I'm Nikki, a creative old soul who loves tea time, tip-toeing through gardens, mounds of books, swaying to records, watercolors, sunset walks with our three yorkies, and star-gazing with Paul. This blog carries snippets of my life with just us two (five with Rusty, Lucy, & Ethel) - I hope it brings you happiness as you snuggle in with something warm and delicious and begin reading. Enjoy, friends!

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Wedding Formals | How to Make Them Stress-Free

For me, wedding formals are probably the most stressful part of the wedding day. This is a time when I am fully in charge and it’s up to me to make sure it goes as smoothly as possible. Usually, my brides and grooms start to feel the stress too and I reassure them that after formals are done, things will begin to calm down.

So, what are wedding formals? They are the “must-have” photos; the ones of every family member looking at the camera, turned in slightly, hands folded, and smiling big. Depending on the style of wedding, they are taken in the church right in front of the altar, or outside under the umbrella of a shady tree, and there are a lot of people waiting to be told what to do.

To you brides or even photographers, I’ve put together a brief list with some tips to make sure this part of the day goes by smoothly:

1. Use the template I (or your photographer) send(s) you. About one month before the wedding, I email my brides the wedding formals template. I used it when we were getting married and, if I do say so myself, it’s pretty organized and also accurate of the photos most people want on their wedding day. Here’s an example of what’s on it:

Bride with Immediate Family (Nikki, Tim, Patti, Richie, Toni)

Within the parentheses is where I have you give me every person’s name. It’s so much easier to call out, “Tim, Patti, Richie, Toni!” instead of, “Nikki’s dad! Nikki’s mom! Nikki’s brother! Nikki’s sister!”

2. Ask your mom and future mother-in-law if they want any photos added to the template. (I use the mom’s as an example because they’re almost always the people who have a few photos they want extra – something the bride and groom might overlook.) I cannot tell you the number of times that I have had extra photos added in on the day of the wedding. Not that there’s anything wrong with it, but it tends to lead to slight chaos. When I receive the formals template back from my bride and it’s filled in ever so nicely, I then organize it even more so instead of randomly selecting people for one photo and then having another completely different group of people in the next photo, I’m starting with a whole group, then taking one or two people out at a time, etc. Therefore, when I have extra photos coming up during the actual wedding formals time, it just gets a tad confusing for everyone involved.

3. Make sure whoever is in a formal photo is on time. Again, I can’t tell you how many times this has been an issue. I always tell my brides and grooms to give people about 10 minutes leeway time. If formals start at 1:30pm, tell them to be there at 1:20pm. They may be early and sitting down for a few minutes, but it beats waiting around for last-minute people, especially since formals are typically done right before the ceremony and I am working my hardest to make sure the bride and groom are hiding before guests begin to arrive.

4. Have people put down their cameras. I understand that your uncle may really want some of these photos for himself, but it takes up way too much time when other people want to jump in after Paul and I to get some photos. Since Paul and I shoot together, you already have two people taking your photos. One more is just one too many. Plus, there have been so many times when I know other people are trying to take photos behind me with their cameras, and when I get home I see that half of the eyes are looking to the left and the other half are looking at me, or worse! Their flash got into my photo blowing out some people’s faces. The wonderful thing about having me as your photographer, is that you are able to make as many copies as you’d like of your photos! So, if Uncle Bill really wants that one of you and Grandma, tell him that you will make him a copy of the one we give you! :)

5. Trust me. Although I haven’t shot 100 weddings, I’ve still shot enough to know exactly what I’m doing. I have rearranged your formals on the list to make sure everything goes perfectly smoothly. I’ve listened to (and written down) any family drama to make sure I don’t create any during wedding formals by putting Richie next to Toni (sorry to my lovely siblings whom I keep using so much today). I know that you just want to be done so you can relax which is why formals usually go incredibly quick with me. I’ve had so many people tell us afterwards that they couldn’t believe how fast it went and that makes me overjoyed. My goal is for you not to have anything to worry about; your day goes by incredibly fast, enjoy it.

So, brides and grooms, I hoped this helped!! Happy Monday, friends! :)