Being a photographer, I have seen a few wedding days. I’ve seen what makes the day go smoother, and what makes a chaotic wedding day. Here are seven suggestions—not just photography related—to make your wedding day go smoother.
Build in extra time to the timeline
You should assume that everything will take longer than you think it will. Hair and makeup—you think it should take an hour. That would probably be true in most cases, but on your wedding day, you’ll have your sister, cousin, etc. interrupting asking you questions about the day. I would add at least 30 minutes longer than you think it should take, but an hour would be safer.
Remember to include travel time in your timeline. Murphy’s law will strike and there will be traffic on roads that normally run smoothly. Rushing leads to accidents, and the last thing you want on your wedding day is to get into an accident.
Designate a Contact for all Vendors
You should give all vendors, including the venue, a point of contact who is not in the wedding party. You can have different contact persons for each vendor if you want. As with traffic, I’ve never seen a wedding go off as planned from a vendor’s perspective. There’s always something that we either need to inform you about or get permission to do.
If your contact person is in the wedding party, he or she will be getting ready when the vendor needs them. Of course, this needs to be someone you trust, which can be hard if your closest friends are in the wedding party. You can use this to your advantage, though, by designating someone like that cousin who’s upset she’s not a bridesmaid. Tell her this is the reason why; you needed someone you can trust to be the vendor contact.
Use a “first look”
I know there’s the whole superstition about the groom not seeing the bride before the ceremony. And this tip is a little self-serving because first looks are so great from a story-telling perspective. They make great content for wedding albums.
The groom will appreciate a first look. Why? Because he is going to cry when he sees you. Men don’t like to cry in front of an audience, so let him do it in private. Besides, when you see how great the photos turn out, you’ll be glad you did it.
Take Photos of One Side Before the Ceremony
Wedding photographers know that the bride and groom, bridesmaids and groomsmen would all rather get to the reception rather than stick around and take photos after the ceremony. So minimize that wait, if not eliminate it.
Schedule the formal photographs of either the groom’s side of the family or the bride’s side before the ceremony, if not both. If you are going to only do one, I recommend it be the bride’s side.
Why the bride’s side? Because, typically, even if they’re not paying for the wedding and reception, the bride’s family knows more about the details than the groom’s family. So they should be available after the ceremony in case guests (or vendors) need any assistance.
Feed the Vendors
A little over a year ago, a wedding magazine (I’m not going to dignify it by mentioning it by name) stated that you don’t have to feed vendors–that the vendors should plan accordingly and pack snacks.
Vendors are typically on their feet longer than the bride and groom are. They typically have just as long of a day, if not longer, than the bride. They are busting their rump to provide you with good service. The least you can do is feed them.
Now, I will give this caveat. It all depends on what the vendor’s job is and for how long you have retained them. If you only hire a photographer for four hours of coverage, I wouldn’t necessarily expect you to provide them with a meal. However, if you hire, say, a videographer for 8 hours, then yes, I think they should receive a meal.
Most vendors will have a contract provision covering whether they expect to receive a meal or not.
On a related note …
Maintain Your Blood Sugar
Depending on the time of the ceremony, many brides will begin getting ready before lunch but will not eat anything until the reception, several hours away. You will be nervous and anxious during this day, which coupled with a lack of food can cause you to experience low blood sugar.
Avoid this by eating a meal with complex carbohydrates before you begin getting ready. Avoid refined carbs because they will cause a blood sugar spike followed by a sharp drop.
Get a Good Night’s Sleep
As stated previously, wedding days tend to be long days, especially for the bride. I know you’re going to be anxious and excited the night before your wedding, but try to get a good night’s sleep.
This goes for the groom as well. I don’t know why the tradition got started of the groom having “one last night of freedom.” I’ve seen several grooms who are so tired and hungover they can barely stand during the ceremony. Let me be straight and to the point: That’s not any way to win points with your bride, the new in-laws, or with relatives you haven’t seen in some time.
Guys, if you really want to have a night of debauchery, do it a week or two before the wedding. That way, you’re in good condition for the rehearsal, the wedding, and the reception.
An added benefit of this is you’ll look well-rested in the wedding photographs and you’ll have the stamina for the wedding night. I’m talking about dancing at the reception; what did you think I meant?