Bride guide for wedding planning

You are planning the most important event of your lifetime – Your wedding day! There is so much knowledge about what you should and shouldn’t do, which might get overwhelming at times. But don’t worry, I’ve got you! I shot my very first wedding back in 2012, and after so many years, I can now share some of my tips on how to plan your perfect wedding day.

My bride guide will help you get the most out of your photographs and help you run your day in smooth and relaxed order. That said, those tips are merely recommendations. A wedding is an individual feel, and you should only follow what’s right for you. After all, a wedding day is to celebrate you and your partner. Make sure you plan it the way you want it and not how others would expect it.

Bride Guide
Planning a wedding

The different stages of planning your wedding are very exciting, but things can also get slightly stressful. Trying to visualise your own concept and listen to a mountain of (well-intended) words of advice from both friends and family members while simultaneously juggling a budget. Mastering how to plan a wedding day (something you are most likely doing for the first and only time in your life) is a rather challenging project. But I’m bride guide and I are here for you. Here are a few things to keep in mind while starting your wedding planning to-do list:

Celebrate the process

With all these big and small stepping stones approaching your one big day, it is easy to lose sight of how precious the here and now is. That’s why you should make an effort to celebrate every little thing, such as choosing your shoes, dress fittings or menu tastings. Take every opportunity to spend quality moments with your cherished ones.

Let the others help you

Delegating responsibilities will gift you more time to enjoy and focus on top priorities on your to-do list. Gather a team of great people around you, and don’t be shy to ask for help if needed. Your friends and family members will be thrilled to help you.

Invite those you want

This should be a no-brainer, shouldn’t it? You would be amazed at how many couples wish for an intimate wedding, only to discover that their invitation list keeps growing and growing. Stop! Instead of your invitation list increasing along with your stress levels, you have absolute authority only to invite the people you know will be truly happy to see once the day rolls around.

Focus on you & them

When something doesn’t go quite as intended, try to take a deep breath, relax and take a step back. You two have chosen to spend your life together, and with that one crucial thought in mind, most conflicts genuinely aren’t that big of a deal. Trust me on that one.

There are a couple of things you should consider when planning your wedding. Check out my blog post about wedding flowers, second photographers, confetti and much more:

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Engagement shoot

First of all, let’s explain what an engagement shoot actually is and how to bit it. So, apart from getting beautiful images of you and your other half, you get the opportunity to warm up in front of the camera. You also get the chance to know me a little better – the person you chose to spend the whole day with.

Let’s be honest and take that plaster off, it’s going to be awkward at first, and that’s normal. Once we talk, discover a thing or two about each other, and exchange pet snaps on our phones, you will be much more comfortable. Think of it as a first date with your photographer! A few days later, you will receive a stunning gallery and forget about how nervous you were initially.

I love to take my couples on extended hikes, chat along the way and photograph you in between. The more relaxed and comfortable you get, the better pictures I will take. That’s a fact! Sounds good? Check out my engagement related blogs below:

Engagement shoot locations
Engagement shoot locations

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Pre-shoot – What to expect?

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Most weddings are structures similarly – preparations, ceremony, group shots, speeches and evening reception. This doesn’t mean that YOU have to stick to it! Be creative, have things don’t your way. Most weddings have approximately five bridesmaids , but you would love to have ten? Go for it! What is stopping you? Traditionally there are three speeches, usually happening after the meal but your hubby-to-be wants to get them out of the way before you eat? Please do it! This is your wedding day, and you should have it your way! Here are my few to go tips when planning your day:

Don't start super duper early

Sometimes, couples are concerned about how to keep their guests entertained throughout the wedding day. The best solution I have observed? Don’t start your day too early! A ceremony in the early afternoon allows you to sleep in and begin the day in a relaxed manner. There’s a natural flow to how things progress, and people won’t even realise how time flies by. It’s so much more pleasant than having your guests wait around with a Prosecco in their hands, wondering when things will pick up the speed.

Leave some wiggle room

Try to abstain from filling up the day’s schedule to the last minute. Instead, add an extra 10-15 minutes to every activity because, from my experience, many things take longer than initially anticipated. That’s normal and shouldn’t be a reason to get stressed out. Instead of spending your day chasing down your own schedule, give yourself some breathing space so that you can relax and enjoy every moment. After planning your wedding day for SO many months, you deserve to enjoy it to the fullest.

Pay attention to light

From a photography point of view, light is a crucial factor and will significantly influence the mood I can capture during the ceremony, the couple shoot, the evening etc. Simply keep that in mind, especially if everything is taking place outdoors, and feel free to consult me about any questions that may come up. I have also included lots of advice on making the best various light situations in the forthcoming sections.

Mock-up times

So you have been given a few tips, but how much time do you really need? When do you need to leave? How long should the drinks reception last? Are you going to cut your cake for the whole 5 minutes?

Don’t panic! These are super standard questions, and it’s okay to question every stage of your day. I’m a visual person (who would have guessed!), so I have created a sample timeline for you. Now, this is not the real deal, but it will give you an idea of how things usually go. Don’t worry if you feel like this doesn’t match what you have planned – we are all unique after all.

Bride Guide

Getting Ready

The morning hours of your wedding day are so precious, and it is one of my favourite parts of the whole day, capturing both of you getting ready for the celebration ahead.

When the groom-to-be buttons up his shirt with shaking fingers, the prospective bride’s mom can hardly hide the tears after seeing her little girl in her wedding dress; when little love notes are exchanged, hugs are shared, and you can almost taste the anticipation in the air. This is what I love.

How much time do I need to capture you getting ready?

Usually, two hours is a perfect time frame. It allows me to capture the setting & mood, your beautiful details and the bride (and bridesmaids) getting the final touches of their hair and make-up done. Bride getting onto her wedding gown, pre-ceremony portraits and lots of gorgeous moments in between.

It usually takes a little less with the groom than with the bride. There is no make-up or hairstylist involved (usually!). Unless the groom is getting ready in the same location as the bride, I would ask my second shooter (if booked) to meet you in your place for about an hour. This should be enough time to capture the getting ready parts and a few portraits once you are all made up.

We can always work with less time, but please note this often means some things may fall by the wayside if the schedule gets delayed.

Sit by the window

When you get your hair and makeup done, please make sure you sit by a window facing outside. This guarantees the best light for the photographs. Your makeup artist and hairdresser surely won’t mind as they look for optimum lighting anyway. It will also ensure that your makeup looks right in the daylight.

Detail shots

I often start my morning by taking detailed shots of your dress, jewellery, shoes, cufflinks, invitations etc. It will save us a lot of time and running around if you have already put all these things together in one place so that I can access them quickly and arrange for photographs.

Keep it tidy

Even if you are in a hotel room, things quickly do get messy with hair straighteners, clothes, half eaten food etc. Sometimes it makes sense to dedicate a corner as a messy corner or ask one of your bridesmaids to do a quick clean up before your photographer arrives.

Favourite people

Having all your besties and female family members in the morning sounds like a great idea. Things get busy, the temperature gets hotter, and you struggle to have that ideal chilled and relaxed morning you wanted. Choose a handful of your favourite humans to share these precious first hours of your day, and give the rest of your beloved friends a big hug once you see them later in the day.


The ceremony is one of the highlights of your day. Whether you have chosen a beautiful little chapel in the forest or an outdoor ceremony with some spectacular views – I am convinced it will be breathtaking. Once again, there are just a few things to consider before your wedding day:

  • Unplugged – Capturing important moments with a smartphone is second nature to most of us these days. You can ask your guests to refrain from using mobile phones and tablets during the ceremony or even throughout the day. It will allow them to be there with you and me to capture those raw emotions on their faces. 
  • Communication – if you are having a religious ceremony, please check with your spiritual leader how they feel about photographers. Sometimes they fear that we will interfere with the ceremony – which isn’t the case, but they might need reassurance. 
  • Take your time – The moment the bridal crew enters the ceremony is super exciting. Let your bridal crew walk without rush and build excitement before you. Then take your time when walking down the aisle. Cherish the moment. The same goes for the first kiss, by the way! Instead of a peck on the lips, linger a tad longer; we know you want to!
Bride Guide

Pro Tip

Wise florist once said: When walking down the aisle – keep your flowers by your bits, not by your tits!

Drinks Reception

After the ceremony and once everyone has given you a hug, the guests will move tot the reception area. Make sure you offer a variety of drinks and snacks to keep everyone happy while you move around and talk to people. Everyone will love a small munch and it will create an excellent atmosphere.

Ask your venue manager about the position of the sun throughout certain parts of your day. You may want to make some adjustments. Will the sun vanish behind the house in the afternoon? It might get a little chilly in the shade and you could consider providing your guests with some blankets. Is the reception area open and exposed to the sun on a summer day? If so, provide enough shade for everybody (suncream doesn’t necessarily fit into a clutch bag). Usually, the on-site team has a ton of experience, so make sure to check in with them upfront for some insider tips.

Bride Guide
Bride Guide
Formal Photographs

Once the reception is in full swing, it’s a great time to take family formals. I suggest keeping the list short and sweet with no more than 8 to 10 groups. Things will take longer than you expect them to take. The more groups you have, the more time you will stand around posing instead of mingling. You can also dedicate one person who knows everybody from the list to gather people and help things run smoother.

Bride Guide

Apart from food and drinks, what else could you do to make your day even more fun and unique? You can hire a caricaturist for memorable drawings, a magician for the WOWs, an aerial performer for even more WOOOWs or a live music show! Whatever you decide on is going to be super extra. Check out this post about how to make drinks reception pop

Couple Session

The couple shoot s an excellent chance for you two to enjoy a few quiet moments with each other away from the wedding buzz. It gives you time to catch your breath, reflect and create more wonderful memories with me. Whether we go for a little walk not far from the venue or drive a few moments to a stunning location, there is always a great backdrop, and I am sure it will be remarkable!

Bride Guide
How Long?

Depending on the flow of your day, it can make sense to split the couple session into parts. Ideally, I would love to take you out for about 15 minutes before your guests are called in to sit down. Then in the ideal world, I would again kidnap you in the evening to catch some of that warm & glowing sunset light. Right before I’d finish, once it get’s dark, I would take you out one more time for that WOW factor night shot.

Bride Guide

The best (and my favourite) light is right before sunset when the sun is low in the sky, soaking us in a warm glow. I understand this isn’t always possible because of what might be happening at the time. However, should there be a chance of making it possible, you will not regret it!

When creating a wedding timeline for the day, please note that the middle of the day is less than flattering for photos, especially on a sunny day. The sun is very high in the sky, and the bright light and harsh shadows will take all the magic.

Bride Guide

With a little bit of research, there are usually many beautiful spots to be found almost anywhere. But less is more! Let’s focus on two or three locations close to each other, so there is no rushing around.

I would usually wander around the property during my initial venue visit and will already have a few scenic spots in my mind when we get to that part of the day. Feel free to share your research with me, so I can get your idea of what’s meaningful to you.

First Dance & The Party!

Your first dance is the final highlight of the day so make sure you put some thought into it. Your DJ might talk you into having those fancy lights lighting up the whole space. Moving lights will create a disturbance. While it does look great on the dance floor, later on, it doesn’t look so good during the first dance. A fairy light backdrop or Feston lights will create a beautiful romantic atmosphere; adding some low will give you the dancing in the clouds effect.

Give it a think, and I will take care of the rest capturing your most magical first dance.

It might feel awkward to think you will have to dance the whole 240 odd seconds with everyone laying their eyes on you. Don’t feel the pressure to dance throughout the WHOLE song. At the same time, please keep it to at least 1 minute before inviting people to join you.
Now it’s party time! Dance like no one’s watching, and be sure to make it one night to remember!

After the wedding

So you had your most wonderful day, you have received your online gallery and you keep rewatching your wedding video. It was perfect but new questions have raised. What to do with your fabulous wedding dress? How to store your images? What to do with flowers? The bride guide will give you some answers:

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Wedding Albums

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