As a wedding photographer, I’ve seen my share of problem weddings that only add to the ever-present wedding stress. Planned improperly from the get-go, no one person is to blame, but the outcome is upsetting for everyone involved. Often, the bride’s face looks utterly uncomfortable in all the pictures thanks to mile-high heels, guests are kept waiting for an inordinate amount of time, and the DJ is running around trying to get everyone name straight for the announcement at the reception. (I’ve seen this take up to 30 mins.)
Planning a wedding is serious business, especially if you have out of town guest to worry about and little children to keep an eye on. Here are ten wedding day tips to keep you upbeat – and stress-free – on your special day!
Avoid Wedding Stress with These Ten Wedding Day Tips
#1 – Have an emergency kit on hand: A bride without her trusty emergency kit is a meltdown waiting to happen. Before the wedding day, put together a little kit of must-haves in case something should go wrong. Ideally, you should have extra make-up, safety pins, breath spray, nail polish for snags, hairspray, a comb, and anything else you deem appropriate to combat wedding stress. If a situation does arise, you’ll be thankful you had these things with you.
#2 – Bring comfortable shoes to change in to: Please don’t maintain the illusion that you can wear those fabulous designer heels all night long. They will begin to hurt your feet and impede your ability to hob-knob with your friends. Pack some cute flats (that you’ve previously broken in) or some simple white sandals so you can keep dancing all night long!
#3 – Put someone in charge of the vendors: Entrust a friend or family member to keep track of vendors, such as the DJ/band, caterers, florists, facility manager, wait staff, and photography team. Let him or her be the point person if the vendor has a question, if something has changed, or there is an issue. Trust me – this will reduce much of the wedding stress that will occur throughout the day.
#4 – Don’t forget to eat before and during the wedding: Number four on this list of wedding day tips is incredibly important. Sounds impossible, but brides do forget to eat with all that’s going on. One of the best wedding day tips I can offer is to start the day out with a healthy breakfast that will keep you going until your afternoon or evening meal is served. The last thing that you want to do is add to your wedding stress and pass out in front of your guests or experience hunger pangs all day. Rely on one of your bridesmaids to fix a plate for you or do it yourself while you converse with guests waiting in line and then actually sit down and eat it. You picked the menu. Don’t you deserve to enjoy it?
#5 – Provide your guests with an accurate map and directions: Everyone will tell you this is one of the best wedding tips you could get! The last thing you want to deal with is guests calling you or your friends asking for directions because yours aren’t quite clear. Talk about wedding stress! Make sure you provide turn-by-turn navigation (especially helpful for those out-of-towners) as well as a detailed map of your venues with each surrounding street clearly listed and identified.
#6 – Make sure your bridal party knows to come early: Every photographer’s nightmare – and a major wedding stress inducer – is a scattered, mismanaged bridal party. Make sure to coordinate with your bridesmaids and fiancé’s groomsmen beforehand. If pictures are to be taken before the ceremony, everyone needs to show up with ample time to allow for this. If you are dressing at the church or venue and require the assistance of your bridesmaids, set the time back appropriately.
#7 – Set up something special for your guests in the facilities’ bathrooms: A basket of toiletries is a clever way to show your creativity at your wedding. Usually, the bathrooms get overwhelmed and guests may need something to get them through the rest of the night.
#8 – Keep the kids in mind: Everyone is having a good time, but what are the kids up to? If you choose to have children at your wedding, so be it. They’ll need a little entertainment, though if you want to keep wedding stress at bay. One of my favorite wedding day tips is to serve fun finger foods like chicken nuggets, grilled cheese, French fries, and carrot sticks to get them to eat and keep them happy. A great idea is to have all the children at a centrally located children’s table – adorn the table with activity and coloring books, crayons, puzzles, and lots of drawing paper to keep them occupied. If you and your fiancé decide not to have children at your wedding, however, make sure that all parents know this well in advance so that they can find a babysitter.
#9 – Hand the rings off to someone responsible: Have one of the attendants in your bridal party hang on to the rings before the ceremony. Instruct her to wait until right before the party is sent down the aisle to give the ring bearer and flower girl the rings so that they don’t get lost in the day’s hustle and bustle.
#10 – Create a menu for guests to peruse: Number 10 on this list of wedding day tips isn’t hard to do, but gives your guests an idea of what kind of food will be served. For a sit-down dinner, this is imperative, of course, as there will be multiple options to choose from. Even if you’re having a large buffet meal where guests help themselves, place a menu on each table so that anticipation can build. Sometimes, without a menu, your guests might have even overlooked a food station with their favorite dish!
Crystal Vandegrift is a wedding photographer covering Virginia, D.C. and Maryland.