We sat down with our good friend Paige Vaughn to get her take on wedding tips that every bride and groom need to hear. If there is anyone who knows the ins and outs of the wedding world, it’s this gal.
Research shows that after couples get engaged, they’re almost always puzzled about what steps to take first as they begin to plan their wedding together. The internet is full of mixed messages about the “right” way to plan a wedding BUT take it from a pro: we live in a magical time where there is no right or wrong way to do things. However, there are a couple tips and tricks that can truly elevate your wedding day experience and your final gallery (while even saving a little money while you’re at it)!
- Hire a planner. I mean it. I say this as a photographer, not a planner: if you don’t hire someone to help guide and coordinate your wedding day, your closest family and friends’ experiences will suffer from it (as will yours). You’re already investing so much into your wedding, don’t ruin it by letting it go off the rails because someone’s sole job isn’t to execute your day. Even seemingly “simple” wedding days need help to make things go smoothly. Not to mention, weddings without planners/coordinators are likely to get less photos than weddings with planners (without a planner or coordinator, the photographer likely will end up playing a coordinator role and get distracted from their actual role of capturing the day). Enable yourself to soak it all in and enjoy the day by hiring someone who is going to make your dreams a reality.
- Pro tip: Ask planners/coordinators about customizing a package to fit your needs. Need month-of help, but also help with design and sourcing vendors while doing most of the leg work yourself? Chances are your planner is up to create something that fits your unique needs.
- Be flexible on your wedding date and don’t delay on reaching out to your dream wedding photographer. If photography is a priority of you and there is a photographer you’ve had your eye on, keep in contact with them as you start touring venues and use their availability to narrow down what days you’re thinking of tying the knot. There is nothing worse than missing out on your top pick simply because of bad timing. Photographers WANT to hear from you. I personally love collaborating/texting with couples as they tour venues and vet what day they could get married – I can provide dates I’m available, venue recommendations and other key vendor suggestions that will help this part of the process go wayyyy more smoothly. We can’t do that if we’re not part of the initial conversations.
- Don’t be afraid to go off the beaten path when it comes to deciding your wedding aesthetic. Stay away from trendy wedding themes ad dig deep before settling on how you want your wedding to feel. Don’t get me wrong, I love Pinterest as much as the next girl, but lanterns, pink/navy/burgundy and green garlands are not the only ways to furnish your wedding. Talk with your partner about your mutual interests, how you want your wedding to feel AND explore unlikely color pairings to create a day that’s uniquely YOU. I’m giving you permission to throw a wedding that isn’t like everything else – your love is unique, your day should be, too!
- Trust your photographer’s suggestions when it comes to locations, attire, timing, etc. Couples are investing more than ever into their wedding days; it makes perfect sense that you have high expectations for how your photos will turn out. A KEY part of this is listening to your photographer’s perspective and trusting their expertise.
- For example, if your photographer tells you that your getting ready photos would turn out much better if your mom zips your dress up outside or in a different room, you have an easy way to elevate your overall gallery.
- Or say you’re unsure of when to have your ceremony or how much time you’ll need for couple photos without a first look – listen and follow their direction. They have your best interest at heart!
- What about your engagement photos? Are you between outfits or need help figuring out where to shop? Your photographer can guide you on what looks best to make you feel your best. I personally provide my clients an engagement guide that walks them through what looks good, where to find it, how to prepare for your session and other tips and tricks to help guarantee you loving your photos.
- Get creative with how you use your budget.
- Don’t shy away from an off-season wedding or a Sunday or week day wedding. Many couples are insistent on having their wedding on a Saturday, BUT you can often save big if you book your venue Sunday-Friday OR during an off-season month. There are only 52 Saturdays in a year including holiday weekends AND there are only 4 Saturdays during popular months like March and October. Do yourself a favor and have an open mind about when you have your wedding, especially if you’re on a budget. Personally, it’s easier for me to work with client’s budgets if they have it during Sunday-Friday since Saturdays are in such high demand.
- Create your guest list wisely. Instead of ruling out quality vendors because of their pricing, rethink things like your guest count as an area to save money to put towards something on your priority list. This is an easy way to make your day more intimate, too! For example: if you invite 10 less people, that’s 10 less meals, 1 less table, 1 less linen, 1 less centerpiece, 10 less name cards, 10 less favors and 30-40 less drinks from the bar. That’s like saving $1000+ right off the bat for just 10 less people. It’s as easy as cutting a few random plus ones or people who are not near and dear to your heart. Their feelings are not likely to be hurt, and you could then use that saved money towards other things in your budget (like photography ;-)).
BONUS: Even with all the decisions that need to be made in the 9-12 months between when you get engaged and actually say “I do!” keep the focus on what’s most important: your marriage. Take wedding planning as an opportunity to team up and create a day that’s truly representative of who you are as a couple, and don’t forget to take days off to just date each other. After all the cake is eaten and flowers have died, you will be married and that’s what matters. That perspective can help make a lot of decisions much easier.
Paige Vaughn is the owner and lead photographer behind Paige Vaughn Photo, a wedding photography studio based in Austin, Texas and San Francisco, California. She specializes in wedding photography for FUN, laid-back couples in love who are looking to FEEL as good as they look in their wedding photos. Her unique approach focuses on getting couples to relax and truly be themselves together in order to achieve those swoon-worth candid shots that will last a lifetime. In addition to weddings, PVP also offers engagements, bridals, boudoir and anniversary photography since she can never truly get enough of her incredible couples. When she’s not shooting weddings, you can find her sipping on rosé at happy hour, snuggling with her precious corgi Paddington, and eating as many Chickfila chicken nuggets as she can get her hands on. You can find out more about Paige and her work at www.paigevaughnphoto.com.