Let's talk about Weddings and how stressful they can be. In this day and age it feels almost impossible to plan a wedding that isn't riddled with stress and high expectations. It can creep in whether you are throwing a massive party celebrating with everyone you know or just hosting a small backyard get together hoping to stay on budget. It's just a fact of life that we build up our big day, wanting to make it perfect.
So, first off my advice is simply to let 'perfection' go ! If you can do that then these extra tips are for you.
And know that these tips are for everyone; even those brides prone to stressing about the small things or the brides who have way too many people telling them how to do it. I'm not an expert for any reason except, that I have been there and I know a stress free day is possible without all of us eloping to Las Vegas.
1. Marry the Right Person
I'm hoping this one is self explanatory but I know stress can come a long with a lot of fear and doubt. None of us are immune to thinking, "what if?" but if you can say without a doubt that the best part about this day is spending the rest of your life with this person then I think you're off to a good start. This was literally the thing that kept me sane the day of my wedding because nothing could get to me when I knew without a doubt I was marrying my best friend.
2. Forget Tradition
I'm sure the Southern side of my family will be shocked by this tip, but seriously those expectations are some of the most stress inducing parts of a wedding day. No you do not have to do it the same way it's been done forever. I think we can all be thankful that some wedding traditions have faded away, like paying a dowry to our future husband that equates us to a chest of plates and cows? I mean I think it was good we let that one go.
So just know you can make your own path too, uphold the things you think are important but don't feel pressured to follow everything by the law. Bridesmaid dresses do not have to match anymore, you don't have to get married in your home town and you definitely wont have bad luck if you're not hiding under a rock all morning avoiding being seen.
3. Create a top 5 priorities list
This was such a life saver for me and my fiance when planning our wedding. We had a budget that we thought was totally doable but quickly realized how 'not so far' money can go in the Wedding industry. We were faced like most couples with trying to figure out what things were important to us and what things we could live without. For us it came down to the 5 things we were both mutually passionate about
1. Venue: We both wanted the mountains where we met to be a part of our wedding day backdrop, so we chose a cabin in the mountain valley where we could easily access the cliff sides for photos.
2. Celebration: We both wanted to be able to invite anyone and everyone who wanted to celebrate with us. This meant cheaper booze and food but also meant we had so much energy and memories rushing back all weekend long
3. Photography: I really do believe in what I do and how important having this day captured is. We wanted to be able to trust our photographers and have priceless photographs to treasure for the rest of our lives.
4. Flowers: Ok so this one was probably just me but we did agree that the aesthetics of our day were important to us both. I just love flowers so I wanted to not only invest in them but create my bouquets, flowers crowns and centerpieces with my own two hands. This was probably a little crazy but for me it was worth it to get to choose the flowers and colors I love without having to go through anyone else. I bought them wholesale and don't regret it all.
5. Hire a Coordinator: For us we wanted to be able to leave the worry at the door on our Wedding day. While I loved the planning process I knew that I was not going to have the emotional strength to handle all the loose ends come the day of. So I found the best coordinator out there and hired her. Her name is Cam of CAMfetti if you are looking for a superhero.
So whatever your priorities are as a couple I would say write them down. Focus on those 5 things and let the other things fit into place or just go without them. You'll be so much happier that you got to make those 5 dreams come true and far less stressed about the things that were out of your reach.
4. Surround yourself with a supportive Bridal Party Tribe
This one is surprisingly hard for a lot of brides. It goes along with tradition that there are a lot of "relationally" important women who have to be in your bridal party. But sometimes those are the most stressful people to have around. If you can try and choose the women who love you with their actions, who will hold there tongue if things aren't perfect, who will show up on time and most of all who will want to go over and above leading up to your day just to make you feel special, you will seriously be so much happier for it. But if their is no getting around some of those certain women then be sure to also add those best friends who have your back, to help bring some calming balance.
Same goes for the groomsmen. Choose men who support you but also support the woman you are marrying. Across both sides of your party you want people who are literally standing up their saying they will have your backs when things are really awesome in your marriage but also when they are super hard. Having that supportive tribe around you will be stress relieving for the day of your wedding and for the rest of your marriage.
5. Meet your photographer in person
This applies to pretty much all the vendors you'll employ the day of your Wedding but since I'm making this list I can't go without emphasizing this point specifically. Photography on your wedding day is so much more than just snapping photos, its about telling your unique love story. This is so hard if I barely know you. My job is essentially documenting a part of your history, the part that gets passed down to your children and their children. For me it's a big deal and I don't take what I do lightly.
I tell all of my brides that us vibing and just generally having a chance to chat is one of the most important pieces to what I do. Its what puts the soul and relationship into the photos I'm taking and what makes them more special than just a set of stale portraits.
So meet your photographer and let whether you get along be a helpful factor in whether you move forward. The stress relief comes when you know that you'll be comfortable with this person around all day. I personally like to think of myself as your really cool drama free friend who's following you around with a camera making magic. But because I'm such a fan of getting to know my couples I've also been the shoulder to cry on when a bride is too nervous to walk down the aisle and I've been the one person to crack a joke when everyone else is stressed out the wazoo. Really my advice is just don't cheat yourself out of the full experience, get to know your photographer and I promise the stress relief will follow.
6. Do a couples/ engagement session beforehand
If any of these thoughts have occurred to you during the planning process than this tip will be stress relieving, "I'm not photogenic" "I'm not really that comfortable in front of camera" or "the most important photos are of me and my husband and our connection."
There is actually a rhythm to feeling good in photos and in front of the camera, it's not just a genetic thing. And this is honestly best achieved when you get a little practice in before the day of. I'm a true believer that a part of getting to know my couples is getting to know how they relate and feel in front of my camera. That's why I offer a couples session complimentary with every collection. It's a benefit for me and for you to just know what to expect on your wedding day.
This session is also the time where everyone can relax, take our time, be creative and just photograph your unique love and connection. The day of your wedding will move like a whirlwind and while of course your photographer will be there capturing the real moments and connections on your day, this couples session is a peaceful pressure-less escape from the stress. We don't have to worry about a time crunch, your impending ceremony or rushing to get off to your reception without making your guests wait. All we have to focus on is having fun and capturing some relaxed and beautiful photos of your relationship.
7. Follow a timeline
This one is something I'm sure any wedding professional would tell you. It's almost impossible for everyone to do their job, making your day a magical experience, if the time doesn't match up. There is only so many hours in a day and especially on your wedding day the time seems to disappear without a trace. I'm a huge fan of creating a timeline for each of my couples. From my perspective as the photographer the light is super important. There really are specific times of day that are better and worse for my style of photography. So when you hire me I walk you through what a day needs to look like in order to maximize that light and make the most beautiful photos. So don't be afraid to ask your photographer for advice on timeline or your coordinator, from there keep all your other vendors or help on the same schedule. From MUAs to DJs ,when they know what their time looks like, I promise they will be able to help you keep the day on track.
8. Do a First Look
If you give up any tradition for the sake of a stress free day give up this one. I'm sure you've all heard the old wives tale that your marriage will have bad luck if you see your partner before the ceremony. But I'm hear to say its just another stress inducing factor that doesn't need to be there. There are so many reasons to list why a First look lessens the stress on the wedding day but the one I fall back on every time is the intimate moment.
I've heard from so many brides that they just want that perfect instant where their groom sees them and gets all teary eyed as they walk down the aisle. Well I want that for you too and that's why a first look is SO much better. Imagine your day like this, you wake up, you get pampered and dressed in a relaxing and timely manner and then your first stop when your looking as fine as ever is going to see the love of your life. The truth is that the gravity of this day will hit you all at once and if you're anything like me, you'll want that one on one time with your future husband. He is the only person in that moment facing the same awesome and scary feelings. For that reason alone is why you'll get those teary eyed shots. But with a first look you'll be together, talking it through and having those once in a lifetime moments captured by your photographer. It's not just a split second of emotion but a chunk of time to just relax and refocus on this person you're marrying.
All this to say when it comes down to it, your wedding is something to be celebrated and remembered well. Don't let the stress of perfection or expectations distract from the fact that you and the love of your life are in this together, planning this wedding and starting your adventure.
Ps: If you have any questions for me about stress free living or what it could look like to have Hannahill Photography photograph your wedding, don't hesitate to reach out, HERE.
And Happy Wedding Planning!