Today’s lovely guest post comes to us from Paige Young of Apaige Photography, based in Georgetown Township, MI.

Wedding planning can become super overwhelming. I remember becoming engaged and being completely overwhelmed with the next steps. However, I had an advantage, as I had photographed over 80 weddings, and knew what the day entailed and what I needed to book and organize. I began researching vendors first, I think this is something that is extremely important. A wedding needs a place, and a wedding needs service vendors. Being a photographer, that was the first vendor on my list to figure out. There are so many great photographers out there, there are so many kickin’ DJ’s out there, and there are enormous amounts of venues that are breathtaking. Being a creative, I wanted to share a few helpful hints and ideas to help choose ‘your people.’ I will discuss more of the photography side of weddings since that is what I am familiar with, but a lot of these things can be applicable to other vendors as well.

Read the full post after the cut!

1. Find vendors that you gel with.

This is incredibly important. These people will be with you for the entirety of the day, and will be communicating with you up until the day ends. Make-up and hair artists will spend the entire morning with you, the DJ will get your night party started, and may even help with your ceremony, the caterers will be important to create food and serve your guests perhaps during cocktail hour as well as dinner, and your photographer may be there the entire day. For artists, you can tell their particular work flow or personality. Read their “about me” section and see if they are someone that you would mesh with. If you value what they value, or if you are laid back and are looking for a photographer that seems pretty ‘chill,’ then shoot them an email! However, if you are looking for someone a bit more detail and list oriented, then find someone else.

2. Find your style.

While you are looking for photographers, cake creators, hair stylists, make-up artists, really look at their styles. This is incredibly important. This is also the part where financial aspects begin to nag at us, and I completely get it. Sometimes you’ll find a vendor that matches your price but doesn’t exactly have the style that matches you. This is where I always say, “like a pair of pants, you wouldn’t invest in a photographer just because you can afford them, you would invest in them because they fit.” There have been a lot of instances where photographers, or other vendors have received emails asking about if they are able to switch their style for a specific wedding day. This breaks our hearts completely, because if we have chosen a specific style it’s because that’s our brand, or it is what we are good at. However, we totally understand the questioning, just be aware that the feedback you are hoping for may not come back in that manner.

3. Timelines

Every photographer, every hair stylist, every caterer, every vendor is different. Timelines are always helpful to have, but if you don’t have a wedding planner, I would highly recommend communicating with your photographer to establish an idea of a timeline. 99% of these timelines are not followed to a “t” on the date of the wedding, which is why I always personally leave 15 minutes for error between events. I give a timeline that is revolved around hourly events, but I know that sometimes these planned moments fall through due to unforeseen circumstances. When that happens I quickly think on my feet and recreate a timeline in my head that I express to my brides and grooms, to let them know the day will be A-OKAY and those shots will be captured, but in a different order later on in the day. The more communication the better, and the more your vendors are able to think on their feet and adjust, the easier the day will be. Really the most important element I can express is communication. Before the wedding day and during the wedding day, the more communication, the better.

A Photographer's Top 5 Wedding Tips (4)

4. Photo Shot Lists

There are specific websites that tell you to make a list for your photographer. If your photographer identifies with an artist more than a photographer, and if they are experienced, please ask them if they need this. Most experienced photographers will cover the basic things on their own. However, if they receive a list they will be more focused on the list than really capturing events, and emotions. Most photographers are aware of things like, details during the day, the grooms face during the wedding, and the kiss, etc. The things we are completely unaware of are family dynamics, recent losses in the family, things that are important to the family, or even different types of events like the father’s first look with his daughter, or events that are completely unordinary but are unique (example, the last wedding I had literally had a full outfit change to go along with the chicken dance).

A list I always ask for, however, is a family list. I find these incredibly helpful, as I don’t know my bride and groom’s family! However, bride brain is completely a thing, and I always ask for family combinations that you really desire prior to the wedding day. If you choose an experienced photographer, they will add in some combinations that they think have been forgotten but are important. However, this list is a really good set up for no failure, and even when the time gets very stressful (it is one of the most stressful parts of the day in my opinion) then this list will be used as a base of what needs to just be achieved, whether everyone is cooperating or not (hah).

5. Image expectations

Something that I find incredible important after choosing a photographer that you love is letting go of expectations for your images. As artists, we want to create for you. Having particular ideas for your wedding photography is completely okay! In fact, if you are really desiring a specific pose or image, it is completely welcomed to let us be aware of this. However, it should be noted that the image reference, is only a reference, and your actual photograph is taken by a different photographer, with different models, and different lighting.

The best thing I did as a bride, was have no expectations about what specific photographs I wanted. This gave my photographer free range, but also gave me pure happiness in reviewing all of my images. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in what we think we should look like, compared to what we do look like. This can be relevant to our relationship and how we interact with our loved one, or it can be relevant to our body image. Every bride is beautiful on their wedding day, just as every groom is handsome on theirs. I firmly believe that it is impossible to photograph a bride or groom bad on their wedding day, as they are all dressed up and shining with pure happiness. No bride has to be a size 2 to be beautiful, and no groom has to be macho masculine to be handsome.

All in all, I guess there are two main things I want to be taken away from this portion and it’s this: 1. Have ideas for your wedding look, and find a photographer that reflects that, therefore you can let them create without image references. 2. Your wedding is unique in itself, and you are unique, and who you are is perfect enough.

Paige Young lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan, but travels very often for weddings and jobs. She has been photographing since she was 16. Currently, Paige is finishing up two master degrees and is an adjunct teacher for Kendall and Grand Valley State. Paige is photographing her 105th wedding in February!

For more information about Apaige Photography, please visit her WeddingLovely Vendor Guide profile or head striaght to her website.