Weddings aren't supposed to be stressful.
how to be present
Hi, I'm Allie. For those of you who haven't met me yet, I'm a wedding and elopement photographer. Before I dove headfirst into this dream job, I studied psychology. This helps me to teach my clients how to have less stressful weddings and elopements, as well as offer reminders and tips on how to be fully present before important moments- not letting a single one slip by.
Here are a few ways I help my couples stay calm through chaos, plan breaks into their timeline, and connection tips to use in your day!
PLANNING FOR LESS STRESS
When looking at your timeline, it's important that all of your vendors are working together to make sure that they are all given enough time during the day to realize your collaborative vision! Eliminating rushing is a big part of cutting out stress, so make sure you have all of your people functioning in their assigned roles, doing their predetermined jobs. When everyone works in their lane and has a point person (planner + Day of Coordinators are essential here), problems get solved before they have to be brought to you.
While there's nothing wrong with DIY for a wedding, make sure that the people who volunteer to help are actually good at the role they're fulfilling. For example, if your great aunt is helping with florals but has zero experience, make sure that they are answering to your coordinator so that they know who to ask with questions and can be given instructions if need be. Do not, I REPEAT, DO NOT be the one doing it yourself on the day of the wedding. You'll thank me later.
TIP #1 is:
Have a plan and a person in charge of the execution that is not you or your spouse (or anyone in the bridal party).
Breaks. 1st breakfast, 2nd breakfast, you get the picture.
Hangry people take angry photos.
Hangry people snap at people they love.
Hangry people produce more stress hormones during their stress free wedding days.
But really, hear me out! If you're starving, it's hard to bring your attention back to enjoying yourself and your loved ones. If everyone is waiting all day to eat dinner, how much fun do you think it will be when everyone's tired, sweaty, hungry, dehydrated, and has headaches? It's not.
SO, to prevent all of that, we schedule in snack breaks. Breakfast should be eaten during getting ready. Having snacks and waters, bubbly & OJ, etc. on hand during getting ready is a good idea for both the bride+groom, and your bridal party! Make sure that everyone is full before the festivities start, and make sure everyone takes one last drink of water before heading up the aisle. Depending on your vision for the day (first looks, seeing one another at the aisle, getting ready separately or together, etc.) a snack break can also a good idea after the ceremony. Most couples choose to do family portraits and bridal party portraits immediately following the ceremony, which means you and your homies may miss cocktail hour. If someone is in charge of bringing over granola bars, water, fruit tray, etc. it can keep everyone's energy up and their hype level up too!
No pee dances. Make sure that everyone pees before they get dressed (especially you two, love birds). If possible, pee again before the ceremony (bridal party included). This keeps people from running away during photos to hit the bathroom, and makes the hunt for the long lost groomsman who won't listen to directions much more manageable.
Sneak away and take a small break to yourselves before bustling the dress, too. This usually gives you a brief moment before your introductions to spend with your partner and have a "Holy @#$* we're married" moment. This is great to catch your breath, and regroup before heading into your reception!
Everyone takes breaks to hydrate, eat, and pee. If there's an important block of your day coming up, everyone takes one of these breaks beforehand.
Land of Legendary Pep Talks.
Weddings are over before they begin. When looking back on their wedding day, most couples wish constantly to go back and relive it- not just because it's the happiest day of their lives surrounded by the people they treasure, but because it went by too quickly. It was over in a flash, and most of the moments are a total blur. That's the importance of photos and video, though, right? Sure! Absolutely. It's freezing moments in time and details that you may not remember automatically, and my job is to capture photos that can bring you right back into that experience.
But, it's more than that.
When stressed or nervous, it's very hard to overcome those feelings in our bodies and actually remain mentally present. That's where I come in. Most traditional photographers know to hype you up, but I know how to do more than just make you feel pretty. What if there were a few simple things you could do to remember more about your wedding day? I use skills like deep breathing, prompting, and asking key questions during your portrait time that allow you to notice all the stunning things about your partner. Before we go into moments like the first look or the ceremony, I check in with both partners. We notice how you're feeling, what it feels like in your body (if your chest is tight, if you're feeling overwhelmed or nervous, etc.) and take some deep breaths while that melts away. Once everyone is calm and ready, I give a pep talk about things to think about before you see each other for the first time.
What do you love about them?
What's something they do that always makes you giggle?
What do you want them to know, today?
When did you realize you were in love?
When you see them, soak it all in. Really look at their eyes and their smile. Look at all of the details about them today. Take your time and slow down; witness the love of your life today, ready to spend forever by your side.
And then, the moment happens. You actually get to see the soul that you've chosen for the rest of your life. No interruptions, no reposing, no distractions. A few moments where the world stands still. You two, together, on your wedding day. Experiencing the love that got you here and that will carry you into your future together.
No stress or worry. Just joy and gratitude. Love and bursting hearts beating against your ribcages. Smiles and tears and more emotion than you had imagined, because there's space for the two of you in this moment. There's space because you were intentional in creating it.
Photo Lists Save Lives
Portraits. Formal Portraits. Even at micro weddings and elopements with a small number of people that are witnessing your marriage, photo lists are helpful. By this point, your photographer has probably learned your bridal party's names and even your close family members who have been with you the morning of the wedding. *BRING IN THE PARADE OF PEOPLE* who mean the world to you but who are still strangers to us. Giving us a list of your favorite people's names (and who they are to you) helps this process SO much. We're able to call people by their name, instead of "Hey tall guy on the left". This also helps your family and friends to have a better + more personal experience during your portrait time.
Here's some tips to creating efficient and detailed photo lists that will save you time and stress.
- Grab a copy of your guest list.
- Grab 3 highlighters (different colors)
- Assign a different color to each partner's family who is attending.
- The third color is for friends who you need photos with but aren't in your bridal party. This helps you make a list of who needs to be told to stay behind for photos (make sure they know this ahead of time).
- Whichever partner has the biggest family will be first. List all the photos starting with parents/siblings/grandparents and work your way to extended family from there. If you want any specific groupings (grandma, all her kids and grandkids) make sure to list that out too. Once both sides of the family are listed out with groupings, work your way to a full family group picture of both sides, and you can dismiss most of the first family. **Make sure to remember to list photos with both sets of parents&siblings before dismissing your first side of the family fully.
- Then work your way through the second family list, and add on the friends you highlighted with your 3rd highlighter. Once everyone here has been released you can do your group bridal party shots. If you are doing a first look, bridal party and family formals can even be done before the ceremony so that it's straight to party time afterwards, too!
- Schedule a 20-25 minute window to sneak away at sunset with your lover for couples portraits! You won't be sorry! It's the dreamiest golden light that you've lusted over on Pinterest since you fell in love and started imagining forever.
Photo lists give you the quickest, easiest way to capture formal portraits of your loved ones. *This is not a last minute task*
The best laid plans...
At the end of the day, some situations are stressful no matter how you prepare for them. The biggest way to prevent stress at your wedding is to plan ahead as much as possible, and know that even if things go wrong on your day you still get to marry your person. As long as you do your best to stay focused on the love of your life, small and minor inconveniences won't matter nearly as much. The wedding doesn't make your love story, the wedding celebrates the love story that's already unfolding. We're here to show gratitude for your love that holds the two of you together, and as long as that's the mindset behind your wedding day, you're going to have an amazing day that's worth reliving 1 trillion times over. Here are a few ways that I've seen couples overcome stress even when chaos broke loose-
- Rain: Umbrellas. You can still get married outside in the rain, and it's a dreamy vibe for sure. All the mood, romance, and PNW vibes will be present in your photos. Dancing in the rain, kissing in the rain, running through the rain, they're all romantic notions for a reason.
- Flowers never show up. We went to ingles and bought all the greenery and florals they had. I made bouquets. Bridesmaids make centerpieces. All hands were on deck and you couldn't even tell that they had a florist no call/no show.
- Cake got dropped. Wooooow this one was a doozy. We literally drove to a local grocery store and asked to borrow one of the display cakes, they said no. Heartbreaker. SOOO we bought all the cupcakes they had and stacked them up on some tiers that were meant for the charcuterie table. We bought a tiny round cake from the bakery for the couple to put their topper on and cut for photos, and no one even had a clue that it wasn't supposed to be that way.
All this to say:
Deep breaths. Anything can be fixed. It's still your wedding day, and that's perfect enough.