As a change of pace, I wanted to write about something that’s not necessarily related to wedding photography. Having worked on a fair few weddings now - and having helped plan my own wedding – I’ve picked up a thing or two here and there that might come in useful!
Everyone at the wedding wants the happy couple to enjoy their big day, but the sad truth is that every so often, an unlucky bride or groom has a stressful day, and this can harm their enjoyment of it.
With that in mind, I thought I’d share my thoughts and observations on how to have a stress-free wedding:
Make your wedding yours. Some people are organisational powerhouses, capable of effortlessly putting together a wedding ceremony that is religious enough for Uncle Clive - and modern enough for Cousin Jane, features a menu so well-chosen that it avoids the need for a ‘dietary preferences’ section on the RSVP, and a DJ with a playlist that is truly ‘something for everyone’. Remember that this is your big day, and it should reflect you both as a couple. Everyone who loves you will embrace and enjoy the day on that basis, and anyone else wouldn’t have been satisfied whatever you did. In short, don’t stress about what you think other people would want, and go for the wedding that suits you – even if it is a Star Wars wedding with a mandatory costume dress code!
Plan in advance. As in most things in life, the more you can do in advance, the more relaxed you will feel when the rubber meets the road. Of course, if it were that simple, then everyone would do it, right? Whether you delegate some parts of the planning to bridesmaids, ushers, or family members, or you use the ‘2 Minute Rule’ and other procrastination-avoidance techniques, you will find your sanity levels stay where they should be. There are also a plethora of online tools, guides and apps for wedding planning, so the more you can get done early on, the less stressed you'll be in the final few weeks of the wedding planning. This should mean you can focus on what matters most – getting married! ... And what hashtag you choose for the big day, of course - priorities!
Give your mobile phone away for the day. One of my favourite things about my wedding day was my best man acting as my personal valet for the day. Whether it was getting me a drink to steady my nerves beforehand, or looking after gift envelopes and my speech notes for me, or the inevitable public skewering of me that was his speech – nothing was too much trouble. But one of the best things he did was suggest that I give him my mobile phone for the day – which I did – and which really helped me to be in the moment. Also, the last thing you need is to worry about is guests stymied by the roadworks on the M25, or whether Uncle Peter left his novelty tie in the bar, or the hundreds of non-urgent and irrelevant things we look at our phone for over the course of the day. Carpe that diem!
Consider having a Master/Mistress of Ceremonies or ask a guest to fulfil this duty. A repeated theme in a lot of the weddings I have worked on that have become stressful, is the wedding running over time. Sometimes this can mean a reduced time for group shots or couple portraits, or it can mean that the venue puts the pressure on to stick to the timeline… or - worst of all - it can mean lots of hangry guests! The best way to avoid this is something that seems to have fallen slightly out of fashion recently, and that is to have a guest (preferable one with a loud voice) act as your MC on the day. Make sure they know the timings, what their role will involve, and then let them take the responsibility for making the day run to time, meaning that you don’t just need to get rid of your phone for the day – you can get rid of your watch, too! Even better, some venues also include an MC as part of their package!
Err… Don’t plan your wedding! Ok, so this goes slightly against the ethos of number 2, but when my wife and I planned our wedding, we followed the steps outlined above, and found they worked well for us, and that the whole experience was much less stressful than we thought it would be. But we later realised that actually, the Wedding Planner from the venue took a lot of the organisation and ‘wedmin’ off our hands without us realising. This meant we could focus on the fun parts, while she expertly did a lot of the hard yards (unbeknownst to us!) So if your venue offers a planner as part of their package; or you don’t enjoy admin and spreadsheets - then it’s worth considering using the services of a wedding planner. I can safely say that you will have a lot less stress!
If you'd like to tell me about your plans to avoid a stressful wedding - and ensure a great party, then feel free to get in touch. I'd love to hear from you!