The Michigan Wedding Photographer Tips

Tips For Getting The Most Out Of Your Wedding Day!

   the michigan wedding photographer has a photo of a bride at the Henry Ford Museum
0. Trust the people you've hired!Seems very obvious, but once you've done your research and hired all your help, count on us to do the job for you. Keep in mind that we all want you to have the very best experience of your life on this day and that you've invested a huge amount, both financially and emotionally. We're all there to pull this wedding off and will bend over backwards to make sure you have a blast.

1. So how do I know I hired "the right" vendors?Ask anyone's who you know (and even those you don't know) whose been married recently about their experiences. Most couples love the people they hired and are thrilled to shout their praises from the rooftops to anybody who will listen (at least that's how my couples react). The exact opposite is true too... if there's a bad seed out there who is a slacker, or nasty, or smells bad, or doesn't live up to expectations... the web will KILL their business. There are so many review groups out there, like the Knot, that once you finalize your decisions, put their names out there to chat boards and see what happens. These networks can completely make or break someone's career. If you see a recurring negative review, take it seriously. If it's someone who's Knot nickname is "BridezillaForeva", you might want to chalk it up to someone who might be a perfectionista who wouldn't be satisfied with anybody anytime!

2. Is there something clients do that drives vendors nuts and I can avoid?Well, no... BUT, I have noticed that couples are starting to really much too heavily on map quest as a way of getting their guests to the church and the reception. With so many excellent and cool map making tools out there, suck it up and make a good, legible map your guests can easily follow. Include all the points of interest on there and the necessary rosette to point out North and South and you will be amazed that your guests aren't as late as they might otherwise be.

   the michigan wedding photographer has a photograph of a boy lounging in his tux at Comerica Park in downtown Detroit

3. Hire a baby-sitter or two for the reception! If you're having kids at the reception, why not hire a few local high schoolers to come baby-sit for the evening? They can dance with the kids, eat with them, and shower them with attention. Some even will bring videos or games. It's just such a treat for anybody who has kids to be able to catch up with friends and relatives and to dance and have the night "off". Couples whose kids aren't invited to the wedding will invariably leave earliest because they need to get home and pay their own baby-sitters. If you do go with the sitter option, you'll be a hero to all the parents with kids!

4. The Perfect Dress...You've found THE dress and you want to buy it so badly and the bridal salon is telling you you need to order this dress today because it will take 10 months to come in from Timbuktu. Hold your horses. Before you plunk down that deposit here are a few tips to keep in mind. 1) How much does that dress weigh? You'll be wearing it for 8 - 10 hours and most dresses add ten or more pounds to your frame. Some weigh much, much more. If you love the dress, but it seems a bit heavy after an hour, you'll be dying after 4 or 5. See if they can lighten it up before you buy it. 2) See what it looks like from the back once it's bustled. That's the view 100% of your guests will have for the majority of the day, so make sure it looks like something you think is flattering and not making your posterior look like a small country! Have them take a photo of the back and show it to you. 3) Check that bustle. These things have a really high failure rate. They pop, the bend, they rip and ultimately... they drag. Have them reinforce it again and again. There is no such thing as too much. Over 50% of my brides (even with this tip) still need to perform bustle surgery at some point during the day and it could be easily avoided by a discussion with the salon.

   the michigan wedding photographer has a photo of a bride with her dress flaring out behind her.
5. Bring along a small army to get the bustling instructions. Not only can they help you to ask about reinforcing it, but they'll need to know how to do this. I'm not always there during this time and often either only the bride or her mom know how to do the bustle, so it takes a long time to figure it out and since they are usually pretty complicated, they don't usually get done correctly. If you can't bring your army of bridesmaids, make sure you give them their instructions before you get in the dress so you can show them what it looks like while the dress is hanging up on the hangar.

6. Do we have to do a receiving line?Any way you slice or dice it, receiving lines take a LONG time, but there are a few options that will cut the time down and still give you that all important chance to touch base with each and every guest to simply thank them for coming. Releasing guests row by row after the ceremony is by far the most efficient way to accomplish this. It takes about 15 minutes to 1/2 hour if you've got lots of guests, but that's about it. And if guests are antsy and need to leave, they can slip out unnoticed and catch you later. Another option if you have enough time between the ceremony and the reception is to arrive at the hall before your guests and greet them as they come into the hall. They're pretty motivated to get to the bar, but they do dribble in a bit more slowly. You can always announce that's the game plan at the end of the ceremony, which might keep the dawdlers from dawdling too long.

   the michigan wedding photographer shoots a large wedding party jumping in the air

7. Make an emergency kit - Here's the quick and dirty version; small sewing kit, scissors, safety pins, hair pins, hair spray and breath mints. The rest is all frosting on the wedding cake. But if you are interested in leaving a basket in the restrooms (which is really a nice treat for the guests... but not always practical if you're sharing the facilities with other wedding parties). For that basket, it's not as much an emergency kit as a freshen up kit that can also help with emergencies; pain medication, gum, deodorant, pads, tampons, eye drops, nail polish (clear), tissues, Shout wipes, more safety pins, pens, hair spray. If there is one thing that is needed EVERY wedding, it's scissors, so I carry a pair with me, but try to bring your own as well since mine are kind of small and disappear on me much too often!

8. Pass off your check writing duties -There is nothing more awkward than having to hunt down a bride or groom at the end of the night in order to be paid. Most couples will hand me a check when I arrive, but that's not always feasible with all the other helpers. So give those duties over to a parent or the best man... someone responsible and who is much more interruptible than you are!

9. Make GOOD maps!Mapquesting and Google Maps just aren't classy and with so many easy, do it yourself map making sites on the web these days, it's pretty simple. Just include something with your invitations that gives guests an idea of where they're going (major highways, cities, North and South directions) so they won't be scrambling the day of the wedding. I've been getting a lot of invitations lately that have the name of the church and the reception hall only with no address and no map included. That's just begging people to call you in a panic, or make them do research to find out the addresses of all the St. Thomas Church's in the metro Detroit area. Make this as easy as humanly possible for them.

   the michigan wedding photographer captures a light moment before a wedding as the groom reads his groomsmen stories.

10.Those pesky late arriving guests......It's become the norm now for two thirds of the guests to arrive at the church right about when the ceremony is scheduled to begin. That means every thing's delayed by at least fifteen minutes and invariably guests are still crowding into the church as the bride makes her grand entrance. As annoying as that is, it also can cause some real time crunches at the other end. This day is often scheduled very tightly and most churches give you a certain amount of time to be at the church and will kick you out at that time. That cuts into my shooting time and it adds an unnecessary stress to the whole day. So here's what you do.... lie! Not a big, fat whopper lie... just a little white lie. Print the wrong start time on the invitation... by 15 minutes to 1/2 an hour if you have a notoriously late family. Most churches allow folks to arrive up to an hour early, so you're not losing anything at that end. This works so well for couples who really are in a tight deadline and the guests will be none the wiser. The strange 4:15 start time might even get their attention and make them more likely to be on time!

11.Best tip for getting the party started?Hire a live band! I know, they are more expensive than most DJs, but if you have any room to splurge in your budget, it's like having a live concert and somehow that really compels people to get up and boogie! Also... some DJs (and band MCs) insist on letting couples set the pace of the evening. You're pulled six ways to Sunday and will have no idea what time it is, or what the mood of the room is. Make sure the DJ or MC will take care of that for you. Things will move along at relaxed pace, but keep things moving along so guests won't feel the lag and decide to leave since nothing much is going on (which is exactly what happens when DJs let the couple "set the pace" of the reception. We've got hundreds of weddings and there is definitely a pace to a good reception and since you probably haven't done too many of them, make sure your DJ or MC takes charge of that.

   the michigan wedding photographer captures a first dance with a full dance floor at a Michigan wedding reception. 12. The ever ballooning guest list!You wanted fifty guest, he wanted 75 and now suddenly you're at 220. How did that happen? Decide who you really want at your wedding reception... not a number, but the people. Would you go out to dinner with that coworker and not hesitate to pick up the tab? They're in! Still debating? They're out! If your parents are picking up the tab, I guess that entitles them to a bigger say in who comes, but it doesn't mean they get to cut your list to accommodate theirs. If you think friends and family will be offended because they weren't invited, think again. Most weddings cost guests an average of $500 by the time they've invested in time off of work, travel, hotels and gifts. I hear more grumbling from the tables in the boonies (where I usually sit) complaining, COMPLAINING about why they felt they HAD to accept the invitation and now they haven't even seen the bride and groom! So send a bunch of them a card afterwards. If they want to send you a gift, they will... if they don't want to, they won't. No one is going to stop talking to you because you didn't invite them to your wedding, except Aunt Hilda, but you wanted her to stop talking to you any ways, didn't you?

   the michigan wedding photographer has a funny photo of a young wedding guest picking her nose.

13. Cute kids at the front of the alter...Aaaahhhh, ooohhhh. They are so darn cute and so wildly unpredictable, who wouldn't want the little kids in their wedding parties?! If the idea of having a child go wailing back down the aisle halfway through the processional makes you chuckle, then you're going to be fine. If you're starting to perspire at the thought, then skip it. Kids under 5 are highly erratic and unpredictable. It's not to say they wouldn't be great in theory, but many are so impossibly off their schedules, they're in new surroundings wearing strange clothes and EVERYBODY is making such a fuss over them, that they often implode. After five years old they seem to be able to deal with the pressures and enjoy performing.

14. Don't feel you need to buy me a dinner.Don't think I won't eat... I will! And I'll probably eat right after you do so I can be back in action as soon as you are. I'm just not a big fan of the soggy sandwich served to me after all the other guests have eaten and oh, by the way... you're eating in the parking lot! Nah... I just find that awesome guests who RSVP's they'd be there and then didn't show. There are always a few, sadly and since you've already paid for their meal, I might as well eat it. Most halls are fine with it, some throw tantrums, thinking I'm so rude for wanting to eat with the invited guests. Guests love, love, love to chat me up since I have a pretty cool job and they love hearing the inside scoop. These days I'm so busy editing the slideshow I'm afraid I'm not very good company (editing and eating aren't exactly the prettiest thing to watch), but I do try to stick fairly close by just in case someone decides to moon the bride during dinner. It happened once and so now I like sticking around (for the funny moment, not to see random butts!).

15. Creating a new blended family?This is a great opportunity to publicly have the kids participate in the ceremony and to acknowledge that you aren't just marrying one person, you're marrying a family and creating a new one all together. There are lots of neat things you can do together. I've seen rings exchanged with little ones, vows written to the kids as well, blending of different colored sand, having the kids help tie the knots or light the candles (which makes everybody who doesn't know the kids mega nervous!), etc. There are lots of ideas out there that really help make the ceremony about uniting families, not just two people.

   the michigan wedding photographer gets a photograph of a mom cradling her son in her arms at a Michigan wedding reception.
16. Let it be the best day of your life!Seems beyond obvious, I know... but sometimes it's hard for couples to let go of all that planning and decision making to just roll through the day and let it all happen. You've done all that preparation, so now just enjoy the fruits of your labor. We'll take great care of you and make it all happen. Your only job during your wedding is to thoroughly enjoy yourself and to be in the moment.

17. Videographers?Only about a quarter of my couples end up hiring a videographer. My photos pretty much fill in all the gaps and not a lot happens that I don't document. Some couples do want the audio from their ceremony in which case have a friend or family member with a GOOD camera (with good audio, I should say) videotape either fro the altar (if the church will let you) or from the back. If you do want to hire a videographer, try to find one who also shoots in a photojournalistic style. Every once in a while I'll shoot a wedding where I know the couple really wants those candid, behind the scenes moments and they've hired an in-your-face-watcha-doing videographer or worse... the "now pretend that you just..." and "now you need to pretend that your mother is giving you pearls... oh, she's not? Well here, just use these... it will look great". Ick!!!! I've seen these and worse and the expression on the bride's face in unforgettable. This style is so the opposite of mine that we really are working at cross purposes all day long and I really don't think this is what the couples had in mind at all.

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Copyright 2009 Marci Curtis

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