Welcome Guide

WELCOME GUIDE

It’s official!!! You’re engaged. Now comes the fun part of planning the wedding. As a wedding photographer, I probably have the most knowledge when it comes to the overall flow of your wedding day. Your other vendors definitely have their specialties, but I’ll be by your side the entire time. Which is why I created this little welcome guide to help you out in the journey. Feel free to pick my brain throughout the process.

LETS PLAN YOUR WEDDING

The thing ot keep in mind throughout the planning process, is that it’s your wedding. You will always have the final say in how things go. Consider me the professional perspective in your corner. There will always be people wanting to give you their opinion in how a wedding needs to play out. The fact is, weddings these days can be anything you want them to be. And over the years, I have become really good at playing devil’s advocate. So if you’re arguing with your mother over wether to wear a veil during the ceremony, I can argue your side no matter what that side happens to. I got your back.

Welcome Guide

Engagement Shoot

An engagement shoot is the perfect opportunity for the three of us to meet up and get to know each other. The goal is to make your engagement session feel like you. If that means setting up a sunset picnic on the beach with your favorite pizza, exploring a gorgeous state park that you’ve always wanted to go to, snuggling up in your home with your pups watching Netflix… whatever this means to you let’s do it. It should feel like a proper date night. How often do the two of you set aside an hour where you are completely focused on each other, cannot touch your phones, and are encouraged to make out the whole time? Let’s make this the best date night ever.

WHY YOU SHOULD

  • Practice run with your wedding photographer
  • Get comfortable infront of a camera
  • Test out your hair/makeup before the wedding
  • Images for your wedding invites and save the dates
  • Learn some posing tips and tricks
  • Introduce your fiance to family members they haven’t met
  • Fun excuse to hang out with eachother

WHY YOU DON’T NEED TO

  • Already worked with your photographer
  • Not that picky when it comes to photos
  • Already have tons of photos together
  • Travel distance is too much
  • Don’t like having your picture taken
  • Can’t work it into your busy schedule
  • It may not fit your budget
Couple photo session
Couple photo session
Couple photo session
Couple photo session

OUTFIT PLANNING

It is best to plan for colors and tones that complement your complexion. Try to stay away from busy patterns so the focus is more on you than what you’re wearing. Your clothing selection should be comfortable and flowy. That way you don’t limit your posing options by having the outfit be too tight, restrictive, or revealing. It’s also a good idea to keep the season/weather in mind when planning your outfit. So with winter comes cosy sweaters and hot chocolate.

Welcome Guide

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engagement shoot outfit

pinterest inspo board

WHAT TO BRING TO YOUR ENGAGEMENT SHOOT

AS LONG AS YOU HAVE YOUR FIANCE, YOU’RE IN GOOD SHAPE. HOWEVER, HERE ARE SOME FUN ADD-ONS YOU CAN BRING TO SPICE THINGS UP.

Something with your Wedding Date

Engagement Ring

Token from your Proposal/First Date

Champagne

Props that Reflect your Interests

An Outfit Change

Kids and/or Furbabies

Smoke Bombs

Items for Touchups (Comb, Makeup, Sweat Rag, etc)

Welcome Guide

Morning Prep

I know how stressful the whole process of getting reading in the morning of your wedding can be. There’s such a huge lead up to the big day and before you know it you’re waking up on your wedding day excited and nervous. There are people coming and going, and a timeline to stick to. And the one person who can normally help with your anxiety is not allowed to be around. So to help you prepare for the wedding morning, and keep that relaxed atmosphere throughout the day… here are some things to consider. 

Toronto Wedding Photography Photographer

THINGS TO CONSIDER FOR MORNING PREP PHOTOS

  1. Pick a location to get ready in that has a lot of natural light coming in and extra open space
  2. Keep your getting ready room as clean + de-cluttered as possible
  3. Use the bathroom before you put your dress on
  4. Wait to put your lipstick on until after your dress is on
  5. Practice tie assembly before your wedding day (for the guys)
  6. As the bride, your hair and makeup should be done near the middle of everyone else. Too early and it will wear out. Too late and you may get rushed if things run behind.
  7. Pack a change of comfortable shoes
  8. Have your Hair/Makeup person provide touchup items such as lipstick or extra bobby pins
  9. Keep some tampons or pads available just in case
  10. Have a purse handy to keep essentials for you and your groom

INSTRUCTIONAL VIDEOS

FOR HIM

How to tie a Double Windsor

Working a Bow Tie

Pocket Square Ideas

Pinning a Boutonniere

FOR HER

Lacing a Corset dress

Bridal Bustling

How to Pee in a Wedding Dress

Music Playlist for your Morning Prep

Welcome Guide

EMERGENCY KIT

TOP 10 LIST

Double Stick Fashion Tape

Sewing Kit

Safety Pins

Makeup Touchup

Bandaids

Stain Remover Pen

Lint Roller

Hairpray/Comb

Pain Reliever

Blotting Paper

DOWNLOAD FULL LIST

Welcome Guide

THE MORNING TIMELINE

**TIP** WORK BACKWORDS

12:00 Out the Door

11:30 Gather all your Personal Effects

11:00 Solo Portraits, Bridal Party Photos, Gift Exchange, Last Minute Touchups

10:30 Bride Gets Dressed

10:15 Hair/Makeup Ready, Robe Photos, and Toasts

? Start Time Consult with your Hair/Makeup Team

COVID feature image

WEDDING DETAILS

The first thing that I will do when I arrive is photograph the little details. Since you’ll likely be in the middle of your prep process, it’s always good to have these items pre-collected. I also suggest getting both of yourselves a nice wooden hanger for your dress and suit. It doesn’t have to be customized, but something better than the generic one the store provides.

bride prep wedding dress

WHAT TO COLLECT

Welcome Guide

WEDDING PORTRAITS

The wedding party photos are some of the most challenging images we’ll do at a wedding. It’s not uncommon to take ten minutes to wrangle twenty semi-sober adults into some semblance of order. Oh, and keep it fun, and make sure everyone is smiling, and catch everyone’s eyes open, and show off the flowers, and make sure pockets are empty, and watch the bride’s train, and the flower girls, and… well, there’s a ton of stuff to keep track of. Because the wedding party pictures are such an important part of most wedding celebrations, here are some things to keep in mind when planning it out.

Welcome Guide

FIRST LOOK

A First Look is a moment during the wedding day when the Bride and Groom plan to see each other for the first time. The First Look allows couples to share this special moment together in a more private setting. Unlike traditional weddings where the couple plans to see each other during the ceremony. This element is completely optional. Doing a first look allows you extra time for the couple and bridal party photos. It also opens up your timeline for after your ceremony so you can socialize with your guests during cocktail hour.

A BIT OF HISTORY

FIRST LOOK

Back in the day of arranged marriages, it was customary for couples to meet for the first time at the actual ceremony. In fact, there was always the fear that if the groom saw his bride before the wedding, he would not approve and walk out. Hence the bad luck superstition.

BRIDAL BOUQUET

In the 1600s, people didn’t bathe regularly. And since there was no concept of deodorant, the bouquet was used to mask body odor.

BEST MAN

In medieval times, the royal family would host a huge tournament before the wedding. The victor of that tournament was deemed “best man” and the official protector of the wedding couple.

ORDER & TIMING

WITH A FIRST LOOK

First Look 30 min

Bridal Party Photos 30 min

Couple Portraits 30 min

Family Photos Post-Ceremony 30 min

AFTER THE CEREMONY

Family Photos 30 min

Bridal Party Photos 30 min

Couple Portraits 30 min

WHO IS PART OF FAMILY PHOTOS?

BASIC FAMILY LIST

  • Parents
  • Grandparents
  • Siblings
  • Sibling’s Spouses/Kids
  • Kids of the Couple

ASIAN WEDDINGS

If you’re having a traditional tea ceremony, be sure to include any aunts & uncles who participated.

SOUTHASIAN WEDDINGS

With Southasian Weddings (Hindu, Sikh, and Muslim) it is customary for the couple to take pictures with every guest who attends. They decorate a sweetheart table at the reception. And guests come up for photos throughout the night.

EUROPEAN WEDDINGS

Italians, Greeks, and Eastern European weddings get quite family heavy. Cousins, aunts, uncles, godparents, and members of the church will all consider themselves family. So give yourself an hour for family photos.

INTERNATIONAL

If you have guests flying in internationally, be sure to let your photographer know. Based on the quantity, you can include them in your family photos, or we’ll make a point of capturing them during the evening festivities.

SELECTING A LOCATION

  • Choose a location that is logistically not far from the ceremony/reception
  • Make sure its safe for you and your wedding party (weather, high heels, etc)
  • Plan to be there for about 60-90 min
  • Have a backup plan in case of bad weather
  • Limit youself to one location
  • Avoid locations that are overly crowded
  • Check to see if photo permits are required
  • For inspiration, checkout the portrait site category on my blog
  • Or contact me directly for ideas.

CEREMONY

Planning your wedding ceremony can be one of the most daunting parts of the entire wedding planning process. It’s also the most rewarding. You get to choose readings, music, florals, seating options, backdrops, and everything in between. And it’s all to create the perfect event where you will profess your love to each other  If you already feel overwhelmed or just aren’t sure where to start, take a breath and rest assured that you’re in the right place. Here are some details to consider when planning your ceremony.

INDOOR

  • The weather becomes less of a factor
  • Fewer logistics to worry about (bathrooms, air conditioning, etc)
  • Capacity limit
  • Possible decor restrictions
  • Ceremony to reception flip?
  • Artificial or natural lighting
wedding ceremony at Enoch Turner Schoolhouse

OUTDOOR

  • Weather plays a huge factor
  • You’ll still need a bad weather backup
  • Possible permit requirements
  • Travel between ceremony and reception
  • Outdoor noise and photo bombers
  • Handicap friendly?
  • Grass and high heels
wedding ceremony at Trillium Trails Banquet Centre

HOUSE OF WORSHIP

  • You’ll have less control over your ceremony
  • The officiant is often provided
  • Affordable pricing
  • Large capacity
  • Possible restrictions on photo/video
  • Travel between ceremony hall and reception
  • Tight time restriction
bride down the aisle wedding ceremony at St Panteleimon Greek Orthodox Church

UNPLUGGED CEREMONY

There are several reasons why an unplugged ceremony may be a good fit for your wedding day. For those of you who have not heard of an unplugged ceremony, here is a breakdown. There is a movement in action where couples are asking their guests to be fully present with them during their wedding. This involves leaving their cell phones and cameras turned off for the duration of the wedding ceremony. As a result…

  1. Guests will actually listen instead of focusing on their cameras
  2. The professional photos won’t be compromised
  3. You’ll have more control over what happens to your wedding photos after

Keep in mind, I do deliver my wedding photos within 1-2 weeks of your event. I also include a complimentary downloading link that your can share with any guests or vendors you wish.

**TIP** Have your officiant make an announcement about the unplugged ceremony before the procession. 

 

bride down the aisle wedding ceremony at St Isaac Jogues Catholic Church

CEREMONIAL TRADITIONS

There are so many wedding traditions when it comes to the actual ceremony. Exchanging rings is the most common for sure. But every culture and religion has its own unique traditions. However, when you work with as many diverce cultural weddings as I do, you start to see that we have more in common than differences. 

HAND FASTING

An Irish celtic ritual in which the hands are tied together to symbolize the binding of two lives. In Hindu ceremonies, they tie their dupattas together. In Filipino Catholic ceremonies, their entire body gets tied together. Very different cultures and yet all of them “tie the knot” in some way.

MONEY IN BRIDE'S SHOE

In English weddings, a bride would keep a 6 pence coin in her shoe for luck. With Polish weddings, her father would give her money that whe would keep in her shoe as a sign of financial independence. And at Macedonian weddings, the best man would provide the bride with her wedding shoes that would be too big, so he would stuff it with money until they fit.

THWARTING DEMONS

Loud noises are a time honored method of frightening demons that are attracted to happy people on their wedding day. Jews break glass, Greeks smash plates, Indians play drums, and Arabs have a war cry. The bridal veil was originally designed to protect the bride like a shield. And bridesmaids were introduced as decoys so the demon wouldn’t know who to grab. 

PAYING THE RANSOM

In Russian weddings, the groom would arrive to the bride’s home where he would have to pay the ransom before being able to take his bride to the ceremony. Serbians do something similar, but with fine alcohol. And Chinese weddings would have the groom perform embarrassing tasks to prove his worthiness. 

WEDDING OFFICIANT

Your wedding officiant is the most important vendor you will hire for a wedding. Without them, its not technically a wedding. If you’re getting married in a house of worship, the officiant is often provided.

An officiant of a civil ceremony can be a member of a religious organization but does not have to be. He or she is simply the person legally recognized by the state to lead and validate a wedding ceremony. Their legal responsibilities are quite straightforward: get ordained, get the bride and groom to exchange I do’s, and file the marriage license.

However, unlike the US, getting ordained in Canada is pretty complicating and expensive. So make sure to check if the one you found is actually registered with your province to legally perform the marriage. You’re welcome to have a loved one perform your ceremony. But you’ll still need a registered officiant to sign and file the paperwork. Same applies if you’re getting married abroad. Which is why many couples sort out the paperwork locally at city hall before or after their ceremony.

wedding ceremony at Paletta Mansion

RECEPTION

You might think that after planning your ceremony the reception will be a piece of wedding cake. But the fact is, receptions require a lot of organizing, collaboration, and preparation. You have a catering team on a strict schedule to ensure food comes out hot. There’s also decor planning, timelines, seating charts, and so on. So before you take on this seemingly daunting task, check out some of the details below.

RECEPTION LIGHTING

Colored Lighting: Some DJs offer creative and colorful lighting which is so fun for partying during your reception. Unfortunately, these lights are not great for photos. If you want to use these colorful lights, I suggest limiting them for your dance floor. 

Accent Lighting: These can be used along your reception room walls, however keep your primary lighting white to avoid skin color discoloring. 

Spotlights: These are great for grand entrances, first dances, and speeches. Check with your venue if they are available as they can come in real handy for photos and video.

Pyrotechnics & Effects: Be sure to confirm that whoever you hire for this service knows how to do it safely. They work really well for grand entrances and first dances.

Dry Ice: Love, love, love. However, make sure your dress is properly bustled so you’re not soaking up water remains. Also, confirm what you’re receiving will actually be dry ice. Smoke machines are not the same and can affect both visibility and breathability when in use.

first dance and dry ice at Hazelton Manor

SEATING CHART

You might be wondering if a seating chart is even required. Short answer, yes. A chart will make the event feel more organized and avoid guest conflict. They also allow caterers to be better aware of meal requests and food allergies for each guest.

  • Use place cards for weddings under 100 guests, and seating charts for bigger guest counts.
  • Place VIP guests closer to the bride and groom.
  • Don’t forget to place your vendors in the same room as your reception events.
  • If you’re maximizing your capacity, be aware that some tables will have to be broken down during the evening to create your dance floor

CHECK OUT THIS AMAZING

INTERACTIVE SEATING CHART

BY weddingmapper.com

KISSING GAME

It’s an old tradition. People like to see it. If you don’t have one planned, guests will likely resort to the classic clinking on glasses. However, most reception venues these days don’t allow that. It scratches and damages the glassware which you will inevidably be charged for. So its generally a good idea for you to have an alternative game in mind.  

IDEAS

  • Demonstrate a kiss for us
  • Sing a song that has the word love
  • Give some marital advice
  • Share a story about the couple
  • Name that tune
  • Guess Movie Quotes
  • Donate to the couple’s Honeymoon
  • Colored Hershey Kisses
  • Mini golf putting hole
  • Spinning wheel
  • Kissing dice
  • Scavenger hunt
  • Trivia pursuit

RECEPTION TIMELINE

A crucial element of wedding reception planning is crafting a well-honed timeline for the evening. Your typical wedding reception runs about 4-5 hours. Here is a sample wedding reception timeline to ensure a smooth, fun-filled evening of celebration for you and your guests. Note that this timeline is good for 100 guest count and a 3 course meal. For each additional 100 guests, expect to add an extra hour to accommodate catering food service.

SAMPLE TIMELINE

  • 0:00 Cocktail Hour
  • 1:00 Seating 
  • 1:15 Grand Entrance & First Dance
  • 1:30 Welcome Announcement
  • 1:45 Appetisers Served
  • 2:00 Best Man/Maid of Honor Speech
  • 2:30 Main Course Served
  • 2:45 Parent Speeches & Dances
  • 2:15 Dessert Served
  • 2:30 Bride & Groom Speech
  • 2:45 Cake Cutting
  • 3:00 Bouquet and Garter Toss
  • 3:10 Dance Floor Opens
  • 4:00 Late Night Station
  • 5:00 Farewell
Toronto Wedding Photography Photographer
Toronto Bride Groom Milestone Event Photographer

THE FORGOTTEN DETAILS

  • Cake Cutlery: Your cake artist will often drop off your wedding cake but they don’t provide cutlery or serving utensils.
  • Throwing Bouquet: Florists can create a smaller version of the bridal bouquet for throwing, so you don’t knock out a guest.
  • Gratuities: Plan for gratuities in your budget. They’re often mentioned in your contract.
  • Cell Phone: Both of you should have a point person to answer your phone and any questions that come from it.
  • Late Night Transportation: For yourself and your bridal party.
  • Overtime: Talk to your vendors about possible overtime.
  • Groom’s Shirt: Bring the groom a change of shirt in case he sweats through the first one.
  • Bride’s Shoes: Bride should have a change of comfortable shoes to dance in.
  • Veil Removal: Have your hairstylist show you how to remove the veil without ruining your hair.
  • Cleanup: Have someone designated to collect personal things at the end of the night.
  • Security: You’ll need a secure place to store money envelopes and expensive gifts.

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