Week 7: Photography, hair & makeup

Wedding photographers – love them or hate them, you have to have them.  The sky is the limit on how much you can spend and I was terrified of spending thousands of dollars.

Of course, if beautiful wedding photos are one of your top priorities, go crazy and splurge on someone with a good reputation who will make you look stunning.  However, if you are more inclined to save some money I suggest seeking out a photographer who is starting out in the business who would be happy to give you a discount in return for more wedding experience.

We chose our friends Kristy and Ben from K&B photography to shoot our wedding.  They did a fantastic job and worked for over 10 hours to shoot our ceremony, reception and formal photos.  They hardly stopped and worked like troopers in the humidity!

At our first meeting I learned that it is common to have an engagement shoot before your wedding.  Although we were initially quite hesitant to agree to an engagement shoot, after much persuasion we took the opportunity to use the shoot as a ‘trial’ before the wedding day.

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So awkward.

Our engagement photos make me cringe however, it was a good rehearsal before the main event.  We were able to find a nice location near our wedding venue for photos and were also able to tell Kristy and Ben what we liked and didn’t like.  As a result I knew what to expect on our wedding day and I wasn’t so nervous.

I had my hair and make up trial done the same day as the engagement shoot so I had some idea of what I would look like as well. I ended up going to a local hairdresser which was really convenient on the day – everyone met in the morning at the hair salon and we got our hair done together with four hairdressers.  It saved a lot of time compared to stories I have heard about hair and make up starting at 6am at someone’s house and everyone waiting around all morning for their turn.

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Hair and makeup

A friend of ours did our makeup and did an amazing job.  My bridesmaids and I brought along makeup that we wanted to wear and Sarah applied it – which meant we felt comfortable on the day with products we were used to wearing.

My biggest advice regarding wedding photos is to communicate what you want with your photographer.  Don’t feel pressured into doing stupid poses or any of the standard ‘getting ready’ photographs if you really don’t want them.  Don’t let your photo shoot run too long – I would recommend no longer than 90 minutes tops, including travel from the ceremony and to the reception.  I have been at weddings where the photos run for 2 hours (or longer) and it sucks waiting around for the bride and groom.

I also found having a long photo shoot after all the excitement of getting married was a huge drag. After the first few photos I was totally over it and felt like I was missing all the fun with my friends at the venue!

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Can we drink champagne now?

I could tell our bridal party were also keen to wrap it up quick and get on with the reception.  However, if you love getting photographed and have spent thousands of dollars on your dress, hair and makeup, then please take your time and enjoy looking fabulous.

My one regret is that I wished I had asked for more professional photos with our family and friends at the reception.  We have so many photos of us as a couple (which are fantastic) and our bridal party, but a lot of our reception photos are of people on the dance floor and giving speeches.

Fortunately everyone was taking photos so I have more photos than I need!  After the wedding we made a Dropbox folder and asked everyone to upload their photos to share.  Once we received our professional photos we uploaded them to Dropbox as well.  For our parents and grandparents, we gave them photo books from Snapfish, which was far easier than explaining how to get a Dropbox account.

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Week 5: Dresses & suits, flowers & decorations

If you’re planning a quick wedding, it’s likely you’re not the type of bride who cares a great deal about finding the perfect dress.  High five to you sister, you rock.  However, low maintenance doesn’t mean no maintenance – it is important to still have in mind what you want – but be prepared to go shopping with a very open mind.

I ended up buying a bridesmaid’s dress – on sale for a steal at $75.  I got it hemmed professionally (and lied about being a bridesmaid).  My shoes were from Target for $20.  I made my own veil which cost about $15.  My two real bridesmaids went shopping together and bought dresses they both liked off the rack for about $50 each.

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Wedding outfit $110 – bargain bride

Fortunately for the guys they can hire suits.  I advise you not to leave this until the last minute as it can take weeks for suits to arrive, especially if you need tall or large sizes.  Once you have your bridesmaid’s dresses you can then find matching ties and handkerchiefs for your groomsmen.

2014-02-22 15.27.52Get ready to send each other strange photos like this

After sourcing suits, dresses, shoes and accessories for your bridal party, organising flowers and decorations should feel pretty painless in comparison.  We decided on the colour pink and it was very easy to find pink decorations on sale after Valentine’s day and around Easter time.  We sourced most of our decorations from Ebay and discount stores (and reused the pink lanterns, poms poms and bunting from my bridal shower for the wedding).

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So much pink!

Our big splurge was on flowers – we went to Fleurus for our bouquets and corsages.  We also arranged for corsages for our mums and boutonnieres for our dads.   To be honest, the money was probably worth the effort – I couldn’t have made them myself and they were beautiful (the yellow billy balls were my favourite!).  Of course if you want to DIY, I recommend Flower Lovers in Brisbane for wholesale flowers.

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Week 3: The guests, the bridal party and celebrant

Take a piece of paper, a pen and your partner and together write down everyone you know – family, school friends, work friends, other friends, acquaintances.

If it is important to you, now is the time to also ask your parents (and siblings) who they would like to invite.

Now you hopefully have a huge list of names you can work with to make your guest list.

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Guest list, not guess list

We circled names of those we had to invite (family), those we felt obliged to invite (family friends) and those we really wanted to celebrate with us (our friends).  Somehow we ended up with about 100 people, it was terrifying.

We sourced addresses from families and contacts from Facebook and sent a ‘save the date’ photo message with text using Over. Then we prayed that not everyone would RSVP considering we only gave 10 weeks’ notice for our guests to arrange time off, travel and accommodation in order to attend.

Around this time we discussed who we wanted to have in our bridal party.  Our decision to have a small group (best man, maid of honor, bridesmaid, groomsman and two flower girls) was unintended but ultimately worked out very well because we had to choose dresses and suits for everyone with only a couple of months up our sleeve. So, if you are planning a wedding in 12 weeks as well, I recommend keeping your posse tight.

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Small bridal party = less drama

My partner had a great idea to put the guest list and addresses into Google docs, which then became our wedding planning database.  We added columns for phone numbers, addresses, RSVP’s received, dietary requirements etc.

A separate spreadsheet for our budget with contact details for wedding vendors and amounts was also very useful as we could check off when bills were paid.

It is important to find yourselves a registered celebrant at least a couple of months before your wedding day.  In Australia you must complete and lodge a notice of intended marriage application at least one month before getting married.  This is usually done soon after booking with your celebrant.  You must also both have evidence of the date and place of birth (i.e. your birth certificate) or a valid passport if your were born overseas, and current photo ID, in addition to evidence of previous divorce or death of any spouse (if applicable).  Getting hold of our original birth certificates also meant asking our parents to dig through their filing cabinets to track them down.  Organising the paperwork to complete the notice of intended marriage application took a couple of weeks, so we were glad we found our celebrant early!

Our celebrant was Kim-Maree Summers, who was professional, relaxed and very experienced.  I was very lucky to find her on Google.  She is passionate about her work and was awarded Australia’s number 1 celebrant the year we got married!  I strongly recommend meeting with your celebrant as soon as possible – it is important you both have some rapport when them and can meet a few times before your wedding day to discuss the ceremony to ensure there are no disasters or surprises.

Planning the ceremony was a lot harder than I anticipated – it took us a long time to decide on vows, readings and music.  Amidst the wedding planning craziness, it is important to take time out to work on your ceremony together so it will memorable and special.

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Organising the chair covers was the easy part

Around the time of choosing your celebrant, also consider who you would like to be your MC for the reception.  My advice for choosing an MC is to find someone who is reliable, organised and a confident speaker and unlikely to get too emotional, drunk, controversial or embarrassing at your reception.  Find someone you know well who won’t take the opportunity to use the microphone to broadcast their political agenda, preach a sermon, advertise their business or offend your guests.  Your MC should make everyone feel comfortable, relaxed and happy.  I also believe the MC role shouldn’t just be limited to older uncles – a young or female MC can also do the job just as well.