ULTIMATE GUIDE TO A STRESS FREE WEDDING DAY
Updated: Apr 7
All the little details nobody tells you about
Hello there. Whoooaaa! It’s happening!!! You are getting married! Finally, right?! I am sure you want to have your day just and only perfect when nothing goes wrong and you are fully enjoying every moment with your second-half-to-be, your family and the ones which are the closest to you. After photographing and videographing over 300 weddings here in Lower Mainland, we have put together with Lucho and our team 45 great tips, that will help with planning your wedding day timeline and absolutely rock your wedding day. These tips are based on our experience and we are confident that you will find this guide extremely helpful to plan your worry-free-the-best-day of your life.
Tip #1 – Everything +5 minutes (at least)
My first tip and also the most important tip is to simply add 5 to 10 minutes to every task on your wedding day timeline.
That will allows you to rush less and to be absolutely present at the moment. You will have a time to cry with your grandma, to have a so precious moment with your mom while buttoning up your wedding dress, first look with your dad, more time to cry, to receive something borrowed and something blue, and again, to cry even more.
Once you put your heels on, every of your movement will takes longer. Is your dress puffy or super fitted? Get to the car or walk on stairs will take more precision. Are you having a veil? Make sure your bridesmaids will help you carry it around even if you have it already in your hair. Long cathedral veils temp to pull as they get caught on the floor.
Do you have a gift to open from your partner or your parents? Is there a card which you want to have captured on camera while reading it?
Are there any special moments which you want to spend with the ones you love?
Allow the extra time for these time consuming details that may occur on the wedding day. Scheduling a time slot for each of these things will helps you to keep you on track and not falling behind.
And the best part will be that if you find yourself that you are ahead! Now you can sit back and enjoy yourself.
Tip #2 – Clothes / handkerchiefs / linen / etc. should be steamed before the wedding day
Do not wait to the day off with steaming and dewrinkelling.
Delegate these tasks to your little helpers a few days before. If you have a bigger bridal party, assign more people to the tasks as steaming your dress and veil, bridesmaids dresses, groom’s and groomsmen's suits, linens for reception, etc. Once it’s done, have it hanging and ready for your photographer and videographer to come at the morning.
Tip #3 – Ditch the bra
Are you having a low cut or backless dress? Ditch the bra since morning to avoid strap lines on a photos. To be more conformable, you can get silk robes or button up shirt to to avoid messing up freshly-done hair & makeup.
Tip #4 – Everybody should be ready before the bride
Have you seen the perfect photos from mornings when the team of bridesmaids and mother of the bride helping the bride to the dress? Everyone is super excited, present in the moment and literally shinning with happiness and thrill from the one in a lifetime moment coming up.
Here is the trick; it’s about perfect coordination and timing.
Make sure whether you have your maid of honor, your mom and grandma helping you with your wedding gown, make sure those helpers have theirs hair & make-up done and are dresses BEFORE it’s your time to get into your bridal gown. Once you apply this tip, everything will be more organized, polished and ready for the camera to snap those moments.
Tip #5 – Invest into your bridal hair & makeup trial
Even if your wedding is behind the corner and you are set on style of your hair & make up for your wedding day, try to find a few spare moments to have your trial done.
You get to chat and meet up with your artist which will make you definitely more comfortable on the day off as you already know each other.
Real life situation – I opened an email newsletter with the new Aritzia line. Oh my, they had my favorite color too! Since I know, I am always size medium, I immediately ordered. A few days after I got my package, opened it, put it on and… well it did fit perfectly… but I didn’t feel it. There was something off… so I returned it. Have it happened to you too? I am sure at least once each of us went through it.
Do not let it to happen on your wedding day and go for your trial. You may be surprised by the suggestions your artist had ;)
What ever you want to tweak, now it’s the time to do so on your hair and make up trial.
Are you thinking you are throwing out money as you are so glamorous and no one to appreciate it? But wait, there is a bunch of options what to do! You can go for a surprise dinner with your partner.
What we recommend our couples is to the trial before your engagement session. That way you will give a few hours test but mainly you will see yourself on the photos and get the real feel for your wedding day.
Not having engagement session? All good. What about a bridal shower? Use that trial for it.
Tip #6 – Surrender your phone to someone else
I know this can be a hard one… but well, this is your wedding day and you want to fully enjoy every minute of it. Being worried about where your phone is (nope, it’s definitely not in your back pocket), your friends calling you that they can’t find parking or out of the city guest trying to find a way to your venue.
Make your life easier and hand your phone off to your bridesmaids and honer her with a the duty of taking care of it and making some goofy selfies.
Tip #7 – Have an extra space
Sometimes places to get ready can get a bit crowded. Especially if you have a larger bridal party and your family by your side with flower girl running around, make up artists gluing eyelashes precisely on the eye lid, hairdresser having brushes aligned on table and photographer and videographer doing perfect yoga figures to get the best shots of you, your bridal party and some details during getting ready.
Make sure to have your place big enough and free of clutter so you can to just sit and chill.
Tip #8 – Tie & bow-ties tying practice is a must
Make sure the guys knows how to do it.
There is so many tutorials on YouTube but you know how it is with tutorials lol
Get the guys to practice before the morning of the wedding to avoid another possible headaches when limo is waiting and two out of 6 groomsmen can’t figure it out.
Tip #9 – Have a spare dress shirt for the groom
Groom in the summer in three piece suit and still smiling is a proof of love and dedication to make your day the best day of your life.
But no matter how much they love you, guys just sweat. Especially with full suit on. Having a fresh shirt available for afternoon and the reception will help them to relax more with no need to worry how much lifting and running during your photo session should be done.
Do you have an undershirt for him? Pack it to ;)
Tip #10 – Photos of the ‘details’
Gather all of your details like your invitations, cards, jewelry, perfume, garter, and family heirlooms. Also your veil, dress and shoes... Your creative team will be thrilled and happy to jump on the task.
Tip #11– Bouquets & Boutonnieres & Corsages
Bridal and bridesmaid's bouquets, boutonnieres for guys and corsages for moms and grandmas should arrive to the right location before they are needed for the photos/video. Make sure you have dedicated helpers who knows how to attach them by pins.
One more tip – have some extra pins in your emergency bridal kit in case some of them will fall out.
Tip #12 – Practice how bustle your wedding dress
When you buying your wedding dress, make sure to be shown how to bustle your wedding dress. The most ideal would be to have your Maid of honor with you when doing final fitting and have her to record a video on your phone. That way you can always go back to it later to be ready and on the top of it for your wedding day.
Tip #13 – Do a first look
While first look is not for everyone, there are still some benefits of seeing each other before the ceremony:
You are really just you two when you see each other
Walking down the aisle is suddenly less nerve-racking
Majority of your photos gets out of the way before the ceremony. Let’s see here a sample:
First look is great to break the day and especially for afternoon ceremonies. While you get ready by 9 am, first look around 11 am with bridal photos after until 1 pm, light lunch or refreshments before ceremony which can be easily at 2 or 3 pm.
You will have an amazing and very private and very emotive moment of you two captures on camera
If you are possibly worried that it will make walking down the aisle less emotional and you won’t see them tearing, I promise that it will not. If you check out at all the photos from ceremonies, you won’t be able to say when the couple did first look and when didn’t.
Tip #14 – Have a party bus
Having a limo or a party bus for your travels on wedding day keeps your whole bridal party together and organized without worrying, that anyone will get lost, car broken down, etc.
Also, you will be able to chill and have fun together and possibly have a good size of ice-filled cooler with you ;)
Tip #15 – Location for photos
Even if your bridal party is smaller and you have 3 cars together, parking during sunny Saturday in middle of summer by some of the popular locations f.e. like Stanley Park is can be a bit of hassle.
Pick a location which is close to your venues so you don’t have to travel back and forward. Wedding day is to have a fun, not to be stuck in downtown traffic.
Tip #16 – Eat
Make sure you eat through the day. Not only at the morning but to have a snacks or lunch. Ask for a help of your friends and family to pick you up some take out or pre-order pizza for your party bus. Even a snack like a Tim Horton or Vietnamese sandwich will make everyone super excited.
Tip #17 – Hydrate
Dehydrated and overheated bridal party is the last thing you need to deal with on your wedding day. Out of the thrill of a wedding day it is super easy to forget a simple thing as a water bottle.
Hydration is critical especially if you're having an outdoor summer wedding.
Whether your bridal party has been out in the sun for couple portraits or your guests are waiting for your ceremony to begin, make sure everyone get a chance to get an access to a cool drink.
Tip #18 – We all need to go...
Sooner or later you will have to tackle your gown up when you go to the bathroom. Make sure you have a plan how to make it the easiest for yourself.
Are you having outdoor ceremony and reception? Porta-potties and bathroom trailers will be greatly appreciated by your guests and your bridal party.
Tip #19 – Have a plan ‘B’
Even if the forecast is saying sun-sun-sun for next two weeks, make sure you have a plan ‘B’ even if you don't use it. Especially here by in the Lower Mainland is the weather situation pretty unpredictable.
Always better to be over-prepared.
Tip #20 – Cooperate with natural elements
Sunscreen, bug spray, umbrellas, extra pair of shoes, fluffy shawls, etc. Some of the essentials for your wedding day. Be prepared for anything.
Tip #21 – Have a time alone before the ceremony
This is a big one! Having a time alone before the ceremony is very important.
The day goes so fast and before you know it, you are cutting a cake on your evening reception.
Have a moment which belongs just you two. Even ‘just’ 10 minutes is wort it!
To achieve that, plan to arrive to the ceremony about 30 minutes before. That way you are not running from the limo to the ceremony and you get to chill, refresh and spend your last moment with your ‘single’ status in your passport.
Tip #22 – Cheat a little
Do you want to go the traditional way and get to see each other at the very first time while walking down the aisle but you still feel a little bit anxious and nervous? Sneak a way and find a secret spot to cheat a little to hold your hands. Just the hands ;)
Tip #23 – Marriage license is a must!
No marriage license, no wedding. Period.
I know it’s hard to keep stuff on you since there are just no pockets in your dress (or at least most of them).
Who is the most trustworthy in your wedding party? Anybody super organized?
Again, delegate and delegate. Assign the task to take care of the marriage license to someone else so you don't need to be worried about it and enjoy the day. The best man or the maid of honor are usually great candidates for it but if you are doing the first look and some fun adventurous shots before the ceremony, maybe it's good to involve your mom and dad and hide it in theirs bag. Since you are at it, add also your ring.
Tip #24 – Write your vows on a paper
Are you thinking to share something really personal with your partner during the ceremony or just to spice it up with own personalized vows?
I am sure you have spend quite some time with practicing (right?). Even the best of the bests can have a black out. Have them written on little cue cards or piece of paper or a card. Try to avoid having them in your phone as the glare of sun or the small writing could make it harder for you to read it.
As a wedding videographers we love personalized vows! It is a definitely the cherry on the top. For sure let know your videographer that you are planning on having them.
Did you want to see how Emily & Matt rocked theirs vows? Check theirs highlights video
Tip #25 – Confetti exit
The most important advice is - throw the confetti up into the air and not directly at the couple.
Does the extra flying paper feel a bit unnecessarily but you want to have some fun exit? Switch paper for flowers and leaves. At the end, you can simply compost them.
Tip #26 – Sofreh Aghd (Table of Wedding)
Are you having Persian ceremony? If so, assign somebody to make the Sofreh Aghd absolutely perfect for you. There is a lot to arrange. Wedding coordinator is almost a must.
Tip #27 – Family formals and group photos
The necessarily evil one could say but no worry, there is a way how to push it though smoothly and during 20-30 minutes.
First of all start with one big group photo right after the ceremony when everyone is seated but just the couple is standing. That helps for the start.
Ask your officiant to announce where and when the group photos will take place right after the ceremony so your guests won’t run away.
Have assigned a photo wrangler or two who knows the guests. Preferably someone who is not shy and step up to keep your guests organized in a ‘line-up’ as your photography team simply doesn’t know who people are so they are and won’t be the best for the job of tracking down your guest. Make sure to get a list of the groups to your photographer. Start with bigger group and work your way through to the smaller ones.
Are you thinking of having photobooth for the reception? Photobooth is a great to have among of having fun entertainment for the evening. Did you through out the day realized you didn’t get a photo with your coworker? All good, just go snap some shots with them in the photobooth.
Tip #28 – Furry Friends
Have a friend or a family member who will take care of your four-legged friend. Weddings can be noisy with a lot of different smells around. Your furry buddy may not take it the best so make sure there is someone who can take care of them, give them water in a hot day and bring them back to an apartment or a hotel.
Tip #29 – Receiving line is overrated
Yes, receiving line is overrated but also tiring. Unless you have your heart set on it or your parents wants a photo of you shaking hands to 200 plus guests, feel absolutely free to go ahead with this super time-consuming tradition.
What is a good compromise is to go during your reception table to table and chin-chin with your guest.
And what to do with the free time before the reception? Well you can use it just to relax and spend some private moments with your super brand new wife or hubby. You can do hair&make up change. You can also do some shots with your bridal party ;) Or if this not your cup of tea and you have a free time, tell your photographer and I am sure they will be thrilled to do some creative shots like these.
Tip #30 – Test it Out
Ask everyone to time theirs speeches. Once you know how long does it take them, add 10 more minutes. This time will be used for walking in and out the stage, MC to introduce the speakers and to spend the special moment for you to hug them and have them close to your heard when they finish.
Are you having door games? Ask your bridesmaids to test it out with all the laughs and giggles, how long does it take. Do the groomsmen with the groom has to pull out some dance moves, wax the hair off theirs legs (auch, but fun ;) ) or answer to the ten questions about your relationship? Ask them to test it out to see how long does it take and after add extra 10 minutes.
Tip #31 – Sunset photos
If your venue has some good spot to go for sunset photos/videos, go for it! Sunset (and night shots are definitely one of the most favorite our couples likes to go for.
The best is to leave 30-45 minutes before the actual sunset as the buildings/trees may block the sun in the last moments before the sun will set down.
Are you worried what your guests will do during the time you are away? Get some cool DJ to take care of them or have them to get goofy in a photobooth.
Make sure you are on time; once that sun is gone, you can't get it back…
Tip #32 – Sparkles photos
Photos with sparkles takes a lot of coordination especially from the side of the photographer. Take time to plan it well. Long sparkles and a lot of lighters around are definitely a plus.
If you're planning to have them, make sure your venue allows it before hand. If they say no, don’t get disappointed. There are always ways to do something fun as a fog machine or sparkle machine which definitely add the wow factor to your wedding.
Tip #33 – Intimate night photos
Do you like something different? Night shots are the perfect for it! Just slip away for 5 or 10 minutes on the venue’s patio, find the best light and voila, super intimate photos have been born.
Tip #34 – Plan how you are going to be leaving from your reception
Is your reception at a hotel where you got ready at the morning and you gonna be staying over a night? Great! Nothing can be easier.
Are you going back home together? You probably need a lift.
Are you going with your friends? Are you having a limo or some cool vintage car? Even if you are staying to pack at the evening you don’t want to find yourself stuck at the venue at the end of the night. And definitely no drinking and driving!
Tip #35 – Getting married during cold weather season
Winter weddings has own magic! Having a wedding on a snowy day would be almost like a perfect fairy tale being princess and have a prince Charming by your side.
However there is a few stuff which has to be considered for your weeding;
Daylight – days are much shorter so plan your ceremony, family photos and outdoor group photos for the right time. You may want to start your reception early too.
Sunset – we all can wish to get a bit of sun with our unpredictable Vancouver weather
It is cold, like really. Bridal dress is make heavy but lace does not keep you warm, nor your bridesmaids. Do a little cheating and wear warm leggings under your dress and warm shoes. You can always switch into heels for the one or two photos
Wear a jacket – yes, have it and wear it. Of course your photographer won’t want you to freeze to death. But what is important to consider is the extra bit of time when you are putting the jacket away and again putting on between photos. You should almost cont 2-3 more time for your photo session with your bridal party.
Tip #36 – Be Prepared!
Stuff never goes as planned with weddings included. Even the most precisely planned wedding can have a hiccup or two. But don’t let these small hiccups as broken strap on a bridesmaids dress or loose button on the groom’s shirt to be a big deal. Emergency kit is the way to go. From double-sided tape, safety pins, band-aids, Tylenol to extra bobby pins and a sewing kit will keep you on a track to overrule any surprises.
And remember that is always better to be over-prepared than under-prepared.
Start your day rather earlier and enjoy every moment. Embrace the unexpected because that is the hidden beauty of your wedding day. These imperfect moments will be the ones you will remember the most.
Tip #37 – Break in your wedding shoes!!
We all been there... a beautiful pair of shoes… were super excited to wear then next day to work and 2 hours later we were regretting our decision.
The days when the bride needs to wear high heels ONLY are over. A lot of brides goes for something more comfortable or for even flats. You can get really creative with that.
If you decide to go for heels, do some planning. See where you can take them off and when you don't need them. Most of the time nobody will even notice what kind of shoes you are wearing so be free and wear something more comfortable and durable for your adventures portrait session.
This for sure applies for your bridal party as most likely they all will have a new pair. Get them to break them in and wear around the house, and outside so they are ready for the big day.
The last thing what you want to deal with are blister already burst and you are in pain, trying to enjoy the day but then really you can wait to take the shoes off.
Tip #38 – Wear nylons, stay up tights, the Spanx, knee-highs, etc.
Most of the blisters can be avoided by wearing nylons. Also you gonna be a bit warmer. Again, most of the time, nobody knows what you're wearing underneath. The main rule for the day is to be comfortable and worry happy.
Tip #39 – If you must spray tan, trial run is a must!
If you're thinking to do a spray tan or last-minute Solarium to get some tan for the photos, planning and testing is the key.
Do your spray tan trial a couple of weeks before the wedding day. That way you will get to see the result, how your skin reacts to it and also how you look together side by side with your partner.
The same applies for your bridal party; if all of you are really pale and you going to be really tan looking you may actually look even more orange-ish than you actually are.
There is nothing worse than being orange or having sun-burns on your wedding photos just because it went a bit wrong in the salon. And no it cannot be undone even in photoshop (or at least not on 700 photos).
Tip #40 – Have an engagement session
Engagement sessions are great from multiple reasons! Even if you have done something similar before.
You get to practice a front of real camera and when the wedding day come, it will be easy peasy for you and your partner.
You get used to your photographer; yeah I mean it, your wedding photographer will be like a your personal paparazzi for whole 12 hours. Better to get comfy around them
You will have photos for your wedding website and invitations
You will get the feel of how long it takes to snap a few photos. Did you want some creative shots? These can be quite time-consuming. The best is to use your engagement session to get the real feel of it.
Tip #41 – Work with your creative team i.e. photographer & videographer on your timeline
They have seen it all and if not all, for sure much many times then you.
Trust them and ask them for an advice. There is more planning with your creative team then you think.
Plan your wedding day timeline around the sunset time ("golden hour" baby!) and the best day light of the day. Do not try to squeeze everything in without some realistic game plan. Remember the tip #1?
Tip #42 – Trust your vendors
Seriously. They have been trough much more weddings and most likely they have seen it all.
Micromanaging your own wedding could actually cause a delayed in your wedding day timeline.
So sit back, relax and let them do what they are the best at ;)
We have had the great privilege to work with some amazing and talented vendors over the years. If there is someone you are missing, please don’t hesitate to contact as and ask. Lucho and Jana has a lots of tips for great vendors all over the Lower Mainland. We would be happy to share the trusted ones with you.
Tip #43 – Give your timeline to your bridal party and close family
Once you wedding day timeline been crafted to a perfection with your wedding planner / coordinator / photographer / videographer, then share it with your bridal party and all your family. This will help you to stay on track and do not fall behind.
Also, add names and phone numbers as well addresses of venues/parks with parking instructions.
Tip #44 – Final week – touch base with all of your wedding day vendors
Communication is the key and it will help to keep everyone on the same page.
Make sure your vendors have all the instructions as where, when, how to arrive / unload, where to go, whom to talk to, expecting time for pick up, etc. Also double check if all of them are already paid to avoid distractions on your wedding day.
Tip #45 – You are not alone!
Your parents have done it, your friends probably too. Ask for a help your family.
Ask your wedding photographer for opinion. They really have seen it all.
Hire experienced teams.
Ask a lot of questions when booking your vendors.
Do you want to just enjoy the day off without needing talking to the florist where to place the arrangements or explaining catering company where is the staff entrance at your venue while you are in a park taking photos? Hire a wedding planner to help to plan your wedding day or day of coordination to make sure everything runs smoothly and you just enjoy yourself and your big wedding day!
We hope that you found my tips for creating the perfect timeline helpful!
Wedding planning, and sometimes even the wedding day, can be pretty stressful. No lies about that. But it really does not have to be.
All of the tips we just shared with you are based on the experience that we have gained from shooting hundreds of weddings. I know that some of tips can be a little crazy… I just want to make sure I am doing my 110% with helping you to make your day go smoothly.
Please feel free to pass these tips on to anyone you know who might find it helpful.