- Determine your budget: There are a lot of things to consider for this including realistic expectations based on industry averages. You can decide how to spend your money, but in order to have the wedding you might dream of, you'll likely have to make compromises based on your budget
- Determine your priorities: For me, when I was wedding planning, wedding photography was the MAIN point for me. I spent 50% of my wedding budget on my photographer. To make that happen, I was willing to not have centerpieces professionally done, I handmade my invitations, and I wore running shoes to my wedding that I already owned. You don't have to be extreme like I was, but just know that there are ways to make things work based on your priorities. Obviously I value photos, hence why I'm a photographer!
- Look at venues and schedule appointments to visit them. Nowadays there are a tonne of images already online for places. I'm going to put together a resource of some fantastic spots I've photographed, but it's more about finding a place that speaks to your soul (while also considering your budget!). Yes, my husband reached out to places to get quotes of $40k or more, but we knew we were poor students so we chose a local wedding spot that allowed buffet-style meals and served fruit punch. Understand your vibe: Do you like classic architecture (Check out Alden Castle in Brookline), Modern Loft-warehouse spaces (Check out Olio in Peabody), A chic barn in the mountains of Maine (Check out Granite Ridge), or a modern low-key restaurant in town (Check out Catalyst Restaurant). Clickable links in the names above for more samples.
- Come up with a preliminary guestlist with your families
- Decide on the season for your wedding (spring, fall, etc). This may be dictated by the weather, colours of the leaves, blooms of the flowers, your colour scheme, etc.
- Book your venue
- Book your high priority vendors you just have to have (hopefully that includes me!)
- Hire a wedding coordinator. I highly recommend Linda Lee of Team Lemondrop! She makes wedding planning a delight because she's an awesome person. She will help with vendors, or just day of coordinating. Reach out to her for details.
- Ask your friends to be a part of your wedding party
- Look into wedding insurance. This may be required by most venues
- Go wedding dress and suit shopping
- Plan your engagement party (if you want one)
- Book your engagement session if you want save the date cards to be sent out in the next few months. If not, you can wait on this until 4-6 months ahead
- Decide on a colour scheme/overall vibe for your wedding
- Start looking at wedding party attire and see what would work with your party's body types and preferences.
- Finalize your guest list
- Book your DJ/MC/Band
- Book your hair and makeup artist
- Send out Save-The-Dates
- Determine what kind of meal you want (catering options? family style?) Then schedule tastings if they offer them
- Reserve hotel blocks for your out of town guests. Personally, I am a deal shopper, so I tend to book closer to the 2-4 month out point (as long as it's not high season) and use a discount booking site, like booking.com
- Order your wedding bands if they are custom pieces
- Create your wedding registry. Lots of options online these days!
- Order invitations and other paper goods
- Create a Preliminary Wedding Day Timeline. If you need help, I'll be adding a sample timeline to my resources. Feel free to reach out for access!
- Book your caterer if one doesn't already come with your venue
- Book your officiant (we just had a friend do our ceremony. You can get them ordained online, or get married at City Hall prior to the big day like we did)
- Book any live musicians
- Reserve rentals (tents, tables, chairs, linen)
- Order your wedding party attire and custom suits
- Mail your invitations
- Schedule your wedding dress alterations
- Plan your honeymoon. Make sure it's not going to include last minute stressors. You don't want to be finalizing details the week of your wedding before you fly out!
- Update your passports to make sure names are reflected correctly and you have a valid passport with at least 9 months left of validity
- Plan your bridal shower
- Plan your gifts if you plan to exchange any with your partner, parents or wedding party
- Schedule your makeup and hair trials if you want to have
them done (personally, I've never had my nails don't so don't feel pressured to have to get them done!)
- Order a sign-in book or wall art using your engagement photos
- Get your marriage license
- Make your haircut and nail appointments if you plan to have
- Schedule final fittings
- Pay your vendors according to their payment schedules
- Finalize your decor plans
- Finalize your honeymoon itinerary and bookings
- Put together an emergency kit for things you might need on your wedding day
- Finalize your guest list and send out final headcounts to your venue and caterers
- Do a venue walkthrough to find out if there is any construction on site
- Create your family formal list and provide this list to your photographer (talk to your family about this so they don't spring things on you like 40 extra combinations on the wedding day)
- Confirm your transportation for the big day
- Pack everything into one box that you will need on your wedding day
- Provide a song list to DJ if they require one
- Plan your bachelorette/bachelor parties
- Practice your ceremony including where people will be standing and their order as well as pacing of walk.
- Check your dress and make sure you do any last prep on it (steam, change out the hanger)
- Get your nails done if you're planning to
- Pick up rentals like tuxes and suits
- Confirm vendor details and timelines
- Confirm details with your family and wedding party
- Write your vows
- Have your rings cleaned if you want to
- Have your rehearsal dinner
- Delegate someone to be in charge of cleaning / taking things home at the end of the night
- Arrange transportation
- Two days before: DO NOTHING and leave nothing planned
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- Anna and ron
Honestly, Bella Wang is a UNICORN!! The photos are just so creative and beautiful! Some of our favourite photos are of an ordinary background but Bella just frames it into something magical. We loved how she played with light and shade and just made us look so extra amazing (like a Wong Kar Wai movie, and we are not photogenic!). I also appreciated that she helps ‘edit’ our poses (reminding us to stand a little straighter, roll our shoulders back, chins up, etc). I can really see a difference in the output of the photos when I compare this to our wedding photos overseas and that really matters when you spend so much energy and your wedding budget that something little like this really enhances how the photos look. In saying that, the candid photos are also really beautiful too! On top of that, we were just so incredibly lucky that Bella and Ed are also the nicest people to work with, they are flexible and spontaneous (our wedding was in the winter, we wanted ‘urban’ photos in Chinatown which is usually crowded and chaotic but you can’t tell by looking at the photos!!). They were super patient as we took welcome photos with all our 200+ guests! Bella is also super prompt with her delivery dates and very responsive to emails. This was our second wedding with much less formalities (no ceremony, no wedding party) since we already had our first wedding overseas but the photos just gave our second wedding so much of its own unique character. We were going for a 1920s Shanghai vibe with a modern twist and she just really nailed the brief! Bella is one of a kind photographer and we honestly can’t say enough about how amazing she is! We’re so happy with our photos!!
- Holly and frankie
I highly recommend Bella! I had met her about 7 years ago at a first birthday party and liked her work but words can't express how amazing she is now. 7 years later she did my wedding and her photos left me speechless. We have so many amazing photos that we can relive for years to come. Bella captured every detail of our special day. Her pictures are absolutely stunning and I've had a few people ask if some are magazine covers because they look too good to be true. I couldn't have asked for anything more and I'm so grateful for Bella and making our day so wonderful. Thank you!
- patrick and kerri
Bella photographed both our engagement and wedding. We would recommend her for any type of project without hesitation. Her photos are incredible - she has a natural talent for finding unique angles and really knows how to use light to create the right atmosphere for a given photo. She suggested most of the locations and poses we used in our photos, and our favorites are ones we never could have thought up on our own. She also seems like she could work with a wide range of personalities, from more traditional (or boring) customers like ourselves to people who like wackier or more theatrical photos
- liz + Devin
When we got engaged in early 2017, we did not waste a minute before contacting Bella! Planning a wedding from NJ was difficult but Bella made it so easy. We knew immediately upon meeting her that we wanted to hire her for our wedding day. On your wedding day you definitely want a team of photographers that you feel totally comfortable around as you spend basically the whole day with them! Bella and her husband were amazing. Not only were our photos stunning but they made us feel comfortable being ourselves, which allows for the most natural photos. I would gladly work with Bella again when we start a family someday!
- amanda + Charlie
Bella helped make our wedding perfect and memorable, and also helped us have the most beautiful engagement photos. They are photos we’re going to have for the rest of our life, and we could not have asked for someone to do a better job. She was affordable, extremely professional, and went above and beyond what we expected. I highly recommend Bella, and we will be going back to her for any baby/family photos we get taken in the future!
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