How to Plan stress-free wedding? Tips from Wedding Photographer
Everyone is dreaming about their perfect, stress-free wedding day. Everyone wants to have a superb day, amazing wedding photos and most importantly – GREAT MEMORIES!
I will share with you a few tips, as after working on hundreds of weddings, I have seen it all :)
THIS IS A LONG READ, BUT IT WILL HELP YOU A LOOOOT!
First and foremost – Let me underline that this is my private opinion, based on my experience and everyone can have a different opinion.
- Hire A Professional
Everyone who works at weddings knows that the bride and groom can have a perfect plan, but too many people can get involved. Plans are fantastic but you need to be very flexible and relaxed if something does not go according to the plan.
Experienced wedding photographers have always got an emergency plan A B and C in the back of their mind :)
Having an experienced professional alongside you, who knows how the timeline of a wedding day works is very important.
So, the million-dollar question…. How do You plan a stress-free wedding????????
How to Plan a stress-free wedding?
Firstly, I recommend that you book a wedding photographer with experience who specialises in wedding photography – not sport, fashion, studio photographer or a trusted friend. A professional wedding photographer.
There is no magic – A good wedding photographer will cost money, but remember you are not just paying for the photographs. I will discuss this in more detail later.
- Morning preparations:
Prepare yourself the day before. Get your overnight bags packed and have a check list to ensure that you have everything that you need, right down to the last hair grip! Ask your bridesmaids to lend a hand. Two and three heads are better than one when it comes down to the little details.
If you are staying at the family home in the morning have a list of what you need to bring with you ready to go. Anything that can be packed into the cars the night before should already be attended to so you only need to worry about your overnight bag and what you need throughout your wedding day.
Your bridesmaids are there to help. Have them take charge of your handbag/makeup bag for the day of. I always recommend a small emergency wedding day bag packed with a sewing kit, mints, tissues, hairgrips, plasters, nail file and safety pins. Anything that you might need if something were to go wrong, last minute!
If you need to travel to a different location on your wedding day have everything that can be packed in advance, ready to go the night before.
- Makeup, Hairdresser location
Plan where you will have your makeup and hair done on the morning of your wedding. The best place to set up is where you have the most natural light! The bigger the windows around you the better! If possible switch off all lights and use only natural light from the windows. That will ensure that you have the best skin tone for the day ahead.
Remember your wedding photographer will be taking lots of photographs of you getting ready so keep this space as clean as possible as the backgrounds will be in your photos!
If you are getting ready at the hotel room – keep all the bags in the bathroom. It will keep them out of Your photos and wedding video.
I have often heard the make-up artists wanting to leave the bride until last so that her make up is the freshest. Please don’t agree to do this. It’s best to have your makeup and hair done before one or two of the Bridesmaids – if there are more than 2 or 3 Bridesmaids.
TRUST ME – You don’t want all Your morning photos without any makeup….
I asked a few suppliers that I have worked alongside for some tips as well:
Ann Marie Doherty Makeup:
I never leave the bride until last unless I’m way ahead of schedule. If I have five for makeup for example I like to take the bride in the middle. Perhaps third. Nobody really feels comfortable answering a door to the florist/videographer/photographer without makeup on especially the bride!!
If you wait until last it stresses the bride out too much as people are pulling her away out of the makeup chair to check flowers that are arriving or other bits and pieces and she’s actually needing her time to not feel rushed, stressed or distracted!
So, when the hair is set she’s free for me then for makeup then usually Hair is perfected or styled. I find this is by far the best for my brides and I usually chat to them at the trial stage as to how the morning works.
Notes from Hairdresser Denise Bray:
Try at least 2 styles at your trial. I don’t recommend that the Bride goes last for hair or make up as you will need that time at the end for photos, flowers arriving, neighbours arriving etc
When you’re planning your morning time wise always factor in bridesmaids’ dresses i.e. wrap
take a good while to get right.
Your hairstylist will check everyone over before they leave and do any necessary touch ups
Your hairstylist should clip the veil in securely after your dressed and show the bridesmaids how to take it out.
And lastly- enjoy your morning, it’s so much fun getting pampered
You will feel less stressed as you are ready to go and there is no panic setting in that you are running out of time. Plus, if you wanted to make any changes to your look you have lots of time to do so.
On top of all of that, you will feel a lot happier to have more photographs taken after you have had your hair and make-up done. This allows the photographer more time to take some special moments of you enjoying the morning with your friends and family :)
- Bridesmaids – You are not alone. :)
Be sure that the Bridesmaids help you with the small things. Everyone will need something from you so be sure to have the Bridesmaids help out. That will take a lot of stress away from you and that’s why they are there with you on the morning.
Be sure that the Bridesmaids are close to you until you finish all of your photos with them and with family! Your Bridesmaids need to be around to help you with everything – Fixing your veil, fixing your makeup, helping to organize the family photos as the photographer will not know your family!
Arranging the family photos can be a minefield so I have gone into more detail on this here:
- The Dress!
If your ceremony is at 1pm and the Church is 5minutes from your home – be sure that the photographer and videographer can leave your house around 30 minutes before the Mass is scheduled to start. In this case at 12.25pm
In this timeline I would love to see the Bride in her dress at around 12pm to give us a full 30min to take some beautiful photographs of the first moments the Bride has in her wedding dress with her friends, parents and family.
I recommend that the Bridesmaids get dressed just before you so that they are ready to help you. If things run a little late then, you can have one or two Bridesmaids in dresses or your Mum to help you with your dress.
Be sure that your Bridesmaids are by your side to help you with everything on the day!
If it’s a city centre wedding – Dublin, Galway or Cork – leave even more time for the videographer and photographer to reach the Church as you don’t want your videographer and photographer to be late arriving due to traffic or parking etc.
- Family first!!!
First and most important read that blog post about family photos – Family photos on wedding day
If you would like to have a photograph of your Dad seeing you for the first time in your dress, be sure to ask him to be dressed at around 12pm as well. This will ensure that you have this photograph captured before photographer leaves for the Church.
If you would like a photograph of all of your family seeing you in your dress, then they all need to be ready at 12pm.
And now for the moments that can cause MAJOR Stress!!!
Top tip – Less is More on Your Wedding Day
ABSOLUTELY DO NOT RECOMMEND FAMILY PHOTOS AT THE HOUSE IN THE MORNING BEFORE LEAVING FOR THE CHURCH!
EVEN IF YOUR DAD HAS CUT THE GRASS AND PAINTED ALL THE WALLS IN THE GARDEN ;)
The reason is very simple: people are running up and down trying to pack cars.
“Where are my keys?”
“Where is my bag?”
“I can’t find my phone!” etc. etc.
In the middle of all of this hustle and bustle, it is NOT a good idea to take family photos. They never look good as everyone is a little bit anxious and wound up to get out the door on time.
Plus, you will want to have your veil and wedding dress looking fresh and picture perfect when you are walking into the Church.
You don’t want to have grass stains, mud, dog poo (!!!) or any wet stains getting anywhere near your dress before the wedding ceremony!
I have seen this a few times. The dress has gotten wet or dirty before the Mass because you wanted to take the photos outside the house before Mass to save time later in the day – It’s not worth it. Please try to avoid that stress!
- We Are Family!
IF photos at the house are a MUST – MUST – MUST – be prepared well before with all the family present and ready to go!
After a few hundred weddings at this stage, I can promise you that the same thing happens over and over again. We lose 10minutes as someone is missing!
Losing those precious minutes puts a lot of unnecessary pressure on the Bride. I strongly recommend returning to the house after the ceremony if having this location in your wedding photographs is very important to you.
Take your family photos once. After the mass or ceremony, not before- it will save You a lot of time and You can relax and enjoy Your wedding day !
- Going to the Chapel!!!
The reason for having the photographer and videographer arriving to the Church so early is very simple. You want to allow time for them to take photos of your guests arriving and with the groom greeting guests.
The videographer can get set up to the sound system and there will be time to say hello and chat with your Priest.
This time is very important for us and again, it can have an impact on your photos. You don’t want to have your wedding photographer or videographer arriving late to the Church because of traffic or because they hadn’t time to find a parking place!
Be in your wedding dress at around 30 minutes before the wedding ceremony and then add in your travel time.
Then you will have allowed time to get photos of you putting on your dress, Dad sees You for the first time and also allowing time for your videographer and photographer to arrive to the Church.
- And Relax….
A relaxed Bride with a real smile is picture perfect.
Be as relaxed with your photographer as possible.
I know it’s a stressful day but it’s also a very very happy day with so much to smile about!!!
Smile during the ceremony and enjoy each moment as it comes. You can cry! Happy tears are a photographer’s dream as they create beautifully intimate photos!
TOP TIP :
Try not to stress about the small things – They really don’t matter.
You need to be sure and stress free that you have picked the best wedding photographer and videographer for you. Getting this important part of the day right, will have a BIG impact on your wedding day experience.
- Good Stress Vs. Bad Stress
So-called “good stress,” or what psychologists refer to as “eustress,” is the type of stress we feel when we feel excited. Our pulse quickens, our hormones change, but there is no threat or fear. We feel this type of stress when we ride a roller coaster, go for a promotion, or go on a first date. There are many triggers for this good stress, and it keeps us feeling alive and excited about life! This is the only type of stress that I want for you on your wedding day. You can read more on this topic here:
- Honesty is the Best Policy
BE HONEST with your wedding photographer.
Do not send him or her a list of 300 photos that you found on Pinterest. Check your wedding photographer’s portfolio as he or she will bring their talent to your wedding. Trying to recreate something from Pinterest is a recipe for disaster and disappointment.
Be sure that you love your photographer’s photos and that you trust in your photographer’s talent. If you can’t trust your wedding photographer then you should book someone else.
Having said that, make sure that you tell the photographer what is important for your wedding day photographs.
I have gone through this process in great detail here:
- Here Comes the Bride!
Walk slowly, walk slowly, walk slowly!!!
Take a moment to see you guests and smile as you take it all in. Chat with your Dad or look at your Groom – but do not look at the camera during the Ceremony. It’s your photographer’s job to find you. You don’t need to find your wedding photographer!
The ceremony is between you and your future husband or wife. Enjoy the ceremony and be happy together at this very special time. Look at your Groom. Look at your Bride. Hold hands in the Church. Forget about holding the mass booklet!
The most beautiful photograph’s that I have captured during the wedding ceremony are always the private and meaningful moments between a couple. They cannot be posed for. They are the natural interactions and loving moments between the Bride and Groom and they are just magic!
- The Bride’s Squad!
Remind your Bridesmaids that they need to keep as much distance from each other as possible! One at the time, coming up the aisle is best!!! That will give your photographer a chance to take a photo of each of the Bridesmaids in turn.
Wait for the aisle to be completely clear for your moment to walk up the aisle. This allows the wedding photographer to get the best photographs possible of this very special moment.
- Ban the Mass Booklet!
Please if at all possible, do not use your booklet during the Mass. I have so many reasons for asking this:
– You will not have spare hands to hold.
– You will not look at your guests reading
– You will not look at each other!
– Possibly, all of your photos in the church will be you looking into a booklet
If you have any prayers to read – read a prayer and put down the booklet – Hold hands with your new Wife/Husband :)
- Time Flies When You’re Having Fun!
Every Bride and Groom will tell you that their Wedding Day is too short! Everything happens so quickly and the day flies by in a whirlwind of emotion and excitement!
This is why it is so important to have the planning in place and why I recommend one location for your wedding photographs!
It’s better to go to one place that gives you lots of options than to try and include two or more locations. You are losing time travelling to each location and getting set up there.
If you would like romantic moments captured of the two of you – I always prefer to be with the Bride and Groom without the Bridesmaids and Groomsmen. When you are by yourself and having time together to talk about the ceremony and how your mornings went before the ceremony, those moments together are more intimate and natural and the photographs are far better.
To achieve this, it’s better to take your photos with the Bridesmaids and Groomsmen first and then send them away to the hotel to get your guests ready for your arrival. You will have some time to relax then to capture these lovely moments in your photographs.
TOP TIP: One location for your wedding photos is always the best option!
In my next blog post I will write about how to choose the best location for your photos! :)
In the end, it’s YOUR DAY and YOUR DECISION. These are only a few tips from my experience as a wedding photographer and from the wedding suppliers that I have worked with :)
TO SUM UP!
HIRE PEOPLE WHO HAVE EXPERIENCE AND THAT SPECIALISE IN WEDDINGS!!!
AND LASTLY – Remember that all of this timing and planning can be done by your real-life professional wedding photographer on your wedding day – if he or she knows what they are doing!
Then you will feel in safe hands and you will have a stress-free day.
That is why I explained at the beginning – You are not only paying for photographs when you book someone to take your wedding photos. You are also paying for the experience, and you have to be happy and relaxed knowing that your photographer will help you to enjoy your wedding day.
Top Tip – When you are planning your wedding ceremony, have it as early as possible (especially in the Winter when the sun sets so early)
4 pm – there is no daylight!
Having an earlier ceremony ensures that you have enough time after the ceremony for the photographs and so that you can enjoy the drinks reception with your family and friends.
- The Budget!
The most important questions to answer when you are planning your wedding budget:
How much would you pay for amazing memories?
Would you risk giving control of your wedding day to someone who has very little experience but who is four or five hundred euros cheaper???
500 euros is a very small saving to make when you look at the grand scheme of the budget when you want to have your best day ever!
Plus the photographs and the videos will be all that you have left after your day is over. Cut the budget in areas where people may not even notice. Table favours. A candy table. A chocolate fountain! Are those things really necessary?
I’m writing this as I’m planning my own wedding on 1 June 2019 and I’m on the same side as you.
I’m the Groom to be and my future Bride and I are looking for suppliers and getting quotes and thinking about the budget, but we are spending more on what we feel are the most important things to treasure our wedding day memories forever.
- Costly Savings
Before the wedding, people think about the Budget. I completely understand that the costs mount up and it can become so overwhelming. You look for places to cut the costs absolutely everywhere.
But wouldn’t you be devastated if after your wedding day you realised that the photographer that was cheaper didn’t do a good job?
TOP TIP: After the wedding, it’s too late to fix this problem. People are willing to pay a lot more to fix this problem but it’s impossible to recreate the moments you shared on your wedding day.
You can’t change your memories and you can’t fake your photos.
Save some money in other places but book someone that you know you can trust.
Choosing a photographer is not only about choosing someone who will take your wedding day photographs. It’s also about finding the right person to share the most important day of your life with.
Choosing the right person will add to your wedding day experience, It’s not just about the photos.
How much would you pay for amazing memories?
I hope my tips will help you and most importantly – ENJOY YOUR WEDDING PLANNING!!!
You can see more tips on my Bride Guide Wedding Blog :