May 13, 2016

How to Have the BEST Wedding Day Ever!!

Happy Friday friends! We are gearing up to share the FULL post of this absolutely stunning San Antonio wedding on Monday, but I wanted to start today with a little prologue (an intro, an overture, a…pre-quel, if you will!) into just what exactly made their day so incredibly amazing. After Kate & Emmanuel’s day, I wrote on Instagram that I could have shot their day over and over again and been happy. And I meant that! There was just something extra special about their whole day & how it flowed that made it not just a photographer’s dream, but a couple’s dream as well. And the thing is, we want MORE couples to have that kind of day. An in the moment, stress-free, joyful day that sets your photographer up to do their BEST work!

So I’ve been thinking & thinking ever since then, just what was it that made everything just work so great about their day? And how could more couples have that? And in true Mary fashion, I made a list! Here we go, How to Have the Best Wedding Day Ever!


*Pick a getting ready location with great light, plenty of room to move around, beautiful furniture and elegant, neutral decor. I can’t tell you how much the getting ready room can make or break the getting ready pictures, and Kate being a photographer herself picked the perfect elegant one with perfect light!

*Now don’t have a TON of people in it. Not surprisingly, the more people you pack into a getting ready room, the more crowded, hot, loud & stressful it might start to feel. Plus there is NO room for the photographer to move around and get good detail shots. I LOVE that Kate just had us, her mom & her Maid of Honor there with her to get ready….it made the whole morning so calm & peaceful. Now that’s not to say that you can’t have a larger wedding party or have more people than just two in the room. But if there are a lot of people running around, consider having a second getting ready room (like a bridesmaid’s hotel room for example) for overflow & to help spread people out.

*Don’t let anything steal your joy! On Kate’s day they were calling for a 100% chance of rain….and yet the smile never left her face! She just said “if it rains, we’ll move everything inside. I hired Justin & Mary…I know they can light & make it look beautiful wherever we end up!” (see why we LOVE her!) I think on the wedding day, everyone looks to the couple to see how to react. And if the couple stays calm & joyful usually so will everyone else! I LOVED that Kate & Emmanuel brought that to their day.

*Go somewhere amazing for your portraits, even if you have to travel a bit for it. We’ve done weddings before where the planner or the couple didn’t want anyone leaving the premises, and so we’re kind of stuck with just what was right nearby. But again, the background of your portraits has a HUGE impact on them. So if there is something that is INCREDIBLE just a few miles away, be willing to build time into your timeline to travel there. Just like Kate & Emmanuel did for us to be able to go & shoot at the San Jose Mission…as you’ll see on Monday, totally worth it!

*Do a First Look. For a lot of years, we shied away from pushing for First Looks very hard because we didn’t want to force our ideal timeline on the day. But we’ve been doing this long enough that now we KNOW it’s not just for our benefit…it’s really for the couples! First Looks make ALL the difference between stress-free, fun days & actually enjoying your party to a day that is jam-packed, stressful, couples getting flustered with their families, ending up with about half the portraits that you would with a First Look, and missing all of that delicious cocktail hour food that you hand-picked. We LOVE that these guys opted to see each other before the ceremony! AND that it didn’t change at all how emotional & excited they still were in the ceremony itself. If anything, they were more relaxed & able to soak in the moment more!

*Stick to your time for portraits. A lot of times on a wedding day, either the couple, the planner or the families might want to cut the portraits short to get over to the ceremony or because they are just feeling done with portraits. I LOVED that these guys let us shoot the whole time we had planned & were so excited about the pictures that they didn’t even want to stop then! LOVE that!

*Keep the family portraits to small groups. Trust me on this! We can get through them a lot faster. We’re not waiting on people like in big groups, and there’s just a lot less stress.

*Give us a second round of portraits at golden hour. This allows us to shoot in a different location, it gives you a break from the party to just go be with each other again, and it gets you that best light of the day! I LOVED that Kate & Emmanuel gave us SO much time for portraits and as you’ll see on Monday, their gallery reflects that!

*Embrace the emotion. Our favorite weddings are ALWAYS the ones where a few tears are shed. I loved that Kate & Emmanuel exchanged notes beforehand that allowed for some tears, that they cried during the First Look, and again during the ceremony. A lot of times people are afraid of crying in pictures so they hold it in. But those are the most beautiful moments…so let that emotion run!

*Enjoy your party! Now that those portraits are all done ahead of time and the day is so stress free….now just go be PRESENT at your party. Dance, hug people, laugh, eat cake, soak it all in. The happiest brides & grooms are the ones who are joyful, grateful, emotional & present in their day. So definitely do that!

Now that you’ve heard all that & read the intro…we can’t WAIT to share their full story on the blog on Monday!

Happy Friday friends!


  1. Kate

    Blog stalker over here!! ;) I love this whole post and I am SO glad that you enjoyed being a part of our wedding! We loved having you there & can’t wait to see the images on Monday…eeek!!! Favorite part: “I LOVED that these guys let us shoot the whole time we had planned & were so excited about the pictures that they didn’t even want to stop then…” (even when Kate’s dad was rushing us to get to the church on time – ha!)

  2. Spring

    What a great post!!! Such good points- I may just have to direct all my couples over to read this one as its pretty much ideal!! :)

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