We shot a few hundreds weddings, so here's someAdvice ahead of your big dayfrom experienced professionals

Hello and welcome to this practical guide for your wedding day! After many, many weddings we covered, we have a pretty good idea of the most common traps people fall into and we wanted to share our experiences with you so you can avoid them!

Not everything will apply to every wedding, so pick and choose as you see fit. We hope you find it useful and we’re looking forward to shooting with you!

 

beach wedding in Croatia

 

1. Location, location, location

If you’re flying in for a destination wedding, people will often book a hotel room and get ready for their wedding there. Our first advice is to reconsider this idea.

Hotels, even five-star ones, are designed to fit as many rooms in given amount of space, which usually makes the rooms narrow and elongated, with windows on just one side. This is perfectly fine for enjoying your vacation, but less than optimal for photographic coverage.

Light is inadequate in most of the room, as the windows are usually on the far side of the room while the rest falls in deep shade and depends on flickery yellowish-green artificial lighting. Hotel rooms are also very sterile decoration-wise. There may be a piece of art on the wall, but that’s about it. They’re boring to look at on photos and show no personality.

Finally, it’s much easier for us to react and move quickly in more spacious rooms without getting into anyone’s way.

Luckily, all of these problems have a very simple solution. Get a nice, spacious and well-lit Airbnb apartment for a day or two and get ready there!

Something reasonably priced won’t break the budget, but will offer a lot of natural light coming from a few directions. They’re spacious compared to hotel rooms so we can move freely and they’re usually much better decorated. Just pick one that speaks to you!

getting ready apartment

Airbnb apartments, spacious and beautifully lit

 

2. Clothes, suits, gowns

First thing: remove all tags and labels from all clothing and accessories, and unsew your suit pockets prior to the wedding day! Doing it while packing for the trip is a pretty good time, plus it won’t create a mess that will end up in photos.

Going to get dressed and realising you need to remove tags from all the ties, suit jackets and dresses can really throw a wrench into the works at the worst possible moment — just as you need to get dressed and get out of the door to reach the ceremony venue in time, you will instead be looking for scissors, knives etc.

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Grooms, learn how to tie a tie ahead of time. Make sure you’re comfortable with the knot you choose. If it’s a bow tie, practice – a lot. Last bow tie that had to be manually tied took our groom 2 youtube videos, 3 people and 45 minutes.

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Spend enough time wearing your shoes prior to the wedding. Trying them on and doing a few steps is not the same as spending 12 hours walking and dancing in a hot country. Wear them at home for a prolonged period, like 5-6 hours — they won’t get dirty. If you don’t want your partner to see them, wear them while (s)he’s not home. We’ve seen this often enough that we started packing bandaids in our photo-bags!

If you have high heels, consider a more comfortable footwear for the session (and late night partying), unless high heels are essential for your look and you feel very comfortable wearing them for prolonged time (and over stairs, uneven ground etc.).

Shoes, shoes, shoes…

 

3. Details

If you want photos of the details like wedding dress and suit, rings, shoes, jewellery, perfume, watch, stationery, boutonnières, bouquets etc., the first thing we will need is a bit of time to set it up and shoot it in a beautiful way. It’s best to plan for this in advance and incorporate it into the timeline.

Depending on complexity of what you want, whether it’s a simple shot of the dress on its hanger or a complex flat-lay of everything you’ve got, it can take anywhere from 10 minutes to half an hour.

If details are important to you, tell you wedding planner to put this into the timeline, because while we set and shoot all of this, nothing too important should be happening because we could miss it. (e.g. getting your hair and makeup done during this time is fine, but anything more than that should not overlap.)

It should also happen at a point after you’ve received your flowers which is usually delivered some time during the getting ready phase.

A detail that is nice to have are your printed wedding invitations, so remember to bring two of them along!

flat lay of wedding details

Flat lay of all wedding details

 

4. Wedding dress considerations

Did you pick your wedding dress already? If so, skip the next section; if not, do read on!

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Top issue we see with wedding dresses is with shoulder straps. It’s either shoulder straps constantly falling down below your shoulder, or a dress with no shoulder straps which keeps sliding down your chest.

In either case, brides with these kind of problems constantly have to fix them, either pulling the whole dress up, or putting the shoulder straps back up.

The result? We have brides who are fixing their dress on 80% of candid shots and even during first dance! There is simply no dress that looks so great on posed shots as to compensate for this. (As a side note, the surest way for a strapless dress to stay on properly is if you glue it effectively to your skin.)

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More generally, when picking your dress, try to mentally step outside these 5 minutes in front of a mirror in the dress shop and try to visualise how the dress will behave during the 12 hours of moving and dancing on your wedding day. Try to move, walk, raise and lower your hands, wiggle or anything else you may find yourself doing.

Final piece of advice: make note of how long it takes to put on the dress, tie or button it (especially if it’s a corset-style dress or has tricky buttoning) and fine-tune it to look perfect. Some dresses take 5 minutes and some take 45 minutes; our point is: you want to know this in advance and reflect that in your timeline!

Straps vs. strapless

 

5. It will be hot!

At the risk of stating the obvious, Croatia is hot during the summer so don’t forget almost tropical conditions that are waiting on the other end of that flight. For weddings between June and August, heat and humidity will often be significant on the day and it’s a good idea to mitigate this in advance.

If your fiancé is planning to wear a three piece suit, it’s worth considering whether he really needs a waistcoat as one more layer.

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More relaxed grooms might opt for light linen clothes which easily breathe and feel appropriate for beach weddings, skipping the suit jacket altogether.

Linen is prone to creasing however. There are high performance dress shirts and trousers that are breathable, non-creasing, moisture-wicking and resistant to sweat stains (so, basically magical). This is exactly the kind of clothes I use for weddings, to ensure I look appropriate yet cool enough to actually be able to shoot.

Of course, this still isn’t super-fancy, but neither is dressing up very formal and then constantly dripping sweat in 39C/102F heat, glistening in every shot. It’s probably wise to compromise for summer weddings, as being relaxed and comfortable is really important if you want to have fun and still look good.

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Regardless of how your fiancè ends up dressing, if he’s anything like other grooms we’ve worked with, he will be sweating at some point (usually the moment he leaves the apartment/hotel). He needs to be wiping the sweat off him regularly as it’s something we can’t fix later.

Instead of usual paper tissues, we recommend buying a large tennis wrist sweatbands. They’re purpose designed for soaking up a ton of sweat and not leaving a trace (like paper pieces or irritation). Needless to say, he wouldn’t be wearing it — he can keep it in his back pocket so it’s invisible.

 

Light and comfortable linen suits for an Adriatic summer wedding

 

6. Makeup Artist

Consider getting a professional makeup artist, instead of a friend or doing it yourself. This is really not the best place to save money as each and every photo will reflect the quality and resistance of your makeup. There’s a reason you picked us, professional photographers instead of asking a friend to shoot your wedding. There’s a strong case to be made for doing the same with makeup.

Destination wedding takes you to somewhat unfamiliar climate and it’s hard to predict everything that’s ahead of you that day. A professional makeup artist will know how to prepare you for whatever lies ahead – be that a lot of cheek kisses by gleeful guests or sweating under the summer sun.

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Some brides put on eyelash extensions for the first time on their wedding day… and they find them odd and uncomfortable. Don’t leave this first experience for your wedding day, try them well ahead of time.

While we’re on the topic, in the days leading up to the big day, it’s recommended to get a test makeup session with the exact MUA who will be doing your makeup on the wedding day. This small investment is well worth it as it will afford you the chance to work out any kinks, make sure you’re on the same page and see how it all looks and feels in reality. It will also give you a great test run to see how long it will take and allow you to schedule for it. Feel free to try this just before a night out or the rehersal dinner, so the makeup can actually shine!

 

professional makeup artist

The joy of being in professional’s hands

 

7. Planning the timeline

One general tip regarding planning is to consider our human nature: we’re eternal optimists and pretty bad at judging how long things will actually take. Even if we make realistic assumptions, unexpected things are bound to happen and we always get delayed somehow.

This is the number #1 reason why couples miss out on their private photo session part or must cut the cocktail hour short — they’re both non-essential and first to go when the schedule gets tight.

Luckily, solving this issue is quite easy: plan for the unplanned! Insert random 15 minute safety buffers throughout your day, especially before key events (like ceremony).

Those few 15 minute intervals will afford you a much more leisurely pace if things start running late. Multiple intervals will make sure that even a big delay gets slowly soaked up in these small buffers so that by the evening everything is back on track!

…and don’t worry: even if everything is on time, no one is going to mind that extra time spent relaxing, chatting or enjoying a drink.

scheduling wedding protocol

Time is always ticking

 

And as long as we’re planning, here’s another tip: avoid having your open-air ceremony while the sun is high, especially in the summer. Not only will the heat be unbearable, but light will be harsh and unflattering, creating deep shadows on your faces, guests will either be squinting or wearing shades and guys in suits will be visibly sweating in the photos, and wiping off sweat in the video!

Aim for late afternoon — around 6pm during May, June and July, or around 5pm in August and September. It’s easy to underestimate the scorching summer sun while planning your wedding during cold winter months, but avoiding this mistake will afford a much more pleasant open-air ceremony and great looking photos!

 

planning the ceremony

Early afternoon heat in June dispersed the guests to the shadeded parts of the venue during the ceremony

 

8. Formals & family photos

Shooting formal photos of you with your family is a traditional part of most weddings, so here’s a few suggestions to make the most of it.

It’s a good idea to make a list of groups you want photographed, so we don’t forget anyone. It’s an even better idea to hand this list to someone who knows these people well (like one of your siblings, best man etc.). This way (s)he can help in gathering people and making sure everyone’s in the shot when they need to be, which is much more efficient than us yelling name by name instead of setting up our cameras and the group.
This will make formals very efficient, leaving more time for you to just enjoy your big day.

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We also suggest to split the list into ‘must-haves’ and ‘good-to-haves’. It can be surprisingly exhausting to just stand then smile for dozens of photos while people around you come and go and this way you have flexibility to pull the plug if you feel it’s all too much.

After all, you need to stay fresh to properly enjoy your wedding, not to mention look good for later!

Further groups are optional, but it’s best not to go overboard as some very traditional parents may insist (e.g. the couple with one mum, than the other mum, then first mum and dad, then the second, then throw in siblings, then their partners, then the same for other side… then the aunts and uncles, then add the parents again… you get the picture!).

This is utterly exhausting and time-consuming so we recommend against it. If your families are in good relations, there’s no point separating and recombining each and every person for photos. A few group shots should do.

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Time-wise, it’s best to shoot formals immediately after the ceremony, before any potential drinks! Experience has shown that if you have drinks planned after the ceremony, it throws a wrench in the formal shooting – it’s next to impossible to gather people for the photos, not to mention convince them to put down their glasses of cold drinks on a hot summer day.

This makes everything last three times longer than it should and instead of you enjoying your drinks with guests, you’re standing around constantly waiting for someone to show up for the photo, and when they finally do, they have glasses in their hands.

 

 

9. Private Portrait Session

We recommend two portrait time slots of just the two of you together: right after the ceremony for 20 minutes and a bit before sunset for another 20 minutes (or 30 minutes if we’re also shooting video).

Why after the ceremony? It’s an emotional experience and you will positively feel the magic in the air. You’ll be happy, in love, smiling and exuding affection. It shows in the photos and you can effortlessly get enchantingly emotional photos in those moments.

Why a bit before sunset? It’s when the light is best. Near the middle of golden hour the light is diffuse, flattering and warm. It makes everything look amazing… not to mention the beautiful colors in the sky and the mystery of dusk which follows.

If your ceremony is towards the end of the day, we’ll just combine these two time slots into one session of 30-45 minutes. Most couples tell us that session was their favorite part of the day and you’ll see why, we promise!

 

private couple session

Absolute magic in the air just moments after the ceremony

Golden hour sun rays

 

10. Unplugged weddings

There’s a trend in the 21st century you may have already noticed, which is that every big event needs to be (over)documented. You see less actual faces and more phones in front of faces, recording, shooting and streaming. Some think it takes away from the experience and dehumanizes the guests since they essentially become camera tripods.

So, there’s an even newer trend – unplugged weddings. Couples ask their guests to leave their phones and cameras in their pockets and instead immerse themselves in the surroundings and the moment.

To truly experience. To truly be there. To engage and enjoy. Don’t worry, nothing will be lost. That’s why you have us there!

We think it’s an idea worth considering. We happened to be guests on an unplugged wedding recently and it really was different. We were unimpeded by constant consideration of what’s worth recording, when the important moments are coming up and whether to shoot photos or video.

And we really enjoyed ourselves that afternoon!

 

unplugged wedding

The best man witnessing their kiss through his phone, while mom is truly living through this moment in tears of joy

 

11. Reception

Weddings are exhausting for the photographer and even though we come fresh and very well prepared, after 6-7 hours we need some nourishment to keep going. We can’t leave your side, so we kindly ask for you to provide a meal for us around time when you sit down for dinner with your guests. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just something nutritious to keep us going until the end of the night.

By default, reception venues group our meals with other vendors. It’s logical when you think about it, but vendors are often served last. This is fine for a wedding planner or florist who have pretty much done their jobs, but makes it hard for us to keep our eye on developments. If we just get our meal as you and your guests are getting up for a toast or are moving towards the dancefloor, it’s much harder for us not to miss something.

Our suggestion is to ask the head waiter to serve us at the same time as your guests. This way we will eat quickly be ready while everyone else is still eating, so we’ll be prepared for whatever comes next, whether it’s the speeches, toasts or surprise dance numbers!

 

party time

You can’t plan for this!

We hope you found this useful and we’re excited to see you on your wedding day! 🙂