For Brides: Intentional Planning

Kingwood wedding photographer - 4 tips for wedding planning with your relationship in mind

It’s engagement season (which I don’t know that I’d really recognize if I wasn’t a wedding photographer), and my heart is so full thinking of all of the couples grinning every time they try out the word “fiancé”!!


Wedding planning can be an intense experience. Some people LOVE it. Some people just want it to be over. Some couples plan everything together. Some couples have one party who doesn’t make a single decision. Regardless of the way wedding planning looks for you, it’s still easy to get caught up in it. To lose sight of the marriage in light of the wedding day details. To lose sight of your partner in light of vendor emails and Pinterest boards.

So if you’re one of the lucky ones who recently said “Yes!” (or just nodded through happy sobs), here are a few tips from my heart to yours to keep your focus where it should be:

  • If you’re a to-do list kinda person,  build in a meaningful reward that involves your soon-to-be spouse once you cross a certain number of things off the list. Ex: For every 3 vendors you lock in, plan a special date like a gourmet pancake baking competition or re-creating your first official date. The intentional time together will start to build a good habit of continuing to date each other, and the rewards will be so good, you’ll blow through that to-do list in no time!
  • Sit down together & really think about what you want life to look like in 5, 10, 20, 50 years. Then look at what keeps coming up – is it time with family? Is it traveling to new places together? Whatever it is, come up with a plan for how you’ll make that happen together, and start now!
  • Think about your favorite things – maybe it’s waffles with peanut butter & chocolate chips, or maybe it’s old, weathered hardback novels about love & life. Then incorporate those things into your wedding or reception. Have a waffle bar for dessert. Pick your favorite quote from a classic love story to include in your wedding vows.Figuring out how you can bring your favorite things into your wedding day helps remind you of the things that make your fiancé who they are & why they’re the only one for you. Having them present on the day you say “I do” brings a deeper sense to your details & reminds you that it’s just one day – and the truly important thing is the life ahead of you.
  • Take one 0r two days off every week from planning. Don’t open the binder or the spreadsheet. Don’t email, call or meet with vendors. Take the time off from planning to be with the one you love & remember that the wedding isn’t life.


For more in the For Brides series, check out these posts: 

For Brides: Father Daughter First Look

Kingwood wedding photographer - Why you should include a Father-Daughter first look portraits in your wedding day timeline

I’ve shared some of my reasons for why I think a First Look is a great option on your wedding day. It’s a great way to get amazing portraits & have a powerful, emotional moment in a rare slice of alone-time, just to name a few.

But there’s another first look that I think should be considered as well. The father-of-the-bride seeing his girl in her dress.

I may be a little partial to this because of my own family history & wedding day experience… It ended up being a tradition that for any of my school dances, my dad never saw my dress until I was all done up and ready to go. He’d see it for the first time with hair done, make up done.

I knew after all of those middle school and high school nights of seeing his reaction to me in my dress, that I wanted it to be the same on my wedding day. So true to tradition, my dad didn’t get to see my dress until the big day, and I made sure to request that my photographer get photos of his reaction & that moment for the two of us.

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My dad has always asked me “Wanna know a secret?” and when I’d respond yes, he’d tell me “I love you.” (Yes – I have the best dad!)

So when I walked up to him & had to say something to let him know to turn around, I just asked him “Wanna know a secret?” …Cue the tears!

Outside of all of the little personal traditions that made that moment so special for my dad and me, it was a great way to honor him, the first man of my life, on the day I became a wife. He did so much to show me what to look for in a partner by the way he loves my mom and the way he raised me, and it was important to me that he feel loved on that day too.

Many brides have a special connection with their fathers, and this is such an incredible way to celebrate that relationship! It is so worth the additional 15 minutes in the timeline, trust me.

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And if I happen to be photographing your father daughter first look in the future, just pretend to ignore the tears that’ll probably be in my eyes afterward!

For more in the For Brides series, check out these posts: 

For Brides: The First Look

Kingwood wedding photographer - Why you should include first look portraits in your wedding day timeline

Choosing to do a “first look” is definitely something that’s gained a lot of traction in the wedding industry lately, but I still think there is some confusion or some concern about whether it is the right choice as brides are planning their wedding day. While I whole-heartedly believe that each bride & groom needs to make the choice that best fits them as a couple, I do think that the first look is a GREAT option for a variety of reasons!!

As a bride myself, I have to admit I was a little nervous about how the first look would impact that moment of walking down the aisle – would it still be as special if Max had already seen me prior to that moment?  Ultimately my photographer side won out and I decided that having the extra time in our wedding day timeline for portraits was really important to us, and we went for it. And y’all, I can’t tell you enough how glad I am that we did it, but mostly for reasons I didn’t expect…

Nacogdoches wedding photographer post for brides about wedding day first look

I tell brides all the time that our first look ended up being one of my favorite parts of our day. Yes, getting to just focus on Max and our reactions to seeing each other was great, but really, that was such a special time because it was the only time we were alone pretty much all day! You’re surrounded by family & friends all day, and often you don’t have much time to just be together. The first look was a chance for us to just have time with one another, and it also allowed for us to have more time alone later in the day because we could get a lot of our wedding party photos done pre-ceremony.

Getting to get gorgeous golden hour bride & groom portraits, PLUS being able to sneak away in our first moments of being husband and wife? Loved it.

Nacogdoches wedding photographer post for brides about wedding day first look

Another thing I didn’t really think about was the way that getting to see Max helped me kind of settle into the day. There are so many emotions flying around, and seeing Max helped me feel grounded and able to really just soak in our wedding day. That was definitely a bonus I didn’t really expect! I know this has also been helpful for any grooms (or brides for that matter!) who may not be too big on being the center of attention – getting that time with their soon-to-be-spouse eases nerves & makes things so much more enjoyable for them!

As for the fear of not having that amazing coming-down-the-aisle moment, I think this photo can clear up some of those worries! There’s nothing that can take away from the moment of walking down the aisle to your forever, and when the groom sees his bride walking through their family & friends on her way to him, it’s an incredible moment – regardless of whether it’s the first time he’s seen you!!

Nacogdoches wedding photographer post for brides about wedding day first look

So of course, as a photographer I love that the first look gives some breathing room in the timeline so my brides & grooms can relax a little more.

Of course I LOVE that it allows for more portrait time.

Of course I love getting to get great photos of that initial reaction of the groom seeing his beautiful bride.

But most of all, I love what it does for my brides & grooms as they start their marriage. Because after all, the wedding is about the beginning of a life, not just the party or the dress. And those moments together to really cherish what’s happening, those are my favorites. 

For more in the For Brides series, check out these posts: