Today, Samantha Laffoon Photography is sharing her top-10 tips for a smooth, stress-free wedding with images you will love.

We've been photographing weddings for many years now and through our experience we've seen some awesome (and some not so awesome) things. You've been planning your wedding day for so long and the last thing we want to see is you extremely stressed on your magical day!

Tip #1: Hire a Wedding Planner

This is something that a lot of brides forgo and think that they don't need. Let me tell you that a wedding planner is someone who is on your team to help make your day as stress-free as possible! You do not need to worry about a thing when your wedding planner is in charge. I'm not referring to venue coordinators, I'm talking investing in a partial or full service planning. They are there for you through every step of the way leading up to your big day, through the end to create a day you'll never forget. You have a vision of how your wedding should look and feel, and a planner is there to use their knowledge to bring that to life! Let friends, family and bridesmaids soak in this special day with you instead of worrying about table settings or timing.

Still looking for a planner? Click here to find your perfect match.


Tip #2: Make Your Wedding Feel Like You

There are so many amazing and gorgeous trends happening now and while they are fun to incorporate, make sure your wedding still feels like you. Your wedding day is a celebration of you as a couple and you don't want to lose sight of that when getting caught up in the latest trends. While there's absolutely nothing wrong with having a trendy wedding, my advice is find a happy medium. Choose a style that you like what it looks like, but add elements of you because that's what you're going to want to remember for years to come.


Tip #3: Have a First Look

If you're not familiar with what a first look is I'm happy to explain! A first look is when a bride and groom share a moment and see each other for the first time before the ceremony. Your photographers are in the background discreetly capturing this sweet time and allowing you to just soak in the day. About 60 percent of our couples choose to have a first look, but it most definitely is not something that you have to do. Whatever you decide, make sure it's the right decision for you both!

Here’s why I am (personally) partial to the first look:

  • The special moment: Having private time together away from everyone and being able to enjoy seeing each other for the first time is priceless. You can laugh, cry, embrace, kiss and just be you before the timeline is kicked into full gear.
  • Timeline: Having a first look provides you with a little more relaxed time for photos before the ceremony and you will feel less rushed. The way that we approach a first look is we give our couples about 10 minutes for the first look and then move into portraits. We'll then have the wedding party join us and we can even do some of the family formals before the ceremony to trim back on what's done afterward. Then after the ceremony we'll photograph more family formals and depending on the time of year either send our couple off to enjoy cocktail hour and pull them out again at sunset for a few golden light portraits, or photograph a few more portraits and then have them announced at their reception.
  • Calming: Your wedding day is full of so many emotions and (more often than not) there are some nerves. Seeing your best friend before the ceremony can help calm some of those nerves and help you to be able to feel the excitement of getting married over nervousness. One of our recent brides was dealing with a little anxiety and stress trying to get ready but as soon as they saw one another all of that melted away and she was completely calm and overjoyed.


Tip #4: Create a Timeline With Your Planner and Photographer

Creating a timeline for the wedding day is one of the most important pieces in the planning process. I highly suggest getting with both your photographer and wedding planner to work together to create the timeline, that way everyone is on the same page. The flow of the wedding day always takes on a mind of its own no matter how much you plan for it, but having a plan is so important. It plays a big role in the final images you will receive. It's not a good idea to ever rush through photos. There is a lot portraits that we are capturing for you; bride and groom, family formals, wedding party, etc. and it cannot be done in less than an hour. We want to give you authentic, fun images as well as the candid moments in between, all of which take time. Things happen and stuff runs behind so it's a great idea to have either a first look or a little buffer of time before you're announced into your reception.


Tip #5: Don't Skip Out On The Getting Ready Details

The moments when you're getting ready and the small details are often time the first thing we discuss when working through the timeline. While I completely understand wanting to have your exit captured, the moments pre-wedding are what you are not going to want to forget – anticipation as you put on your dress, giggles with your girls and so much more. Having time for your photographer to capture those moments along with all the little details that make up your wedding look, is so important for the story. Leave some time for your photographer to work their magic and freeze all your special details in time and those moments leading up to "I do.”

PRO TIP: Have your bouquets arrive when the photographer does and have everything (jewelry, both sets of rings, invitations, shoes, ring boxes, garter, etc.) in a box or bag. That way when your photographer arrives you just hand it to them and they're good to go!


Tip #6: Make Sure the Space Where You Get Ready is Clean and Bright

This tip is an important one to go along with tip five. To have beautiful and light filled images the space you choose to get ready in needs to have at last two windows, but the more windows the better! This will provide super flattering and flawless images of you getting ready instead of the unflattering color given off by tungsten lights. Also, try to keep the space tidy so there is little distraction in your images. With you and all your girls getting ready in the same space you can almost guarantee that there will be stuff everywhere, so have a designated spot for everyone's things out of sight.


Tip #7: Don't Forget About the Guys

A lot of the time the groom and groomsmen are tucked away in a closet or room that is unattractive and windowless. Your groom and his guys should also be able to get some great photos of them hanging out and getting ready. Try to find them a space that has a lot of natural window light and is spacious for them to hang out … it's their day too!


Tip #8: Do a Trial of Your Hair and Makeup

A hair and makeup trial before wedding day guarantees there aren’t any surprises and that you will completely love your bridal look. You images will reflect the way you look so be super specific about what you like and don’t like so on wedding day, it’s perfect.


Tip #9: Have an Engagement Session

The engagement session is super important to have with your wedding photographer to develop trust and feel comfortable in front of their cameras. This is something that we include in all of our wedding collections (contact Sam here!) because we have found that it adds so much value to the experience to develop a relationship. This is a chance for you to get to know your photographers and for them to get to know you as a couple. They can see your relationship dynamic and you understand how your photos will look of wedding day.


Tip #10: Soak in Each Moment and Have Fun

This tip may seem obvious but it's one to really keep in mind! Your wedding day will fly by so fast and before you know it you are on a plane to your honeymoon then back home to reality. Stop a few times throughout the day and just look around, take a breath and soak in the moment. This is such a special day and you will want to remember the joy you felt at each point of the day. I say have fun too because too many times we see couples overwhelmed or stressed by something instead of enjoying this time together. Things will most likely happen not according to the plan or way you envisioned it, but if you approach it this way and let it happen you will be so thankful you did.