It is common knowledge that wedding planning is a daunting task. Most people do not have much experience planning a wedding when they get engaged, and with so many moving pieces come a lot of questions about weddings. As a Charleston wedding photographer, past bride, and past member of several bride tribes, I have been asked the same questions over and over again.
And the more weddings I photograph in Charleston, the more I realize how important it is for the bride to know the answers to some of these questions right as they start planning. Because I believe an educated bride is an empowered bride, I am excited to answer seven of the most frequently asked wedding questions for you today!
1. How do I pick a venue?
There are a few critical components in picking a Charleston wedding venue: location, guest allowance, cost, and ambiance. The two most limiting components of this list are guest allowance and cost, so my recommendation is to settle on your wedding budget and a general number of guests first and then narrow down your list of dream venues based off of this.
2. How do I make decisions when there are so many options?
In our age of Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook, there is an overwhelming amount of ideas and information out there. Beyond that, everyone you come into contact with will likely want to share his or her opinions with you. Hiring an amazing wedding planner can help you sort through all of the inspiration out there and guide your decisions. And once you settle on a theme, try to put on your blinders and stay true to who you are as a couple.
3. Should we do a first look?
For most couples who are not as caught up in tradition, I absolutely recommend a first look. This is a solution to many common timeline issues and allows you and your Charleston wedding photographer plenty of time to knock out a majority of your wedding photographs before you say “I do!” So once you’re officially married, you can let go of all of the stress and simply enjoy the party. However, that being said, I don’t require it. I didn’t do a first look with my husband because I wanted that special moment of him seeing me for the first time walking down the aisle. So this is completely up to your timeline, and I can work with you in planning the perfect moment.
4. How many hours of coverage do we need for wedding photography?
Most couples need about 8 hours of wedding photography coverage. However, multiple locations, extra traditions, or portraits in a secondary location are all items to be considered. I recommend starting your coverage about an hour before you’re ready to get in your dress and ending it after about an hour of “open dancing” has taken place during your reception.
5. What do I spend the most money on in my budget?
Before you allocate any money in your budget to items, decide what is the most important to you. Spending the largest portion of your budget on this vendor will allow you to have the wedding you desire—whether that means incredible photographs in an intimate backyard wedding, delicious food with DIY florals, or an amazing band that sets the mood but cocktails and canapés only. Of course, I always recommend spending a nice portion of your budget on photography (and I’m not just being biased as a wedding photographer). A skilled photographer can make nearly anything look really nice, and most importantly, will capture your memories and happiness.
6. Who do I decide who to invite?
Invite who you want to be there! Think about who has a significant role in your life, who you want to remember in 10 years when you look through your album, who will cherish the invite, and who you will be excited to see on the biggest day of your life.
7. When is the best time to send out announcements and save the dates?
Save the dates are generally sent out about six months in advance—or sooner if it’s a destination wedding. I recommend sending out your formal invitations about two months before your big day and requiring the RSVP five weeks in advance.