Top 5 Tips to Prepare for Your Wedding Day

It's officially wedding season in the Midwest! With this declaration comes the return of warmer weather, sandals, long dresses and lots of sunshine. I am so excited to kick off the season in just two weeks and can't wait to work with my amazing couples getting hitched this summer! Since I did a lot of REALLY COLD engagement sessions this winter, I'm looking forward to seeing everyone without heavy jackets. I'm really looking forward to some dapper suits and gorgeous dresses. To kick off the season for those of you getting married, I thought I'd share my top 5 tips to prepare for your wedding day.

1) A detailed timeline is your best friend.

The more detailed you can be with a timeline, the better for all parties involved including your bridal party, family members, vendors and especially your photographer. This lays out the expectations of the day and allows everyone to prepare and arrive on time when they are needed.

As your photographer, I like to see your timeline at least three weeks before your wedding to make sure we have enough time set aside for bridal portraits, family formals, bridal party and detail shots of the ceremony and reception.

2) Delegate, delegate, delegate.

I've done a bit of wedding planning since my own wedding three summers ago. If there's one thing I've learned as a bride turned planner turned photographer, it's the importance of having lots of cheerful helpers around on the wedding day and the days leading up to the wedding. For example, it's extremely helpful to me during family portraits if you can arrange for a relative or close friend to help coordinate family members for a brief period of time. The more you can delegate away from yourself on the wedding day, the better. If you have payments to make to vendors, write those checks out ahead of time and task a friend with distributing them.

And, if possible, hire a coordinator to help you out. The couples I worked with during my time in planning often said that it was the best money they spent on their wedding. Peace of mind is worth it! (And don't forget beautiful photos, too!)

3) Know that everything won't go exactly as planned.

The best laid plans can't predict weather or circumstances of your wedding day. If you have a beautiful outdoor venue, you know that there is the possibility of rain on your wedding day, so don't be too surprised when there are last minute adjustments to the day. This might include travel delays, an important guest who is lost on the way to the ceremony, a last minute change to who is doing your hair, you get the idea. Although we always hope for things to go as planned, know that if something does change last minute, the most important thing about the day is that it's the beginning of your marriage. That's really what matters, right?

4) Remember the significance of the day.

Your wedding day is just the beginning. It's what happens after the wedding day, when the dress is put away, thank you notes have been sent and photos printed where the work really starts. It's easy to lose perspective of what a wedding means when you're busy picking out stationary or centerpieces.

During my engagement to Tom, I read the following quote by Dietrich Bonhoeffer and it was a great thing for me to remember throughout the whole process:

“It is not your love that sustains the marriage, but from now on, the marriage that sustains your love.”

5) Breathe in each moment.

Your wedding day will be one of the most exciting days of your life. It also has a tendency to fly by and at the end of it leave you thinking, "how is it already over?" This may inevitably happen, but I encourage you to savor each part of the day. Enjoy yourself as you get your hair and makeup done with your best friends. Drink a mimosa and eat a nice big muffin if that helps you relax. Give your mom and dad an extra hug, because this is a big day for them, too.

One of the reasons I am a proponent of doing a first look is that it gives you and your groom time to be together before all of your guests arrive. The first look is often an intimate moment between a bride and groom, and that also happens to make for some really sweet and emotional photos for you to look back on. For those 30 minutes where we do portraits with just you, savor the moment of being with you spouse on your wedding day. They are some of the only minutes alone you'll have for the rest of the day!

Once the nerves have worn off and you're relaxing at the reception, take a minute to look around. Look at all the people who have come to celebrate this day with you and your husband. It's really a humbling experience and a great way to remember how much you have been blessed with friends and family who really love you.