I don't mean to stress you out, but here's one wedding rule: you will always run behind.
Time is the number one factor of wedding days that determine if you have a fun and relaxing day or a stressful day.
Fret not - there are a few ways to make it a more enjoyable day for everyone.
Speaking from experience
These tips are written from my own experience, as well as my bride's experiences. I hope you will find these tips helpful!
Tip #1: Schedule buffer time in the morning
My own wedding day ran behind by 30 minutes in the morning, and we had to skip a photoshoot we wanted. Hair and makeup is the first thing that will overrun - it almost always does. This can be because someone arrived late, someone didn't like their hair and makeup, or hair and makeup took longer than expected. It is unavoidable. Buffer at least 30 minutes into your bridal prep time to make sure you don't overrun into other parts of the day.
Tip #2: Do not over-schedule
Do not pack too many things into your wedding day. If possible, limit the number of locations so there is less travel time. For example, you can perform your tea ceremony at your wedding venue, freeing up time you would've otherwise spent traveling back and forth.
When possible, schedule photoshoots at the venue instead of at an external venue. This cuts down on travel time as well.
Tip #3: Schedule breaks for eating and mingling with guests
Schedule ample time for eating and mingling. Most couples don't get to eat the wedding food, and venue staff will send them to your room or ask you to eat it after. Eat and drink as much as you can. If eating is important to you, you can assign someone to pull you away (firmly) so you have time to eat.
Tip #4: Assign a bride's shadow.
Have someone be the bride's shadow, especially when the bride is stuck in the makeup chair. You never know what you'll need. Throughout the day, have someone stay by the bride's side. This can be a family member, maid of honor or bridesmaid. Make sure they are glued to your hip and do not leave your side. They are responsible for making sure the bride always has water, food, and for small errands.
Tip #6: If you're getting ready at a hotel, check in the day before
By checking in the day before, there is less to worry about on your wedding day. You can make sure you have everything you need with you the day before. If you do forget something important, you will have ample time to get it.
Tip #7: Assign coordination to someone else
Make sure your bridal party is clear of what to do and when. Hiccups will happen, and your bridal party needs to handle these hiccups and ensure the program continues running smoothly. At my wedding, Gary had to handle the hiccups himself and ended up being very stressed and unable to enjoy his wedding day.
If the budget allows, it is always a good idea to hire a coordination team. They are equipped with headsets and can communicate effectively amongst each other - something especially important at large venues.
Tip #8: Avoid early starts
Too often, wedding days begin too early and the couple gets no sleep or only 2-3 hours. I always recommend later starts so you are more energised for the day. Remember that bride starts makeup at least 3 hours before the day starts.
Tip #5: Schedule minimal time for group photos
As a documentary photographer, I advise couples to treat your wedding day as a celebration rather than a photoshoot. Schedule 10 minutes for couple portraits, 10 minutes for family portraits, and 30 minutes for group or table photos. Everything else is free time for you to mingle and have fun. The candids you get will be incredible.
Tip #9: Have a first look
When I asked Gary what his wedding advice would be, he said "schedule alone time." This is easily achieved with a first look, where the couple sees each other for the first time in their wedding outfits.
This is usually done with only the couple and the photographer and videographer. How it goes is: the groom will be waiting at a spot chosen for great light and aesthetics. The photographer and videographer will bring the bride to the spot. The bride will approach the groom from the back, tap him on the shoulder, and the groom will turn around for his first look.
The couple may choose to exchange private vows, letters and gifts. After the first look, we can transition into couple portraits. Spending time with your soon-to-be spouse is also sure to help calm your nerves and ensure your day is more fun and enjoyable.
I am available for any questions via Whatsapp, DM or email. Send me questions about lighting, outfit choices, and venue styling. Like you, I want to make sure your wedding photographs are the best they can be.