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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