Wedding tips!
and helpful wedding day schedule info help your wedding day go very very smoothly.

From a wedding photographer with 25 experience in the field.

(916) 782-7536

updated June 2013

Photo at left: Pioneer Congregational Church, built in 1849 during the California Gold Rush.

This church had historic dark wood interior walls. They absorbed a lot of light and made the church technically challenging to shoot in, although the results turned out very well.

For this picture Doug used a Nikon camera, 50mm lens, exposure of 1/30 second at f:1.4 at ISO 1600 - a very high sensitivity setting. This photo was taken uxing existing llight (no flash.) 



Assorted WEDDING TIPS based on photographing hundreds of weddings.
If you hire a wedding planner, many of these items will get handled for you.
If you don't hire a coordinator, please read this page!


There will be some terrible goof-ups on your wedding day --- here's the really scary truth about who will notice...!

Answer: Nobody except you. So relax.

Frankly your GUESTS will not freak out if the boquet has the wrong mix of flowers, or bridesmaids dresses are the wrong shade of lavender, or the shoes won't fit and you wear white tennis shoes under the wedding dress. Grooms won't care if lavender turns out to be a shade of aubergine.

Your guests are there because they are happy you're getting married. Period. They don't care if wedding detail number #42 was messed up. They don't care at all. So relax. Something always goes wrong. But no one will mind.



Wedding date, location, and budget secrets:

Your first critical choices are the wedding date and location. You can't schedule much else until you know those.

But don't feel pressured into signing a contract with the first venue you find. Here's why. If you get nervous and over-spend there you may not have enough money left over for your other wedding priorities.

That's why I recommend writing a simple wedding budget before you sign up with anyone. If you hire a wedding planner she'll help with that.

If you're a member of a church, they'll usually let you get married there for an affordable fee. If the fee is astronomical, well... If your church sees your wedding as a moneymaker instead of a ministry, personally, I'd start looking for a new church.

There are several legitimate fees a church needs to charge you --- to pay for a janitor, sound man, minister's honorarium, perhaps a church coordinator's time, and in some cities, security.

When I got married, my church (Sun River Church in Rancho Cordova at the time) thankfully charged me only for the janitorial service, the sound man's time, and a donation for the minister. The church was completely ethical and did NOT use my wedding as an excuse to make money. There are some excellent churches in our area so shop around or call me for recommendations.

Decide your own priorities -- whether they be venue, partying, photography, clothes, decorations, flowers, food, travel. If you over-spend in catetory X you could have nothing left for category Y.




How to Goof-Proof your Wedding Day Schedule:

Plan your wedding day timetable in consultation with your photographer or an experienced wedding planner. It's important to provide adequate time for group & portrait photography.

On the wedding day, DON'T LET YOUR CEREMONY START LATE for no particular reason.

I recommend starting the ceremony exactly 10 minutes after the scheduled start time. That prevents most guests who are looking for a parking place from entering the church while the bride walks up the aisle (tacky.)

Decide upon a start time and absolutely stick to it except in a true emergency.

HERE'S WHY --- When you start a ceremony late, you create a cascading set of problems affecting your photographer, your caterer, your portrait photos, your reception venue, your limousine, your guests... Don't let it happen.

The single most common cause of wedding delays I've seen are hair appointments for the bride and bridesmaids.

Solution: #1: Schedule hair appointments earlier in the day than you would have thought necessary.

Solution #2: Make them finish the bride's hair first, so if delays happen, it will delay bridesmaids but not the bride's arrival at the church.

Pick up bridal dress and tuxedos several DAYS before the wedding. Wedding dress and tuxedo shops can goof up, of course. Sometimes they even go out of business. So get the clothing in your hot little hands ahead of time. Make sure #1 all the pieces are actually there; and #2, see if they fit.

Consider doing bride & groom portraits together before the ceremony. This will get you turned loose to mingle with your guests sooner.

Work with your photographer to plan which family members you want in pictures. DO NOT use that crazy list of must-have poses from the bridal magazines, they're too complex to be practical.

Give a heads up to critical family members that you'll NEED them to be present for group pictures after the ceremony. Ask them not to leave for the reception until those pictures have been taken.

Work with your photographer or wedding planner to predict what time you'll arrive at the reception, and when the chef should have food ready.


LIMOUSINE SCHEDULES ...caution! Limousines are fun but brides or grooms have no clue about how to schedule a limousine properly. Consult your photographer or wedding planner first. 

Avoid schedule problems caused by an overwhelmed maid of honor: Sometimes you have a maid of honor, sister or other key assistant who may freak out at all the responsibility. Come on, you know if that's going to be the case --- then turn those duties over to a professional wedding coordinator instead.


DISC JOCKEY ADVICE:  Nearly all the pro's I've seen lately are good. I do recommend the following instructions:

1. Plan with him/her a "don't play list" of banned music. Example: A teenager may request a DJ to play songs with offensive lyrics or some style you despise. Tell the DJ which things you DON'T want, even when a wedding guest requests it.

2. Plan how loud you want the volume. Do you want it super loud dancing? Or quieter so non-dancing guests can talk with each other?  It's your event, and the DJ will appreciate your guidance.

If you use a DJ service which employs multiple DJ's, that's OK, but the one who shows up at your wedding may not have gotten the word about banned music and volume preferences. So please remind them at the reception...



Great news:

You don't have to over spend on glam.

Your wedding guests will attend because they're happy you're getting married. You really don't need to spend $$$$ to impress them.



Wedding Planners

Hiring a professional wedding planner may save you more money than she charges. Suppose you pay a planner $2,000 but she saves you from wasting $4000 on stupid expenses? That would make her fee a bargain.

On the wedding day itself, a consultant/coordinator will keep your schedule on track and shield you from little stresses. So you'll have more time to spend with your guests and you'll have better memories of the day.

Note: a coordinator who is employed by a country club or hotel, instead of by you, may not be able to give you money saving advice. (I am not implying they're bad coordinators -- many are superb. I am only talking about cost issues here.) Their employer expects the coordinator to generate income for the venue.

In any case work with your photographer to make sure your wedding day schedule will be a realistic one.



Wedding Planner Software

"Free" wedding planning software on the internet can be helpful. Please understand that "free" software is used to generate sales leads for advertisers. That's why it's "free."

Another option is to purchase your own wedding software --- $29 to $49.

Or if turning yourself into an organized super woman isn't appealing, why not hire a wedding planner instead.

If you already have a favorite photographer (like me) PLEASE inform your planner! If she doesn't know me, she'll steer you towards other photographers whom she is familiar with, instead of me.



Last minute confirmations before the wedding day

Be sure and call all your vendors a few weeks before the wedding --- dress shop, tuxedo shop, caterer, florist --- everybody. Occasionally they'll forget about your date and won't have things ready unless you remind them! Yes, it happens! And occasionally a storefront business will go under, so check with everyone. When I got married, the tuxedo store suddenly disappeared a few weeks before my wedding. Eeks.


Personalized wedding websites

Many couples now set up their own wedding websites. It can be fun, can help your wedding guests find directions to your church & reception, see fun trivia about how you and your fiancee met, and view engagement photos. After the wedding you can post wedding pics too.

ALL Doug's wedding pictures will be copyright cleared so feel free to upload them to your own website.

Although some companies offer wedding websites for "free" you should ask whom they'll share your personal information with.


The Best Thing I Ever Did While Engaged...

The best thing I ever did while engaged, was to attend a half dozen pre-marital counseling sessions with my fiancee and pastor. Nearly every church offers this and the programs are similar in content, even at different denominations.

The pastor or counselor asks you standard questions to reveal where your goals and values are similar & different. Laying these cards on the table --- will avoid surprises and arguments in the future.

He'll probably give you a written personality test. There are four basic personality types, this is true worldwide, it's been true across the centuries. It's how our brains were designed & hard wired.

Different personality styles simply think very differently. Understanding in advance how these differences affect the two of you will avoid some stupid fights later. Yes, I highly recommend pre-marital counseling, you'll be glad you did.


This "wedding tips" page is presented as a public service by so feel free to reproduce it if you give author's credit.


Click button at left if you blink a lot in pictures.

Doug performs wedding photography in Sacramento, Roseville and throughout the western states. No travel charge within 100 miles of Sacramento.





Wedding tips!


 Caption for photo above: Doug likes to provide a relaxed photography atmosphere so everyone can have fun and just be themselves.