wedding planning guide

I’m so happy you’ve found this wedding planning guide! One of my favorite parts about being a wedding photojournalist, is getting to help couples in the planning process. Obviously, there’s no shortage of great wedding planning resources online and I always recommend working with a planner,  but I love sharing my personal experiences in the form of tips and advice. This guide is meant to focus on the kinds of things that I know will help you get your best photos!

Whether you’ve already reserved your date or we haven’t even met yet, you’ll find a variety of planning resources that will be helpful as you prepare for your wedding. In photographing nearly 200 weddings we’ve seen it all and learned even more. I assembled this guide because I want to share share some of those personal experiences.

My hope is that by sharing this information, your day will be less stressful, you will enjoy it more, and you’ll get your best photos! While everything in this guide may not apply to your wedding, I hope it will help you prepare and understand what to expect. From engagement session to wedding day, things will go smoother, and you’ll be able to spend more time planning your honeymoon or next date night instead of worrying about the wedding.If you don’t have your venue yet, don’t miss our Chicago Wedding Venue Guide.

We’ve also assembled a list of awesome vendors and engagement photo locations. I’m looking forward to working together and telling the story of your day!

Wedding Planning Flow Chart

After the post-engagement bliss there comes a moment when you realize that in order to have a wedding you actually have to plan the thing. Sometimes it seems impossible to get from Pinterest boards and bookmarks to actual plans. This wedding planning flow chart is designed to help with that, in an easy-to-understand visual format.
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How To Make a Wedding Guest List

For most couples, the toughest task in wedding planning is creating the guest list. Negotiating family politics and budget concerns isn’t the most fun way kick off the planning process. And while it’s fun to jump straight in and start looking at wedding venue options, you can’t really book anything until you know you’ve got a good grasp on your guest count. But with a little organization and preparation you can tackle your guest list like a pro.
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Your First Look Questions Answered including Why Do a First Look

A ‘first look’ is an opportunity for the couple to see each other at some point before the ceremony. About 80 percent of the couples I work with opt for a first look, and the trend is higher each year. If you don’t have your heart set on seeing each other for the first time that day when you walk down the aisle, a first look is a great way to share a private moment before walking down the aisle and exchanging vows in front of an audience.
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Tips for Stress-Free Formal Family Group Portraits

Formal family group photos can quickly become chaotic, but after shooting a few hundred weddings I’ve found a few key tips that will make this part of the day stress-free. If you’ve spent much time browsing through my photos, you’ll notice that I don’t post some of the more traditional posed family groups. That’s not because I don’t shoot them, but rather because I like to feature the moment-based approach that makes me unique as a wedding photojournalist.
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Make the Most of your Morning for the Best Getting Ready Photos

Wedding morning prep time is filled with so many great moments – toasting and laughing with your friends, your mom helping with jewelry, and the reaction of your bridesmaids when they see you in your dress. You’ll be surrounded by your closest friends and family which can make for great emotional moments. Here are a few of my suggestions for making the most of your morning and the best getting ready photos.
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How (and Why) to Have an Unplugged Ceremony

An unplugged ceremony is when a couple decides that they would prefer to have guests put away their devices and refrain from taking photos and video during the ceremony. One of my absolute favorite moments from my own wedding day was looking out during the ceremony and seeing the faces of all our most cherished people. I was able to fully appreciate this scene because my wife and I asked our guests to leave their camera phones in their pocket.
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How To Include Your Dog In Engagement Photos

After the logistical questions of what to wear and where to go, the number one question couples ask about engagement sessions is if they can include their dog. My answer is of course! When my wife and I got engaged we weren’t yet dog-owners, but if we had been, there’s no doubt we would have included our pup. Over the years I’ve shot quite a few sessions with dogs and there’s a few tips that will make including them in your engagement photos go smoothly.
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What to Wear for Engagement Photos

Picking out what to wear for engagement photos doesn’t have to be a stressful decision. Obviously, you want to look your best. But if you’re not used to being photographed (don’t worry, my couples are real people not professional models), there’s a few simple choices that can make a big difference. Here’s a few tips to help you pick what to wear for your engagement photos:
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When to Take Engagement Photos

The answer to when should you schedule engagement photos depends on many factors. The biggest factor is how much time you have between whenever you book a photographer and your actual wedding day. Some couples may only have a few months, while other couples have more than year. Here are some factors that can help you decide when to schedule your engagement photos.
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Why Take Engagement Photos

An engagement session can be a very beneficial part of your pre-wedding plans. I’ve found that couples who do an engagement session are more relaxed on their wedding day and get their best photos. There are many reasons to take engagement photos before your wedding. If you’re on the fence or wondering ‘why take engagement photos,’ here’s a few of the best reasons:
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