26 Essential Wedding Planning Tips You Don't Want to Miss | Wisconsin Wedding Photographer
I recently had the opportunity to connect with Brittany of B-Rad Weddings & Celebrations to learn more about her take on wedding planning tips that couples do not always consider.
As a Wisconsin wedding planner in the greater Milwaukee area, she has seen it all. From venues charging for garbage bags to guests roasting in the summer heat during an outdoor ceremony, she has seen it all. Over the course of her professional career as a wedding planner, she has acquired many pieces of wisdom that she is excited to impart onto you. Whether you are a bride & groom or a family member of the happy couple helping to plan out all of the details of the best day ever, the advice that Brittany provides is invaluable...
...and if you decide that you want to connect with someone who will be more than happy to take on the heavy lifting of wedding planning, reach out to Brittany. She is a seasoned professional with the intention of relieving stress and pressure leading up to your special day. With an impressive roster of wedding vendors ranging from wedding florists to wedding photographers as well as connections to some of the best Wisconsin wedding venues, Brittany and her team are sure to be an asset in bringing your wedding vision to life.
If you're curious about working with a wedding planner, be sure to take advantage of B-Rad's Power Hours. They are an hour long virtual meeting with Brittany where no wedding planning question is off limits. Whether you are newly engaged and interested in assistance with defining your vision and/or budget OR you are approaching the big day and need expertise in crafting a fool-proof schedule, Brittany and her team are there to help.
During our discussion we dug deep and got creative with our brainstorming. There are many different resources out there on the web that highlight typical wedding planning tips...of course they are helpful, but we wanted to bring something more to the table for you with this article.
As a Wisconsin wedding photographer who has photographed upwards of 200 weddings and as a seasoned wedding planner, we made a great team to reminisce on different weddings we've experienced... we reflected on what went amazingly with some and also on what could have gone better with others. Often, it boiled down to a bit more preparation and forethought.
We've broken our list down to three categories, Planning, Day-Of & Vendors.
Let's jump into it!
Your guest count is the primary driver for your budget. This is largely due to food and beverage pricing.
Speaking of budget, definitely do some reconnaissance prior to setting a formal one. Professional wedding vendors are more expensive than you think. Gather a few quotes before you set an expectation on what a wedding vendor "should" cost. Then, with multiple quotes in front of you, you can make a better evaluation of offerings in order to make your decision.
There will always be 20 guests who wait until the last moment to RSVP - going into it with this knowledge will help relieve some stress when the stragglers start rolling in.
Table assignments and place cards will be your last wedding planning "to do". We know it isn't the most fun part of the process. Our best advice? Grab a glass of sangria and seize the day... it won't be less painful tomorrow!
Alphabetizing your place cards for guests will make it much easier for them to find where they are seated.
Label your memory table pictures so guests know who the special people in the picture frames are and what they meant to you.
Don't go overboard with signage... less is more with this type of decor.
Arrange in advance who will be setting up and tearing down. The last thing you want to worry about at the end of the night is who will be making sure the venue is spick and span before your departure.
Practice walking in your heels. Breaking in your shoes will not only be more comfortable for you on your wedding day but will also bring you more confidence. Try walking on the different types of terrain you will encounter on your wedding day... gravel, pavement, grass (sometimes heels can get stuck in the mud).
Practice walking with your veil. Elements like wind can impact how the veil sits on your head and whether you can easily maneuver with grace.
Do not let wedding traditions stress you out... we are living in an age where more and more couples are throwing certain elements of tradition out the window. Discuss which traditions are important to you as a couple and follow your intuition on which ones to include or exclude.
Consider an unplugged wedding. An unplugged ceremony is a given these days. Let your guests know in advance that you are opting for an unplugged ceremony, have signage and also have your officiant make an announcement prior to your ceremony. It is also advised to consider having the rest of the day unplugged... cell phones are unsightly in professional photographs. At the very least, opt unplugged for the ceremony, speeches & first dance. Trust us when we say that you won't regret it!
Plan for all types of weather.... rain umbrellas, paper fans for your guests during a midsummer outdoor ceremony in the sun, cold drinks for your wedding party during formal portraits, blankets for your guests during cocktail hour on a brisk fall day ... you get the idea. Weather patterns can change at the drop of a hat... it is best to be prepared in the event that Mother Nature decides to unleash a lucky sprinkle on your wedding day.
Think of at least ONE thing that will make your wedding uniquely you...boat rides for guests during cocktail hour if you're boating enthusiasts....choreographed first dance...desserts with a special meaning, maybe you had an amazing slice of cheesecake on your first date! The ideas are endless.
Highly recommended to plan a 2 hour cocktail hour. Brittany of B-Rad Weddings & Celebrations suggests that having two hours for cocktails and appetizers is great for guest mingling but also will give you ample time for portraits AND an opportunity to connect with your guests as newlyweds prior to dinner festivities!
If you are getting married in a church, be sure to find out early on in the planning process what their policies are for photography. Many churches require that photographers stay behind the first handful of pews and do not allow photographers to be in the center aisle. Many churches prohibit flash photography to be used during the ceremony which can result in photos with reduced quality. Communicate the churches' policies with your photographer early on so that all parties can plan accordingly.
Practice your first kiss. Go in for a dip, hold it for wayyyy longer than you think you should... and then, go in for seconds! As your photographer, I want to make sure I can capture this moment for you from a variety of vantage points! Even better, stop midway down the aisle and go in for another one... this makes for a super fun photo op!
Plan your getaway. Identify when and how you and your new spouse are going to leave at the end of the night.
Create a master schedule/timeline for all of your vendors to reference. Having everyone on the same page will help make your day flow smoothly and efficiently.
Place your bridal bouquet on the bar! More people will admire it there than in front of your face at the head table. This is a big one for your photographer also... having your gorgeous bouquet on the head table will likely obstruct the view of your face for photos during speeches and toasts!
Be mindful of your getting ready space. If possible, natural light makes for the most beautiful imagery. Avoid a church basement... photographers can work magic but you will be more pleased with the outcome of naturally lit getting ready images of you and your bridesmaids. Additionally, keep the space tidy. Clear the countertops and try to congregate everyone's belongings to one corner rather than having everything scattered throughout the entire space. This will also result in better photos from your photographer.
Put together a wedding day music playlist to get you and your crew into the mood for fun. Include songs that will bring on nostalgia and upbeat feelings. Singalongs create awesome moments and captures for photography!
Have your DJ request that no phones be out during your First Dance. Both you and your wedding photographer will thank you. Creating timeless, clean imagery of this intimately special milestone of you and your new spouse is so important for your wedding photographer. When you reminisce on your wedding photos 20 years from now, you will be glad that there are no cell phones in your photos detracting from the beauty of this moment.
Your photographer and other vendors should eat along with you at the frontend of dinner. It is easier for us to quickly eat and get back to work. As an example, as a wedding photographer, it is so much nicer to have my meal served & eaten prior to the beginning of speeches so that I can give you my full attention with a satisfied tummy.
About one month out, most of your vendors are going to want to do a check-in with you. For planning and logistics, creating one master timeline/schedule with all of the details for every vendor would be helpful for both you and them. Keeping everyone on the same page is paramount to a successful and smooth day.
Tipping may be required per a vendor's contract. Take a look at the following tipping guide for some suggestions! https://www.b-radcelebrations.com/bridalresources/tipping-guide
After the wedding:
Be prepared to feel a "wedding hangover". No, this is not about having had too many glasses of champagne on your wedding day...although I don't blame you if you do... this is about the emotional release that occurs after your wedding celebration has come and gone. Of course, you will be delighted that you are now married to your better half... but, it is totally normal to feel momentary waves of sadness that your special day is over. You've spent months, maybe years, planning your best day ever and wrapping up this season of your life means moving onto the next phase. One pro-tip is that the less stressed, more flexible, you are during the wedding planning process, the more you will enjoy every aspect of it. This can be said for your wedding day, also. The more present you are with your lover and guests ON your wedding day, the better. Being in the moment with your family and friends, embracing what is, even if it means a minor hiccup along the way, is where the magic happens. ENJOY the wedding planning process and embrace your wedding day without reservation. Feel all of the feelings and trust that the vendors you've hired will be along for the ride to bring your wedding dreams to life.
Andrea Hall of Whimsical Roots Photography is a Wisconsin wedding photographer. She is based out of Hartford but frequently travels throughout the region. Milwaukee, Madison, Wisconsin Dells, Chicago, Illinois, Door County, Appleton, Green Bay, Oshkosh, La Crosse, the driftless region, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and Iowa.
She is passionate about documenting life as it unfolds. She is best known for her candid wedding photography and lifestyle family photography. With minimal posing, a focus on prompting and a desire to capture genuine emotions, Andrea puts her clients at ease so that they can let the real feelings flow, resulting in authentic photography.
"Andrea was our photographer for our engagement photos and our wedding in September 2022 and she was absolutely amazing! She showed up early, was very professional and positive and bubbly. Andrea is extremely patient, kind, fun, organized and creative. Andrea captured all the important moments of our big day. She makes you feel comfortable in front of the camera. We are in love with all the candid photos, too. You can’t go wrong with Andrea! Highly recommend!" - Jessica G.
"When I posted on my Facebook that I needed a wedding photographer, Andrea came HIGHLY recommended from many friends. We booked Andrea for our Engagement Pictures, Wedding Pictures and our One Year Anniversary Pictures. We chose Andrea because she is a fantastic photographer, professional and an amazing person. We were looking for someone who would capture all the special moments of our big day so we could look back at them forever. Andrea exceeded our expectations. She captured every special moment of our day and we couldn’t have asked for more. I was concerned about the amount of time that we would have to take pictures after the ceremony. Andrea helped me to make a list of all the pictures we wanted and really nail down an exact timeline to make sure we could get everything we wanted. The day-of she did a fantastic job of getting our family and bridal party where they were supposed to be in order to get these pictures done. Working with Andrea from start to finish was incredible. She goes above and beyond. Before we had our engagement pictures done she took the time to get to know Chris & I. She learned about our relationship, our hobbies and our lives. Which really made both of us feel comfortable with her. She is also organized and timely with her work. Something that sticks out in my mind when working with Andrea is her spunky personality. She made every session so much fun. I just simply love her! She’s such an amazing human and photographer. Our finished photos are beautiful. She captured everything we wanted and more. My favorite photos are the candid ones where you can just see how much fun everyone was having! Booking your next session with Andrea is the best decision you will make!" - Bobbi H