I've been doing weddings for 7 years now


And so I've seen a thing or two. Putting on a wedding is a difficult, time-consuming process of getting so many details right and things coordinated and ducks quacking all the right way...I tell you, it's a lot. So I thought I'd take a few minutes to offer up some tips to make things just a little bit better on your wedding day.

Your venue absolutely matters


If you want high quality pictures (and video), where you have your wedding matters. A good photographer can make any place look good, but it's a lot harder to take good pictures if you have to think, "okay, I can put the couple here, but the construction tape they are in front of will be a challenge to photoshop out."


You''ll doubtless counter that not all of us can afford a mountain chalet to get married in. And I totally understand that. So if all you can afford is the Aurora La Quinta, be creative. A suggestion is to add in time to go to a park and have the pictures taken there. A less expensive wedding I did had us go from the church to a mountain park to take pictures, then back to the inexpensive reception hall after that.


I've even had couples dress up in their wedding finery the day after and have a sunset session. There's no stress, no timeline, and no expensive venue to pay for. And I wouldn't even charge extra for that.


Hair and Makeup will take longer than you plan for


Add plenty of buffer time. 80% of the weddings I do, the hair and makeup takes longer than expected. If that happens, then it can cause other things to get hurried or skipped over. So factor in plenty of time for that,


Wear comfortable shoes!


"But Dan!" you say, "How can I look awesome on my wedding day without awesome shoes?"


Shoes do not show up in 99% of the pictures. Meanwhile, these shoes that you have not broken in will be on your feet for the next 12 hours. Your feet will hurt, and it will affect your mood, your willingness to go into the pretty field for pictures, the grace of your movements, and your general comfort for the whole day. Additionally, it may make you taller than your man, which he might not appreciate. So just say no to that nonsense!


Here's a tip: if you want to have a picture of your mother putting the shoes on you, or a picture of you with the shoes visible, bring those fancy shoes to where you are getting ready and put them on for a few pictures, then take them off and replace them with comfortable shoes for the rest of the day.


Have a first look


For most of the day, you are essentially in charge of a big circus. A first look gives you a moment of time together alone with your beloved on your wedding day (apart from the photographer, but even then I usually give the couple time alone). Plus, it gives an opportunity to take some pictures of the couple before the whole wedding party is involved.

Have the parent dances before your first dance


As a photographer, here's what happens. The couple is pulled out onto the dance floor and then the venue turns down the lights, totally changing the lighting. I use multiple lights so I spend the next minute dialing in my settings as the couple dances, and continue to fine tune settings as you dance, balancing the lights on you with the ambient lighting.


By the time the dad dances with the bride, my settings are tuned! Sure, I have good shots of the bride and groom since I know what I'm doing, but often, the lighting for the parent dances is just a bit more awesome.


Reclaim that awesomeness for yourself! Have the parent dances first, let me nail my lighting, and make your dance pictures all that much better.

Your attitude matters more than anything else


Look at at that bride. Her dress is mud-stained and damp from the rain. Does it seem like she's upset at all? No!


It doesn't matter if you are getting married in a fairy-tale castle if you are snapping at people or are so worried about making sure the centerpieces are right that you can't be in the moment. You are the ringleaders for this circus, and the whole wedding will take its cue on how to be from you. I've seen really low budget weddings that are beautiful because people are smiling and enjoying each other. I've seen expensive weddings tarnished by the mood of the bride or groom. If you relax, that shows in the pictures. If you are upset, that will show as well.


Believe me, I get it. You've been planning this wedding for months, but the cake still hasn't arrived, Aunt Sue is causing a scene, the groom's tie is the wrong color, and these stiletto heels you are wearing are torture devices. Easy for the photographer to tell us to calm down!


I'm not a licensed therapist! All I know is that the only thing that really matters is the part where you say "I do". Everything else is unimportant. So, if you can, try to internalize that, and let go. So what if the cake is on fire or your best man has gotten too drunk to stand for pictures? It doesn't really matter. Take in the day, see these people who came from far and wide to see you get married. Laugh with your friends, hug your mom. Dance with your beloved.


If you can do that, your wedding will be beautiful no matter where you have it.