Planning for a stress-free wedding day may seem like a mysterious art, it's not something you do every day after all. You know all the obvious things you need to plan like the ceremony and reception venue. But from my experience, there are certain things you can take into consideration that will help ensure that you have the most enjoyable experience possible so you don't feel rushed off your feet all day.
These tips are by no means exhaustive, there are a plethora of good wedding blogs that discuss this exact topic, any of your married friends should be able to share their tips, but here is advice I've gathered based on the weddings I've photographed and attended.
The most important tip I could give any couple is to delegate as much as possible on the day. Ask members of your bridal party or trusted friends to help with specific jobs such as handing out confetti or gathering guests for group photos
. The fewer decisions you need to make on the day, the more relaxed and enjoyable your day will be.
EMBRACE CERTAIN TRUTHS
There’s nothing that can be done about the weather, your dress will get dirty and some things might not go quite as planned. But whatever the day brings, embrace it and enjoy it. If it rains we simply find cover, your dress can be dry-cleaned and as long as you still end up marrying the one you love, no one can stop you from enjoying your day even if there is a little hick up or two.
If you’d like to save yourself from a lot of the work of planning your day a wedding planner can be your best friend. They can either plan the whole thing for you or just swoop in to manage the day itself so you can just get on with having fun. If you are planning a wedding abroad it might also be quite helpful as many of my couples have told me how difficult it is to organise a wedding when you don’t live in the same city.
A video of your wedding day can be a source of beautiful memories. However, it is worth remembering that the more cameras there are at your wedding, the more impersonal the experience may become for you as everyone will be trying to cover the same events in the same space.
I find it makes a huge difference if your videographer(s) & photographer(s) have a similar style of working because it will affect your experience on the day. For example, I tend to hang back and be unobtrusive which is how I achieve my natural candid shots. That’s difficult to do if the videographers have a different close-up kind of approach. However, if we have the same style of working, we can work really well as a team.
Every photographer should be able to recommend suitable videographers (or vice versa) so just ask for suggestions.
Breaking from the tradition of the groom/partner not seeing his/her partner until the ceremony, a first look is a private moment before the ceremony when a couple see each other for the first time before anyone else. The reason it can be so beautiful is because of the fact that it is a quiet and intimate moment on a big day. It can help ease your nerves to share this moment together ahead of the ceremony.
On a practical note, it can also be a solution to finding time for portraits if your schedule doesn’t allow for enough time later in the day. Or if you are having a winter wedding when daylight hours are shorter.
A lot of brides love to have company when getting ready. Sometimes it’s a whole house party – some brides love it and thrive on all the buzz. Others find it stressful to have lots of people wandering about as they get ready. If you think you prefer a quieter preparation time, then do consider only having your closest & dearest with you. The calmest bridal preparations I have seen have consisted of just the bride and her 2-3 bridesmaids and wow what a difference it makes. It IS possible to have a calm morning if that’s what you need.
GETTING INTO YOUR DRESS
It can take longer than you think. If you have a dress with a lot of buttons, then expect it to take about 10-15 minutes to put on. Give yourself plenty of time so you’re not in last minute rush.
If daylight portraits are important to you, then it is important to factor in the time of sunset when planning your portrait time, particularly if you are having a late ceremony or winter wedding. Your photographer should be able to tell you how long they need, I personally require a minimum of 30 minutes (more time is also fine) and don’t forget time for the group portraits as well (again I set this at around 30 minutes).
In summer, assuming the weather is clear, most photographers love to shoot some portraits during the magical “Golden Hour” when the light is just gorgeous. This is the time between 30 – 60 minutes before sunset. In many cases, this can also coincide with your meal so if you don’t mind dashing out for 10 minutes to sneak some of these shots in between courses you may be rewarded with some of the most beautiful portraits from the whole day.
LONDON BUSES / TRANSPORT TO VENUES
There is a lot of traffic in London and almost every time I’ve taken the wedding bus booked for the wedding guests, there have been traffic delays. Please plan ample travel time into your schedule, particularly if it’s crossing town to get to your reception venue. Google maps usually underestimates the journey time somewhat so if you are not yourself familiar with the route, add a bit of extra time in case. By having your ceremony and reception at the same place, you actually automatically create a more relaxed schedule by not having to worry about this.
HAVE SOME TIME ALONE
So much of your day will be spent with guests so schedule it in if you need to, even 10-15 minutes alone, just to soak in what a special day it is and how much you mean to each other.
TIME TO MINGLE
Give yourself plenty of time in your schedule so that you still have time to mingle with your guests. Actually carve that time into your schedule separately from other items otherwise you may find yourself trying to say hello to all your guests during the meal and not getting to eat anything yourself.
Are you married? Do you have any useful tips for other couples that might help them plan for a stress-free day?