Top 10 wedding planning tips

You’ve said yes, your ring is sized, and now it’s time to take that Pinterest board dreams and make it a reality! Yep, we’re talking about wedding planning tips! You may be a total Type A bride who has had your wedding planned since before your fiance proposed. Maybe the thought of planning a wedding totally stresses you out and maybe you fall somewhere in between the two. Wherever you are on your wedding planning journey, this blog is for you! 

Since I’ve attended and been behind the scenes of more weddings than most people, I’ve learned quite a bit about wedding planning. Specifically how to plan your dream wedding with minimal stress! Let’s dive into my top 10 wedding planning tips. 

1. Make a budget and stick to it 

Before you do anything, you need to figure out a realistic budget for your wedding. This is going to be crucial as you select your vendors, venue, and figure out all of the other details! If your families are helping you will want to ask them what they’d like to contribute and then figure out what you and your fiance will be adding. If you and your fiance are solely funding your wedding, figure out your top budget and then pick your top 3 expenses that you’re wanting to spend the most on. That will help you keep focused on sticking to your budget! 

Check out this free wedding budget planner by The Knot. Click HERE.

2. Hire your vendors…like now 

After you’ve figured out your budget it’s time to start talking with your vendors! I would suggest starting with your venue first as they typically book 1-1.5 years in advance. Select a few that are within your budget and tour them to figure out which one fits you best. After you’ve booked your venue I would book your photographer, since they typically book 1 year in advance. 

Overall you are going to want to hire vendors that you trust will bring your vision to life. You also want to enjoy working with them! Especially your photographer and videographer since you will be spending most of your wedding day with them.

I have a great list of recommended vendors that I share with all of my couples and now you! These are vendors that I have personally worked with and I have seen the amazing work and service that they give all of their clients. 

3. Create a timeline 

Yay, you’ve booked your vendors! Now it’s time to create a timeline for your wedding day. Don’t start panicking if you have no idea where to start with this. I have an amazing timeline guide that is going to help you out here and it’s totally free! Click HERE for your free Timeline Guide. Having a timeline is going to help keep your day on track in so many ways. It lets your bridal party know when they need to be ready, it tells vendors when and where they need to be, and it allows for time to capture all of the photos that you want! 

My biggest tip here is to schedule in buffer time. You might not think that it will take as long to accomplish certain things like wedding party photos, but trust me, things tend to run behind on wedding days! So create a very detailed timeline with plenty of wiggle room. I would also suggest hiring a day of coordinator for your wedding day. They will take your timeline and run with it! It takes any stress off of your shoulders for the day of your wedding. 

4. Create a shot list with your photographer 

When you hire a photographer, you’re trusting that they will capture the special moments of your wedding day. That trust lends to creative and unique photos! However, you will want to create a shot list with your photographer, especially with family photos. You will want to create a list of all of the family members that you want included in those formal family photos and any specific family groupings you’d like. A special note: make sure that your family members and wedding party know when their portraits are so that they won’t be running late! 

This is also when you should let your photographer know about any specific shots that you’re excited for or want to make sure they capture!

5. Ditch the traditions 

Well, keep some if you want to. But get rid of the ones that don’t feel like you! There are so many traditions on a wedding day including the bouquet and garter toss, cake cutting, first dance, and more. These can all be fun and beautiful parts of your day but if they just don’t feel like you, then don’t do them! This is your wedding day so you make the rules. 

6. Do a trial run 

You’ve heard of the rehearsal dinner but more importantly (I think) do a hair and makeup trial! The last thing you want on your wedding day is to be unhappy with how you look. Most hair and makeup artists will offer a complimentary or affordable trial before the wedding and I recommend to take full advantage of that! It’s also a great idea to line your trial up with your engagement session if possible so you can see how your hair and makeup photographs and if you’re happy with it. 

7. Use your engagement photos

There are so many great ways to use your engagement photos for your wedding! You can use them in your guest book, as table numbers, on your wedding website, and invitations. I always recommend my couples do an engagement session! It’s a great way to get to know your photographer and their shooting style. You get to get comfortable in front of the camera and will feel like a pro by your wedding day. Check out this blog post for more reasons why I say “Book the engagement photos!”

8. Decide on first looks 

More than likely you’ve seen all types of first looks on Pinterest or Tik-Tok! I have a whole blog post on first looks with your partner, but there are quite a few other types too. Think about doing a first look with your parent or sibling, your bridal party, or even the groomsmen! Just make sure to refer back to tip #3 and make time for each first look you want to do. 

9. Keep your ceremony unplugged

As a photographer, I’m especially passionate about this tip. You spend so much time and money on your wedding and deserve to have photos that you can look back on and smile! I feel so bad for my couples when those ceremony photos are filled with cell phones in the aisle and tablets being raised for video. You don’t want the photo of your dad walking you down the aisle to be overshadowed with someone’s arm and cell phone in front of you. Your guests are there to celebrate you and they will respect your wishes if you ask for an unplugged ceremony!

10. Have fun! 

You know I couldn’t leave this out! This wedding day only happens once so enjoy it and make it yours, however that looks. Ditch all the traditions and elope, have a massive celebration, or keep it small and intimate. Take a party bus after the ceremony, sneak away to grab In-N-Out with your spouse, or shut down the dance floor at the end of the night for a solo dance together. Just do what sounds FUN to you. 

Bonus: Book a Day After session 

Have you ever thought about booking a “Day After” session? This is where the day after your wedding you would get dressed up again and take your bridal portraits together! There are quite a few reasons to do this. One, you have more time for your photos AND we can travel to more than one location. Two, you don’t have to worry about getting your dress dirty since your wedding day is done. Three, it gives you more time to have fun and party with your guests! 

There you have it! If you have any questions about these tips or want more insight into planning your wedding day timeline, reach out to me and I’d love to chat with you! 

Still in search of you wedding photographer? Send me a message HERE!

Ashlynn Shelby

November 30, 2022

Hi! I'm Ashlynn. When you choose me as your photographer, I promise to extend everything I have into your experience and your photos. You deserve the best experience possible and that's what I plan on providing.
My blog is where I share love stories I've been a part of, and resources for couples planning their engagement , wedding or elopement. I hope you can find some helpful information here to help you plan your big day. 


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