Weddings & Life with Taylor Nicole, a podcast by Denver Wedding Photographer,
Taylor Nicole Photography
Intro- I believe this is a topic less talked about, most likely because this is a different situation for everyone entering into their wedding days. So let’s dive into this episode about parents during the wedding day. I will address key moments to include parents during your wedding day. Tips for parents. As well as how to navigate some of the tricky parent scenarios on your wedding day.
So I wanted to preface this episode just acknowledging that not everyone is blessed to have both/all parents present on their wedding days. Whether you have lost a parent or have estranged relationships with a parent. I am so sorry and while I’ve watched many of my clients navigate these tough waters I truly cannot imagine what it is like to go through your wedding day with this weight and hardship.
I am a big family person, I value time with my family members above just about everything. So this episode is coming from patterns I’ve noticed in wedding days where either I love seeing parents involved, or I see parents being overlooked in some ways. Nothing is good/bad or best/worst practice. Everyone’s relationships with their parents are different too so you might here these ideas and recognize that it’s not a good fit for your parent relationship and that’s no problem at all! I just like to give this advice to help you navigate this area in your wedding planning.
So first up, here are some key parts of the wedding day where you can choose to involve your parents-
1. Getting ready
- Mother of the bride can be involved in the getting ready process. I’ve seen bride’s get a matching robe for their mothers and get a fun getting ready photo in that too. Then the mother of the bride can help the bride into her dress. I always love to set aside moments for that too!
- Father of the bride- you could choose to do a first look with your father. It doesn’t have to be a big drawn out moment but just a set aside time to see him once you’re in your dress. It is usually incredibly sweet.
- Mother of the groom- can be involved in the getting ready process with the bride and bridesmaids, also a sweet moment can be pinning the groom’s boutonniere!
- Father of the groom- can be involved with helping the guys get ready. I’ve always loved seeing the father help the groom with his tie ect.
- parents are generally escorted down the aisle before the bridal party
- The bride and groom can stop and give each parent a hug after walking down the aisle
- Parents generally exit after the bridal party
- Other notes- I’ve seen parents do the readings at the ceremonies, or special prayers ect.
3. Family pictures
- this is a big one obviously! Couples, it might be a good idea to involve your parents in the making of the family picture list. Sometimes you will find they have fun combination ideas such as bride, mom and aunts, or a generation picture of the bride, mom and grandmother.
- While the family picture time after the ceremony might not be for all extended family groupings as your photographer will need to keep things moving so we get all of the portraits taken. During the cocktail hour and reception might be a good time to grab some extra family photos, a bit more casual but that could include your parent and their siblings or just groups of special family members who aren’t togehter often.
- I’ve often seen the bride and grooms parents join in giving welcome speeches or toasts to the couple.
- The classic father daughter and mother son dances
- I’ve also seen a bride mother dance. And I’ve seen couples want to honor their parents relationship by having the parents of the bride or groom have their own special dances. All very sweet memories to make and have!
Here are some general tips for the parents.
1. This first tip is specifically for the Mother of the bride- if you’re helping your daughter into her dress ask the photographer what time the dress will be put on. That way you can make sure your hair and makeup are finished and you are into your dress so you’re 100% ready for those pictures. It is vital to the timeline that you are on time and ready for this moment! We can’t start the rest of the timeline before she is in the dress!
This tip can also apply to the groom’s mother and/or father if you would like to have a moment with your son and pin his boutonniere or help him with his tie before hand. You might want to be dressed and ready yourself for these moments.
2. The next tip is for all parents in general- try to be present as much as possible. I am not a parent myself so I can’t quite imagine all of the emotions running wild on these days. I will say as long as you trust your photographer and videographers hired try to keep your cell phones and cameras away, at least until the reception. As a photographer I know the moments captured of the parents emotions and present experiences of the moments of the wedding day tend to be more raw and real without capturing the parents behind the cell phone/camera. Totally optional and I don’t want to tell anyone what to do here but just a word of advice to consider.
3. My last general tip for parents- this is 1000% photographer’s perspective- do NOT bring ONLY transition glasses to your child’s wedding day. I wear glasses occasionally myself, but I understand that you are used to wearing glasses and to some extent glasses on your face are comfortable and you probably like your appearance with glasses. Now I could address this to anyone but specifically I have run into the problem of transition glasses with parents. I find pictures of the bride/groom with their parents to be extremely important. And the majority of wedding ceremonies and family portraits take place outside, in the sun. Those transition glasses, while keeping you comfortable will 10000% shade your eyes and if it is bright enough outside there won’t be a single hint of data to recover/bring back from your eyes in the photo. And no, holding your glasses inside of your purse for a moment and then putting them on again won’t clear them fast enough to finish the photos. So if you love your glasses and are NOT willing to take portraits without glasses on your face then pleaseeee take this as a ‘before the wedding’ to do list item. Go get a duplicate pair of glasses in a transparent, normal lens and try not to skip on the anti glare/reflection treatment on these lenses too. It’s equally as hard to photograph glasses with extreme glare and reflections on the lenses. To go along with this I am always sad when the father of the bride has transition glasses on as he walks his daughter down the aisle in an outdoor wedding ceremony because I can’t capture the full expression on his face. Also, this might be a moment when you are tempted to say the glorious phrase of ‘oh you can just photoshop that right?” The answer is a resounding NO. This is not a safe bet, depending on the depth of transition of the lens and how bright the surroundings I cannot guarantee that I can recover enough data/detail in your glasses to fix the transition effect. Don’t count on it, don’t expect it, that is not a safe bet and could result in disappointment later!
Okay exiting my photographer transition soap box now.
Lastly I wanted to briefly discuss navigating wedding days with tricky parent scenarios, whether these are split relationships or hardships. I can specifically speak to how to navigate this during the family portrait time of day because that is my expertise-
So first, as a couple. If you have a strained relationship with your parents, or a certain parent it might be good to let your photographer know. I personally love to set up extra special moments between the bride and her mother after they get her into her dress ect. But if your relationship with your mother is strained then I would make a note of this and not set you up in several hugging/look at each other picture moments during that time of day.
Along those lines if you have a step parent who you love and really want involved in certain aspects of your day maybe let your photographer know as well. That way we know to find your step dad for a first look, or include your step mom putting on your veil ect.
So tip #1- make your photographer and relevant vendors aware of any family strains or expectations
#2 for family portrait time- make a family photo list. That way you and your photographer can be on the same page about what groups to involve in family photos. So if your parents are split and you don’t think a photo with both parents in the same picture would go over well, make sure that is noted in the list. As well as if your parents have both remarried and you know they would love a group picture of everyone together then you can add that whole group to the list too.
I love family photo lists because it is a major help to navigating awkwardness in family situations. I can easily set up a group, take the picture, then add one person in or take one person out all while just following my list. If I am questioned about a certain group that maybe the bride/groom didn’t want a picture of I can just let the person asking know that I need to finish the list given to me by the couple first to keep us on track and we can get back to that group if the couple is ready for that later.
#3 the last tip is more for the couples behind the scenes/before the wedding day. If there are hardships within your family I’d recommend chatting with your parents before hand about how they would like parts of the wedding day handled. Especially if a hurt could easily be avoided by skipping a certain group photo, or setting up a second first look with a step parent ect.
So that is about the extent of my advice on parents during wedding days. I hope this helps you as you plan and prepare your timelines and navigate all the family connections and even create more intentional moments with your parents on your wedding day.