Perhaps the single biggest thing that leads to stress on your wedding day is time.
Seems there just isn’t enough of it. Much of this stress can be eliminates (or at least mitigated) by realizing just where things run a muck and take longer than expected, so that you can plan appropriately.
1. Hair and Makeup; as mentioned before. We aren’t trying to throw the folks that do this under the bus, but ultimately, if this doesn’t happen on time, the whole thing is behind schedule before the train even leaves the station. Start early, do the bride’s hair and makeup first, and plan for this taking 50% longer than you think on wedding day. Remember you’ll have your entire bridal party to do, and then to redo and touch up.
2. Receiving Lines. Once a staple on wedding day, more and more brides are skipping this time killer. For an average wedding this can save a good half hour. Save the hugs and kisses for a grand finally. Its a great way to end the evening and make your night a memorable one.
3. Too Many Chiefs. Having too many folks trying to run the show simply bogs down the process. From set up details, to getting ready, put someone in charge, and then let them do what you asked them to do. Also, as an aside to that, keep most of the family out of the “getting ready” room/area. You’ll be under enough stress, and having more folks in the room definitely magnifies that. Decide up front who comes in and who doesn’t, and just let them know in a nice way that you have everything handled, and that space will be at a premium.
4. The Unorganized Photographer. That’s right….what the photographer does can have a huge impact on your timeline. Whomever you select, ask them to share their typical timeline. Ask to see examples of just how long they took to shoot the formals, and the romantics. Remember, if it takes two hours to get “the shot” then your prime rib is now gonna be well done and your stress level even higher. The truly great wedding pro’s have a plan, and work their plan. At BCI, it typically takes us about 20 minutes to shoot all the formals, and another 20-30 minutes to shoot the romantic shots. Don’t forget to figure in travel and set up times when you plan as well.
5. The Unorganized Family. Let everyone you want in your formals know they will be needed, and get them to commit to staying in the room/church immediately following the ceremony. Nothing slows down the process of shooting the formals quite like having to go find someone that’s in the family. All these folks are likely at your rehearsal dinner, so explain the process then. Also explain to the caterer/banquet coordinator (for on location weddings) that you don’t need/want hor dourves served to your bridal party during the photos….the last thing anyone needs is food in their mouth when getting their portraits done (or worse on their clothing).
6. Trying to do the Formals Early. This one may go against some schools of thought, but I’ll explain why this often goes awry. First, it usually doesn’t work out like you think. In order to do this, you’ll need EVERYONE to be able to be ready an hour early. Not just you and the bridal party, but every family member, and every vendor. Typically that just doenst happen. Remember the florist has to be set up, the decorator, hair, makeup, and much more. All this builds more stress. Which leads to our Second reason: We want you looking your best, and relaxed. Quite frankly that just doens’t happen as well before as it does after your ceremony, when the weight of the day is off your shoulders. Everyone will be under enough pressure just getting them their on time for the ceremony, why push it? You KNOW everyone will be there and in the room following the ceremony. Besides your guests assume the pix are gonna take place after, and have a cocktail and snack in their hand anyway. Relax….Which brings me to one other concern we hear from time to time, and that is “We want to be at the cocktail hour”. We get that. But, consider, that a little time away from your guests, often makes the formal introductions that much more powerful (as opposed to having been with them 30 seconds earlier). A nice alternative, is to have a small, shorter mini cocktail time just for you and your bridal party and parents. This is a GREAT time to relax a bit, let your hair down, breathe, and take it all in. Remember, you are gonna basically be the center of attention for pretty much the next 4 hours, so 15 minutes spent kicking back with your closest friends and family here will be a welcome respite.
7. Cousin Harry. We’ve all got one. You know, Harry who is always running late. Best to head this off at the pass, and let them know the show is gonna go on even if they are late, and if they are, they’ll have to wait outside rather than interrupt the process. Some gentle pressure here can pay off big time on your wedding day. (Heck you might even tell them the time is an hour before the real time just to ensure they get there on time.
8. Toasts Run Wild. Sure its nice to have everyone say something. But remember, you only have the band/dj for a set amount of time, so make the most of it. Consider limiting the number of toasts/speeches to just the best man and/or maid of honor. If you must have more, consider limiting the time to two minutes each. That’ll keep it moving and cheerful.
9. Travel. This is one that is often underestimated. This can be travel to the ceremony location, to the reception or any point in between. Plan on it taking a bit longer than it does normally, which will allow for everyone to find their way their, get a parking spot, and make their way in and find their seats. Again, its better to err on the long side than the short side when it comes to travel times. Remember too, that some of your vendors (like photo and video) will need to get their equipment in and set up before they are ready to proceed. This is NOT where you want them to be scrambling and rushed.
10. Unrealistic Timelines. This one is kind of a summation of many of the above. But often we see a Catholic church wedding start time of say 5pm, and cocktails at the country club starting at 6, and intro’s at 7pm. Bottom line….there is no chance at keeping to that schedule. Realistically you are not gonna get out of the church before 630, now ad travel and set up time at the club, so now we try to rush things once we get there, and end up squeezing the one section of time from the day that the most important shots are usually gonna take place….and well…you see what we mean. So whats the solution? Be realistic in how long things take, and build some “what if” time into your timeline and you’ll end up with a much less stressful wedding day!