wedding timeline planning

The Secret to a Stress-Free Wedding

Humor me for a minute. 

I want you to take 10 seconds and think about all of the things that go into creating a typical wedding day. Now, I have an advantage because weddings are my life, but here's what I was able to come up with in those ten seconds: 

catering, alcohol, cocktail hour, servers, hair and makeup, cake, bridesmaids, groomsmen, family, flowers, officiant, music/DJ, centerpieces, reception decor, wedding dress, ceremony processional

That is a lot of moving parts. Give me even more time and I can come up with a list of wedding day details that would make your head spin. Everything from transportation, parking and hotels to wedding day breakfast and lunch, the rehearsal dinner, the after party and your cake. There are details as tiny as the knife you will cut your cake with (for all of 5 seconds). 

Even if you've hired a wedding planner, there are a lot of decisions to make. The majority of my clients do not have a wedding planner and only some have a day-of coordinator. It's not all that popular here in our neck of the woods so when I show up to a wedding where there is a day-of coordinator, I could cry with joy. Otherwise, that responsibility is shared between all of the other wedding day vendors. As with any large event, there are an abundance of small details that all need to align perfectly to create a smooth and chaos-free day.   

Now again, humor me and imagine you're the bride and while you're sitting in your makeup chair on one of the most important days of your life, everyone keeps asking you a million questions. But they're not the fun kind. 

What time do I need to put on my bridesmaid dress?
When is the DJ going to get here? 
How are we getting back to the hotel later tonight? 
Where are your shoes? 

The bartenders are late. What do I do?
No one can find the officiant. What is his name?
Who has the wedding bands?
Where is the framed photo of grandpa supposed to go? 
What order do we walk down the aisle in? 
What do we do after the ceremony is over? 
How are we doing reception introductions? 
What time is the cake being cut? 
Where is Mom? Where is Grandma? 
What time will the caterer be arriving? 

Here's my point: Over the years I have seen a dramatic increase in the number of brides who tell me, "we just want our wedding day to be chill and relaxed and stress free. We want to drink and dance and have a good time." I think somewhere along the lines, brides started to assume that the way you have a chill wedding day is to just say that you're a relaxed person and you want a low-key day and hope it happens because you've been really calm about everything leading up to your day. I'm so sorry to burst your bubble... but that's not how this works. That's not how any of this works. 

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The secret to a stress-free wedding is smart, detailed planning. 

I'm talking about an immaculately planned timeline that covers even the smallest details, a personal timeline and list of responsibilities for each key person involved, a list of vendor contacts that is easily accessible during the wedding day, a detailed design plan and plenty of buffer time built into your day. When you eliminate the questions for those helping you pull off your big day, you eliminate the stress. 

When I see brides wearing thin and freaking out, it's because too many people have asked them too many questions, people aren't sure where they are supposed to be at a certain time and no one is helping because they haven't been told how. Usually there is a missing groomsman in the mix there somewhere too. 

If you're in the midst of planning your dream day, I want to urge you to dig in, write it all down and schedule out every detail. That's the way to create a day that is calm, free of stress and joyous from start to finish. Eliminate the questions and develop a plan.

Some of my favorite, practical planning resources (for weddings and beyond) are: 

  • Google Drive for storing documents, creating timelines and making guest lists

  • Doodle for deciding on dates and gathering people easily

  • Wunderlist for managing multiple to-do lists

  • GroupMe for communicating effectively with family and bridesmaids

Unsure of where to start? Check out my timeline freebie download to give you a good idea of what your wedding day structure should look like. 

If that all seems overwhelming and absolutely terrible to you or you just don't have the time to commit to being your own wedding planner... I highly recommend you invest in a professional wedding planner! If even that sounds like hell... have ya considered eloping? 😉

You deserve to start your forever with a day that feels like pure magic. 


The Day-Of Wedding Necessities You Probably Never Thought Of

While shooting weddings I've come across a few tips that can help your wedding day (specifically the getting-ready and cleaning up portions) function much better. There are a few simple items that can alleviate stress - and they're not tips that you'll find on most wedding blogs. These are definitely more practical and less cutesy but they will make a big difference! Today I'm sharing my top seven favorite must haves for making your wedding day easier! 

Wooden Hanger
This tip you probably have actually heard of but people always forget it! I'm not sure why! You've invested a pretty penny into your incredible wedding dress. Let's make sure it is displayed and photographed on a wood or decorative bridal hanger instead of the 2 cent plastic one that it came on. Nothing cheapens the look of a beautiful gown like a photo of a crappy plastic hanger. You don't have to have a custom wire one with your name or wedding date either - a plain wooden hanger will do in a pinch! 

Button-up Shirt or Robe
Your hair and makeup artists will thank you profusely for this one. The purpose of a robe goes beyond the cute getting ready outfits. You do not want to ruin your professional hair and makeup by pulling a tee or tank top up over your head and across your face. You should be wearing a button up shirt, zipper sweatshirt, robe or something that can be taken off without pulling it over your head. 

Dry Spray Deodorant 
Whether you're having a mid-summer wedding or you just tend to get sweaty when you're nervous - you should be using dry spray deodorant on your wedding day. A lot of posing with couples involves the bride throwing her arms around the grooms neck so yes, sometimes we see your armpits! Dry spray deodorant will not clump like traditional stick deodorant and it won't take time to dry like gel. You can spray it everywhere... and I mean everywhere. Dove and Degree both sell excellent dry spray antiperspirant deodorants. If you feel like you want or need extra coverage, I recommend applying a traditional clinical strength stick antiperspirant the night before your wedding. 

Power Strip
Regardless if all of your girls are having their hair and makeup done in one room or not - you can always benefit from more outlets. This will fill up with phone chargers, hair dryers and curling irons. 

Basket or Box
Yes, a storage basket or box like the ones you find in the "home storage" section of Target! Place all of your details in this basket before you ever leave your house. Jewelry, invitations, shoes, perfume, both wedding bands and anything else that will be photographed as a part of your wedding-day details. Keeping it all in one place is helpful for everyone. When your photographer arrives, all you have to do is hand over that one box (avoiding many scavenger hunts for details). 

Trash Bags
Before the photographer starts shooting the getting ready process, the room must be tidied up completely. Pizza boxes, lunch trays, tissues and empty champagne bottles must all be tossed. The tiny hotel/venue provided trashcans are absolutely not going to cut it. Bring along a few trash bags of your own to make this process smoother. 

Empty Suitcase
If you are getting ready at your reception venue and will need to vacate the bridal suite at the end of the night, bring a large empty suitcase with you. This is by far my favorite tip because I love the idea of just tossing all the junk in, zipping it up and rolling it away. The suite will be filled with random things like snacks, touchup makeup, the clothes you got ready and so much more. No one will have time to pack up everything nicely and honestly, it's not all going to fit in the bags you arrived with. Believe me. Save yourself some drunken panicky headaches at 11 PM and just throw it in the rolling suitcase before your ceremony begins, toss it in the car and deal with it later.