Over the years, I have photographed countless weddings…some have been very rushed stress filled days for the bride (those poor girls!) and some have been much more calm and relaxed…the latter always results in a happier much more smiley bride that can actually enjoy their day (YAY!) and a happy bride is always better for pictures too! Double YAY!
So what’s the difference?
How can YOU be the Happy Bride??
GET SOME SLEEP
I know your going to be too excited and also going literally insane buttoning up any last minute details, but do what you can to get some rest the night before your BIG day. Not only will your body and mind NEED this to function properly, but you will even look more amazing if you are rested. Set yourself a bedtime and drink some tea (try something caffeine free) and listen to some relaxing music until you drift off so you can wake up feeling refreshed.
HAVE A PLAN
Don’t just spend your months planning out how your wedding is going to be styled, and pouring over all of the fabulous things that go into your guest experience (hello Pinterest addiction!)….be sure to have a plan for you and your wedding party peeps too. This may seem obvious, but I’ve seen this part of the day forgotten and thrown together at the last minute leaving people scrambling and ultimately looking to you for the answers….which will result in major stress YUCK! We’ve already established that less stress equals a happier bride so make sure you have a plan so the following things don’t sneak up on you and make you crazy:
- Transportation for the Wedding Party for the Entire Day: how will they get to the salon, the church, the wedding, photo locations, the reception…and most importantly how will they leave the reception…make sure they have a safe way to get back home after such a fun day of celebrating….let’s just assume most people won’t be ok to drive…you’ll thank me later
- FOOD: Don’t let your crew starve…its a busy day so its easy to forget to eat a little something here and there, but low blood sugar + stress is not the way to stay calm on your wedding day. Be sure YOU and your wedding party have something healthy for breakfast and LUNCH (maybe even a little something for your wedding professionals too if you want to be extra fabulous!) Trust me it can be a long stretch until they eat at the reception. Don’t forget to pack extra water to stay hydrated too!
- Pack an Emergency Kit: I shouldn’t even need to explain this one…but make sure you have all the essentials in case of a first aid emergency as well as beauty and fashion emergencies. Most likely you will be able to get away with not having to use it, but if you do these items will be invaluable!
- Teach Them the Skills They Need: Teach your bridesmaids in advance how to lace up your gown & bustle your dress. I’ve seen this go terribly wrong and cause the bride to stand there for 30+ minutes while everyone crowds around her confused and she is unable to help because she is wearing the dress. Ugh! Plan ahead…teach a few girls…have them practice in front of you, but make it fun so you don’t seem like a control freak or create a useful little tutorial video on your iphone or ipad to bring with you on the wedding day. Even when the sweet ladies at the bridal shop has shown all of your girls when you picked up your dress, they WILL most likely forget…so help ‘em out a little.
- Stay Organized: Keep your wedding planning in one place with this fabulous Wedding Organizer so on your wedding day you will know where everything is located and you can give the folder to whoever needs the information…plus its pretty and I’m a sucker for cute office supplies!
- Give the Guys Their Timeline in Writing: I always think its a good idea to make sure the guys aren’t just told a million times where to be and when…somehow this get lost in translation. Make them a folder or send it in a text so he can refer to it when his mind is turning to mush…wedding days always mess with the memory.
CREATE A CRAZY-PROOF WEDDING DAY TIMELINE
If I could tell every bride one thing, it would be to create a timeline for you day and PAD it with extra time to allow for things to run a little late. I have yet to see very many brides leave the salon at the time they thought they would or get into their dress in the 15 minutes that they thought it would take. Do yourself a favor and allow 15-20% more time for each part of your day than you think you will need. Trust me on this one, if you remember to allow for extra time then you will end up being perfectly calm and not overly rushed and more importantly you will LOVE your day and all of the people who are helping you to make it happen. The uber-talented Rhi at Hey Gorgeous Events has a fabulous sample timeline here that I highly recommend….print it out and use it as a starting point to customize one for your day…easy peasy.
DIVIDE UP YOUR PICTURE TIME
I’m a firm believer in having LOTS of pictures…but of course I may be biased. In a perfect world, you should allow for around 1.5-2 hours for pictures so you can squeeze in all of your family, the wedding party and the creative shots of you and your new husband (plus a little time to pad things in case you are running behind)…but realistically trying to do all of this in one big chunk is not fun and it actually can add to your stress. I prefer to divide this up throughout the day so you have time to breathe in between. It also helps to give you an excuse to sneak out again during your reception just as the sun is setting….by this time of day you’ll want to sneak away and chat about the fact that “YOU JUST GOT MARRIED!!!” and sunset is also my favorite light for pictures…its beautiful, golden, and romantic. Win Win.
Each person that you have selected to be in your wedding party should have a responsibility or role to play in the greater good of your wedding. This group of your closest most trusted friends and family are not only there to look amazing in photos and help bustle your gown…they are there to support you, so don’t be afraid to use them to get things done. With that being said, its poor form to assume that your crew will automatically know what you will need or want so spell it out for them in advance to avoid confusion. Perhaps you can spell out everyone’s duties when you ask them to be in the wedding…like in this adorable DIY project from The Wedding Chicks !!! So cute! I have witnessed some very fabulous brides that LOVE to plan everything, fall apart simply because they didn’t know how to divide up the tasks at hand. Don’t try to do it all yourself…trust that it will get done by the fabulous people that you adore and sit back and focus on being in the moment…after all, YOU are the BRIDE! EEEEK!
HIRE A WEDDING COORDINATOR
In my experience, hiring a wedding coordinator should be a MUST for every wedding. I could list endless reasons why I LOVE them (in fact I will be writing a post ALL about it soon!) but my most favorite reason is that they make everything run as smooth as silk. If you REALLY want the least amount of stress then check out some of the fabulous ladies below who will help to make your vision for your wedding happen…plus they’ll add a little more fabulousness to everything to make sure its unforgettable! Trust me, its worth every penny!
Hey Gorgeous Events
HeyDey Event Lab
Two Foot Creative
Consider Having a Master/Mistress of Ceremony
Everyone should have someone in charge of coordinating the day and all of its activities for the bride & groom…this is not a wedding coordinator, but they do help fill that role sometimes. The most important thing is that they are simply a GO-TO person for everything that is happening on your day so no one has to come to you or your mother or wedding party with questions and problems unless completely necessary. They make things happen behind the scenes. This role of honor should only be given to someone who is great at being very structured and firm with people while still remaining sweet as pie under stress. Your bridesmaids will thank you too because now they can focus on YOU and helping you to enjoy one of the best days of your life.
Let it Go
Trust me, you can’t predict how everything is going to go on your wedding day, even if you plan for everything….this is the nature of LIFE (: We can, however, control how we react to the drama, stress, craziness or whatever come our way. Let’s just be realistic and say that things won’t go as planned and somehow you are told all the dirty details while you are trying to be in the moment and enjoy your day…what do you do??!!!
Simply LET IT GO….
CLOSE YOUR EYES
COUNT TO 10, 100, 1000
DO DOWNWARD DOG RIGHT THERE IN YOUR WEDDING DRESS…(FYI: if this happens you KNOW I’ll be taking pics!)
…anything you need to do to remind yourself that you don’t have to try to make everything perfect…your wedding will be beautiful regardless of any little mishaps. After all, when all is said and done, you are marrying the person of your dreams and nothing is more perfectly wonderful than that….well except maybe the honeymoon *wink wink*