5 Wedding Planning Mistakes From a Wedding Photographer
If you are recently engaged you are probably getting all kinds of information as you start planning your big day. It can get completely overwhelming! As someone who attends tons of weddings each year both as a guest and a professional I am here to tell you the 5 top things mistakes you can avoid for the best wedding day experience!
1. Hire Professionals.
I know this seems biased coming from me. However even for friends that invite me as a guest so I can enjoy their day with them get this same advice. Although it seems like a cheaper route to decorate the morning of your wedding, have a family member cook, or ask for cousin to play ceremony music believe me it all just adds unnecessary stress to your big day.
You will find that hiring professionals to handle every aspect will help your day keep its magic! You won't be running around, answering everyones questions, or setting things up and getting sweaty before getting your hair done. On your wedding day you and everyone you love should be relaxed and prepping for the best day ever.
It always breaks my heart to see a bride who has taken on too much become completely overwhelmed the morning of her wedding day. I can already see she is "over it" and no one should ever be "over" their big day!
Thankfully with most venues they offer wedding planning and Maitre'd services to make sure things are set up to your liking and nothing gets missed. If you aren't using a wedding venue I would suggest finding a local planner for at least doing same day decorating and coordinating.
When I was married at 18 I didn't know what I was doing for planning. We held our reception at a local event hall. Unfortunately I didn't hire professional help and I was the one doing all the decorating and coordinating myself. Things ended up not happening because it was too much to juggle. I also remember leaving my father-daughter dance to go dim the lights of the venue because they were still on their brightest setting from dinner.
Don't be like me and let your magic get taken over by not enlisting professional help.
2. Limit your Party!
I would honestly say this is the most crucial thing to remove stress from your wedding day. So many brides have 5-10 bridesmaids and 5-10 groomsmen. It almost seems normal, but I will tell you what when you are trying to plan a wedding and have to coordinate with 20 additional people about where they need to be and when and what they need to be wearing and doing it gets chaotic!
I realize some people cannot limit themselves this much, but I would HIGHLY suggest going with no more than 4 bridesmaids and 4 groomsmen. Trust me when I say that a room with smaller parties getting ready has a completely different feel than those with large parties.
There are a lot of different benefits to having a small party.
You have less opinions for picking out bridesmaid dresses
You will require less space and less MUA and Hair stylists in addition to less time getting everyone ready
Less people to coordinate on times and locations even expectations
Less chaos during bridal party portrait time (which means more time to focus on the bride and groom!)
Less people to find when it comes time to do grand entrance (big delays can happen here)
I honestly feel like this list can be extended A LOT especially if we were to add the coordination of bridal showers and bachelor and bachelorette parties!
If you can create your top 4 you are going to be in for a much easier, smoother wedding day!
3. Schedule With an Extra 30+ minutes
This is vital! When you are scheduling what is going to happen during your day you need to schedule how much time you think you need plus at least 30 minutes per event! You are working to coordinate so many people and vendors during your day you have to think of how many little things that can happen. If you don't give grace periods you can end up throwing the whole day off. Plus, you know what the worse thing that could happen with extra time? You get to relax! Absolutely no down side to that!
For example I had a bride that had planned down to the moment she assumed her girls would be ready for the transportation to come. They ended up not planning enough time for getting ready by not starting early enough. Multiple girls ended up having to skip MUA and just quickly get changed to make it to the venue. If this bride were to have planned to start an hour earlier for hair and MUA they could have all been completely ready and enjoying mimosas and getting adorable pre ceremony photos together!
Side note - most hair and MUA will give you a time they usually complete their jobs. Typically Hair is 45-60m per maid and Makeup can be 30-45m. It's recommended to have multiple hair and MUA vendors if you have a large party!
Another big thing to plan for is transportation. If you are having your bridal party travel to multiple locations it is wise to plan additional time for professional or personal travel. These things tend to run late during loading and unloading your bridal party, getting lost, or hitting traffic. One huge issue I have found is when the girls and the guys share the same professional transportation. Although it's a normal and smart option for your travel this type of service always runs late! Plan for 30-45m in loading and unloading time on top of the actual travel time!
4. Communication is Key!
This can vary depending on your family and bridal party. However I recommend this to everyone I work with! The week of your wedding you need to remind everyone of exactly what they are doing and what to expect. Don't assume you will remember to tell everyone individually. 7 days before your wedding you need to communicate with your family, your bridesmaids, and your groomsmen and tell each of them exactly what they are doing on wedding day. Let there be 0 confusion.
Examples for your bridal party. "Hi Ladies, just wanted to give you all a full run down of our day so we are all on the same page. We are going to meet at THIS ADDRESS at 10:00a where I have hired our hair and MUA to get us beautiful while we snack on some things my parents have provided and have our mimosas. Please remember to bring your own lipstick for at the request of our MUA, Amanda. At 1pm we will be getting dressed. Please remember your dress, shoes, and accessories. At 1:30 I will be getting dressed and surprising you all with seeing it for the first time in a reveal! Our limo driver is set for a 2pm pick up so we can get to the venue and leave our belongings in the bridal room and do last minute touch ups. At 3pm the Groom and I have our first look which will be private. At 3:30 we will start our portraits. 5pm is the ceremony. After if you are not family you can go mingle and enjoy cocktail hour. If you are family please stay at the ceremony site for some family portraits. The next time you all will be needed is for Grand Entrance! Once the DJ calls for our guests to sit please find yourself to the entrance as soon as possible so we can be introduced in. If you have not picked your song to come into please pick by THIS DATE so I can send it to the DJ. However if you can't come up with one I can chose one for you. Last, we asked our MOH and Best man to please prepare a speech for the toast. If you would also like to you may just let me know! Thank you so much for being apart of our day!"
Is that lengthy? Absolutely. However everyone will know exactly what is happening. No scrambling, no confusion. Get everyone informed!
Family messages I usually suggest as well. Just text each member that will be introduced or those who you want to take a photo with and tell them where they need to be and when. Nothing is worse than trying to fish a family member out of cocktail hour. Tell them ahead of time where to be if they want to be apart of the family photo!
5. Plan around the Sunset!
There is a big mistake that happens at many Fall weddings. However it's something that should be taken into consideration all year long! I cannot tell you how many November brides have come to me with a 4pm ceremony only to be shocked at the realization it will be completely dark by the end of it!
If you are planning to do outdoor photos on your wedding day always check the sunset schedule! It is really easy to look up on Google. What my suggestion is regardless of the time of year you are getting married. Try to plan your photos within the 2.5 hour hour before sunset. Your photographer will be THRILLED and you will be very pleased with your results!
Now that means doing a first look for a later ceremony, or doing an earlier ceremony to get those outdoor photos for afterwards.
Never be afraid to ask your photographer for scheduling advice they would love to tell you what your ceremony/portrait time should be for optimum results!
With Love, Shauna
I hope this blog posts helps all future brides. If you are planning your wedding keep checking the blog because this winter I am laying down lots of information this winter to help you plan your big day!