If you’re here reading this – congratulations on your recent engagement and upcoming wedding! I get it though, planning a wedding can be incredibly overwhelming and stressful. Figuring out the balance between enjoying your wedding day, and stressing over the little details is tough to manage.
Having worked at 150+ weddings, I’ve pretty much seen it all! It’s so important for you to be able to look back on your wedding day with no regrets, and want to relive it everyday. So, I’ve gathered a few tips to help ease your stress and allow you to actually enjoy your wedding day!
Location is Everything
While planning your dream wedding, finding the perfect location is one of the toughest decisions a couple has to make. Make sure while you’re planning that you take the time to find a location you absolutely love, this ensures we’re able to take all the photos on site! There’s no traveling between Airbnb’s, your friend’s house, or a hotel. Finding a location that fits all your wedding day needs helps prevent travel from cutting into your valuable wedding coverage.
If you’d like to have your pre-ceremony memories captured (aka getting ready with your closest people, first looks), I recommend finding a venue that has getting ready suites or on-site rooms, or even cabins. That way, you and your best friends can get pampered and celebrate together all morning! Keeping this on site also makes it much easier for me to get all my gear in place and document all the details of your venue before the main event.
Let’s Talk About Light
Natural light is the best light, it allows for clean, bright and timeless images, and is incredibly flattering. There’s something photographers like to call the “window effect.” Any time we’re indoors, such as during getting ready, the best light is window light. I’m always looking to find the best window in the getting ready area. This helps me easily capture moments and create beautiful portraits with soft light. Lights in the room don’t count, and actually don’t provide ‘good’ light for me. You’ll likely see me turning all of those extra lights off. But the more windows, the better!
I work with all my couples to incorporate as much natural light as we can into your schedule, specifically for portraits. Whenever I can, I plan to photograph when the sun is lower in the sky. This helps us avoid harsh shadows and bright sun patches. Getting to work in soft, flattering “golden hour” light helps me easily create clean, bright, and timeless images.
In order to get that timing right, you’ll need to plan your timeline accordingly. I typically recommend scheduling outdoor ceremonies 2-3 hours before sunset, depending on your first look decision and the schedule of your portraits. That way, we have plenty of time for all of your portraits afterwards, and the evening light will be gorgeous. Feel free to let me know if you need help with the timing of this!
Another benefit to having your timeline planned out not only keeps your wedding party in the loop, it’ll keep all your vendors on time and organized. Need help figuring out your timeline? I’m here for you! Being a Charlottesville wedding photographer, I have done this a few times, and have some timeline examples that may help make things smoother.
Delegation is your friend!
Delegation is a key part of a stress-free wedding day. I know it might be hard to hand over the decorating duties, beer deliveries, gathering family, and all of the last minute things that need to be done…but, it really is important to relax the morning of your wedding! The rest of the day is going to be fast paced and filled with a lot of emotions. Maybe have your favorite music playing, and relax. If certain items haven’t been checked off of the to-do list, it’s time to hand them over to someone else.
While you can develop the plan ahead of time, please delegate all the actual set-up to a coordinator or a trusted friend. Hiring a day-of coordinator is my top recommendation to couples, or even a full planner if that fits within your budget. If you can’t budget for it, that’s okay! I recommend asking a friend or family member who is great with keeping things organized and willing to be the point person on the day of the wedding.
Again, you are not meant to do this alone – find vendors that you trust, and they’ll bring you so much peace of mind to enjoy your day. If you are planning on tying the knot in the DMV area, then you are in luck! I’ve already gathered lists of fifteen different vendor types based out of Charlottesville and Richmond who are inclusive to LGBTQ+ and BIPOC communities. So ask me about my Vendor Rec List!
Be Present and Unplug
Going unplugged for the day is a great way to stay present. Your day is going to fly by, so focus on really enjoying these moments as they come. Setting your phone aside means you won’t be constantly interrupted by notifications or constantly checking social media. You can really take in every moment while avoiding unnecessary stress.
Take in every person there and create memories for a lifetime. Talk with your grandma about your dress, ask your dad how he is feeling, thank your person of honor for all they’ve helped you with. Make conversations and memories in a way that will make your wedding day that much more special.
I say this not only for my couples but also for all the people coming together to celebrate with you. Consider asking your friends and family to unplug. Looking back on your wedding day, you’ll want to see faces of the beautiful people you invited – not a sea of phones and tablets. This also makes it easier for my team and me to do our job. We won’t have to worry about dodging people trying to get their own photo of you coming down the aisle.
You may feel pressured to have or skip certain traditions at your wedding, but it’s your day! Don’t be afraid to pick and choose, or add in modern traditions that vibe with you. At the end of the day, this is your wedding. Everyone there knows and loves you for exactly who you are. So be you, and enjoy it all!
To give a few examples: You could get ready with your partner so you can hang out all morning. If family formals matter to you, we’ll make it happen. Maybe during the reception, the bouquet/garter toss or cake cutting is just not your style – skip it! Make sure your day is one that brings a smile to your face for years to come. Your wedding day should be a reflection of you, a day you love and want to relive again and again.
Still exploring wedding venues? Check out the blog for some of my favorite Charlottesville wedding venues and Richmond wedding venues (coming soon).