5 Simple Tips When Planning Your Wedding

husband and wife sharing a first look in a botanical garden in Tampa Florida.
Photo by: Ladman Studios

Ok, so you are starting to plan you wedding, and have no idea what you doing right? Chances are, you’ve never had to plan a wedding before. No worries, that means that this guide for you! There is so much to plan for and to take into account for your wedding. Here are some things you should keep in mind and hopefully will ease you of some of that wedding planning stress.

Wedding Day Timing

First and foremost, timing is EVERYTHING. Never has a single wedding ever since the dawn of weddings ever gone precisely to plan. Humanity will always be at play. And that is ok. As long as we can prepare for the unexpected, were all good!

That said, you can never have too much “Buffer time.” It’s additional time if something goes out of whack. But won’t your vendors and venue charge you for more time? Probably yes. Your wedding day is only going to happen ONCE and you don’t rush it. Who wants to feel like they are on a schedule, being told where they need to be and not enjoying every moment? NO ONE. My rule of thumb here is if you think you need 4 hours for your wedding, you probably need more like 6. I have another blog where you can read all about that here Wedding Photography Timelines.

First look vs Traditional

There are two ways to go about scheduling your wedding day. Now, before I dive into that, this is not an end-all-be-all. These two types are really just the two most common approaches to a wedding day. At the end of the day, it’s YOUR wedding. So do what you want and don’t let anyone tell you different! Just like the pirate code, this is more of a guideline.

First Look

Photo by: Ladman Studios

First look days are when the couple will see each other before the ceremony. This tends to make everything run smoother for your wedding. However, it has its pros and its cons. 


1. More time for just you! Not only do you get to have an intimate moment together, but past couples have even said that seeing each other before the ceremony helps calm nerves.

2. From the photographer’s side, you will have much more time for photos. This gives you and your partner dedicated time for portraits instead of taking time away from chilling with your guests every 5 minutes.

3. Enjoy your cocktail hour! Because most of the photographs were completed during the first look, you can now spend time with your guests during cocktail hour. This also means more time for bacon and scallops!

4. Daylight savings time is a bitch! With it getting dark out much earlier, it makes sense to do a first look so that you can take photographs while it’s still light outside! 

5. Who said it’s only for the couple? You can have a first look with just about anyone. Do you have a member of your family who is very meaningful to you? Maybe a deer friend or mentor? I have even seen where the couple use their first look to go see a close by grandparent who could not travel to the wedding. It was INCREDIBLE!


1. Your wedding day starts early. Because most of the photographs are taken before the ceremony, everyone has to be ready earlier in the day. So if you are planning to have any getting ready photos taken, you might have an even earlier morning.

2. Traditions. Some couples want to follow standard wedding traditions, and that’s all good! If a first look is something you always dreamed of, do it! It’s your wedding day! You only get one!

3. Too private for some couplesSome couples want to share this moment with only their partner. However, other couples feel like their closest friends and family are left out. The good news is, there are no rules here! Want to include your parents and bridal party in your first look? DO IT!

Are you looking for more info on wedding photography timelines? I Check out my in-depth blog that covers every aspect of your timeline.

Traditional Day

Bride and Groom sharing an intimate moment together next to a river at River View Simsbury CT wedding venue
Photo by: Ladman Studios

On a Traditional day, the first time you see one another will be at the ceremony. All of your loved ones will witness this heart-throbbing, emotional, and epic moment.

In most cases, this leads to your portraits taking place later in the day when the sun is lower in the sky, providing that gorgeous, beautiful, golden light for your photographs. This schedule is pretty standard but has some issues that I would like to address. 


1. it is the traditional route. You could be that person that has always dreamed of coming down the aisle to your fiance seeing you for the first time!

2. No more stress! The ceremony is over; the hard part is finished. It’s time to go enjoy your time together and take some portraits. Couples love the idea that the “anticipation” is over.


1. Say By to your Cocktail hour. Since you won’t be seeing each other before the ceremony, that only leaves time for your bridal party photos while you are doing getting ready photos. On the other hand, suppose you are not interested in getting ready photos. In that case, the only time to take these photos of your bridal party, family formals, and couples portraits, is during cocktail hour.

2. The biggest con is scheduling. Some venues only allow for an hour in between the ceremony and reception. So again, this means your family formals, bridal party, and couples portrait session is done in 1 measly rushed hour. YUCK!

Descending how much wedding photography coverage you actually need can take some serious thought. You have to really figure out what photography means to you and what role you want it to play in your wedding. Don’t worry though! Check out this blog to help you decide how much photography coverage might be right for you.

Things to Consider

mother and daughter getting ready for her wedding in front of a back lit window at Stonhurst at hampton valley connecticut wedding venue by ladman studios
Photo by: Ladman Studios

Getting Ready 

Closer is better! I recommend my couples get ready as close to each other as possible! I’ve had it happen when the couple was over 30 minutes away from each other. This causes issues in the timeline as we may have to spend a lot of time driving instead of capturing moments! This also means adding in a second or even third photographer to cover different locations at the same time.

Venue vs Home

There are Pros and cons to getting ready at these locations. Let’s start with getting ready in a hotel or venue. First off, there will be less clutter in a hotel room. When there’s less clutter, it’s easier to find good, clean, constant lighting. Also, it’s one thing to move a cushion at a hotel or venue. It’s another to move a chair, some plants, and 3 picture frames at your home. Another huge pro is that everyone is in one spot. This easily allows for going back and forth between the guys and girls, capturing more moments!

One reason for getting ready at home is for the storytelling factor. Getting ready at your home or a family member’s home can be exceptionally sentimental. It’s a part of your story and who you are. So, if you always dreamed of walking down your staircase to see your dad for the first time, then, by all means, do it!

Receiving Lines

Well…that was a nice cushion of time for photographs before suddenly it was whittled down to 15 minutes because you never realized how long a receiving line could take until you were in one. As a rule of thumb here, you’ll need to allow about 15-20 seconds per guest. So for 100 guests, you’re looking at 30-40 minutes of just standing in a line. So instead, I would consider visiting your guests at their tables at the reception or dismissing guests by row at the ceremony. Which, btw, is about as organized as an all-you-can-eat buffet.

Natural Light

You can’t have a photo without lighting. Without it, you would just be staring at a blank canvas. Natural lighting isn’t just flattering, but it’s also freaking fantastic! You should use natural light if possible, especially for bridal parties, family formals, and your couple’s portraits. The question is, can you still have a candlelight dinner reception or a sunset ceremony? HELL YES! Just make sure to create a timeline that allows plenty of time to capture your essential photos ahead of time.

Letters and Gifts

IMO handwritten letters will never go out of style. It shows there was purpose and time that went into it. Still, they are definitely few and far between with social media, text messages, and emails in our everyday lives. It’s the perfect occasion to spend some time expressing why you love each other. It’s an ideal chance to write a letter or give a gift to your partner to be delivered before your ceremony.

A reveal with people who matter most!

Love the idea of doing a first look, but you don’t want your partner to see you before walking down the aisle? Then, consider having a first look with your bridesmaids, dad, or anyone else who holds a special place in your heart!

Be adventurous. Be unique. BE YOU!

Bride and Groom sharing a kiss after cutting their wedding cake at the Pond House West Hartford Connecticut wedding venue by Ladman Studios
Photo by: Ladman Studios

When I hand you the wedding album that tells you a story of your wedding better than if James Earl Jones narrated it for you, you will say, “WOW!” Not just because the photos of you looking dapper and elegant AF are gorgeous, but a “WOW!” from the story it tells.

Listen, If you want to get ready at your home because that is what’s the most meaningful to you, LET’S DO IT. If you decide to pass on your couples portraits and go to see your grandma at the nursing home instead, then YES, please make that happen! If the two of you had your first date at a little hole-in-the-wall ice cream place and it means the world to you two, then yes, PLEASE, let’s go take some photographs there! 

Don’t sweat the small stuff

Let’s face it, if something can go wrong, it will go wrong, right? Good ol Murphy’s law at its finest. While we all refuse to live our lives awaiting the uncertain reverse karma headed our way, it’s a good reminder that we sometimes just have to let it go. ( Inset the Frozen soundtrack in your head for the rest of the day ). On your wedding day, this is no exception! What time the cake arrives, your second cousin Vinny who is running behind, that dam strap that won’t sit right…all of these things will seem like such a big deal at the time, but they’re really very small. And guess what? 


Today is it’s all about you! You’re the main event! The show won’t go on until you’re ready! But, honestly, not everything will go as planned. So, I will promise you this…as the day is coming to an end and the both of you are looking at each other with a smile on your face, feet sore from dancing, and slowly coming down from all the excitement of this day, it won’t even be a thought in your mind.

So remember, no matter what it is, I want you to close your eyes, take a deep breath, and just say…

“It’s just a _____, and it’s not going to ruin my day!”

Since you are here…have you thought about the most important part? Who will be there in all your moments that mean the most to you and capture every one of them?

Hello there…I’m TJ. I get it, your looking for a Connecticut wedding photographer but you don’t want to be bamboozled, hoodwinked, or lead down the primrose path. 

You deserve a wedding photographer you can connect with and that will take care of you far beyond your wedding photography needs. When i’m your photographer, expect humor, good vibes, and big focus energy on your story, so you can relax, kick back, and fully enjoy every moment of your wedding day together worry free. I’d love the chance to chat and learn all about what you are cooking up for your wedding!

Connecticut-based wedding photographer TJ Ladzinski is your adventure catalyst. With infectious enthusiasm and an easygoing spirit, he transforms every moment into cherished memories.

A storyteller at heart, TJ's work has been awarded and featured in several wedding publications. His dedication to capturing authentic moments and creating a joyful atmosphere for his couples is evident in the photographs and experience he produces.

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