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  1. Sleep. Sounds too simple, I know. You'd be surprised how a good night of sleep can set your mood for the day. Too restless at night? Try cutting caffeine before 2pm, brew up a cup of sleepy time tea or take something like melatonin or valerian before bed. (Obviously read up on melatonin or valerian if you have medical issues and aren't sure if you should take it!)

  2. Hydrate. This one is always easier said than done. But hey, this is your excuse to go buy that cute water bottle you've been eyeing up!

  3. Delegate. You can't do it all, babe. Your aunt that wants to do the invites? Let her! The bridesmaid that wants to pick up the floral arrangements? Go for it, babe.

  4. Prepare a wedding day emergency kit. Safety pins? Check. Hair pins? Check. Advil? Also check.

  5. Remember, you aren't preparing this wedding to impress anyone or please anyone. This is your day to celebrate!

  6. If you can afford one, hire a wedding coordinator.

  7. Hire an awesome wedding photographer. Let me introduce myself......

  8. Have an itinerary. And share that itinerary with your wedding party, coordinator, your vendors, everyone in involved in your day! We are here to help things move along smoothly!

  9. Don't sweat the small stuff. Things will go wrong, we can't control it all. If it makes you feel better, I had an outdoor wedding and the wind blew a bunch of the vases over, leaving a beautiful, glassy mess.

  10. Relax, take a deep breath and get to marry your best friend!

As a wedding photographer, I pick up a few things. And if you're getting married, you may want to take notes on my list of what not to do on your wedding day.

1. Skip Meals And Snacks

What ever you do, do not skip on the food. I've seen both sides of this, and believe me, you need to eat. Nerves can do a thing to you, food will help calm nerves and give you the energy you need for the day. Wedding days can be long, so make sure you get all 3 meals.

If it helps, plan ahead. Prep a breakfast the night before or plan for a breakfast buffet to enjoy while you and the wedding party get ready, assign someone the task of ordering lunch, and take your time to sit and really eat a good dinner at the reception. And don't be afraid to snack throughout the day!

2. Expect Perfection

It can be hard not to use the word "perfect" when we talk about one of the biggest days of our life. We grew up with Pinterest and Instagram and...if you were anything like me, dreamed about your wedding day almost every day as you grew up. It's understandable to want a perfect wedding day, but the hard truth is that it will not be all around perfect. The cake may get a little melty, the flowers may have gotten mixed up (at my wedding it was so windy the flowers actually got knocked over! Glass everywhere.) or your dress may be just a little too tight. Yes, I've seen it happen. But it's important to remember a few things, first of all, your wedding day is not a photoshoot. It doesn't need to be perfect. The reason this whole day even came to fruition is because you get to marry your best friend. That is what wedding days are all about, right? Marrying the love of your life and celebrating with friends and family. So don't worry about things not going to plan, or not being's not about perfection.

3. Be The Bridezilla

"Yikes, did she really just tell me not to be a bridezilla?" Yes, yes I did. Refer to item #2 on the list. Don't expect perfection and don't forget why you are even doing all this. When we expect perfection and things don't go to plan, we get stressed. When we get stressed we take it out on the people around us. And I give you...Bridezilla. Try to remember that the friends, family and vendors are all there for you and want to make your day as enjoyable as they possibly can.

4. Load Up On Caffeine

Just. Don't. You know what doesn't help your nerves? 3 cans of Redbull and a racing heart. One cup of coffee on your way to hair and makeup? Go for it, beautiful.

5. Rush

It is your wedding day, after all. Why don't you take the time to enjoy it? It all comes back to one thing (if you haven't figured it out by now), this is a day of celebration. So take a breath, smile, and celebrate!

So, you're thinking about jumping into weddings, or maybe you've just dipped your toes in. Well, welcome to wedding photography, friend! You're gonna love it. Or maybe not. So that leads me into tip #1.

Tip #1 Second Shoot

The best advice anyone can give as you explore the world of wedding photography, is second shoot. Second shooting can be a role in which you assist the main photographer and help them get the shots they are too busy for, or otherwise follow them as a shadow for experience. This is the perfect way to see firsthand how wedding days work and what goes into capturing every moment. Minus the pressure of being the one responsible for capturing the whole day. You can find second shooting opportunities by joining second shooter groups on Facebook, posting in your local community page or befriending a few local photographers.

Tip #2 Shoot RAW

If you're even thinking of getting into wedding photography, ditch the JPEG and start shooting RAW. The lighting can vary greatly over the course of a wedding day. If you haven't already experienced the pain of an underexposed or overexposed photo being unusable, you most certainly will experience that pain shooting JPEG at a wedding. Even the best of photographers are faced with poor lighting or a mishap of wrong settings on their camera. When you shoot in RAW you are saving so much more info in that picture than you would with JPEG, which makes it easy as pie to fix. Seriously, just make the switch.

Tip #3 Use Flash

Another tip that goes hand in hand with shooting RAW...use flash. I would not photograph a wedding without a flash ready to go. Even in well lit spaces I sometimes use my flash, just for that extra light. If you're nervous or unsure how to go about using flash, there are plenty of great resources and YouTube videos out there. But nothing beats real experience and just trying it out to learn the ropes. I practiced with my flash around the house for a few days just to really get the feel of it. And you will definitely need a flash for weddings. I think I use my flash throughout the entire reception, to be honest.

Tip #4 Pregame

Not the fun kind of pregame, unfortunately. I'm talking water. They say you are only as hydrated as you were the day before. So that means drinking alllll the water the day before shooting a big wedding. Also staying hydrated the day of....and the day after. I kid you not, the day after photographing a wedding I feel like I'm hungover or was hit by a bus. The more water you can drink, the better. Honestly, I even keep up with taking Bayer Back & Body the day of, just because I know I'm going to be sore. Often times when I stop to get gas on the way home, I'm already feeling the sore muscles just getting out of my car. I typically load up my pantry (and my car) with Liquid IV, coconut water, extra bottles of water and...well, a few energy drinks. Don't judge, you need all the energy to keep up! Also, bring some snacks. Most clients should be offering food, but it's good to have some things on hand just in case. Which brings me to my next tip.

Tip #5 Eat

When someone offers you food, don't be shy, TAKE IT. Almost every bride has offered to let me help myself to their breakfast buffet as they're getting ready. And I do. Almost every bride has offered me lunch when the wedding party is eating. And I do. And every couple has told me to help myself to a plate at dinner. And I do. Wedding days can be long, you need to eat any chance you get. Another tip, eat your dinner when the wedding party eats. Once they get up, more than likely you will have to get up and follow them for photos.

A few more honorable mentions:

If you don't already have a contract, get one immediately.

Some venues require proof of business insurance. You can get a full year or daily insurance.

Study the full client experience. See what other photographers are doing as far as communication, gifts, booking, etc.

If you've read this and still want to get into wedding photography, go you! I love weddings, they really are my bread and butter. They aren't for everyone, so I refer back to tip #1....start second shooting. Now, get out there and start shooting!

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