5 tips for a stress-free wedding day

No matter how intimate or lowkey your wedding day plans are, if you’re planning a party and celebration with family/friends from many different seasons of your life, it has the potential to be a stressful, whirlwind experience.

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After photographing weddings for the last 7 years, I’ve seen the day organized in so many different ways to learn what works best and what adds stress. In order to ensure your photos and your experience on the big day is the best it can possibly be, I’m happy to share the knowledge I’ve gained for your benefit.

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Here are five tips to reduce stress on your wedding day (in no particular order)!

BONUS: if you hire experienced professionals, even the wedding planning process will go more smoothly with these tips for a stress free wedding day in mind!

  1. be strategic about your ceremony start time since it will determine the flow of the rest of the day

If you plan it well, you can have beautiful portraits of the two of you together while you’re relaxed and excited, not feeling rushed and your hair and makeup is still fresh by choosing to see each other before the ceremony and take advantage of all the benefits of a first look. Not only is it quiet, uninterrupted time for just the two of you, but then you can enjoy the entire cocktail hour since you’ve paid for it and deserve to enjoy a drink and apps with your guests! We’ll also be able to focus on alllll the candid photos of you two (and your guests) since the formal portraits have been taken care of: WIN-WIN!

Also, if all of your formal portraits are done before cocktail hour, we can spend quality time in your reception space capturing all of those details (florals, place-settings, cake, escort cards) that will be untouched by guests and their stuff before they find their seats.

For all of our winter couples, please keep this in mind! It’s almost impossible to get gorgeous naturally lit photos of you after the ceremony (if you don’t do a first look beforehand) unless your ceremony starts super early in the day - which means an earlier wake up call and start time for hair/makeup, since the sun sets so early.

2. TRUST your photographer and the creative eye that comes with their experience

…and talk through your vision of the day to help you determine the right kind and amount of photography coverage you need!

Do you need 2 photographers?
Generally speaking, if you and your partner are going to be getting ready at 2 completely different locations, you’ll want 2 photographers otherwise moments may be missed while we’re with your other half.

If you have a large bridal party and/or guest list (120+), you’ll want 2 photographers so we can divide and conquer groomsmen/bridesmaid group portraits and then be sure once the reception begins, that one of us is able to focus on candid shots of guests mingling, reacting to speeches/toasts, dancing, etc. while the other is focused on YOU as a couple and the details you’ve spent so long dreaming of and planning for.

Will 8 hours be enough?
9 hours of coverage is the sweet spot for most couples, especially if your wedding takes place in a city where traffic, road closures, races, festivals can/will happen without advanced notice as we travel from the ceremony to reception!

Do you have a special exit planned for the end of the night? …sparklers, a getaway vehicle, petal toss, beach balls, confetti/streamers, glow sticks are all fun options!

Do you have 2-3 locations that we’ll need to travel to throughout the day? ie: getting ready at a hotel/airBnB/your childhood home, a church/beach/park ceremony then a reception at a different venue?

3. The venue coordinator is NOT the same as an experienced and professional event designer / wedding planner

Hire a professional event planner/coordinator who has your vision and best interests in mind, not the venue’s (and let that close family friend enjoy the day as a guest, despite how much she may enjoy helping you plan and is great at wrangling people)!

If they’ve worked at your venue it’s a bonus, but definitely not necessary. What is necessary is professionalism, good communication skills, and a knowledge of local vendors within the industry that can execute your vision or come through in an emergency. If a planner/coordinator is involved, you may not even know that something happened until you learn about it while on your honeymoon ;) but can you imagine how stressful it will be for you or your family members to troubleshoot if your DJ / officiant / caterer doesn’t show up on time? what if a groomsmen’s pants don’t match the rest of the group and/or 1 set is missing? what if boutonnieres are left at the hotel 45 minutes away? what if there’s a sudden flood / snowstorm? what if the shuttle gets lost and isn’t there on time to transport you, your wedding party and/or all of your guests?

Having a planner on your side means it’s THEIR job to worry and solve any and all of the above circumstances!

4. As much as possible, limit how often people are moving from one venue/site to another

This affects logistics like the amount of time your photographer/videographer are contracted for, extra costs for shuttles/transportation, clear communication to your guests to ensure no one gets lost or arrives late. Couples that choose one site for everything to take place from start to finish are always less stressed and have more time and mental / physical energy to enjoy the day… not to mention, you’ll have more photos of all the moments since your photographers won’t be spending precious time traveling from one place to another either!

5. Do the damn photos… as in, take advantage of and enjoy the time you spend on your engagement photos

I know I’m biased, but I have to say, no one I’ve worked with has ever regretted taking engagement photos. You can read the 6 main reasons why I recommend them HERE, but the reason I mention it as a way to make your wedding day less stressful is because there are so many emotions, thoughts, logistics and personalities coming together that day - the last thing you want to worry about is how to relax and be comfortable in front of the camera. No one should meet the person documenting one of the biggest days of their lives (hopefully it’s me!) for the first time, on their wedding day. In fact, my favorite photos happen when we have a relationship that feels like I’m a friend of yours who happens to show up with a fancy camera. ;) Let all the awkwardness work itself out during your engagement photos, not on your #bestdayever.

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Regardless of the flowers, dessert and music, at the end of the day, you’re marrying your soulmate and that is all there is to it. The next day you’ll wake up with a whole new adventure in front of you whether it’s a honeymoon, a new house, a new last name, a new family or simply knowing you’ll always have someone to snuggle next to on the couch while you watch Dateline on Friday nights, because you know, #dontwatchalone. ;)

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GROOMS: 3 things to know before your wedding

Let’s be honest… as a groom, you have a lot less on your to-do list than the bride. That doesn’t mean you can’t master the things you do need to know and show up ready to go, ahead of schedule and with time to relax!

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Here are 3 things we know you usually don’t think about on the daily, so you may want to practice and wrap your head around them in advance, with plenty of time before your actual wedding day:


1. How to tie your bow tie (watch THIS video and practice in advance!)... or buy a pre-tied one. We won’t tell. Pro Tip: PLEASE don't just start watching YouTube videos the minute we show up!

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2. Similarly, how to pin your boutonniere on. Ask your florist for tips on attaching it and/or make sure someone who will be with you while you’re getting ready (either another groomsmen or your mom) has done it before and feels comfortable with that responsibility! The last thing we’d want is to spend time waiting for 10 guys to figure this out and have to help each other get theirs on before we can start taking photos. Your mom is always welcome to pin yours on if she is dressed and can be in the pictures, but help for all the other groomsmen is what we see often lacking and very much needed.  

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3. When the photographer is ready to take your getting ready photos, you should be 90% of the way dressed! No one wants photos of you in a t-shirt and boxers on your wedding day. ;)

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If you are getting ready in a hotel room and we are starting photos there, all the groomsmen should be fully dressed. As the groom, you should have your shirt and pants on with your tie, shoes, socks (the more fun, the better: colorful stripes? fave sports team? ode to MD?), cuff links, watch and any other meaningful items, in one spot for us to capture right before you put them on. Getting ready photos actually means photographing you as you get your jacket and shoes on, putting the final touches on your tie / cuff links and buttoning your jacket.

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If you are meeting us at another location to have your portraits taken (for example, at the spot where you’ll have your first look or even outside the church or venue), then we’ll just capture portraits of you 100% ready to go - adjusting your tie / cuff links and buttoning your jacket make for beautiful and classic getting ready shots.

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What NOT to have nearby…

Piles of clothes / bags / food / beverages strewn about. A little tidying up in the room (or corner of the room) that gets the most natural light will go a long way and make your photos that much better!

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If you’re able to quickly do all of these things, just think of what it really means: you can pour another glass of bourbon, scotch or grab a can of Natty Boh and relax with the guys. ;)

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BRIDES: 3 important details to have with you at your wedding

Over the years of capturing countless weddings, I’ve noticed 3 things that come up time and time again that are small on their own but can make a big difference in your photos, your physical comfort and even your mindset that day.

Brides, here are 3 important things to have with you on your wedding day that you may not have thought of… (ps - a blog post specifically for grooms is coming soon!)

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  1. A second pair of shoes to wear

    This allows you to have your fancy (high heeled!) shoes captured in detail photos and worn during the ceremony but then change into a more comfortable flat or wedge for portrait time and dancing…

    Speaking of shoes, if your ceremony is outside and you’ll be walking down a grassy aisle with you or your ‘maids wearing heels, make sure to get heel protectors so you don’t sink in the grass!

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Sparkly Badgley Mischkas or any of Kate Spade’s wedding shoes are always a classic way to go!

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2. A nice hanger or a thoughtful way to display your dress if it’s more than 1 piece

I always bring a solid white wood hanger with me for your dress in case you don't have one, but use this as a fun excuse for something your friends or family can gift you that will definitely be captured in detail photos!

I’m LOVING these simple, solid gold (or rose gold) hangers and in gun metal for the guys!

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3. Knowledge of how the bustle of your dress works

Pro tip: Take a video of it while at your last dress fitting so you have a reference when it comes time to bustle it after the ceremony; you won't want to be away from your guests for 20 minutes trying to figure it out and remember how it works - who wants to miss that precious time at cocktail hour?!

The best bustle I've ever seen was done so intuitively: the seamstress color coded the loops and buttons that were supposed to be matched and connected together so it only took 3 seconds to do. Why aren’t they all done like that?!

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And what NOT to have with you…

  • a hair band / FitBit / AppleWatch on you or your bridesmaids wrists. This dark black line/square distracts from the beauty of your photos and time/steps are not what you should be worrying about on that day! (…this also applies during your engagement photos and maybe even more so, then)

  • Your phone. It goes without saying (I hope), but this is the one day EVERYONE else will document for you... and instead of a device, you should be present and either hold your spouse's hand, a drink or your bouquet. ;)

Hope this helps ensure your best day ever is that much more comfortable, beautiful and easy to manage in the final weeks leading up to the big day!