Wedding Day Etiquette: Common Pitfalls + Reminders About Tradition

I originally wrote this article for Southern Celebrations Magazine and it was published in print and on their blog on 11/30/16! I decided that it is valuable and I want all of my clients to read it. I love you all and hope this helps with your wedding decisions, whether you are my client or not.
— Madeline Grace

Your wedding day is a huge celebration in life. It’s the day you’ve been dreaming of since you were little. It’s the day where you and your love make that everlasting commitment to each other. But love doesn’t always mean a perfect wedding day. Many mistakes can happen and knowing how to prevent common mistakes will help keep you safe, sane and stress-free. 

Common Pitfall #1 - Not Hiring A Pro... Weddings are expensive. Having friends with talents can come in handy but when it comes to weddings, you are risking everything. When I say everything, I mean your memories, your sanity and your friendship. Friends should be there to have fun and celebrate with you, not be in charge of everyone else’s entertainment or your memories. Hiring a professional means having someone who has experience and know how to use it. When it comes to photographers, having a friend means risking not getting important pictures, pictures not “turning out” and more. Having a professional, whether low-key or full-time, photograph your wedding; you are walking away with a guarantee of having memories returned to you. Mistakes happen but do you really want to risk your entire wedding? Skipping music (or worse... Pandora ads!), bad images, floral arrangements that are wilting or falling apart, a cake that slides off the stand, etc. Are you ready for the fallout? 

Common Pitfall #2 - Micromanaging Your Vendors... You spent time and energy (and a lot of money) on your wedding vendors. You chose them based on quality, style and personality. You chose them because you love their work. It’s tempting to try to control every single detail of your wedding, including the vendors. Don’t. Trust your vendors because they have experience and passion for what they do and you don’t have the time to worry. When you micromanage, you end up stressing yourself out, worry about little details you’ll never remember, and make it harder for your vendors to do their job. Proper vendors will have discussed issues before hand or have enough experience to deal with almost anything. Enjoy your big day and leave the work to the people you trusted enough to hire.

Common Pitfall #3 - Starting to Get Ready Too Late... Most brides want to get ready last because they’re afraid of their hairstyle not holding up or their makeup wearing off. A good practice is to schedule your hair and makeup in the middle of your bridesmaid’s appointments or have multiple hair and makeup artists. Why do such a thing? Your hair and makeup is more important that your bridesmaids. If time is running out, you don’t want to rush your appointment because you could risk a disaster later. Instead, give your vendors plenty of time to get your hair done. There are fast and easy hairstyles for bridesmaid’s but your bridal hairdo should be perfect before you walk down the aisle. Another thing that can be a set back... choosing a look that is trendy. And by trendy, I mean a look that you would never wear on a normal basis or a night out. Your makeup should be an accent of who you are. If you don’t wear much makeup, if any at all, your makeup should be natural but enough to make you stand out on your big day. If you typically wear bold colors, choosing neutrals may look bland. Having to start over because you don’t look like you is hard on your schedule. Get the bridal previews before the big day to nail down your look. Don’t know who to call? Ask your vendors. Wedding venues, coordinators, photographers, etc. all know who does makeup and will generally have a referral waiting based on experience. 

Common Pitfall #4 - Rushing Your Photographer... Most photographers will give you options before the wedding. A professional will work with you on pros and cons and help nail down your timeline. They know how much time they need. Don’t underestimate and cut your photography time short. You risk missing important details and creating frustration when you feel rushed. If you choose not to have a “first look”, allow extra time after the wedding to get some couples portraits in. You’ll appreciate the quiet time and your wedding gallery.

Common Pitfall #5 - Being Too Strict With Social Media... Unplugged weddings are the newest rage. With the rise in cameras and cell phones, etiquette has been thrown to the wind so-to-speak. Some guests are standing up, in the aisles, or putting their phones up right before the big moment, and your photographer cringes. Most professionals are writing it into their contracts that outside cameras and phones are to be restricted. Instead of killing the mood, ask your guests to refrain from using the devices during the ceremony. If they must use their devices, ask them to be courteous of the photographer because you hired them to get good pictures and they can’t help when a guest throws their phone in the air right as you share your first kiss as a married couple. It’s so abrupt that the beautiful moment is missed or tainted. By restricting the use of phones and cameras, you really can hurt your guests. They want to enjoy your wedding and post the awesomeness on social media. Find a nice middle ground that suits your wedding. 

Common Pitfall #6 - Taking Too Long Between the Ceremony and Reception... If you’re following tradition and not having the first look, you’ll have to schedule extra time between the ceremony and reception. However, if you have a large family or people drift off, your scheduled time can hurt your reception! Try taking some photos before the ceremony. Get as many done as possible. When it comes to the formal photos after the ceremony, limit your list. Yes, you definitely need all the pictures you want, but remember that some of them can be candid at the reception. Those are some of the best shots and everyone wins! If you are determined to have all formal shots, consider the first look. 

Common Pitfall #7 - Forgetting to Eat... This one is a big deal in my book. Food is a necessity on the wedding day. You need to eat a good breakfast. High protein and low carb foods are best so you’ll have energy without needing to take a heavy nap. You’re not going to suddenly gain 10 lbs. and not be able to fit into your wedding dress. Have your maid of honor pack up some snacks and fruit to munch on while you’re getting ready. We can’t afford you getting woozy or h-angry, which is very common with the stress of a wedding day. You’ll feel better, have a good time, and not feel like crashing before the ceremony even starts.

Common Pitfall #8 - Not Feeding Your Vendors... Believe it or not, vendors are human too and they definitely require food. If you’re hungry, they are starving. Their jobs are not easy. They’re on their feet all day and it’s a courtesy to include them. Even better, allowing them to eat in the main area while you eat. Vendors need to be able to know what’s going on and move at a moments notice. Being stuck in the kitchen is rude and no one wants pictures while they’re eating. You eat; they eat. You party, they work.
Common Pitfall #9 – Not Having a Delegate... Know in advance who your go-to person is. Preferably the maid of honor, a close relative or parent. This person should know who to call, how to calm you down, and be able to answer vendors questions so you aren’t bombarded all day. It is a daunting task but there are so many things to confirm that having someone available to handle it for you is a lifesaver. The stress alone is enough to set back your schedule. Prevent that by having your confidant take care of the extra details. Now that you know what some common mistakes are, we hope you are prepared to have an amazing wedding day. You and your future spouse are in this together. You are not alone and you are loved. Enjoy the good times and remember that the little hiccups are temporary and will give you the best laughs later.

All images & content (c) Madeline Grace Photography, LLC, 2016. Please do not alter or crop images. Contact to book your wedding or schedule your session. Article written for and published in Southern Celebrations Magazine.