Your wedding day. IT’S THE BIGGEST, BEST DAY OF YOUR LIFE, right?
Ok, I’m gonna break a rule here that might get me fired from the wedding community at large. I’m gonna tell the truth:
No, your wedding day is not the biggest, best day of your life.
It’s a great day. It’s a big day. It’s a fun day. But you’re going to have a lot more great, big, fun days. And most of them will be less scheduled, less hectic, less expensive, and generally more relaxed.
So, all that said, let’s talk about wedding day stress. Stress is the biggest obstacle to getting great photos, because it keeps people from being happy. I’m not a therapist, but I have shot a lot of weddings, and here are my top tips for reducing wedding day stress:
1. Turn the day into a week.
I think some of the stress of weddings comes from trying to do everything at once: set-up, last-minute plans and contacts, visiting with far-flung guests, making sure you look perfect, more set-up, still more set-up, and then trying to celebrate and be happy when you’re really just exhausted. You just can’t do it all at once. Some of the most relaxed weddings I’ve attended are weddings where the family began celebrating several days before the event. There were spa trips, hikes, breakfasts and lunches, visits to the florist, plenty of nights out for friends, and THEN the wedding day. By the time the wedding arrived, everyone had had a vacation!
This isn’t always possible, of course. But do try to arrive at your venue a day or two in advance and get your loose ends straightened out with the help of your friends and family, and include some fun activities for unwinding.
Which brings me to my next suggestion:
You absolutely do not need to plan and execute every aspect of your wedding alone. Your friends and family will want to help you. It does help, however, if you give them specific directions and tasks. Got a bridesmaid who’s super stylish? Put her in charge of gathering up a few dress options to show you. Got an aunt who loves to socialize? Get her to handle meal reservations for your family during the wedding preparations. Got an uncle who loves taking pictures? Put him to work at your rehearsal and other lead-up events. Got friends flying in? Assign them table decorations, ceremony chairs, etc. Most people are flattered to be involved.
3. Take some time for yourselves.
If family and friends wear you out (I see you, introverts), don’t be afraid to schedule some “you” time before the wedding. Go see a movie, take a walk alone, schedule an hour to read, get your nails done without anyone accompanying you… whatever it takes.
This includes the wedding day! There is nothing wrong with scheduling a small break for yourself if you think you’ll need one. You can even shoo your photographer away.
4. Budget wisely.
It’s no secret that money is a huge stressor for couples, and it can start as early as the wedding day. Sit down and talk together about how much you can spend and what’s most important to you. There are always ways to budget for what you most want, and vendors will often work to help you on this. I’m biased, but I think it’s worthwhile to spend money on photography (at least do a wedding portrait session), a venue you love, professional hair and makeup, and delicious reception food. A good DJ and wedding planner/coordinator will also help your day go smoothly. I think you can find great deals on dresses, seasonal flowers, and details like centerpieces if you look carefully. And I think you can completely skip wedding favors if they’re cutting into your cost too much. There are tons of articles online about ways to save money at weddings. Check them out!
5. Check that schedule!
The last, possibly most important tip of all: work with your wedding planner and other vendors to create a schedule that will work well for everyone. This is likely your only wedding, but you’re working with a team of folks who have a lot of experience in these events and know what works. Let them lead you into making a timeline for your day that will make sense. I’ve posted about this once before, and you can read my thoughts here, but of course there are many different ways to set up your timeline.
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