Y’all.  Let’s be real.
If you have been planning your wedding for any amount of time, you know the potential for things to get cray. We’re here to offer some advice to keep things calm and fun up until and on the big day.

1. Pick Vendors You Really Trust

Does the venue have a rain plan?  Is your planner an excellent communicator?  Have you heard the band live?  For us, the greatest gift a couple can give us is their trust.  If we know they absolutely adore our work and completely give us freedom to do what we do, we really thrive creatively (that means not asking us to copy photos they’ve seen on Pinterest.)  Beyond taking the time to talk to friends who have used the vendors you’re considering, check out their reviews from couples on sites like The Knot.  You want to know that they are masters at their craft, have wonderful personal skills, and are just genuinely good people.

Once you find a vendor you’re stoked about and you start a conversation with them on the phone or in email, setup an in-person meeting (or Skype for out-of-state vendors).  Make sure you click!  Especially for the really personal or creative vendors like photography and planning services, you want to make sure they are the kind of person you genuinely want to hang out with — because you’re going to be doing a lot of that on the most important day of your life!

***Please please be extra careful when hiring friends or family to do any of the services for your big day.  If they are not a professional in the field, it’s not worth saving some money or sparing someone’s feelings — oh, the stories we’ve heard!  But if they are a killer videographer or DJ and you’re excited about booking them, great!  Just make sure you have a formal, legal contract for each and every vendor.  No exceptions.

2. Leave Room for Error in the Timeline

The wedding day gets crazy.  Your MOH can’t find her shoe, Uncle Joe ran to the bathroom before family photos, makeup took way longer than you expected — the list can go on and on.  There is so much wisdom in leaving buffer room between plans, especially when traveling to different locations or a large bridal party is involved.  Since everything flies by so fast, you want to make sure that you have time to look around and enjoy your friends and family instead of being stressed and feeling rushed.  It is so worth spending a bit extra to extend the time of some of your vendors if it takes that to create a calm flow for your day.  Here are some specific tips we implement with our couples:

– Building in at least 30 minutes prior to ceremony to relax at the venue so you can to refresh your make-up, relax, and focus on what’s about to happen.
– Having specific time(s) set aside to for the photographer to shoot attire and venue details, so they are not trying to fit them in during valuable portrait or documentary time.
– For the most relaxed day, book everything at one venue (getting ready, ceremony, photos, reception) and do a First Look.

3. Do a Practice Run for Hair and Makeup

I know this may seem unnecessary, but it’s big.  Often, hair and makeup artists will do the bride last on the wedding day so that she is the freshest.  But if you don’t time this properly, your groom could be waiting extra long for you at the First Look, and that’s just torturous.  Lots of beauticians offer both services, and provide discounted rates for the dry-run.  A perfect way to utilize this session is to have it right before your Engagement Photos or Bridal Portraits.  Not only will you look extra beautiful for your photos, but you will be able to see how your bridal look photographs and tweak if necessary.

4. Leave the Week Before the Wedding Open

Try to get all your planning and prepping, from final meetings with vendors to folding programs, done one week before the wedding day.  Not only will you have the rehearsal dinner and guests in from out of town that you’ll want to see, but you need down time to yourself and to the two of you as an engaged couple.  Go on a date in that week and make it a rule that you cannot talk about wedding plans or to-do lists — you can only dream about your new life together (and that honeymoon!)  And carve out at least a few hours for yourself that week as well — to reflect and journal or pray about all that has happened, and how life is about to take an exciting new turn.

Keep in mind that some things you didn’t foresee will likely pop up that week, and you will be so glad you have time to spare to deal with them rather than sending you into a panic.

5. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

There is a good chance that on your wedding day someone will forget something, your veil will tear, it will rain, or some other random thing will go differently than planned.  The couples we have worked with who seem to truly enjoy their wedding are the ones who plan things to the best of their ability beforehand, and then let control completely go on the big day.  They don’t let things stress them out because their focus is on the big things: marrying their favorite human, partying with their besties, and soaking up each glorious moment.  You do not want to look back at this day and regret your attitude or that you were so blinded by worry.

I really hope these tips are helpful for you, friends!  Check out the Wedding Tips category on our blog to see more posts like this and follow us on Pinterest to see all the wedding and session inspiration we’re pinnin’.