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As a wedding professional, I’ve had plenty of time to think about what I would do differently at my own wedding. Back in the olden days of 2008, we didn’t have Pinterest or Instagram, and bridal magazines were either to generic or to unattainable to offer realistic inspiration. Sometimes I ask myself if I was better off getting married before I got into the wedding industry! That being said, there are a few things I would definitely do differently, and I hope you might find some sanity in these suggestions.
6—Skipping a timeline
A timeline gives you an your family, guests, and vendors a roadmap for the day. One of the most common questions I get asked on a wedding day is this: “…So, what do we do now?” A timeline gives me peace of mind that the time available to me is being used appropriately, whether thats photographing important elements or taking a moment to hydrate and recharge. Yes, I plan for that! And you should too—built into your timeline should be designated space for you to relax, enjoy a quite moment with your sweetie, and for goodness sakes eat something. I work with all my clients to create custom timelines for their wedding day, allowing me to have enough time for all the essential photographs and for everyone else to know what they should be doing at any given time.
7—Too much DIY
Don’t get me wrong, I love DIY! You should see my Pinterest craft boards—and I’ve actually finished a couple of those projects! My problem with DIY is when people try to do something they’ve never done before, with a deadline, and unreasonable expectations of perfection. For instance, if you’ve never made invitations or had experience with graphic design, they’re not going to look high-end and you’re actually going to spend more money with trial and error than if you chose a professional design. The big misunderstanding with DIY is that it’s not actually cheaper than hiring a pro! After all the supplies, your time and energy involved, and fixing mistakes it’s often more expensive by a long shot. Know your strengths, and even more importantly, know your weaknesses. And if you’re going to commit to a major DIY project, don’t leave it until the last minute. Your ability to relax and rest before the wedding is invaluable. When you think about paying for someone to provide a service, consider that you’re also paying for peace of mind that it will be done professionally and on-time, and you won’t have to stay up late making 200 mini-burlap-monogrammed-cookie-sachet-favors. Not that there’s anything wrong with mini-burlap-monogrammed-cookie-sachets. You just shouldn’t be up the night before your wedding making them!
8—Too many posed family portraits
Unlike many photographers, I don’t dislike family portraits. I know they’re some of the most often printed, visible images of the day, and I enjoy creating a beautiful, classic group photo to document the important people in your lives. The best portraits are usually smaller groupings; people generally don’t like waiting around for innumerable variations on posed family portraits. But my experience is that the fewer the people in the photo, and the fewer unique groupings of people, the better each one of them looks, and the less chance that someone’s face is blocked by someone else or looking in the wrong direction.
I sometimes find myself reminding the bride and groom to dance with each other now and then during the reception. You are allowed and encouraged to have more than one dance together! Don’t forget to spend a little extra time gazing deeply into each other’s eyes and whispering mushy endearments to each other in between the Cupid Shuffle and breaking it down with your girlfriends. Also, don’t skip the father-daughter and mother-son dances. These are a must. Your wedding day is about you, but it’s also an incredibly important day to the people who hoped, dreamed, and prayed for you from your childhood. And wiped up your boogers and taught you how to put your shoes on the right feet. Every single time I watch a mother-son dance, I quite literally tear up thinking that one day it will be me with my baby boy at his wedding. So if you hear a little sniffling behind the camera, don’t worry, I’m just getting all sentimental and fogging up my viewfinder.
Forgetting to eat and drink throughout the day
This is not just about not having time to eat dinner because you’re too busy dancing/greeting guests/partying at your reception. You should be hydrating and snacking on protein and fruit throughout the day, starting with a healthy breakfast! And coffee 😉 Designate a bridesmaid or friend to remind you to eat and drink periodically, and make up a bag of some snacks and water bottles to bring along with you throughout the day. This is even more important when it’s hot! You won’t realize until afterwards how much physical activity a wedding day involves, and in order to enjoy yourself you need to make sure to take care of your body. You don’t want to end up lightheaded, nauseous, and unable to enjoy yourself because you didn’t eat and hydrate appropriately.
10—Sweating the small stuff
Finally, my last big wedding DON’T is getting hung up on all the do’s and don’ts and wedding advice that will be coming at you from right and left! Do the napkins match the flowers? Which leg do you wear a garter on? The wrong boutonniere got pinned on one of the ushers! Something inevitably goes wrong and your day won’t be absolutely perfect. Sorry, it’s the truth. Redefine your expectations of perfection and be determined to enjoy yourself regardless of the distractions and hiccups along the way. So much of our experiences are radically affected by mindset. I think the brides and grooms who have the best wedding days determine well before the wedding to relax, focus on one another, and let little things go.
This isn’t meant to be an exhaustive list, but more of a strategy for approaching your wedding day with peace. What do you think? Did I leave out something crucial? What would you add from your own experience at weddings?