12 Tips for a Stress-Free Wedding Day
Your wedding day doesn't have to be stressful!
Having experienced the entire process of getting engaged, planning a wedding, and actually having a wedding - we know what it is like, and some of the ways you can help save yourself some stress on the big day. Not to mention, as wedding photographers, we've been exposed to a lot of different types of weddings - and get to really experience these huge milestone days from behind-the-scenes in a very significant way.
From this wealth of experience, we have put together a list of tips that make for a stress-free wedding day. These tips don't all pertain to photography, as this is only one aspect of your day (but a very important one none-the-less), and isn't exhaustive by any means. Still, you may find it useful to get our insight into what can make or break a wedding day for you.
Leading up to our own wedding in September 2016, one of our goals was to not feel bogged down and forced to do anything.
The goal was instead to be able to enjoy our day as much as possible, and be able to lock away memories of it in our minds forever.
Our Tips for a Stress-Free Wedding Day
- Plan ahead. The most obvious, and maybe most crucial, way to help eliminate stress on your wedding day is to plan it out in advance. There is no doubt in our mind that some people just don't care for planning, or like to wait until the last minute, and for some things this may be okay - but in general - your wedding day should be something you spend time planning ahead of time, especially if you have specific things in mind.
- Make a wedding day budget. One of the toughest parts of the wedding day is just how expensive they can be. Fortunately for many, weddings are one of those big events where friends & family will be chipping in to help cover costs. The first big step is determining how much money you will have to spend on your big day.
- Expose yourself to the expected costs. This goes hand-in-hand with making a wedding day budget. During our year long engagement, we were not really sure of the actual costs involved in hiring a band, a photographer, a venue, food, lodging for family, decor, the wedding dress + suits, invitations, etc. While in retrospect, everything we had was reasonably priced when looking at the quality and value, at the time, everything seemed very expensive to us (people who usually like to keep purchase prices low on just about everything!). When we discovered it is totally normal to drop a couple thousand dollars each on a band, photographer, food, and a venue - you can imagine our surprise when the price added up quickly.
- Book the most important vendors for your day first. When we were planning our wedding, the most important vendors for us (in order of most importance) were: the venue, the photographer, the band/DJ...We would imagine this would be the same for most people as well. After all, locking in the place (and date) you are having your wedding is critical. It's even more important to get a jump start if you are having a ceremony/reception at different locations given that one date might work for one, but not the other. For photography, this is important because it allows you to have this big day full of memories captured! And for us, the band we got worked out quite nicely because we enjoy the sound of live music, and it really helped to keep our dance floor hopping throughout the evening.
- Be forward with your vendors if there is something you need or would like to be considered before your big day. The best wedding vendors will make themselves available to chat with you to make the wedding day go smoothly - before the actual wedding day. Anything you consider to be important should be discussed beforehand as much as possible. This helps to let the vendor know what you are needing, and allows them time to let you know what is possible. With wedding photography, a good example of this would be showing an example shot that you'd like to try and replicate on the wedding day.
- Have an engagement photo session to help get used to being in front of the camera, and how your photographer works. One of the reasons we love having engagement sessions is because it allows us to get to know our couples more, see how they interact with each other, and show them how we work together + with them. For many people, being in front of a camera isn't their favorite thing in the world, and can even cause some anxiety. This is understandable. Carrying this anxiety into your wedding day is the last thing you want to do, so getting to work with your photographer beforehand in a less stressful environment is the way to go when possible!
- Have the final say over the things that matter to you. Some of the worst wedding stories we have heard come from people who had too little say in the details. This often comes in the form of parents or other family members getting too involved and making decisions, even really significant ones, for you. If you are unhappy with a venue you had no say in choosing, for example, it is worth speaking up and trying to find a better location that better suits your aesthetic interests. Of course, some compromise may be necessary depending on things such as your budget, but having no input over things is an easy way to breed stress - because being unhappy is stressful!
- Only invite the people you want at your wedding. This one is tough sometimes, especially with the pressures that can come from some friends and family to invite certain people you wouldn't care to have at your wedding. While not always easy, one way of reducing wedding day stress is not inviting those people who often times make get togethers and other events stressful.
- Have your wedding at one location OR provide enough time to get from one location to the next without a significant rush. The smoothest wedding days are those contained in one location. This comes from our experience - both in getting married ourselves at one location (ceremony/reception at The Pump House), and in photographing many weddings. Anytime we have to get in a car and drive 10, 20, 30+ minutes between getting ready, ceremony, and reception locations, we generally accept that the timeline will, more than likely, get thrown off. Of course, this isn't always possible, especially if you are aiming to have a more traditional wedding with the ceremony at a church and reception at a different venue. In these cases, leaving yourself time to get from one location to the next comfortably is critically important to reducing your wedding day stress.
- Have a timeline. Wedding days are planned events, and the more detailed you are - the smoother things will likely go. We provide all of our couples with a timeline, and go back-and-forth to refine it so it works well for everyone. Obviously, not everything can be planned out, but it is important to have a sense of when certain things will be happening throughout the day.
- Accept that some things will probably go wrong. Even the best planned wedding will have something go wrong, so accept this early to spare yourself some stress on your big day. On our wedding day, this happened during our family formals. These were supposed to happen right after our ceremony, and ultimately did - but many family members wandered off and required us to track them down in a golf cart and bring them back. How Chris' grandfather managed to walk 1/2 mile so quickly is still beyond us.
- Make time to have fun at your wedding. Much of the wedding day can often feel stressful because of tight timelines and the schedule getting thrown off by something like hair/makeup taking longer than expected, or that one family member not sticking around for formals after the ceremony. These things happen - pretty much all the time for that matter. The key to having a memorable wedding is to make time for yourself. Be sure to have a little bit of time to enjoy your cocktail hour, and get some dancing in during the reception. When we work on timelines for our clients, we keep this in mind and aim to provide space for the couple to breath, while also getting the shots they need!
Having a stress-free wedding day might seem like a tough task for some, because wedding days are very significant and we all want them to go just right. In our experience, even the best planned wedding will have something go wrong, but it is usually these moments that help make the day more memorable and lighthearted.