chats with chelsey & caitlin: wedding FAQs

April 30, 2020

you guys, this is gonna be a long one! If you’d rather sit down with a beverage of choice and watch Caitlin and I chat for the length of a short film, you can check out our chat here! But I thought I would break down our chat into a blog post for anyone who wants to quickly scroll and read about specific questions they might have.

Caitlin and I became fast Instagram friends; liking each other’s photos, replying to each other’s stories and then soon would chat about weddings and life! I asked her in March if she would want to collaborate on a chat (as many people are doing on Instagram Live!) and she agreed! We both agreed we wanted to cover as much about the full wedding experience as possible and we wanted to put our faces out there!

Caitlin has loved weddings for as long as she can remember. In our interview, she described making the driver of a vehicle she was in stop so she could watch a wedding if she saw a celebration driving by. She has been in the wedding industry for 5 years and recently got married herself in August 2019 to Chad! You can find out more about her and her wedding planning business, Gray Weddings & Events here!

Pre Wedding Planning: Setting your Date, Celebrations, Engagement Sessions and Tips

We did a few Instagram polls prior to recording and one asked if people prioritized setting their wedding date or celebrating their engagement. Most people said they prioritized celebrating the engagement! Caitlin and I chatted about how the importance of the wedding date varies based on your vision for your big day. If having specific wedding vendors is not something you prioritize then your date is a bit more flexible to decide later on. But, if you want a specific photographer or venue, picking a date and inquiring about availability is important! We also chatted how it is more of the norm now to have longer engagements and it’s “strange” to get engaged and get married soon after.

Bridal Showers & Bachelorettes

Partaking in these traditional bridal events is totally a personal choice! Some people don’t want to have a bridal shower or bachelorette while others feel these events are a privilege of someone getting married! We chatted about the importance of voicing your opinion if you choose to celebrate these events, as they are about you and only happen once! We also chatted about keeping in mind your guest experience (your bridal party and close friends) as bridal showers and bachelorettes can be a hidden cost you don’t really think about and can add up to be very expensive depending on what you want to do! With the pandemic impacting so many weddings, it also impacts the pre celebrations! If you choose to move your wedding to 2021, your shower and bachelorette will follow suit, but if you choose to get married this year you can always have a party after the wedding! Either with your bridal party and close friends or co ed with the entire wedding party!

Engagement Sessions

Caitlin and I are both very passionate about engagement sessions and wholeheartedly believe every couple show do one. Engagement sessions allow you (sometimes) meet your photographer in person for the first time and get comfortable in front of the camera, posing, cues and around your photographer! Engagement sessions are an excellent time to trial your makeup and have someone else style your hair and you can always turn it into a date night by going out to supper or drinks afterwards! It’s part of those special “I’m engaged” moments we believe everyone should experience! They are great for save the dates, updated photos in your home, your wedding website and gifts!

I have a couple styling tips for engagement sessions! My biggest tip is to make sure you’re comfortable in whatever you choose to wear! You will photograph confidently if you are comfortable! Keep it simple with colors: neutrals and pops of color. Avoid large patterns, neon and logos (especially your partner!) because you want to keep the attention to your face. Dresses are feminine but if you’re more comfortable in jeans and a top that’s completely fine! The simple rules still apply! But please, the trend of wearing matching white/black tshirts and jeans is over!!

The perfect time for your photos is around the hour – hour and a half mark before sunset. When choosing your location, if sunset is something you really want make sure it’s visible! Choosing somewhere special to do your engagement sessions, like the spot where the proposal took place is always a sentimental touch to your photos!

Pre Planning Tips

  1. Create a hair and makeup schedule for the morning of the wedding. Chat with your hair stylist and makeup artist about roughly how long each person will take. This way everyone knows when it’s their turn and it’s stress free! When creating your schedule keep in mind who is needed in other aspects of the day. I.e. if you want your mom to help you into your dress, she shouldn’t be one of the last ones to get ready as she’ll be needed sooner!
  2. create a photo list. This list has all the photos you know you want taken during the ‘formal portraits’ like you and your parents, his parents, grandparents, etc. This is something I learned was so important after we realized me and my mom didn’t get a professional photo taken of just the two of us! You want to put someone in charge of this list who has a general idea of the people listed! This can be your MOH, close friend, family member. Their job is to gather the folks on the list to have them ready to be photographed! Having an idea of moments you want captured from Pinterest is also helpful but remember that Pinterest is inspiration, it’s not re-creation! You want your wedding photos to reflect your own unique day.
  3. Create a key contact list for vendors and close family members! This way if you need to be contacted, they can connect with someone close to you and you can put your phone away and live in the moment.
  4. keep any details you want captured together! this can include heirlooms, invitations, vow books or gifts! Another tip is to keep the rings together! They will end up at the ceremony so there is no need to keep them separate with the bride and groom and this way photographs of both can be captured.
  5. have lots of snacks! As well as first aid/emergency things like safety pins and nail glue!

Plan B’s

There used to be a simpler time when all we needed to worry about when planning a wedding was the weather. I feel like now there are a lot more indoor options for photos (breweries, libraries, cafes, etc.) and there’s something so unique about the rain because it creates different memories in photographs for you to remember the day! There’s also a lot of options for tent rentals now as well. Caitlin and I didn’t want to make our whole conversation about the pandemic (as there are plenty of helpful videos and blog posts that have been made!) but it is what it is and unfortunately brides are having to make some tough decisions! We chatted about the options of Friday and Sundays as alternate wedding dates later in the fall and next year and putting a date on hold in 2021 is a way to feel a little reassured that you have a backup plan!

The Wedding Day: First Looks, Hidden Costs, Guest Experience & more!

The First Look

You are either into the idea or not! I used to be totally against it, but after experiencing a few with clients I have been 100% converted and love them! First looks help the flow of the day go a little bit smoother because you get your portraits and ‘major’ photos out of the way before the ceremony and have more time afterwards to spend with your guests! A big theme of Caitlin and I’s chat was guest experience! Not only do you get to spend more time with guests, you get to spend more time with each other! Rather than only seeing one another at the end of the isle later in the day, you spend almost the entire day together! The first look is definitely a more intimate option, as typically it takes place only the two of you rather than him seeing you for the first time along with all your guests! It really comes down to personal choice and what you and your partner want!

The little Hidden Costs

The small extra costs are not something talked about that often! Especially when budgeting and thinking of the major expenses like vendors you don’t really consider things like robes, gifts and gratuity until later! Matching robes when getting ready is a popular trend right now but can be costly, especially for an item you or your bridesmaids may only wear that one morning for a few hours for photos. Alternatives can be matching PJ sets, rompers and tshirts (because everyone now knows someone with a cricut! you can customize anything!). Gifts for bridemaids and parents can also get a little costly! Practical gifts are always a winner! Jewelry for the wedding day, a bottle of wine, a glass to use that day! And I truly believe a personalized note goes the longest way. I was in my best friend’s wedding and the note she wrote in the card to me was more meaningful than any gift she could’ve bought me.

Aside from the celebrations that may add an extra cost for your bridal party to share in your big day comes the other expenses like hair/makeup, dresses and footwear! Keep those things in mind when asking your closest friends to take part in your big day. Paying for a portion of the hair and makeup could be one of the best gifts, as it is so meaningful (and practical!). A big trend now is the ‘mismatched’ dresses and colors! If you’re into this, it could be a great way to allow your bridesmaids to save a little extra. There are so many online boutiques like Lulu’s and Pink Blush that sell gowns for less. David’s Bridal has so many styles of dresses in a variety of colors that if you choose a color or style, it allows your bridesmaids to go on the online yardsales and see if they can find one second hand. The same applies for footwear, allowing your bridal party to choose what their comfortable in while maintaining the same color scheme (like nude) is cost saving and thoughtful.

The Ceremony & Reception

Caitlin had so many good tips for the final two segments of our chat. She talked about how at her wedding, her planner suggested marking little spots with tape so the bridal party knew where to stand so everyone was spaced out perfectly. It’s also super important to consider your footwear if your getting married outside on grass or sand. I think the most important piece of advice I have for brides (and the party) for the ceremony is to be mindful of their expressions! Sometimes we get so focused on how we’re walking or standing, it’s easy to forget what our faces are doing! And please! At your rehearsal, ask your officiant to take a step away from you when you have your first kiss as husband and wife! Many forget to move!

If you’re choosing not to have a first look and will be taking a few hours in between the ceremony and reception consider having a cocktail hour, games or a list of places people can check out during that down time (breweries, cafes, museums, etc.).

Having a timeline created really helps the flow of the ceremony and reception so that everyone is mindful of what’s happening! Your vendors will know generally how long things will take. Especially when it comes time for the reception. Many people choose to have an MC so it’s really important they are looped into this timeline and know how to guide things along. It’s important to try and be fluid with minimal lulls, so if you’re able to combine things like desserts and speeches that’s always helpful. If having sunset photos is something important to you, consider when the sun sets when creating the timeline for the evening, especially if travel is required. And make sure your vendors know this is important to you as well. I once had a couple getting ready to sneak out for their photos and the DJ yelled for everyone to come dance with the newlyweds right as we were leaving!

Specific Questions & Answers

What’s a typical timeline look like?

I have an IGTV video that goes in depth into creating your own timeline (@chelseybelliveaph) but the way I create timelines is I figure out how many hours of photography are required, I figure out when the coverage will end and that tells me when the coverage will begin (or vice versa). Then fill in the segments (i.e. you know the ceremony is at 3 so that tells you that you need to be ready no later than 2 and so forth). It’s kind of like a puzzle where you make each portion fit depending on another piece.

What’s a typical wedding budget?

I think that varies on where you live. Yarmouth wedding budgets may look a little different than Halifax budgets depending on the cost of the vendors. The most important thing is to figure out what you’re comfortable spending and what portion of the wedding means the most to you. If photography/ a specific photographer is important, their price point will determine how you allocate other funds for the big day. Are other people contributing? Like parents or family members? and do you have a good understanding of the wedding costs (like flowers might cost a lot more than you realize!). It’s just really important to have good communication with your partner and those contributing about what’s most important to you and what you’re comfortable spending.

How do I incorporate my dog in my wedding?

First of all, make sure he/she is groomed! you don’t want a shaggy, muddy pup in your beautiful photos! My best friend did it the way I would suggest to anyone, she had someone in charge of her doggo and that person brought him to the location we were doing portraits and they did all their photos with him first and then he left!

If you have a rehearsal dinner, which side is supposed to host it and do you just rehearse the ceremony portion?

Traditionally it is the groom’s family that hosts the rehearsal dinner! But it’s 2020 so do whatever you want!! I don’t believe rehearsals need to be fancy! it’s just about getting everyone who is close to the couple to intimately celebrate the big day! If you want to go to dinner, have a pizza party or even a BBQ it’s whatever speaks to you guys as a couple and a family coming together! Typically it’s just the ceremony that is rehearsed!

Do you think there will be a decent influx of “off season” weddings due to Covid-19?

So for those who don’t know, the typical wedding season is from May-October so the “off season” are those other months in between. Honestly, I wish there would be! I love winter weddings so so much!! But I think the majority of people will postpone until summer 2021.

And that’s the wrap up of our video!! If you took the time to read these tips and FAQS thank you so much! I hope you took some insights away from it!! If you have any questions at all please reach out! You can email me at chelsey.spinney@gmail.com or send me a DM over on Instagram!

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