Lots of couples find that time in the days and weeks before their wedding seems to speed up! It’s a really exciting time, but I know couples can find it stressful as well. I have photographed hundreds of weddings over more than 15 years (and got married myself!) so I’m here to help you take a few steps to reduce any stress you’re feeling so you really enjoy your day. Here are my ten top tips…
1. Stay true to yourselves
It will be really helpful throughout planning your wedding if you have both sat down and really thought about what sort of day you would like to have. The clearer you are about what you would like your day to look and feel like, the easier it will be to make decisions and prioritise. Weddings mean different things to different people, but ultimately it’s about the two of you so it should reflect your relationship and personalities. Depending on your family circumstances, couples do often feel they have to bear certain things in mind, but it is very hard to please everyone and staying true to yourselves is a good guiding principle to navigate through the different options and choices.
Lots of couples separate out their wedding admin in some way and doing this really does help keep things organised and less likely to be stressful. You might want to keep a spreadsheet of all the suppliers you have hired, their deposit payments and dates for payments that are still outstanding. A lot of couples decide to set up a wedding email account to use for all things wedding related instead of their personal accounts. It keeps everything in one place from email RSVPs to replies from suppliers and you can also email articles or wedding ideas you have seen to yourself for later reading. A separate wedding bank account for all your payments and expenses is a good idea to help keep track of finances and keep your budget set aside.
Friends and family are often really keen to be involved in your day, whether it is making something or helping you out in some way. Lots of couples like to have personal touches in their day like a lovely home made cake if you have an amazing cake maker in the family. Over the course of the whole day, there are lots of little jobs involved in making sure a wedding runs smoothly, from greeting guests to decorating or handing things out, putting bits and pieces on tables and moving things (or people!) if you are travelling or changing locations. Even if you like to be really organised and on top of things yourself, it’s impossible to do everything. Getting people you can trust to help is a good way to spread the load and people often like to be asked to help as it makes them feel involved. If you are the sort of person who really likes to be in control (and I know I do!) this can be tricky, but there comes a point where it can be better to relax and go with the flow. Of course it helps if you don’t have any important last minute things that you still need to do on the day itself but, on the day, if you are a spreadsheet addict (or a stationary lover like me!) put all that away and let go a bit. Some couples designate a ‘go-to’ person (perhaps a Maid of Honour, friend of one of the Groomsmen) who knows what is happening and can answer questions or help with things as the day progresses (you can even give that person your phone or any wedding notes). If you have chatted to other people beforehand about how they can help, on the day itself, try to let them get on with it and focus on relaxing, enjoying and appreciating what will be an amazing day.
I have seen many versions of this over the years but it is always about just having a few useful things in a little bag somewhere that you can grab if you need to. Things you might want to put in could include: toiletries, hairpins, safety pins, a needle and thread, scissors, sellotape, waterproof mascara, tissues, hairspray, paracetamol etc. If you don’t actually need any of these things on the day then great but they can be really handy if you do.
Lots of couples I photograph prefer a low-key natural look and don’t initially consider getting any help on the morning of their wedding. This may still be the right choice for you but your wedding day is quite different from any other day and you can feel a bit pressured or nervous on the morning for all sorts of reasons. This can sometimes mean getting flustered or making mistakes and either needing to start over or just getting hot and bothered and worrying about being late.
You can arrange a trial with a hair and makeup professional beforehand so you know exactly what look you are going for and it gives you the certainty that your hair and make up will turn out perfectly without any stress. A lot of brides tell me they are really glad they booked to have their hair and make up done on the day, even though they didn’t originally think they would, it really does take the pressure off as you can just sit there and enjoy having a bit of a pamper. If you have friends getting ready with you it can also be a nice treat for them and some nice quiet time sitting relaxing with a glass of bubbles! A traditional wet shave can be a really special start for the men; a Groom recently told me it was one of the nicest parts of his morning and really set him up for the day.
Timing is quite a big thing to consider and it’s no wonder when (unless you are an Event Planner!) most people do not have lots of experience arranging a whole wedding day’s worth of activities for a group of people. I have always thought that wedding day timing is a law unto itself and seems to fly by. Things often take much longer than people anticipate (just think about how long it would take you to walk across a lawn in a large dress and heels or even just get in and out of a car). It’s quite a good idea to allow a bit more time than you think you will need for each part of the day and perhaps ask one of your friends or family to keep an eye on timing. This is particularly useful if you are driving between your ceremony and reception and would like to make sure you arrive at your reception venue by a certain time if possible. Most couples really enjoy the part of the day after the ceremony (when you might feel a bit more able to relax!) and the meal so allow plenty of time for drinks, greeting and chatting to guests and having a few pictures taken.
There are a couple of things to think about here; comfort and not getting too wet and muddy if the forecast looks bad. On the comfort side of things, it is amazing how many people spend the day feeling their feet are aching. You can be on your feet for quite a while and no one really wants to spend their wedding day with sore feet. Even if you are going for heels and are used to wearing quite high ones, it’s a good idea to wear your new wedding pair around the house first to break them in. Lots of brides also bring a change of shoes for later in the day or for dancing; either a different pair of more comfortable heels or perhaps some flats to give your feet a break.
If you would like to have some time outside but are worried about mud, bringing a pair of wellies with you can be a great way to get outside and not worry about your wedding shoes. If you have a longer dress you won’t even see them underneath it. I have seen quite a few weddings where couples have gone a step further and bought some wellies, converse (or even flip flops!) which you can have personalised with your name or Mr and Mrs.
One other thing on the subject of shoes and mud…….Everyone is different, but it might be worth accepting that your dress and shoes are not going to look as pristine at the end of the day as they do when they are hung up or packaged up first thing in the morning. Without going crazy, don’t let worries about having a few marks or a bit of dirt on your dress or shoes stop you from having a completely amazing time or preventing you from doing what you want to do: run across the grass to hug your grandparents, go for a romantic wander around your venue’s grounds together (and get lovely photos too!); go a bit crazy on the dance floor if you want to. You are probably only going to wear your dress and shoes this one time anyway and they can always be cleaned. Enjoy yourself!
I remember on the run up to my own wedding watching the weather forecast each day and just hoping it was going to be dry so I know what it is like to dream about the perfect sunny day. It being the UK though, we are used to the forecast being unpredictable and of course the weather is one thing you really can’t do anything about. It might even be helpful to assume you may get bad weather, prepare for it and allow enough time to take advantage of any dry breaks you get. On the planning side, it’s a good idea to be familiar with your venue as there are often places under cover outside like archways, a building with an overhanging roof or awning, large trees etc. One of the first things I do if I know there are showers forecast is plan where we might be able to do some pictures outside if things allow. If you have seen a wet forecast consider buying or borrowing a few big white golfing style umbrellas (or some brightly coloured ones if you want to make more of a statement). You can also plan to do your family pictures perhaps earlier in the day if you know the forecast is for showers later on. Even on the wettest of days it can sometimes clear for a little while and that can be all you need to get outside, have a bit of fun and get some amazing pictures.
9. Look after yourself
On the run up to the wedding try to make sure you get enough sleep and eat well. Even if you are rushing around trying to get things done, you still need to have breaks to relax by having a bath, going for a run or doing a yoga class, reading a book or getting your nails done. A few early nights can go a long way if you’re feeling a bit stressed or overwhelmed. A lot of couples feel pretty tired after their wedding so to make sure you enjoy the big day and don’t feel too shattered afterwards, enough rest and self care beforehand is important. On the day itself, particularly if you are not eating until later on, make sure you have a good breakfast. The last thing anyone wants is for either of you to be hangry! M&S do a really good range of easy to eat breakfast foods, lunch options and other snacks you can munch on while you are getting ready.
You may have heard other couples say they didn’t actually spend much time with each other on their wedding day (particularly if you are getting married later in the afternoon and want to spend the getting ready time separately). One of the best pieces of advice I was given before my own wedding was to take even just 5 – 10 minutes as a couple and just savour the moment. There are lots of parts of a typical wedding day where you are not necessarily together and it is the best feeling to just take yourself away from your guests for a short while and be in the moment. I have seen couples do this by taking a longer route back in their wedding car, going for a short walk together or just going and sitting on a bench somewhere in the grounds to spend a few minutes together.
Above all, your wedding day will be a day like no other. From time to time, remember to pause, look around and take it all in. This is what all your hard work has been for so make sure you enjoy it.
Happy wedding planning!
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