the person but find out that they are not really good at what they’re offering. And your centerpieces look like junk or don’t even match your preferences.
Tip 5: Ask vendors about payment plans
You might be surprised that a lot of wedding vendors–photographers, caterers, etc.–are open to payment plans. For some reason, we don’t always advertise this. Hm. But most of us are delighted to accept a payment plan. For us, it’s a steady, reliable source of income. And, essentially, we set up payment plans so that we are paid in full by the original final payment date, anyway, so it still works for us and helps you as you navigate the finances of wedding-planning.
Honestly, all of your vendors start spending money and time on your big day almost as soon as you book with them; that’s why we usually have some sort of retainer fee. So, depending on the vendor, you may find a payment plan much easier to process than the typical larger chunks.
Debt-Free Wedding: Final thoughts and warnings
Sometimes, on our quest to manage wedding day finances, we skimp on things that aren’t cool to skimp on. You might think I’m going to talk about photography, but I’m going to surprise you.
Don’t forget about all of the people who are spending money, traveling, and spending a ton of time on your wedding. Be generous in your gifts for them: whether it is time, service, tangibles, or words. People want to feel appreciated. Hopefully they are not loving you so you’ll give them something but don’t let them begin to regret offering to throw you a shower, buying that dress that they could have done without, or driving hours to help you or even just to be in your wedding. Be sure you budget for generous gift-giving to those who are sacrificing for your big day.
Remember: The goal is to only get married once. Make it a wedding you won’t regret and be sure it’s a day you enjoy!
It’s 2015! What better way to bring in the new year than to share good news, eh?
In 2013, I won an amazing promotional video package from Angie and Andrea at the iHeartFaces conference in Central Ohio. Andrea and Angie are in the process of starting up their video business: The Picture Show.
Anyway, a couple months ago, we finished with the filming and after a few weeks of processing, it was handed over to me!
I’m so excited to present to you my promotional video!
A huge thank-you goes out to Kim and Ray, who were amazingly supportive of this video; they allowed Andrea to tag along with me as I shot their wedding and even showed up in a cold, rainy day to let them Angie and Andrea film me taking pictures of them again! So unbelievably thankful for you two!
For a while now, I’ve been
whining to wrestling with Jesus about how I want to do more with my photography skills to glorify Him.
I’ve loved working to help create artwork for Oasis Christian Community for a few years now and, most recently, I’ve helped a little with Grandview Christian Assembly‘s sermon art.
On top of this, I’ve yearned to explore my creativity and how it can be used for more churches to share the gospel and bring people closer to Christ.
My oh-so-amazing husband pointed me to their site to help with current and future sermon projects and I fell in love.
Then, I saw that a person could apply to be a contributor. I reviewed the information and began to feel elated.
I gathered some stock photos I’d taken recently for GCA and put them in my online portfolio and filled out the quick contributor application.
And then I waited.
But not for too long.
Within a few days I received an email saying that I was accepted as a partner.
I immediately started uploading pictures and today, I feel like it is official, as I had a Skype meeting with one of the founders, Joshua Bailey. It was great to meet him and I still feel so honored to have been accepted.
I’m incredibly excited to share my work with churches everywhere and to continue improving my craft to glorify Jesus. Feel free to check out my collection.
Today, I would like to officially announce that I have successfully imported the posts from my blog from way back.
It was my first blog.
And it was epic.
Well, some of it was boring to the epic degree. But I have hidden those until I can go through them and approve them for your consumption.
However, the two most interesting categories fell into the “When Series” and “Reflections.” I’m calling this “The Vintage Blog” and I’m a little nervous you’ll hate it.
I mean, I used to just pour my heart out onto my keyboard.
So, this is just my real person, heart-on-my-sleeves kinda deal.
So, yeah, be kind, but let me know what you think!
Love conditionally [like, as in, only if you like my old writings],
Well, it was only halfway an accident. Last night, I changed the look of this blog.
I had been considering it for a while and as I was looking through the possible themes offered by my blogging service, I clicked a button that I thought would ask me to see the preview with my selected colors. Instead, it changed my theme. I sort of took it as a sign from God. (Not really.) I went with it.
Aside from a few tweaks, I’m hoping this will be a permanent look.
I’m trying to embrace change. Failing, but working on it. More on that later.
Anyway, I also created a new page that will house my portfolio. I will still be blogging here and showing pictures (a wedding should be posted soon!), but I’ve moved my pricing to the portfolio page, which is linked in the new menu above.
This is simpler, cleaner, and kind of matches my portfolio page. Check it out! Let me know what you think.
Attempting to be flexible,