If you are not hiring a wedding planner…

More and more I see brides opting not to hire a wedding planner.  Budgets influence that choice many times, and other times, brides feel that they can easily handle the task themselves.  However, let’s face it, as a bride, you will probably only experience a wedding once in your life.  I’ve participated in a plethora of weddings, big and small.  So, to help you if you are not hiring a wedding planner, I have listed some tips that can make your day flow smoother – ideas that you just couldn’t anticipate not having had the experience.


The Dressing Room

Don’t let the room get to messy, or else the mess will be on all the photos.  Ask one of your attendants to take responsibility to help keep the room uncluttered.

Dressing Room Poor Example


These tables should be moved to the side so that clutter is removed and there

is room for bride to slip into dress.

Dressing Room with Large Open Area

This dressing area is large and uncluttered.


And speaking of photos, don’t look at the photographer’s camera, and tell your wedding party not to look or play to the camera as well.  It’s best to capture the day as it occurs naturally and not as a bunch of smile at the camera photos.  Let the time there flow on it’s own as there will be plenty of time later for group photos.

Keep visitors to a minimum.  This is not the time for friends to drop in and chat.  They can party with you after the ceremony.

Keep some snacks and light drinks available.

Go to the bathroom before you put on your dress.

When slipping into your dress, be in the middle of the room so there is room for attendants and good angles for photography.

Allow a few minutes to take a bridal portrait just before you go to the ceremony.  It’s your last photo as a single girl.  You might also want to catch a few shots with your mom at this time as well.


The Church

Don’t turn out all the lights.

Instruct your bridal party to wait until the person before them gets all the way to the front, before they start their procession down the aisle.

If you are having a sand ceremony, face the guests when you are pouring the sand.

Sand Ceremony Facing guests

Sand Ceremony Facing Guests

Sand Ceremony with Back to Guest

Sand Ceremony with Back to Guests


Make sure that there is room between the wedding party and the first row of pews so that the photographer has room to do his/her job.

Tell parents and everyone not to look at the photographer during the ceremony.


Formal Portraits

Plan time accordingly.

Small groups of 6 or less can be done in just a couple of minutes each.

For mid-sized groups of 8 to 12 figure roughly 3 to 5 minutes for each group.

For large groups like entire families figure up to 10 to 15 minutes or more for each grouping.


Between the Ceremony and Reception

This is one of the most important days for you and your fiancé so take at least 15 to 20 minutes after the ceremony to spend time alone together.   Share your feelings and talk with one another.  Your photographer can stay in the background and capture some good, intimate moments.   As you reflect back this will be one of your favorite parts of the day.

After that use a little time to take a few informal photos of the wedding party at a favorite location.

Then have an activity scheduled so that everyone can relax and enjoy the day.  Go to a favorite bar that has billiards or video games and just hangout until it’s time for the reception.

Limit alcohol between the ceremony and reception.  You don’t want your wedding party arriving drunk.


The Reception

Instruct your wedding party that when they are making their grand entrance, get away from the entry doorway for all special entrance activities.  Your photographer will get exit signs in all the photos if you don’t.  And besides, it’s better to go the center of the guest area, where all guests can enjoy your performance.

When you arrive at the head table, instruct everybody to stay in place until a photo is taken.

Make sure the room is not pitch black.  Cameras can only handle so much darkness.

Do not place your cake in front of a mirror.  If you place your cake in front of a mirror every photo taken will also have a photo of the image taker.

If you want to save money on your photographer and videographer, get the main events of the reception done early – the toast, the cake cutting, the garter and bouquet toss, and the first dances.  There is no reason for the photographer and videographer to stay until the very end.  When you throw your bouquet/garter throw it up and straight back for better photos.

If you have a special dance or special entertainment be sure to tell your photographer and videographer so they can be prepared.

Feed the videographer and photographer and allow them to get their food early, at the same time as the first guests, so that they can be done and ready to catch all the activity of the night.  If they have to wait until all the guests are served, they won’t be able to eat, because they will need to be up and ready for the activity.  Many venues don’t want to serve the support team until after the guests have eaten, but an exception needs to be made for the videographer and the photographer.


In Summary

It’s virtually impossible for the wedding to go 100% according to planOn your wedding day your focus should be on your hair, your gown, and the wedding itself.  Be sure to designate one person you trust to handle the details that need to be fixed such as placement of centerpieces, missing flowers, etc.  They should know the vendors you hired, have their contact information, and have the authority to solve the problem.  Another option is to hire a Day-Of Coordinator.  On your wedding day, you want to minimize stress and really enjoy your day.

As you can see there is a lot more to planning a wedding than just hiring a support team.   These are just a few hints, and we would love for you to share your ideas with us as well.

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