The excitement of getting married can often be overshadowed by all the preparation and planning. However, the better you plan the less stress there will be when the wedding bells begin to ring. While there will always be a few surprises on the big day, taking these few simple tips for brides to heart will help you keep the disruptions to a minimum.
Tip #1: Ask for Help
As a bride-to-be, the best tip you can get is to find someone you trust with your life, or at least the biggest day of it, and make her your “Bride’s Assistant.” The Maid of Honor may seem to be the obvious choice, but she may already have enough on her plate. Another option is to divvy up the responsibilities between the members of the wedding party. Put your assistant(s) in charge of things like making sure you don’t forget to bring something important along to the wedding as well as not accidently leaving anything at the church or reception hall. Odds are you won’t even notice anything that has been left until after the honeymoon is over.
Mothers-of-the-bride are often more than happy to help with the planning too. Ask Grandma and your godmother as well. Expecting any one person to take on the bulk of your wedding planning is a bit much. However, when you ask for a little bit of help from a lot of people, you can find yourself with significantly less stress. Use a planning book to divide up the responsibilities and to set goals and deadlines for when the tasks will be completed.
Tip #2: Capture the Moments
While many couples still hire professional photographers, assign one of your assistants to download all the photos taken by all your guests who brought their digital cameras. In the high-tech era practically everyone has a digital camera and one of your guests just may have captured that “special” one-and-only shot. You can print out notices to inform your guests that you would like copies of all their photos for your wedding album and have your assistant hand the notices out to all your guests, so no one slips through the cracks. This way, if you catch your guests before they leave the reception you’ll have a much better chance of getting all the photos without having to hassle with chasing the pictures down later. Also, it may be best to have someone who is not in the wedding party be the “photo catcher,” just to be sure the job doesn’t get lost in the shuffle. Don’t forget, we can help you with your wedding photography.
You can set cards at each table, or along with the place cards, to ask guests to take digital pictures. They can then upload these pictures to a website that you have set up in advance. If your relatives and friends like to use social media, ask them to please upload their photos to their sites and to tag you in them. You may wish to set your privacy settings to allow you to approve photos before they appear on your account.
Other Photo Tips
Get your bridesmaids to be ready with all their hair and make-up, before they help you into your dress, at least 30 minutes before the ceremony so you can take some unrushed photos of you and your girls.
Have the room all set up and nice and tidy, without any bags, clothes or towels lying around, before the photographer arrives. This way the focus will be on you and your bridesmaids, and not on all the distracting clutter. If at all possible, pick a room for the shots that has a lot of natural light coming through a big window.
Set up a “Photo Corner” at the reception to get pictures of all your guests. Put a few props, such as funny glasses, funky hats or a big tasteless picture frame that you found at a yard sale, in the corner for your guests to pose with.
Make a list of family and friends that you want to get shots with after the ceremony and let everyone know when and where to meet up to take the photos.
Tip #3: Schedule Coffee Breaks
If you think the rabbit was running late wait until your wedding day arrives. From the moment you open your eyes you will not have one spare second that you haven’t already accounted for. There will always be someone who has a question or needs something, and it will be next to impossible to stay focused on the important tasks without becoming exhausted. Do yourself the ultimate favor and schedule a 15-minute break into your day every three hours a so.
When you are getting ready, you can eat breakfast and have a mimosa toast with your bridesmaids. Plan to arrive at the church or ceremony site a bit early so that you are not racing down the aisle. Also, schedule a break for you and your new spouse. You want to make sure that you have at least a few minutes to just stop and take everything in at your reception without a million questions flying your way.
Tip #4: Assign a Traffic Director
Attention is great, but no matter how touchy-feely of a person you are being hugged and fawned over all day will take a toll and you will begin to subconsciously pull away from people. Aside from taking your scheduled breaks, having someone there to keep people from constantly invading your space will help keep you your cheery self.
Many reception halls provide a matre’d or a bridal attendant who can help you out there. If you have a wedding planner or a day-or-coordinator, you can let him or her know when all of the attention has been too much. Furthermore, guests are generally pretty forgiving of the couple on their wedding day. If you’re being smothered, simply say that you are going to find your spouse or grab a drink and politely excuse yourself from the scene.
Tip #5: Distract Yourself
By the end of the evening you will, most likely, reach a point when you will start to feel like you are getting a little burned out. After running around getting ready, dealing with well-wishers, going through the ceremony, having to be the life of your own party at the reception, as well as dancing the obligatory dance with every guest, and then finally realizing that you are actually “married,” there will come a time when you may feel as if you are losing it, just a little. If you feel this happening the best thing you can do to get back on track is to distract yourself from all the hoopla by doing something that is a little more ordinary for you.
As an example, a stressed-out bride who played basketball in college skipped out the back door of the reception hall, where there just happened to conveniently be a basketball court, and shot a few hoops. So maybe you weren’t a college basketball star, but just do something that makes you feel more like you. Find an old friend and talk about anything but the wedding; ditch the champagne and grab a beer; or maybe it’s time to get out of the wedding dress and change into your old jeans, favorite sweater and comfy sandals.
Don’t feel as though you need to be a perfect princess from a bridal magazine all day long. You can even plan for something more uniquely you to happen toward the end of the ceremony. For example, you might have a groom’s cake rolled out that is in the shape of your sweetheart’s favorite sports stadium, or you could schedule an ice cream truck to arrive shortly after the formal cake-cutting ceremony has ended.
Tip #6: Brief Your Guests
If you are planning anything out of the ordinary make certain you fill your guests in on the fun. For example, if one of you is Jewish and planning to uphold the time-honored ceremony of the breaking of the glass be sure your non-Jewish guests are informed they are supposed to applaud and yell “Mazel Tov.” When explaining something that guests aren’t familiar with it is usually best to include a story about the custom or event, so your guests will have a better understanding, rather than just giving out instructions.
Suddenly interrupting your ceremony to tell your guests what to do can certainly interfere with the flow of the day. Handing out programs is a better and more cohesive way to let guests know about traditions. You can briefly detail it in the ceremony program. If you want to let your guests know anything about the reception, you can consider placing a note on the place cards or menus. At a very small wedding, a coordinator or family may be able to spread the word for you.
Tip #7: Trust Your Guests
Many a bride and groom worry about how their friends and family will react when something out of the ordinary challenges their idea of what they believe a wedding should be like. However, most people will be fascinated, or at least intrigued, to be part of something a little offbeat. For example, the typical wedding goes something like: go to the church; perform the ceremony, exchange vows and rings; go to the reception. One couple thought it would be fun to have guests repeat their wedding vows, which they had written themselves, with them during the ceremony. However, the couple was just a little concerned that some of their guests might feel awkward. Nevertheless, once the guests were briefed on the plan they were more than happy to actually take part in the ceremony. Remember, your guests are there because they love you and want to share in your big day, so trust them.
As much as you should trust your guests to take part in the big day, also trust that they are not judging your every move. Chances are, you haven’t been to any weddings where guests gasped about how terrible the bride looked as she walked down the aisle. People are generally in awe of the little details, or, at the very least, used to them from other weddings. Keep that fact in mind, and you will likely be much more relaxed.
Tip #8: Prepare To Let Go
Handing the reins over to your wedding party can be a little troubling, but as the saying goes, the devil is in the details. To make sure things go the way you want on the big day prepare a detailed plan to give to your wedding party so they will have a comprehensive understanding of what it is you want to happen come the day of your nuptials. Instead of letting your people stay in the background, make up a schedule and list of everything you want and sit everyone down for a meeting at least two weeks beforehand. This way everyone will all have enough time to absorb your instructions and work out any issues you have overlooked.
You cannot obsess over every single little detail, or you are not going to enjoy your day. The people in your bridal party want to help you out, so be sure to give them the reins to do so. However, remember, that they are your loved ones, and you want them to enjoy the day as well. Be reasonable with the requests that you have for them. If you really need one person to have an eye on all details of the day, hiring a coordinator or planner would be best.
Tip #9: Publicly Thank Your Vendors
If your wedding planner, florist, caterer, reception host or anyone else did a great job remember to thank them publicly in front of your guest and then again by taking out a small ad in the local paper. If they did a great job they deserve to be recognized for it and your endorsement will help steer other couples in the right direction as well as create more business for the vendor that helped make your big day a big success.
You may wish to deliver these thank-yous via a small speech during the reception. In some parts of the country, it is not tradition for the bride and groom to deliver a speech during their reception. However, you still need to make sure that you send generous thank-you notes to your vendors after the wedding. Set out some money into envelopes before the big day, and then ask one of your bridal party members to distribute these tips to each of the vendors before they leave.
Tip #10: Don’t Write Thank-You Letters in Advance
It may sound like writing thank-you letters as guests buy gifts off your registry list is a great idea to save from getting writer’s cramp, from doing it all at once. However, until all the smoke has cleared it will be impossible for you to know who might deserve extra kudos for any extra help they may provide, as well as for their thoughtful gift.
You really should personalize the thank-you notes and name the specific gifts in the card if you want to make the giver feel really special. Failure to do so shows your guests that you wrote out the thank-you cards in advance and that you did not take the time to thank them individually. You might also receive some extremely generous gifts that deserve a little extra thank you. Maybe you’ll want to include a portrait print from one of your favorite pictures of the wedding so they will have a little keep-sake as thank-you.
Bonus Bride Tip #11: Make a List of Your Items
Chances are, you are going to have some photographs, candles, centerpieces or other items at both the ceremony and reception that you want to take back home with you, and you don’t want anything, especially sentimental photos, to go missing. As you are packing everything up to bring to the venues, make a list of each item. At the end of the night, you should go through the list to make sure that you have everything back before you leave the reception venue. Writing a list takes a bit more time now, but it will save you stress later.
Bonus Bride Tip #12: Thank Your Guests that Night
When your guests are leaving the reception hall, you should be thanking them for their attendance at your wedding. Some guests may leave quietly, especially if they head out a bit early; therefore, you may not see all of them before they exit. You should, however, provide favors to all of your guests. A little token of appreciation is only the right thing to do. Setting them out with the place cards helps to ensure that each guests goes home with something from your wedding.
So what do you think? Does this list help you plan your wedding just a little bit better? Hopefully so. Congrats on your engagement and I wish you the absolute best on your wedding day!!