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Rapid Fire Tips for Your Wedding Day | Interview with Host Sara Zarrella and Co-host & Producer Dan Phillips | Wedding Secrets Unveiled! Podcast

After over 20 years in the wedding industry, Sara and Dan have experienced just about every wedding day situation you can imagine. (Knock on wood!) And with that much experience, you pick up a few tips and tricks along the way. Today on Wedding Secrets Unveiled!, Sara and Dan are delivering a myriad of random nuggets of wisdom just for you! This is the second episode of three in a mini-series on wedding photography. So, sit back, relax, and who knows? Maybe one of these rapid-fire tips will save you from recreating one of the less-than-ideal situations Sara and Dan have experienced!

Rapid Fire Tips for Your Wedding Day from hosts & wedding photographers Sara Zarrella and Dan Phillips on Wedding Secrets Unveiled! podcast

We hope that you learn something from today’s rapid-fire questions. Some will be related to photography – and others might not be. But let’s jump right in. The first one: space walking down the aisle. Who tells you when to walk?

Sometimes there’s a coordinator with the church or venue that will help you walk through this, but generally the rule of thumb is the bridesmaids go before the bride. For most people, when the person ahead of you is about halfway down the aisle, the next person can walk. Try to match their pace and speed so that you all look about the same. 

Right. And try to smile and look up. Guests are seeing you as you walk and you’re setting the tone for the wedding. Remember to hold your bouquet lower, around your belly button and keep your elbows near your waist. The photographer is trying to get a photo of you, too, so don’t rowed the bridesmaid before you. 

When you leave, do the same thing. Let the bride and groom go halfway down. Next people go halfway. People tend to want to just leave and that’s what causes a traffic jam. The photographer and videographer are trying to get their photos and video. This is the ceremony and the reason that we’re all here. So, just take your time. Oh, and don’t chew gum!! Nobody should be chewing gum, especially during the ceremony… but really, at any time during the wedding day. 

Oh, and take your phones out of your pocket. The style right now is really slim pants and anything in your pocket is going to show in your photos. Ladies should also remove the elastic from their wrists. I know Sara is thinking about speeches now, too.  

Oh, yes. Just print it out. Make bullet points or read off a piece of paper. It’s timeless. Reading your speech off your phone really dates the image. Not to mention, the light on your face is just super annoying. So, don’t read anything off your phone! That includes your vows. 

Speaking of phones for your ceremony… we were at a wedding recently where the officiant had everyone take their phone out and take a selfie. He told them to send it to the bride and groom and then put their phones away. It was really kind of awesome and now the couple will have all of those selfies from their guests. 

Yeah. Well, we all we also do that when we’re doing like, family pictures. People always try to sneak in with their phones and it makes it so hard. Especially with kids. They don’t know where to look. So, I tell people to take their photo then I will. It’s so much easier that way and people know where to look then. 

Oooh yes. Another quick tip: hold your first kiss a little longer than you think you need to and don’t forget to ask your officiant to step out of the way. We don’t want anyone’s head between you both. 

Rapid Fire Tips for Your Wedding Day from hosts & wedding photographers Sara Zarrella and Dan Phillips on Wedding Secrets Unveiled! podcast

Can I throw out a completely random tip? Every single person should have a pair of scissors in their hotel room when getting ready. Everything has a tag and if you just rip it off, you’re ripping something. I guarantee it.

Yes. And just know that your dress is going to get dirty the day of your wedding. No matter what, it will get dirty and that’s okay. No one’s looking that closely at your dress and we all know that walking outside will leave dirt. It’s okay! 

So, another thing maybe for the people that are wearing suits: practice tying your tie before the wedding day. Bowties are super hard to tie if they aren’t clip on. YouTube videos are great to help you out but they also can lose people so fast. So just plan to practice before your wedding day. 

Yes, something else to think about: learn how to pin the flowers. Sometimes your florist will be there, but oftentimes, they’re not. Everyone has great intentions, but I’ve seen so many flowers on the wrong way or falling off. So, learn to tie your tie and how to pin your flowers. 

Boom. And it’s not that tough. And Sara, what side do the flowers go on? 

Whatever side of the suit that has your pocket! 

Another thing I wanted to throw out there is for windy wedding days. If you’re getting married on a dock or along the water, there’s going to be wind. End of discussion. I would avoid having your hair down. If you have a veil, it’s going to get pulled by the wind depending on how big it is. Have your hair stylist really bobby pin it in. You want that thing stuck in there! Make sure you know how to put your veil on too. Ask your dress shop and your hair stylist so if you have to adjust it – like if you’re traveling – you know how to fix it back up. 

Yep, totally. Another thing that people don’t think about is googling when sunset is. Especially later in the year, sun goes down really early. So, if you’re looking for sunset shots, or even golden hour portraits, you need to know when sunset is. For weddings at the end of the year, that’s early and you need to understand that when working out your timeline. 

Thinking about the time of year will impact a lot of your decisions. If you’re getting married in the summer, don’t overdress your bridal party or yourself, I mean, three-piece suits or darker colors, or a long sleeve dress are probably just not appropriate for summer weddings. 

Rapid Fire Tips for Your Wedding Day from hosts & wedding photographers Sara Zarrella and Dan Phillips on Wedding Secrets Unveiled! podcast

Do you have another tip, Dan?

You’re going to want to have a list of your must-have photos for your wedding day. For example, if your college friends will all be there, tell the photographer that you want a photo. It might be during the reception, but then we know to make sure we get it. DJs love that – they can help make announcements for people or groups like that. 

You shouldn’t leave anything to change the day of your wedding. Something else that’s important is not overscheduling your family formals. Most people don’t want to be the center of attention and you’re already going to be so tired of photos. So be very particular about your family setups. We know that you want these photos, and you should have them. But just really think about what you absolutely want and need when it comes to the family formal breakdowns. 

Another tip would be about getting ready. If you know the bride is getting ready in one place, try to clean up other spots. It helps everyone make sure there’s a clean spot for more photos. 

Rapid Fire Tips for Your Wedding Day from hosts & wedding photographers Sara Zarrella and Dan Phillips on Wedding Secrets Unveiled! podcast

I love that. I know I always say we’re professional furniture movers, but listen, please have an area when you’re getting ready that’s clean. Try to avoid putting on your wedding dress where the makeup artist and hair stylist are working, too. Speaking of hair and makeup… 

Leave time for your hair and makeup. Take whatever your makeup artist tells you and tack on an extra 15-20 minutes for a buffer. It’s your wedding day. What’s the worst thing that happens? You wind up early? 

It always takes longer to get somewhere, too. I know we’ve said this a lot before. 15 minutes down the road is a lot longer than that. So, buffer your travel times. 

Oh yes, and if you’re planning to have any type of receiving line after your ceremony – don’t hang out for long. Guests will come up to you and delay whatever is next on the schedule. It’s the same with your cocktail hour. Don’t go until you’re ready. 

One thing that a lot of people do is cut the cake during the wedding reception. A few tips for cake cutting… Cut the bottom. Aim for a pie shaped piece out of the bottom tier. Don’t worry about how it looks coming out. It’s never perfect! Try to cut the slice bigger than you think you might want to eat, smaller slices are harder to pull out of the cake. Also, you don’t want to cut the top because that’s usually saved for your first anniversary. 

And I’ve also seen where part of the cake is not actually cake. It’s a filler for the look but not actual cake. So just check in with your baker about which layer to cut! Bakers usually provide sheet cake to hand out to guests, so the cake isn’t always actually cake.  

Another random tip: if you have a photo booth, go into it! So many couples don’t get a chance to use their own photo booth. You want to enjoy it but it’s easy to get caught up in everything else going on. Have someone remind you to step in and take a few photos. The same thing goes for anything personal you have. Have someone bring you your signature cocktail or whatever. Just make sure all of those things you put time into are enjoyed by you and your spouse! 

The other thing is you should never be the point of contact for the day of the wedding. And you should never leave anything for the day of the wedding for decisions. There will be stuff you’re going to have to decide on the day.

Rapid Fire Tips for Your Wedding Day from hosts & wedding photographers Sara Zarrella and Dan Phillips on Wedding Secrets Unveiled! podcast

Another thing I was thinking of is that people need to have their rings with them beforehand. What we mean by that is that you need to have all three rings together for your photographer for your detail photos. They should start where the bride is and can be handed off during photos or before the ceremony. 

What about: always have a rain backup plan no matter what? Make sure all of your wedding day has a backup plan. Do you have backups for photo locations or cocktail hour? You shouldn’t be the point of contact in the moment, but you should have a plan beforehand. Most of your vendors will have some sort of final detail appointment, so follow that timeline and fill out whatever they need. 

And if you’re trying to plan out how long you need photography coverage for in the evening, a good rule of thumb (for us anyway) is about 1-2 hours once the dancing starts. If you’re waiting to do your special sendoff until the end of the party, then you’ll need someone for that. But we can always stage your exit earlier. 

Yeah. And if you’re having like a special guest or surprise performance, let us know. But basically, once the party starts, you don’t need the photographer for more than 1-2 hours more. Also, don’t forget to talk to your photographer about how many locations you can use for your photos. Not all days are conducive to you visiting a bunch of locations for photos. Some venues have lots of great options – like Blithewold Mansion, Glen Manor, and Aldridge Mansion. But you need to discuss the options with your photographer. 

For sure. Making sure that a location is good is important, too. On sunny days, wide open spaces aren’t necessarily the best things. And some places, like certain parks, require permits. There’s just a lot you have to consider when choosing additional locations for your wedding day photos. 

The other thing I was just thinking is to totally random but that’s the name of the game is over here. Whoever’s putting you in the wedding dress: they need to be dressed first. So, a lot of times your hair makeup artists will say we want the bride to be last. But, sometimes it’s not ideal. We need the bride ready for all of her photos. 

And you know what? Ultimately, let it go. When the planning is done, it’s your wedding day. Just try to have a magical time and turn it all off, so you can enjoy the day! It’s easier said than done, but it’s so important to try and just enjoy the day. At the end of it all, you’ll be married and that’s all that really matters. 

What We Discussed

Rapid fire wedding tips (1:00)

Bow tie tips (13:01)

Family Formal Tips (21:33)

Links Mentioned in the Episode

Links Mentioned in the Episode

Free Resources from Sara Zarrella Photography

Ep. 65: All Things Wedding Photography

Other Photography Episodes: Questions to Ask Your Wedding Photographer | Is a First Look Right For You? | Editing and Retouching: The Difference & What it Means | One Photographer vs. Two | Understanding wedding vocabulary

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