The wedding day can be stressful. It is, after all, the culmination of a year's worth of planning and organization for most couples. I have always said that my number goal as the wedding photographer is to ensure that my couples are as comfortable and relaxed as they could be. A comfortable and relaxing couple = amazing photos! It is typical for you to worry about how the day is going to go. Is the weather going to cooperate? What happens if the DJ does not show up? How do I keep the guests entertained? These are some of the major worries couples have on the day of their wedding. And when you have a worried couple, it will often show in their faces, and will ultimately show on their wedding photos! No photoshop skills can help with that, no matter how skilled we are at it!
Below are five things you should not worry about on your wedding day. And what can help you avoid them!
1. The weather
We have been getting a lot of rain in Ottawa this year. The weather this wedding season has been somewhat unpredictable. The weather is probably the most common concern couples have about their wedding day. Will it rain, is there going to be a blizzard, how hot is it going to be during the outdoor ceremony? While it is understandable to worry about the weather, the reality is that there is nothing you can do with what mother nature brings as your wedding present!
What can help: Being prepared is the most important thing. Have a Plan B and C. If you think it is going to rain, ask the venue to have umbrellas ready for you and your guests to use. If the ceremony is an outdoor winter wedding in Ottawa, for example, let your guests know; have some blankets ready to keep them warm. Make sure also to hire vendors that are prepared for every weather! When booking your vendor, ask how they deal with unforeseen weather circumstances; will they show up, how are they getting to the venue? When you hire a photographer, ask for assurance that not only will he/she come on time, but that their gear can handle some rain, heat, or snow. For me, in addition to having weather sealed gear, I always bring with me clear umbrellas and beautiful blankets ready for my couples to use during their wedding photo shoot, just in case mother nature throws a curveball our way.
2. Being late
When I started photographing weddings, I used to second-shoot for a photographer from Toronto who mostly shot South-Asian weddings. Every wedding I did with him was an hour or so behind schedule. One was three hours late! With 300 to 600 guests, someone is going to be late! That is just the reality of getting a large number of people to show up for this type of celebration. People will be stuck in traffic, especially if there are weather issues as discussed above. Even the bride or the groom will be late. There is no point worrying about lost time!
What can help: If my bride or groom is late, I always say "don't worry about it, the ceremony cannot start without you." Of course, the wedding ceremony will not start without the couple - it is your day, don't stress about it if you are running a little late. For guests, an email closer to your wedding day will help in reminding them of the day, time, and venue. Many wedding sites now, like the Knot and Wedding Wire, will do this for you automatically. Another tip is to hire a wedding planner or wedding day coordinator! They will make everything run like clockwork, from making sure every vendor is on the same page re: schedule to getting your guest to move from the cocktail area to the reception tables! They are professionals at making sure your day runs as smoothly as possible without being too bossy.
3. The decor/the flowers/little things
There is nothing more frustrating than planning, making, or organizing something for an extended period and not have it go as expected. I am talking about the little details, like the flower arrangements, your centerpieces, chair and table covers, etc. These are the little things that make your wedding have a cohesive or thematic feel or look. Know though, that sometimes they just won't look like how you imagined they would look! Pinterest tends to set our expectations too high sometimes.
What can help: I always say that when things go wrong during a wedding, the only people who know about them are the couple and the vendors responsible. Take comfort in the fact that your guest will likely have no idea that your centerpieces are supposed to be pink and not fuchsia. If you plan on making your decorations, (which can be a cost-saver) start a year in advance and not just a month before the wedding. You do not want to be doing arts and crafts the night before your walk down the aisle. If you have some cash to spare, hire a wedding decorator. They will take the load off you, and you can allow yourself to be surprised by how beautiful your wedding venue looks!
4. Is everyone having fun?
I am in the midst of planning my wedding and my number one concern is whether my guests are going to have a good time. I will likely have the same concerns on my wedding day, and I will have to remind myself not to sweat it. It is your day - all that matters is that you and your husband/wife-to-be are having the time of your life.
What can help: Alcohol. Alcohol always helps. If you do not have an open bar though (let's be honest, they are expensive!!) make sure to at least hire an excellent DJ! It will make a huge difference in making sure your guests are always on the dance floor and that the right tune is being played at the right moment. Another (free) way to inject some fun into your wedding day is to choose the right MC for the crowd! Choose a funny friend or relative who can make you and your guests laugh, regardless of age, and without having to resort to inappropriate jokes. Lastly, involve your guests in the happenings: have them requests songs, for example, or play fun games.
5. Smiling all the time!
We all tend to put on our "best smile" when we are in front of the camera. However, putting on our best smile for the whole day, especially when it is forced can not only look very awkward in photos but can seriously be painful to your face. Trust me. My favorite photos, and the ones that my couples tend to like, are the ones where they have genuine facial expressions: the crying, the uncontrollable laughter, the smile you have on your face upon seeing the love of your life.
What can help: Just be you. Embrace whatever emotion you have! Smile whenever you feel like it. As a photographer, I am as guilty as anyone, in asking my couples to smile during their family portraits. However, I do tell them in between shots to relax their faces. I always find ways to solicit genuine smiles and laughter (engagement sessions help). If nothing else, I tell the people whose photos I am taking to look at each other. People will always smile when they look at someone they are close to, like a friend or a family member.
Many people will tell you that your wedding is not just about you and your fiancé(e). In many ways, they are right, but ultimately, your guests are there to celebrate you, and your partner's love for each other and nothing should stop you - not even the weather or faulty decorations - from having the most fantastic day.
What makes you worried about your wedding day? Did I miss anything else? Let us know by leaving a comment below!