Top 5 Mistakes To Avoid On Your Wedding Day

As a Chicago wedding photographer, I have seen my fair share of weddings. Most go incredibly well. However, in some circumstances in which something may not go as planned for your wedding day, it can be 100% avoidable. Below is a list of the top 5 mistakes to avoid on your wedding day. These tips are to ensure your special day is smooth sailing and completely stress-free.

Now before I continue, I must say this first. I want to address that in the wedding industry, you wedding-planning people are constantly berated with loads of negativity. From “my wedding regrets” videos to story times about wedding disasters, it can be entirely overwhelming. As a newly-engaged bride myself, I know I can only take so much clickbait.

My intention behind sharing this information in this blog is not to scare you. It’s not to bring you down or make you feel bad about any of your wedding decisions. Frankly, things go wrong at every wedding and that is TOTALLY okay. I hope that this can serve as a base list of experiences to guide your planning process and add a few important “to-do’s” to your checklist. I promise they’re worth it.

Looking back, I reflected on all of my wedding days over the years and what went wrong each day. These were the top 5 things that caused my couples the most stress on their wedding days.

So sit back and take in these tips to keep your wedding day stress-free. If you’re not ready to absorb this info yet, take the time you need! Bookmark the page in your planning folder and come back to it when you’re mentally ready.

Not Including Your Photographer In Your Timeline Planning

Top 5 Mistakes To Avoid On Your Wedding Day | Chicago Wedding Photographer

I have had my fair share of moments where couples have forgotten to include me before making irreversible wedding decisions. There have even been times when there were changes to the timeline and I was not notified. Not only does this hinder me as your wedding photographer from performing my best, but can lead to an entire day of miscommunication amongst all of your vendors (which is obviously the opposite of what you want).

Instead, I encourage that before you set your timeline, reach out to them. That way you don’t get stuck with timing that doesn’t best serve your vision. 

Ex: If sunset photographers are incredibly important to you, check in with your wedding photographer before deciding anything around that time. They may have special insight like hopping outside 1 hour before sunset to ensure that you get those “golden glow” photos before sun dips behind the tree line/buildings at your specific venue. If you assume that you’ll step outside 20 minutes befoer sunset you may not have any sunset left for the night.

Ex: If you don’t want a first look but your ceremony is complete at sunset time (watch out winter weddings sunset can be as early as 3:30 pm in Chicago) there isn’t much that can be done since you’re locked in with your ceremony time.

By looping your wedding photographer in, you can be sure that they provide their expertise before you drop thousands on a decision you’ll need to change later.

Not Informing Your Wedding Photographer of Changes To Your Wedding Timeline

With that, I highly encourage you to inform your wedding photographer of any changes to your wedding timeline. Even after the wedding timeline has already been finalized, if you make any changes please notify your wedding photographer. The number of times I’ve worked to create a detailed and well-thought-out timeline with a couple only for them to completely change the entire day without letting me know would astound you. Whether you’re adjusting the evening timeline based on updated catering or DJ changes, always notify all of your wedding vendors. Even if it feels annoying for one small change, they will greatly appreciate it.

Not Having Your Details Box Ready To Go

Top 5 Mistakes To Avoid On Your Wedding Day | Chicago Wedding Photographer

If you know me by now, I am passionate about your wedding details and creating the perfect wedding flatlay. You can actually read more about that in this blog here. If I’m being honest, one of the biggest time sucks of your day can be searching for every detail that you were hoping to include in your detail flatlay.

A few examples are that your invitations are stuck with the marriage license at the church or you don’t have your veil because it’s at your dressing location. All of these can quickly tally up to either A.) having an incomplete flatlay or B.) cutting into our time for other images in your day. So to avoid this common wedding mistake, have all of the items you wish your wedding photographer to capture in a box ready to go for when we arrive. I suggest brainstorming a checklist so that you’re sure to bring everything with you. Check out my recommended checklist on my blog here where I’ve done the work for you!)

I also always recommend that your florist arrives with flowers at the same time or before I do. That way, any extra florals/greenery you’ve ordered are also ready to go when I arrive. Those extra loose blooms and greenery you see hanging around? It will 100% be worth the extra cost, I promise!

Letting Family Wander Before Family Photos

Top 5 Mistakes To Avoid On Your Wedding Day | Chicago Wedding Photographer

Surprisingly this is a big mistake that happens on wedding days that can easily be avoidable! If you decide to have formal family portraits before or after your wedding ceremony, this is always the one piece of advice I give my couples. Do NOT let your family be unprepared for this section of your day.

Make sure that all of your family members are in the loop when family formals are happening. I recommend reaching out to each individual family member so they personally know to stick around for photographs. This sounds like overkill but you would be surprised how many times close family members assume they aren’t important enough to be in photographs and leave.

In addition to this vital tip, make sure to emphasize how important it is they are on time. Whether you’re having your portrait session before your ceremony or after we can’t start until everyone we need shows up. I recommend telling family to arrive 15 minutes before the actual start time for before your ceremony. If you’re having your portraits afterward, emphasize how important it is they do NOT wander around the venue. No grabbing a drink, chatting with friends, or using the bathroom (if they can help it). That way we don’t need to send three people looking for that one stray person and all of the sudden we’ve lost everyone searching high and low. Keep the chaos at bay by setting expectations prior to your wedding day for a stress-free formal portrait session.

Have A Plan For What Items Are Needed Throughout The Day

Wedding Planning Tips | Chicago Wedding Photographer

You know that saying “better be safe, than sorry”? Well, that easily applies to your wedding day as well. Be sure that prior to your wedding day, you plan for what items are needed throughout the day. This can include your marriage license, emergency kit, backup shoes, an overnight bag, etc. You should know exactly where each of these items is on your wedding day. Not only to allow yourself peace of mind but to prevent any last-minute scrambling!

Not only do you want to be sure you have those safety pins and scissors ready, but know WHAT items are going WHERE throughout the day. I recommend by starting with a list of every possible item that you could need broken down by each section of the day. Then see where items overlap and make a plan for where to put the items you no longer need.

For example – where are your getting ready PJ’s, dress hangers, and flat lay items going once you leave your getting ready space? Can you leave things at that location or do you need to plan for someone to gather all of those items to be transported to another space? (And who is going to be in charge of that?) And that applies to the end-of-the-night items as well – you may not need makeup remover or your nightly skincare items in the morning but how will those arrive to your overnight location?

While this again may feel like overkill (are you sensing a theme yet?), I promise it will cut out so much stress by knowing exactly where everything should be placed. That way you don’t have to worry about those little issues that come up and you can keep your mental energy focused on enjoying every second of your day.

Not Confirming With Your Caterer How Long Meal Times Take

Wedding Planning Tips | Chicago Wedding Photographer

Last but certainly not least is not confirming with your caterer how long meal times take. This is particularly important if you don’t have a lot of photography coverage time left for your evening. 

Let’s assume that throughout your planning, you think that your main course will only take 30 minutes. When in reality, your caterer recommends allotting 50-60 minutes before you can move on to your next event. When you run a half hour behind, you’ll likely incur additional expenses from other vendors. By asking your photographer and videographer to stay late to capture dancing, bouquet tosses, special dances, exits, etc. While this may seem like a small detail, in the grand scheme of things this can dramatically impact the order of events for the rest of your night and run you over budget.

Top 5 Mistakes To Avoid On Your Wedding Day

I want to reiterate one last time, that while these are my top 5 mistakes to avoid on your wedding day, this is by no means meant to stress you out. I analyzed every issue that’s gone wrong during every wedding day over the years and summarized these points into what caused the most stress. Cheers to you having the most stress-free wedding day EVER.

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