Oh, wedding planning. . . What you think is going to be a joyful 12 months of picking and planning can quickly turn into the most stressful year of your life. Trying to take on too much as a bride or groom on the day of your wedding can lead to a mess of a wedding day. As a wedding photographer, 8 times bridesmaid and one time bride I have seen my fair share of weddings. Even more so than that I’ve experienced a lot of wedding day mistakes and I’m here to make sure you don’t make them.
You should not be your own day of coordinator. I’m going to say it louder for the control freaks in the back YOU SHOULD NOT COORDINATE YOUR OWN WEDDING DAY. You are going to be so busy as it is that you will not have time to be telling people what to do and where to be. Hire a professional to take over this task for you. Day of coordinators are one of the most underrated wedding vendors that you should absolute add to your budget. I want you to enjoy your day and trying to be more than just the bride will bring you more stress than you can handle, I promise.
Here’s an extra tip: Don’t have your mother or your fiance’s mother take over as day of coordinator. This is a special day for them too and they should get to enjoy the day and not be stressed out over timelines and vendors either.
2. Micromanaging everything and everyone
If you have ever wondered where Bridezilla’s were born, it’s somewhere between not hiring the right people to do things for you and micromanaging the hell out of your wedding. While it’s super important to be a part of planning all the details of your day what you don’t want to do is let the details ruin your experience. If your bridesmaids nail polish isn’t the perfect shade of blush you have to let that go. Not every detail will be exactly how you imagined and you need to be okay with that now so that you can enjoy your wedding day.
3. Not setting a budget before you begin planning
Before you even consider thinking about venues, dresses or florists, you need to sit down with your fiance and any family members (parents) who may be contributing to your wedding budget. Decide what your budget will be and then be strict with yourself and stick to it. If you have no idea how much a wedding will cost you start asking your friends and contacting vendors to get an idea. Prioritize your vendors on a spreadsheet and track every penny you’re spending so you don’t go over budget and cause tension between you and your fiance.
Here’s an extra tip: Pinterest can be a great place for inspiration when planning your wedding. BUT most of our “Dream Wedding” pinterest boards are full of images from high end, highly stylized and sometimes celebrity weddings that are way beyond the average wedding budget. Be realistic when planning and budgeting and don’t hold your standards to your Pinterest board.
4. Not having a back up plan for weather
Getting married on a beautiful spring day in April sounds amazing, until you have a 100% chance of rain and thunderstorms and no indoor area for you and your guests. Trust me I’ve photographed weddings that have been rained out with no plan B and it’s an absolute nightmare! Look for a wedding venue that has both outdoor and indoor space for your wedding to avoid this last minute stress.
Here’s an extra tip: Verify with your venue that the plan B space is guaranteed to be available to you on your wedding day before you sign on the dotted line.
5. Hiring your friend instead of a professional
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had someone tell me how much they regret hiring their friend or family member instead of a professional wedding vendor. Specifically, this happens a lot with hiring your friend to photograph or video your wedding. Your friend with the “nice camera” probably has no idea how much actually goes into photographing a wedding day (hint: it’s way more than you think). I’ve heard more horror stories about brides and grooms trying to save money and trusting their friend to photograph the most important day of their lives and then either not getting wedding photos at all or getting photos that are quite frankly awful, blurry, dark, out of focus or completely unusable.
On top of maybe not getting photos you love, your friend then becomes a vendor and really won’t be able to enjoy your wedding day with you. You risk not only wedding photo disaster but losing a friend because you were trying to save some money. This is a wedding day mistake you must absolutely avoid.
6. Having a HUGE bridal party
Ok, hear me out before you skip over this one. I know a lot of you have big friend groups so it’s hard to narrow it down to just a few bridesmaids or groomsmen. You don’t need every person you’ve ever called a friend to be a part of your bridal party. The more bridesmaid you have the more makeup/hair artists you need to hire, flowers you need to order and gifts you need to purchase. We will also need more time for bridal party photos because wrangling a bride and groom plus their 16 bridal party members can be quite the task. My suggestion is to keep your bridal party to 6 people or less on each side and then invite all of your friends to your wild bachelor and bachelorette parties.
7. Drinking too much
Let me start by saying I am the last person to tell you not to have a drink on your wedding day. But no one and I mean NO ONE looks good when they are drunk. Sloppy drunk is not cute and it really shows in photos. This unfortunately is something I have dealt with at a lot of weddings. It’s so easy to go from feeling good to feeling too good when you’re not eating much, it’s hot and your bridal party is shoving glasses of champagne or shots of tequila in your face to help you take the edge off.
The biggest issue with drinking too much on your wedding day is that it makes everything take even longer to accomplish. When you are drunk you do not listen as well, and you are easily distracted. When things take longer, and our timeline starts to get way off track, we often miss important moments and photos.
I highly suggest you limit your drinking the first half of the day or preferably until we are done with sunset photos. A drink or two before your ceremony is not a big deal if you can handle your alcohol. Know your limits. On more than one occasion I have had a drunk bride or groom during sunset photos. This is an important part of your day! These are the photos you will print and hang in your home. When one or both of you is so drunk that you can no longer listen to my direction it makes it incredibly difficult for me to do my job. Every time this has happened, I get about half the photos I typically would get, and you look drunk in the few that I did.
8. Not eating enough
This goes hand in hand with the drinking too much. If you don’t eat enough, you’ll be drunk easier. Also, hangry on a wedding day is even more real and definitely not cute. Think about it. You go all day with no food, things run a little behind and suddenly it’s 7pm and you’re trying to eat dinner. But then guests are coming up to your table for photos and next thing you know we are onto first dance and the rest of your reception and you’ve had to bites of a salad.
You need your energy on your wedding day. It’s an incredibly long day full of running around, being in the sun and super high emotions. Please eat so you have the energy to make it through to the very last dance. A big breakfast and some snacks will help.
Here’s an extra tip: Plan to have a big breakfast while you’re getting ready. You can cater food in or assign this task to a friend of relative that loves to cook.
9. Open Mic speeches
I think I speak for all wedding guests and wedding vendors here, open mic is a big fat no on wedding days. Speeches tend to be too long to be begin with and opening up to the crowd only makes things worse. People are nervous and/or kind of buzzed and tend to ramble on for too long. Then uncle Bob gets on the mic and starts telling embarrassing stories from your childhood and next thing you know speeches have gone on for over an hour and your guests have lost interest. Keep your toasts short and sweet with best man, maid of honor, parents and a thank you toast from the bride and groom.
Here’s an extra tip: Ask your speech givers to keep their toast to a maximum of 3 minutes. This takes the pressure off of the speech giver to over deliver on their speech and will help keep your timeline on track so you can get your booty to the dance floor.
10. Hoping 10-20% of your invited guests will RSVP “no”
Guess what? Everyone loves a party and free booze. If you are inviting 150 people with the hopes that only 100 guests will come to your wedding you’re making a mistake. This is a really common issue I hear from my brides and it’s one that can be costly. If you only have it in your budget to invite 100 guests, then only invite 100 guests.
At my own wedding we invited exactly 89 people and guess what. . .every single person RSVP’d yes and we had two of our guests show up with dates even though they didn’t get a plus one.
11. Feeling pressure to go with traditions
Bouquet and garter toss, a money dance, a wedding at a church or a white dress, the list could go on and on. But you don’t need any of those things at your wedding. In fact most of my clients are tossing traditions out and just doing their own thing. Don’t want to cut a cake? You don’t have to. Sometime traditions are pushed on us by family members or this preconceived idea in our head that it’s not a wedding unless you “fill in the blank”. The only thing that matters on your wedding day is you marry the love of your life and have a good time doing it.
12. Choosing a popular date
It seems that every year there’s one date that get’s really popular for some reason or another. For instance in 2020 the date 10-10-20 was by far the most popular date I’ve ever seen. I had 38 inquiries alone for this one date. When you choose a date like this a few things happen. Your list of available vendors suddenly shortens because they’re all booking up fast for that date. Some of your wedding guests may be invited to multiple weddings that day and they’ll have to choose between you and another wedding. Your venue could potentially have increased rates for this date because it’s popular. I highly recommend avoiding these high traffic dates.
13. Family Photos lists the length of a CVS receipt
I speak for every photographer when I say family photos are the worst part of the wedding day. Not because we don’t love your families but because family photos take a really long time and your family is usually not pumped about being there. I know how important family photos are so I’m not saying don’t do them, but I highly suggest keeping the list of must have family photos short and sweet. Think immediate family members only and only take the photos you know you’re going to print. I provide my clients with the typical “must haves” list of family photos and I let all of my brides know that we can get extended family photos at the reception and this always works out perfectly. You can grab all of your cousins and get a fun and wild dance floor photo at the reception.
14. Huge gaps in the timeline
So, this doesn’t happen to me too much anymore since I’m really hands on when it comes to building your timeline. But we’ve all been to one of those weddings where there is a crazy huge gap between ceremony ending and when the reception begins or even worse where there’s too much free time in between cutting the cake and opening up the dance floor.
Keeping your wedding day flowing is super important. Your guests need to be entertained or else people will leave. Too much time for mingling and going table to table to greet guests can make the reception feel like it’s dragging on. Again, this is where hiring a professional day of coordinator who will help you stick to your timeline comes in really handy.
Here’s an extra tip: Do all of your necessary reception tasks before you open up the dance floor. It’s really a buzz kill to stop the music and ask people to sit down again so you can do toasts or cut your cake. Once the party starts keep it going.
15. Setting unrealistic expectations for vendors
It’s important to remember that your wedding vendors are humans too and you are only one of their many clients. There are a lot of costs that go into the behind the scenes of a wedding day for each individual vendor and asking for last minute favors or expecting more than what you paid for is unfair. Make sure you hire a team that can meet your expectations from the beginning.
16. Expecting everything to be perfect
I’ve never photographed a wedding that was absolutely perfect. There’s always something that goes a little wrong and that’s life. The important thing to remember on your wedding day is that if something goes wrong your guests won’t know. It’s up to you to let things roll off your shoulders so you can really enjoy your day.
Your timeline might run behind, your hair might not look totally perfect all day or your cake may not look how you imagined. It is what it is and it’s better to just let it be than let it stress you out. This is an important day but it’s just that A DAY in a long list of many days ahead that will feel just as amazing. So enjoy your wedding as much as you can and don’t fuss over the small stuff.