The Ultimate Wedding Planning Guide

An inclusive guide to help plan for the most epic day ever! Don't forget to bookmark this so you can keep coming back to help you.

PSSST...YOU'RE GONNA WANNA BOOKMARK THIS PAGE!

F%*K YEAH! Jump on couches Tom Cruise style and scream with so much excitement - YOU ARE MF ENGAGED, my friends! 

My goal is this guide is going to help ease the stress of your wedding day and to be a helpful resource. 

You deserve to smile, be joyful, and not be in panic mode on your wedding day. I want that for you! If you have ANY questions, don't hesitate to reach out. I am always here, even if you decide not to go with us. Although, I hope you do because we do have a pretty awesome team!


-Book your Ceremony + Reception venues
-Set a Date
-Determine a budget + how expenses with be shared
-Create an approximate guest list
-Hire Meraki Portrait for Wedding Photography
-Hire a Wedding Planner/Day-of-Coordinator

-Announce your Engagement!
-Set your priorities + begin discussing your vision
-Set a budget

12-18 months prior!
9-12 months prior!

-Book: Caterer, Officiant, Videographer, Florist,
Entertainment, Hair/Make-up Artists, + Rentals
-Choose your Wedding Party
-Start looking at dresses/suits
-Obtan passports, birth certificates, + anything needed for travel

6-9 months prior!

-Take Engagement Photos
-Research + Book Honeymoon
-Start any DIY Projects
-Order or make Invites
-Send out Invites
-Shop for attire for mothers of couple
-Shop for flower girl/ring  bearer

4-6 months prior!

-Hair + Make-up Trial
-Buy Wedding Bands
-Schedule any fittings
-Finalize Guest List
-Buy shoes, accessories, undergarments
-Select + Order other wedding stationary
-Arrange for accommodations for out-of-town guests
-Shop for your wedding gifts for each other

2-4 months prior!

-Select + Order Cake
-Collect RSVPs
-Organize Seating Plan
-Write your vows
-Select ceremony readers
-Decide on ceremony music
-Create wedding day programs
-Order any decorations
-Get photography permit, if needed

1-2 months prior!

-Have Bachelor/Bachelorette Bash
-Buy thank-you gifts for wedding party  + parents
-Final Dress Fitting
-Decide Order of Receiving Line
-Print Seating cards
-Finalize day of timeline + communicate with all vendors
-Chase any guests who haven't RSVP'd
-Finalize Food/Beverages, Ceremony/Reception details

1-2 weeks prior!

-Make sure all payments to vendors are paid
-Practice your vows
-Do any pre-wedding pampering
-Finish all DIY projects
-Confirm Honeymoon arrangements
-Give cater/reception venue final tally of guest list
-Wrap reception favors
-Pick up your dress

rehearsal dinner!

-Make sure you bring all gifts that will be handed out at dinner
-Make sure you have any tips ready for vendors in envelopes
-Review Seating
-Give rings to best person
-Make sure wedding party knows itinerary

wedding day!

-Eat breakfast + drink plenty of water
-Pack anything remaining  on your "to bring" list
-Pack marriage license and photo permit
-Put engagement ring on right hand
-Enjoy the day you planned for so long

CATEGORIZE THEM INTO THE FOLLOWING:

The non-negotiables

Things you want, but can be flexible about

Things you simply do not care about

& budget!

setting your PRIORITIES

THE CEREMONY

This is the only part of the wedding day that you HAVE to do in order to get married. The cheapest way to hold a short ceremony is with a few witnesses (how many people varies state to state). A short exchange of form wording, papers signed, and voila - you are married!

THE VENUE

This is often times the biggest cost of any wedding. If you want to save cash, think outside the box and don't be afraid to look beyond places that are listed specifically as a "wedding venue." No doubt there are big advantages to booking a venue such as experience. If you are thinking about a backyard wedding, after everything is said and done, often times it is more expensive. 

THE DRESS

If a designer dress is not a priority, know there are affordable alternatives! Some retailers offer a wedding dress line such as: ASOS, ModCloth, BHLDN, Free People and Torrid. Facebook Marketplace is also a great place to find past-brides selling their dresses. Other places to check out are Etsy, antique shops, and second-hand clothing stores!

THE DECOR

If you are a DIY Queen, making the decor and stationary can certainly save you some cash, but keep an eye on the budget. If you are not careful, you can end up going overboard and spending way more than you originally intended. 

THE CAKE

This maybe one area where a current trend is to think outside the box of having a traditional cake. Alternatives include: donuts, pies, whoopie pies, cheese tower, cupcakes, and so much more! 

THE FLOWERS

Flowers are something people don't anticipate to be as costly as it is. If flowers aren't that important to you, there are many ways to save on them! Trader Joe's/Whole Foods, dried flowers, silk or paper flowers, and tambourines are great options!

THE FOOD + DRINKS

Alongside, venue and flowers, catering is a bigger cost as well. The more guests you invite, the more food and drinks are needed. A simple solution is just to invite less guests if food is something you really value. Many venues have restrictions on what you can/can't do with food and drinks so be sure to check their restrictions!

Making Your Budget

STRETCH

YOUR
ENGAGEMENT SESSION:

LEARN WHAT IT'S LIKE TO WORK WITH YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER

On your wedding day, you have a short window for portraits. The first 20-30 minutes of meeting one another, is always awkward. Don't make it be on your wedding day when timing is everything. 

LEARN WHAT YOU DO + DON'T LIKE ABOUT YOURSELVES IN PORTRAITS

This is a great time to learn for your wedding day, if you need a little more direction than you thought. Pro Tip: Those lovey "in the moment shots"you love on Pinterest,  tend to be guided to happen.

PICK a location that has meaning to you

Do you get ice-cream every Friday night? Maybe you love getting your favorite take-out and eating it somewhere pretty. Whatever it is, incorporate that into your session! You will be so much more relaxed doing something you already do.

During December through mid-March, you can plan on your engagement session taking place around 3-5pm. However, time changes in mid-March will make start time an hour later.

The sunset time changes a lot throughout the course  of these few months. So photographing time will change too. You can plan on approximately 5:30-7:30 in April, and 6:00-8:00pm in May.

Summer engagements (just like all), take place two hours before sunset. This will hopefully mean that the shoot will be during the cooler part of the day

The sunset time changes drastically during these three months. In Sept.,you can plan 5:30-7:30pm. While in Oct., 4:00-6:00pm. Nov. you are looking at 3:00-5:00pm.

What Time Should You Start
Your Engagement Session?

winter

spring

summer

fall

DEC-MAR 3-5PM

apr-may varies

sep-nov varies

JUN-AUG 6-8PM

your

your             

               day!

freakin' Wedding

day!

baby it's cold outside

WINTER

Since sunsets are super quick and early, winter weddings require a little more prepping/planning. If you still want an evening ceremony, portraits should be taken beforehand so you don't loose any sun light.

toasty + coazy

FALL

Most popular time for couples to get married! Keep in mind, all you need is one tree with some leaves to really make it feel  like fall in your portraits. Sunsets are really intense this time of year.

Portrait tips for
Weddings & Seasons

SPLISH SPLASH

SUMMER

Here is the season where you have more wiggle room for traveling, any mishaps, and any last minute portraits you forgot to add to your list of "must haves!"

APRIL SHOWERS BRING MAY FLOWERS

SPRING

If you suffer from seasonal allergies, make sure you pack some Claritin! Spring is a great time to get married because everything is freshly bloomed!

Let the Day Begin!

This portion of The Wedding Experience really sets the stage for the entire wedding day. This guide will continue share tips and tricks that will ensure a seamless morning of bridal preparation and beautiful photos!

BEFORE SAYING I DO:

Getting Ready:

Relax with your best people, sip some mimosa's - while getting pampered! You deserve this moment!

A few things to consider when getting ready - Do you want a first look with your parents? Will you & your fiance' exchange gifts to one another? Do you want people in/out of your room? Or do you want to just be with a select few people? 

Also, refrain from having any jewelry on until after you put your dress on. These are super precious portrait moments that really add to the storyline for your album!

Your fiance' getting ready:

THE REASON WE DO THIS

Girls Take a Little longer. Brides generally take a little longer and have to do hair and makeup. This is why we go straight to the fiance'.

it's their day day too

The wedding day is generally thought of something just for thee bride. It shouldn't be that way. We love to take portraits of you both. After all, its BOTH of your days!

THEM GETTING READY

This is a great time for your fiance' to shave, do their hair, have a drink with their best people. Hell, even shower! Whatever they are most comfortable with. 

JUST THE FIANCE'

After they are done getting dressed up, we will take some portraits of them alone. These tend to be portraits that blow them away when you get photos back!

here are somethings to remember

Their best people should be close (if not completely done) getting ready when your fiance' is starting to get ready. Window lighting is best. Have fiance's close parent around to help if possible.

I STRONGLY recommend your boo get ready early and get their pictures done first. Yes, you read correctly, they will get their shots done first. This may sound strange but it is the best way to alleviate the stress of time on the wedding day. Don’t worry you can always take the clothes back off and relax when we leave!

THE


EFFECT

window

By having just one simple window in the bride + groom prep area, we are able to create beautiful portraits with soft light. We prefer natural light so the more windows, the better!

DECIDING WHAT YOU WANT YOUR WEDDING TO LOOK AND FEEL LIKE

NEXT: WHAT DO YOU LOVE

The "less is more" rule can be hard to swallow, but eliminating things that don't fit the bigger picture is a really good idea. If you have too many ideas, the space can look like a hot mess, rather than an inviting wedding. Save the extra ideas for your bachelor/bachelorette party, bridal shower, or a big birthday party!

LOOK FOR INSPIRATION OUTSIDE OF THE WEDDING WORLD

NEXT: WORLDLY INSPIRATION

In my experience, the most enjoyable weddings at the ones that look and feel like an authentic expression of the couples' love and individuality. This is your party - your wedding, your rules!

WHAT DO YOU LOVE?

NEXT: MOOD BOARD

I recommend you both sitting down, getting a piece of paper + pen, and word dumping. Think of all the things you love (music, hobbies, movies, restaurants, etc). What are you obsessed with? What do you love doing in your spare time? 

CREATE A MOOD BOARD

NEXT: LESS IS MORE

I don't think I have to talk about how Pinterest is the bomb for anyone planning a wedding. However, I will mention a recommendation. Create a board and start pinning anything that stands out to you. After awhile, you will start to notice a trend happening, or recurring themes. It will enable you to figure out what goes together and what doesn't. 

LESS IS MORE

BACK TO INDEX

I don't think I have to talk about how Pinterest is the bomb for anyone planning a wedding. However, I will mention a recommendation. Create a board and start pinning anything that stands out to you. After awhile, you will start to notice a trend happening, or recurring themes. It will enable you to figure out what goes together and what doesn't. 

PLANNING YOUR OVERALL VISION

creating a vision

Most photographers begin photographing with your details. It allows your VIP people to warm up around them. Most people in a wedding party tend to have nerves about their pictures taken. Remember,  they never had the chance to meet your photographer before your wedding day! 

All About the Details

What to Gather for Your  Day

Make sure you give your Best person the following to hand to your photographer: Dress, Veil, Bouquet, Jewelry, Perfume, Shoes, Invitations, Save-the-Date, & Something borrowed + blue!

Most forgotten detail to be photographed are the rings and flowers. Having these ready right in the beginning of the day makes things so much easier. And less chance they will be missed. When you miss things, your photographer does. Period.

Detail Tips

If you have a fun themed wedding, make sure you grab extra  elements to tie your details.  Such as drift wood, lace, extra pieces of floral,  mini pumpkins, etc. 

MORE DETAIL TIPS

NEXT

Everyone knows the wedding day is stressful for the wedding couple. The whole day is focused on them, they need to look their best, they need to be on time, your fiance' may have no idea what side the boutonniere is supposed to go on and little by little... the tension grows. 

Those who are not interested in a First Look usually think by seeing each other beforehand, they will lose part of that reaction. They also assume it might not be as emotional or as intimate as it would be if they were coming down the aisle. What I have found is so ironic! It’s usually the exact opposite and the most moving and emotional part of the day for both the wedding couple. 

NEXT

It’s before the ceremony and the gravity of what is about to happen starts to sink in. Your fiance' is now starting to feel a little anxious. So what happens next? The fiance' waits in a little room somewhere for their cue from the coordinator. Finally, the coordinator leans her head in and hurries the fiance' to get ready. Then your  fiance' enters the ceremony to find anywhere from 80-300 people and they’re all looking at their face. Everyone has expectations for their first reaction. This is the farthest thing from a private, intimate moment. Sure, it’s SO powerful and SO wonderful! 

NEXT

For most fiances', the nerves kick in before they see their spouse because when they see them, everything becomes VERY real! So when the nerves start creeping up, what if you took them to a private place? A place with no people, no on-lookers, no distractions.  They would finally get to see their partner and embrace them, cry with them, kiss them ...and ENJOY that moment with her for as LONG as they wanted. Their nerves start to diminish. After all, they are the one who can make them most comfortable anyway. 

BACK TO BEGINNING

30% More portraits

enjoy the surprise to the fullest

this could be your only alone time for the day

diminishes the nerves

was it worth it?

CEREMONY - IT IS!

Lighting is prime just 2 hours before sunset.

Design your ceremony just how you want it - not others.

Not every guest needs a program. Print them per couple or household.

Hire at least a Day-of-Coordinator. Otherwise, the responsibility is on you.

Most couples stress is due to lack of planning and organization.

Let's plan your engagement session there! 
The beauty is - you will be doing something you love together, natural smiles will happen & ...

NO ONE WILL HAVE PORTRAITS LIKE YOURS!

ARE YOU PLANNING A FUN VACATION BEFORE YOUR WEDDING?

DESTINATION  ENGAGEMENT SESSIONS

If you are planning a destination wedding, a lot of the details in this guide will not apply to you! However, it is a good idea to start thinking about a few key components of the day such as: your ceremony time and your ceremony/portrait locations. Be sure to check the sunset times in your wedding location before settling on your ceremony time. As your wedding day draws closer, we’ll begin to chat about the timeline of the day and the travel arrangements. Get excited!! This is going to be amazing!!


It's about time you finally did that thing you've always wanted to do.

PLACES WE WOULD LOVE TO PHOTOGRAPH:

DESTINATION WEDDINGS  

Las vegas
lake como
new orleans
ireland
st. lucia
iceland

If we’re being honest, all of the wedding day images are important but the real favorites are almost always from our time with the couple! These portraits of just the two of you will be the images that you frame beside your bed, over your mantle and they will also be the images that will fill your album for generations to enjoy. These images are always my favorite not only because of their beauty but because this is such a sweet portion of the day. For this brief moment in time, you will be alone with your partner on your wedding day. You will have a chance to enjoy quality time together, and really connect before the craziness begins! 

Couple portraits are normally done before the ceremony (after the “First Look”). I LOVE shooting a few “just married” portraits after the ceremony as well! This is when the light is low and golden! It’s such a romantic moment! If you’re not interested in a first look, I will make sure to include a lot of time after the ceremony for these portraits! I also like sneak you away from the dance floor for five minutes for some dope night shots! These tend to be nice closure shots for your album but also where your family + friends are jealous they didn't have those shots done!

Your Couples Portraits

Trusting Your Portrait Locations

INCASE OF

A RAINY DAY

One of the most frequently asked questions that we receive during wedding season is “Soooo, what do you do if it RAINS?!”. I want to reassure you that even if it rains, you will still have beautiful portraits and BRIGHT colors in your images! Overcast skies mean vibrant colors! I know that rain isn’t ideal and no couple would wish for rain on their big day but if it happens, it happens. It is going to be JUST fine!! Some of the best weddings have been on rainy wedding days! Here are a few things to remember:

1. All we need to create natural light portraits on a rainy wedding day is a porch! Just one porch!
2. Let us worry about the pictures. You have enough to think about.
3. Take it one step at a time. That will only overwhelm you! Definitely have a rain plan for your venue but then let your vendors do the work of handling the rest of the day if rain is in the forecast.

Wedding Party Portraits

Keep in mind, the more people you add, the longer these can take. People get antsy, hungry, thirsty and are ready to freakin' party! Good general rule of thumb: 15 minutes for these portraits. Each additional person added, adds 2 minutes. 

Reception Planning

NEXT

The party is here!! Receptions can be a blast! However, it’s important to make sure that you have your event well thought out. This is the job of your coodinator. If you’re not having a plated meal, your reception will need to be set up in a way that allows movement. Guests will need to be able to find the food stations easily. If you are having a plated dinner, you will more than likely need escort cards, full place settings and space for all of your guests to be seated comfortably. Whatever the style of your event, make sure that you plan out all of the events of the evening. Your coordinator can help you set up the evening so that guests won’t leave early or experience long periods of waiting for the next thing to happen.

Here is a list of key events that happen at reception:

fIRST DANCE
FATHER-DAUGHTER DANCE
MOTHER-SON DANCE
ANNIVERSARY DANCE
BLESSING
CAKE CUTTING
TOASTS
BOUQUET/GARTER TOSS
LARGE  GROUP PORTRAIT
FUN EXIT AS NEWLYWEDS 

BACK

01

02

03

04

05

RECEPTION TIPS

work with your coordinator to keep it moving so your guests are engaged and not leaving early.

there are no rules. you can not include traditions if you don't want to - or make your own new traditions!

give your dj a list of "do not play" songs. otherwise, people will request them.

know exactly how you want centerpieces designed so you don't have anyone bugging you the day of. it is your time to relax!

take into consideration any elder guests. don't make them walk to far.

LET'S DO THIS THANG

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