Shooting weddings for the past 3 years has been an incredible adventure. I get to spend time with people in the happiest moments of their lives and it’s pretty darn rewarding! My friends are always saying “I bet you have SO many ideas for your own, from all the weddings you have seen!” And it’s true! But not in the way everyone thinks. It’s not so much the decor and flowers I am looking at…but more the flow of the day. The little things that make things go amazingly and even the occasional things that cause stress. These are the things I store away in my brain for the day I say “I do”. But rather than keep them to myself, I thought I would share them with future brides everywhere. Some may seem super simple, others might not work for you….but from my experience in the wedding industry thus far, these are 5 ways to help create a stress-less wedding day!
1) Do a First Look
Don’t even get me started on the 654,821 reasons that first looks are AMAZING. Seriously. I’m so passionate about it that I am going to be doing a series of 5 blog posts, this summer, about all the reasons that seeing each other before the ceremony will completely rock your wedding day. But purely from an anti-stress point of view…first looks hit a home run every time. This is the best way to get the extra time needed to create the type of photos that made you fall in love with your photographer to begin with. Trying to fit all of your portraits in between the ceremony and reception time, leaves no room for anything to go wrong or run late. Just ask my bride from last year, who ended up having a rainy wedding day. We were able to finish all of the bride and groom portraits and bridal party photos, prior to the downpour that started right before the ceremony. The relentless rain the followed, made it impossible for us to take anymore portraits outside, without umbrellas. Without the first look, the romantic portraits we captured of her and her new hubby, out in the cloudy and dreamy setting….wouldn’t exist. When it began to pour, I walked into the bridal suite….expecting a very upset and distraught bride. But to my surprise, she was sitting on the couch, calmly waiting to walk down the aisle. She looked right at me and said “I am SO glad we are already done with photos”.
2) Hire a Coordinator
The bride’s only jobs on her wedding day should be to get married and enjoy herself. It bothers me when I see vendors, family, and members of the bridal party bothering her with small and tedious details of the day. A wedding day coordinator is a fabulous investment (and HUGE stress reliever), if you want to be able to fully soak in your day and not be bothered with timelines and last minute duties. There is so much value in having someone who knows all of your hopes and desires for the day, who can make sure things stay on time and take care of any last minute problems that arise. You only have a limited number of hours to soak in this magical day….you don’t want to waste a minute of it, worrying about getting a check to a vendor or tracking down the lost cake cutter!
3) Tell Everyone That Everything Starts Sooner Than it Really Does (And force YOURSELF to believe it!)
When I discuss the timeline with couples, I always advise them to tell their bridal party and family to be ready an hour before the time that we determined they actually need to be. This leaves a cushion for things to run late (which they will!).
I can count on one hand, the number of times I have seen a wedding start within 10 minutes of the scheduled time. This usually isn’t even the bride or groom’s fault. The thing is, you don’t want to start your ceremony with half of your guests missing and counting on 150 people to be on time is pretty risky business. Because of this, I’ve even started advising my brides to put the ceremony time on their invitation as 30 minutes earlier than they would really like it to start. This is especially important if sunlight is detrimental to your ceremony or the portraits to follow!
4) Keep Your Bridal Party Small
I used to think that I wanted a HUGE bridal party….like at least 10 bridesmaids….easy. But being a wedding photographer and experiencing both large and small bridal parties has opened my eyes to how awesome just 2-3 bridesmaids can be. This isn’t saying that every wedding I’ve photographed that has had a large bridal party, was stressful. I’ve seen weddings with 20 bridal party members, flow effortlessly. But as the odds go…the more people you add into the mix, the longer photos will take and the more likely it is that someone won’t be on time. I know this isn’t always an option, for couples who have lots of siblings and close friends. But to those brides who are on the fence about this…don’t underestimate the awesomeness of just having those who are the very closest to you, standing by your side at the altar.
5) Pick a Venue with the Ceremony and Reception at the Same Location
I’m not saying to forgo the venue of your dreams, because of this. But if you have the chance to get ready, have your ceremony, and have your reception all at the same place…do it! When all 3 take place at the same location, no valuable portrait or visiting time is wasted on driving. Also, it allows the photographer to photograph all of the portraits and details at the same place, which means for stylistically seamless images, which will flow amazingly in your wedding album! Not to mention, this also prevents any chance of flat tires, fender benders, traffic, and leaving things behind!