After being a part of so many happy wedding days, we’ve learned a lot about how to make the day more enjoyable for our couples. From the sometimes obvious, to the often forgotten, here’s a quick list of tips to make your day more enjoyable.
1. Create a detailed schedule, but stay flexible
In my opinion, the day-of schedule is the biggest contributor to how enjoyable a wedding day can be for the couple. There are many, many people involved in a wedding – the bridal party, vendors, guests, venue personnel – and the schedule is the one thing tying them all together. You should invest a significant amount of time in putting it together in the weeks before the wedding and make sure everyone involved has read and understands what needs to happen. The more detailed your schedule is, the less time you’ll have to spend trying to coordinate people on the day-of.
2. Build in extra time
Closely following tip #1, we highly recommend building in extra time for each part of the day. For one reason or another, almost no wedding runs on time. It may be a wardrobe issue, car stuck in traffic, a late member of the bridal party, the officiant falling ill, or bad weather – there are so many reasons you might need extra time! We recommend adding 30 minutes beyond what you think you need to for each major part of the day (i.e. getting ready, ceremony, photos, reception). This also allows you to move through the day more naturally, without having to worry so much about the schedule or falling behind on time.
3. Designate one bridesmaid and one groomsman to be your points of contact
It’s your wedding, and you don’t want to spend the entire day managing your bridal party, family, vendors, and guests. Select one person from the bride’s side and one person from the groom’s side and task them with being the go-to person for questions, instructions, and any minor problems that arise throughout the day.
4. Consider the time of day/lighting conditions when planning your schedule
It’s important not to overlook the context of the day’s events when planning your schedule. For example, if your wedding is in July, it may be best to avoid that mid-afternoon outdoor ceremony and instead push it later to 5:00PM or 6:00PM. Not only will your guests thank you for saving them from the intense heat, but the lighting will feel much more dreamy and romantic (as opposed to the mid-day harsh sunlight). On the other hand, if your wedding is in October, the lighting can be great at 2:00PM or 3:00PM, and guests can enjoy the outdoors before it gets too cool. The same goes for your scheduled photo time, where the lighting dramatically affects the look and feel of the photos. While it’s great to squeeze in everything you want on the schedule, it can be more important to consider when and where those events are happening.
5. Eat a good breakfast
You’re going to need a ton of energy to make it to the end of the night, so help yourself by eating a good breakfast of proteins, healthy carbs, and fruit. You may not have another chance to eat anything until much later in the day so make this a priority and also pack some snacks just in case!
6. Make sure your guys can tie a tie
Whether a bow tie or a neck tie, remind all of the guys to practice tying their tie before the wedding day. We’ve witnessed countless wedding ceremonies delayed because the groom or groomsmen couldn’t figure out how to tie their tie!
7. Have an "unplugged" ceremony
One of the biggest distractions during a wedding are family or friends holding up phones, cameras, or even tablets to take pictures. We’ve even see over-zealous guests step into the aisle and in front of the photographer in order to “get the shot.” Not only does this ruin the intimate atmosphere, but it also adversely effects the work from the hired photographers and videographers. Nobody wants wedding photos filled with guests on their phones!
•Place a sign at the entrance of the space requesting an “unplugged ceremony”
•Place a polite reminder in the wedding program
•Have your officiant make an announcement before the ceremony begins
8. Make a list of important photo combinations ahead of time
In the weeks leading up to the wedding, it’s definitely a good idea to make a list of all your desired photo combinations and discuss it with your photographer. For example, it can be something as simple as this:
1. bride/groom with groom’s parents
2. bride/groom with bride’s parents
3. bride/groom with all siblings
4. individuals of bride with each bridesmaid (x5)
A list like this helps the photographer stay on track and make sure you get everything you want!
9. Feed your vendors first
It’s customary for the photographer, videographer, and DJ to take a short break during the reception and sit down for a meal. After all, this is probably the only break and food they will have for the entire 8+ hour day! At most venues, the vendors are fed dead last, after the bridal party, family, and all guests have been served. While I understand the venues want to make sure the guests are taken care of, this can often lead to a problem. By the time the vendors are finally served, the couple has usually finished their meal and are up and walking around. To make things worse, the venue usually seats the vendors in a back room, away from guests. As a photographer, I never want to miss a moment for our couples. I always recommend that the couple instruct the venue to feed the vendors immediately after the bridal party so that we all finish eating at the same time and can be fully present during the reception!
10. Stop and take it all in!
For many people, planning a wedding is the biggest undertaking of their life. With so much going on throughout the day, it can be easy to forget that it is, in fact, your spouse’s and your day. With all the craziness, find a moment to stop and take it all in. After all, it’s just a few short hours and you will be looking back on this day for many years to come!