Planning your wedding day does not need to be difficult.

Embarking on the journey to plan your wedding is an exhilarating chapter in your love story, filled with dreams of the perfect day where every detail reflects the unique bond you share. It's no secret, however, that weaving these dreams into reality can become a tapestry threaded with moments of stress and tension. This is a natural part of the process, an inevitable companion to decisions big and small that pave the path to your celebration. But here's the good news: with thoughtful preparation and a few strategic decisions, navigating the wedding planning maze can be smoother and more joyous than you might think. I invite you to lean into the experience and wisdom shared in this post. By considering these ten stress-reducing strategies, you'll find that achieving a blissful, memorable wedding day is not just possible, but entirely within your grasp. Let's walk through these insights together, ensuring that when your special day arrives, it unfolds with ease, leaving you to revel in every cherished moment.

Tip #1. Minimize the number of locations on your wedding day.

Often times when you are dreaming up your wedding day you will be thinking about many different activities you want to include. Often time you will think of starting the wedding day at a favorite bed and breakfast. Getting up, having a meal with your friends and family, maybe taking in a round of golf, then finally heading over to where you will get ready, and then finally to the ceremony.

I live in Boston. And here traffic is a very unpredictable thing. Even if you live elsewhere in the world, with each location that you add to your schedule, you will need to also add time to drive to and from there. Additionally with each stop you will add the risk of delays. These delays can be from traffic, car trouble, someone missing the departure time, or any other number of issues that you could not foresee. I have seen it happen countless times and it just leads to stress and frustration.

My advice is as this: sit down with your fiance and discuss what is most important to you and then try to accomplish that with the fewest number of different locations. Please consider these ideas:

  • Remember typically a wedding involves the following components:
  • Getting ready
  • Ceremony
  • Portraits
  • Reception
  • Perhaps consider a venue that does everything. I have seen many fine locations which offer luxury hotel accommodations, a formal space for a ceremony, as well as a ballroom style space for a reception. In this ideal situation you would not need to travel anywhere. Everyone shows up at one location the night before and you do not need to go anywhere the next day.
  • However, some couple might very well be in love with having their wedding at a location which only offers a ceremony such as a church, temple, park, etc. In that case I would also recommend attempting to find a venue for your reception where you can also get ready and stay the night. Thus only requiring two locations.
  • Lastly, perhaps you have a solid reason for planning around several locations, maybe you found a great deal on a hotel, and you are in love with this one venue but you cannot get married there. In that case, don't worry, we can make this work. In this situation what I would give the following advice. Plan out each segment of the driving required on the wedding, such as hotel to church, or church to portrait location, and finally to reception hall, figure out how long each park of the drive will be, and then double that number. Setup your schedule accordingly.

Tip #2 Include a first look early in the wedding day

Over my nearly two decades as a wedding photographer, I've consistently observed the profound benefits of incorporating a first look into your wedding day. This practice not only offers a splendid opportunity to capture breathtaking, romantic images in a relaxed setting but also significantly streamlines the day's schedule, enhancing the overall experience. As a passionate portrait creator, I cannot stress enough the value of a first look for crafting intimate and striking photos without the rush.

More importantly, the first look plays a crucial role in reducing stress by allowing for a smoother flow of events. Once the first look and subsequent portraits are captured—ranging from individual shots of the bride and groom to group photos with the bridal party and family—the rest of the day unfolds more seamlessly. This means you can transition directly from the ceremony to the reception, bypassing the extended cocktail hour typically required for photo sessions. For a deeper dive into this topic, I invite you to explore a dedicated article here.

The bride and groom enjoy a close intimate moment during the ceremony.

Tip #3 Get your beauty sleep the night before

Offering this advice may risk sounding like a dampener on pre-wedding festivities, yet it's imperative to stress the importance of being well-rested for your wedding day. I strongly advise against indulging in late-night celebrations immediately before your big day. Instead, consider holding such gatherings two nights prior, allowing a full day to unwind, rejuvenate, and prepare mentally and physically for the momentous occasion ahead.

In my experience, weddings commence more smoothly when both parties are energized and focused, rather than recuperating from the previous night’s exertions, whether from social engagements or last-minute preparations. I recommend meticulously planning your schedule to conclude all tasks two days before your wedding, affording you a day of complete relaxation. This approach not only ensures you are at your best, radiantly stepping into the most significant day of your life but also equips you with resilience to gracefully manage any unforeseen challenges.

Remember, despite the most thorough planning, minor setbacks are inevitable; however, a well-rested state vastly improves your capacity to navigate these with ease and maintain the joy and serenity that your wedding day deserves.

Tip #4 Create a realistic wedding day itinerary and share it!

This next tip is crucial and complements the advice on travel in tip #1. I suggest sitting down with your fiancé, get a big sheet of paper to map out every significant moment of your wedding day. This means deciding on the locations for getting ready (and whether this will happen in two different places), pinpointing the ceremony and reception venues, and determining if there's a separate locale for portraits. It's essential to calculate the travel time needed between each spot, adding a generous buffer to account for any unforeseen delays.

Once you've sketched out a rough itinerary, you can refine it into a detailed timeline, marking the start and end of each key event. It's normal to go through several iterations of this plan as your big day approaches, and that's perfectly fine. Furthermore, it is always very helpful to ask a professional event planner to review your itinerary to see if you forgot anything. If you do not have a planner, it is just as helpful to ask friends who recently were married what they think. Their experience will be very valuable.

The next step—and this is crucial—is to share this plan with everyone involved. In today's digital age, creating a document or spreadsheet online and sharing it via email is incredibly straightforward. And since virtually everyone has email, disseminating this information to your entire bridal party, both sets of parents, and any guests playing a role in the wedding is simple. This ensures everyone is on the same page, significantly reducing questions about logistics and timings.

From my experience, while many couples excel at planning their wedding day, they often limit this information to a small circle. Sharing the schedule widely prevents confusion, avoids delays, and helps your special day unfold as smoothly as possible. Please share your itinerary with very bridal party member, parents, other immediate family, as well as all of your vendors.

Bride putting on her dress and getting ready with the help of her sister on the wedding day

Tip #5 Try on your wedding day outfit(s) well before the day of the wedding, especially your shoes

The attire you choose for your wedding day naturally leans towards the elaborate, given the significance of the occasion. Brides often select dresses that promise to dazzle and leave a lasting impression, while grooms might spend considerable time picking out a suit that resonates with their personal style and the day's aesthetic. However, these choices can lead to complications, especially when outfits are left untried until the wedding day itself, a situation I've seen lead to unnecessary stress more than once.

To avoid such predicaments, I strongly advise both brides and grooms to have a full outfit trial at least a week before the wedding. This trial includes everything from the dress and suit to the minor accessories, ensuring that any adjustments needed can be made well in advance, without the last-minute panic.The trend of changing outfits between the ceremony and reception adds an extra layer of complexity. Checking the fit and comfort of both sets beforehand will save you from any day-of dilemmas.

A critical yet often overlooked aspect of your wedding outfit is the footwear. Comfort and practicality should weigh as heavily as style in this choice. You'll be on your feet for the better part of the day, moving across various terrains. For grooms, breaking in new shoes days before the wedding can prevent a world of discomfort. For brides, especially those favoring high heels, consider accessory aids like heel protectors to navigate through sand or grass more gracefully.

Lastly, the intricate task of bustling a wedding dress for the reception is something that shouldn't be underestimated. Secure a session with your tailor or a dress professional to master the bustling process of your specific gown. Document this tutorial with photos or a video to ensure a smooth transition into your reception look, avoiding any pre-dance floor distress.

In conclusion , meticulous planning and proactive trials of your wedding attire and accessories can significantly enhance your comfort and confidence, letting you focus on the joy and celebration of your special day.

Bride and groom dancing at their reception!

Tip #6 Stay Hydrated. No Really! Stay hydrated! Also please eat.

Here's a little nugget of wisdom that might slip your mind amidst the whirlwind of your big day. Amid all the excitement and heartfelt moments, it's easy to overlook the simplest of things – like taking a moment to breathe deeply or staying hydrated. Believe it or not, sipping on water throughout your wedding day is a game-changer. It keeps you calm, sharp, and fully present to soak in every beautiful moment, regardless of the season. And if you're someone who likes to toast with a bit of bubbly or a craft beer, that's totally fine! I always suggest following up each alcoholic drink with a tall glass of water. This simple trick ensures you stay hydrated, ward off any potential headaches, and feel fantastic throughout the celebration. Trust me, your body (and memory of the day) will thank you for it!

The same advice goes for eating. Perhaps you wanted to slim down a bit for the wedding. That is wonderful. However when we get to the day itself, this is not a time to go light on the food. A full stomach and level blood sugar can really help maintain a stable mind set and over all good mood.

Formal portrait of entire bridal party on wedding day.

Tip #7 Create your list of formal portraits with care

Get ready, because on your wedding day, we're capturing it all - the spontaneous joy, the artful romance between you and your love, and of course, those must-have formal portraits with your nearest and dearest. Now, while these group shots are a treasured part of the festivities, we all agree that spending hours on them isn't ideal. So, here's a little insider tip to make it smooth sailing.

Let's smartly plan when to snap these group gems. Maybe during the first look, right after the ceremony, or even amidst the cocktail hour buzz - a perfect slot since everyone's mingling in one spot, making it a breeze to round up the troops.

The real magic trick? A pre-planned list of who's who in your photo lineup. This isn't just a list; it's your stress-buster, ensuring everyone's accounted for without turning it into a headcount headache. Without it, well, let's just say it's the express lane to Stressville - guests wandering, you fretting, and precious time ticking.

Here's how we ace it: Draft that list with all the mix-and-match family and friend combos you're dreaming of. Organize it by family side or friend group - this way, we flow from one set to the next like a well-oiled machine. And, to make it even smoother, label each group by relationship - 'Bride and groom with bride's parents', 'With groom's cousins', and so on. It's like giving me a roadmap of your personal connections, ensuring no one's left behind and everyone's moment in the spotlight is captured.

Trust me, winging it on the day is the last thing we want. It's about creating joyous memories, not a behind-the-scenes documentary of chaos. So, with a little prep, we'll keep the focus on fun, love, and celebration

Bride and groom enjoying their first dance as man and wife with all their guests watching.

Tip #8 Have a backup plan for potential problems.

This one is very important, even though it might seem a tad gloomy at first glance. Once you've got your wedding day schedule all shiny and perfect, it's a smart move to take a moment and ponder the "what ifs." Thinking about potential hiccups in advance isn't as daunting as it sounds, especially when you've got time on your side to brainstorm solutions.

For instance, if you're dreaming of an outdoor wedding under the stars or with your toes in the sand, having a Plan B for weather woes is crucial. Rain, wind, or an unexpected chill shouldn't dampen your day, so chatting with your venue about an indoor backup spot is a great idea. They're usually on it, but hey, it doesn't hurt to double-check.

Also, think about your guests' well-being. Got loved ones with health conditions or in their golden years? Make sure there's a quick way to get help if needed, like keeping a phone handy for emergencies or knowing who to buzz at the venue. And don't forget about any food allergies; ensuring everyone can feast without fear is key.

Lastly, life's unpredictable. If a VIP in your wedding squad can't make it last minute due to an injury or emergency, having a flexible game plan for who can step up will save the day. It's all about being prepared and sharing your strategy with the crew, so everyone's ready to adapt. Trust me, a bit of foresight now means a smoother, stress-free celebration later. And remember, having time to plan is your best friend when it comes to navigating these bumps in the road.

Tip #9 Definitely have an engagement session!

I wholeheartedly believe that capturing your wedding in a way that truly reflects you as a couple is the heart of exceptional wedding photography. Your unique personalities and style are the compass guiding every shot, every angle, and every decision I make. Since no two couples are the same, no two weddings are photographed the same way. It’s this deep understanding and connection between us that sets the stage for truly magical wedding photos.

From the moment you choose me to be a part of your journey, we embark on a wonderful process of getting to know each other. We'll chat about your visions, your tastes, and the essence of your love story. These conversations are the foundation upon which we build our photography plan.

Enter the engagement session: a beautiful, relaxed prelude to your big day. Think of it as a joyful exploration, where we take the ideas we've dreamed up and bring them to life, without a single glance at the clock. This session is your playground – a chance to try out those concepts we discussed. And it's absolutely okay to tell me what works for you and what doesn't. Your feedback is golden! If you adore an idea, fantastic. If not, we pivot. This is all about ensuring we're perfectly aligned for when your wedding day arrives.

Think of the engagement session as a vital rehearsal. It ensures that on your wedding day, I'll know precisely what makes your hearts sing (and what doesn't). Skipping this step is like walking down the aisle with a blindfold. Even if we squeeze it in just days before the wedding, it’s invaluable. It’s not just for me, but for us, ensuring we're all moving in harmony towards the same beautiful vision of your day.

Please take a moment to look at my engagement session portfolio here. Additionally I have another article about how to get the most out of your engagement session. Please check it out here.

Tip #10 Lastly, decide what is most important to you!

I've heard this heartfelt sentiment shared by many couples after their special day has passed. They treasure every moment of their wedding, yet sometimes, they can't help but feel that certain elements they held dear didn't get the spotlight they deserved. Wedding planning is a journey filled with advice and suggestions from friends and family. While their intentions are usually rooted in love, it's not uncommon to feel a bit swept away by the opinions of others, possibly drifting from what matters most to you.

Here's a gentle nudge towards a meaningful conversation I encourage you and your partner to have: take some time to really talk about what aspects of your wedding day are non-negotiables, which ones you're flexible about, and which ones you could, if necessary, let go of. This chat might take a bit of back and forth to find common ground, but trust me, it's worth every second.

This clarity becomes your north star, guiding you through the maze of planning and decision-making. It becomes especially invaluable when you hit an unexpected detour and need to quickly decide what's truly essential. This is how you determine the allocation of time for various photographs or decide between different types of ceremonies or receptions. Remember, there's no universal right or wrong here—only what feels right for the two of you.

Embracing this approach will not only help you stay true to your vision but also ensure that when you look back on your wedding day, you'll know it was a genuine reflection of your love and priorities.

Thank you so much for reading my article on reducing stress on the wedding day.

Interested in learning more about this Boston Wedding Photographer? Please feel free to reach out!