Good Moon Collective
You & Us
There is so much we're gonna do together during this experience, but first we want you to know that we are in your corner the whole way. We will lend an ear or an opinion for any reason, wedding-related or nah. We are your resource for all things referrals and guidance. We will help, console, commiserate, laugh, hug, joke, and share a WE DID IT drink on your dance floor. We'll start a group chat soon if we haven't already—text us any time of the day or night.
Logistically, we will have at least 2 official meetings leading up to the wedding. One for initial consult, and the other about a month prior during which we will hit every single bit of information. This is in addition to the questionnaires, check-ins, and millions of texts we will probably share. One of the main things we will definitely do together (whether you have a planner or not) is build that all-important wedding day timeline. Below are the things we will consider when drafting the perfect schedule for your day.
OUR THOUGHTS ON:
Ahhh, the inevitable conversation. You can really blow through your budget quickly if you don't give every dollar a name right away.
Time for a bottle of the good stuff and a team meeting. Both of you (and only you—don't let other people spend your wedding money) sit down and have an earnest conversation about the most important aspects of the day to each of you. Then, narrow it down and make sure you're on the same page about where the money will go. Keep in mind that you will be spending a lot of your budget feeding your guests and booking the venue.
Once you have your list of what's important, you will be able to estimate percentages of the budget you are allocating to each category, top to bottom. You can expect a combined 50% to go to the food and venue. Also, you'll be able to refer back to what you wrote when it comes time to make choices, or when you're feeling like you've lost sight of what you want. If you don't want to spend money on a traditional wedding venue, brainstorm your favorite places. Having a wedding in the great outdoors oftentimes only requires a permit. Reception ideas could be anything from backyards to your favorite bar/restaurant, or somewhere super unique to you.
People tend to be very set on or against a First Look. For us, this is our pivot point when building your timeline. It indicates how much portrait time is needed, how early we need to arrive, and when & where to place all the other photo times throughout the day. Having a First Look? Cool—that means we can knock out the wedding party and immediate family photos prior to the ceremony, leaving nothing but portraits and party time afterwards. A timeline NOT including a First Look typically means there isn't much going on prior to the ceremony, and then we try to cram everything into the hour directly after. Here is what we want you to consider before deciding whether or not you will be having one:
1) THIS IS NOT ABOUT TRADITION. It's about maximizing time on a chaotic day where every minute is accounted for. There are things that just happen that cannot be predicted and are out of our control. These can greatly affect the amount of time we have for couples portraits during a wedding day. We've shot weddings where the day ran so behind that our couple didn't get ANY sunset portrait time at all. Having a First Look is a fail safe, allowing for TWO portrait times—one immediately following the First Look, and another during sunset portraits. If for some reason your wedding schedule runs off track, you will at least have portraits together from the first part of the day.
2) YOU GET TO SPEND YOUR WHOLE WEDDING DAY TOGETHER. This is the whole point, yeah? Instead of spending the last 5 hours of your day together, you get to spend 10. Win/win.
3) PRIVATE TIME. A basically nonexistent part of a traditional wedding schedule. Instead of rushing straight from the ceremony into family formals/wedding party group shots/reception entrances, you can spend time before the ceremony alone together. This helps loads with nerves, plus you can read letters or private vows or go for a walk and kiss and cry alone (well, with us, but still). And then for the rest of the day, you'll be by each other's side.
Let us save you from a crucial mistake. Once the ceremony time is set, printed, and mailed off to all your nearest and dearest on the invitations? That's it. There's no going back.
Picture this: a 4pm ceremony in July (when the sun won't set until 9pm), both of you in your finest, sweating in unmentionable places at the front of a blazing hot aisle while one of you squints at the other. Not only are you uncomfortable, but one of you has your back to the sun and the other is facing right into it. Not only can we see every drop of sweat, but your photographs/film will be less than ideal because your partner's face is totally shaded while you are as bright as the sun you're under.
THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN CHOOSING YOUR CEREMONY SITE:
1) Time of day
2) Time of year
3) Location of ceremony in relation to the sun & surrounding area (directional light, trees, etc.)
This will also depend on geographical location. Certain parts of the world are known for their overcast skies. Things like mountains, trees, and especially bodies of water will also have an impact on light—don't worry though! We are here to help you figure it all out.
You can't control the weather. It might start downpouring in the middle of your outdoor reception. We don't cry, we don't panic. We breathe in deep and embrace the chaos and dance in the rain. Your day is going to be what it's going to be, in that respect. What we can control, though, are the locations we utilize by understanding how the sun will fall on them at that exact time of day:
We recommend you visit your ceremony site on a day that will have the same sun-up and sun-down times prior to setting your ceremony time. If you can, visit during the same season a year before—a year to the day is even better! Snap photos of where you were originally thinking of getting married plus any other ceremony options on the property, then text them to us so we can brainstorm. We may see something you don't; it's better to realize now that underneath grandma's ancient oak isn't going to work for a late afternoon ceremony.
We also want to be aware of how far apart all our different locations are from one another. Drive time has the potential to eat up huge chunks of your day so, if it can be controlled, it's best to choose locations that are within 20 minutes of one another.
LOCATIONS TO MAP:
1) Distance between the Getting Ready Location and the Venue
2) Distance between the Getting Ready Locations (if they are not the same location, we have to ensure we are able to document both of you)
3) Distance between Ceremony Site and Reception Site (again, if they are not the same location)
4) Distance between Venue and any specific locations you want to shoot at during the wedding day
Oh boy. We can't even tell you how many times family has commandeered formal photo time because the photo combinations they want were not included on the list. Along with mostly causing annoyance between you, this is one of the most frequent causes of running behind schedule.
SOME TIPS FOR PLANNING FAMILY FORMALS:
1) Ask both sets of parents for their lists. Then make your list.
2) Plan on ONE minute per combination. This is the best way for you to estimate how much time the photos will take.
3) Try to keep the two of you in as many combinations as possible.
I don't care what anybody says, the Getting Ready Space is important. Not only will we be documenting all of your details there, but you will also be getting ready FOR YOUR WEDDING there. You need to feel good. You need to feel relaxed, cool, and important. Look for a space with good lighting, but (if you have flexibility) also try to choose a space that sets and compliments the tone of your wedding for storytelling and cohesion.
For example, one couple had a 70's inspired vibe to their wedding and chose an AirBnB decked out in funky curtains and a bright pink kitchen, creating a cohesive visual aesthetic between the getting ready photos and the wedding itself. Some places have limited options—if beggars can't be choosers, you can't go wrong with GOOD LIGHT & WHITE WALLS.
Guess what. Sometimes the venue will drop a doozy on you after you've signed the papers and committed. Could be that they require you to use their preferred list of vendors after you've already hired your own. They might require you to have a planner when you had already decided where to allot your budget, and hiring one wasn't included. Make sure you read the ENTIRE contract. Be obnoxious with questioning. Don't just sign away on the most expensive mistake of your life. Grill the venue. Ask them about service fees, food and drink minimums, gratuities, whether they require your vendors to be pre-approved, what the alcohol rules are (this can turn into a huge issue and cause drama on your day—not what we want for you). Make sure you know every little thing that is included in the cost. Ask them about anything not in the quote. Ask for a list of the rules, then inform your entire wedding party.
Also, make sure you really like the place! Visit it. Ask them to show you where the sun sets (is it over a parking lot?). Take pictures of all the important areas and make sure it's what you really want. The venue is gonna be a monster drain on your dollars, so it's okay to be picky.
We will fare just fine without one if it's not in the budget, but we highly recommend hiring a professional planner. In our personal experience, they end up paying for themselves with their vast local knowledge and knack for adhering to your specific budget. Be aware that a day-of coordinator and a wedding planner/designer are two very different things, so make sure you know what kind of service you want.
While DIY weddings are a great way to save money, you also end up having to set-up and tear-down at the end of the night, plus field questions about where things should go throughout your wedding day. Planners allow you to enjoy your day without the hassle. They exist to help you find ways to curb costs, locate vendors, and formulate the perfect design and execution.
From Haley & Migui, With Love
From Haley & Migui, With Love
Our Unsolicited Advice
Our Unsolicited Advice
The dress is beautiful, but it has to touch the ground. All wedding dresses get filthy on the bottom, it's okay, it's fun even.
A few stray notes on:
You will probably be asked if you want to serve "vendor meals" and in all likelihood, you will assume this is a hot meal for your team. Many times, a vendor meal is a cold sandwich or a handful of wilted lettuce on a plate. Make sure your caterer and venue know exactly how you want all your vendors to be treated—we want to eat when you eat so we can get right back to bird-dogging you.
Travel & Lodging
Good Moon Collective decided a long time ago to never charge any travel fees, though we do require two nights of lodging in our contract. This is to ensure we have a nearby place to prepare for your wedding, as well as a safe place to back-up your photos and send you sneak previews right away.
The industry standard for gratuity (for photographers, but also all vendors) is 20-25%. To clarify, all tips directly support your photographer, while the base cost of your package gets split into percentages. These go partially toward your photographer, and partially toward paying expenses such as gear rentals, software subscriptions, post-production, insurance, and so on.
Alright, so here's the thing.
This is the only party you are ever going to throw in your entire life with every single person you love in attendance, celebrating the two of you. This is your chance to do WHATEVER you want. You can screw all the traditions and trailblaze your own. If you wanna smash a piñata and rain candy on your guests, do it. If you want a tattoo artist to set up at your reception, do it. If you want to pass your rings around to everyone at your ceremony, do it. If you wanna get married in the bar where you met, do it. Wanna run away and elope? BYEEE!! Do it. We shoved our last names together and played beer pong on our dance floor and crowd surfed to My Chemical Romance at our own wedding, just because we wanted to. Take elements from the things you love and include them. CELEBRATE EVERYTHING. Have the best day of your life. This is your carte blanche. Run wild, dream big, get as creative or simple as you want. We promise you can't take the juice out of anything or make any wrong decisions.