Kotsy Photography is a Toronto wedding photographer specializing in capturing couple's uniqueness through authentic, compelling & fun images. From large, all-day weddings to elopements & engagement sessions in Toronto, Ontario and the rest of the Greater Toronto Area.
Enjoy your day. Feel relaxed & present.
While their purpose is a beautiful & fun celebration of love, wedding days can also be filled with an overwhelming amount of events happening in a short time. This often creates enough stress that the dreaded term ‘bride-zilla’ was coined. From vendors arriving late to the weather not cooperating, the list of things that can go wrong is seemingly endless. Luckily, most of the headaches can be avoided with proper planning using advice & tips from industry professionals who have seen it all. I’ve collected many of them below.
1. Hire a day-of coordinator/wedding planner.
Whether it’s an industry professional you hire, a coordinator that the venue provides or a good friend that has superb organizational skills, having someone sort out all the little details as the day unfolds will be a life saver. They will also allow you to experience your own wedding as a VIP guest instead of feeling like a staff member.
2. Touch base with vendors the week of.
Essential to make sure they are all on the same page with regards to timelines & addresses. For vendors that require payment on the wedding day — paying them early is a great way to lighten the list of things to do the day of.
3. Give your phone away.
Not an easy task to many but this is a big one for saving you the stress from things going wrong that someone else can take care of. This will also help you fully immerse yourself in your wedding day experience and eliminate unnecessary distractions. Giving it to someone like the maid-of-honour is recommended, as they’ll usually able to answer most questions that come up or solve little problems that arise without involving you.
4. Break in the wedding shoes.
For the bride, groom & wedding party. Save yourself from blisters, aches and having to retire from the dancefloor early.
5. Extra getting ready time.
Add at least 30 minutes to whatever time hair & make-up stylists tell you. These appointments frequently go long so why risk being behind schedule before the day really gets going?
6. Don’t forget to eat.
It sounds obvious but can easily be overlooked during this busy day. The last thing you want is to be feeling faint after missing breakfast & lunch. Having energy bars & water bottles at each location will keep you going.
7. Appoint a photo wrangler.
Before the wedding, assign 1 or 2 people that aren’t shy and know everyone the task of getting people together for the group photos. Also have them collect all the keepsakes like program, menu etc.
8. Make the ceremony ‘unplugged’.
Not much kills the ceremony mood more than a barrage of cellphones or tablets. They also ruin the professional photos and video being taken and obstruct other guest’s view. Solve this by placing a sign at the entrance, a note in the program & having the officiant make an announcement at the top of the ceremony. Offering guests a specific time as the ceremony concludes to take their pictures is a good compromise.
9. Pack an emergency kit.
Bobby pins, hair elastics, sunscreen, lint roller, gum/breath mints, tweezers, mini first aid kit, deodorant, tissues, extension cords, Tylenol/Advil, fashion tape, tide pens & hair spray are all good-to-haves. Best to plan for the worst here.
10. Bring a separate pair of shoes for dancing.
Your feet are guaranteed to be feeling rough after spending hours in even the most comfortable heels. Packing some flats for you and the bridesmaids are a no-brainer. There’s quite a reasonably-priced selection over on Amazon to make things quick & easy.
11. Share the wedding-day timeline.
Sharing the timeline (including addresses) with the entire wedding party & family members will save you stress from wondering if the groomsmen know what time to be where. Adjusting times to be 5-15 minutes earlier than actually needed can prevent late-arrivals from throwing the actual timeline off too. If your parents or in-laws are separated and don’t get along, it’s best to have their photo sessions completely separate to avoid any potential conflicts.
12. Make sure the gown fits right.
Try the gown on again 3-4 days before the wedding to make sure everything is in order and there’s still time to make alterations. Leaving it out of the bag after this to let it settle is also a good idea — just make sure it’s kept in a safe place!
13. Practice bustling the gown.
Or have someone else in charge of it and make them practice. It may not sound like something that needs practice, but it has caught more than a few brides off guard. Take some time at the bridal shop and at home to get the technique down. Another thing that could use practice – changing from wedding gown to dancing attire. The amount of time needed is often grossly underestimated by brides and can take as long as 30 minutes initially.
14. Don’t forget the marriage license.
It sounds silly but I’ve definitely shot a couple weddings where the couple wasn’t even legally married due to license being left at home. Keeping it in a folder will prevent it from getting creased or damaged too.
15. No venue sneak-peaks.
It’s better to wait for the big reveal instead of ‘checking in’ before-hand.
16. Get a full night’s sleep.
To ensure an early night, tackle most of your to-do list prior to the day before so you don’t end up cutting into your beauty rest the night before. Taking a sleep aid can prevent tossing and turning for hours.
17. Have a contingency plan in case of bad weather (outdoor weddings).
Coordinate with your venue in case rain or worse is in the cards. Can you do the ceremony and/or reception inside or is there a tent that can be used?
18. Collect the ‘details’.
We’re talking about the things you’d like photographed – jewelry (including rings!), flowers, shoes, cufflinks, invitations etc. Once they’re together, have your coordinator/maid-of-honour give them to your photographer upon arrival, as it’s usually one of the first things photographed. Arranging the flowers (including boutonnieres) to be delivered earlier so they can be photographed will also help make sure things are kept on time or better.
19. Cleaning up the ‘getting ready space’.
While we’re on the subject of getting things ready for the photographer, cleaning up the space you’re getting ready in will help speed things along as well.
20. Arrange a meal for you & partner.
Ask the caterer or someone in the wedding party arrange a couple of small plates right after the post-ceremony photo session so your stomach isn’t growling if you decide to make your table rounds during the actual meal serving. Having this together privately will also provide you with some needed alone time together in an otherwise hectic day.
21. Plan rehearsal dinner 2 nights before wedding.
This will help you prevent being overscheduled the night before and even give you the opportunity to have some quality time with your partner on the eve of the big day.
22. Be a delegator.
It’s only natural to try to do everything yourself but it’s just not possible. Don’t be shy to ask whoever you can to do tasks like like picking up the welcome bags or meet-n-greeting out-of-town guests. These are very time consuming tasks that can easily be done by someone else.
23. Allow extra time for live-streaming setup.
If you decide on DYI streaming, allowing extra time for setup is usually needed if you have issues connecting to wi-fi or realizing you’re missing a cable or adapter.
24. Expect something to go wrong.
No wedding is perfect and going in with the mindset that most of the unexpected events that arise will only make your day more memorable is the healthiest way to do it.
25. Have the officiant step aside for the first kiss.
This is a big one because who wants the officiant behind the newly married couple during their first kiss? And while we’re on the subject, really stretch out that kiss out so the photographer can get a few different shots. Don’t be afraid to really play it up, either!!
26. A few other ceremony tips for better photos.
For aisle entrances & exits (including the wedding party) – space them out plenty and take your time while doing it. Think of it as being out for a stroll on vacation where you really want to soak the experience in. One of the things a photographer can’t fix is a scene that is not centred so have a look to make sure you’re situated properly when you arrive at the alter.
27. Keep the party going.
After a long, hectic day, you’ll almost surely be ready to call it quits as the reception winds down but the same usually can’t be said for the more energetic guests. Plan on having an after-party plan in place with an out-going member of the wedding party to help everyone get there safely.
Are you still planning your wedding and haven’t booked a photographer? I’d love to hear from you! I wrote this guide after shooting hundreds of weddings and my experience is what helps set my photos apart from many of the other wedding photographers in Toronto.