The morning of your wedding is like no other for lots of reasons. It is the last day of your single life. Even though many couples live together prior to marrying it is the day you are saying "this is it, I'm leaving home and starting my life with..." I quite like the way the Bible talks about this as "when a man leaves his mother and father and is united with his wife and they shall become one..." Together you are creating a new family, a new beginning, a new life together.
To bring us back to the practicalities, its like no other morning because... its manic! In an incredible short time you, your bridesmaids, flower girls, page boys, and parents all have to have hair done, makeup done, get dressed in clothes they have never warn before, learn to put on button-holes so they don't droop and a whole lot more.
Therefore from the outset you have a choice of two routes chaos and frustration OR organisation and peace!
1. Members only in the morning.
Assuming you want peace and harmony, then you have to seriously limit who you are going to have with you in the morning. Remember you have all day to chat with family and guests. You may think its lovely to have Aunt Lucy and her kids pop up for a glass of Champagne, but that's 20-30 minutes just gone. Which means you have to rush your hair, stress over your make up, miss a few preparation photographs and forget to put on your garter because the Registrar is demanding to interview you.
Alternatively, decide who you need in the morning and "for what purpose" and then ban everyone else. Tell reception no one is allowed to your room except these people and give them a list:
Here a suggestion of who you need on the morning and when:
- Mother of the Bride (father gets ready elsewhere, if he has not seen the dress)
- Adult Bridesmaids
- Hair and makeup artists
- Wedding photographers and videographers
- Children's Dresser : If at all possible have an adjoining room and delegate someone to get the children ready. You won't have time I assure you.
- Message taker: When the phone rings, and it will, they answer it and deal with the caller. When the door bell rings, and it will, they sort it. You don't need to speak to the florist or best man or the car driver, they just need to do their jobs.
Keep the morning group small, limited to just the people you actually need. Drastically limit who can see and talk to you. Those two things will seriously reduce your stress and ensure you have a fun and relaxed preparations.
Here's some timings to think about, they will be different depending on your wedding photographers, however this is how we work in the morning.
1.5 hours before you need to leave : Bride's hair and makeup finished. Get into wedding dress. Either a bridesmaid or mother will be needed to fasten your dress for the wedding photographers. Followed by a Bridal portrait session.
50 minutes before you need to leave : Bridesmaids ready for wedding photographs with Bride. Individual portraits with Bride as well as "Vogue" group wedding photographs.
30 minutes before you need to leave : Bride and her parents. This is where the father of the bride makes his first appearance, hopefully looking very dapper. Meet and greet session. We get bride and mother ready and then dad walks in and we photograph all their reactions, beautiful. Followed by wedding photographs of some lovely moments with the Bride and her parents.
15 minutes before you need to leave : Wedding photographers / videographers leave. Now you can enjoy a last glass of champagne. Then the bridesmaids and mother of the bride leave for the ceremony. Last 10 minutes of alone time with your father before you leave.
2. Delegation list
We did a wedding where the Bride had prepared a fully bound "Wedding Manual". I joke you not! She gave one to all the bridesmaids & groomsmen, to the hotel, and to the parents. She took lots of stick off the guys and girls who thought it was a big joke, BUT she had an amazingly serene wedding day. No one asked who had to do what, or where things went or what about....
Apart from her husband and whoever she wished to speak to she had just one point of contact incase there were problems, her Maid of Honour. I'm telling you the Bride had the last laugh because everyone was running around making her day just perfect and she... thoroughly enjoyed her wedding day. Doesn't that sound like heaven!
Now I'm not suggesting you prepare a manual. However a delegation list is a good idea. Here's what you need on it and you will probable have other things to add as well.
- Who answers the Bride's phone and deals with the calls
- Who sits where in ceremony, brides side to the left if you are traditional
- Who has what flowers, button holes, table arrangements, what happens to the flowers after the ceremony
- When are the speeches and in what order
- Who goes in which car
- Who to speak to if suits don't fit, this is a more common problem than you'd think, have the number of the shop printed on the list
- Who to speak to if anything's lost, give them a phone number & name to call
- Have Emailable/textable directions to ceremony/venue - people get lost, even just around the corner.
- Who turns music on at the ceremony and when. We had a bride & groom standing for ten minutes because no one was responsible for turning on the music for their exit from the ceremony.
- Order of who walks down the aisle; are the bridesmaids goings first or do you have flower girls or would you prefer to be first down the aisle. Set the order.
3. Bride First
50 years ago the Bride was the last person to get ready on her wedding day. 50 years ago the Bride and her mother got ready together and the father of the bride appeared just as she was ready to leave for the church. 50 years ago the bridesmaids did not get ready with the bride, instead they arrived just before the bride was ready to leave. 50 years ago wedding photographers started at the ceremony.
Today things are different. Today the Bride often has a girlie sleepover with bridesmaids the night before. The bride has parents with her when she gets ready. She will have wedding photographers and in some cases videographers.
Therefore you can no longer base the Bride's preparations on what was done 50 years ago.
Today the mantra has to be "Bride First" :
- Bride's hair first
- Make up first
- Bride's dressing
- Get the Bride ready first!
This way, when the photographers and videographers arrive they have the Bride ready to create some amazing wedding photographs and bridal portraits which normally take up the first 45 minutes of exclusive bride time. During this time the bridesmaids and parents of the Bride are finishing off then its time for those all important family photos before everyone leaves for the ceremony.
4. Create a Bride's Space
Week in week out we see Bride's trying to get ready at the last minute. They can't find lipstick, perfume, garter etc. Its not really their fault. They have been invaded by bridesmaids, hair stylists, makeup artists and the like and so stuff get lost under a hive of activity.
One of our Bride's had a MYPACE area. She defined a bed in her room and there she laid out everything she need on the morning of her wedding in the order she needed it. From nickers to nightie, everything was on the bed. Perfume, garter, jewellery, shoes, bouquet and next to the bed was her dress and veil hanging up ready to slip into.
So when we came to photograph her preparations there was no shouting "where's my..." or "have you seem my..." its was all there at hand. It made for such a peaceful morning and probably the most bridal portraits ever.
5. Location, Location, Location
You have undoubtedly put lots of thought into where your reception will be, visiting any number of venues, Likewise with your ceremony you may want to get married at your family or parish church. Tradition has it that you get ready at your parents home. But have you connected the dots. Have you considered the travelling distances between locations and if you have a vintage car have you doubled the time it takes.
Because we live in a "mobile world" we have no qualms about having the wedding venue of our hearts desire even though its an hours drive from home. And the groom is getting ready an hour from where the bride is getting ready. All this travelling eats into your day one way or another.
Let me explain. We did a fantastic wedding in Gloucester at a truly magical location. The ceremony and reception were at the same location. The Bride wanted to maintain tradition and get ready at her parents home in Bristol about an hour and 20 minutes travelling time by vintage car. The groom wanted to be at his parents the other side of Bristol, which on a Saturday take an hour to get across even at the speed we drive. The ceremony was at a lovely time, 12:30pm.
What time did everybody have to be ready by?
We started with the groom at 7:00am. He had to be washed, dressed and ready for wedding photographs five and half hours before the ceremony! That's being prepared by anyone's standards.
Then it was across to the bride for 9am who likewise had to be ready to get into her dress for her bridal portraits. The bride had been in the hairdressers at 6am, makeup at 8am and had not eaten breakfast when arrived at 9:15am and so was in a bad mood. The stress of getting up at 5am to get showered was showing because nothing seem to be going smoothly and no matter what, her tiredness won every time she tried to focus on what she needed to do next.
Even though she should have been in her dress by 9:30am, she didn't manage to get into her dress until 10:30am. Now we had to leave at 11.00am to be sure that we'd make it to Gloucester 12:20pm to speak to the registrar. So instead of the 90 minutes of bridal photography she managed 30 minutes with a few photos of mom and dad and the bridesmaids and virtually non of her on her own.
What was the alternative?
They could have stayed at the venue. There was certainly enough space for the bride and groom to have got ready at the venue without bumping into each other. Alternatively the groom could have got ready at the coaching inn a mile down the road.
How would that have affected their wedding day?
Groom's preparations would have started at 10:30am instead of 7:00am
Bride's preparations at 11:30am which would mean she could have had breakfast and still been in the hairdressers by 9:00am instead of 6:00am.
There would have been way less stress, they could have saved the cost of having two bridal cars to drive an hour and half which was probably the best part of £1,000 and had luxury accommodation, a relaxing morning, no stress and have had money in the bank.
Don't let traditions dictate you day - If you are going to follow the traditional route of getting ready at home, then remember in those days the couple walked to the church and walked back to the parents home where the wedding reception was held.
So if you have already broken with tradition and are having your reception at a venue instead of your home, make life easy on yourself and break the tradition of getting ready at home, especially when the next dot is so far away.