You're getting married!!!

I’ve compiled a big list of tips and good-to-know’s for you to help your planning and help you get the best wedding experience and photos possible! Take it from me, someone who has been to hundreds of weddings! I want you to have the best wedding experience and photos possible, so here’s my top tips I’ve gathered over the years that are useful for any couple :

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Engagements

I highly recommend an engagement shoot prior to the wedding day for several reasons. First off it’s nice to have photos of each other where you’re just being yourselves, not all dressed up on a big dress or suit, dressed more casual and comfortable like you are in day to day life. These photos a lot of the time end up being couple’s favorite photos from their entire wedding experience. Secondly, it’s nice to hang out and shoot with your photographer beforehand the so you can get to know them and feel more yourself in front of them by the time the wedding day comes along so you can be more vulnerable, emotional, and yourself so I can better capture all the feels of the wedding day wether it be your mom wiping tears from your face, you busting up a laugh at each other, praying with your father before ceremony, etc.  I know it can feel super awkward getting your photo taken so having a shoot beforehand to be able to loosen up and realize getting photos taken can be fun and help you not to be so worried on your wedding day. That way you can be as relaxed as possible.

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Finding the Perfect Venue

Maui has many location options to choose from. It has amazing venues where you can have your full wedding day at to beautiful beaches or public cliffside locations if you’re looking for a more adventurous and intimate experience.

Beaches and public spaces are a good option if you’re looking to save a little money. You can split your wedding day in different parts – Ceremony at a location and reception per say at a bar or a restaurant.

There are also the venues where you can have your full wedding day at. From getting ready all the way to the party they will be able to hold your celebration and cater to you.

National parks are also a good options. You may have to get a permit that can cost up to $400 but it’s cheaper than a venue for example.

Backyard weddings are also super popular around here. VRBO and Airbnb are a good option. Just check with the renter if weddings are allowed at the location you pick before you rent it.

Check different wedding blogs like The Venue Report, Green Wedding Shoes, Junebug Weddings, Hey Hey Hello May, Rocky Mountain Bride, and local wedding blogs (the list goes on and on) for ideas on location and venue options because they usually have lots of info on the venue/better photos of spaces/setup inspiration options for the venues.

Just remember you can make any space work. A place doesn’t cater? Call your favorite food truck to come cater for everyone (which usually saves lots of $). You need to find chairs for everyone for the ceremony? If your ceremony is going to be short and sweet, standing is usually not an issue and you can do more interesting intimate setups with where people stand surrounding you, or you can find a rental chair company that will deliver and pickup.

Find a location that can accommodate everyone, like a cabin or lodge or campsite or airbnbs. This makes everything feel more intimate and you can be surrounded by one another and make more memories rather than being separated!

Also if you do decide to work with one of Maui’s wedding planners they can help you make your dream wedding day a reality. There are a few super experienced planners and I can send you a few of my favorites.

 

 

Wedding Weekends

Wedding weekends are an awesome way to be able to create more memories and a longer experience rather than just a half day shindig. I’ve seen weddings that instead of doing a rehearsal dinner, they’ll surf, or a barbecue, or a game night, or swimming at the beach followed by pizza and beers. Theres seriously no rules on what you can or cant do, just do whatever you love to do with your friends and family! I’ve also seen lots of people do a big brunch with everyone the morning after the wedding followed by a little hike, or laying out at the beach together, bar hopping, a boat ride, or going to a luau. This just adds to the experience and its fun to have it all captured so your family can have photos of the candid unposed moments of memories that will last for ever! Remember, this is all about being surrounded by the ones you love and making memories.

Timeline Tips

Don’t cram in too many things into a tight schedule, because guess what? There is always something that will go wrong on your wedding day. Thats just how it goes. I haven’t been to one wedding (and I’ve been to hundreds!) where everything goes according to plan. Plan for things to take longer than you think for this reason, as well as making sure everyone can feel relaxed and not rushed all day long. A fast paced tight schedule will always result in stress! Here is a little sample timeline I’ve put together for a 6 hour wedding . The longer the photo collection you have the longer each part of the day will be and more relaxing everything will work out. 

Getting Ready

Getting ready together is such an amazing part of the wedding day that is often overlooked. Some of my favorite photos of wedding days come before the ceremony even happens, as everyone is typically really emotional, anxious, and excited! Here are a few things that will help the time before your ceremony be more meaningful and help the quality of the photos :Be intentional about getting ready spaces, it can define your mood for the rest of the day. For example, if you choose to get ready at a messy hotel bathroom surrounded by everyone’s luggage and ugly furniture and having to worry about packing up all your stuff last minute, you might feel stressed and overstimulated with so much clutter and stuff around you. Compare that to a room with soft natural light streaming into a cleaner space with your thoughtful wedding details (shoes, jewelry, hair pieces, etc) laid out and your pretty dress hung up in the window, or outside on a porch where you can get fresh air and not feel cramped, you’ll probably feel more at peace and in touch with your emotions rather than thinking about where the hell you left your glue on lashes and your “something blue.”Keep spaces clear of clutter as much as you can! I will help with this, but if you can have a designated “clean area” near a window space where you do your getting ready photos, this will make for much better photos focused on the moment rather than the bright pink Victoria’s secret bag in the corner.Bring a pretty hanger for your dress! It can be as simple as a wooden one, it doesn’t have to be anything fancy, as long as it’s not an ugly plastic crap one that you got when your mom bought you a sweater last year.

Ceremony + Reception Lighting

When choosing your ceremony location, people typically only think about the backdrop and forget to think about the light at the time of day that your ceremony will take place, which is way more important for you and your guests’ comfort and for the quality of the photos.

Getting married on the tropics is an amazing choice. So beautiful, warm and colorful. However if having a wedding outdoors the lighting and heat can be a factor for photos and your guests. Instead of having your wedding ceremony at 2pm try to discuss with your planner options to have it a little closer to sunset and if not try to have the ceremony after 4pm. Your guests and I will thank you!

And one more thing. Have it backlit would be the perfect case scenario. Front or side lit (meaning the sun is in from or beside the ceremony area) will offer a very harsh light making it uneven. Backlit offer a more dreamy feel and look. 

These are just recommendations if there’s flexibility with the ceremony location and timing. If not we can work wherever it is and I’ll still be able to create amazing images for you. 

Reception Lighting : I cant stress to you enough how important lots of string lights can be for your reception! Think about it this way, the brighter you can make your reception space with string lights and candles, the better your photos will turn out. Low lit receptions end up making the photos poor quality, super grainy losing lots of detail, and usually have to be edited as black and whites to be able to make them look decent. If you have tons of string lights and candles I’ll be able to edit the photos in color, they’ll look better, your skin will look better, and I won’t have to use flash over photos that should have a soft dreamy look. You can get a great deal on string lights at Costco and on Amazon. More light the better !

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Let things unfold naturally

Embrace whatever moments or craziness come! You shouldnt be stressing on your wedding day, especially over something you dont have control over. Nothing is ever “perfect” and that is just how life goes, there’s no reason to exhaust yourself over making everything seem “perfect.” Remember to laugh a lot and you’ll be just fine!

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Do whatever the heck you want.

Dont want some random pastor marrying you? Have your dad or best friend or sister or whoever get ordained! Follow these steps on how to get anyone ordained to be able to marry the two of you. Being married by someone who is close to you and knows you both and your relationship well will be way more meaningful and emotional and special to the two of you rather than someone that comes in that you pay to say the same crap they say to everyone else. Make it personal!

You wanna elope but your family wants a big wedding? Do both. Elope and do your vows in a location that is beautiful and meaningful to you both that you can feel the most connected to each other in, you could even take your 10 closest family members and friends. Then head back home a month later and throw a big party or bbq or bonfire to have all your fave people surrounding you eating tacos and roasting marshmallows and dancing the night away. This way you can get the best of both worlds and have it be no stress!

Do you want to do vows but dont want to share them in front of a bunch of people you dont totally know (aka your mom’s cousin or your dad’s high school buddy)? Sneak off after the first look before the ceremony and read your vows to one another privately. This way, it can still be documented and private and emotional while still sharing your ring exchange and “I do’s” with everyone!

Feel free to break traditions. Are you not a formal kind of person? Totally fine. Dont follow tradition. Do a buffet style dinner where people can sit wherever the crap they want. Dont like cake but love churros? Have a big pile of churros instead of a nasty white cake. Don’t want to spend your wedding night shaking hands and hugging random people you’re meeting for the first time? Don’t do a receiving line and float around the reception chatting to the people you actually care about. Don’t want to do bridesmaids and groomsmen? Thats a million percent fine. Don’t want to do your first dance to a slow song? Do it to a fast loud dirty-word-filled reggae song if you’re like me and Jay. Traditions are meant to be broken and there’s no reason you should do something on your wedding day just because it’s expected!

This is your day. Yeah, it’s important to honor your family members by doing certain things on your day or including them in different things, but just remember this is ultimately your day and you should be doing it for yourselves and making it as meaningful as you possibly can. So often brides will get too caught up in trying to make their mom happy and they realize their wedding is something that is more meaningful only to her parents rather than her. This will be the day you remember for the rest of your life and you should make it as comfortable and fun for you two as much as you can!

Most importantly, remember to have fun and do whatever it is that makes your day yours. So many people get so wrapped up in caring so much about the decor, the perfect details, who’s sitting where, color schemes, and other things that in the long run, don’t really matter. Remember that you’re not putting on an event for your guests, they’re coming to give love and feel your love. What matters most is the tender moments between you and your person, the extra tight hugs your siblings that never hug give you, your grandparents kissing your cheeks, and the connection you feel to everything and everyone around you. It’s all about the love.