HOW TO CREATE A STRESS-FREE WEDDING EXPERIENCE- FROM A FORMER BRIDE TURNED WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER
It’s hard to believe that I am coming up on my four-year wedding anniversary! I still remember it like was yesterday. My mom and I spent almost a year planning out all the details, making sure that my fairy-tale dreams came true. And it was a beautiful day! My sweet father said it was “the prettiest wedding he’s ever seen.” (He might be a little biased though.)
Even though I look back fondly on my big day, now that I’m in the wedding industry I also look back and see things that I wish I had done differently. So this post is for brides currently planning their wedding days who might be feeling a little overwhelmed and unsure of the steps they’re taking. Because to be honest, it can be a lot!!! So here’s some advice from a former bride turned wedding photographer, and my top ten tips to keep in mind as you plan out your perfect day. These are things I wish I knew when I was in your shoes!!!
1) TAKE TIME TO TAKE IT ALL IN
My top tip is that it’s not all about the pictures-it’s about the experience. And YES, I’m saying that as a wedding photographer! My job is to help you craft your day so that you don’t have to worry about the shots and you can focus on being in the moment! Having carefree moments to relax and take in the fact that you’re getting MARRIED will make the day so much more enjoyable than stressing about checking shots off your list. Let your photographer handle that so you can keep your focus on why we’re celebrating you! The bonus is that the pics will turn out even better when you do (:
2) PAD THAT TIMELINE
To give you the freedom to take it all in and get the day started right, make sure that you give yourself PLENTY of time to get ready! When creating your timeline (which I work with my brides and grooms to do) I always recommend adding on at least 30-45 more minutes than you think it will take! This will ensure that you don’t feel rushed and will be 100% confident that you are ready to take on the rest of the day! Plus it gives us time for fun detail shots that we can’t necessarily get later on!
3) BOOK THAT ENGAGEMENT SESSION
When possible, do an engagement session with your wedding photographer! Part of the AK experience is an inclusive engagement session, where we get to know each other better, learn my posing techniques, and overall just feel more comfortable! I can’t imagine a total stranger following me around on the most important day of my life, so I don’t want that for any of my couples! The engagement session gives us a chance to build that relationship in a no-stress, fun environment, and gets you cozy in front of the camera so you have zero worries on the wedding day! Plus, you get gorgeous images of an incredible season of life!
4) PLAN OUT THOSE DETAILS
You’ve probably spent hours swooning over all the romantic detail shots you’ve seen on Pinterest. I always recommend setting those aside the night before so that they are ready to go and give to your photographers when they first arrive! They can be put in a box or bag, just have them somewhere all together so no one has to do a scavenger hunt when you’re supposed to be focused on glamming up and having fun with your girls!
5) BRING ON THE SENTIMENT
Speaking of details-your wedding day is the culmination of your love story and also the legacy of love that came before you. I love when my brides bring out special, sentimental details that make the day totally theirs! It’s so easy to get caught up in all that’s new and shiny that we often overlook items that can help tell your story! As the designated storyteller of your love, I get so excited when I get to capture items that have special meaning to the bride and/or groom. I’ve seen brooches from her grandmothers pinned onto flowers to be carried down the aisle, family heirloom rings that tell the tale of many loves that came before, dog collars wrapped around bouquets, a mother’s vintage hair brush and mirror used to get ready-the options are limitless! When you’re thinking about your details (something that I ask all my couples in their questionnaire) think about what sentimental items you might want to include in your wedding story!
6) MAKE THAT SHOT LIST
Be your photographer’s best friend and provide them with a shot list of family member/friend combinations that you’ll want for those “formal” portraits that usually follow the ceremony. Include first names and relationship descriptions (ex. Cynthia-mother of the bride with the bride and groom). This will help make sure that portrait time goes smoothly, and will keep you from having to think and worry about getting all the pictures you’re desperately wanting to have! It’s all about keeping you in-the-moment!
7) HIRE THE WEDDING COORDINATOR
Obviously I am all about my couples truly soaking in and enjoying every minute of the day! Nothing takes that away more than having to simultaneously lead the day’s activities and think about what is happening next to make sure that nothing you want is overlooked. Day-of wedding coordination, even in intimate weddings, ensures that your day goes smoothly and you are able to feel all of the love and none of the stress!
8) BE FLEXIBLE
Keep in mind though that even with the best vendor team in the world, something will happen that wasn’t part of Plan A (think rain on an outdoor ceremony, spilled coffee on a bridesmaid dress, or even one of the bridesmaids forgetting her dress at home in another state!!!!) Great vendors will roll with punches and probably already have plan B in motion by the time you realize something is awry. But, it’s important to be able to take a deep breath and trust that no matter what this will be the best day of your life because you are getting MARRIED. At the end of the day, that’s all that truly matters.
9) TRUST YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER
When you hire a photographer with experience, you can trust that they know what they need to do to bring your vision for your day to life. Which means that you can trust them if they ask you to stand in a specific location, do a seemingly crazy pose, or tell you they need a certain amount of time for those dreamy sunset portraits! I’m so thankful that all my AK couples have trusted me 100%, and it’s ensured that they have galleries and memories they love!!
10) HAVE FUN!
It’s your day, so make the most of every minute and go on an adventure together! The sky is the limit when deciding how to use your time! This is easy for eloping couples, but also possible during more traditional wedding days! Your wedding day adventure could involve sneaking off and having a little picnic together of your favorite snacks, reading letters to each other as the sun goes down, visiting one of your favorite coffee shops, or even grabbing your entire wedding party and revisiting some old haunts in your hometown and celebrating together! Whatever you may choose to do, the important thing is that it represents you as a couple and helps celebrate the love you’ve found! Having an adventure keeps the flow of the day focused on where it should be-celebrating your newlywed status-and can add so much to your overall experience! I love picturing my couples going through their wedding photos and reliving the excitement of the day with no regrets on how they spent their time together!
I hope that these tips will help make your wedding day stress-free and everything you’ve dreamed of!