8 Things You Need to Know When Planning a Wedding | Charlotte Francis Photo

Congratulations!  You have a wedding to plan!  This will be such a busy and exciting time in your life.  Being a wedding photographer, I get to see a lot of behind-the-scenes action when it comes to wedding planning.  I’ve compiled a list of things you need to know when planning your wedding.  Hope it helps you to get things planned and enjoy the process!

  • Research always pays off.

Doing your research, no matter how time-consuming, is so worth it.  You will never regret researching instead of booking your first option. Always ask to see galleries of full weddings and ask about what you should expect day of from your photographer as well prior to booking to make sure their style fits what you are wanting for your wedding day. Testimonials and reviews should play a huge role in deciding who your vendors will be.  I have worked with an amazing group of Arizona wedding vendors, so feel free to ask for recommendations!

  • Find a photographer + videographer you vibe with.

I cannot sufficiently stress the importance of finding the right photographer and videographer for you — as a couple.  They are the people who you will be with the most on your wedding day, so it is vital that you vibe with their personalities and techniques. Get to know a couple of photographers through their social media posts and “About Me” pages,  and get in contact with those you think you would want to work with! Most photographers will schedule a consultation with prospective clients to see how they get along; take advantage of this!  

  • Check out the lighting of your ceremony space.

The mood of your wedding matters.  If you are looking to have a light and airy wedding — but your ceremony space has dark and moody lighting — you might want to look into different locations.  If you choose a ceremony space because of religious or sentimental reasons, your photographer will most likely be able to create lighting that is closer to the mood you want for your wedding.  However, if you are looking for an outdoor space or venue, check it out before you make any big decisions. A good idea for outdoor weddings is checking how the light will be at your ceremony site ahead of time, photographers are great at working with different lighting situations but we always recommend your ceremony have ample shade for you and your guests, especially during Arizona summers or be shot during golden hour. Talk with your photographer to get their input as well, we are here to make your photos the best they can be!

  • Your DJ matters.

Your wedding reception’s success will likely depend in a large part on which  DJ you select.  Every DJ has a different style and will bring a different atmosphere to your celebration, so choose wisely!  Get recommendations from friends who have gotten married recently and  look at online reviews.  Make sure and talk to your DJ before booking to ensure your ideas about the perfect reception align with theirs. In my opinion, your DJ is just as important as finding the right photographer. Finding a DJ who knows how to read the audience and play the right music to get the party started is so important to a successful reception!

  • Get organized.

Because wedding planning is so busy and fast-paced, it is easy to become disorganized.  If you start out with an organized plan, it will be easier to stay organized as you begin to book your vendors and make big decisions! A wedding planner is a huge asset for every wedding, especially for couples who are busier and do not have the time to sit and plan down to the very last detail. A day of planner or coordinator is extremely helpful for any event so that you and your guests can relax and enjoy the party!

  • Your budget is a huge part of wedding planning.

Your budget is not everything, yet maybe it is.  Being realistic with your wedding budget will help you avoid unnecessary debt and financial stress as you enter married life.  Once you have determined who is contributing and how much they will be paying for, it is important to decide what your personal budget will be.  According to a 2017 study from “The Knot,” the average wedding in the United States costs over $33,000.  Many factors affect what the cost of your wedding will be — guest count, location, flowers, etc.  For a rough idea of how much each item will cost, use these national averages.

  • You will have to prioritize.

Budgeting will help you to leave space for your priorities.  Sit down with your fiance and figure out what the most important aspects of your wedding are to the two of you.  Determine what percentage of your budget you will be spending on the items you have prioritized. Prioritize these details and compromise on less important items to stay within your budget. Decide together what percentage of your budget you will be spending on the items you have deemed as most important.

  • Plan your wedding for you.

This is your wedding.  Although you can be thoughtful and think of your guests, do not let your guests’ preferences overpower your own.  Be assertive and make sure you are making decisions for the two of you! This is your special day! Some creative ways you can make your wedding more unique are having live music for your ceremony or reception, smore’s or a hot chocolate bar for those chilly winter weddings or an icecream truck for summer, a photo booth for your reception, a tattoo bar, customized favors for guests (some of my favorites have been handmade soaps, succulents to take home and grow, mini shots and fresh coffee grounds!) The list goes on and on! Sit down and think about all of the things that would make your wedding a dream and implement those. This is one of the most special days of your life and you deserve to have it revolve around all of the things you both love!

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