• Todd McKernan

Only Two Weeks Until Your Wedding? Here's What You Should Do Right Now.



We’re almost there! You’ve spent months (maybe even years) planning for what’s about to come in just a matter of days now! It’s so close you can almost taste it! Hopefully, by now you’ve made all the big decisions. You’ve booked all your vendors, you’ve got the perfect venue, your theme is on point, your wedding party is pumped, and you’re working on your vows as we speak. So we’re good right? Wellllllllll… not so fast.


It’s time to focus on the details and make last-minute decisions while you still have the chance. So here are some things, from a photographer’s perspective, that you should do right now to make sure your wedding day goes off without a hitch!


(besides you getting hitched)


 



1. Start Packing Now

If you’re taking a honeymoon right after the wedding, make sure you’re packed for that well before your wedding day comes. Also designate someone who will take care of all the wedding things you won’t be bringing with you, like your attire, gifts, extra food, etc.


Even if you’re not taking a honeymoon right away, there are still a ton of things you need to pack just for the wedding itself. Do not leave this for the day before. Here’s what you need to start getting together:


1. Detail Boxes

If your wedding involves photo/video coverage of you getting ready, this applies to you. Gather up everything you want your photographer to take detailed pictures of and put them in two boxes or bags, one for you and your partner. That way when the photographer arrives, they can get right to work creating those amazing flat lays and close-up ring shots everyone loves. This is also why it’s important to get your flowers delivered as early as possible, or even to you personally the day before the wedding.


Click here for my blog that goes into detail about... detail shots!


2. Bridal Emergency Kit

Put yourself in the mind of a Doomsday Prepper (Groomsday Prepper? eh??). Put together a bag full of items that might help you if something goes wrong. This can range from things like sewing kits, headache and allergy medicines, a small makeup kit, a first aid kit, etc. Include a printed map with directions to your venue/hotel/reception area. This may seem old school, but I do it for every wedding I shoot in case something happens to my phone (cell service outage, dead battery, lost/stolen/broken). This is especially important for destination weddings, where you may be completely unfamiliar with the area.


For a more detailed list of items you may want to include in your emergency kit, check out this article here.


3. Decor Boxes/Totes

Take all of your decor items and label them with sticky notes as to where they should go. Do a mock setup of how you'd like it to be done at the venue and then take a picture of that. Print those pictures out and include them with the items. Put these items in separate boxes or totes labeled with what they are and where they're supposed to go. This way, no matter who ends up handling the decor will know what to do.


 


2. Get In Touch With All Your Vendors

I personally try to contact all of my couples right around this point to make sure they're feeling good about everything and to see if they need my help with anything. But many vendors won't have that level of service, so it may be up to you to reach out and make sure the trains are still running on time. So here are the important items to handle at this point with all of your vendors:


1. Organize Final Payments & Tips

Most wedding vendors require final payment somewhere between 1-4 weeks prior to your wedding date. Make sure you’ve got them all paid in full so you’re not in breach of any contracts. Even if they don't require payment until the day of the wedding, pay them now so you don't have to think about that at all while you're trying to enjoy your wedding.


Now is also the time you should start getting together tips for any vendors your wish to tip. Put those tips in separate envelopes with the vendors’ names on them. Place these envelopes securely in the bags that you should be packing now.


For details about who you should tip at your wedding, check out this article.


What If We Can't Afford To Tip Our Vendors?

If you can’t afford to tip your vendors, you should at least make an effort to leave them a good review. Wedding vendors live and die by reviews, and sadly most couples fail to leave them, even when they were absolutely thrilled by the level of service they’d received. Set a reminder on your phone to write reviews for your vendors. A great idea is to leave a review where you first found them (The Knot, Wedding Wire, Zola, Google, Yelp, Thumbtack, etc). But don't worry, they won’t mind it if you left a positive review on multiple sites (wink wink).



2. Give Your Finalized Timeline To All Vendors.

Go over your timeline very carefully. People tend to underestimate how long preparation tasks will take, so if you have the ability to stretch that part out by getting an earlier start, do it. That might give you some more room to add buffers between points in your timeline. This is another thing people usually underestimate. You might be able to walk from the green room to the point where you want to do your first look shots in under 2 minutes by yourself, but moving 15 people over there might take 15 minutes.


Never underestimate how slow a group of people can move.


3. Finalize Seating Charts & Headcounts

It is especially important to get this information to the venue and caterer, as their plans are directly impacted by these two factors.

  • Talk to the venue and make sure they won't put out far more seats than is needed. Putting out 200 chairs for your ceremony when you’ll only have 25 guests will make it seem like no one showed up. Believe it or not, I see this happen all the time. If your ceremony is in a church with rows of pews, have the church staff close off any unnecessary pews in the back so people don’t spread out everywhere willy-nilly. Occasionally the opposite occurs, where there aren't enough chairs, but this is much rarer in my experience.

  • Make sure the caterers are aware of any vendors that you’re feeding. Also, inform them that they need to be fed at the same time you are so that they can promptly get back to doing their work. Caterers usually try to feed vendors last, which means no one is there to take pictures of your guests getting up and dancing after they've eaten. This often goes overlooked, but it’s pretty important for keeping your timeline on track.

4. Send Your Shot List To Your Photographers/Videographers

If you have specific shots your want your photographers to get, make sure they know that. Keep in mind that no shot list will ever be a guarantee that your photographer will be able to capture all of them, but it will help us to know what your priorities are. This, coupled with your timeline, will allow a good photographer to figure out exactly where they need to be and when they need to be there to get these shots. They’ll also be able to spot any holes or adjustments you might need to make in your timeline in order to get as many of these shots as possible. We have a better sense of how long things take simply from doing them so many times.


  • A good example of this is hanging dress shots. This can take up to 10-20 minutes due to the amount of prep work involved. First in finding a suitable location to hang it where it won't fall or blow away with the wind. Then carefully transporting the dress to that location. then set it up, sometimes getting quite creative in how it's attached. Finally, we have to photograph it and get it back to the bride in one piece.

*Family Photo Shot List*

A lot of couples don't give their photographers shortlists because they want them to capture their wedding in a more candid way without having to direct people too much. If this is you, that's totally fine, but there is one shot list you should still give your photographer, and that is for family photos.


Keep in mind that your photographer probably has no idea who is part of the family and who's that plus one you've never met before. For this reason, you should designate someone who knows most of these people to help call out names and organize people for the photographer. It will help these shoots go by much quicker if you do, and avoid any embarrassing name pronunciation mistakes.


You can build the list anyway you’d like, but I’d recommend doing something like this:

  • 1-on-1’s (Bride + _____ or Groom + ______)

  • 2-on-1’s (Bride & Groom + ______)

  • 2-on-2’s (Bride & Groom + ______ & ______)

  • 1-on-X (Bride + ______ & ______ & ______ & _____ )

  • 2-on-X (Bride & Groom + Bride Family Side)

  • Group Photo of Everyone


 



3. Start Checking The Weather Forecasts

You should now start to get a better idea of what the weather conditions will be like on your wedding day. If you’re having a summer wedding and it looks like you’ll be in a heat wave, you may want to buy or rent some large canopies to create shade for your guests or see if your venue will provide this.


If there’s a possibility of rain in the forecast, buy a bunch of clear umbrellas online just in case, they’re cheap and they look great in photos. If it’s looking like a big storm might be coming, talk to your venue to see what they suggest. You may need to rent a large outdoor tent or move everything indoors.


Whatever happens, just know that poor weather doesn’t need to ruin your wedding. Certainly from a photography standpoint, a cloudy/overcast day is so much better than a bright and sunny day. A rainy wedding makes for the most interesting and fun pictures. And if you’re lucky enough to get snow… remember, some people pay good money to have fake snow at their wedding. The moral of the story here you shouldn’t stress about the weather, just prepare for it.



 


4. Make Sure Your Wedding Attire Is Good To Go

It’s not uncommon for people to have picked out their wedding dress or suit 6-months before the wedding. That might also have been the last time they tried it on. I’ve seen it far too many times, the bride breaks down in tears because her dress no longer fits. I’ve also seen suits get tailored wrong and no one knew until the day of the wedding. So do yourself a favor and try on everything you’ll be wearing now so that if something is wrong you still have time to take it in somewhere and get it fixed. Make sure everyone in your wedding party does this as well.


Break In Your Shoes

Also, you know how uncomfortable new shoes can be, right? You really don’t want to go into your wedding day constantly annoyed by that, do you? Start breaking in your shoes right now. Wear them around the house for an hour or two every night. If you have a planned dance you need to rehearse, make sure you wear your wedding shoes when you do. That’ll make sure you're more comfortable doing the dance when it's game time.


 


5. Get Your Final Hair Cut

This should be your last call for any major hair styling decisions. That way you still have time to fix it if you don’t like something. If you’re in Southern California and are looking for an amazing hair stylist that specializes in bridal hair, do yourself a favor and check out Andrea Spurdle.


For guys, if you’re going to be rocking a short beard or 5 o’clock shadow, make sure you figure out the timing so it looks best on the day of the wedding. It’s also a good idea to go to a good barber and have them shape and contour the beard instead of you doing it yourself.


 



6. Take Care of Yourself

Trust me, wedding days are exhausting. They’re a ton of fun, but they will absolutely wear you out physically - and if you’re not prepared, mentally too. Start thinking about it like you’re getting ready for a marathon. It’s time to start eating healthy. Cut out the junk food, and eat plenty of fresh veggies and lean proteins. Drink lots of water. Workout and focus on stretching and strengthening your core muscles - the last thing you want on your big day is to pull a muscle or throw your back out.


Most importantly, find a way to de-stress. Yoga, meditation, sauna, music, nature walks, long baths - whatever works best for you, do it. Find your zen and stay there.



 

Get By With A little Help From Your Friends

If you've made it this far, you're probably feeling pretty exhausted just thinking about all the stuff you've gotta do. Don't be afraid to reach out to your friends and family to have them help you knock all of these tasks out. The more you're able to get done here, the more fun and relaxing your big day will go. You're in the home stretch now, so take a deep breath, make a pot of coffee, and get to work!