I got married on a hot & rainy Texas day in 2005, and that feels like a lifetime ago. I didn’t have a wedding photographer (ironic, I know), but the photos my grandpa took of me in the little office area in the little white Cumberland church remind me how calm and unbothered I was about that or anything else. I don’t remember caring about the weather (besides thinking that rain on your wedding day is good luck), the food, the decorations, the cake, or any family drama at all. To be fair, our wedding was a very small and modest occasion – I mean, we were 18 and had nothing but love – but my lack of nerves wasn’t because there wasn’t anything to worry about, it was a part of my habitual & intentional prioritizing of positivity & peace.
As a wedding photographer now, I’ve been told that I actually bring positivity and peace to my clients’ wedding days! What a compliment! There are so many things about wedding planning & the wedding day that can be stressful and hard and believe me, I’ve witnessed my share of breakdowns and freak-outs. It’s really no wonder though; most people are not at all accustomed to the feeling of being responsible for all the moving parts of a large event (which is why you should hire a planner, but we’ll talk about that more in a sec) and it’s really easy to get overwhelmed with anxiety about everything going perfectly. I get it; you spend a lot of time, energy, and money on your wedding, and you want to enjoy it! You want to walk away that night with a full heart from all the sweet and fun memories you just made, so let’s talk about how to achieve that.
1. Before the Planning Begins
Planning a positive wedding day starts before you even start planning. It’s so easy to jump right into planning once your partner proposes, but try to take a few breaths before you jump into wedding colors and reception playlists. Spend a few weeks catching yourself staring at the sparkles in your ring & getting butterflies when you say the words “my fiancé”. Use that time to set yourself up into the right mindset for planning! Weddings are a celebration, and you’ll enjoy the process of planning it if you’ve already decided to not sweat the small stuff. Mindset is so powerful, it can totally make or break anything you do (and that’s a fact). Talk with your partner about this too! Figure out each others’ expectations (do you want to prioritize romance and mood and your partner wants to prioritize fun and partying?) and set boundaries (like if you already know your great aunt “Meddling Melba” will be a problem).
When you feel settled, start pulling together your wedding plan. And if you’re following my advice to the letter, that means your next step is finding an awesome wedding planner!
2. Hire a Wedding Planner
I know what some of you are thinking: “I’m a great designer, I can make it beautiful myself!” or “My sister is so organized, we can totally handle an event with 100 people!”
Let me stop you right there. Yes, I have had plenty of gorgeous weddings and weddings that run smoothly without a planner. Some people are truly gifted enough to design and execute a large event with no (or little) past experience, and if that’s you, that’s wonderful! But if you’re not sure that’s you, you’ll save yourself (and your sister, mom, or whoever is responsible for coordinating on the wedding day) so much stress and you’ll enjoy the event so much more if you go ahead and include an amazing planner in your budget right from the start.
Great planners are so much more than good designers that are organized. They are event experts that know exactly who the good vendors are in your area (and who to avoid), they are well connected, they’re invested in helping you have the wedding of your dreams, and they know exactly what it will take to achieve it (or they can smartly suggest alternatives if something is out of reach because of budget or other constraints). On the wedding day, planners know how to wrangle all the moving parts and put everything in order so all your planning wasn’t in vain. They know when each vendor will arrive and exactly where they should go, they have tons of experience with improvising if something goes wrong, and they’ll even load your car at the end of the night while you’re celebrating your last few dances with your friends.
3. Find Vendors You Can Trust
With or without a planner, having vendors that you trust is a major part of making it easy to have a positive & stress-free wedding. If you hire a DJ that had some bad reviews but he was the cheapest, I guarantee the stress of wondering if he’ll show up or do a good job will be in the back (or front) of your mind all the way up until your wedding day. If your great uncle has a nice camera and says he can probably make a killer wedding video for you, and you’d rather hire a pro videographer but don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, I promise that will be something that will bring negativity to your wedding. It will be the same for any vendor: DJ, florist, band, bartender, caterer, cake artist, videographer or photographer. Find professional vendors who are experts in their fields, have excellent reputations, and make it obvious online how much they care about their clients. Read reviews like it’s your job!
(If you’re looking for a photographer you can trust, I’m your girl! I also send my clients a list of other types of vendors that I know & trust, to make it easier to plan!)
4. Intentionally Surround Yourself With Positive People
In our hearts, we all know which people in our life bring us up and which ones bring us down. On your wedding day, plan to be surrounded by positive, encouraging, and pleasant people as much as possible. If you know your mom or sister tends to be a Negative Nelly, talk privately with a couple of your most positive bridesmaids or groomsmen about how you’d love to have extra support and encouragement on your wedding day (enough to drown out any negativity that may creep in). It’s amazing how purposeful smiles and silver linings from people you love can counteract the funk that negative people might bring to the atmosphere!
5. Accept that Something Might Go Wrong
This is a big one. Even with all the planning in the world and the best vendors with the most experience, something still may go wrong at your wedding. The officiants’ mic may randomly stop working during your vows, it may start pouring during your outdoor ceremony (never trust Spring in the south), or a guest may bump into your champagne tower and send it all crashing to the ground moments before toasts are supposed to begin. Any of these things would be a bummer, but remembering that the ultimate goal of the day is to get married & have a good time with your family and friends will help you brush off any big or small disasters and get your smile back quickly. And as the hosts, you and your partner set the mood and dictate how much merriment people feel at your wedding, so do your best to have a great attitude (I don’t want you to have any regrets)!
6. Have a Plan B
Lastly, having a backup plan for any parts of your day that could go sideways will give you so much peace and make it so much easier to stay positive if you have to go off course from your original plans. If you’re working with a planner, they’ll be your #1 person to go to and make a plan B with. But while you’re planning, don’t forget to include your vendors by making sure the backup ideas will work with their services too! Once you’ve ironed out a solid plan, tell your bridal party and immediate family and prep them for what might happen if it’s raining or if there’s, you know, a global pandemic or something.
I love my clients so much, and I consider it to be a part of my job to make sure their wedding experience is the best and most stress-free that it can possibly be. I know that the things I’ve explained here will help anyone that implements them, and you can read that in my best teacher or mom voice (whichever makes it feel more convincing to you). Happy planning!
Corrie Childers is a sought-after Northwest Arkansas wedding photographer, Arkansas engagement photographer, Arkansas bridal photographer and Arkansas proposal photographer. Corrie has a natural passion for classic, timeless wedding photography in an elegant and relaxed style. Corrie is currently booking Arkansas weddings in Bella Vista, Bentonville, Fayetteville, Rogers, Siloam Springs, Eureka Springs and all of Northwest Arkansas, as well as Little Rock, El Dorado, Dallas, St. Louis, Kansas City and beyond!
Planning a Positive Wedding Day!