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How to select your details for beautiful wedding photos

March 7, 2023

Hi, I'm emily.
Hi there! Welcome to the Fern & Fountain blog, a journal about our lives, travels, fashion, and style. Stay a while and say hello!
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Couples have spent hundreds of hours visualizing their perfect wedding day, down to every detail. The shoes, the perfume, the way she wants her hair, the type of tie he wants. Each of those items is very important to you, or it wouldn’t be there on your wedding day! I love to photograph items that are special to couples as a way to deepen the way the story of their wedding day is told. 

On my planning calls couples always ask me questions like, “What details should I set aside for the photographer?” “How long will photographing details take?” “What counts as a wedding day “detail?” “Do you photograph all the details on the wedding day?”

Not only is it helpful to know what details to set aside- but it’s helpful to have a full-blown guide on details so you can check to make sure you’re not missing anything! I had a destination wedding myself, and I remember how overwhelmed I was when it was time to purchase the little things that I wanted to be part of my day. I spent so much time debating my options, and not enough time looking at the big picture. I would have loved to have a guide on details so I could focus and narrow down my options and my style, so now I’ve created this for you!

WHY DO THE LITTLE THINGS MATTER

The little things you love will tell your kids a lot about who grandpa and grandma were when you were younger. Do you own something of your grandmother’s? A ring? A jewelry box? When you were a little kid, wasn’t it magical to look at it and ponder over old pictures to learn more about the lady who gives you special treats and tells you all the trouble your mom caused when she was a teenager? 

SETA FOCUS: CHOOSE YOUR COLORS

They say you won’t hit your target if you don’t know where you’re aiming, and I think this applies to weddings very easily! You need to set a focus to get started, and a wonderful place to set your focus is regarding your colors!

My biggest advice in this area is to understate, and to choose timeless colors. You’ve seen weddings from the 90’s, haven’t you? Puffed sleeves, forehead crowns, full lace ankle length dresses and pearls? A 90’s wedding is very distinct. You see an image for one second, and you already know it was a 90’s wedding. 

Try to think of yourself 30 years down the road. If you choose to be very trendy with your color choices, in only a few years your style will be “out” and you might wish you chose something that lasted longer. Little details like colors tie together the entire wedding day story, and so try to set a theme with your colors that can easily be woven throughout the day, and colors that won’t make you cringe in 5 years.

I always recommend starting with an understated neutral and adding pops of color throughout. Pops of color in the florals, in the decorations, in the bridesmaid dresses, and even perhaps in your shoes. Then when you’re looking for something like a ring box, you know you’re only looking for options within your chosen palette. It will make the search for items a lot easier to set a focus!

THE LITTLEST AND MOST FORGOTTEN THINGS

It’s so easy to forget about the small things and then have to scramble last minute to find a solution. Things like shoes and earrings are easy to remember, but there are so many other little sentimental items that will help keep you organized, make you feel put-together, and help you fully celebrate your wedding day! 

A few things couples always forget are ring boxes, gifts for your bridesmaids, handwritten letters to your spouse on lovely paper, vow books, little family heirlooms, sentimental jewelry, a special hairclip, the tie clip or cufflinks given to the groom by grandpa… on and on!

But beyond personal styling details, there are all kinds of other details at your wedding that you’ve put a great deal of thought in! Custom printed napkins, cocktail menus, an escort table, an invitation suite, place cards, welcome signs, clothes for getting ready, wedding weekend itineraries, and more!

I always ask my couples for a complete list of wedding details so I can plan ahead to capture them perfectly and style them well to add to the wedding day story. Suppose mom puts a special necklace on you on the wedding morning, and I didn’t take a picture of the necklace? It would feel like a picture was missing, right? Or what if you found the perfect shoes, and they were hidden under your dress the whole day, completely unphotographed? You would probably wish for some pictures of those shoes!

INVITATION AND PAPER

I always ask my couples for two full invite suites before the wedding day, so I have time to soak it all in and plan how to best photograph it. A full invite suite isn’t just the invitation. It’s the RSVP card, the wedding weekend schedule, the envelope, the calligraphy and stamps chosen to decorate the envelope, wax seals, ribbons, ceremony programs, menus, welcome signs cocktail menus, printed napkins, vow books, name cards, and even stamps if they were special to you!

I have two suggestions regarding invitations- the first is to have wax seals! It is such a charming and nostalgic way to make your guests excited about opening their wedding invite. It’s also so easy to spend a date night stamping your invites, or you can just order some custom wax seals!  

My second suggestion is to have your stationer address an invite to your venue. Don’t actually send it in the mail, we don’t want it to be ruined. Just address it and slip it in a padded envelope, then mail it to your photographer! When I photograph the invite suite and the gorgeous calligraphy on the envelopes, we don’t want someone’s personal address on there, especially as many of my weddings are featured in magazines! I don’t think anyone wants their address in a magazine!

EXTRA FLOWERS FOR YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER

When I photograph details, it absolutely makes the scene more personal to have the flowers you’ve specifically cohen woven throughout the detail photos. I always ask the florist for leftover flowers so I can tie everything together with flowers. It doesn’t take many flowers to really showcase your style, and you chose each type of bloom for a reason so I’d love to give you photos that include your flowers, instead of just photos of bouquets.

I always take the initiative and ask the florist for flowers because I am so passionate about plants and growing things- so photographing flowers absolutely thrills me, but don’t assume your photographer will do this. This is a huge part of my workflow and style, but some photographers aren’t interested in photographing your flowers or details in general, so find out for sure if that’s something that will be in your gallery!

HOW MUCH TIME DOES IT TAKE TO PHOTOGRAPH DETAILS?

The photos you see woven throughout this blog took me a total of six hours. Two hours on the wedding day, and four hours the day after. It takes time to arrange and balance these images. I put them together using aesthetic theory, balance, and some trial-and-error. An invite suite usually takes me 20 or 30 minutes, and the same goes for the bride or groom’s details. The more details you want me to photograph, the longer it takes! Sometimes I take some detail photos after the wedding day if there are too many to capture in one day, but this takes extra time.

PERFUME ISN’T JUST TO SMELL NICE

A signature scent is such a charming thing for a person to have! I personally love smelling like Magnolia blossoms or Lavender. My husband likes to smell like the woods. But just because your perfume or cologne smells good, that doesn’t mean it’s in a pretty bottle. Do you want the bottle to be photographed among your details?

I always suggest that couples pick a special scent for their wedding day, since smell is such a powerful scent. Every time my husband smells my magnolia perfume, he gets flashbacks to the perfume I wore while pregnant with our second little boy. Every time my husband wears a cedar beard oil, I remember what it was like to hug him goodbye during our long distance engagement. 

When choosing a new scent for your wedding day- Consider the size of the bottle in relation to the rest of your personal details. Is it too big and clunky? Is it a color outside your theme? Does it have pictures of palm trees on it, yet you’re getting married in a mountain resort in Montreal? 

I think it’s just as important to have a beautiful bottle, as a beautiful scent, so the whole process of wearing and smelling your perfume is an experience. Here are a few go-to’s you can take a peek at when trying to select a signature scent!

Chanel | Gucci

JEWELRY

Selecting your jewelry can feel overwhelming! There are so many options! I suggest picking something you would wear repeatedly, because it’s so fun to pull out your wedding accessories after the wedding. Also, consider if the jewelry is comfortable. I personally can’t stand the feeling of bracelets on my wrist, so I didn’t want them on my wedding day. Maybe you hate the way earrings brush your neck when they dangle, so you should consider how the jewelery feels! Is the jewelry too clunky or heavy? Perhaps it’s not the best choice for your wedding. Does your necklace snag on things when you hug people? You don’t want to get stuck to a guest, or snag your dress! 

Have you heard of seasonal color analysis? It will help you determine if you should wear cool toned, warm toned, or neutral jewelry. That will help you decide if you should wear silver or gold. Of course, whatever color the metal in your ring is, you should definitely wear that color as clashing metals can be distracting. Here is some basic information on seasonal color analysis

VEILS: TO HAVE, OR NOT TO HAVE?

The history of veils is a bit surprising! Back in the days of betrothals and arranged marriages, many couples would never see each other until the aisle, so the father of the bride would have the bride wear a veil until right before the kiss so that if the husband didn’t like how she looked, it was too late! They were already married!

If that history bothers you, perhaps you should do without a veil! I do love the aesthetic of a veil, it makes for some very romantic images, but a veil is a clunky thing, and you can’t hug people while wearing a veil. 

PAJAMAS/ROBES

It’s so lovely to have all your girls dressed in similar outfits. A getting-ready space has a lot going on! So many curlers and bottles and snacks are scattered in the room that having your key people dress in matching or similar outfits will help keep your getting-ready images from being too chaotic. 

Be sure the outfits come off easily so they don’t mess up hair or makeup! Buttons are ideal, as robes with sashes tend to fall to the side and many girls feel uncomfortable with their robes falling off, especially around a camera. Here are some gorgeous robes! You could always ask the designer to add a button and loophole so no one feels scandalized!

VOW BOOKS

Ask your stationer if she can make you vow books! If she doesn’t, here are some lovely vow books to choose from. You don’t want to read your vows off of a phone! You also don’t have to hand-write them. You can ask your calligrapher to do so, or if you’d just rather do it yourself, you can even print off your vows and stick them inside! No one else will see!

MENUS & CEREMONY PROGRAMS

Everyone wants to know what they’re going to be eating, and everyone wants to know what’s happening next! If you have menus and ceremony programs, I want to know about it so I can be sure they’re documented as part of your guest experience.

ESCORT DISPLAY AND NAME CARDS

There are so many creative ways to tell your guests where they’re sitting! Escort displays are a welcoming entrance to a wedding and they help guests know where they’re sitting without having to hunt for their seat. Ask your stationer if she will make these items for you!

THE GROOM’S ITEMS

The wedding industry can tend to be bride-centric, as it’s quite common for girls to dream of their wedding day from a young age, but don’t just set aside the bride’s details! Set aside the groom’s details too! Here are a few things I always tell my couples to set aside for me: Shoes, tie/bowtie, sentimental small items, his watch, cufflinks, cologne, wedding band in a ring box, and his boutonniere.

THE GUEST BOOK

Many people still do guest books, but I’ve seen so many other fun ways of doing this! Polaroid cameras, rotary phones that record voice memos from guests, signing the mat of a framed photo, and more! Ideally I love to photograph this while guests are using/signing it.

WELCOME CARD/WEEKEND ITINERARY

Guests don’t walk in the door knowing what to expect. They are looking for signs, directions, maps, menus, and the times of scheduled events. Help your guests have fun and provide this information so they don’t have to chase your planner (or you!) down! And be sure to let your photographer know about these organizational items so I can photograph them.

WEDDING WELCOME SIGN

Not too long ago, all weddings were divided during ceremonies by the bride’s friends, and the groom’s friends. Some weddings still do that today, and some don’t. In either case, the guests walk in wondering where they’re supposed to sit, or if they just get to pick. This is one of the many purposes of the wedding welcome sign! Another purpose is to let the guests know it’s a phone-free wedding, so there aren’t people on their smartphones leaning into the aisle to take pictures, blocking the actual photographer from taking photos of such an important moment.

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