15 Ways to Reduce Wedding Day Stress

Timber Creek Pooch Park Wedding

Hello brides! Wedding planning is NO JOKE. It can be fun and stressful, wrapped into one package. This is my second post dedicated to helping couples think of things that may not have occurred to them during the planning process, and to help you plan ahead so that you can relax and enjoy your day! If you missed it, please check out the first list of helpful tips here: http://www.sarahelizabethphotography.net/10-secrets-for-planning-a-wedding-that-no-one-will-tell-you/

Let’s start with the getting ready part of the day.

1. Gather your getting ready details before your photographer arrives, and don’t forget the little things.

You may not think that you need your details photographed, or that it’s not that important. However, it’s super easy to lose a copy of your invitations, forget what shoes you wore, etc. It’s really nice to have a few photographs of all of the items that you put a lot of thought (and money!) into. Here’s a list of things that I always suggest to my brides to have at the getting ready location:

1. Invitation suite, complete with envelopes

getting ready details welkinweir weddinginvitation suite eucalyptus

2. Shoes


sparkly bridal sneakers pinkbridal shoes blue unique

3. Perfume you are wearing on that day


wedding day perfume

4. Bouquets, if you have them there.


new jersey beach wedding bridal bouquet

5. Bridesmaid gift bags, personalized mugs, or anything else that is specific to your wedding.


personalized bridesmaid cups new jersey

6. Wooden hanger (if you don’t have a personalized one).


wedding dress delaware

Pretty much anything that may get lost, thrown away, or just something you’d forget about down the road, put it in with the getting ready details stash! You’ll be happy you did.

2. If your florist is bringing the flowers to your getting ready location, ask if he/she will save you some scraps.

This may sound like funny advice, but some florists are more than happy to go above and beyond and give you the “leftover trimmings” from your flowers. Why, you may say? Your photographer and videographer can use them to spice up your detail photos, and it adds a lot of beauty and cohesiveness to the photos not to mention look really great in the flow of your album.


getting ready details locust hall

3. Give your Makeup artist and Hair Stylist an early endtime, by at least 30 minutes.

Your MUA and HS will ask you when you need for them to be finished, and I HIGHLY recommend that you take at least 30 minutes off of the actual time that you need to be finished.

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4. Have your Maid of Honor put together a fun wedding playlist to listen to while you get ready.

bride jumping on bed

No tear-jerkers, just plain ole make-you-want-to-dance wedding songs, like “Goin’ to the Chapel.” Here are some catchy tunes to consider adding to your playlist:

  1. Wouldn’t it Be Nice-Beach Boys
  2. Goin’ to the Chapel
  3. Marry You- Bruno Mars

getting ready bride and bridesmaids hamilton new jersey

It adds some ambiance  and typically helps brides relax. You may even start singing and dancing along with your bridesmaids, which is a fun memory to have.

5. Ask your bridesmaids to keep the getting ready space tidy and to have their own spot out of sight to keep their stuff.

If you don’t,  you will have to spend some time cleaning up before you get your dress on, instead of hanging out and enjoying your time together!

bride getting ready philadelphia hotel

6. Wait to read your letter and open your gifts until your photographer and videographer arrive.

A lot of couples get antsy and open their gifts and letters the morning of their weddings, or even the night before, after the rehearsal dinner. My advice would be:


If you wait until your photo/video peeps arrive, it may be the most emotional time of the day that gets to be captured. I’ve personally captured more tears by both brides AND grooms when they read their letters than first looks, ceremonies, or toasts. If you don’t have photos of that time, you’ll never visually know what your spouse’s reaction was to the words that you wrote and the gift that you chose specifically for them was.

groom kobe jerseybride opening gift north jersey wedding

Don’t forget to wait on the parent gifts too, so that you can have photos of their reactions!

mother of bride gift reaction south jersey wedding

Ok! On to the middle parts of the day…

7. If you are doing a first look, decide beforehand how you want to do it.

Here are some examples of different ways to see your future spouse for the first time on your wedding day, and yes, I’m going to title them like 80’s dance moves:

The Shoulder Tap:

first look locust hall wedding

Back to Back (you would turn around at the same time.)

-Unfortunately I can’t find a good example of this, but it is a really neat way to do your first look!

Announce Yourself (when you are ready for him to turn around):

first look hamilton manor wedding

The Corner Meetup:

material culture first look urban wedding


The good ole’ Blindfold.


first look blindfold groom

8. If you don’t do a first look, consider upping the anticipation with a “I’m not seeing you but you are right there” photo.

Here are a few favorites from weddings where couples have foregone the first look, but wanted to be near each other for a few minutes without seeing one another.

This is a couple who prayed together before their ceremony. We used the door as their barrier and made sure they couldn’t see one another:

bride and groom praying not seeing each other wedding

This couple just wanted to hold hands before saying I do:

bride and groom holding hands around door

If you want to be near your future spouse but want to stay traditional, consider one of the above; you won’t regret it!

9. Ask your parents to put their cell phones away for the ceremony as well as the reception formals.

the waterfall delaware wedding outdoor ceremony

Photographers and videographers cost money, and who wants photos with your parents in the background with their faces staring at phones instead of watching you?

Here are some photos of parents totally engrossed in what’s happening in front of them:

In this day and age, they may be hesitant to put their device down, but show them these photos, and tell them it will be worth it!

10. Ask the groomsmen to take cellphones and other various items out of their pockets for formal photos and for the ceremony.

fun bridal party photo ideas hamilton manor

Suits and tuxes, especially if they fit right, show anything especially in their front pant pockets. Cell phones are the worst culprits of drawing attention away from faces and onto the rectangular outline that stands out like a sore thumb in photos. If you do this ahead of time, they won’t have to get lined up for a photo just to stop and take their phones out and find a place to put them. Timesaver!

11. Ask readers, toasters and officiants not to read from phones or devices.

Two reasons: It looks VERY informal, even for casual weddings,  and the glow from the device will reflect onto their face, making for some wonky looking photos.

toast reception delaware barn wedding

12. Let readers know that they need to bring their own copies of the readings.

Unfortunately, I’ve seen too many occasions where readers thought that there would be a copy for them on the pulpit/lecturn/stand, and much to their surprise, it was not there. I can’t express the embarrassment that crossed their faces when they scrambled to find a Bible to find their passage or a cell phone to look up the selected poem while everyone was silent and staring at them.

13. Carve out a time where you and your new spouse can be alone together.

Believe it or not, although the entire day is dedicated to vowing to spend the rest of your lives together, couples rarely have any time together on their actual wedding day, unless they purpose to to do. You will be surrounded by people ALL. DAY. LONG. Even ten minutes here or there will give you a chance to catch your breath and enjoy the person you are vowing to honor the rest of your days. Can’t think of a time that would work? Here are some suggestions:

First Look. When planning your first look, you can buffer 15 minutes instead of 5 or 10, and ask your photographers/videographers to give you some space (photo language: use long lenses) while they are shooting. Ask them to not speak to you and not direct you once the first look begins, so it will flow naturally and candidly, and they can hide in the bushes while you enjoy your few minutes together.


Timber Creek Pooch Park Wedding

Post-ceremony. After your recessional, you can head to a private spot (if outdoor, ask the venue coordinator) or private room and request that you have ten minutes to enjoy being together.  I usually follow my couples out of the recessional and capture some moments but if the request is for some time alone, I certainly honor that.


ceremony recessional bride and groom church new jersey

During sunset or night shots. Frequently I will get requests to either take sunset photos or nighttime photos, or both. I have been surprised to hear couples relieved to have a few minutes away from the crowd, even if they are having a great time.  Yes, I am still with them, but it definitely feels like alone time compared to the rest of the business of the day, and they can stay an extra five minutes without me if they want.


bride and groom night portrait fire pit

14. Buffer extra time in EVERYWHERE.

Everything takes longer than you think it will on a wedding day. Louder for the people in the back. Not kidding. When I help couples make their timeline, they are surprised at how much time I recommend leaving for each part of the day, even travel, but I KID YOU NOT: EVERYTHING TAKES LONGER THAN YOU THINK IT WILL.  Google maps says it will take 10 minutes to get to the church? Factor in 20. Priest says 45 minutes? Factor in 60. Etc., etc. Sometimes one thing runs late, and then it affects everything after, like a trickle effect. If you add in extra time, you won’t be as rushed and you will have a buffer for anything that does run late.

north jersey church ceremony champagne toast

15. Lastly; if you are planning a sparkler exit or taking any sparkler photos, buy the long sparklers!

the waterfall delaware sparkler exit

I love sparkler exits; not every photogapher does. But I think they look magical, in person AND in photo/video. BUT!!! Purchase the long sparkers, not the short ones. The smaller ones will run out before you even set foot down the “runway.”

I’ll end my long list of tips with some sparkler photos for your enjoyment.

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Thanks for reading, and if you want to chat, scroll down and fill out the form below, or head on over to the contact page and send me a note!





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