Weddings

Planning Your Wedding Day Details

January 4, 2019

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Elizabeth
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Details photos are one of my favorite parts of photographing the wedding day. I love they way they compliment the overall wedding album, help set the mood of the wedding and tell the story of your day. Couples often ask me during our pre-wedding consultation, how long do details photos take, and what kind of items should they bring for their details photos?

There are so many details you might want to include in your wedding day images that will make your wedding feel luxurious and elegant. When planning my own destination wedding, there were so many details I wanted to include and needed to purchase that I began to feel overwhelmed. Having guide to help me prioritize my details (ones that would be both meaningful, and elevate my wedding album) would have been incredibly helpful. Which is why I’ve decided to share with you everything I’ve learned as a bride, and as a wedding photographer.

Most importantly, know that the details you choose to include in your day are entirely up to you. Some couples chose to prioritize the finer details of the day, while others chose to focus on the bigger picture. Your vision and your budget for your wedding is entirely your own, so pick and choose which of these recommendations you find most inspiring as you plan your day.

The Finer Details

When thinking about your wedding details, it’s easy to focus on the bigger items, like your shoes, veil and jewelry, but I find that the beauty is in the finer details. For this, I bring a styling kit to every wedding I photograph. This includes backgrounds, ribbons, stamps and ring boxes in muted and neutral colors, but having your own custom color or vintage ring box can be a beautiful wedding day keepsake. My favorite places to source ring boxes are The Mrs Box, Etsy, and Amazon.

Other items you might consider for your detail photos might include: any gifts exchanged between the Bride and Groom or the wedding party; letters exchanged between Bride and Groom; family heirlooms; any custom paper goods (napkins, menus, vow books, place cards, welcome signs, wedding itineraries); bridesmaid’s robes; wedding cologne and perfume; celebratory or customized bottles of champagne, cigars, or liquor; signature cocktails and glassware, customized or locally sourced wedding favors; venue illustrations; and more.

Before the wedding, I collect all of the wedding details my couples and I have discussed, and I photograph them in various arrangements to create beautiful images that tell the story of your day.

Your Color Scheme

The beauty of your detail photos is their ability to set the stage for a cohesive wedding story. So it’s important to establish your wedding color scheme before you begin purchasing items for your wedding details. Without digressing into a complex lesson in color theory, suffice to say that your wedding color scheme might be made up of three to five colors, including a primary color, complimentary color, and an accent color. These colors will often times be the color of your bridesmaid dresses, or the colors in your bouquet.

For example, perhaps your goal is to keep the colors of your wedding day fresh and vibrant, you might choose a color scheme with white, yellow, and the greenery in your florals. Therefore, when selecting your ring box, you might opt for a white box, however you could also choose a yellow ring box which would also pair nicely.

The Invitation Suite

Don’t make the mistake of reducing your invitation suite to just the invitation itself. Your suite will photograph most beautifully when we include the envelopes, envelope liners, RSVP card, details card, as well as any other custom stationary you may have purchased. Also, when collecting your paper details, don’t forget to include any other wedding related items, like your wedding menu, itinerary, place cards (especially the Bride’s and Groom’s), wedding day program, cocktail napkins, vow books, wax seals, stamps or accent ribbon.

If you’re wondering about wax seals, I can tell you they are a beautiful detail that makes your invitation suite look more elegant. Most calligrapher’s offer them in some form, but you can also source them on Etsy, and my absolute favorite shop for wax seals is Le Pomme La Pipe Press.

If you’re having your envelopes addressed by a custom printer or written by a calligrapher, it’s a good idea to have one addressed to either your planner, or your photographer, to set aside for photographs. A few of my favorite stationers can be found on Etsy and are listed below.

JULIE HA CALLIGRAPHY | LE POMME ET LA PIPE PRESS | SHINA ALIAS ATELIER

Extra Florals

I always contact the wedding florist to request extra florals or any leftover blooms when I have couples who value detail shots. Wedding florals can add extra character to your wedding details and help to create a cohesive theme to your images. Because styling detail photos is one of my favorite creative processes, I take the extra effort to curate details and florals for my couples’ detail photos, but it always helps to discuss this with your florist yourself if it’s something you feel passionately about, too. 

Wedding Cologne + Perfume

This is another of my favorite wedding day details, and I encourage taking special care when it comes to choosing your wedding day perfume for a few reasons. You may have heard about the powerful relationship between memory and your sense of smell? Particularly the way a remembered scent can transport you to the place and time you first smelled it. What an incredible keepsake to cherish the memory of your wedding day!

I also love photographing wedding day perfumes. Not only is it a lovely way to document the scent you wore that day, but it also makes a beautiful compliment to your details photos, and a sophisticated scent and bottle of perfume can give a luxurious feel to your wedding day. When selecting a perfume for your wedding, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind.

First, consider the theme of your wedding, the design and size of the bottle, the color of the perfume and, of course, the scent. If you’re planning a destination wedding on the beaches of Maui, you might want to wear a scent that’s light and fresh. For a wedding at a French chateau, you might chose something more feminine and glamorous. The best part is, that if you chose a scent that’s new to you, you’ll be reminded of your wedding day every time you wear it.

I find, some of the most beautiful perfumes to smell and photograph are Penhaligon’s, Chanel, Chloé and Jo Malone. I personally chose Chanel for my wedding day, and my husband wore Penhaligon’s.

After reading this article in Harper’s Bazaar, I also love the idea of making a date out of selecting your wedding day scents. Think, engagement session in Pairs after an afternoon creating your own perfume. Have some fun with the process!

PENHALIGON’S | CHANEL | CHLOÉ | JO MALONE

Bridal Jewelry

Wedding day jewelry can feel overwhelming when there are so many styles to choose from. When it comes to selecting your jewelry, the best advice I can give, is that your jewelry should compliment your overall look and the theme of your wedding. And also, that less is more.

You may also want to consider how comfortable and practical your jewelry pieces are. If sunglasses and ponytails give you a headache, it would be wise to avoid tight or heavy hair accessories. Or if you love a pair of statement earrings, but fear they may get heavy as the hours wear on, you might want to select a smaller, second pair to change into later.

Some of my favorite designers for wedding day accessories are Jennifer Behr, BHLDN, Olive + Piper, Kate and Mari, and Twigs and Honey.

JENNIFER BEHR | BHLDN | OLIVE + PIPER | KATE AND MARI | TWIGS AND HONEY

Veil or No Veil

Depending on the style of your wedding, dress and ceremony, you may or may not choose not to wear a veil. Some brides have two! I find It’s a nice option to have one for at least a few photographs. It’s a really beautiful piece to have for detail photos, bridal boudoir, bridal portraits, and couples portraits. Another option for the contemporary bride, could be a bridal cape.

While my veil was special ordered from a designer in London, currently my favorite designers for sourcing your bridal veil include Monvieve, BHLDN, and Girl And A Serious Dream. You can also find custom options on Etsy, and I’ve even had Brides source beautiful and affordable veils from Amazon (days before the wedding even).

MONVIEVE | BHLDN | GIRL AND A SERIOUS DREAM | AMAZON | ETSY

Bridal Robes and Pajamas

In planning all the details of what you’re going to wear on your wedding day, sometimes Brides forget to consider what they’ll wear while getting ready. An easy way to elevate your getting ready photos is to wear a Bridal Robe or a sophisticated Pajama set. As an added bonus, a beautiful bridal robe can double as lingerie for tasteful bridal boudoir photos. Some brides also chose to gift matching robes or customized pajamas to their bridesmaids to wear while getting ready too.

When choosing your getting ready robe or pajamas, the most important thing to remember is that they should be easily removable without touching your hair or makeup, so opt for something that ties or buttons in front.

LA PERLA | GIRL AND A SERIOUS DREAM | PIYAMA

Groom’s Details

If you’re a bride planning your wedding day details, don’t forget that his details matter too. Some of my favorite men’s details to photograph include watches, sunglasses and shoes. But Groom’s details often include shoes, socks, bowtie or tie, tie-clip, cuff links, cologne, watch, wedding band, pocket square and boutonnière.

If your Groom has any special activities planned for his Groomsmen before or during the wedding festivities, like golf, hunting, sailing, signature cocktails or a cigar bar, his details could also include items from these events.

Here are a few of my husband’s favorite resources for selecting his wedding details.

MOVADO | MVMT | GUCCI | MR PORTER

Vow Books

This is one detail I regret not purchasing for my own wedding. Believe me, ceremony photos look so much better when reading your vows from beautiful vow books, rather than from a phone or notebook paper. They also make another wonderful wedding keepsake. Because of this, I love gifting my clients vow books for their wedding day.

Many couples chose to have their vow books made by their stationer so they match the rest of the wedding stationary, but you can also find beautiful options to complement your wedding in linen, leather, velvet, rustic and paper designs.

ANTHROPOLOGIE | MICHELLE RENEE CO | LE POMME ET LA PIPE PRESS | ETSY

Wedding Menus + Programs

Some couples may feel that spending more to print wedding menus and programs is a waste of money, and I can tell you, I completely understand. However, because they can really elevate your place setting and detail photos, while also helping to tell the story of your day, I encourage my couples to consider purchasing just a couple, if only for keepsakes and photographs.

Place Cards

Place cards can also be made by your stationer to add some extra beauty and elegance to your reception table scape and details photos. We had an intimate wedding with a single, family style table, so we didn’t need a seating chart and custom place cards were a beautiful addition to our table setting.

Ribbons + Linens

When it comes to choosing your table decor or ribbon details, you might think that ribbon is ribbon, but you’d be wrong. I cannot stress enough how much fabrics set the tone for a wedding. Because of this, I always bring a few raw, bamboo or french silk ribbons and linens in my photography styling kit to use when shooting wedding details. These are muted and neutral colors that I’ve hand selected to compliment most wedding themes, but if you’re wanting a more customized look to your wedding details, Silk & Willow offers extraordinary hand-dyed ribbon in sophisticated color combinations and Lancaster & Cornish offers bespoke colors of linens and ribbons.

If you’re planning a large reception, you don’t have to go overboard with linens for the entire event, you could elect to focus on just the couple’s table and cake table, table accents like table runners, or ribbon for your stationary and bouquet.

SILK & WILLOW | LANCASTER & CORNISH

Wedding Guest Book

Because my husband and I chose to have an intimate destination wedding, we felt we didn’t need a wedding guest book. Looking back, I really wish I’d had one. It would be nice to have what would’ve been one last handwritten note from my grandmother to me on my wedding day.

I’d have chosen something classic and timeless like this. Or another option I absolutely love, is to include a polaroid camera on your guest table with a slip in guestbook for guest selfies and notes. As an added bonus, guests can continue taking photos throughout the evening, and your guest book becomes a mini album all by itself. Something with both character and soul.

Don’t forget to purchase beautiful pens as well. Theres nothing worse than having to lay out ugly pens on your welcome table because you didn’t think of it until the day of your wedding.

Welcome Gifts, Cards & Itineraries

If, like us, you choose to have a destination wedding, you may be planning more than one day’s worth of festivities for your wedding guests. For our destination wedding weekend, we hosted a rehearsal dinner, the wedding day, sunrise hot air ballon ride and farewell brunch.

If your guests are traveling to your destination wedding, including a welcome card and weekend itinerary in your welcome gifts are a wonderful way to greet your guests, and also let them know what exciting things they have to look forward to. You can have your wedding stationer create these too, or find editable templates online to print yourself.

My favorite sources for wedding welcome baskets, or wedding party gifts are Marigold & Grey, Lavender + Pine Gifting, and Simone LeBlanc, who offer both ready made gift bags and boxes as well as custom curated designs.

MARIGOLD & GREY | LAVENDER + PINE GIFTING | SIMONE LEBLANC

Welcome Sign + Seating Chart

We didn’t have a welcome sign or seating chart at our destination wedding, but after photographing wedding receptions all over the country, I can tell you that an inspired seating chart and welcome sign have the ability to set a beautiful and elegant tone to your wedding day and reception decor.

To compliment your wedding theme signs can be mirrored, glass, acrylic, canvas, paper, neon or wood. When ordering your welcome sign, generally you’ll want one that is 18×24. For seating charts, you might want something printed, with tags, cards or even wedding favors.

Give Your Photographer Enough Time

The truth is, that good detail photos take time–time to arrange, photograph, adjust and photograph again. Depending on how many details you might have for your wedding, styling them could take anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes.

It’s very important that if you have a lot of details you want photographed on your wedding day, that you give your photographer enough time to capture them. I love to work with my clients to coordinate their details in advance, and even arrange to photograph them the day before whenever I can. This way I can take my time capturing details photos, and then I’m able to focus on more candid moments as they unfold throughout the getting ready part of the wedding day.

Prepare Your Details In Advance

If your photographer is waiting until the day of your wedding to photography your details, it is incredibly helpful to have all your items collected in one place in advance, rather than scrambling to gather your items from different people across the wedding venue, and cutting into valuable time.

Most often, I find that the engagement rings and wedding bands are held by two or more people. Rest assured, if you choose to keep them together for your photographer to photograph at the start of your day, when finished, your photographer can deliver the rings from the bridal suite to the best man before the ceremony.

Wedding Details Checklist

As a former bride and wedding photographer, I understand there is so much to think about when getting ready for your big day. That’s why I like to provide my clients with this printable wedding details checklist to help organize your items and help you remember everything.

I hope this has given you lots of ideas and inspiration for your wedding day details, and helps you prioritize which will be most meaningful for you on your wedding day.

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BEHIND THE LENS

ABOUT ELIZABETH

Photographer, Equestrian and Scuba Diver. Lover of Fashion, Art and Interior Design. Collector of Cookbooks. Creator of Everything-But-The-Kitchen-Sink Travel Itineraries. Obsessed with Haute Restaurants and Hot Yoga.

When Elizabeth isn't photographing destination weddings, she's scuba diving (warm waters, if at all possible), riding her Iberian Warmblood, or spending time with her sweet family in Central California. She's just as good at planning menus as planning trips, and she makes a legendary pomegranate and rosemary baked brie. 

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