6 Ways to Make Wedding Planning Less Stressful

Being engaged is such an exciting time in your life—and it can feel like it’s whizzing by once you start wedding planning.

There’s research to do, emails to send, decisions to make… it’s a full-time job!

We’ve been shooting weddings for over six years and through meeting different couples, hearing about their planning experiences (and through our own wedding planning as a couple), we’ve learned a lot about how to make things more stress-free.

These six tips will help to simplify the process so you get the most joy out of every moment leading up to the wedding.

1. Start your wedding planning by finding a checklist

When Heather and I got engaged, we realized pretty quickly that we needed an amazing wedding planning checklist.

I’m a pretty visual person, so if you’re anything like me, having a guide to reference is priceless for my sanity.

With that need in mind, Heather and I put together this Ultimate Wedding Planning Checklist. It breaks down everything you’ll need to know and do, month by month.

There are plenty of great checklists out there, so whichever one you choose, be sure it resonates with you so you can follow it step-by-step leading up to the big day.


Wedding Planning Brian Shannon

2. Hire a wedding planner (or at least a day-of coordinator)

Real talk: Planning a wedding by yourself is a monumental undertaking.

With our busy day-to-day lives, you’re probably spending a huge bulk of time planning. (Hence the full-time job reference above!)

A wedding planner will majorly help alleviate that stress.

Even though they might be a significant part of your budget, (this article by Brides magazine says a wedding planner typically ends up costing about 10% of your wedding budget) a good wedding planner could actually end up saving you money in the long run—not to mention saving you time! 

If you want to enjoy the process of planning your wedding as much as possible, yet you don’t want to get too caught up in the details or overwhelmed with decisions, a wedding planner makes total sense.

Having an expert there to take some of the pressure off of you and be a guide throughout your planning can totally change the vibe of the whole process.

They’ll help you stay organized and work with you to bring your unique wedding vision to life.

Merrily & Eugene

Not sure about a wedding planner?

Maybe you want total control and really love the planning process or you’d rather splurge on other parts of your wedding. Many venues can connect you with a day-of coordinator who can help to ensure everything runs smoothly.

Without a day-of coordinator, there’s a really good chance the responsibility of solving any dilemmas will automatically fall on your maid of honor, your mom, the photographer or you!

When a photographer is in charge of all of the coordination, it tends to pull us away from our main focus of capturing your day. Many of the most stressful wedding situations we’ve seen could have been avoided if there was a wedding planner or day-of coordinator present.

It’s your day and you deserve the space to be able to focus on your special love and commitment to each other, rather than worrying about details of the day!


Wedding Planning Kate and Ryan

3. Find a photographer with a calming presence

A great wedding photographer does so much more than take gorgeous wedding pictures.

If you’re not super comfortable in front of the camera (few of us are!), it’s your photographer’s job to make sure you feel and look relaxed—so you look like you.

The right photographer will work with you beforehand to go over things like family combinations and the general flow of events for the day so you can focus on enjoying the moment.

It helps to find someone who gets your wedding vision, and that you might not want overly posed or traditional photographs, for example, but rather a more candid and natural feel.

Your photographer will also be frequently interacting with the people closest to you, and their personality and style will have a big impact on the overall energy and mood of your wedding day.

You’ll be spending the whole day with your photographer, too, so choose someone you easily vibe with. Their calming presence throughout the day will mean a lot.

Check out this article to learn more about the character traits I believe you should look for in your wedding photographer.


Wedding Planning NYC

4. Work with your photographer & wedding planner to create a realistic timeline

Crafting a well thought out wedding timeline is the best way to avoid stress on your wedding day. A good one is like a forecast of how the day will unfold.

It’s hard to know how much time you’ll need to allocate when planning though—that’s why it’s great to lean on your wedding photographer and/or wedding planner.

They really get how wedding timelines work (and often don’t work!). A great photographer will give you guidance and possibly even craft the timeline for you.

As a wedding photographer, one of the ways I make sure I do this is by providing you with a questionnaire.

I ask for the locations and times for the major events surrounding your wedding.

That way we can craft a wedding timeline that allows us to take great photographs and anticipate any areas that may need extra time built in.


As the wedding date gets closer, we’ll plan a FaceTime call to catch up and go over these timeline details to ensure everything flows smoothly.

Here are a few general wedding timeline tips:

Pad your timeline

The number one reason wedding schedules end up running late? It’s usually because hair and makeup take longer than expected. Our tip is to double the time you think you’ll need for hair, makeup and travel.

This will assure you have plenty of time for all the portraits you want to take before the wedding.

Wedding Planning Hudson Valley

Plan to take the majority of your wedding photos during sunset

The best time to get those dreamy, beautiful, soft-lit portraits you see all over wedding blogs is an hour or two before sunset.

Pictures taken in mid-day sun will often have a very different look and feel. If it’s not possible to dedicate that time to photography, try to schedule in at least 15 minutes so you can get the best pictures possible!

If you’d like to learn more about how to craft a stress-free wedding timeline, check out this post here.

Write a detailed list of the family photos you want to take

Only take photos of family combinations that are important to you during the formal family pictures.

If you have a large family and you’re worried about squeezing in the additional combinations during the day, try taking larger group or extended family photographs during dinner or the reception.

This ensures everyone will be in one place and your MC can help gather them for a quick picture.


Erin Michael Walk Down Aisle

5. Consider seeing each other before the ceremony

A wedding first look is a set time for you to see each other before the wedding day takes off.

If you decide to do a first look, you can arrange to have many of your formal photographs taken before the ceremony.

Getting this done early frees up time later to spend with your guests and enjoy your wedding.

There are many other advantages of doing a first look, and not all of them are photography related.

If you’re on the fence or just not sure if that’s something you’d like to do, be sure to check out this article.


Wedding First Look Dane Carolyn

6. Plan to do an engagement session before your wedding

An engagement session is a great way to capture casual photographs of you and your fiancé. There’s also a hidden perk:

It’s a great way to get more comfortable in front of the camera.

Your photographer will share tips for posing in a way that looks candid, so you feel like a pro by the wedding.

These sessions are also a great way for you to get to know your photographer better.

That way they’ll arrive on your wedding day already knowing how you and your fiancé interact, and how to photograph you in the most genuine way.

I always recommend doing an engagement session, if possible.

Wedding Planning Brooklyn Bridge

Oh, and if you’re worried about your photographs looking cheesy or aren’t into taking pretty pictures at a park or beach, don’t be!

To me, an engagement session should reflect the uniqueness of each couple and be more than just a way to get save-the-date photos.

I like to plan the sessions with the couples I work with around activities or interests that they really love.

Here are a few examples:


Nicole and Joe

6. Don’t forget to be present and make the most of the planning process!

Your wedding is one of the most important days of your life, so there’s a good deal of pressure for everything to be well-planned and look a certain way.

That also means that a time that is meant to be the happiest can also be incredibly stressful.

One of the best things you can do is focus on things that ground you, keep you calm and bring you major joy—whether that’s going snowboarding or playing board games with family or curling up with a book.


We hope these tips are helpful to you. This is such an exciting time, soak up every minute you can!

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We're wedding photographers who believe how you feel on your wedding day is just as important as taking incredible pictures.

As a wedding photographer & filmmaker based in both New York City & Southern California, Tom has captured close to 200 weddings. Together, we love to celebrate with you and your friends on one of the most exciting days of your lives. It brings us such joy to capture your wedding in an artistic way, not only telling your wedding story, but also making sure to bring warmth and friendliness (and a few laughs!) to the day.