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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sneak peeks | marissa + brooks' sage green and navy musket ridge wedding

Marissa and Brooks’ wedding day was so effortlessly elegant, colorful and classic all at the same time… these two are just so photogenic, so in love and so sweet in the way they care for each other and their close friends and family.

Having both attended Stevenson University, their wedding party was so much fun and full of energy! Celebrating years of friendships, siblings, a love of baseball (and hot dogs) and ALL the good weather we could have asked for at Musket Ridge Golf Club just outside Frederick, I don’t think I’m alone when I say I didn’t want the day to end… don’t miss the final shot of the night, showing off their late night snack choice at the end of this post!

If you haven’t already, you need to see how Marissa’s love of bright colors, dogs and golden sunlight started at their engagement session (where her ring nestled among sage green leaves just happens to be a perfect connection to the bridesmaids dress color from their wedding day that I had no idea about months earlier…) LOVE when the little details all relate and form one cohesive aesthetic like that! Kinda like we always planned it… ;)

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I love the color scheme Marissa chose: Show Me Your Mumu dresses in sage green with bright pops of pink, coral and orange bouquets surrounded by eucalyptus leaves and greenery. Simple, elegant, vibrant and modern!

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Brooks plays, coaches, lives and breathes all things baseball, so baseball themed groomsmen gifts were obviously going to be part of their day. These personalized baseball bat mugs (from Lumberlend Co. ) with each groomsmen’s name and role at the wedding were so fun to see being used while they got ready!

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Love when brides embrace comfort and wear Kate Spade Keds in white glitter as their all-day wedding shoes! Perfect for a golf club wedding and outdoor ceremony with lots of steps down to the aisle! :)

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Marissa, you are A VISION! Is it just me or does this bridal portrait look like something out of a magazine?

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I loved this series of dances with Marissa and all of the important men in her life!

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Their reception was filled with so much energy among their favorite people! Catoctin Hall at Musket Ridge created such a picturesque backdrop filled with natural light, a gorgeous fireplace behind their sweetheart table and once the sun went down, glow sticks and a hot dog bar (!) to end the night. This fun-loving couple threw quite an epic party!!

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I hope you’re enjoying the bright and beautiful water views and soaking up the sun on your honeymoon - you deserve all the happiness in the world! Enjoy your new Mr. + Mrs. status, lovebirds!! #itsmillertime ;)

vendor team:

venue: Musket Ridge Golf Club
photography: Urban Row Photography
videography: Lee Russell Films
florals: Blossom and Basket Boutique
DJ: Wizer Productions
officiant: Wade Keenan
hair: Heather Rea Style Studio
makeup: Lenne Parr
dress: Stella York
boutique: Posh Bridal
shoes: Kate Spade Keds
bridesmaid dresses: Show Me Your Mumu
groomsmen attire: Capital Custom Clothiers
groomsmen gifts: Lumberlend Co.
personalized canvas ‘guestbook’: Miss Design Berry
donuts: Sweet & Savory Bake Shop
transportation: On the Town Limousines
invitations: Minted Weddings

sneak peeks | julie + joe's burgundy and rose gold main street ballroom wedding

“Everything with Joe just felt right from the very first day.” …shouldn’t all love stories start like this?!

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Being from the same hometown, growing up in the same church, attending rival high schools and having countless mutual connections in their small community in Carroll County, Julie + Joe were truly meant to find each other!

Their wedding day at Main Street Ballroom in Ellicott City was full of overwhelming emotion, radiant joy and the most beautiful rose gold details that complimented the industrial metals and stone foundation walls that make up this historic venue!! Julie was an incredible bride, glowing from the inside out and the way Joe looked at his beautiful bride made my heart explode! I couldn’t get enough of Julie’s gorgeous red hair swept up in her mom’s veil and alllllll the flowing soft tulle netting on her WToo by Watters wedding gown. Speaking of dresses, the mix-n-match styles of the girls’ colored floor length Birdy Grey bridesmaid dresses in pinot noir, had me swooning from the second I saw them!

For now, enjoy these sneak peeks and know much more is to come!

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Aren’t those scarves the perfect touch of subtle pattern and softness for a winter wedding?!

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Pure JOY.

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Hard to pick one, but the off the shoulder ruffled top of the Jane convertible Birdy Grey dresses might be my favorite!

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cheers, newlyweds!
xo,
Naomi


huge thanks to this rockstar team!

planning: Sara Reynolds Events
venue: Main Street Ballroom
rentals: Something Vintage Rentals
DJ: One Rock Studio
caterer: Eleven Courses
flowers: Blossom and Basket Boutique
beauty: In Style Salon
officiant: Rev. Kirsten Blom-Westbrook
dress: WToo by Watters
boutique: Betsy Robinson's Bridal Collection
bridesmaid dresses: Birdy Grey in Pinot Noir
ring: Smyth Jewelers
shoes: Betsey Johnson
tux: Generation Tux
videography: Clay Estes Productions
cake: Santoni's Marketplace & Catering
donuts: Maple Donuts
transportation: Lasting Impressions: Maryland & Pennsylvania Limo Services


devan + bryce | october wedding at the jefferson hotel and havana 59 | richmond

Is next week really Halloween already?! BRB I need to buy a bag of chocolate… it keeps me up at night to think about getting stuck handing out smarties because all the good stuff is sold out but this always ends up at the bottom of my to-do list EVERY YEAR! Anyone else share the same nightmare? ;)

Before this month passes us by, I have another confession… I recently discovered one of my favorite October weddings from last year got stuck in the black hole of updating and redoing my entire website and NEVER. GOT. SHARED…!?

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The most elegant and classic jewel toned color scheme carried through the entire day. Guests received a save the date with foxes dancing and Devan and her brother and sister (one of our 2016 brides!) spent the morning relaxing in adorable navy personalized pajamas. The bride wore a Hayley Paige wedding dress with 2 different sparkly shoes (JCrew flats and Badgley Mischka heels!) and the groom wore a navy suit with the most dapper gray wool vest holding his maroon tie in place.

My favorite portion of the day was when we spent time at 3 different iconic Richmond portrait locations together with Devan, Bryce and their bridal party. The skies were a perfect cloud-filled yet bright blue and the leaves were crunching underfoot… and these two beautiful people were radiating so much joy and love the entire time!

Fun masks were ready for guests to wear at the reception since it was 3 days before Halloween… obviously and the open air reception space was full of string lights, crumbling plaster and palms overlooking the Shockoe Bottom Downtown District.

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So much to love that I’m going to stop talking and just share this incredible Richmond, VA wedding day with you! I was so excited to have it featured on Hill City Bride to show off all of the planning and design that Devan did herself; not to mention, she and Bryce set aside 3 hours of portrait time for us to travel throughout the city of Richmond to iconic locations that were meaningful to them. We started at Monument Avenue, then headed to Brown’s Island Walkway and ended atop Libby Hill Park. I had never been to any of these places before and we managed to capture some of my absolute favorite portraits ever… some soft and romantic, some bold and edgy, all memorable and super sweet.

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Their church, Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, gave me chills to capture; the sheer size, scale and light / shadow play that occurred during their ceremony was so beautiful. It reminded me of the churches I visited while studying abroad in Italy…

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Get ready to be transported to the most unique and fun wedding venue in downtown Richmond… Havana 59, you have my heart. Although next time we’re back, here’s hoping the construction is complete so we can take epic portraits under that neon marquee sign! The construction fencing below it was strategically composed out of most of our shots… ha. ;)

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We had so much fun being a part of your memorable day and can’t thank you enough for showing us how incredible Richmond is as a city and a place to fall in love! Cheers to you and your entire family!

xo,
Naomi

venue: Havana 59
ceremony: Cathedral of the Sacred Heart
florist: The Proper Petal
DJ: DJ’s for Lovers
wedding dress: Blush by Hayley Paige
boutique: Annalise Bridal
bridesmaid dresses: Dessy
jewelry: Lindsay Marie Design
ring box: The Mrs. Box
groomsmen attire: The Black Tux
ties: The Tie Bar
hair and makeup: Avenue 42 Salon
desserts: Georgetown Cupcake and Pearl’s Cupcake Shoppe
invitations: Hello Tenfold
transportation: James River Limousine