How to have a stress-free wedding day - My Top 5 tips
One of the things I often say is that planning a wedding can be as easy or as hard as you want it to be. No matter if you’re the laid back, everything will be alright type. Or the consummate planner with everything in an Excel spreadsheet, one thing everybody wants is to enjoy their wedding day. As a wedding photographer covering three counties I have been to quite a few weddings so I’ve a lot of experience to draw upon. So here are my top 5 tips for how to have a stress free wedding day!
TIP 1: SET A REALISTIC BUDGET
Very few of us are blessed with an unlimited budget. We all will have a wedding budget that we have to stick to. My advice would be to start early. Sit down with your partner and decide when you want the wedding, how many guests you need to/want to invite. Then realistically how much you can afford to save in that time.
The timing of your wedding is something which can be set depending on where you want to get married and how much you can save each month. If you don’t mind waiting, you could set a date further down the road to give you both time to save up more for your dream venue. According to Bridebook, most couples are waiting between 12-18 months before tying the knot.
Your budget is going to drive a lot of your decisions. If you don’t set one which is realistic then you will introduce additional stress into the planning process. You might struggle to get quality suppliers or afford to invite the number of guests you’d ideally like to.
TIP 2: HIRE QUALITY/EXPERIENCED SUPPLIERS
A client of mine once admitted that she was a self confessed ‘control freak’ (her words, not mine). And that one of the hardest things she had to do was to let go of all the planning on the wedding day. To trust that her suppliers would all do their jobs, sort any problems and she could then concentrate on enjoying her day. Those were incredibly wise words!
Unless you’ve hired a dedicated wedding planner, you’ll be organising everything yourselves. A venue coordinator only really looks after the venue. Leaving you to liase with all other suppliers. It’s stressful enough in the run up to the wedding. You don’t want to be stressing out all day and organising suppliers -telling them what to do.
Instead you need to trust that they have the expertise, equipment and initiative to sort any problems out without hassling you. I’ve seen first hand how good suppliers adopt a belt and braces approach to weddings. That’s why wedding photographers like myself carry multiple cameras. Experienced DJ’s will have spare equipment in their van in case a critical item breaks. I’ll coordinate with the DJ to start your first dance on time and work out a plan when guests will be invited onto the dance floor. All these little things you don’t see and neither should you.
That’s why it’s super important to hire people who know what they’re doing. How do you check though? Maybe that’s a wedding tip article for another day. But for now I’d suggest you get recommendations from trusted suppliers. They’ve worked with others and will only recommend people they’ve had a positive experience with. Ask friends who recently got married who they used. Above all, don’t simply go with the cheapest. Sometimes it’s fine, but for an important service/item, it’s worth a bit more investigation.
TIP 3: BUY WEDDING INSURANCE
If you don’t already have this, get it. Hopefully you will never need it but buying wedding insurance will give you peace of mind. This was already one of my hot tips before the Covid-19 pandemic of 2020. If you weren’t convinced before then you really should be by now!
Wedding insurance is a one off payment, not a monthly expense. I know it’s not as exciting as choosing a dress or picking your wedding photographer, but it will let you sleep a little better.
Not all policies were created equal though so as with all insurance. It’s worth making sure you understand exactly what is being covered and what is not. As a general rule, wedding insurance is for events that are completely out of your control and couldn’t be forseen. So if your venue burns to the ground or if a close relative dies before the date of your wedding- that sort of thing. It’s not designed for situations like you can’t afford the wedding anymore.
Please, please, please - if there’s one tip from this article you decide to implement. Make it this one!
TIP 4: BUILD BUFFER TIME INTO YOUR TIMELINE
I’ve found one of the biggest ‘mistakes’ is to not allow enough time in the schedule and/or try to pack too much into the timeline. It might only take you ten minutes for a car to drive to church, but you can bet on the day it will take longer. It might physically only take 2 minutes for guests to walk outside for group photos, but from experience, the reality is it will take about 10 minutes.
The simple fact is that your guests will not be stood waiting patiently for their turn to be called for their photos with you. They will be spread all over the venue. They will be in the loo, at the bar or in their hotel room freshening up. I remember one wedding, the groom’s parents went home to walk the dog!
Allowing extra time on your wedding day means you can relax when things are inevitably taking longer than you expected. If by some fluke you don’t need that time, use it to socialise with guests.
Nothing will stress you out more than rushing around the entire day.
TIP 5: MAKE TIME FOR PHOTOGRAPHS
This is in the same vein as building some buffer time into your schedule. Usually in the UK, venues will allow 1.5 hours from after the ceremony has finished until getting everyone inside for the wedding reception & speeches.
One and a half hours might seem like a long time. The reality is that it's not. The time is often allocated to ‘Drinks and Photos’ but the temptation for many is to shoehorn everything into that time.
Sometimes your wedding car supplier will suggest popping out for a ten minute drive. The caricaturist will want you for ten minutes to draw a picture of you. Then the coordinator will want to borrow you to show you the room. Add on top that we need to also have time for confetti, the 'everyone' photograph, group photos etc. There’s not really a lot of time at all.
As every experienced wedding photographer will kno, we’d be lucky to get the bride & groom alone for portraits for anything more than 20 minutes.
So my advice is to build as much time into the schedule for photos as you can. One and a half hours is usually enough if you just want group photos and some portraits. But if you have a large complicated family and need more groups. Then more time is better.
The more time we have, the more creative we can get. The better your final photos will be and the more complete your first family heirloom.
Speak to your photographer about this and let them guide you. Another good tip is to allocate another 10-15 minutes for evening portraits. Depending on the time of year this could be a stunning sunset photo or a moody night time winter portrait. Golden hour (before sunset) and onwards is when it is possible to create those stunning jaw dropping portraits. But of course you’ll need to make time for them.