You and your significant other have decided to tie the knot, and now the real fun begins...
Some couples like to take their time with planning; my husband and I were engaged for a year to save up for our big day... Other couples like a shorter engagement; I have friends who were only engaged and married within a handful of months. Every couple is different and prefers a different engagement length.
Whichever kind of couple you are, more than likely you are underprepared for what your wedding day will actually be like. You can read all the magazines and blogs, explore Pinterest and Instagram, but nothing beats the rush, the chaos, and excitement of YOUR wedding day.
Having been there myself with my own wedding and having been a part of many other weddings, I thought I'd share some words of wisdom with the newly engaged and soon to be engaged couples.
1. Eat, & Drink Plenty of Water
I put this at the top of the list because I think this is the most important thing to remember.
On your wedding day, you'll be waking up early to start getting ready. Between hair and makeup, getting to the venue, and the millions of photos you'll be taking, make sure to schedule in some time to eat something healthy. Make this part of your timeline if you need to, and even go as far as to send a bridesmaid, groomsmen, or family member to retrieve food in between preparations. It's a long time until you eat at your reception.
Also, it might be helpful to keep some bottles of water around, too, to stay hydrated.
2. Go Easy on DIY
I know the temptation. The temptation to incorporate all of your favorite Pinterest ideas into your wedding, and the even greater temptation of thinking you can do everything yourself and save a ton of money.
I'm all about saving those Benjamins, and I did a few DIY projects for my wedding (even made my own bouquet and folded origami hearts), but make sure you have enough time to get everything finished. And consider hiring experienced vendors to take on more intricate projects, like centerpieces and floral bouquets.
Nothing can stress you out more than staying up late the night before your wedding worrying if everything will be ready in time.
3. Hire Experienced Vendors
So many couples are paying for their own weddings and on tight budgets. They're searching for high quality at a low price, and there's nothing wrong with that. There are great vendors out there that are willing to help out couples who are on a budget, and there are some vendors who are trying to break into the industry who charge below the market value.
When you are searching for those deals that are "too good to be true," make sure you are doing plenty of research and checking out every vendor. Ask to see examples of their work (cake tastings, photos of recent weddings, etc.), ask for references, check out reviews, and avoid hiring friends and family, unless they themselves are experienced professionals. Make sure you have contracts and deposits in place to help protect yourself in the case your vendor is a no show or does not perform the job they were hired to do.
You only get one wedding day, and you want to make sure your vendors know what they're doing.
4. It's OK to Run a Little Behind Schedule
Expect to be on a timeline your whole wedding day.
It can be overwhelming, especially when all you want to do is hang out and celebrate with your family and friends... But the good news is, nothing can happen without you. The wedding will not start if you're running late to the ceremony. Pictures will not be taken without you. So if you wake up a few minutes late, break off an acrylic nail, or you want to spend a little more time talking with your guests before you cut the cake, everything will be fine. Just keep your vendors in consideration, especially if you have set appointment times with them.
5. Expect Something to Go Wrong
This may sound pessimistic, but I'm a realist and don't like to sugar coat things. I've seen and experienced my share of wedding chaos...
With experienced and professional vendors who are ready for anything, there's no need to stress. There's not a whole lot you can do about it on the day of. Speak with family members and friends if there is any tension, stay as organized as possible, and make sure vendors have a Plan B for anything that could happen. I promise it will all be ok, and at the end of the day, you will be married and it will all be a memory.
6. Expect to be photographed... A LOT
These last couple of tips are geared more towards photography.
Weddings are the perfect occasion for everyone to dress up, so it's natural that everyone will want to have their picture taken with you and your new spouse. Not only will the photographer be posing you and taking you to multiple locations for portraits, your guests will be snapping photos of you and with you throughout the entire wedding... and you will get tired of it.
If you've hired an experienced photographer, they'll know that after the ceremony, you really just want to eat, relax, and celebrate with your friends and family. If you don't mind seeing your significant other before the wedding, consider doing a "First Look." You can do this in private or with your photographer to capture that first moment when you see each other. The photographer will then take most of the couple's portraits and the bridal party portraits before the ceremony, that way you only have to worry about family photos and a few more individuals before the reception.
Also consider scheduling some down time in a nice, quiet space to relax, away from the celebrating. During Cocktail Hour before the bridal party's entrance is the perfect time for this.
7. Consider an "Unplugged" Ceremony
This suggestion I hold near and dear to my heart as a photographer.
With smartphones, everyone has a fairly high quality camera in their pocket, and especially at weddings, everyone wants to get that "perfect shot." But you've already hired a photographer to capture the big moments of your wedding day, and I guarantee their images will look much better than Aunt Sally's iPhone pics.
Too many times I've seen professional wedding photos ruined by guests jumping in the way of the photographer to get their shot. That's why I suggest politely asking guests to refrain from taking pictures during the ceremony.
You want your guests to be present during the ceremony as you vow to spend the rest of your life with your one true love... not trying to out photograph the professional you've hired. Some couples create cute signs to display at the ceremony site, others have their officiant make an announcement before the ceremony starts.
The best advice I can give is to have fun, enjoy this happy time in your life, and don't stress the small stuff. No matter what happens at your wedding at the end of the day, you and your partner will be married and starting a new chapter in your lives, and that's really the important part.
*** Alicia is a wedding and commercial photographer in San Diego. She has 12 years of experience behind the camera, has won several awards for her work, and her photos have been seen in more than a dozen publications. Contact Alicia today to schedule your FREE wedding photography consultation.***
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