How to Enjoy Stress-Free Wedding Planning

It is estimated that millions of people got engaged on Valentine’s Day. Were you one of them? I hope so and I also hope that it was one of the most joy filled, exciting moments of your life! It should be because you are agreeing to spend the rest of your life with the one that you love and all that entails.

Now once champagne has been popped, the shiny ring photos have been sent and the rose petals cleaned up, the reality sets in. “I HAVE to plan a wedding! Where do I start? I have never planned anything before!” Here is where I do not want you to panic. Keep some things in perspective as you begin the journey for the next year  or two years to throw this personal celebration. Take a deep breath. You can do this!

Deep Breath #1: Set a realistic time frame for when your TO DO list items will be checked off. Nicole, one of our May brides says, “The entire wedding planning process was an absolute dream, I never made too many decisions at once and everything just fell into place.”  At Gilded Lily Events, I use a program that has a very comprehensive checklist that is broken up by month. We use this to stay on track and make sure items that are prerequisites are completed first. I also never recommend trying to make too many decisions at once. For starters, your wedding will not feel as thoughtful and many people change their mind over the course of the year. Divide & conquer so you feel confident about your decisions. It will save you time, heartbreak and money in the process.

Deep Breath #2: Delegate and involve your fiancé. Lauren and Jamie were married in April and she wisely states, “Remember this is your fiancé’s wedding day too so try to include him in the process”.  It is so very easy for brides to-be to take the reins and not ask for assistance, but you can very easily get overwhelmed that way. Delegate the tasks such as creating the play list for the band, making the final decision on the photographer, choosing his signature drink to name a few. It will be more enjoyable and a great lesson in compromise and working together.


Deep Breath #3: Celebrate little victories! I love Laura’s tip, “When we sent our save the dates, we popped champagne! We did it again when we sent our invites. And I most certainly did it when I found the dress with my mom and sisters. That keeps the process fun too”. Try not to take wedding planning TOO seriously! After all, it is a big party with your best friends and closest family. They want you to enjoy the process and much as the result.

Deep Breath #4: Focus on the details that make you happy.  Erin’s September wedding came together beautifully and she enjoyed it because she kept things in perspective. Erin says, “There were so many parts of my process I really enjoyed, especially when it came to my bridesmaids. I loved making them ‘Will you be my bridesmaid?’ boxes and creating really cute custom denim patch shirts to get ready in. I enjoyed the hunt of getting each girl the perfect statement earrings getting to try out my creative side.” When the big picture gets overwhelming, take some time out to do something fun and creative. When you are doing something for someone else, you are usually the happiest so spreading some love for your girlfriends or parents will make you feel lighter.

Deep Breath #5: Stay true to yourself. Pinterest and Instagram are great tools but many people get bogged down by the daily inspiration streaming in on all of their devices. I always recommend using these social media platforms as a jumping off point but keep in mind that all of the images you see may not be realistic. Do not be discouraged. A good designer with be able unearth what inspired you about those photos and propose something that will work for you. Our wise bride, Laura shares with us that “In order to enjoy the wedding planning process, I stayed true to myself. It’s hard to do that with Pinterest and Instagram, as well as the opinions of friends and family; but, in order for your wedding to reflect you (& your groom!), it’s crucial to stay true to yourself. Plus, the more guests are able to see you – the couple they’re there to celebrate – in your special day, the more unique it is!” I couldn’t agree more!

Deep Breath #6: Hire a wedding planner. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that hiring a wedding planner couldn’t hurt to ensure a more stress-free experience.  If it is not in your budget or personality to hire a wedding planner for the entire process, I recommend considering an event day coordinator who can help ease all of the stress that will inevitably come the month before the wedding when looming due dates, decisions and details abound. Here are some sweet comments from our past brides that I can not help but share! I loved working with them just as much and feel so lucky that I was able to make this process memorable and enjoyable!

“TRUST Paige. Her warm disposition and willingness to go above and beyond are remarkable. Her vision and style are impeccable.  So just remember to relax and enjoy the experience because if you have Paige there is no doubt that your wedding will be truly exceptional”. – Lauren 

“I also admittedly was more able to get to that relaxed place because I knew I had the best wedding planner around and I was in good hands. It may seem counter-intuitive but letting her have more creative room to do things without being so involved in every exact detail was blissful to me. I know we technically threw the party but on the day of it felt like a party thrown for us, it was perfect.” – Erin

“Being a person who pays way too much attention to detail, I knew I needed someone who shares that same passion to help plan our wedding. The minute I met Paige, she put my mind at ease that no detail would go unseen.  She also helped me create my wedding dream team and from there, I knew we were in good hands!”- Nicole

“It doesn’t hurt to hire an AMAZING wedding planner who’s able to interpret your vision and make it a reality.  There’s a reason wedding planners exist and do this full-time, just as there’s a reason you do what you do full-time. Take advantage of their knowledge and expertise!” – Laura
It is my goal as a wedding planner to help all of our couples-to-be to enjoy this journey. For most, it only comes along once in your lifetime and you want to look back at the time from saying “yes” to “I do” as a time that you were true to yourself and the love that you have for one another.
All of these gorgeous photos are from Jessa at Love & Light Photographs. I can not wait to share the stunning photos of Nicole and Mike’s May wedding.  How cute are these two during their engagement session?! I can confirm that these smiles never left their faces the entire time!

calligraphy by Mary Kate Moon


First Look: To See or Not To See? An Interview with Love & Light Photographs

One of the most special memories you will have on your wedding day is seeing your bride or groom for the first time or aptly called a “first look”. For many of us, it is just a fleeting moment seen through happy tears while holding on to your father’s arm or standing next to your best man wringing your hands. The flood of emotions is like nothing you can prepare yourself for. How will you react? Will you remember it? Thankfully we have our tried-and-true photographers there to capture all of the emotions of that special moment.

A recent trend that I am a fan of is the “first look”. More brides and grooms are making time before the ceremony to see their future spouse for the first time. For some people, it just works because they want to make sure that moment is captured and set aside time just the two of them before the whirlwind of the day begins.  If you are thinking of having a first look, there are definitely some things to consider before etching it into your timeline. Luckily, Jessa from Love & Light Photographs has agreed to share her experience with us!

Us: What do you think couples’ need to consider if they want to do a first look?

Jessa: The most important being your timeline and how many hours you are hiring your photographer for. If you are considering doing a first look, you will need your photographer present earlier in the day to document this moment! Your photographer or planner can be a great help with figuring our the logistics of this. Typically later afternoon/early evening ceremonies seems to be ideal for the first look timeline, however every timeline can accommodate one!


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Us: How much time should they allot in their timeline for a first look?
Jessa: The first look itself does not take too long! Typically once the groom is in place and waiting anxiously to see the bride, the moment itself takes all of 5 minutes tops. My team and I photograph it quietly while the bride and groom are having their moment and then when they are ready, we move to into a short portrait session- just the two of them! This is when they look their best, so I always take advantage of the gorgeous light and location with a few portraits in this moment. Because of this, I usually allot a half an hour for the first look to ensure we stay on schedule.
How sweet is this groom! His faces says it all!

His face says it all!

Us: We love first looks! However is there a time when you would suggest that a couple NOT do a first look?
Jessa: I would suggest not doing a first look if one of the two partners is strongly against it. I usually am surprised at how much the moment in the church means to guys especially. Who knew guys secretly dreamed of this moment as well? I think communication as a couple and hearing each other’s wishes is extremely important. As much as it is convenient to get photographs done before the ceremony, it is still YOUR wedding day. However here is the clincher.. usually missing cocktail hour is the trade off to sticking with tradition.
Us:  What time is ideal? How do they figure out that time?
Jessa: Time for the first look completely depends on when your ceremony is, where you are getting ready, and the season.  However a good rule of thumb is two to three hours before the ceremony start time.  For example, if your ceremony is at 5:30 pm, a first look at 3pm would be ideal.  This way we can move right from first look and bride/groom portraits to wedding party photos and then also do immediate family portraits.  Then, you can be tucked away and relax/touch up for a half and hour before walking down the aisle!
I love her face! Clearly so excited to see her groom!

So excited to see her groom!

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Us: Any funny/cute stories about a first look you could share?

Jessa: I’ll say two funny things about the first look and both involve the groom.  This is usually the first time in the day I am seeing the groom (my second shooter is with him in the morning) and he ‘s always so nervous while we are waiting for the bride to walk down.  My favorite questions include. “Where do I put my hands? in my pockets?  Do I turn this way?  Is my hair okay?  Do you need any water Jessa?  Are you okay Jessa?  Is she coming yet? Now? I think I hear her.” which is so adorable.  Also, a cute story that I want to share is that one of my grooms cried during the first look AND when he saw his bride again down the aisle as if he hadn’t already seen her 15 minutes earlier.  I wanted to note that this has happened on a few occasions…a first look doesn’t necessarily take away from the ceremony as I originally thought.  It almost adds another layer to the day.  A few quiet moments alone to be yourselves before the big show.  It’s always one of my favorite times of the day!

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Big thank you and all photo credits go to Jessa at Love & Light Photographs!