If we could turn back time - Chicago Fine Art Wedding Photography
It wasn't until right after we were married that we knew we were passionate about helping couples make their wedding day the greatest day of their lives. We knew that we didn't want to simply photograph weddings beautifully. We wanted our couples to know that we have their backs! That we are their allies from the entire planning process and beyond. That we were here to offer advice, suggestions, and most importantly help make their day flow in a way that avoided as much stress or foreseen hiccups as possible. We're the vendors who spend the most one-on-one time with our couples on their wedding day and we wanted them to know that we were on their team and we truly cared about how every detail of the day unfolded. As wedding photographers, we cannot also be wedding planners, but we can be key team players in every couple's wedding day experience. We couldn't have known how imperative that was if we didn't know what it felt like to not have the professional support or advice from a wedding planner or photographer. Six years, two babies, and more weddings than we can count, here is a list of the
top 10 things we wish we could have done differently on our wedding day:
1. We'd hire a wedding planner -
Oh the beauty of having a wedding planner or day-of coordinator! They are PRICELESS. They're worth every single solitary penny. When we were planning our wedding, we were doing everything from out of state. Meg's mom became the wedding planner because she lived where the wedding was taking place. (And she's the greatest supporter/encourager/helper on the face of the planet. We love you Lovsie!) Since everything was being planned out of state, we actually should have hired a wedding planner who walked us through every step of the planning process. We were just college kids. We had NEVER planned a wedding before. We were googly eyed and not even thinking or caring about the little details because all we cared about was the fact that we were going to be married. Not a bad mindset at all, but that left all of the little details and the entire bulk of the planning on Meg's parents. They didn't get to enjoy or take in the wedding day because their hands were so full. I so wish this could have been different. I wish that they could have enjoyed the day just like our guests did. If anything, we wish we could have had a Day-Of Coordinator to hold down the fort and the details just on the wedding day itself. A wedding day planner or day-of coordinator can ask every single question in regards to what a wedding day entails and what decisions need to be made. They can also strategize unforeseen hiccups and have backup plans in place that wouldn't otherwise be seen. All we can say, after working with some of the most talented wedding planners out there, is that we wish one of them had our backs and our family's backs on our wedding day.
2. We'd book our favorite photographer. End of story. -
I know this sounds insane, but we didn't book our absolute favorite and most trusted photographer for our wedding day. We had a photographer crush that we had followed for a few years and they were tried and true. They had done about four of our close friend's weddings and their work was gorgeous. When we contacted them, they were available for our date! (We're still palm smacking our foreheads just recalling the insanity of our decision.) Do you know what we did instead? We saved $500 and booked someone else. We saved a whole $500 and our disappointment and frustration can never be taken back. I won't go into any further detail about this experience, but I will say, that our wedding day experience is the exact catalyst for why wedding days are our profession. We never ever EVER want another couple to feel the way we did on our wedding day. I guess, in some ways, it was truly a blessing in disguise. Maybe we'd never be where we are today if this didn't happen. However, if we could save you from our greatest regret, HIRE YOUR FAVORITE PHOTOGRAPHER. PERIOD. END OF STORY. This day is over so quickly and you never get to capture those memories over again.
3. We'd do a first look -
At the time of planning, there was no such thing as pinterest (it came out 6 months later. Shoot dang.) Also, since we didn't have a wedding planner or a photographer who could offer any kind of suggestions or advice, we had no clue there even was such a thing as a first look. If we could turn back time, we'd both say that we'd have given anything and everything to have done a first look. We wish we could have seen each other and spent more time together on our wedding day. We're both introverts at heart, so it would have taken care of all the nerves that were all jumbled up inside of us. It would have allowed us to communicate before the ceremony and taken SO much pressure off of us before hand. Plain and simple, we wish we could have had time together before the festivities began.
4. We'd wear what we felt most most confident in -
This one is for Jordan. I so wish he could have worn the exact suit that he wanted to wear for the entire day. The comfy and stylish JCrew suit that fit him perfectly and made him feel like a million bucks. We had ordered tuxes from Jos A Banks and long story short, when they arrived, every tux was about 3 sizes too large for every poor soul who had to wear them. It's a long day and especially when you're getting married in the thick of summer and having an outdoor wedding, make sure you're feeling your best. ...Jordan changed into that amazing JCrew suit almost instantly after the ceremony, but I'm sorry to our fathers and the groomsmen who had to muscle through the day as they swam in their attire.
5. We'd hire a professional team for hair & makeup -
Oh my goodness! Every bride deserves to enjoy the morning with her girls and get a little TLC before the big day. I'm so beyond thankful to the friends and family members who volunteered and so lovingly helped me and others on the afternoon of my wedding day. My dear friend from school did my hair, my cousin did my makeup, and it turned out just lovely. Here's why I wish I had a team arranged for me and my girls: It forces everyone to simply relax, have a wonderful time together, turn on some music, and enjoy a mimosa or two. (Brides, I strongly urge you to drink the mimosa : ) Not only does it force you to relax, but wedding day makeup and hair artists are specifically trained to do everything so that your hair and makeup lasts till the very end of the day.
6. We'd plan the morning of the day more thoroughly -
Do you want to know what makes or breaks the stress level of the bride for a majority of the wedding day? It's all inhow her morning and the hours leading up to that first look or ceremony go. When we are working with our brides in the planning process before the big day, we strongly encourage our couples to give themselves plenty of time for everything. (Often far more buffer time than you can imagine.) The more planning you can do, the more you can simply relax and let everything play out the day of. When your vendors know every bit of information and piece of the timeline, then they become the keepers of the clock and you don't have to constantly make sure everything is moving the way it should be. Also, a good vendor knows exactly how much time they need you in the chair for makeup, hair, or how long it takes to pin on 20 boutineers. A good photographer can offer suggestions for how much time the bride should give herself to get into her dress so that the moment can be enjoyed, not rushed over, and still allow for buffer time in case something goes wrong. We've seen liquid foundation accidentally dropped on the dress, a zipper that detached, and grooms attempting to tie a bow tie for the very first time on their wedding day. Anything can happen, but anything is fixable if you give yourself enough time for error. No one wants to start their day stressed and set that tone until cocktail hour.
7. We'd hire a fabulous DJ or band -
Before we entered the wedding industry, we had no clue that there is truly an art form to hosting and entertaining your wedding guests. When the ceremony ends and the guests head for refreshments, give yourself the luxury of having a DJ or a band take over for you. From then on, it's their responsibility to communicate the flow of the night to your guests. Give yourself the night off and allow a professional to host the party. This sounds like basic knowledge, but you'd be surprised what a difference it makes in ensuring your celebration is put in the right hands.
8. Organized Family Photos -
Oh my stars. Since we didn't have a photographer who sat down with us to offer advice on this portion of the day, we literally winged when, how, and where these would take place. It was truly the most stressful part of our day. If we knew what we knew now, things would have gone so much differently. We would have had our beautifully organized family photo shot list, a set meeting time and place for them to happen at, and someone else to help organize each person in each photo. No one wants to offend ANYBODY on their wedding day. Especially your closest family members.
9. We should have left an hour or two hours earlier -
When you've peaked for the night, then do yourselves a favor and get out of there! Leave before you are absolutely exhausted. The entire week before the wedding day can be exhausting and the actual day is the cherry on top. We were truly running on adrenaline and we wish we would have left earlier so that we could end the celebration feeling our best.
10. We wish we didn't necessarily go 100% DIY -
Plain and simple: There are some things that can easily be done yourself, but don't put the pressure on yourself to make every last detail DIY. Also, DIY doesn't necessarily mean more cost effective. Sometimes it just means way more time, sweat, and tears. Choose what is important to do yourself and if there is anything else that you can take off your plate, then either nix it or get lost in the wonderful black hole of Etsy and let someone else DIY it for you.
Okay, now enough of us rattling on and on about our should have, could have, would haves! Here's our most favorite moments from our wedding day:
- The worship at our ceremony! We had a stage full of our closest childhood friends and siblings from our separate stomping grounds (Chicago & New Orleans). They lead us all with their musical talents in a solid worship session before the ceremony began. We still get goosebumps when we think back on these people coming together for the day and worshiping together.
- We loved that a majority of our day was spent outdoors. Despite the rain that fell for half of it, it didn't stop us from taking our shoes off and enjoying our outdoor tented reception.
- Our videographers for the day were fabulous! We may not have too many stellar photos from our wedding day, but what we lack in photographs was made up for in footage. Our videographers were truly a God-Send and our daughter loves watching the footage over and over.
- Our coffee bar! We had our favorite local coffee shop set up a barista bar where our guests could custom order their own drinks for the night. We're obsessed with good coffee, so this was a way we could share that personal love with our guests.
- Every single one of our guests were a gift to us. We had family and friends come all the way from Australia, Texas, Florida, Louisiana, Arkansas, Virginia, and countless other states to join us and love on us for the day. In the end, they were all we needed and we felt loved beyond measure. When all was said and done, we were married, and these people made us feel spoiled with love and support. ...If you're reading this, we love you and we thank you!