9 reasons to have your wedding in the bahamas

Destination weddings have become increasingly popular with couples that want something other than the traditional ceremony and celebration in a church and banquet hall. A destination wedding can be as affordable as your budget allows and your honeymoon is included in the cost! A certified wedding planner will work with you and guarantee that your wedding is the one you’ve always dreamed of.

9 Reasons to Have Your Wedding in the Bahamas

1. The Bahamas is a popular place for a destination wedding because everything you need for a memorable event is right there: A marriage license, a Minister, gorgeous flowers, a professional photographer, wedding cake and delicious food for your guests, especially seafood (think rock lobster or conch fritters). A member of The Bahamas Bridal Association can help you plan the wedding of your dreams at any venue you choose.

2. The weather will be lovely, though you should avoid the rainy season from mid May to the end of October. Average temperatures are between 24C and 29C in both winter and summer. Perfect for a wedding.

3. You can be married in your bare feet right on the beach. Beautiful white and pink sand beaches surround the gorgeous turquoise sea. If you want to wear shoes and be married indoors, in a church or chapel, you can do that too. In some places, you can even be married underwater!

4. There are many activities for people of all ages to enjoy, (besides your wedding of course), friends and family members will have fun during their stay. They can choose fishing, golf, kayaking, snorkeling, deep-sea diving and swimming in the warm turquoise waters of the Caribbean, or just relaxing in a hammock.

5. All your guests can stay either together or close by each other, in beachside bungalows or villas, providing a great opportunity for new family members to get to know each other.

6. No need to fly off on a honeymoon after the wedding – you’re already there! Stunning sunsets, silky soft white sand, impeccable service, romantic walks along the beach…. paradise. Cape Santa Maria on Long Island, Bahamas is one of the top ten beaches in the world for beauty, privacy and quiet. Whether beachcombing, bird watching, or dancing to the rhythms of Soca, your honeymoon in the Bahamas will be perfect.

7. The Bahamian people are warm and friendly speaking English with a distinctive Island lilt. Currency is in US or Bahamian dollars.

8. Children are welcome with resorts offering special kids’ menus, activities and even childcare. And Bahamian sand makes the best sand castles ever. The warm shallow blue waters have a smooth sandy bottom and are irresistible to children.

9. The Islands of the Bahamas are closer than you think, only 45 miles from the Florida Coast. Just over three hours flight time from Toronto, Canada, and New York City.

The wedding and honeymoon of your dreams is waiting for you in the beautiful Bahamas. Ready to start planning? Want to find out more about having a Bahamas wedding?

Top reasons why you should have bridal portraits taken

As soon as you open your eyes on your wedding day, you are stuck on a schedule. You only have so much time in your day. You are likely to begin your day with a light breakfast and then it’s straight to the stylist’s chair with your bridesmaids. From there on out, you are stuck on a strict time limit for every task.

You are the bride, and to say that you have put a lot of time into your ensemble is an understatement. You look stunning for your big day, and have put more than enough effort into making sure of that. Why not celebrate your bridal beauty on its own? You don’t have to wait until your big day to take bridal portraits and you definitely don’t have to wear your gown only once.

Here at Christina Wehbe Studios, I recognize just how incredible you look. That’s why I have put together a few tops reasons why you should have bridal portraits taken. If you are a lovely bride who wants to have a beautiful keepsake of your bridal beauty, be sure to continue reading to learn more:

More time. As said before, your big day is likely planned to the last minute. From your grand walk down the aisle to your first dance, you have a busy day ahead of you. There will be time for photos, but these will be photos with your partner and most will also include your family and guests. As the bride, the day may technically be about you, but there is no time for just you. Taking time before the wedding allows you some time to focus on yourself and your bridal beauty.

More locations. Your scenery will serve as a natural backdrop for your photos. If you wait until your big day to do bridal portraits, you are limited to the scenery that your venue has to offer, which may not be as much space as you hoped. This is especially true if you are planning first looks with your partner and bridesmaids, as your photographer will have to keep you hidden from them and your wedding guests. You have free reign before your big day to have an assortment of backdrops within your photos.

Test run. Choosing to do bridal portraits before your big day gives you time to get comfortable in your bridal skin. You will get to know the flow of your dress in action, see your attire completely put together, and you will even get a preview of how well your makeup and hairstyle will complete your look. You can even ask your florist to create a mock bouquet for your photo shoot so that your bridal bouquet is not damaged or stressed. You will look stunning! And if you feel that any adjustments need to be made, you have time to do so before your big day.
As the bride, surely you are under a lot of stress after planning such a magnificent wedding. It’s good to take a little time to focus on yourself and get a chance to feel confident and beautiful in your own skin before becoming bombarded on your big day. Here at Christina Wehbe Studios, I believe you should feel beautiful within every photo, don’t you? If you are ready to start planning your Chicago wedding photography, be sure to contact me today.

Follow This Planning Checklist

Bridesmaids, get your calendars out! Follow this bachelorette party planning guide for a seamless bridal bash.

Calling all bridesmaids! Whether you’re planning a laid-back night out or an action-packed weekend trip, below is your go-to checklist to help you organize an unforgettable bachelorette party. Feel free to adjust the time frames and personalize the details according to your bachelorette party style.

Three (or More) Months Before
Ask the bride what she wants—and wants to avoid—for her bachelorette party. Will it be cocktails, karaoke and scantily clad dancers? A quiet weekend getaway? A living room lingerie exchange? Get the scoop from the guest of honor and go from there.

Establish her comfort levels. If she’s envisioning a calmer gathering, go over all of your options together, from a winery trip to a luxe spa day. If she can’t wait to break the rules a bit, get her to define exactly what that means. Remember, while you want her to let loose, you don’t want to embarrass her or freak her out.
Set the date. Some groups celebrate a few months prior to the wedding, while others opt for a weekend night about one to two weeks before. If members of the bridal party come from all over and can only convene a few days before, that timing works too. Much of it depends on the schedule and availability of the bridesmaids.

Create the guest list.
Two Months Before
Send a save-the-date email to gauge any major conflicts among invitees. If you’re partying far away, include specific details so everyone is on the same page and can plan accordingly.
Brainstorm possible game plans, entertainment and gifts with the group (make it a surprise for the bride, if you want).
If the party will take place at a hot spot or out of town, make reservations, order tickets and deal with lodging and bachelorette party transportation details.
Secure transportation arrangements. Alcohol and bachelorette revelry often go hand in hand, so be responsible and plan ahead. Now’s the time to start thinking about booking a limo, party bus, van or other car rentals for the evening.
Research and book any talent that might make an appearance at the soiree.

One Month Before
Send invitations—emailing and calling works too. Make sure your invitation politely informs guests that a contribution to the festivities will be expected (and be sure to specify how much).
If you’re going with a classic pub crawl, devise the itinerary. Start out with dinner at a fun restaurant (you don’t want to drink on an empty stomach) and map out all the establishments you want to hit, plus what time you’ll be stopping in. Planning it out this way will help you book your transportation for the proper length of time, and it limits the drinking so you don’t overdo it or spend too much money. Make all necessary reservations, even at bars. And don’t forget to ask about drink specials, group deals and bachelorette freebies.

Make your transportation reservations. Consider your timing and location: Book reservations earlier if you’ll be in a city, celebrating during prom season or in the summer when the number of prewedding parties tends to peak.
If you’re celebrating at home, help the divvy up responsibilities for refreshments and activities. Make a shopping list. Divide up to-dos among bridesmaids: games, decorations, food and drinks, music playlists and sleeping arrangements (if necessary).

One Week Before
This is the time to buy any bachelorette party accessories like a novelty veil or tiara, candy jewelry and any additional props, naughty or otherwise.
Make a list of the games you want to play with rules and how-tos (don’t leave the game directions for when you’re a few cocktails in). Customize and decorate written instructions however you want to, and keep them handy throughout the event.

If you’re plotting a scavenger hunt, conspire with the group to make a list of tasks for the bride to complete .
Confirm RSVPs.
Confirm transportation arrangements.
Confirm any entertainment.
One Day Before
Debrief the bride (but it’s definitely okay to keep some of the details a surprise).
Remind guests of the meeting place and time, reiterating the address. If there are several stops planned, name the second address too, for latecomers.
Reconfirm all reservations.
Get plenty of sleep.

5 Tips For Pulling Off a Blind Bachelorette Party

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just show up to your bachelorette party and it be a complete surprise? Not just for you but for everyone attending too? Wedding planner Claudine M. Winston, M.B.A. of the Winston Wedding Group – The Weddings Genie, can make all your dreams come true. Lately, she’s been working with a ton of brides on blind bashes, where you literally let your planner do everything and simply show up to the airport or other transportation and go with it, girl. Sounds pretty badass, right? But things could definitely go very, very wrong. Here’s how to ensure your blind bachelorette party goes off without a hitch and meets all your expectations and then some too.

1. Set a budget

This is always the number one tip: Have a clearly defined bachelorette budget and stick to it, advises Winston. Definitely consult all your girls first and make sure everyone is comfortable with the set amount per person before committing to anything.

2. Define your party’s theme

Be crystal clear with what you’re looking to accomplish in the experience, whether that’s adventure, nightlife, luxury spas, etc., says Winston. And, of course, clearly communicate that vision to your planner so she can help execute the blind bachelorette party of your dreams.

3. Remember: Timing is everything

As Winston points out, group travel is a whole lot trickier than going solo, which is why it’s important to plan early, particularly if you (and the rest of your gals) need a payment plan. According to her, the optimal timeframe is mid-May to mid-June. “Avoid holidays and spring break as the cost may significantly limit your options. The middle of the week is best, if at all possible with everyone’s work schedules.”

4. Get rid of “the deal” mindset

Step away from Expedia and Groupon and just trust your planner with your budget! “For this experience, a professional will help you maximize your dollars while also planning an exceptional bachelor/bachelorette fete,” assures Winston. After all, isn’t the point of this whole thing to minimize stress and amp up the surprise factor?

5. Find someone in the know

Pick the right planner or travel agent and use a specialist who is extremely familiar with and knows the markets, recommends Winston. “Being able to trust someone with a blind trip requires adept knowledge and ability to bring forth unique experiences that give the biggest bang for your dollar.” And with the right person by your side, you and the rest of your group are in good hands.

7 Ways to Make Bridesmaid Dress Shopping Less Stressful (and Cheaper!)

Buying your own wedding dress can feel stressful enough, so imagine how overwhelming it can feel to find the perfect dress for your entire bridal party. From dealing with various personalities to different taste preferences, brides often find the process more difficult than they anticipate. Luckily, many tough parts of the experience can be easily eliminated with a little foresight. Claudia Hanlin, founder of The Wedding Library, shares seven smart tips to make bridesmaid dress shopping as smooth — and fun — as possible.

1. Be upfront about budgets

Weddings can sometimes feel like an etiquette minefield, and your bridal party members’ budget is one of those sensitive topics that can disrupt even the most meticulously planned process. Don’t put off having that conversation, advises Hanlin. It will help determine where you should shop. Luckily, bridesmaids today have a variety of gorgeous options at any price point, whether they choose to buy off the rack at stores like J.Crew or opt for custom designer frocks at high-end salons. Also don’t forget to factor in costs for alterations when setting your budget. “Almost 75 percent of bridesmaids need to have their dresses altered,” says Hanlin. “That cost can be anywhere from $25 to over $100.”

2. Do some research online first

“Know what type of look you’re going for before you start making appointments at salons and it’ll make the process so much easier,” says Hanlin. “Every style of bridesmaid dresses can be seen online so research is easy (and fun!) to do and will save much time later.”

3. Shop early for the best deal

“You should start shopping for your bridal party at least seven to eight months before the big day,” says Hanlin. “Not only is this less stressful for everyone, but you’re also more likely to be able to hit a sale (if you’re buying off the rack) or find a quarterly trunk show (where you can get a 15 percent discount) to order the dress and still have enough time to get it delivered without any last minute rushes.”

4. Factor in more time than you think

“Unless you are buying off the rack, you need to budget at least three months from when you place the order to when you get it,” warns Hanlin. “Many designers have their dresses cut overseas so it’s actually impossible for the boutique to expedite the process beyond a certain point.” Orders for the entire bridal party are also placed at the same time to ensure quality control, she explains. Translation: Those perpetually late bridesmaids can delay the entire process!

5. Have your bridesmaids professionally measured

Even though many bridesmaid dresses are being made to order, the customer is not getting a custom dress. Instead, ‘maids are measured and then fit into a preexisting size (usually two to 24). Because each designer sizes differently, it’s important that each bridesmaid provide correct measurements in order to prevent problems later. While many boutiques might have their sales staff measure bridesmaids, they are not seamstresses, Hanlin says. “Ultimately the customer is on the hook for providing her correct measurements, so it’s very important that she also goes to a professional seamstress to get them taken.”

6. Make multiple appointments at the boutique

“Don’t bring your entire bridal party into the shop the first time you start looking for dresses,” recommends Hanlin. “Instead just go with your mother or your maid of honor or one or two bridesmaids and have them help you narrow down your initial choices.” Once you’ve found a few favorites, then ask the rest of the party to weigh in. Have the consultant set aside your picks and show only those to your bridesmaids, she says.

7. Don’t forget to inquire about extra length

“If your bridesmaid is 5’8″ or above, she might need extra length if you’re wearing a long dress, especially if she’s wearing high heels,” says Hanlin. “Bring accessories to the initial fitting and know that there’s often an additional cost associated with extra length.”

5 Style Rules for Mismatched Bridesmaid Dresses

Julie Sabatino, a.k.a. The Stylish Bride, is sharing her expert advice with us once again! Based out of New York City, Sabatino helps engaged girls find their dress and style it — essentially she helps her brides-to-be get red-carpet ready on their big day. Today, Sabatino is breaking down how to make sure your bridesmaids look cohesive if they’re wearing different dresses.

Bridesmaid style has come a long way in the last few years. Gone are the days of everyone wearing the same dress. Today, brides are mixing it up by having ‘maids rock dresses with different styles, fabrics, and colors that make it way more interesting and fun. This trend allows you to highlight each individual woman’s style and ensure she’s wearing a dress that makes her feel great.

However, doing the mismatched look presents a new set of challenges. If it’s not done right, you can end up with a very disjointed-looking bridal party. So, here are my tips for embracing different dresses while presenting a cohesive fashion story.

Keep the length of the dresses the same: We’ve all seen those photos on Pinterest where the wedding party is wearing a variety of dress styles. The difference between the ones that look good and the ones that don’t? The hem length. When you have mixed hems, it is very hard to create a cohesive look; so stick to one length.

Vary only two features: I advise my clients to choose two things maximum that can be different about each dress and keep the rest the same. For example, different necklines and colors (in a pre-decided color palette) but in the same fabric. Or, different fabric (lace, cotton, chiffon, brocade, etc.) and necklines but in the same color. Changing more than that can start to look very confused.

Shades of color: Different colored dresses are very popular right now. But it can be difficult to select ones that look good together since you’re limited to the colors the designer offers. Also, the small swatches on a card often look very different when they are made up in a gown. The easiest way to visualize how they will look together is to check out the full-size samples in daylight, and switch out different options until you are happy with the combo. And consider pre-selecting the color each bridesmaid will wear — can prevent a lot of inter-wedding party conflict.

Don’t let them do it alone: A lot of brides love the idea of giving their bridesmaids a color and the freedom to shop for their own gown. Unless it’s black (which I’ve seen work nicely) this method can really backfire. Think about it: If you tell your six girls to find a long navy dress, you are going to end up with six different shades of navy that may not blend well. You are also going to have different fabrics that won’t photograph in the same way. The result? Awkward photos!
Don’t give them too many choices: This actually goes for all bridesmaid dresses, not just mixed-and-matched ones. Make a separate appointment without your bridesmaids to decide their options in advance. Pre-select the dresses, necklines, and colors that you like. Then, let them choose their favorite. It will save you a lot of confusion at the ordering appointment when you are all together.

One last word of advice: Forget the idea of selecting a dress that they will “wear again.” The fact is that no matter how pretty the dress is, they will always feel like a bridesmaid wearing it. So choose a dress that you like and they feel good in, and hopefully you will both enjoy them on your wedding day.

7 Ways To Make Your Mother’s Wedding Dress Completely Your Own

So you’re getting married and there’s so much to organize that you feel like your head might explode. One way to quickly tick a point off your to-do list is to wear your mother’s wedding dress. This way you’ll save yourself multiple wedding dress shopping trips and fittings, plus the possible heartache of not being able to find the perfect dress of your dreams. Sure, your mom’s dress might not be what you envisaged yourself getting married in, but don’t turn your nose up just yet. Wearing a wedding dress from another decade might surprise you.

As I prepare for my own wedding, I’m realizing that there are many benefits to wearing your mother’s bridal gown. Besides the practicality, you’ll also be able to show your mom how much she means to you, avoid unnecessary shopping trips (especially rad if you hate shopping), and you could end up saving yourself a ridiculous amount of money. Chances are you’re only going to wear it one time anyway, so what’s the point of blowing your budget on a single dress? IMO, there are more important things to spend your hard-earned dollars on, like a chocolate fountain filled with all the snacks. So if you want to get thrifty or nostalgic, here’s how to make your mom’s wedding dress your own.

1. Change The Color

Changing up the color of your mom’s old dress could really bring it into the 21st century. Depending on the material of the gown, you could dye it at home using a home dye kit, or you could entrust it to a local dressmaker or designer. You can pick your favorite color, or plan your entire color scheme around your wedding dress hue. You could even be your own “something blue.” Well, if it was good enough for Blair Waldorf, it’s good enough for me.

2. Banish The Frou-Frou

During college, I attended an incredible vintage fair in London where I snagged the most beautifully horrific vintage wedding dress for very little money. My friend, who was studying fashion design at the time, took one look at it and snipped it to smithereens. I was left with the most gorgeous, avant-garde gown I’d ever had the pleasure of owning.

If your mom’s dress has outdated shoulder pads or a skirt that looks like a meringue, don’t worry. Just enlist a crafty friend or a seamstress to dig beneath the frills. They may find buried treasure underneath.

3. Change The Neckline

Don’t fret if your mom’s dress has an outdated neckline; this is something that can be changed. Take a look at all of the styles of necklines you can choose from and then pick the one you love. There are some styles that will be easier to achieve than others, such as changing a jewel neckline into an asymmetric or one-shouldered style. If a friend or family member is super at sewing, show them the dress and see what they suggest.

4. Embellish It

A bridal gown can be totally transformed with the addition of embellishments, and there are so many types to choose from. Different types of embellishments could include the addition of: Beads, sequins, pearls, feathers, crystals, applique, and more. This is a great option for brides who want to really put their own stamp on their mom’s old dress, especially if the original one is plain or simple in style.

5. Add A Petticoat

Adding a petticoat to a wedding dress is an inexpensive way to make your mom’s wedding dress unique to you, while adding an immediate pop of color. You could even get your bridesmaids to wear color coordinating or contrasting petticoats to match. This is a great fix for tea length or 1950s dresses and it’ll be add a fantastic flourish to a vintage-themed wedding.

6. Accessorize

If you don’t want to change the dress itself, you can easily transform the entire look by adding bridal accessories. There are tons to choose from and the only limit is your imagination. Bridal accessories include, but are by no means limited to: Jewelry, veils, belts, shawls, capes, boleros, gloves, shoes, handbags, parasols, tiaras, and hair accessories. You’ll be spoiled for choice.

7. Completely Alter It

It might be a good idea to ask your mom if you can seriously alter her old wedding dress before you take the plunge. You could use her dress as a jumping off point and then completely re-design it. Go shorter, go longer, add accents, strip away parts you dislike, or use the material to make something completely new. The choice is yours, and if you’ve got the green flag from mom, you can turn her old dress into the one of your dreams.

So if you want to save time, money, and stress while adding a nostalgic twist to your wedding, consider wearing your mom’s old bridal gown. It’s a win, win wedding situation if I ever heard of one.

10 basic poses for wedding photographers

Below, we’ll go over a few basic poses that we teach in the workshop. Keep in mind that these are just 10 wedding poses out of hundreds of poses that you will need to master to become a good wedding photographer.

How can you come up with hundreds of wedding poses? The answer is small posing variation. Slight adjustments in hand placement, feet positioning, head positioning, facial expressions, and posture can change the entire mood and feel of a wedding image. Below are just 10 basic wedding poses to start with.

1. WEDDING POSE 1 | THE V UP

This is your most classic, basic wedding pose. Be sure to have your couple touching at the hips with hands anywhere but dangling at the bride and groom’s sides.

2. WEDDING POSE 2 | OPENED UP

From the most basic wedding pose, the V Up, you can have your couple simply open up their feet towards the camera and you have the “Opened Up” pose. Below are two examples.

3. WEDDING POSE 3 | CLOSED UP

The most common wedding pose is what we call the “Closed Up” pose. We call it this because their bodies are closed off and they are facing each other. From here, you can get intimate poses and candid poses depending on where you have the bride and groom look and depending on their expression.

4. WEDDING POSE 4 | STACKED

The “stacked” wedding pose is great for those romantic photos where it looks like the wedding couple is gazing off into the distance. We use this pose often with grand, scenic landscape wedding photographs.

5. WEDDING POSE 5 | THE SWING

The Swing pose adds in action into a scene. Use this selectively and be sure to gauge your groom’s ability to hold up the bride’s weight.

6. WEDDING POSE 6 | THE CARRY

Like the Swing, the next pose, “the carry,” adds some interesting action and motion to a scene. It’s a bit more traditional than the “swing” and might require a little more strength from the groom. The image on the bottom is still considered a carry because it’s essentially the same pose but just with the groom seated.

7. WEDDING POSE 7 | STAGGERED COUPLE

“The Staggered Couple” is sometimes overused in today’s wedding photography, but it can add some much-needed variation to your posing. With this pose, you can put the focus on just one of the two.

8. WEDDING POSE 8 | MEET IN THE MIDDLE

The “Meet in the Middle” is a cute pose. We also call it the penguin kiss because of the way the couples have to stick out their rear ends. This is great for symmetrical scenes like the ones below.

9. WEDDING POSE 9 | THE WALK

The walk is probably the most common pose. Wedding videographers love this pose and often default to this because of the motion it adds to the scene.

10. WEDDING POSE 10 | THE DIP

The dip is like “The Swing” and “The Carry” in that they are dynamic poses with motion. Again, gauge the couples’ coordination and ability to execute this pose. It’s more difficult than it looks and it can look really odd and awkward if done incorrectly. The most common mistake when doing this wedding pose is the groom not lunging far enough down. We want it to look more like a lunge and less like a squat.

WEDDING POSES CONCLUSION

The poses we mention above are meant to be a starting point for posing. We tried to mention a good mixture of dynamic and static poses. Making them romantic or fun will depend on the expressions you have them do while in these poses. We have left out quite a few poses like sitting poses, lying down poses, and others which we will cover in another article.

Having a good foundation for wedding poses is very important. Unlike engagement session photography where you have 2 to 3 hours to capture all of the photos you need, a wedding day might only have thirty minutes to an hour for a couples session. You might even have situations where the day runs behind and you have to squeeze everything into 10 minutes or less!

How To Get Wedding Photography Clients Offline

You love photography and nothing would feed your soul more than having a calendar booked with fresh clients every week.

The only problem? You’re not sure how to attract enough clients to stay booked up.

That’s why, in this post, we’ll explore 17 creative ways to get more wedding photography clients…offline.

Some of these strategies I’ve seen successful photographers use in their business and it made me wonder “Why didn’t I think of that?”

Some have been proven to work by other wedding professionals, which could easily be adapted for photographers. Others are unusual tactics that I haven’t seen used before, which leaves a big fat opening for you to swoop in and make them yours.

Here’s a Quick Summary of How to Get More Wedding Photography Bookings

Every booking begins with awareness. To get bookings, prospects have to know you exist. Often all it takes is a fleeting exposure or a mere introduction, which can lead to a paying client. Here is a summary of 17 ideas (with totally fresh strategies for how to execute them) to get your name in front of more prospective clients. Keep reading to break down each one in detail.
Turn Your Ideal Client’s Interests into Income
Do “Teasers” at Bridal Shops
Get On Preferred Vendor Lists With this Secret Strategy
Be the Backup for Other Photographers (Video)
List Building Community Events
Holiday Pay Days
Charity Event Lead Collection
Gallery Gains
Speak to Sell
Peak Parent Interest with Local Writing
Book at Boutique Bridal Shows
Capture Clients through Co-Ops
Snail Mail Sales
Referral Bait
Ship a Surprise, Get a Referral
Crafty Giveaways
Cash in on Holiday Humor

1. Turn Interests into Income

Most wedding professionals try to market to everyone, which is why they are overwhelmed and underfunded.

Marketing to every prospect is costly because you have to reach a lot of people before your message reaches the right prospect.

But when you know your “ideal client” inside and out, including their interests, you can narrow your marketing focus, reduce your budget and get a lot more results with less effort.

In other words, when you get face time with the right kind of prospects…the ones most likely to be attracted to you and your work…you’ll more easily turn them into clients.

Marketing to the Masses = Expensive
Marketing to Ideal Clients = Profitable

Stop wasting time trying to get in front of just anyone. Start deliberately putting your business in front of prospects who you already know tend to hire you. Here’s what I mean…

Case Study 1

One of my photography clients does a lot of civil unions for same sex couples. So she decided to put up a table at a recent gay and lesbian fair with free giveaways that would lure them over and get her portfolio in front of them. Simply brilliant!

1. To make this strategy work for you, first investigate what type of couples tend to be drawn to you and your work. consider hobbies, interests and favorite activities.

Are they idealists who volunteer a lot of their time?
Are they nature lovers who join hiking clubs and climbing groups?
Are they foodies that obsess over finding the best family owned, local grub?
Are they obsessed with trying every craft beer around town?
Do they treat their pets like kids and spend all day at the park every weekend?
2. Then, use that insight to brainstorm ideas for where and how to reach them

What do these type of people do on the weekend?
Are there annual local happenings they would likely attend?
Scour your local papers and community websites to get more ideas
3. Make a list of all the interest-based events in the coming year that present an opportunity

4. Research costs, logistics, number of attendees, demographics of attendees etc.

5. Compare the events, choose the best ones and register to exhibit at as many as you can afford

Photography marketing opportunities offlineCase Study 2

Many years ago when I had my bridal jewelry business, I knew that my customers were environmentally and socially conscious because my pieces were made with eco-friendly and recycled materials, which appealed to them.

So when I was asked to speak at a local town hall on the topic of recycling, I jumped at the chance.

I brought a sampling of my best work to display next to me as I presented and made sure to have plenty of business cards there as well.

I also rented out my pieces for eco fashion shows all over the country to receive additional exposure to my ideal audience.

Maybe it’s a town hall, fashion show or some other event that brings your ideal clients together. Whatever the cause, look for events that are highly specific to a certain crowd, either by religion, cause, heritage or culture, interest, lifestyle etc.

Consider:

citywide marathons
sporting events
farmer’s markets
neighborhood bar hops
The better you know your best client’s personality and interests, the easier it will be for you to identify where they might hang out. If you’re just not sure, ask them! Pick up the phone or type up an email and ask your top clients what types of events they frequent.

The idea is to get visibility, either through speaking, an exhibit, a sponsorship etc. If you want to get more wedding photography clients, you have to become more visible to them. This is a great strategy for doing so.

photographer marketing get clients

2. Tease for Leads

Can you imagine how many more clients you’d capture if you could give prospects a taste of your work first?

Take a cue from one of my hair stylist clients.

To give her brides a more luxurious experience, she includes “trial photos” into her wedding updo trial sessions. When brides come in for a trial of their wedding hairstyle, she takes a few shots of their look from every angle so that the client can actually see what her hair will look like in photos on the big day.

Now, it might not make much sense for a photographer to step in and take these shots because, chances are, by the time the trial session comes along, the client has probably already booked their photographer.

However, this same idea could be applied to vendors who come earlier in the wedding buying cycle.

For instance, many brides hunt for the dress before they even hire their wedding suppliers.

Why not partner up with bridal shops and offer to drop in during weekdays for a couple hours and take complimentary photos of brides who find ‘the one’?

Not only would this allow brides to get a preview of what it’s like to work with you, it also gives you an opportunity to get your business card in their hands and capture their email address for follow up early in the planning process.

Plus, they’ll get to see a sample of your work using them as the model; making their perception of you a lot more personal.

Here’s how it might work:

Set up a schedule with local bridal shops for on-the-spot dress photo shoots when customers find “the one”
Offer to email the bride her photo in a few days
Get the bride’s permission (in writing) to also send her email updates, news and service information
Following every photo shoot day, upload your new leads to your ongoing email marketing newsletter list and email each bride the photo of them in their wedding gown plus quick info on your service and what makes you different
Continue sending your ongoing newsletter or tips by email to your entire email list, including the new brides you add from bridal shops every week
3. Charm Your Way into Preferred Vendor Lists

As a photographer, one of your best sources for quick clients is referrals. And, naturally, venues can be one of the best sources of referrals since they are often the first wedding business couples meet with.

But how can you get your foot in the door with venues who already have a list of favorite photographers?

Whether its a venue you’ve shot at in the past or not, you can create a prime opportunity to get your name in front of them, if you approach it with their best interests in mind first.

Make a list of the top 10-20 venues you feel your ideal client is most likely to host at. Get creative too by exploring unconventional or converted spaces, like lofts, museums, galleries, botanical gardens and barns too.
Get on the phone and reach out to the Events Manager. Let him or her know that their venue seems to be a favorite among your clients and you’d love to drop by sometime to meet the staff on a slow day. Tell them you always have your equipment with you anyway, so you’d be more than happy to take fresh headshots of the team and any property images they want to update, complimentary, while you’re there.
Set aside plenty of time that day, so you won’t feel rushed and come with business cards and a giveaway portfolio they can keep on hand, if they ask for one.
Don’t push for referrals or directly ask to be on their preferred vendor list. If they like you, they’ll probably offer. If they don’t mention it, ask them if they have a preferred vendor list and leave it at that. Let them make the offer.
Follow up, follow up, follow up. Whether you’re on their list or not, staying front of mind and letting them know you care is key to growing the relationship. Remember, they want to be promoted too. So let them know when you’ve referred clients their way or when you have a wedding on the books for their venue. And if you don’t have client crossover yet, then try some of the fun gift drop tactics from this post to stay on their radar.
4. Partner for Prospects

Your peers don’t have to be your competitors if you choose not to look at it that way. Instead, they can be one of your top source of client referrals.

Whether you’re a fan or not, Jasmine Star has had tremendous success as a wedding photographer and, for that reason alone, I think her tips are worth listening too. I truly admire her perspective on peer-partnering.

In this video, she reveals how partnering up with other local photographers grew her business faster than she ever thought possible. They swapped leads and gave each other overflow work when booked up for that date.

find photography clients kissing booth

5. Leverage Local to Lock Up More Leads

When you do spot a chance to connect with your audience offline, it’s not always at a wedding-related event or even an interest-specific event.

Sometimes, engaged couples are just hanging with friends at general community events.

And, if you play your cards right, you can meet them there.

Even if these folks aren’t actively looking for a photographer in that moment, it doesn’t mean they won’t need one soon or even know someone else getting married; it just means they aren’t hunting for one in that environment.

That’s why you need to have a strategy for capturing attention and showcasing your work. Otherwise, attendees may be too engrossed in the main attraction to notice you.

As a photographer, one of the easiest ways to stand out at a local event is to utilize your talents and create fun photo ops for the attendees.

Scenario 1

For example, let’s say that your ideal clients love spending time on the beach and outdoors so you decide to sponsor or exhibit at a surfing event to expose the locals to your wedding and event photography services.

You could set up a mini photo tent where attendees come to get a free, cold lemonade and a photo with their friends and family next to an artistic surfboard.

Collect their email address so you can email them their photo and stay in touch. Remember to specifically ask for permission to send news, updates and other info by email.

After the event, email a link to download their photo link and continue marketing to them by email on a regular weekly or bi-monthly basis to generate new business.

Scenario 2

If your clients love neighborhood fairs and city ‘tastes’, you can set up a cute Kissing Booth for couples, babies, pets, families and more.

Since most of these are hosted during the Spring and Summer months during your busy season, you can enlist the help of a second shooter to handle the event. Then, follow the steps I outlined previously collect email addresses and stay in touch post-event.

This allows you to keep up your marketing throughout your hectic time, ensuring you have fresh leads heading into the slower months.

6. Turn Holidays into Pay Days

Some local events are natural photo ops that give photographers an easy “in”, like seasonal and holiday events. Think fall festivals with pumpkin patches and corn mazes, Fourth of July parades and downtown winter holiday celebrations.

These happenings don’t just attract families with kids; they are favorites of engaged couples too.

Get wedding photography clients at holiday events
These are the types of events that people want a nice memory of, which gives you a prime opportunity to give it to them.

Whether you’re roaming the event on foot with your camera and an assistant (to record names and contact details) or taking portraits in front of a holiday-inspired scene, the potential is there.

A single day or full weekend of shooting portraits either for free or for an affordable flat rate could result in hundreds and even thousands of new leads.

With every photo opp comes the chance to add another email address to your lead list. As your list grows, your bookings do too!

7. Give to Get with Charity Events

Getting involved in local charities has its own set of rewards, outside of what you get in return. However, with the right approach you can get both benefits: a chance to give back and get new clients!

When you volunteer your photography services for a charity event, you get the chance to reach a whole new audience that other photographers are likely ignoring.

The key to making this idea work is to ensure you will have the kind of visibility that gets attendee’s attention.

Simply having your logo printed in the event brochure won’t cut it. There needs to be guest interaction so people can experience your presence first hand. Otherwise, they may not remember you.

Suggest to the event coordinator some type of guest photo op, such as a pop-up photo booth with props and scenery. This will allow you to have meaningful interactions with guests and get your business card in their hands; not to mention, collect email addresses to which to send their photos.

If the event is looking for full coverage of the mingling, milestones and presentations, have a second shooter on hand to assist during times when you are interfacing with guests.

8. Let Your Art Attract Inquiries

When couples start actively searching for a photographer, overwhelm sets in and every portfolio starts to look the same.

So if you can get your work in front of them at a moment in time when they aren’t comparing you to 5 other photographers, you can stand out.

Get wedding clients with local biz galleries

Consider lending your photography in print format, royalty-free, with local brick-and-morter businesses as wall art, with proper credit of course.

It’s like turning their office or boutique into an art gallery; only without having to pay rent or consignment fees. Think about places where engaged couples hang out who may accept your work as art for their space, such as:

Local wedding all-in-one suites
Bridal boutiques
Beauty salons and spas
Local professionals, like chiropractors, dentists, lawyers etc.
I found a local family photographer this way. She gave a whole set of her lifestyle photography on canvas print to my chiropractor, who posted it all around her facility. I fell in love with her style right away and had to find out who was behind the lens.

wedding photographer marketing tips

Then we relocated and I saw this strategy in play again at a cute local coffee shop in our downtown area. A local portrait photographer was trying to gain exposure for the wedding side of his business by displaying two of his top wedding images in gorgeous gold antiqued frames inside the women’s powder room.

Yes, I know, not the most pleasant space to choose, but definitely the most strategic!

Think about it; you’re not going to be multi-tasking while you’re in the restroom. Your eyes will probably start to wonder to the walls and observe the decor. In that regard, it’s truly a brilliant choice. I have to wonder how much business this smart man has received from young couples visiting this hip downtown shop.

Here are a few tips on making this one work for you:

Make sure the shop or office agrees to carry a stack of your business cards or postcards. My chiropractor actually placed the photographer’s business cards and postcards on tables right in the waiting area next to reading materials.
It’s a lot easier to get shop owners and office managers to agree to this if they have empty wall space or decor that isn’t as eye-catching, so watch for that.
Don’t make your partners work for it. The photography should come finished and ready to display, like the powder room example. Choose a presentation that fits with the style of their space. If their decor is more modern and minimal, go with a simple print-to-canvas style. If there is a luxurious feel to their space, choose ornate gold or silver antiqued frames.
If you can find a classy way to place your contact information at the bottom of the print and get the store owner to agree to it, this increases your chances of getting a call. In the powder room example, the photographer simply printed company name below the image itself on the poster paper and framed it. I’d suggest adding your website address as well if you have room.

9. Speak a Little, Sell a Lot

These days couples are bombarded with wedding vendor choices; it’s overwhelming. One of the simplest ways you can help them see you in a fresh light is by offering free advice, in person.

In the sales process, there is just no replacement for in person interaction. Most photographers I speak with tell me that if they can just get a prospect into a meeting, they are confident they’ll book the event.

The challenge is, of course, getting prospects to a meeting in the first place.

So a great alternative is to give them a low-commitment, pressure-free way to connect with you in person by hosting free expert talks on topics you know they care about.

Whether it’s how to look great in front of the camera or questions to ask your photographer before you book, couples value expert guidance as they navigate their way through a stressful time.

Ideally, the best way to promote any talk is by partnering with wedding-related vendors who actually have the space to host the talk, such as venues, bridal shops, all-in-one suites and floral shops. Alternatively, you can set it up at a neutral space and invite a few others to present a short talk too.

Regardless of how you execute, the trick to making this successful is promotion:

Whoever is involved needs to promote the event to their email list, social media following and on their website.
If you’re partnering with vendors who have a physical location, print up save-the-date event postcards with details, contact info and RSVP info and have them displayed prominently at checkout and front desk areas.
Promote the event in local newspapers and online community event listing sites.
If you have a small budget, consider run targeted local Facebook Ads too. Choose a radius that makes sense for where you’re hosting the talk and advertise to currently engaged couples who are fairly early in the process (0-3 months).
If you’re trying to get more photography clients, making this in-person connection with real, engaged couples can bring a quick influx of prospects into your business.
10. Reach Paying Parents with the Local Paper

It might seem like print newspapers are dead these days…and some practically are…but online media is thriving and many micro local papers are still doing well. Which means you can leverage the offline-to-online combo that many local publications offer to get your name out there.

Remember, millennial couples may not pick up the local paper, but their parents do!

Photography marketing locallyMy friend Natalie, a wedding planner in Athens GA, has leveraged this strategy time and time again to keep her phone ringing. She has confessed to me that it has been a powerful part of her offline client attraction plan.

Swipe this strategy from Natalie and reach out to your smaller, local papers to find out how you can share your expertise with local couples and families. Simple topics such as how to dress for your engagement photos will probably do.

To give yourself the best chance for acceptance, here are a few additional tips:

Scope out who your local editor is. This is the editor that covers your topic, such as Events or Society.
Start paying attention to their writing style, popular topics and any clues you can find that will help you suggest a winning topic they won’t want to turn down.
When you pitch yourself, make it about their publication first. Be clear about how they and their audience will benefit from your piece. Only after you’ve made a case for what’s-in-it-for-them, you can tout your credentials, such as other publications you’ve written for, awards etc.
Be sure to follow submission guidelines to a “T”, if available
Photographer bridal show marketing

11. Book Yourself Solid with Boutique Bridal Shows

I realize that sometimes the larger, cattle call bridal shows make it hard to stand out. So why not try a smaller, boutique style show on for size?

When I was marketing my jewelry business, micro bridal shows were my absolute favorite. From elite, invite-only high end bridal events at high rises downtown to tiny eco-friendly city wedding fairs, my best customers always came from the lesser known happenings.

The challenge in finding these types of events is that they often fly under the radar. Here are a few ways to discover them:

Ask your vendor peers
Run a Google search for events in your city using search strings such as [“bridal show” + “city”], [“bridal event” + “city”], [“bridal fair” + “city”], [“wedding show” + “city”], [“wedding fair” + “city”] or [“wedding vendor meet and greet” + “city”]
Run a Google search for bridal events hosted by local venues that tend to attract your ideal type of client using search strings such as [“wedding show” + “venue”] etc.
12. Use Co-Ops to Close More Contracts

This tip may not be groundbreaking, but it’s certainly under-utilized by most wedding vendors. Bridal suites and wedding co-ops can be a great opportunity to get in front of engaged couples in real life.

If you’re not familiar, the concept typically involves a shared physical location by several wedding vendors, where a bridal consultant or wedding planner plays the role of sales person. Like a traditional bridal shop, couples can come into the bridal suite and view services, products and options for their wedding.

Usually, there are only one or two vendors represented in each category of service, reducing competition drastically.

Implementing this tip is easy. Simple research whether a bridal suite or co-op exists in your area using a combination of online and offline tools. You can drive around your local neighborhoods and downtown areas to see in person which physical businesses have opened recently or use search engines and online business directories for research.

If a bridal suite or co-op doesn’t exist in your area, consider launching your own with a handful of premier, all star fellow wedding vendors you feel comfortable collaborating with.

Photographer direct mail marketing

13. Convert Snail Mail into Steady Sales

Years ago, every small business was jumping ship from direct mail marketing to email marketing, in an effort to stand out.

These days, couples email inboxes are cluttered with more email messages than they’ll ever have time to get to. Which makes good ol’ fashioned snail mail attractive once again.

And since hardly anyone in the wedding industry is taking advantage of this medium, you’ve got their undivided attention!

One of my clients and I experimented with this recently. I suggested they drop monthly “lumpy” packages to a mailing list they received from a recent bridal show they exhibited at, rather than rely on email marketing.

The results were phenomenal. Every single time a mailing dropped, they got a flood of new sales.

In contrast, the email marketing following the event barely brought them any clicks or traffic.

The fact is, with snail mail, they were on an island. No one else was investing in this method to reach prospects, giving them far more exposure.

Here are a few tips for making this work:

Hand-address each mailing; the more personal it looks, the more likely your mail will get opened
Skip the boring postcards and go straight for mailings with substance. You can try greeting cards, formal invitations or even a “lumpy” package that has something bulky inside to tempt your recipients to open it up.
Your mailing should have one, clear, direct call to action so that recipients are not confused about what action to take to respond to your mailing.
Your call to action should be simple, low-commitment and enticing. Asking a total stranger to buy from you upon first contact is usually too forward to expect a decent ROI. You’ll probably get a much higher response if you simply offer something free that is highly beneficial to them, but also gets your unique message in front of them. You could invite them to attend one of your upcoming talks (see tip #9), ask them to visit your space at an upcoming exclusive bridal event or invite them to go to your website and download a free, helpful guide.
Send your mailing to a qualified list. You can utilize your lead list from a recent bridal show or work with a direct mail expert to purchase a qualified, segmented list of engaged couples that meet certain demographic (income, background, ethnicity) or sociographic (interests) criteria.
14. Motivate Past Clients to Send You New Clients

Your past clients are your raving fans and they are eager to refer you…if you remind them!

At least once or twice a year, plus once initially a few months after a client gets married, ask your clients if they have any friends who are engaged or likely about to be engaged. Then, incentivize them in a way that means something.

The usual incentives, like gift cards, are nice of course, but not very motivating.

What you want is to get innovative and consider what your past couples are experiencing right now as newlyweds or a well-established couple, such as pregnancy, adoption, rescuing a puppy, watching their kids enter school, buying a new house, renovating an existing house etc.

All of these life events are cause for updated family photography, which might make for a better incentive.

A free mini family or maternity photo shoot with a few digitals included could be a desirable incentive for your clients to pass on a wedding referral. If you’re not a family or lifestyle photographer, then partner up with one. They send you wedding referrals in exchange for a free mini engagement shoot for those clients and you send them past client family referrals in exchange for a free mini family photo shoot for those clients. Win, win!

Photographer vendor referral marketing

15. Ship a Surprise, Get a Referral

If there is a venue, event planner or other vendor you’re trying to get an introduction with, the right gift may give you that chance.

I’m not suggesting that you guilt or bribe your peers into referring you. I’m only consenting to the fact that people are busy and, occasionally, it takes something out of the ordinary to get their attention.

Do a little private investigating to find out what your target colleague loves before jumping out to pick a dozen daisies.

If you have a mutual acquaintance, you could ask them if they have any insider info.

If not, try your hand at social spying. It’s not as creepy as it sounds.

I used this tactic to gift a colleague a Vera Bradley handbag she’d been pining over. I received a very nice referral from her and wanted my thank you to be extra personal. So I hopped on Pinterest and scoured her personal pins to see what was on her wishlist.

Here is the thank you message I got in return:

Wedding photographer marketing vendor referrals

But you don’t have to wait to receive a referral to send a thoughtful gift. If you believe the relationship could be a highly lucrative one, it might be worth it to invest a few of your marketing dollars toward a quality gift tailored for them.

16. Turbo Charge Your Lead List with Giveaways

The Quick Giveaway

Unique offline marketing ideas for photographersIf you’re looking for a quick-fix giveaway to engage your existing prospect mailing list (from bridal shows and other sources), consider a micro prize, such as this adorable heart shaped puzzle from Portrait Puzzles. It’s perfect for engagement photos!

Offer a quick 30 minute engagement photo session at a location that you choose with this fun puzzle included.

The Elaborate Giveaway

Wedding businesses small and large alike have been launching full blown wedding service and product giveaways online for years, such as Clay Hill Farm’s Green Wedding Giveaway and Minted’s Save The Date Giveaway.

Social Tips

If you promote your giveaway online, get the viral aspect going with some social push:

Consider making one of the entry requirements that participants “like” your post (this will give the post a boost in places like Instagram and Facebook, where engagement improves performance)
Also require that they tag a friend in the comments section of your giveaway post to further exposure with new people.
Then, turn that post into a sponsored post or ad so that it continues to get impressions every day to new viewers throughout the giveaway period.
But giveaways can be held offline too! Can anyone say ‘free press’?!

Partner up with a few other vendors or go solo on a fabulous wedding giveaway that brings you both leads and brand exposure. Here are a few tips for marketing your giveaway:

Collaborate with a handful of other vendors to increase exposure (assuming they do their part in promoting the event)
Print up pre-stamped giveaway registration postcards for couples to mail in, then distribute to any physical wedding related brick-and-mortar you can find (bridal shops, bridal suites, venues, vendor offices and studios, salons, spas, floral shops, catering facilities, bakeries, rental warehouses)

Type up a formal press release and get it into the hands of all the right “society” or “wedding” Editors of your local newspapers and magazines far in advance to land a few article features
Submit the event to all your local newspapers and magazines to to ensure placement in the ‘local happenings’ sections
Pin flyers to Community Boards at any library, coffee house or sandwich shop that allows it (ex. Panera, Starbucks)

Bring flyers and mail-in postcards to the local colleges, universities and sorority/fraternity houses
Send a mailing to your existing list of prospects and past clients to spread the word. If you’re partnering with other vendors, ask them to do the same
Go door-to-door at apartment complexes and ask if they’ll let you leave your stack of mail-in registration postcards at their front desk or even distribute to their residents

17. Cash In on Holiday Humor

So you’ve got an awesome wishlist of vendors and venues you’re dying to connect with so you can start tapping into new referral business, but getting your foot in the door is intimidating.

Not afraid to get in touch with your corny side? Great! This unconventional strategy will be right up your alley.

9 Rules for Accessorizing Your Wedding Dress

Now that you’ve found your gown, the next step is choosing the finishing touches. Read on for our advice on picking the perfect accessories.

Sure, your wedding dress may be the star of the show, but the right accessories can elevate your look and add personality. But between jewelry, shoes, veils and other pieces, there can be a dizzying amount of choices to make. Before you buy anything, read our top style rules for accessorizing your wedding dress.

1. Match Your Metals

You may not realize this, but some metals look better with certain dress colors. As a general rule, ivory is best paired with gold since it highlights the creamy tint of the fabric. For a pure white dress, choose accents in silver or platinum or with pearl detailing—gold may clash with brighter white hues. You can have your pick with a diamond-white gown—this barely off-white color looks amazing with yellow gold, rose gold, silver or pearls. If the dress you chose is already embellished with beadwork, let that dictate the colors of your accessories. For example, if your gown has silver beading, pick a necklace, bracelet or earrings with a silver base.

2. Remember: Less Is More

You don’t need a veil, tiara, earrings, necklace and a sash. Accessories add a unique touch to your look, but even one too many can be over the top with an already-embellished gown. Before you start buying, take an inventory of your gown’s standout features and then base your choices around them. If your dress has an ornate neckline, opt for a pair of drop earrings instead of a necklace (that might look too busy). For a gown with a simpler style, try a bold statement necklace or a fascinator. When it comes to earrings, take a cue from your hairstyle. If you’re leaving your hair down and over your ears, small studs or drops will do. But for an updo, you might want something a little more dramatic, like a pair of chandelier danglers. It’s always a good idea to avoid designs that closely mimic the embellishments on your gown—you don’t want to look too matchy-matchy.

3. Know Your Veils

The veil is the iconic bridal accessory. From flirty birdcages and ornate mantillas to regal cathedral-length styles, there’s no shortage of options. But there are a few things you should keep in mind as you narrow down the type of veil you plan to wear:

You’ll want your veil to match the exact shade of your gown. Color blocking is better left to your day-to-day look.

Be mindful when choosing a style. If your dress has a lot going on, stick with something simple that won’t steal the spotlight.

If showing off the back of your dress is a must—say you have gorgeous embroidery or beading—choose a sheer veil rather than one with two layers of tulle.

Consider your body type: Longer waltz or floor-length veils will elongate a petite frame while mid-length styles, like fingertip or elbow-length veils, can visually cut you in half, making them a better pick for taller brides. Short styles, like a birdcage or bandeau, work for all shapes and sizes and lend a fun, retro vibe to your gown.

4. Top It Off

Veils not really your thing? From hair combs to fascinators, there are plenty of other ways to top off your look. Choose your hairstyle before you pick your accessory, since some types will look better with updos than others. A flower crown, for example, is best with loose locks. You should also consider your hair type—dainty accessories may be perfect for fine hair, but won’t be as noticeable in thick waves. Most importantly, make sure whatever you pick feels secure while you’re moving around.

5. Think Beyond Earrings

Looking for a super-simple way to add a bit of personality to your wedding dress (and help create the illusion of curves)? Add a belt or sash. Just because your dress doesn’t come with one, doesn’t mean it won’t look great—a fashionable fastener is an easy way to customize your gown and change its look without having to make expensive alterations. And whether you go with a classic satin sash or a metallic leather belt, it’ll give your dress an instant upgrade. The key to choosing the right waist-cincher is to find one that works with your body type. Thin belts are best suited to short torsos, while wider belts work well with longer ones. If you’re an apple shape, think about a beaded or heavily embellished belt to flatter your midsection. If you’re petite, a belt with V-shape applique will elongate your body. As a general rule, stick with a style that’s no more than three-inches wide—you don’t want to overpower the rest of your gown.

6. Keep It Comfy

No outfit is complete without the perfect pair of shoes—and your wedding day look is no exception. Of course you’ll want a killer pair to go with that gorgeous dress, but that doesn’t mean you have to compromise on comfort. Don’t forget: You’ll be standing for long periods of time, and you don’t want to be cringing in pain before you’ve even hit the dance floor. While shopping, consider the height of the heel (obviously the taller you go, the higher the pain potential), the type of straps and the material. Your feet need to be well supported (think: ankle and toe straps over slip-ons) to avoid instability. Look for high-quality natural materials. They’re infinitely more comfortable than synthetic ones and are also a lot more durable, meaning you’ll be able to wear them again.

For the best fit, go shopping at the end of the day, when your feet are swollen from activity, and give yourself plenty of time to break in your new kicks before the wedding. Wear them around the house a couple weeks prior to the day, noting any areas that are prone to blisters. To make your shoes more comfortable, consider buying moleskin, heel grips, strap stickers or gel insoles designed specifically for heels. Shoes too strappy to conceal an insole or grip? Pick up a spray, wax or cream that protects against friction or provides anti-inflammatory pain relief to keep your feet happy.

7. Cover It Up

A stylish cover-up is a must if you’re getting married during the cooler months or at a house of worship that requires you to cover your shoulders. From boleros to capelets and fur stoles, the options are endless. The key is to choose one that strikes the perfect balance with your gown. Simple, understated styles can be paired with more embellished cover-ups, like a beaded capelet with scalloped edges or a bold sequined or feather bolero for added personality. For already ornate gowns, try a more minimal accent to avoid looking too over the top. A delicate lace jacket, sheer tulle cape or a chiffon wrap will keep you warm without competing with your gown. Another option? A classic cardigan, the perfect complement to a rustic or more laid-back affair.

8. Consider Your Decolletage

Pairing your neckline style with the proper adornment can add character to your wedding gown, or even highlight a unique feature. Follow these simple guidelines:

Sweetheart or strapless: For something a little different, skip the necklace and focus on an elegant pair of chandelier earrings instead. Wear clear crystal for a sleek look, or add punch with a hint of color. Try using a meaningful gem, like your birthstone, or pick a hue from the flowers in your bridal bouquet. If you’re going for a flirty, fresh look, include two or three small fresh or silk flowers in your hair to add a soft, organic feel. Vintage elegancemore your style? Pay homage to the past with an art-deco-style bracelet or some roaring twenties–inspired feather barrettes.

V-neck: Whether you opt for a pendant or choker, this style begs for a little decolletage decoration. A thin chain with a simple pendant, like a locket, is an elegant way to accessorize, while pearls (single- or double-stranded) are always a classic choice. If you’re going for a more decadent look, a crystal choker or statement necklace with matching earrings could be the perfect combo.

Halter or reverse halter: For this shoulder-baring style, skip the necklace and focus on dressing up your tresses. Headbands are a great way to add panache to your wedding updo, be it a sleek bun or loose ponytail. But if headbands aren’t quite your style, try adding some sparkle to your hair with intricate crystal hairpins. If you’ve got a curly mane, five to seven hairpins is the perfect number, while brides with thinner locks (or shorter hair) need fewer—just two or three pins will do the trick.

9. Stick to What You Know

Although it’s a special day, don’t stray too far from your normal style. If you rarely wear jewels, there’s no need to drown yourself in diamonds on your wedding day. The goal is to look like the best, most beautiful version of your regular self.