The first rule of Bride Club is you do not talk about Bride Club.
The first rule of Bride Club is TALK ABOUT AND SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCES SO OTHERS CAN MAKE BETTER INFORMED DECISIONS! No one needs to create a wedding all by themselves when it is so easy to share information via the fabulous internet!
That said, here’s a list of 10 things to remember when taking on the role of bride or groom to be:
#1 - Relax! Planning the minutiae can sometimes distract from the real goal of this event, which is to end up married to someone you love! As long as that part happens, all other challenges will just be a funny story some day. Pinterest, for instance, can make you think you’ll need to make 12 different amazing crafty things, and after stressing and striving to complete an overwhelming amount of projects, you may realize on the big day that you didn’t need half those things or didn’t even get to enjoy them. One couple I documented had really gone all out with pinterest projects and plans, and then at the reception, they had so much fun dancing and drinking that they never even cut their cake, let alone cared what ended up on their tables. If at the end of the day you end up married to a person you love, then your wedding has been a complete success.
#2 - RELAX! It’s a whirlwind of a day and if you don’t stop to let it soak in a few times, you’ll regret it. Build some slow times to reflect into your schedule or moments when it’s mostly just the two of you. You’re performing and on display all day, and that can be exhausting and make you feel like you didn’t really enjoy your moment. A “first look” can be a good moment to slow down, just the two of you and your humble photographer. Some couples also ask for a few private moments after the ceremony to just sit and breathe together, and maybe drink some water. Other couples have written a moment into their ceremony where they look out at the crowd and take a moment of silence, just soaking it all in.
#3 - Take more than a hot second for your first kiss as a married couple. This ensures your wedding photographer will get you a good kiss shot. Maybe kiss a little longer than your partner expected, or go back in for a second kiss! Not only will it make sure you have a baller image from that moment, but it may make your now spouse laugh or cause a stir among your guests, which will ensure great faces in the photos! After you stop kissing, and before you start to leave, take a second to look at all the people there celebrating your new marriage. This might be the only time in your whole life that all your friends and family from so many circles of your life will all be gathered in one place.
#4 - Plan, Plan, Plan. Have plans and back-up plans. If you have an outdoor wedding, have a rain-plan. If you have a fancy up-do, have a high humidity plan. If you have really high heels or stiff dress shoes, bring a backup pair. Unless you’ve contracted a professional, you need to be the one to prepare for all contingencies.
#5 - Which brings me to my next suggestion: get advice from your professionals. A good professional will also help you talk through your backup plans and will add their seasoned advice. I have a long phone call the week before a wedding where I literally talk through every part of the day--how people and items are getting from place to place, what are the weather contingencies, do they have extra shoes, is there water available for guests at a hot beach wedding, etc. I feel like a mom sometimes but I’ve seen so many different types of weddings, I’m very aware of how others’ plans did or did not work!
#6 - You set the tone for the day. Every guest you invite is deeply invested in making sure your day happens just the way you want it to. Family and friends will mirror your feelings, to be supportive. And if you are out-of-sorts fretting over the napkins or the drizzle outside, they TOO will worry about those things. If you have umbrellas and act like the rain is fine (even fun! Great portraits can be had in the rain!) everyone else will be relaxed and have fun, too! On the wedding morning, after you get dressed, take a minute alone somewhere, no parents, no bridesmaids or groomsmen, no professionals and just sit. Remind yourself that it is now time to switch from “preparing” to “experiencing”. Let all the little things go and just focus on enjoying the rest of your day from here on out, no matter what.
#7 - Let someone else run the schedule. Designate someone, either a friend or even better, a professional, to be responsible for moving things along. It’s too much for you to be both the manager of your wedding and the person enjoying it. Professionals know what they are doing and how things go and how to get them back on track when they get derailed. Your wedding planner is the obvious choice, but your photographer, venue liaison, or anyone else who will be with you most of the day could be a good choice to ask.
#8 - Consider your planned schedule and see if every moment is booked. If so, you may feel rushed and overwhelmed by activities. There are many ways to relax a schedule, and one of my favorite ways is to consider a “Day-after portrait session.” Saving some of your wedding portrait time for the next day can make the wedding day less packed, and also allow your photographer to make best use of the light and location without sacrificing your time with guests and family, or maybe missing your meal because there’s an amazing sunset. You’ll also be less worried about your wedding clothes getting dirty if your photographer likes to offroad. It might also provide better weather than the actual wedding day. You’ll be more relaxed and ACTUALLY happy in the images, too, instead of forcing smiles as you run from place to place to fit it all into the wedding day. Another great way to relax your day is to have a first look followed by portrait time, wedding party pictures and family formals all BEFORE your ceremony. That way, everyone is still looking their best for photos (no one has sweat too much or rubbed off their makeup and children are still dressed and adorable), everyone shows up for the ceremony on time because they’re already there, and once the ceremony is over, you really can just go and party, enjoying all the things you put so much time into planning rather than running around trying to check off important pictures!
#9 - A word about weather. A lot of people hope and wish for a bright warm sunny day because that sounds like the best, most picturesque option, however there are a lot of downsides to what that feels like in reality. Outdoor ceremonies and events that have a lot of sun can cause dehydration (you’ll need to care more about when and where cold water is available), sunburns and heat exhaustion if there’s no way to find shade for hours, people sweat through their nice clothes or their makeup/hair melts, and images have a tendency to have harsh shadows and contrast as well as lots of squinting. Alternately, clouds are wonderful light and make skin seem smooth and even toned, and people won’t have as much problems with squinting or wanting to be outside for longer stretches. Even rain can create beautiful sunsets and amazing clouds for portraits, bring a nice breeze to what might be a very hot day, AND produce some of my favorite stunning portraits where the rain looks like diamonds frozen in the air all around a couple. One of my absolute favorite weddings happened at the Seaport Museum in Philly during the historic Hurricane Irene with a couple who embraced the weird weather and had one of the most amazingly fun days I’ve experienced as a photographer.
#10 - Take the day after easy. Maybe have a brunch to send people off, but don’t over do it. There is a tendency, especially for destination weddings or when you have family in from out of state, to pack in the fun every second of every day… but too much fun can lead to feeling overwhelmed, like you’re missing out if you don’t get everything done. You AND your families all deserve some time to rest and soak in how wonderful the weekend was after all the hard work you put into it!
Remember, the first rule of Bride Club is to share the knowledge you have with others and to ask questions of your community when you need direction or help. No great wedding was conceived of and made reality alone. May your wedding adventure be full of love and great advice!