Top 6 Tips for Planning a Stress-Free Wedding Day

Stressed out brideYour wedding day should be one of the best days of your life, filled with laughter and tears of joy.  You should be surrounded by people you love who are having the time of their lives at your wedding – the wedding that they tell you is the best one they’ve ever been to!  However, your wedding could be one of the most stress-filled days of your life, filled with arguments and tears of anguish.

Fortunately, there are some simple steps that you can take to prepare for the stress-free wedding day that you deserve.

We have collected the top tips from a large number wedding professionals to help you have a wedding day with minimal worry and frustration.  Just follow our advice and you are sure to have the wedding day you’ve always dreamed you would.

Get Planning / Coordination Help

While not everyone has the budget for a wedding planner, almost anyone would have a smoother wedding day with a little help from a professional planner or at least a day-of coordinator.

You’re probably not a professional event planner so why put it all on yourself to plan the most important event of your life?  You’re already too busy with your job, dress hunting, honeymoon planning and (admit it) dieting!  A wedding planner can schedule meetings for you, attend them with you, help pick out invitations, linens and take care of all the details you just don’t have time for.

A professional planner knows the industry, they know the other vendors and they are simply very efficient and know where to find the best prices on everything.  You can very easily save money on your wedding by hiring a wedding planner.

A good wedding planner will work with your photographer to make sure your wedding day flows smoothly and you have all the time you need to get the gorgeous photographs you’ve been dreaming of.

DOUBLE the time you think you need – for EVERYTHING!

This is the most important tip of all.  Time seems to pass much more quickly on the wedding day.  No wedding vendor we know (and we know a MANY) can think of one bride who didn’t run late for just about everything.  This creates a huge amount of anxiety and stress for you and for your family and wedding party.  Then add booze to the mix and chaos will rule!

The solution is simple.  Double the amount of time you think you need for everything.  If you think hair will take an hour – give it two.  If you think makeup will take 30 minutes – give it an hour.  Wedding planners can really help with this but if you don’t have a planner, you must allow plenty of time or you will not have a stress-free wedding and you will not have time to get the gorgeous photos you saw on your photographer’s website!

One of the most common causes of wedding day delays is getting from one place to another.  If you will be in different locations for hair, makeup, getting dressed, ceremony, photographs, and reception, a lot of time can be chewed up getting around.  This is why a carefully thought out timeline is so valuable.  Having a limo is great because you don’t have to deal with parking but if you don’t have this luxury all day, select a designated driver to get you around.

Here are a few of the time-killing delays you can expect related to getting around…

  • Getting out of the bridal suite – you may have to find things to take with you, get others to come along and in a messy bridal suite, this can take time.
  • Getting from the bridal suite to the car – you may have a bit of a walk to the car and while you’re walking you are running into friends and relatives who want to greet you and chit chat.
  • Getting the car – your car may be in valet so make sure you call down before you leave the room.
  • Getting into the car – you may be wearing the largest garment you’ve ever worn and getting into a car may be difficult.
  • Finding your destination – you may not be familiar with the area or how to get to your destination.  Be sure to print directions to all destinations before the wedding day.
  • Traffic – what else is going on in town on your wedding day?  Any parades or big sporting events that might make traffic a nightmare?  Find out ahead of time by asking your hotel or checking a local events website.
  • Drive time – calculate the expected drive time taking into account the time of day and any other possible issues such as detours or weather.
  • Parking – scout out the parking situation ahead of time for every location you’ll be going to on your wedding day.   Use a limo or designated driver to avoid the parking dilemma.

Really take the time upfront to think through the flow of your day and pad the schedule.  It will make ALL THE DIFFERENCE.

Don’t Overdo the DIY on the DAY

If you are the Do-It-Yourself type, that’s awesome!  However, there is a time and a place for the bride do it herself.  That time is before the wedding day.  Get it out of your system or designate someone else to do it on the wedding day.   You should be getting pampered, sipping Champaign and laughing with the girls before you walk down the isle.  No glue sticks or step ladders for you!

Do as much preparation as possible BEFORE the Wedding Day

The more you can get done before the wedding day, the better.  This will free you up from running around like a headless chicken on your day.  You want to be able to relax and enjoy your wedding day.

Here are some of the last minute pitfalls that can be avoided by completing them in the weeks and days preceding the wedding day…

  • Confirm all details with your vendors the week before the wedding to avoid any last minute surprises.
  • Pay your vendors ahead of time so you’re not thinking about money on your wedding day.
  • Have all clothes cleaned and pressed and hanging in your closet ahead of time.
  • Distribute directions, parking information, schedules, etc. to your guests before the wedding day so you’re not acting as concierge all day.
  • Create a detailed timeline with your photographer and planner so you know how the day will flow and you’ll have time to get all the photos you really want.
  • Generally speaking, get as much completed as possible before you wake up on your wedding day!

Remove Yourself from the Chaos

Now this may be very difficult for you control freaks (and you know who you are) but the less you are involved in all of the wedding day operations, the better.  Let the Planner or Day-Of Coordinator deal with all of the little “emergencies” that arise or designate a family member or friend for this role.  Ask your family NOT to involve you in issue resolution on the wedding day unless is it absolutely necessary.  Ignorance is bliss and this should be a blissful day for you.

Stay Hydrated and Fed on the Wedding Day

The day will fly by and you can easily forget to eat and drink water – especially if you’re drinking any kind of alcohol.  Hungry becomes grumpy which leads to a downward spiral.  Don’t let it happen to you or the people around you!

Stock the bridal suite with plenty of water and healthy snacks for everyone.  This goes for the guys as well.  The groom should not be starting his hangover before the ceremony begins!

Start the Day Well Rested

This is one of the most important days of your life that you want to enjoy more than any other.  Don’t start it with a hangover and/or with bags under your eyes.  Ideally, you’d complete your own personal preparations two days before the wedding so you can take a pamper day the day before the wedding but if that’s not possible, make sure you get a good night’s rest on the eve of your wedding day.

Remind Yourself to Relax

Remind yourself throughout the day that this is YOUR day and it is only happening ONCE.  Take a little time out every so often to look around and appreciate all that is happening around you.  Think about the family and friends that have traveled to be with you.  Look into the eyes of your maid of honor and thank her with a hug.  Don’t miss the magical moments as they fly by.  Experience the full richness of the day and create the memories you will cherish for the rest of your days!

photo by Vetter Events

About Jim Vetter Photography

Jim Vetter Photography is a high-end, experience-driven wedding studio based in Fairfax, CA and serves California as well as destinations worldwide.

We specialize in sharing amazing experiences with our clients as we create the most beautiful images.  Our style has been described as intimate, elegant, emotional, and fun. We capture the essence of the relationships between you and your spouse and your guests because we believe that these types of images really tell the story of your day.

Our clients love and value great photography and fabulous experiences.  If this describes you, we’d love to hear from you!  Please contact us or give us a call at +1.415.789.6150.

Top Secrets to Amazing Wedding Photos

Top Secrets to Amazing Wedding Photos

The first step to getting great wedding photos is choosing the right photographer.  You’ll be spending a lot of time with you photographer on your wedding day so you want to choose one who is fun to be around all day.  And of course they must be professional, reliable and able to make amazing photographs.

We recommend reading our blog post, aptly titled “How to Choose a Wedding Photographer.” 

So then after you have selected the perfect photographer, there are some important tips you can follow to get the best possible photos – with the least possible stress – on your wedding day.

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Tip #1 – Do the Engagement Session with your Wedding Photographer.

The engagement session is very valuable for several reasons.  Don’t skip this because you want to save money.  You’ll end up paying for it on your wedding day in the form of less awesome photos and overall experience.

The Engagement Session is your opportunity to get comfortable with your photographer’s personality and style of direction.  It’s like a low risk rehearsal for the wedding day.  By the end of the engagement session you’ll be at ease with the photographer and the camera.  You’ll know the photographer’s lingo and how to follow their direction to make you look your best.

Building rapport with your photographer is so valuable and the engagement session is a great way to do this.  Your expressions will be much more relaxed and natural if you know and like the photographer – especially if they are photographing you getting dressed! 

While the wedding photos are relatively formal with ceremonies and formal portraits, the engagement session can be rather informal and really show your individual style as a couple.  This is your last chance to capture what you were like when you were dating your spouse.  Take advantage of that.

The engagement photos are also great to use for your save-the-date cards and for your guest sign-in book.  Our clients love the engagement sign-in books which are small albums with room for guests to write personal messages around the photos.

Please see our blog post titled “5 Great Reasons to do an Engagement Photo Session

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Tip #2 – Hire Professional Hair & Makeup Artists

The camera doesn’t lie, girls!  If you want to look your best in your wedding photos, if you want to look better than you’ve ever looked before, don’t do your own hair and makeup and don’t just have a friend do it unless they are a pro.

Your face is the hero of your wedding day photos.  Don’t trust it to an amateur. You deserve to look gorgeous!

We have seen hair and makeup nightmares that traumatize brides and bridesmaids and haunt them for years.  Professional stylists know how to prepare you to be photographed at your best.  Makeup for photography is not the same as makeup for going out at night.  Please let the pros make you up.

Tip #3 – Allow Extra Time for Hair and Makeup

We love professional stylists but must say that they are not good estimating how much time it takes them to do their job.  I’ve never photographed a bride who was not delayed by hair and makeup – sometimes by two or more hours!

There are a thousand distractions on the wedding day that will delay you and your stylists.  You can avoid these delays by allowing more time for hair and makeup. 

A good rule of thumb is to ask the stylists how long they will take and then double or triple that time.  This is not solely because it will take them that long to do the work but also because you will be distracted and delayed while they are working on you. 

If you will be going out to a salon or other outside location for hair and/or makeup, make sure you allow plenty of time for getting from one place to another.  As explained above, traffic and parking can eat up a lot of valuable time.

Tip #4 – Get your hair and makeup done FIRST

Your stylists may suggest that the bride gets her hair and makeup done last so that she is fresh for the ceremony, this is NOT the best idea.  The bride should be finished earlier so she is has plenty of time for getting-ready photographs and bridal portraits before the ceremony. 

We suggest that you plan to be fully made up 2-3 hours before the ceremony begins.  This allows time for relaxed getting-ready photos, portraits and First Look photos.

Tip #5 – Do First Look photos before the ceremony

You may want to be traditional and not see the groom before the ceremony.  However, there are wonderful benefits do doing the first look before you walk down the aisle.

The moment you first see your partner on your wedding day will be incredibly special whether it’s before or during the ceremony.  Why not have that special moment in private, away from the distractions of the ceremony and guests so you can truly focus on each other?

When you have a first look moment before the ceremony, you get a rare moment alone together with your partner when you can kiss and hug and talk – really soak them in.  This may be the only time you get alone together for the rest of day. 

Most couples are the most nervous until they see one another for the first time and then the butterflies leave their tummy and they feel warm and relaxed.  The first look allows you to reach this relaxed state before you walk down the isle.  You may then enjoy the experience of not only seeing your groom at the other end of the isle, but also enjoy seeing your family and friends welcome you as you enter.

The cocktail hour usually follows the ceremony so if you’re off taking family photos, you’re missing this time with family and friends.  You’re paying for those cocktails so it would be nice to enjoy one or two, wouldn’t it?  By doing a first look before the ceremony, you open the door to completing some or all of the family and bridal party photos before the ceremony as well.  This frees a lot more time after the ceremony to enjoy the cocktails – or at least allow your family and bridal party to enjoy them while you and your partner shoot some romantic sunset photos.

Finally, if the quality of your photographs is important to you then the pre-ceremony first look is the best possible way to ensure great photos of the moment you first see each other.  When the photographer controls the setting and the lighting, the photos will be perfect and there will be no one blocking the shot or distracting either of you from the magic of the moment. 

Our preference is that our couples have their first look before the ceremony and most of them do.  However, the most important thing is that our clients are happy and we handle the first look any way they wish. 

Tip #6 – Designate a Family Finder

What is a Family Finder?  Well, that’s the person who helps gather family members for the group photos.  Your photographer will not likely know your family and will need help pulling them together for the group photos.  Assigning this responsibility to a friend or family member will allow the group formals to be completed much more quickly and efficiently so everyone can get to the cocktails that much sooner!

Tip #7 – More booze = Slower photography

Having a little bubbly while you’re getting ready can really enhance the mood and be very fun.  However, photographing a drunken wedding party is like trying to herd cats.  If possible, encourage your wedding party to use at least a little restraint until after the ceremony.  The photos will go faster and everyone will be off to the party sooner.

Tip #8 – Minimize Time Between Locations

The more time you spend getting from one place to another, the less time you have to make awesome photos.  Plan to have the ceremony and reception as near each other as possible.  If you can also do all the photos at the same location then you will save a lot of time.  If you can’t do it all in one place, try to have everything as close as possible.

Tip #9 – Carefully Plan the day with your photographer

An experienced photographer will work out a detailed timeline with you and your planner that ensures there is enough time to get the kind of photos you want.  This timeline must be realistic and take into account all of the time-sucking challenges outlined above such as traffic, parking, weather, etc.

We have a detailed timeline worksheet that we put together weeks, or at least days, before the wedding.  Just be careful that your planner doesn’t make a last minute change that breaks your photography timeline.   Ten years from now, you will not care which end of the table the cake was sitting on but you will care if you didn’t get the sunset portraits you always dreamed of.

Tip #10 – Have your flowers ready at photo time

Be sure to have your flowers delivered to wherever you are getting ready so you can have them in your photos.

Tip #11 – Have comfortable flats to wear

You will probably not want to wear your high heels the entire day – especially when you’re running around shooting photos in a grassy park.  Bring some comfortable footwear to use until we do the shots that show your gorgeous new wedding shoes.  Your new husband wont mind looking a little taller anyway, right?

Looking Fabulous for the Camera

Tip #12 – Get a truly flattering dress

You will be spending a lot of money on your wedding gown so do make sure it flatters you and makes you look better than you’ve ever looked before. Strapless gowns are very popular and they look fantastic if they fit well.  Watch out for any bulges in the wrong places.  Take an honest friend with you dress shopping so you can get a reality check if needed.  A true friend will tell you if you look like a muffin stuffed in a wedding dress. 

Tip #13 – Hail the Veil

The veil, while maybe too traditional for some, is great for photographs for several reasons.  It is certainly a definitive bridal accessory and really screams “Hey, look at me!  I’m a bride!” 

The veil is also perfect for subtly hiding things that you’d prefer not to show prominently – namely, the arms and neck.  Even the skinniest of brides often complain that their arms or neck look fat.  This can be expertly addressed by a good photographer and a veil.

Tip #14 – Closer is Bigger

If you don’t want your butt to look bigger than it actually is, shift your weight to your back foot and push your hips away from the camera.  This tip applies to any body part.  Whatever is closest to the camera will look bigger!

Tip #15 – Slimmer from the Side

Turn your body so the camera sees the side of your waist – it is much smaller from the side than straight on.  This is true not only for your waist but also for your shoulders and hips.  Guys may want their shoulders square to the camera so they look bigger but most women don’t want to look broad so remember to avoid facing your body square to the camera.

Tip #16 – Lean in to look Lean

Leaning back can make anyone look like the Michelin Man!  So, to get rid of the extra chins, you need to slightly lean forward from your waist up.  This also makes your chest bigger than your hips which most of us want.  Lean in to look Lean.

Tip #17 – Roll ‘em Back to remove the Rolls

If you’re wearing a strapless gown, then you run the risk of looking like a snow cone or the top of a muffin if you don’t roll those shoulders back!  Only the super skinnies can get away with that high fashion forward shoulder roll.  So, make that expensive dress look its best by rolling your shoulders back.  This will also accentuate your bust line – just in case that’s of interest to you.

Tip #18 – Show them Big Sexy Eyes!

Your eyes will look bigger and more beautiful if they are open a little wider.  To do this without looking like someone just pinched your bottom, I suggest lowering your chin slightly while doing the Lean (Tip #3).  When you lower your chin, you’ll be looking up a bit to the camera which opens you eyes and makes them look much more bright and sexy.

Tip #19 – Breathe!

Remember to breathe.  Don’t purse your lips or furrow your brow.  Breathe through your mouth with your lips slightly parted.  This will keep your face relaxed and your expression natural.  You’ll also enjoy the process much more!

Tip #20 – Relax!

Finally, if on your wedding day, you draw a blank and you can’t remember any of the tips above, just shake it out, do a silly dance and relax.  Think of the camera as a good friend who’s trying very hard to flatter you –  you beautiful thing, you!

About Jim Vetter Photography

Jim Vetter Photography is a high-end, experience-driven wedding studio based in Fairfax, CA and serves California as well as destinations worldwide.           

We specialize in sharing amazing experiences with our clients as we create the most beautiful images.  Our style has been described as intimate, elegant, emotional, and fun. We capture the essence of the relationships between you and your spouse and your guests because we believe that these types of images really tell the story of your day.

Our clients love and value great photography and fabulous experiences.  If this describes you, we’d love to hear from you!  Please visit us at www.vetterphotography.com, email jim@jimvetter.com, or give us a call at +1.415.789.6150.

Tips for an Amazing Wedding Dress Experience from a Bridal Couture Expert

This week’s guest blog post is from Bo Lee at BoLee Bridal Couture of Sunnyvale, California.  She owns and runs more than a beautiful showroom with plush changing rooms and amazing collections.  She has consulted with hundreds of brides to assist them in selecting the perfect wedding dress.  Her advice here today is a generous gift to us all. 

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Planning a wedding is undeniably one of the most stressful events in a girls’ life. For this reason, do yourself the favor of consulting with an experienced professional like BoLee Bridal Couture. Here are some helpful tips from Bo Lee for your journey in finding your dream dress!

It seems that every bride is waiting for that crying “this is the one” moment like we all see on TV, but in reality, not every bride has this experience; not every bride is the same.

If you’re a bride that tends to stress easily, our suggestion is to plan ahead. If you plan a good 10-12 months before your wedding date, this will significantly decrease your dress stress. Ten months to a year for a dress? Yes! It may seem a little crazy, but designer dresses are cut and made to order; they do not sit at a warehouse waiting to be shipped. And if you’re an easily stressed bride, you want to give yourself time.

On average, dresses take four to six months just to order. And of course no dress comes in and fits perfectly, so you will need alterations to give you that perfect fit for your day! This typically takes 2-3 months. If you plan on having accessories such as a veil or other hair pieces give yourself time to order that as well, about 2-3 months.

Seems simple, but what if you don’t have a year? There is always the option of buying a sample dress. These are dresses sold off the rack and are usually a great price for a designer gown. However, be prepared to have it altered because the standard sample sizes are 8, 10, 12 and not every lady’s body is the same!

Now, we’d like to address a somewhat sensitive issue… Weight! We all think about it, especially a bride-to-be. Obviously she wants to look her best for her wedding, and this may include the bridal diet. We see it often, and it is never a smart idea to order a dress too small and hope you’ll fit into it later. It is also not a good idea to wait until the last minute when you’ve lost weight to order a dress, because then you risk the chances of ordering your dress in time. Always order the size that fits you now and if you do lose weight, that is what alterations are for and kudos to you! If you don’t lose weight, not to worry, that is also what alterations are for! Either way you will look beautiful and have a perfect fit! Nothing is more gorgeous than a woman with confidence, who is sparkling from the inside out on her wedding day!

We know that all you ladies are busy conquering the world but when that special time in your life comes to start planning your wedding, take some time for yourself! Flip through bridal magazines, pin on your Pinterest wedding board and subscribe to wedding websites to reference the dresses you like. This is the best way to get an idea of what you want to look like for your special day. So when you do come across a dress that intrigues you fold the corner down, pin the picture, or save it to your mobile device so you can show your consultant when you go to your appointment.

You should think of what you want to look like on your wedding day, romantic, rustic, vintage, classic these are just some examples. If you find yourself completely unprepared for your appointment, don’t fret, just tell your consultant and she can take it from there. You will find out pretty quickly what you like and what you don’t like in just a handful of dresses. Remember, it is the consultant’s job to help you find the perfect dress and in order to do that, sometimes we have to start from scratch.

When you are at your appointment, the best mindset is to be open and decisive. If you loved the pictures of the dresses you brought in with you more than you actually like the dress on you, don’t feel defeated, be open! If you are open-minded to try different silhouettes or fabrics, this can be the best way to find your dress. Sometimes, dresses have no hanger appeal but they might look fabulous on you!

How do you know it’s “the one”? Some girls cry when they’ve found the dress, but most don’t! The best way we know of leading you to that moment when you say, “it’s the one” is by asking a couple of simple questions.

One: Can you see yourself getting married in this and walking down the aisle to your fiancé?

Two: Are you excited to put this dress on and do you get sad to take it off?

Three: If this dress were gone tomorrow and you could no longer get it how would you feel?

If you see yourself getting married in a dress, get excited to be in a dress or would feel totally crushed if a dress were gone, then you have found your dress! Congratulations!

Now that you’ve found a dress you love, be decisive! So many brides find their perfect dress on their first shot, but they feel like it is too easy and they need to keep shopping. That is not the case at all. Why would you want to make your dress shopping harder on yourself? It’s like falling in love with your fiancé; after you do, you don’t go looking for another guy.

On the other hand, if you don’t have that “it’s the one” moment, don’t be discouraged, just change your game plan. Obviously what you’ve been looking at hasn’t worked. So change it up by trying different fabrics, silhouettes, or you may need to change your mindset. Many brides can’t make a decision because they fear making a mistake or disappointing others. That’s okay, not everyone’s tastes in dresses are the same. You are not going to please everyone because the most import person to please is yourself! You are the one getting married in it, so you need to love it!

Another important point that many brides don’t think about is who they actually bring to their bridal appointments. It is not a good idea to bring everyone you know, too many opinions equal too many minds to please, and remember, the only mind to please is yours! Bring people that know your style and that won’t force their style on you. They may not love your dress for themselves but they love it for you, those are the people to bring! Remember; bring people who are supportive, not critical!

So by following these insightful tips, you too can have an amazing experience finding your dream dress!

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BoLee Bridal Couture is a high-end retailer of designer wedding dresses located at 542 Lawrence Expressway in Sunnyvale, CA. Their goal is to provide expert guidance to brides as they find the perfect dress! They offer a relaxed and open setting where a bride can take in the atmosphere and not feel overwhelmed. They also have great team of consultants who value customer satisfaction as their top priority and they strive to not only find the dream dress but to give their clients the best experience possible.

Also find BoLee Bridal Couture on Yelp or Facebook.

 

 

How to Reduce Wedding Day Stress – Tip #2

DOUBLE the time you think you need – for EVERYTHING!

This is the most important tip of all.  Time seems to pass much more quickly on the wedding day.  No wedding vendor we know (and we know a MANY) can think of one bride who didn’t run late for just about everything.  This creates a huge amount of anxiety and stress for you and for your family and wedding party.  Then add booze to the mix and chaos will rule!

The solution is simple.  Double the amount of time you think you need for everything.  If you think hair will take an hour – give it two.  If you think makeup will take 30 minutes – give it an hour.  Wedding planners can really help with this but if you don’t have a planner, you must allow plenty of time or you will not have a stress-free wedding and you will not have time to get the gorgeous photos you saw on your photographer’s website!

One of the most common causes of wedding day delays is getting from one place to another.  If you will be in different locations for hair, makeup, getting dressed, ceremony, photographs, and reception, a lot of time can be chewed up getting around.  This is why a carefully thought out timeline is so valuable.  Having a limo is great because you don’t have to deal with parking but if you don’t have this luxury all day, select a designated driver to get you around.

Here are a few of the time-killing delays you can expect related to getting around…

  • Getting out of the bridal suite – you may have to find things to take with you, get others to come along and in a messy bridal suite, this can take time.
  • Getting from the bridal suite to the car – you may have a bit of a walk to the car, in the big dress, and while you’re walking, you are running into friends and relatives who want to greet you and chit-chat.
  • Getting the car – your car may be in valet so make sure you call down before you leave the room.
  • Getting into the car – you may be wearing the largest garment you’ve ever worn and getting into a car may be difficult.
  • Finding your destination – you may not be familiar with the area or how to get to your destination.  Be sure to print directions to all destinations before the wedding day.
  • Traffic – what else is going on in town on your wedding day?  Any parades or big sporting events that might create a traffic nightmare?  Find out ahead of time by asking your hotel or checking a local events website.
  • Drive time – calculate the expected drive time taking into account the time of day and any other possible issues such as detours or weather.
  • Parking – scout out the parking situation ahead of time for every location you’ll be going to on your wedding day.   Use a limo or designated driver to avoid the parking dilemma.

Really take the time upfront to think through the flow of your day and pad the schedule.  It will make ALL THE DIFFERENCE.

How to Reduce Wedding Day Stress – Tip #1

Don’t be afraid to ask for help…

Your wedding day should be one of the best days of your life, filled with laughter and tears of joy.  You should be surrounded by people you love who are having the time of their lives at your wedding – the wedding that they tell you is the best one they’ve ever been to!  However, your wedding could be one of the most stress-filled days of your life, filled with arguments and tears of anguish.

So begins our Guide to Planning a Stress-Free Wedding Day – available as a free download here.

However, today we have a little sample tip from the guide to share with you here on the blog.  Check back again soon for more tips or download the guide now!

Get Wedding Planning / Coordination Help

While not everyone has the budget for a wedding planner, almost anyone would have a smoother wedding day with a little help from a professional planner or at least a day-of coordinator.

You’re probably not a professional event planner so why put it all on yourself to plan the most important event of your life?  You’re already too busy with your job, dress hunting, honeymoon planning and (admit it) dieting!  A wedding planner can schedule meetings for you, attend them with you (or for you), help pick out invitations, linens and take care of all the details you just don’t have time for. 

A professional planner knows the industry, they know many other vendors and they are simply very efficient and know where to find the best prices on everything.  You can very easily save money on your wedding by hiring a wedding planner.

A good wedding planner will work with your photographer to make sure your wedding day flows smoothly and you have all the time you need to get the gorgeous photographs you’ve been dreaming of.

So, our advice is to look into hiring a planner even if you don’t think you have the budget for it.  You just might find that they pay for themselves and you get your life back!

This tip is an except from our Guide to Planning a Stress-Free Wedding Day – available as a free download here.

Top 5 Tips for Entertainment at your Amazing Wedding

Today the guest post series continues with some fantastic tips from a highly respected figure in the San Francisco event entertainment arena.  Natasha Miller, president of Entire Productions, has been programming and supplying top class entertainment worldwide since 2000.

Tip #1 – Dare to be different! Take the road less traveled when selecting your music. Your guests will delight in the unexpected! Instead of a standard string ensemble, hire a special group like the Synchronicity String Quartet that can play classical repertoire and fine-tuned arrangements of your favorite Coldplay or Rihanna hit. The element of surprise is always welcome at a wedding.

Tip #2 – Make a special request repertoire known to the musician(s) as soon as possible! If you want a specific song played at your ceremony, cocktail hour, dinner or dancing, let it be known the MOMENT you know, preferably when signing the contract or at least 6 weeks before your wedding so that you give the musician(s) ample time to create an arrangement for their specific instrumentation in time. Artists will typically prepare one extra song and any additional arrangements usually cost extra depending on level of difficulty and instrumentation.

Tip #3 – If you want someone (a friend, family member, etc) to perform at your wedding with the musician(s) you’ve hired, PLEASE arrange for them to rehearse before. It will cost additional to have the professional musicians attend a rehearsal but it will make for a much better performance. Especially if your friend, family member is an amateur or even semi-professional musician. They tend to get nervous and sometimes don’t have the experience with performing with the particular instrumentation they’ll be expected to perform with. 

Tip #4 – Hire musicians from a reputable agency. Agencies handle all of the contracting–a must for both the client and the artists–details, communication with the artists, client and wedding planner, carry the necessary insurance for the artist AND the venue (most independent artists don’t carry this insurance), and hold the artist to a very strict timeline. Agencies can also assist on translating the clients needs and repertoire to the bandleader/artist making sure everyone is on the same page. Ask your wedding planner, caterer, photographer or other wedding vendor to recommend an agency.

Tip #5 – RELAX–After you’ve hired the best talent from a great agency, and have given them your schedule and repertoire, you can concentrate on everything else. Like how amazing you’re going to feel walking down the aisle and seeing all of your friends and family all night long!

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Natasha started Entire Productions in 2000, and has been booking talent for special events, producing corporate-sponsored concert series, handling publicity, and serving as a marketing and production consulting service ever since.

She is a classically trained violinist, accomplished songwriter and jazz vocalist. You might have caught her at the Monterey Jazz Festival, headlining at Yoshi’s, and performing in Teatro Zinzanni’s Cabaret Lunatique. She is a recording artist on the Poignant Records label, with 6 critically acclaimed CD’s under her belt. Natasha has had the honor of having her songs placed in feature films as well as on jazz radio stations all over the world.

Natasha has been the recipient of the Business & Professional Women “Women of Achievement in the Arts” award as well as the “Entrepreneur of the Year” award designated by the Alameda Chamber of Commerce.

Entire Productions is a San Francisco-based entertainment production company that programs and supplies musicians and other talent for corporate and social events all over the world.   Their full service A/V and production division provides sound, staging, and lighting, as well as back line, projection, and stage management.

Entertainment: http://www.entireProductions.com  |  Audio/Visual: http://www.entireProductionsAV.com

A Gown Designer’s Top 6 Tips for an Amazing Wedding

We have something very special to share today!  This post kicks off a series of wedding expert guest posts here on the Jim Vetter Photography Blog.  It occurred to me recently that I know so many great wedding vendors and they all have so much valuable insight and advice they can share.  So, I’ve gathered some of the top bay area wedding professionals to share their top tips for having an amazing wedding.  

The first of these talented and experienced wedding industry specialists is indie vintage gown designer and blogger, Amy-Jo Tatum.  I met her a few years ago when I was searching for awesome vintage gowns for an inspirational styled bridal shoot.  I fell in love with her gowns (seen below) as well as her vintage vivaciousness.  I think you will love her t0o!  ~  Jim Vetter

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Hello!  My name is Amy-Jo Tatum.  I’ve worked as a bridal gown designer since 1984 and seen so many changes not only in wedding fashion but trends and societal codes as well. When Jim asked me to do a guest post for his blog I was totally jazzed as well as honored.  Jim might blush here while I’m giving him a plug–but here goes: He has all the traits of the quintessential photographer and working with him has always been a stress-free and pleasurable experience.  Add to that he’s tops at coordinating the time factor–his and yours–  most essential in capturing great images on your wedding day. That said,  I’m going to continue here with a few more insights about finding stellar qualities in a photographer and what my brides have told me over the years about what they liked and didn’t . . . .

PHOTOGRAPHERS

By engagement time, many of my clients/brides already know their photographer through friends and/or family–someone who’s already hooked up in their network.  But not always.  My husband and I fell in love with our photographer years back at a wedding fair.  We took one look at her work and knew her style was exactly what we were looking for.  I can’t stress enough how important finding the right photographer is.  These images will be family keepsakes a hundred years from now so choose your shooter carefully.  These days the web is a treasure trove of wedding blogs and images I know can be totally overwhelming at first. Info overload aside, you really need to zone-in on the photographers and style you like. By the time you’re ready to interview candidates you’ll have a clearer picture of how you want your wedding shot.

TIPS

Look for Great editing.  I find the best photographers know when to stop with all the special effects so the picture looks natural.  Think of a great make up artist and how and where he/she knows just where to enhance.  For me over edited pics are the equivalent of digital paintings–great for a Grace Coddington editorial but typically not the thing for chronicling a wedding.

Easy.  Yes, you need a shooter who’s easy to work with.  Primadonnas behind the lens last about as long as disposable cameras.

Timelessness.  Is your photographer too trendy? Ten, fifty, a hundred years down the timeline will these pictures look too dated–Instagramed?  Photographers who stand the test of time are the ones who create pictures that generations later, the viewer recognizes something familiar and timeless . . . .

THE DRESS

You’ve come a long way baby!  Think back to all the restrictions there used to be on weddings starting with the dress.  Can you believe some women (though not as many as there used to be) are still asking if it’s okay to wear a white gown without being a virgin?  Add to this once upon a time  you couldn’t bare back, arms, decolletage, legs, etc. in a proper church wedding.  You had to be covered up and veiled almost completely. The result was those cookie-cutter satin uniforms of yesteryear they called, bridal gowns.  Thanks to a new generation of women saying, “I’m gonna wear what I want when I tie the knot,” a wedding can be on the beach in the sand, bride sporting bare feet.  It can also be in a barn in a polka dot dress with your groom in spurs.  The point is, you can pretty much do and wear whatever you want as long as it’s all about you and your true love on your wedding day.

TIPS

Look for easy to wear.  Go for natural and micro fibers if you can. It’s going to be a long day so opt for something that breathes well.  I once read a great Yelp review on a designer who created a gown so comfortable the bride didn’t want to take it off . . .

Wear what you want.  If you fancy a red dress go all out and find a custom designer who will indulge you. If you’re lucky you’re only gonna do this wedding thing once so you mind as well wear the dress you want . . .

THE SEASON

The Etiquette Police have passed on.  Those old dowagers who wrote and kept the books have left their mark via grand dame actresses like Maggie Smith reminding us women like this really did run society.  It used to be the season you got married dictated almost everything about your wedding: Whether your fiance wore a morning suit or if those bridesmaids could wear pink in the dead of winter.  All I can say about sporting colors, wearing formals and even carrying an out-of-season bouquet is, you and your groom need to do what makes you happy.   I’ve seen some very beautiful pastel winter weddings and grooms in relaxed attire in grand ball rooms and it all worked. The key is, it’s all about you guys . . . 

Most important tip of all: Eliminate Stress.  Yes eliminate.  Relax.  You’ve planned this out a long time and want to share your joy with everyone!  I know weddings can be like one big family reunion and what family doesn’t have it’s own special tremors that rock the scale? But if you tune into the right headset from the start, you’ll realize this is all about you and your life partner–not them or any outside influence like a cake not being delivered or the officiant being late.  In the end, it doesn’t really matter what goes down at your wedding but how you handle the marriage.  And by the end of the day you’ll already be married.  What more could you ask . . .?

Amy-Jo Tatum is an indie bridal designer of vintage-inspired gowns and accessories. When she’s not in her design studio, you’ll find her blogging about bridal fashion on her blog, Bride Chic

Top 20 Tips for Amazing Wedding Photos

The first step to getting great wedding photos is choosing the right photographer.  You’ll be spending a lot of time with you photographer on your wedding day so you want to choose one who is fun to be around all day.  And of course they must be professional, reliable and able to make amazing photographs.

We recommend reading our blog post, aptly titled “How to Choose a Wedding Photographer.”  And be sure to download our FREE Guide to Planning a Stress-Free Wedding Day or just give us a call (415.789.6150) and we’ll be happy to help you understand the process of working with a wedding photographer.

So then after you have selected the perfect photographer, there are some important tips you can follow to get the best possible photos – with the least possible stress – on your wedding day.

Tip #1 – Do the Engagement Session with your Wedding Photographer.

The engagement session is very valuable for several reasons.  Don’t skip this because you want to save money.  You’ll end up paying for it on your wedding day in the form of less awesome photos and overall experience.

The Engagement Session is your opportunity to get comfortable with your photographer’s personality and style of direction.  It’s like a low risk rehearsal for the wedding day.  By the end of the engagement session you’ll be at ease with the photographer and the camera.  You’ll know the photographer’s lingo and how to follow their direction to make you look your best.

Building rapport with your photographer is so valuable and the engagement session is a great way to do this.  Your expressions will be much more relaxed and natural if you know and like the photographer – especially if they are photographing you getting dressed!

While the wedding photos are relatively formal with ceremonies and formal portraits, the engagement session can be rather informal and really show your individual style as a couple.  This is your last chance to capture what you were like when you were dating your spouse.  Take advantage of that.

The engagement photos are also great to use for your save-the-date cards and for your guest sign-in book.  Our clients love the engagement sign-in books which are small albums with room for guests to write personal messages around the photos.

Please see our blog post titled “5 Great Reasons to do an Engagement Photo Session

 

Tip #2 – Hire Professional Hair & Makeup Artists 

The camera doesn’t lie, girls!  If you want to look your best in your wedding photos, if you want to look better than you’ve ever looked before, don’t do your own hair and makeup and don’t just have a friend do it unless they are a pro.

Your face is the hero of your wedding day photos.  Don’t trust it to an amateur. You deserve to look gorgeous!

We have seen hair and makeup nightmares that traumatize brides and bridesmaids and haunt them for years.  Professional stylists know how to prepare you to be photographed at your best.  Makeup for photography is not the same as makeup for going out at night.  Please let the pros make you up.

Tip #3 – Allow Extra Time for Hair and Makeup

 

We love professional stylists but must say that they are not good estimating how much time it takes them to do their job.  I’ve never photographed a bride who was not delayed by hair and makeup – sometimes by two or more hours!

There are a thousand distractions on the wedding day that will delay you and your stylists.  You can avoid these delays by allowing more time for hair and makeup.

A good rule of thumb is to ask the stylists how long they will take and then double or triple that time.  This is not solely because it will take them that long to do the work but also because you will be distracted and delayed while they are working on you.

If you will be going out to a salon or other outside location for hair and/or makeup, make sure you allow plenty of time for getting from one place to another.  As explained above, traffic and parking can eat up a lot of valuable time.

Tip #4 – Get your hair and makeup done FIRST

Your stylists may suggest that the bride gets her hair and makeup done last so that she is fresh for the ceremony, this is NOT a good idea.  The bride should be the first girl ready so that she has plenty of time for getting-ready photographs and bridal portraits before the ceremony.

We suggest that you plan to be fully made up 2-3 hours before the ceremony begins.  This allows time for relaxed getting-ready photos, portraits and First Look photos.

Tip #5 – Do First Look photos before the ceremony

You may want to be traditional and not see the groom before the ceremony.  However, there are wonderful benefits do doing the first look before you walk down the isle.

The moment you first see your partner on your wedding day will be incredibly special whether it’s before or during the ceremony.  Why not have that special moment in private, away from the distractions of the ceremony and guests so you can truly focus on each other?

When you have a first look moment before the ceremony, you get a rare moment alone together with your partner when you can kiss and hug and talk – really soak them in.  This may be the only time you get alone together for the rest of day.

Most couples are the most nervous until they see one another for the first time and then the butterflies leave their tummy and they feel warm and relaxed.  The first look allows you to reach this relaxed state before you walk down the isle.  You may then enjoy the experience of not only seeing your groom at the other end of the isle, but also enjoy seeing your family and friends welcome you as you enter.

The cocktail hour usually follows the ceremony so if you’re off taking family photos, you’re missing this time with family and friends.  You’re paying for those cocktails so it would be nice to enjoy one or two, wouldn’t it?  By doing a first look before the ceremony, you open the door to completing some or all of the family and bridal party photos before the ceremony as well.  This frees a lot more time after the ceremony to enjoy the cocktails – or at least allow your family and bridal party to enjoy them while you and your partner shoot some romantic sunset photos.

Finally, if the quality of your photographs is important to you then the pre-ceremony first look is the best possible way to ensure great photos of the moment you first see each other.  When the photographer controls the setting and the lighting, the photos will be perfect and there will be no one blocking the shot or distracting either of you from the magic of the moment.

Our preference is that our couples have their first look before the ceremony and most of them do.  However, the most important thing is that our clients are happy and we handle the first look any way they wish. J

Tip #6 – Designate a Family Finder

What is a Family Finder?  Well, that’s the person who helps gather family members for the group photos.  Your photographer will not likely know your family and will need help pulling them together for the group photos.  Assigning this responsibility to a friend or family member will allow the group formals to be completed much more quickly and efficiently.

Tip #7 – More booze = Slower photography

Having a little bubbly while you’re getting ready can really enhance the mood and be very fun.  However, photographing a drunken wedding party is like trying to herd cats.  If possible, encourage your wedding party to use at least a little restraint until after the ceremony.  The photos will go faster and everyone will be off to the party sooner.

Tip #8 – Minimize Time Between Locations

The more time you spend getting from one place to another, the less time you have to make awesome photos.  Plan to have the ceremony and reception as near each other as possible.  If you can also do all the photos at the same location then you will save a lot of time.  If you can’t do it all in one place, try to have everything as close as possible.

Tip #9 – Carefully Plan the day with your photographer

An experienced photographer will work out a detailed timeline with you and your planner that ensures there is enough time to get the kind of photos you want.  This timeline must be realistic and take into account all of the time-sucking challenges outlined above such as traffic, parking, weather, etc.

We have a detailed timeline worksheet that we put together weeks, or at least days, before the wedding.  Just be careful that your planner doesn’t make a last minute change that breaks your photography timeline.   Ten years from now, you will not care which end of the table the cake was sitting on but you will care if you didn’t get the sunset portraits you always dreamed of.

Tip #10 – Have your flowers ready for photos

Be sure to have your flowers delivered to wherever you are getting ready so you can have them in your photos.

Tip #11 – Have comfortable flats to wear

You will probably not want to wear your high heels the entire day – especially when you’re running around shooting photos in a grassy park.  Bring some comfortable footwear to use until we do the shots that show your gorgeous new wedding shoes.  Your new husband wont mind looking a little taller anyway, right?

Looking Fabulous for the Camera

Tip #12 – Get a truly flattering dress

You will be spending a lot of money on your wedding gown so do make sure it flatters you and makes you look better than you’ve ever looked before. Strapless gowns are very popular and they look fantastic if they fit well.  Watch out for any bulges in the wrong places.  Take an honest friend with you dress shopping so you can get a reality check if needed.  A true friend will tell you if you look like a muffin stuffed in a wedding dress.

Tip #13 – Hail the Veil

The veil, while maybe too traditional for some, is great for photographs for several reasons.  It is certainly a definitive bridal accessory and really screams “Hey, look at me!  I’m a bride!”

The veil is also perfect for subtly hiding things that you’d prefer not to show prominently – namely, the arms and neck.  Even the skinniest of brides often complain that their arms or neck look fat.  This can be expertly addressed by a good photographer and a veil.

Tip #14 – Closer is Bigger

If you don’t want your butt to look bigger than it actually is, shift your weight to your back foot and push your hips away from the camera.  This tip applies to any body part.  Whatever is closest to the camera will look bigger!

Tip #15 – Slimmer from the Side

Turn your body so the camera sees the side of your waist – it is much smaller from the side than straight on.  This is true not only for your waist but also for your shoulders and hips.  Guys may want their shoulders square to the camera so they look bigger but most women don’t want to look broad so remember to avoid facing your body square to the camera.

Tip #16 – Lean in to look Lean

Leaning back can make anyone look like the Michelin Man!  So, to get rid of the extra chins, you need to slightly lean forward from your waist up.  This also makes your chest bigger than your hips which most of us want.  Lean in to look Lean.

Tip #17 – Roll ‘em Back to remove the Rolls

If you’re wearing a strapless gown, then you run the risk of looking like a snow cone or the top of a muffin if you don’t roll those shoulders back!  Only the super skinnies can get away with that high fashion forward shoulder roll.  So, make that expensive dress look its best by rolling your shoulders back.  This will also accentuate your bust line – just in case that’s of interest to you.

Tip #18 – Show them Big Sexy Eyes!

Your eyes will look bigger and more beautiful if they are open a little wider.  To do this without looking like someone just pinched your bottom, I suggest lowering your chin slightly while doing the Lean (Tip #3).  When you lower your chin, you’ll be looking up a bit to the camera which opens you eyes and makes them look much more bright and sexy.

Tip #19 – Breathe!

Remember to breathe.  Don’t purse your lips or furrow your brow.  Breathe through your mouth with your lips slightly parted.  This will keep your face relaxed and your expression natural.  You’ll also enjoy the process much more!

Tip #20 – Relax!

Finally, if on your wedding day, you draw a blank and you can’t remember any of the tips above, just shake it out, do a silly dance and relax.  Think of the camera as a good friend who’s trying very hard to flatter you –  you beautiful thing, you!