Top 10 Pieces of Wedding Advice (Part 2)

September 04, 2015

On Monday I stated this David Letterman-esque list of my wedding planning top 10 and you can see numbers 10-6, here.  On Monday I also said I would publish the rest by Tuesday and then on Tuesday I remembered that on Mondays I have a babysitter for my two fabulous boys.  On Tuesday I had reality instead, so we went to the zoo in the rain and had a grand old time.  

So here we are, Friday, and we'll kick it off with number 5 - 

5 - Like your photographer(s)

I have often said that one of the most important things about choosing a photographer is not their price or their willingness to photograph every Pinterest shot you requested or if they are your sister's best friend.  You 100% need to LIKE them.  Especially if you are the bride, your photographer is with you more than pretty much anyone else that day and all the published accolades and remarkable work will not count for much if, in the moments most precious, you don't like the person taking the photo.  

Obviously I would love it if you would choose me but I would rather someone walk away because we didn't click and they wanted a different personality than ate the photos, not because they aren't beautiful but because they knew it was taking them.  

We end up being schedule keepers, dress fluffers, bobby pin holders, lip gloss caddies and boutonniere pinners.  Photographers are constantly in your space, make sure your photog is a welcome guest.  
(Shout out to Adrien Craven Photography for these photos of me in my scrunch-faced element!)

4 - No free hard liquor - 

OK, so this one gets me a lot of boos for no booze (hehe) but I have more scary stories to back this one up than anything else.  I am a total proponent of having wine and beer available, a champagne toast and even a free signature cocktail during cocktail hour.  But the truth is, a night full of unlimited hard liquor leads to very few good things.  I have seen more vomiting groomsmen, blubbering bridesmaids and angry brides than I care to mention.  I have stories of inappropriate toasts that left the couple embarrassed or enraged and fathers unable to dance with their daughters because they couldn't stand.  My fellow wedding vendors and I have shared stories of car accidents and DUIs and tragic losses as people left the wedding without a designated driver.

These are sad stories and in my opinion, they totally trump any funny story or silly picture or the desire for a Jack & Coke.  People often argue "well people can get drunk on wine and beer,too."  And yes, that's totally true, but we all know that if we're honest with ourselves, hard liquor is different for most people and especially in large groups.  

So find some great craft beer, go wine tasting and make a date to pick some wines that totally reflect you.  You can even put together a large batch signature cocktail for cocktail hour.  But if you'd rather not have people remembering your wedding as "the time the groom passed out" or "the one where the bride's veil caught on fire" keep the hard liquor off the bar.
3 - Have a First Look - 

I have probably written about this so many times you're sick of hearing about it, but one of the most influential ways to make the day run smoothly is to have a first look.

You can read all about the reasons I think they're the best moment of the day, here.  But in a nutshell, you both look your best, the photos are almost 100% done beforehand so you don't have to keep guests waiting between the ceremony and the reception and you get to be as emotional and excited and blown away as you want to be instead of trying to collect yourself at the front of a room full of people.

And for those of you who feel like it will take away from the special surprise of waiting until the aisle to see each other, let me assure you of this, in bold letters: I have never once met a groom who saw his bride walk down the aisle and thought "meh, seen it" because they did a first look!!!

 2 - Have an Unplugged Ceremony - 

Oh technology, how we have a love/hate relationship with it.  I love my iPhone, way more than I should.  It is full of photos of my kids, videos of them giggling and reading books and singing The Itsy Bitsy Spider.  Usually at a wedding I'll pull it out and snap a quick pick of some really beautiful bouquet or sunset or cake or something, but that isn't what I'm paid for and in no way would that photo ever do justice to the quality expected and desired from hiring a professional photographer.

There are very few times in a wedding day when I put my job at the forefront, but the ceremony s one of them.  Obviously I'm not marrying the couple so I take a backseat to the officiant but those moments, walking down the aisle, the exchanging of rings, the lighting of candles and sealing it all with a kiss, beautifully documenting those moments is my job.  And having someone's iPhone, or iPad (which happens all the time) or heaven forbid, selfie-stick, pop out into the aisle immediately presents huge challenges in my ability to do my job.

And if you're a guest wanting photos, ask yourself this:  "Do I want this phone photo badly enough to ruin a moment the couple paid a professional photographer thousands of dollars to capture?"  The unplugged ceremony isn't about me as a photographer, but it is about my clients and respecting the investment they made in my work and by usurping the ceremony with your desire for a photo you aren't disrespecting me, you're disrespecting them.
 (The photographer who took this photo has asked not to have their name used because of the amount of unkind traffic it drew to her site.)

Encourage your guests to be present for your ceremony, to put their cameras and phones down and exchange a blurry photo of your first kiss for completely unhindered applause.

Here we go, my 100% all time best piece of wedding advice:

1 - Make sure you're having a wedding for a marriage and not a marriage for a wedding.

Marriage is hard work, the kind of work that never leaves, that always keeps you on your toes and even though it gets easier over time, time brings changes so the work need to adapt.  If you are busy planning a wedding and you haven't taken time to plan your marriage, things are going to get rough.

Like I said in point #10, go to pre-marital counseling, go on dates that have nothing to do with your wedding planning and if you have doubts and fears, speak them in love and bring them to light.  I'm not in the business of suggesting weddings don't take place, but it is a lot easier to cancel a wedding than it is to cancel a marriage.
I am madly in love with my husband of 7 years.  We've been together for just over a decade and I couldn't imagine, nor do I choose to imagine, doing this life without him.  He is funny and charming and good looking and all those thing that had me falling head over heels from the get-go.  But that wasn't the love that lasts through financial hardship and sleepless nights up with two kids and my busy season and the fact he has to be at church at 7am every Sunday, effectively cutting our weekends short.  Our love remembers its history, plans its future and knows its boundaries.  We talk about it, we argue about it, we laugh about it and we cry about it.  And if how I felt on the day he asked me to be his girlfriend, or the day he proposed or our wedding was truly the most I would have ever loved him, our love would have failed.

So if what you really want is a great big party with a fancy dress and lots of presents, throw yourself a birthday party and tell the guests that there will be wine and food and dancing and that they should bring gifts.

If what you really want is the relentless pursuit of giving yourself fully to another person and having them do the same and the commitment to building a home based on an economy of love and grace and selflessness, then fire up that Pinterest board honey, we've got work to do!

(Honorable mention in pieces of advice go to the following:

  • Create a "Do not play" list for your DJ or you're bound to end up with enough Sir Mix-a-Lot to make you sick.
  • Spring for professional hair and make-up, I wish I had.
  • Surprise your future spouse with a gift or a note or something lovely.
  • Practice your first dance, the "hug & shuffle" is so 7th grade)

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