11 Tips to Stay Stress-free on Your Wedding Day

I’ve been wanting to share tips for brides and photographers on my blog forever!! When my husband joined me in my photography business he helped take care of some of the administrative things in the office and help me streamline the way I edit which allowed me TONS more time to start pursuing some projects I have had my heart set on for a long time. One of those is sharing more wedding tips for brides AND photographers. Today I’m going to start with brides because I know a ton of them just started wedding planning after getting engaged. The holidays is a popular time to get engaged and my inbox has been flooded with inquiries lately so I know there have to be so many happy brides trying to plan a wedding and I want to try to spread any knowledge I’ve gained to help future brides out there. Here are some top tips to help you keep your day as stress free as possible:

1) Hire a wedding planner or coordinator for your wedding day. This comes from seeing all kinds of weddings and knowing the ones that go the smoothest are the ones that have someone completely in charge of executing your wedding day that is not YOU or your family members. This day is such an important day and you wouldn't want your mom or your sister out there making sure all your vendors are in place, setting decor on tables and trying to take care of every single detail missing out on all the sweet moments that day while the bride gets ready. Wedding planners and coordinators are going to work with you to have back up plans for various types of weather and situations and will think of things that would never cross your mind. It’s so helpful to have an expert in charge of executing your wedding day vs a family friend or family member that has only been to a handful of weddings.

2) Pad the timeline! Create a large loose timeline that gives room if some parts of the day go too long. I work with my couples to help create a timeline with the best flow for the day and I try to pad the timeline as much as I can. Having photographed closer to 200 weddings I have seen all kinds of situations happen from a brides dress breaking a hook to not being able to find shoes to the groom being stuck in traffic to all kinds of things! SO it’s best to create a timeline with a little extra wiggle room for those things that may not happen in the timeframe you think it will. One of those is creating time for the bride to get into her dress…it always takes way more time than you think it would. I would schedule 20 minutes for that on a wedding day. Some dresses are easy to put on and some take a little time. You want to have time to touch up your lipstick, put your earrings on, your shoes, your veil, etc. Times like this your family and friends may want to take a moment to hug you, cry with you and take this all in. Not a time to rush it at all! It’s a very special moment and it starts the day off so give yourself plenty of time to get ready.

3) Tell your wedding planner, coordinator and photographer/videographer all the little things you have planned for the day that you want documented or want to have a special time for that day. For example; a first look with a parent or sibling, first look with bridesmaids, reading a letter from your bride/groom, exchanging gifts with bride/groom, giving gifts to a parent/sibling/bridesmaid or groomsmen, a special event within the reception that is out of the norm. Especially anything happening before a first look or ceremony need to be noted to your photographer and videographer so they can make room for this in a timeline and won’t have to squeeze in all of this in a timeframe that wasn’t allotted for it. I have had things like this added on several times at weddings without it being in the timeline and it pushes everything back cutting into my bride and grooms portrait time. So it’s best to tell your wedding planner, photographer and videographer (or whoever is helping you create the timeline) and plan for these things before the big parts of your day get started. It’s better to be over prepared than under prepared.

4) Be sure to tell your hair and makeup vendors that you want to be finished with plenty of time before your schedule ‘getting into your dress begins.’ I have been at many weddings where we’re 20-30 minutes behind in a schedule because the hair and makeup person is still working on the bride. I always suggest starting hair and makeup 30 minutes before your hair and makeup vendors suggested time. I only note this because I’ve had brides want to change their hair and makeup up or decide they want something fixed and this just takes a little longer than anticipated. Many of my brides want to have a robe/pajama/shirt photo taken before they get into their dresses and it’s helpful to have everyone’s hair and makeup finished before this photo is taken (with time scheduled for this in the timeline) about 10-15 minutes before getting into your dress.

5) On the topic of hair and makeup…do a trial hair and makeup run before your wedding day. In the south many of my brides like to do a bridal session which is simply a session where you get your hair and makeup done just like you hope to have it for your wedding, get dressed in your wedding dress, get a bouquet and have a portrait session taken by your photographer a few weeks or a month or so before your wedding. Many brides who do this will print a photo from their bridal session and have it framed and displayed at their wedding. Whether or not you decide to do this kind of session it’s at least helpful to have your hair and makeup trial before your wedding so you know if you’ll like your makeup and hair like that or not. Have someone take photos of you with that hair and makeup and go home and try on your dress with it if you didn’t do a bridal session. I cannot tell you how many brides have changed it up from their bridal session. It’s incredibly helpful and won't leave you feeling disappointed later.

6) Don’t be afraid to ask for help! I know many brides don’t want to seem/feel bridezilla like and they are afraid to ask their bridesmaids or family for help and I want you to know it’s okay! Just ask nicely! They want to help you and be there for you. So ask for help when you need something.

7) Do a first look! I am going to do a big post about this in the future but I cannot express enough how much a first look can make your day a hundred times smoother, stress free and more joyful! It helps take away your nerves and when you get to see your bride or groom you feel so calm and happy! Not only does it help ease your nerves but you get to take ALL of your photos before the ceremony. Portraits take anywhere from 1.5 hours to 2 hours! Can you imagine trying to take all of those AFTER a wedding ceremony? That’s the thing that can make a couple feel more stressed on their wedding day realizing they have to make their guests wait an hour or so after the ceremony to take photos. I’m going to do a big post about this in the future but this is one of my top tips to helping make your day as stress free as possible.

8) Hire as top vendors as you’re able for your wedding. I understand budgets..believe me! I live on budgets, spreadsheets, run my business with a budget plan, budget for a birthday party for my children and am currently saving for their weddings one day. I’ve seen all my siblings get married and plan a budget within their budget and had a wedding myself. I get it! Here’s the thing….you get to make up the numbers within your budget and divide your budget to specific areas. When you hire top vendors you know that your wedding is going to be taken care of and go smoothly. I see brides hiring a new DJ or videographer or coordinator because it was less expensive only to be be slightly embarrassed when the DJ didn’t arrive with lights or great sound equipment, or the videographer is running all over the place not knowing what to do or the coordinator wasn’t prepared because they haven't experienced as many weddings and challenges. So within your budget know which parts are very very important to you and you want to spend a good portion of your budget on those parts going smoothly. If it means giving up custom cocktail napkins to have a wedding planner or coordinator that will make your day go smoothly then do that! If it means exchanging a less important part of your wedding to have the wedding photographer or videographer that you dream of then do that! You get to make up the number that is allowed for each vendor within your budget. I cannot tell you how many couples have said to me that they went with a cheaper photographer, vendor, etc and regretted it (especially photos…that’s the biggest one). I think it’s the thing I see online the most…so many brides disspoainted when they tried to go with a cheaper photographer and just being so sad about their photos. You just can’t re-do the day so hire the professional you have your heart set on if you’re able. Also, if you’ve been given a budget by a parent or someone like that helping you pay for your wedding and it doesn’t allow for all your dream vendors that doesn’t mean you can’t save your own money for a vendor of your dream! If you plan a year ahead and save $300 a month you can have $3600 extra for your wedding to go towards something you have your heart set on. That could be as simple as not getting Starbucks every day to save for your wedding. Whatever will help you feel more confident in your vendors will help you feel more stress free.

9) Focus on each other! You can have the most perfect timeline, hair, makeup, vendors, weather, venue, flowers, etc….but I cannot express to you enough how much better you will feel when you just embrace focusing on each other. More importantly than anything else is that you get to marry your best friend…the love of your life that day. That is what it’s all about. Don’t worry if the flowers look perfect or the cake is exactly like your Pinterest photo or did your photographer take all the photos of your Pinterest list….it doesn't matter! It only matters that that day you get to marry your best friend who you love more than anything. Soak it up! Take in every moment. Don’t worry or think about anything else except the person you are marrying. Thats the only important thing that day.

10) Set realistic expectations. Understand not everything may go perfectly and that’s okay! Sometimes the things that don’t go perfectly are kind of funny and make meaningful memories in the end. So your flower girl didn’t walk down the aisle but she cried and threw her basket down. Kind of funny! Makes for good memories. It’s all okay and gives your day a little more character. Understand making a huge giant list of photos that the internet told you YOU MUST HAVE is not that important and using another persons photo list doesn’t make it special to you. When you’ve hired a professional photographer who knows what they are doing they are going to take special photos to your wedding day as it happens naturally. Not trying to fake photos that you found on the internet from someone else’s wedding. I encourage you to make a family photo list and a few photos that are important to you and then let the rest happen naturally and surprise you how special your day was to you and the love of your life and only you guys. Your wedding may not look like others and may not look like the one your pinned on Pinterest but your wedding WILL look like YOUR wedding! That’s what is important.

11) MOST IMPORTANTLY - just don't sweat the small stuff. The MOST important thing is that you’re getting married to the love of your life. If you plan ahead for all situations, hire professionals, do a trial hair and makeup run, plan a solid timeline and have everyone in place you will be great! Things may still go wrong, run a little behind or not be to perfection but that’s okay! The important thing is that you are going to get married to the love of your life surrounded by all your friends and family. That is the most important thing…so celebrate that. Don’t worry about anything else that day because that is the only thing that is important.

I hope one or two of these tips can help ease your nerves or fears about your wedding. Just know it’s going to be beautiful and wonderful and special to you! I just wanted to share some of my biggest tips I’ve found being in the industry and documenting almost 200 weddings. Things I would want any bride to know when planning their wedding. I will be sharing tons more tips over the next year and I cannot wait!