- Minimize Travel
The #1 way to minimize stress on your wedding day is to limit your travel between locations. Nothing will throw a wedding day schedule off like unexpected travel delays, traffic, bad GPS directions, or late Uber drivers.
Personally, I suggest trying to have your entire wedding day in one location – Getting Ready, Ceremony, Photographs, Cocktails, and Reception.
If you can’t have everything in one location, then choose locations that are relatively close to each other. The 3 key locations being Getting Ready, Ceremony, and Reception.
If you do end up having to travel between locations, make sure you hire a professional driver. They are experienced with weddings and know how to plan for the unexpected.
2. Getting Ready
Getting Ready is a great time for brides and grooms to relax, sip a cocktail, and enjoy being with your best friends. But, if you aren’t careful, you can run into some delays that can get you behind schedule real quick.
Hair and Make-Up
Ladies, make sure you do a trial with your hair and makeup artist before wedding day. This will reduce the chance of any errors or mistakes that could throw your schedule off. I also recommend that you have your hair and makeup done at your Getting Ready location. Remember the tip about minimizing travel? That applies for your Getting Ready as well.
If you do want to travel to a salon for your hair, then make sure you allow plenty of time for your travel and for the chance that the salon could run a little late. Salons will have their regular customers in that day along with you and your bridesmaids so your chances of a delay are increased with the amount of customers that they are serving that day.
Plus, if you have your hair and make-up done at your getting ready location, there’s more time for cocktails 🙂 Just don’t over do it 😉
What do I mean by add-ons? I’m talking about all the extras that brides or moms or bridesmaids may ask for after they’re out of the make-up chair.
You know … the lash extensions, or the touch-ups, or the eyebrow tweaks, or even the occasional ‘do overs’ – believe me it happens! I’m not saying you can’t do any extras when it comes to make-up, but these add-ons are usually unplanned and they can cause significant delays in you getting out the door and getting to your first look and ceremony on time.
Plus, I typically like to do a quick portrait of the bride with your bridal party out of the room so you aren’t distracted. So, if your hair and make-up runs late then we may have to nix the portrait altogether.
So, in summary, plan your hair and make-up very carefully. Get a solid time estimate from your hair and make-up vendor and then add in about 30min to an hour of extra time just in case. The worst that can happen is that you have some time to kill – that’s better than rushing 🙂
For the guys .. well, the guys are easy. Seems like guys take about 7 minutes to get ready. LOL. Two things to watch out for fellas that could put you a little behind schedule …
Make sure you pack your tie!
I’ve had groomsmen forget their ties and other wardrobe accessories. Needless to say this can cause some unwanted stress and panic right before your ceremony. So, encourage your groomsmen to make a list of all the wardrobe accessories they need and have them check it and double check it to make sure they have everything.
Handkerchiefs, Bow-ties, and Boutonnieres
LOL. I’m cracking up just thinking about it. This happens pretty much at every single wedding I photograph – NO ONE knows how to fold a handkerchief or tie a bowtie (or a half-windsor for that matter) or how to pin a boutonniere!
Do yourselves a favor, watch some YouTube videos on how to do these before your wedding day. It will save you a bunch of stress and panic.
I would also suggest handing this responsibility to one of your groomsmen so at least ONE person knows how to do these things. Especially, boutonniere pinning! Make one of your buddies the ‘boutonniere guy’. Buy him a nice bottle of scotch or something as a thank you. You’ll be glad you did.
Speaking of boutonnieres. I’ve seen the flower head pop off boutonnieres more than once in my career. So, ask your florist to make one extra (I know some florists who include a spare). Better safe than sorry!
3. First Look
Second only to minimizing travel, First Looks are the best way to reduce stress and allow yourself to spend more time with friends and family on your wedding day.
First Looks are great because you can get your bride and groom portraits, your bridal party photos, and your family photos done in one place at one time. All before the ceremony!
With a First Look schedule, you avoid doing all your photographs in that short window after your ceremony and before your reception and you don’t have to miss your cocktail hour to take photos.
That’s a win for everyone!
4. Family Photos
Family photos are one of the larger time commitments on your wedding day. And if you are not careful, they can get out of control fast!
Some people will arrive late, some will wander off, some will miss them altogether, and some folks will make on-the-spot suggestions for additional photos which can cause delays and throw your schedule off.
In order to have your family photos completed in a timely fashion, we recommend including immediate family only.
And don’t worry, we will work with you to create a list of all your family you want included and have copies for wedding day.
5. Cocktail Hour
These days, Wedding Cocktail Hour has really become Photo Hour. If couples don’t do a First Look and have their photographs done prior to their ceremony, they end up missing their entire cocktail hour because they are taking bride and groom photos, bridal party photos, and family photos.
And there’s nothing wrong with that. I’ve done plenty of weddings where this is the case.
The problem comes when you make it a priority during your planning to spend time with your guests and then end up creating a wedding day schedule that has you miss out on the very time when all your guests are present – Cocktail Hour!
Make sure you set your priorities during your planning and stick to those priorities. If you don’t, you may have regrets.
6. Receiving Lines
I feel like Receiving Lines are a thing of the past, but then again they do pop up from time to time at weddings.
For those that aren’t familiar – a receiving line is when the bride and groom and their parents form a line outside of the ceremony and greet all the guests as they exit the ceremony. Some lines also include the honor attendants, the entire wedding party (if there’s room) or even grandparents. Depends on the wedding.
The idea behind the receiving line is that it’s your chance can greet all your guests and say ‘thank you’ for attending.
Receiving Lines can be loooong! Like 20 minutes long. Of course it depends on your number of guests. They can be a bit uncomfortable too because you are the mercy of the space available to you at your ceremony.
My personal opinion is that it’s a better use of your time to greet all your guests at your reception during your table visits.
7. Alone Time
I recommend that couples plan a little ‘alone time’ on their wedding day. I think it helps to have a little break away from everyone so you can catch your breath and recharge a little.
The best time to sneak away is right after your ceremony or during your reception.
After your ceremony
After you recess the aisle and make your way out of the ceremony, just head straight for a designated space for a little alone time. This could on the grounds of your venue if you’re having your ceremony there or the other side of the church grounds away from your guests.
During your reception
While everyone is getting down on the dance floor, you can make a quick getaway out of the reception to a secluded spot on the venue grounds or, if the weather isn’t cooperating, you could find a quiet spot inside your venue to escape to.
Alone time also makes for some amazing photographs!
8. Day of Coordinator
If your venue doesn’t have a Coordinator, I strongly recommend hiring one.
I photograph a lot of weddings at ‘non-traditional’ venues – barns, state parks, private homes, historic mansions, etc. These types of venues don’t have event staff so it becomes your responsibility to make sure your guests get to where they need to be and your wedding goes according to plan.
Do yourself a favor and hire a Day-of Coordinator to handle all the logistics for you because you DO NOT want to be herding cats on your wedding day.
You want to enjoy your wedding, not have to work it!
9. Documentary Photographer
How can you enjoy spending time with your friends and family on your wedding day if you are stuck taking photos for hours!?
The beauty of working with a documentary style photographer is that you get to be fully present with your friends and family on your wedding day while your photographer captures all the moments as they unfold.
You won’t have to stress about striking the perfect pose, your face won’t go numb from smiling a cheesy grin, you won’t’ have to cajole your fiance to smile at the camera.
You just have to relax and enjoy your day and let me, eh hem, your photographer take care of the photographs.