You know that feeling...
right before you leave your hotel room before you head home? The feeling that you're forgetting something even though you've checked underneath the bed, the closet, and the drawers you didn't even use at least three times already? I'm guessing you're feeling that way right now and unless you found this just in the knick of time, you haven't even begun packing for your wedding day! Fear not -- while I'm not a wedding planner or coordinator, I am a wedding photographer & filmmaker, and considering we spend just as much time with the bride and/or groom as the wedding party (if not more), believe me when I say we see A LOT. 😅
All jokes aside, I do think I have some good advice. My #1 goal of every wedding day is to help make it as stress-free as possible and yes -- that is possible! Hopefully this helps you do just that!
ONE || CONSIDER SOME KIND OF FIRST LOOK OR REVEAL.
WAIT! Before you click off because you're leaning towards a traditional approach where you don't see your spouse until the ceremony, I'm not just talking about that kind of first look. I will explain why I love those too, but I think you should consider doing a first look with other members of your friends & family! I've been privileged to be in the room when a father sees his daughter in her wedding dress for the first time, or when a mother sees her son, or when the bridesmaids see the bride in her dress for the first time! Are these kind-of against everything I stand for when I say I live for the candid moments? Kinda. The setup is very staged and posed however, the reactions and the moment you have with your friends and family is one of the most emotional, real moments of the day. If you're blessed with family and friends that you're close with, I could not recommend this enough.
Now for the first look with your spouse-to-be... I think you should consider it. My wife and I did not do a first look on our wedding day, and believe me when I say my anxiety was working on overdrive that day! If you easily become anxious or stressed out, I would at least consider something like a first touch (the kind where you hold hands around a corner) to soothe the nerves a little bit. Whether it's a first look or a first touch, either is also a great time to read letters that you've written each other or to exchange gifts. More on that in the next tip!
TWO || TAKE TIME TO WRITE A LETTER TO YOUR BRIDE OR GROOM.
This is something I'm seeing a lot of couples do these days, even if I forget to remind them! Even if you are doing a first look, writing your feelings down on paper is going to help alleviate some of that anxiety you're bound to feel on such an important day. If you're not planning any kind of first look or first touch, you can have someone in the wedding party exchange these for you. If you are doing a first look or first touch, you can read them to each other! This is bound to be a wonderful memory for you, and your wedding video team will love it too! 😉
Perhaps the most difficult part of this is figuring out what to write. I wouldn't write your letter any sooner than the night before, but the morning of your wedding is going to be the best time. If you're struggling with what to write, think back to a wonderful memory you have with each other. Think about how excited you are to marry your best friend. Be honest, and write about how you're having a miniature anxiety attack because you're about to make the biggest commitment of your life in front of a couple hundred of your closest friends and family -- I promise, you're spouse-to-be is feeling the same way!
THREE || GIVE YOURSELVES AN ALONE MOMENT!
If you've begun to write out the timeline for your wedding day, you've likely discovered that there is approximately ZERO minutes to just chill out with your new husband or wife! Will you survive that way? Probably. BUT I think there's a better way: squeeze in fifteen minutes before your reception begins to just be alone with your spouse! You probably haven't had any time alone together apart from your first look which, is it really alone with an entire group of people with cameras pointed at you the entire time? No matter how tight your schedule is, the time can be made. The reception isn't starting without you there, after all.
Something else I'm seeing some of my couples do that I love a lot is to kick all of your guests out of the reception area at the end of the night, and having a final dance with just the two of you. You can easily tell all of your guests to go get ready for a send-off, even if it's a staged send-off or just lines of your friends and family cheering you on. This is something I really wish my wife or I would have thought of, and something that I absolutely love getting to experience and photograph with the most important people of the day.
FOUR || COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR VENDORS MORE THAN YOU THINK YOU NEED TO!
Okay. This is the only one that's not such a "feel-good" tip. I have witnessed and heard so many horror stories that could have been prevented with just a little more communication or planning. I'll give you two examples I've personally witnessed at weddings I've either shot or attended:
First, you should really be doing a trial run with whoever is doing your hair and makeup on your wedding day. Odds are, the vendor you're hiring for this is already planning to or has included it in their package which is great! If they haven't mentioned it, ask them! I have seen a Bride so panicked because she ended up hating her hair on the morning of her wedding! Was everything fine in the end? Of course. Would everything have been a teeny bit better without that unnecessary stress? For sure. Think about it this way, you're doing a tasting for your catering and your desert. You're doing an engagement session with your photographer. You're touring the venue. The list goes on -- don't wait until your wedding day to try out your hairdo.
Second, if the reception is really important to you and you want it to flow well and be a great dance party, take a good look at the DJs in your area! There are so many different styles, and there's no such thing as a bad DJ, but there is definitely such a thing as a bad DJ for you. If you're not going for the 80's vibe with the chicken dance and an impromptu game of Limbo, you should probably make sure the DJ you're about to email has some kind of feel for today's hits and music that will keep the party rolling. On the other hand if you are looking for the classics, and want nothing but to dance to "Faithfully" by Journey all night long, you probably don't need the coolest, hippest DJ in town that is going to get everyone doing the spinaroonie on the dance floor. This sounds silly, I know. Anyone can handle playing music. But for most weddings, you want more than someone to control a Spotify playlist. If that is all you want, then chances are your cousin will happily do it for free! Also, make sure to ask your DJ to advertise that she/he takes requests, that's an easy way to get your friends and family into the party!
I don't mean for this to sound like makeup artists and DJs are the only ones that fall short on the wedding day. That's obviously not the case. You should definitely communicate with all of your vendors:
- Confirm the timeline with your photographer and videographer. ⏱
- Confirm your shot-list and family photos with your photographer. 👨👩👦👦👨👨👧👦
- Confirm the catering crews arrival time. 🍽
- Make sure your DJ knows you want the acoustic version for your first dance and not the heavy metal version. 🤘🏼
- Remember to tell your makeup artist that you're allergic to that certain kind of makeup ingredient. 🥴
- Confirm the time you'd like the Groomsmen to arrive, and then tell them thirty minutes earlier than the actual time. Trust me. 😅
FIVE || EAT. SERIOUSLY, EAT!
I know, everyone and their brother has told you to remember to eat on your wedding day. Well ya know why? Because nobody does! Seriously, take the time and pack yourself a sandwich or a granola bar or two. Will one of your bridesmaids remember to grab a fruit tray or charcuterie board? Probably. But if they don't, you're going to be starving up until 5:00 or 6:00 in the evening and you're probably not going to enjoy much of your day! The next point is important no matter what time of year you're getting married, but it is especially important if you're getting married in the middle of summer: Please drink water!