Small things with BIG emotional wedding day impact

My entire philosophy surrounding weddings is to create intimate, emotional photographs - and sometimes the stress of weddings really gets to people, and they don't feel that they can be themselves.

So here's a list I've compiled of a few things you can do on your wedding day that help to create a naturally emotive gallery of images.

Before the ceremony (getting ready)

Exchange notes

It's become a thing to exchange gifts with your spouse-to-be while you're both getting ready, but not nearly enough couples do this. It could be a note, a small gift, a hilarious inside joke gift, anything really - but open the gift/letter in the presence of your photographer, and you can now share that part of the day with your significant other who couldn't be there at that time.

Bridesmaids "first look"

I'll be honest - bridesmaid first looks are often better than normal couple first looks. Your girls are so damn excited to see you get dolled up and gorgeous, and there are literally tears every. single. time. Take the few moments to send your girls out while you get ready, and then take the moments to enjoy their presence before the nuptials begin.

Parent gifts/notes

Everything surrounding parents is a slam-dunk when it comes to being photographed - but sometimes this emotional day is often overlooked for them. Remind them how important they are with a parent first look, followed up by some gifts/notes. They'll thank you, hug you, and probably die a little inside. And it'll all be on candid camera.

During the ceremony

Have a friend/family/dog officiate

Okay, but if you can actual find a dog to officiate call me ASAP. When you have a close family member/friend officiate for you, a whole new level of intimate is brought into the space. Now there's jokes, and personal tales, and they understand you in a way that your guests do too. Just make sure you trust whoever you choose - and that they have no issue speaking to crowds.

Circular space for extra guest photos

The more loved ones visible in your photographs, the more meaningful they are - so skip the old fashioned rows and opt for a semi-circle instead. You'll still get your gorgeous view/surroundings, but you'll also find more guests in your photographs - both in the background, foreground, and laughing and crying with you. Plus then everyone can see you better.

Live music

Just a little element to the atmosphere that tends to get people off their phones (true story!) but also adds a little depth to the feels that everybody has. Swoon.

Ceremony exit toss (confetti, rice, etc)

Do ittttt. This serves a few purposes - first, as you're coming back up the aisle, it's rad romantic to have so many excited people around you. But in addition, this little thing serves as a reminder to actually smile and enjoy yourself on that adventure out of your ceremony space - sometimes you can be so relieved the ceremony has passed that you forget to smile/celebrate on your way out. Let this be just a small victory dance you do to celebrate what is often the toughest part of the day.

Post ceremony (reception)

Live music

Same notes as above, except people are more willing to dance/socialize/enjoy themselves with live music. True story bro.

Sweetheart table

This one seems counter-intuitive, but let me explain. You love your best man and maid of honor right? But do you want them in every single photo during toasts and clink kisses and emotional moments during your reception? Probably not. Opt for the sweetheart table and let your bridal party sit with their significant others - plus, your guests may be more willing to approach you at that table, knowing it's just you and not your friends as well.

Some of the cutest sweetheart tables I've ever seen were designed by Northland Special Events, so call and ask them about some recommendations and rentals!

Soft, layered lighting

This is probably a pretty standard request coming from a photographer, but I find that lighting plays a huge role in the atmosphere of your reception. Bleak, too-bright overhead lights never add to the atmosphere - so consider hanging cafe lights (like these) or industrial lights (like this!) to add a level of dimension to your reception lighting. Your photographer will know how to make them look even more amazing on camera than in person.

"Last" dance

This one has so many facets and good reasons, I can't even explain it to you.

By putting a finishing time on your reception, you can set a "last call" dance time that practically guarantees a full dance floor all night. Nobody will feel like they can wait to dance because the floor will be open until 1am, AND people can pace themselves to never run out of energy. Having a full dance floor leads to pretty wild and emotional photographs, especially when Grandma Sue starts getting her groove thing on.

Additionally, have you ever been stuck at a party that you wanted to leave, but couldn't find a good enough excuse to justify leaving? Now imagine if you're introverted enough to feel that way on your wedding day - you can't exactly ditch your own party. So here's where the last dance comes in - it's your perfect escape route. You can go home and enjoy your new spouse quietly for a while (and no, not necessarily in THAT way, but to each their own). After the hustle and bustle of wedding planning and the day playing out sometimes it's nice to sit and relax in the worn out sweatpants on the couch eating leftover cake - setting a finishing time gives you the opportunity to do that, before you completely run out of energy.

You can also save a few hours on the DJ.

AND you can set up those adorable sparkler exits for afterwards.

So which of these ideas would you consider above? Add your own ideas to the comments below!

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A wedding and portrait photographer based in Duluth + Minneapolis MN, traveling outward.

A believer in the honest and a photographer of the true moments that surround your life.

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