Wedding planning. Some love it and some absolutely dread it. You put months, sometimes years of preparation into your wedding day to only have it come to a short one day experience. When you are planning a wedding it can literally become a second job for the couple. When so much planning comes down to just one day of events, there really is so much at stake.

As a wedding photographer, I get the opportunity to continue working with the wedding couple even after the wedding day. This may be to follow up on orders, plan their album design, or even document the couples new growing family. This is a opportunity that not many other types of wedding vendors get to have. Because of this, I am able to hear about the couples thoughts on their wedding day after the day is done. This is a unique look into wedding planning because I hear what the wedding couple loved about the day, what they didn’t love, and what they wish they had done differently.

So today, I’m going to share with you the top five wedding planning mistakes that I hear couples wish they had foreseen. You hear all about what you should do again and again. But this is a different way of thinking about what exactly you should plan for based on the experience of REAL wedding couples, past clients and acquaintances of LaCoursiere Photography.

Afterthought #1:

“Maybe it wasn’t such a great idea to cram all those people into that venue.”

This is the number one thing I hear from my clients, “Our venue was not big enough for all our guests.” It is so hard to plan for the guest list. For most large venues you need to book your event a year or more out, which means this is the first thing you should complete on your wedding planning to do list. So planning for guests that have not rsvp’d yet is a little difficult to say the least. Plus literally, no one ever RSVP’s. Am I right? So when the wedding day rolls around and more people show than you originally thought, you suddenly find yourself sharing silverware with Uncle Joe. And though, it usually works out fine, and guests will figure out a way to make themselves comfortable, things do get tight and uncomfortable.

So what is my word of advice? Plan for more than you think and look for a space that will accommodate your full guest list plus a few extra tag alongs. The general rule of thumb is to plan that 10-15 percent of your guests will not show. But I have photographed weddings where the bride has said that nearly every person she invited did indeed show. So it is possible! Look for a space that has plenty of walking room between tables so that your guests do not have to squeeze through with strollers and wheelchairs. But you also do not want a space that is overly large as that will take away from the intimacy of the atmosphere.

A helpful tool in guest list planning is a wedding website. Your own personalized website will help with knowing just how many guests plan on showing. Choose a website that has a RSVP feature. That way your guests can quickly and easily RSVP to your wedding, helping save you the guess work.

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Afterthought #2:

“I wish we had hired a videographer.”

For many, the video portion of your wedding day is usually an afterthought. If you do not have a high budget wedding it is hard to justify spending money on a professional videographer when Uncle Joe could record the events for you. But here is what happens when Uncle Joe is in charge of the video camera... He’s recording, all well and good then in the background of the video you hear a conversation, “OOOHHH heellllloooooo Joe, how are you! I didn’t know you were coming!” Yep, Uncle Joe is a guest and therefore he will have interactions like a guest. And just wait until an hour into the reception, the video camera is sitting on a random table while Uncle Jose is sitting at a random bar stool. True story. A professional videographer does not have conversations in the background and they do not get distracted at the reception because they are, professionals.

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Afterthought #3:

“We wish we had sprung for the extra hours of photographer coverage.”

In a recent blog, I talked about how many hours are actually needed for wedding photographer coverage of your wedding day. Just as I talked about in that post, there is never enough time for everything. The wedding day flies as does your photographer coverage time. The wedding couples that opt for more photographer time tend to feel more relaxed and at ease during the wedding day because they do not have so much on their “photography to do list” to pack into just a few hours. The more hours of coverage you go with, the smoother and more relaxing your wedding day will feel.

As the wedding photographer I can tell you that at every wedding we photograph we run around like crazy people working to get everything covered. Every important aspect of the wedding day that helps tell the story is important to us. But just like any work day, you can only do so much with only so much time. You could run around like you are running a marathon but it is still impossible to cover everything if you only have so many hours to do so.

So if you agree with the above then take a moment to re-think your photography budget. How important is coverage of the days events to you?

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Afterthought #4:

“We wish we had hired a professional wedding photographer PERIOD.”

Obviously this afterthought is not from past LaCoursiere Photography clients as they had hired a professional! It is though from friends and acquaintances of mine that I have run into over the years. It is actually the number one thing I hear from acquaintances whom I chat with about photography. What I hear is this; “You take such beautiful wedding pictures! I wish we had decided to hire a wedding photographer. We just had my cousin photograph our wedding for us. Which we got pictures out of and it was free, but she was new to photography and our pictures turned out horrible.” I hear these horror stories so much and it makes me so sad to know that beautiful wedding day photos are lost and that you will never get back those moments back.

If I can give just one single statement of advice at all is please seriously consider hiring a professional photographer. Not your semi-pro cousin, or uncle Joe who does it as a hobby. It will be the best investment of your wedding day budget spent. And not only will your cousin or friend (or whomever offered free wedding photos to you) enjoy your wedding better, you will have a better relationship with them in the end if you allow the “professional” aspects of your wedding left to “professionals.” I’m not saying this because I want you to go out and hire us instead of Uncle Joe. I’m saying this because I care about your beautiful wedding photos and the story of images that should result from them, and I want you book ANY GREAT PROFESSIONAL photographer to photograph your wedding, not just us. If your budget is tight, there are literally hundreds of very good photographers that offer their services in a budget friendly price range.

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Afterthought #5:

“This whole wedding became too big and was not who we are.”

One danger of wedding planning is that it is so easy to get caught up in it. Your love story suddenly becomes about flowers and cupcakes instead of who you really are together. The guest list grows out of proportion and suddenly you don’t know who half the people are in attendance at your wedding.

The best thing you can do when planning your wedding is stay true to yourself. Do you want a small and simple party with just close friends and family? Then make it that! Don’t listen to what everyone tells you. The best wedding day experiences I have seen are from couples that planned the day around what THEY really wanted. They planned the day around the enjoyment of spending time together with each other and with their closest loved ones. Your wedding day is about the two of you, your love for each other, and the celebration of the of the love you will share together for the rest of you lives. Make every details of your wedding planning true to that and after the wedding day you will feel more connected than ever before.

This helpful guide was sponsored by LaCoursiere Photography. LaCoursiere Photography specializes in wedding, newborn, and birth story photography. They work to tell a story through photography in a natural and beautiful way that is personalized to each client differently. Contact Stacey about your unique wedding day and book your wedding with with LaCoursiere Photography.