Wedding photo, bridal portrait in North GA

42 Wedding Planning Tips For The Bride To Be, 2021 Edition

  • If you are getting married outdoors, have an indoor contingency plan. Without a good rain plan, the wedding can disintegrate into chaos, with a hundred people in your living room.
  • Have your nails professionally manicured the day before the wedding. Both of you! This is one thing you don’t want to do far in advance. Reduce the chances of a broken nail, chipped polish or, if using applied nails, one coming off by having your manicure done as late as possible. If you are not inclined toward colored polishes or long fingernails, make sure they are neatly trimmed, filed, polished, and buffed. Your hands will be a focus of attention when showing off those new wedding rings!
  • To keep lily pollen from staining clothes, pull the stamen out when the lily opens. Use tape or a lint pickup tool to remove any pollen that gets on your clothes.
  • The night before your wedding is not the time for partying. Get eight hours of restful sleep. If you’re having a rehearsal dinner or a bachelorette bash, make sure that it ends early. Drink moderately or, better yet, not at all. Bloodshot eyes and a banging hangover will not make for a fun wedding.
  • Non-reflective glasses or contacts are best if you are an eyeglass wearer. Flash, which both professional and amateur photographers may use outside as well as inside, will reflect in your glasses.
  • Have a mini travel-size hairspray, a compact to reduce facial shine, extra bobby pins, small scissors, sewing needles, extra stockings, a brush or comb, blush, lipstick, breath spray, and stain remover pads (such as “Shout!” wipes) in a little bag that your Maid of Honor or even the photographer can carry for you throughout the day for emergencies and touch-ups. Your photographer is nearly always with you, and you can access your stash at any time.
  • Makeup should be natural looking. Don’t feel you have to put on more for the photos. Check your makeup or have the photographer check your (and your bridesmaids) makeup outside in natural light. Remember, flash illuminates the subject in a very similar way to the daylight!
  • While doing your pre-hair appointment (test), try on your veil with your chosen hairstyle before your wedding day! Check all the angles and make sure the veil is very secure – secure enough that you are not worrying all day about it falling out. Remember, people will be hugging you, and if it is windy, the wind will be blowing your veil. Short simple veils secured only with a comb do not work well if you are wearing your hair straight down, they have a tendency to look like an afterthought. If you are wearing your hair down, try a wider comb, or a decorative barrette – a little height is important. Don’t wear your veil too far forward or too low on the back of your head.
  • Make sure you, your Mom and all Bridesmaids check shoe color outside in daylight! The color can look fine inside with room lights, and then (as I’ve seen it happen) on the day of your wedding you realize your shoes do not really match your dress!
  • Make sure you and your bridesmaids all try on your dresses with the shoes you will be wearing that day. It isn’t fun to realize on the day of the wedding that the shoe heel is taller or shorter than you thought, resulting in the dress being too short or dragging on the floor!
  • Test drive the bustle with the ones who will be pinning it up for you!
  • Make sure your final fitting is as close as possible to the wedding day. A few brides have gained or lost weight and were not happy with the way the dress draped the day of…
  • Do not hold roses continuously when you are holding the stems during formals before the ceremony. The heat of your hands will cause them to open (blast) too soon. Have the florist do an extra wrap of ribbon around the stems which will help slow down this process. Make sure roses that are heavy and used for boutonnieres have a wire wrap so they don’t snap off when being pinned on.
  • Breathe. When you hold your breath, it makes you look scared even if you are not. One big exhale at the top of the aisle makes for a nice smile!
  • Check the dresses with pantyhose! Some dresses fit so close to the body that the seam of the pantyhose will show through – not something you want to find out on the day of your wedding. Also, watch the sheerness. You don’t want the stockings to show through. And, check dresses outside in sunlight to see if slips are needed!
  • If you plan to take your shoes off and dance in other shoes or barefoot, let the seamstress know at the fitting so they can hem your dress to work both ways.
  • Before the reception, make sure the DJ has a proper list of people with phonetic pronunciations for difficult names.
  • Take your socks off at least an hour before you put on the wedding dress. The elastic can leave red marks.
  • Smiling makes you relax just by doing it. So do it! Your photos will thank you :)
  • To avoid puffiness under your eyes, sleep with the head propped up with extra pillows to drain excess fluid from your face. Cold wet tea bags in the AM also work wonders.
  • Have the caterer bring trays of appetizers, beer, champagne, or wine to the site where the group photos are being taken. Also, ask the caterer to make up a special tray of apps just for you and your husband for the time when you arrive for the cocktail hour.
  • Dehydration and hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) are major causes of headaches. They can even cause you to lose consciousness. So please, eat and drink!
  • If you have a video person, ask that they cooperate with the photographer. If they shine their lights into the camera, that shot is lost forever (NB: not the case with me, I actually like working with video lights in the frame– TT). Or, if they stay too close, they’ll be in the photos!
  • Windows are great! They provide more natural light for better photos. However, if you have a long head table right in front of a window, the best your photographer can do to avoid flash reflections is to zoom in or to shoot from the side. (NB: again, not the case with me, as I can set up a radio controlled lights that won’t be reflecting off the window – TT)
  • Make sure you have a handkerchief to put under the stems of your flowers if they are exposed. Otherwise, you could get stains on your dress.
  • Let the caterer know that you would like the cake moved to the center of the dance floor for the cake cutting, or ask them to avoid putting the cake table near aluminum tent poles, or (believe it or not) fire extinguishers, fire alarms, windows – or too close to a wall. Cutting the cake that is too close to a wall will make your back face towards your guests! Also, flashes and video lights will create shadows on the wall.
  • Ask your baker to make sure the stand or base of your cake is not an exposed aluminum foil! Make sure they cover the base with greenery or rose petals. Most places will be aware of that… But leave nothing to chance as I’ve been surprised to see foil bases from places that should’ve known better.
  • Tents and Chuppahs. Many tent poles are aluminum and reflective. Fash will illuminate them in your dancing and candid shots under the tent. A great way to decorate them so they do not become eyesores in your guest’s photographs is with yards of tulle and ivy or even fake ivy. Christmas lights can also be wrapped around them. Remember the corners as well as the center poles. Some companies have Pole Covers. The best low cost effort I’ve seen is lots of white Christmas lights wrapped around the poles with many layers of tulle.
  • Let everyone involved in family and group photos know where and when the photo session is planned and ask them to be there on time. Missing people are one of the biggest reasons group pictures can take too long.
  • Groups are easier to organize if you begin with the largest one, then proceed to dismiss people from that larges group, and finally finish with the couples and individual photos.
  • Keep group shots as simple as possible. If your list of “must have” family photos is very long – make sure you give yourself enough time! It is not the photos that take long; it is getting all the players to the photo site, or pulling people away from conversations and organizing them into groups. If you figure 3-5 minutes per grouping depending upon the size of the group, you will have an idea of how long this photo session will take.
  • If you want spouses and children of siblings in your group combinations, allow even more time. Standing around waiting for people eats up lots of time and sometimes even causes conflicts.
  • If another location is chosen for your group shots, appoint someone to bring beer or champagne and plastic champagne glasses to the location and have a toast to the bride and groom before pictures! It usually puts everyone is a festive mood.
  • Make sure the reception venue, if possible, leaves enough room for each couple in your bridal party to walk side by side to the dance floor for the grand intros.
  • Get firm quotes in writing from all of your vendors. Give them a detailed list, in writing with photos if possible to illustrate your vision. Reconfirm – in writing – one week prior to your wedding. It won’t hurt to fax or mail written instructions. All additions or changes to your original order should be written and an updated quote requested.
  • Most of all – enjoy! Try to delegate to dependable friends or family. Once the day has arrived, just pamper yourself, and fully enjoy each moment without worry. If you have delegated, things should take care of themselves. One friend or family member should be the go-for person. They find people, call people, and talk to the front desk or the florist. Another person is in charge of making sure you and the girls have hairpins, makeup, extra stockings, hairspray, iron, sewing kit etc. Another is in charge of transportation and ensuring that all the flowers go to the right places. Another is the liaison with the caterer and is responsible for the seating chart and the timing of events at the reception. And so on, and so forth. This is your day. Don’t lift a finger. If you are happy and relaxed, your pictures (and memories!) will reflect it.
  • Feel free to make your own “traditions” and not worry about what is “correct” with everything from your dress to the timing, or whether you will even do a traditional “cake cutting” or “bouquet & garter toss”, etc.
  • Don’t rush the day! Make it leisurely and relaxed. I’ve had couples that were literally exhausted from their tight schedule and overambitious “shot list”. One of the best ideas I’ve seen is to invite your guests to your cocktail party and reception 1 – 1 ½ hours after the ceremony is planned to end. Guests can freshen up or walk in town or visit with friends and family until the party starts. You have time to do your pictures – with no stress – and still have plenty of time to enjoy your guests during the cocktail hour.
  • If the previous tip is not an option, make sure your cocktail hour is at least 1 hour and 45 min., or even 2 hours long if you want to enjoy a good portion of your cocktail hour. Some reasons why caterers will discourage 2-hour long cocktail hours are that (according to them) people will drink too much, or that it’s too long of a wait before dinner. Personally, I’ve never experienced either case. People seem to be much more conscious these days about not drinking too much and two hours gives people time to mingle and let the hors d’oeuvres settle before dinner. Every couple I have ever talked to that had a long cocktail hour said it was the best thing they could have done!
  • If you’re planning a long reception that warrants serving a meal to the DJ, band, video crew and photographer, make sure to order them a boxed lunch, not the sandwiches.
  • Perhaps the easiest way to keep track of progress of your group photos is to write down each group on a separate piece of Post-It note. Once we’re done with the group, crumple the corresponding note. This way you will always have a clear idea of how many groups left.
  • Hire a wedding coordinator, be free to enjoy one of the best days of your life!

This list, which later became colloquially known as “TFTB” (Tips For The Bride), was first published as an article on my old website sometime in the late year 2000. Since then it grew in size, got translated to different languages, taken down along with the old site, reposted… Welcome to the 2021 edition! Lots of contributors to the original list retired or changed addresses, but I’ve tried to keep their links current.

I sincerely hope you will find this list useful. Or maybe you have a wedding tip of your own? Share it in the comments, everyone will appreciate it!


Fran Landau (GA), Mary Ball (VA), Brad Barr (FL), Chuck Robertson (GA), Galka O. (NJ), Jason Curtis (Canada), Jo Stafford (United Kingdom), Julia N. (Germany), Tony Pulsone (MA), Donna Blundell (IA), Jessica Johnson (MI), Chris Bickford (NC), Amy Prutch (WA), Stacey Ambrosio (FL), Peggy Bair (MO), Shelley Paulson (MN), Jessica Burnside (IN), Yours Truly (GA)

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