You're a week away from saying "I do"—and trust us, we know you're soready. But with seven days to go, there are a few seemingly small but important tasks that need to be checked off your list so they don't fall through the cracks. You don't want to be at the altar ready for your groom to break the glass and then realize that there's no glass, right?
1. Overcommunicate With Your VendorsTo make sure everyone is on the same page (so they don't need to call you or your point people on the day-of) call every single wedding vendor and confirm, then re-confirm each arrangement you have with them, including, but not limited to:
4. Schedule Any Beauty AppointmentsYour fingers will likely be texting all week, which makes it even more crucial to keep your nails fresh. Make any minor beauty appointments you want done that week. Think: a mani-pedi, waxing, massage, blowout and facial. This goes for your groom too—make sure his hair is trimmed and face is shaved (if that's the look he's after). Any experimental beauty treatments (like facial peels, lasering, hair coloring and drastic cuts) should be done a few months in advance, just in case they don't turn out as expected.
5. Arrange Help for Any Guests Who Need ItIf you have any ill or elderly guests coming to your wedding, it will be meaningful for them to know you're so glad they can attend. Show your love by making sure they have proper transportation to and from the airport and your wedding events and that they have a comfortable place to stay. You can ask family members, friends or attendants to help with any pick-ups and drop-offs.
6. Hand These Items OffGetting married also means having a lot of important things to distribute among your family and attendants.
8. Deliver Welcome BasketsWhether it's you or an attendant, deliver your welcome baskets for guests to the hotel concierge. Make a list of names, delivery instructions and any additional information you have to prevent any mix-ups.
This article originally published on The Knot.com
We're not saying you need to jump into wedding planning immediately after your engagement—but after celebrations have ceased (for the most part) and the confetti's been cleaned up, it might be time to start spreading the word about your wedding details.
Of course, you want your guests to be able to mark their calendars and save the date, but you also want them to get excited for what's to come! And the easiest way to do that is to create your wedding website.
Seriously, we mean it when we say it's easy—for you and your guests. All you have to do is pick a theme (we have over 100 designs here at The Knot), add your details once you have them (like your venue, date and time) and you'll be set.
Turn on your digital RSVPs so your guests can easily add plus ones and meal choices—without ever having to step foot in a post office. You can also add the details about your accommodations (like your hotel block!) and things to do in the area (to guarantee your guests are never bored during your wedding weekend—not that they would be otherwise).
The best part? When you create your registry on The Knot, it syncs with your wedding website—turning it into a one-stop shop for your guests trying to buy you gifts.
Lastly—and this is a big one—your guests get a 20 percent Rent The Runway discount when you give them a code found on your wedding website dashboard.
Now, what were you waiting for again? Go create your wedding website here.
Pros of Having a First Look Contemplating a first look?
By The Knot
More couples are doing first looks—45 percent, to be exact, according to The Knot 2016 Real Weddings Study. Although nearly half of couples decide to sneak a peek at each other before walking down the aisle, the choice usually comes after a fair amount of deliberation. So what's the best decision for you?
Pro: You save time by taking the bulk of your photos together before the ceremony.Pair your first look with couple portraits (and wedding party shots) before your ceremony to translate that romantic feeling in photos and free up more time to enjoy cocktail hour with guests. Just make sure that whatever secluded spot you choose, it's one that's away from any guests to prevent them from seeing you.
Pro: A first look could ease any nerves before the ceremony. If you're an especially emotional person, or you know you're going to be jittery or nervous, a pre ceremony glimpse may be the way to go.
Besides doing your first look photos, you can also maximize this time to sneak in a few moments alone with each other that you may not get later on.
Pro: If you're worried about crying at the altar, you can get your tears out of the way before. It's every bride's dream not to sob at the altar with mascara all over her face (one glistening tear hardly ever happens), so if you know you'll likely turn on the waterworks during the ceremony, a first look could help get some of your feelings out beforehand. Your first look photos will be that much more emotional and moving, and you'll have plenty of time for makeup touch-ups before the ceremony.
5 Wedding Superstitions You Can Totally Ignore
Jealousy, evil spirits and bad luck omens? Puh-lease. Here are wedding day myths you can forget about—or put your own twist on.
by The Knot
There are a lot of wedding superstitions out there, both good and bad, but trying to keep up with them will only add to your wedding stress. Our advice? Forget about them. This list has all the silly superstitions that are perfectly okay to ignore—or to put your own twist on with a little creativity.
1. You can't see each other before the wedding.
The Superstition: Back in the day, couples weren't supposed to see each other until the last minute, so the groom didn't have the chance to change his mind. (We know—crazy, right?) This custom gradually morphed into the general idea that it was bad luck for a groom to see his bride on their wedding day.
Our Take: Today, some couples stick to tradition because they like the excitement and anticipation of seeing each other for the first time at the ceremony. But we say, do what makes you happy. We know lots of couples who've bucked tradition and stayed in the same room the night before, had breakfast together the morning of and (most conveniently) scheduled their joint photo session with their photographer before the ceremony. Nothing beats an emotional first look photo, and it'll help calm your nerves and up the excitement to have a moment together before your "I dos."
2. Steer clear of yellow roses (or you'll be green with envy).
The Superstition: During the Victorian era, The Language of Flowers—a book that assigned flowers different emotions and meanings—was popularized all over Europe. According to the volume, tulips stand for love and passion, and stephanotis means marital happiness. On the flip side, yellow roses were said to symbolize jealousy.
Our Take: If you love a flower, give it your own special meaning, especially if it has some significance to you, and don't worry a bit about what those Victorian florists would've said. We've seen some seriously gorgeous yellow floral arrangements (without a hint of jealousy in sight).
3. You're doomed if you drop the ring.
The Superstition: Get ready for this dramatic idea: As tradition goes, if someone dropped the ring during the ceremony, it meant that person would die.
Our Take: Obviously that's some grade A nonsense. But it does lead to another a good point—if you have a ring bearer handling your rings (especially one who's very young), make sure your wedding bands are tied tightly enough, and that you hand the ring pillow off to him at the last minute, just before he walks down the aisle. No, you're not doomed if the rings fall, but it could be a little awkward and stressful.
4. The bride has to be carried over the threshold.
The Superstition: Ancient Romans believed carrying the bride over the threshold of the couple's home protected her from evil spirits.
Our Take: Do it for fun when you get home from the honeymoon, if you want, as a nod to a harmless tradition. Or give it a contemporary twist: Walk hand in hand into your new home together instead. But we're pretty sure evil spirits have got nothing on you, so don't take this one too seriously.
5. Don't get married on a Saturday, in May or on the 13th of the month.
The Superstition: This actually refers to several superstitions. According to English folklore, Saturday is the unluckiest day of the week to marry, while Wednesday is supposed to be the best. But it looks like this myth hasn't affected anyone's preference for saying "I do" on a Saturday (it's by far the most popular day of the week to do it). The fear of marrying in May actually dates back to the Romans, who held their festival for the dead in May. There's even a nursery rhyme that reads, “Marry in the month of May, and you'll surely rue the day." And finally, there's the infamous unlucky number 13.
Our Take: Attempt to book your dream venue while following those calendar-related myths and you'll immediately understand why you should ignore them. Unless your family tradition dictates you find a lucky or auspicious wedding date, choose any beautiful wedding day that works for you, and don't look back.
How to Decide What to Wear to Your Photoshoot
Top tips for getting the most out of your professional photography session.
If you are prepping for your first photoshoot you probably have a couple questions about what to expect. A common concern for people having their photos taken for the first time is what to wear.
7 Top Tips for Deciding What to Wear for a Photoshoot
The Top 20 Wedding Photography Mistakes Not to Make
Here's what not to do, according to the pros themselves.
by The Knot
Not to play favorites—because we love all vendors—but your photographer is one of the most important pros you'll have at your wedding. After all, they're solely responsible for the wonderful wedding photos you'll get to pore over, cherish and have as a keepsake forever.
And if you want those photos to be as perfect as possible, you're going to want to listen to what some professional photographers have to say. Read the biggest mistakes professional photographers have seen other couples make—so you can avoid them—below.
1. Not Finalizing the Wedding Day Schedule"
Talk to your photographer before finalizing the schedule for your wedding day. There's a lot to consider in terms of photographing and natural light. Certain times of day are more photogenic than others (midday sun casts harsh, unflattering shadows on the face while late-day sun casts a beautiful, warm glow on everyone).
2. Not Sticking to the Finalized Schedule"
Pay attention and respect the schedule you and your photographer to your wedding. Being an hour late can make or break your images. Don't just assume it only takes 10 minutes.
3. Letting Relatives Get in the Way"
We have a name in the industry for a guest who shows up with pro photo equipment and takes 'unofficial wedding photos'—we call him Uncle Bob. Uncle Bob may think he's doing you a favor by taking more shots for the couple, but usually he just gets in the way and makes us miss our shots. Tell Uncle Bob to leave the camera at home and just enjoy his time at the wedding without working."
4. Not Explaining How You Like to Look in Photos
"Beauty is really very subjective. I ask my clients to send a photo of themselves before the wedding that they like and one that they don't."
5. Focusing Too Much on Taking Photos"
A good photojournalist can capture the story of their day and some artistic portraits while keeping time away from loved ones to a minimum."--
6. Not Getting a Second Shooter"
Sometimes couples want to save a little money or feel it's too obtrusive for more than one photographer to be present on the wedding day. But consider this: The second photographer offers another unique point of view throughout the entire day that you would not have had photographed [otherwise]."
7. Not Getting Help Organizing Your Guests"
Designate someone [trustworthy who] knows your family and friends to be in charge of organizing people for portraits. That person can gather the people needed, direct them on what shots they'll be in, and then release them when they're done. It keeps things moving quickly, smoothly and enjoyably."
8. Trying to Make Things "Perfect""
Just have fun. Whether it's getting a little cake on your face or some detail didn't turn out 100 percent like you'd hoped, go with it, have fun and keep smiling."
9. Skipping the First Look
"[In my opinion], a first look is so much better than trying to rush couple portraits after the ceremony—especially if your ceremony runs a bit late, which most do. You end up trying to rush to get to the party."
10. Trying to Pose"
A good photographer gives direction for a reason: to get the best moments and shots from the day. The best thing to do is relax and act natural. Be in the moment. Be hopelessly in love with each other—the pictures will turn out [amazing.]"
11. Waiting Too Long to Book Your Photographer"
If you find a great photographer, book them! Good photographers book a year or more out and won't be available forever. Nothing is more frustrating than choosing a wedding photographer and then finding out that they booked your date a week prior."
12. Looking at the Camera All the Time"
Some couples want candid photographs, but they always feel like they need to look up at the camera and stop what they're doing. It could be an instinct, but remember—unless the photographer asks you, try to act natural for the best journalistic shots."
13. Not Providing a List of "Don't Takes""
Let the photographer know before the wedding if there are certain photos you don't like. It can be anything from 'I don't like the photos you took of us not smiling' to 'I don't like wide-angle close-ups.' It totally throws off a photographer's creative approach when a bride or groom spills their feelings while you're in the zone."
14. Asking for Too Many Shots"
If clients have done their homework and choose an experienced, reputable wedding photographer, then chances are that photographer doesn't need a two-page spreadsheet of every combination for family portraits."
15. Not Choosing a Photographer You Connect With
"Make sure we get along. I work with clients for sometimes two years or more. If we don't get along, it's going to be a very long and bumpy ride."
16. Skipping the Engagement Session
"Engagement sessions increase the confidence and comfort level of the couple in front of the camera and allow them to practice having their photo taken in a fun, no-stakes atmosphere. Ultimately, an engagement session will let the couple see why the photographer might tell them to do something funny, and this leads to wedding day comfort and trust in the photographer."
17. Not Hiring a Professional Photographer"
Choose someone who's a professional, not just anyone with a digital camera and a website. Make sure the photographer you choose has an education as a photographer, has apprenticed or interned with other photographers and paid their dues, or has the experience and ability to consistently capture the moments of your wedding no matter what situations may arise."
18. Falling for Photography Trends
"Too many times, to-be-weds fall for something trendy in photography. It's critical your wedding images stand the test of time and are valued for each following generation. Trends are fun but rarely last. Look for a photographer with a [generally] classic shooting style, and be wary of too much Photoshop and digital tricks and manipulations."
19. Forgetting the Details"
Think about spending a few minutes to decide what other elements are important to photograph. Did your sister make special wedding favors? Are you carrying important heirlooms with you? Bring an extra invitation and try to keep those special elements easily accessible for photos."
20. Not Smiling—All the Time
"Tell all of the individuals walking down the aisle to look up and smile. If they're too nervous to smile, they should at least keep their head up and stare down the aisle. This helps keep the face from the [unflattering angle] that happens when you stare at the floor while walking."
Engagement Party Planning Basics
Whether you're the hosts or guests of honor, read our engagement party primer for everything you need to know.
by The Knot
What It's For
People will want to congratulate you on your engagement, and let's be real: A party's a lot more fun than a phone call! It's also a great time to introduce key people from your lives who are going to be seeing a lot of each other (and possibly helping plan your wedding together) over the next year or so. "It's the first time you’ll have different groups of friends and generations really getting to know each other in a more intimate way," says celebrity wedding planner Jung Lee of Fête NY.
Traditionally, the bride's parents host the first official celebration, then, the groom's parents can throw their own party. A less traditional, but perhaps more appealing option, is to have both sets of parents come together to cohost an event. However, these days, more couples are tossing tradition aside altogether and throwing the engagement party themselves (just keep in mind that if you're doing the inviting, it's your responsibility to foot the bill too). Friends of the couple can also host (and may even volunteer to), but before you ask, be conscious of the financial implications.
When to Have It
The engagement party should fall within a few months of the proposal—otherwise known as the sweet spot between carefree, just-engaged life and the start of serious wedding planning. You'll want to give guests about a month's notice, so we suggest getting those invites out a couple months after the proposal.
Whose Turf to Have It On
The location really depends on who throws the party. If your hosts are local, you will likely be celebrating in your city, but if they live out of state, you may want to have it in their city. It comes down to discussing it with the hosts and figuring out the logistics to make it easier on everyone involved. Say you live in New York, but most of your family and friends live in Chicago: You may decide to have your party in your hometown (and enlist someone local to help you plan), host it in your current locale or even throw two parties. Just beware of tiring out your guests and bridal party with too many invitations before the wedding day is even close. Also, when picking the party location, consider where you plan to have your wedding—you may not want to ask guests to travel twice. “More of my clients are having multiple engagement celebrations because their friends and family are spread all around the country, but everybody wants to honor them," Lee says.
Where to Have It
Depending on how many people you want to invite, you can make an engagement party work almost anywhere—it's really up to the hosts. When choosing the venue, think about the vibe you want to create: If you like the idea of having a more elegant affair, you might want to rent out a private room at a restaurant, country club or wine bar. For something more low-key, a house, backyard or favorite local dive might be a better choice.
Whom to Invite
Etiquette used to state that you weren't to invite anyone to the engagement party whom you weren't inviting to the wedding, case closed. But now more couples live and/or host their nuptials far from their families and friends, and the formality of engagement parties is evolving, so expectations have changed. Engagement parties can now often include people who aren't invited to the wedding. If your friends want to plan an informal party at a neighborhood bar and email the invites a few weeks before, it's totally fine to include people you aren't sure will end up making the wedding guest list (coworkers, newer friends). And if your parents' good friends want to host a cocktail party at their home in your honor, let your parents invite mutual friends and business associates you might not have room for at your wedding.
However, if you two or your parents are hosting, the old rule sticks: When the wedding hosts send the engagement party invitation, it's considered part of the official wedding parties and guests assume they're invited to the wedding too. To avoid a sticky situation later, start working on your wedding guest list now. Then trim the engagement party list down to your wedding party, immediate family and closest friends.
How to Invite
Feel free to keep the invitations simple. You can even make them yourselves or send out a digital invite. If you've chosen your invitation designer already, see if they'll give you a special rate on engagement party invites. Don't worry if you haven't settled on a color palette or don't have a wedding date in mind yet—your engagement party invitations don't have to match the rest of your stationery. Also, make sure you have most of your wedding website done before the engagement party invitations are sent out so you can include the URL. The website is the easiest, and most subtle, way to spread word about your registry in case guests want to bring you a gift. You don’t have to have the whole site complete—just a link to your registry, a few photos and the story of your proposal (don’t forget to submit it to How He Asked!) will do.
What to Serve
There's no need to plan a five-course meal with a four-hour open bar. Anything from passed appetizers or tasting menu stations to a family-style buffet or casual cookout will work. Or get creative and serve up dishes that share something about you. "I had a bride and groom known for having Sunday Mexican dinners, so they had margaritas, mini fish tacos and great guacamole—it just made sense and was a genuine touch," Lee says. As for dessert, serve it if you'd like, but it doesn't have to be cake. Consider gourmet ice cream sandwiches, assorted baked goods or seasonal treats like candy apples or cotton candy.
How to Set the Scene
While of course it's fine for the décor and details to reflect your wedding colors and theme, like your invites, don't feel like you have to rush to choose them just so your engagement party can match. You might even consider picking a style and theme that are completely different from your wedding day to mix things up. If you're planning a formal ballroom wedding, go for a laid-back backyard party with vibrant colors and an outdoor setting to celebrate your engagement. Just a few small arrangements from your local florist can dress up any space (and it's a great way to try out a potential florist for the wedding). However, the real trick is not to upstage the wedding. So if you're envisioning a casual beach wedding with simple décor, a fancy cocktail party at a swanky hotel with over-the-top centerpieces might make that beach bash feel like a bit of a letdown.
What to Wear
Your wardrobe will depend on the setting of the party. For brides-to-be, aside from the obvious (don’t wear an evening gown to a backyard barbecue), keep it simple enough that you don’t outdo your wedding look, but special enough that you still stand out. As for the grooms, while you don’t have to wear a suit and tie or a tux, you should match your partner in formality. And if you have a specific dress code for guests, make a note of it on the invitation.
A Brief Guide to Professional Photo Restrictions
The photos that a photographer hands over to you are part of their life’s work. It has their name or branding so there are a few important restrictions to note when it comes to the professional digital images that you receive.
1) Copyright. The digital images that your photographer provides you with have a copyright, which means the photographer has the option to use those photos to market their work and services anytime in the future. We are however also respectful of our clients so if there are any images that you would prefer to keep private, it’s best to let us know about it ahead of time so that we can honor your wishes.
2) Image type. We aren’t able to provide you with the original files or raw images. All images given to the client have been cropped and have been edited. If you do require further touch ups we would need to provide you with a quote.
3) Image altering. While we appreciate your business and welcome the sharing of our photos on social media platforms, we ask that the images not be altered in any way as this is against our copyright policies.
What constitutes image altering?
We are happy to give a quote if you want images to be edited in a specific way or if you want further alterations made.
Why Your Photographer Won’t Hand Over RAW Files
Almost every photographer has been asked for RAW files by their customers at one point or another.
For some, it can be hard to understand why their photographer has refused to part ways with their RAW files, but know that your photographer is not trying to be difficult. They have several good reasons why they don’t just hand over all the photos that were taken during your shoot.
When you’re working with a photographer during a shoot, you’ll notice that they’re constantly snapping away. This is because not all of the images come out perfectly. Sometimes a specific pose or scenario needs to be shot multiple times just to get one good shot. A professional photographer spends a lot of time sorting through all of the images that were taken during a shoot to select the best shots.
Once the best photos have been chosen, they are brought to life through post process editing with professional editing software. This stage which takes a lot of time and results in the beautiful end product that is handed over to you. If your photographer had to give you the RAW files you wouldn’t be seeing the end result.
You’d also be surprised at how many people want the RAW files in order to alter the photos themselves. If that individual then chose to share those photos after making their own adjustments, the integrity of your photographer’s work is put at risk.
Something else to keep in mind is that RAW files are huge and you need a lot of memory to store them. You might also find that you don’t have the proper software available at home to view this type of file, so again you would be sitting with megabytes of files that you can’t do anything with.
When you hire a professional photographer you’re putting your trust in their abilities. You need to trust that the photos they hand over to you are a result of their hard work, experience and eye for the perfect shot.
What's the Basic Wedding Reception Timeline?
Publish by The Knot
I'm not certain about the order of events at the wedding reception. Could you please give a rough timeline of the following events: receiving line, cocktail hour, first dance, champagne toast, best man's and maid of honor's speeches, dinner and cake cutting? I'm so clueless!
Absolutely, good question! Here's the basic order of wedding reception events. How long each event lasts depends on your party—is it a simple cocktail wedding reception or a seated dinner? (The average reception with full meal lasts for about four hours.) Keep in mind that you're not orchestrating the wedding reception alone—your banquet manager, caterer, bandleader (who might act as MC) and other wedding professionals are old hands at this stuff, so they know what's supposed to happen when. Remember too, that nothing is set in stone—there are always options, and if the timing of one thing or the other doesn't suit your style, you can always mix it up.
The line can form at the wedding ceremony site just after the wedding or at the reception site, depending on logistics. If you think your guests will get to the reception before you (if you and the wedding party will be taking pictures after the vows), you might want to have the line at the ceremony site. Another option is to hold the cocktail hour in a room other than the main reception room. You'll have plenty of time to get to the cocktail hour, and when the doors to the reception room open, you and your parents can form the receiving line as guests enter.
The cocktail hour kicks off the wedding reception and can last for an hour or perhaps an hour and a half. Guests arrive, greet each other and you, and generally get into party mode.
This moment can take place when you two are announced for the first time as husband and wife—just go directly to the dance floor. Alternatively, you can wait until after the salad course—it's entirely up to you.
Champagne Toast and Speeches
The toast generally happens after everyone is seated and the first course has been served. The best man starts the toast and gives his speech, followed by the maid of honor. The couple responds (the groom usually responds to the best man, but why not let the bride say something too?), and then parents and other guests can say a few words as well.
Once cocktails are finished, the couple and wedding party have been announced, and the first dance is over (if you've chosen to dance before the meal), dinner should be served. Generally, not much more than half an hour should have passed since guests entered the main reception room.
Wedding Cake Cutting
The cake is usually cut during the last hour of the reception, which makes sense because it's time for dessert and coffee as the party is winding down. Also, the wedding cake cutting generally signals to guests that it's okay to leave soon, so don't cut the cake too early or things could start wrapping up before you're ready.
Crystal Vandegrift is a wedding photographer covering Virginia, D.C. NC and Maryland.
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What Our Clients Are Saying
Crystal was a great photographer for our wedding! She's definitely LGBT friendly and has some cool rainbow umbrellas to use as props in your pictures - if that's your style. Our friends and family were all very impressed with the number of photos she took and shared with us - and they're all great shots! We would absolutely recommend her to others. - Kelsey and Shannon - Baltimore, Maryland