Wedding planning can be super overwhelming, I know. There are so many decisions and opinions to take into consideration. Just remember that this is YOUR day and concentrate on you and your fiance’s vision for the perfect day. If you put your love first and make the day all about celebrating that, everything else will fall into place.

A lot of people will tell you to choose your date, then your venue, then your photographer, and so on. I would suggest you decide what is most important to you, if it is a certain venue, photographer, videographer, stylist, etc, choose a date from what they have available and go from there. I have had so many brides come to me loving my work and can’t wait to have me as their photographer, but I am already booked for the day they have their venue booked. If photography is more important to you than the venue go to the photographer first and book them, then check with the venue. You can also get a list of available dates from the photographer and the venue and see what dates they both have available! That way you could have both of the top vendors you want.

There are so many tips and tricks I have learned over the past seven plus years photographing weddings that I wanted to share with you so, let’s get to it!!

These are some things you need to consider:

Second dress??

Bring a second dress for your reception. It doesn’t have to be long, elaborate or anywhere near what you spent on your official wedding dress but I’ve seen many brides just ready to come out of that large formal dress and just have fun and party with their friends. If your dress gets wet or dirty or even tears at some point during your day, you’ll have something to change into. Even if you don’t end up wearing it, you’ll be glad you have a plan B. You can also take it on your honeymoon.

Let’s talk shoes!

We all know those incredible bridal shoes we see all over Pinterest and Instagram and who doesn’t want those!! I mean, I want them just to have, but sometimes heels are just not practical for your venue or to even wear all day. If your venue is mostly cobblestone or grass, your feet are not going to make it all day in heels. And again, consider the weather-if the ground is wet you are going to want something to keep your feet dry. I suggest bringing a pair of comfortable shoes and some rain boots. Trust me, you’ll be glad you have them!!!

Hair and Make Up Talk!

I strongly recommend hiring professionals for hair and makeup! Not only will this take stress off you on the day of the wedding, but you can sit there and be pampered all while knowing you will look your very best! I also highly suggest doing a hair and makeup run-through before the wedding day. This will give you time to make sure everything is exactly as you want, and also allow you to change things before the big day! Here are some additional pointers when it comes to hair and makeup. If you want to wear your hair down for the ceremony, consider doing a ponytail or different hair style for the reception. Change it up! It’s your day! When you do your makeup run-through I suggest you purchase the lipstick that your makeup artist uses on you, so you have it for touch ups during the wedding day. And since we are talking about lipstick, please strongly consider some that will not rub off. Your groom will hate having your pink lipstick on him and it will eventually rub back onto your face. Trust me, you’ll thank me later!

It’s all about the DRESS!!

I think one of the most exciting things about planning your wedding is picking out the perfect dress!!!! It shows off your personality as well as sets the tone for the wedding. Want to have fun, maybe not go for the full ball gown, having a more formal affair, maybe a ball gown is the way to go! Just remember that comfort is a big aspect of how you will feel wearing it all day. Here are some tips when it comes to your gown. First and foremost, get a bustle added. Most dresses come with the ribbon wrist hook underneath but that is not enough to help hold your train up all night. Most alteration people can add a bustle to your gown. They can also suggest what type will look best with the gown and train you have.

If your dress has a lot of buttons down the back, grab some crochet hooks to help with all those buttons. I promise that will save so much time. Since whoever is putting you into your dress will most likely have their nails done, the crochet hooks will make this task so much easier.

Also, grab a steamer, you never know who will need it!

Let’s talk veils!

A veil can add so much to your bridal look. You don’t have to wear it all day, maybe just for the ceremony and sunset pictures after, then remove it for the reception, but it can add a lot to the images. It certainly is very bridal and can add a softness to the beautiful sunset pictures. Check Amazon for some very affordable options, literally like $30!

The After party!!

The DJ is major part of your day, starting with the music for the ceremony all the way through to the exit of the reception. You need to find someone you vibe with and will play the music that will make the party everything you have ever dreamed of. The DJ is also there to announce the events that happen during the reception, such as announcing the bride and groom, the dances, the cake cutting, garter and bouquet toss and getting people organized for the exit. While considering your DJ, ask what type of lights they use. I would suggest all white lights, simply because the colored lights can reflect off your guests faces and add unnecessary colors to your images.

Sunset Pictures!

Even if you are doing a first look with your fiance before the wedding, and plan on having all your pictures done before the ceremony. You should always plan fifteen to twentyminutes for sunset pictures. They always turn out amazing and it also gives you more time to spend with your spouse. Sunset pictures are always my favorite time of the whole day and bonus-you get to spend that extra time just the two of you together!

Let’s talk food!

This is one of the most overlooked items in my opinion. Staying hydrated and having food there is very important. I suggest having lunch brought in for the groomsmen and the bridesmaids, even if you don’t think you’ll have time to eat, you can make the time. A lot of time while you are having your hair and makeup done, we fix you a plate and let you have that time to eat something. Wedding days are long, and not having that could be a problem for you later in the day.

Detail items!

The very first part of most wedding days, is when the photographer makes pictures of all your detail items. This includes your gown on a pretty hanger, shoes, garter, all three of the rings, the bridal bouquet, all the jewelry you will be wearing, your veil and any hair accessories, perfume, any gifts and letters for each other, and your full invitation suite. It is very beneficial to have all of these items in one spot ready to be photographed. Also, please consider having your rings professionally cleaned a day or two before the big day so they sparkle!

The wedding party!

Don’t choose your wedding party too early. If you are planning on a long engagement, certainly think about your wedding party, but don’t make any final decisions about who will stand beside you on your big day until you are certain. The people you choose will be in the majority of your wedding day images, so please choose carefully!

Day of the week!

Weddings don’t always have to happen on Saturdays! Think outside the box. Maybe you have a special date in mind and it isn’t a Saturday, no big deal! I have literally done weddings every day of the week and they are always just as special and beautiful! Also, I know we are in the south and football is huge, so if you are wanting a fall wedding, maybe considering doing it on a Friday or a Sunday. Some venues actually discount weekday/Sunday weddings so it is a win-win!

Marriage license!

With the new law in Alabama, you will need to have your marriage license printed out and with you on your wedding day. The minister doesn’t have to sign it but it does have to be signed and notarized that day for that to be your official wedding day. So be sure one of your guests can notarize that for you. And if you are one of MY BRIDES, you are in luck. I’m a notary and I will be more than happy to notarize that license for you!

Hire a coordinator!

Even if it is just a day-of coordinator, hiring a coordinator will make everything run so much smoother. They will help by coordinating the arrival times of all your vendors, make sure everyone is on task and everything is running smoothly. They will also be the person that tells everyone when it is time to walk down the aisle. This can be a tricky time if you don’t have someone there in charge.

The Extras!

You don’t need to have programs and favors! If you are trying to cut costs, take these out immediately. The programs are nice to have, but get thrown in the trash as soon as the ceremony is over. And favors, they are not necessary, trust me. Instead, consider doing a more unique sign in book!

Now on to the EMERGENCY KIT!

This is something every bride needs, because you just don’t know what you might possibly need on your wedding day, and not be able to get. Here is what I suggest; extra contract lenses, a phone charger, boob tape, a sewing kit, tweezers. extra earring backs, a Tide pen, white chalk, a white chalk pen, makeup remover wipes, tissues, bobby pins in all the colors, toothbrush and toothpaste, floss, tampons, Advil, Imodium, clear nail polish, a nail file, super glue, eyelash glue, lotion, hair spray, Q-tips, spray deodorant, a lint roller, a hair brush, safety pins, static guard, stain remover, scissors, hem-tape, a pen and blank note cards with envelopes, a few lighters (for candles and if you are doing a sparkler exit), boutonnière pins, a razor, blotting papers, double sided tape, dry shampoo, band-aids, zip-ties, chapstick, socks, and literally anything you use on a daily basis.