The wedding day goes by in such a blur – so follow these 5 practical tips to allow you to take it all in! Practice the art of ‘letting go’ and you’ll be rewarded with SO much that goes beyond that you may expect. Letting go – of everything – basically allows you to enjoy the day on which you’ve worked so hard.

What does it actually mean to let go on the wedding day? To me, letting go means acknowledging that some things will not go according to plan – and to be OK with that.

Letting go also means finding little ways to savor and be truly present on the day. In short, don’t let your mind wander to subjects that are beyond your control! Practice mindfulness to remain truly present with your partner and your guests.

When you let go, you open yourself up to so many beautiful things! For one thing, you’ll have a way better time, which creates amazing memories.

Secondly, you as the bride or groom, set the tone for your guests. So if you’re beaming carefree vibes, everyone present will pick up on that and radiate it right back to you!

And finally, you’ll get more opportunities for better photos! Letting go of your worries will allow your photographer to capture you and your partner at your happiest, most relaxed.

Because let me be real with you for a moment, a stressed marrier makes the photographer’s job super tough! We may be forced to act as organizer, pep-talker, tear-wiper, chief fire putter-outer, rather than simply doing our job of capturing gorgeous moments unobtrusively and creatively.

So without further ado, here are my 5 actionable tips for letting go on your wedding day! And don’t forget to check out my longer list of stress-free wedding tips, linked below!

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trusting the vendor team on the wedding day is KEY to being able to live in the moment and savor every second of your wedding
Trust the team you’ve hired so you can feel truly present | Photo by Zoe Larkin Photography

Trust your vendor team 

I’ve said it in dozens of my other blog posts, but this is the time to lean on the vendors you’ve chosen. Sure, it goes back to making the right selections in the first place – but the important bit? Here goes. 

Choose experienced vendors. This way, you are not someone’s guinea pig or training project. 

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Select vendors that are the right fit. Listen to your gut. When you know, you know! That may not be the photographer your cousin used, or that hot tip from your best friend about the wedding planner she’s dying to work with for her wedding. 

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Knowing you’ve made the right choices, everything else falls into place. Experienced vendors will be calm and able to handle anything that crops up. 

People who are good at what they do will be able to carry out their tasks flawlessly while also being encouraging, professional and having a can-do attitude – all without breaking a sweat. These are the kinds of people you need on your wedding team! 

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Communication with your vendors in advance of the wedding day is an important part of ensuring the wedding day is stress-free
To capture carefree moments like this means you have your mind firmly on enjoying yourself! | Photo by Zoe Larkin Photography

Communicate any concerns clearly in advance

On the same note of leaning on your vendors, also be sure to inform them of anything that is bugging you. Whether that’s insecurity about some aspect of your appearance to your photographer, or concern about a possible family situation to your planner – just tell us. 

The vendor-client relationship is for sure a two-way street! We love to hear what we can do to help you with the specific challenges you’re facing. 

Plans can be put into place that will calm your nerves and remove any of that residual stress – which guests do notice! 

Make sure you get those anxieties off your chest. Don’t worry if they seem petty or trivial to you. Your vendors are not there to judge, they are there to make your day go off seamlessly and without stress. A little heads-up can go a long way. 

example of a stress-free wedding day at the Oakland Museum of California photographed by Zoe Larkin Photography
A relaxed timeline ensures that even if things run late (which they inevitably do), there’s no need to scramble! | Photo by Zoe Larkin Photography

Build buffers into your timeline

If you don’t want to feel rushed or behind, I highly encourage building buffers into your day. Why? Well, for one thing, it takes time to segue from one activity into the next. 

Time that is often not accounted for, resulting in a rather breathless wedding day (or things having to be cut). 

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Here’s a detailed example. If the ceremony ends at 3.30, do NOT start family photos at 3.30 as well! 

For one thing, ceremonies commonly start 10 – 15 minutes after the slated start time. 

For another thing, it takes longer than 1 minute for you to take in actually being married. Then you’ve got guests rushing up you for hugs of congratulations, then to sign the register. And you want that part of the day to be enjoyed by everyone without feeling rushed. 

Only after this is done will it be time to move people to the photo location, come back from the bathroom, have them put down their purses, take off shades, and start lining them up for family photos after a few test shots. 

It’d be better on paper to have the ceremony end at 3.30 and the family photos to start at 4pm. Then if it ends up finishing sooner, then great! It means you have more time to enjoy and way less stress! 

Similarly, hair and makeup often overruns. (An absolutely golden tip of mine is to tell your HMUA they need to be ready 1 hour before you *actually* need to be ready.)

Allow yourself the time it takes to capture serendipitous wedding moments like these from a lesbian wedding in Windsor, CA
Funny, silly moments are often the ones that tell the story of the day, the people. Allow time for them. | Photo by Zoe Larkin Photography

I shot a wedding recently where the bride was half an hour late to her wedding due to an inaccurate time frame from the HMUA team. 

Did we need to start panicking? Absolutely not! The couple had already allowed plenty of time, so we were able to proceed with no stress! 

They didn’t even need to add extra time to the photography coverage, nor was anything rushed in the slightest. And I used the half hour without the bride there to snap photos of the groom with his family.

Remember, with smaller weddings, there is often less structure and less ability to transition people from one activity to the next quickly vs. larger, more traditional weddings held at wedding venues. 

Crowds have a certain level of predictability that individuals don’t. 

Basically, there are countless reasons why you need to have buffers be part of your wedding day timeline. 

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tips for stress-free wedding days
This maid of honor had to step up and become the officiant, when the appointed officiant couldn’t make it | Photo by Zoe Larkin Photography

Lean on a friend or head attendant

Even if you aren’t doing the whole bridesmaids/ maid of honor thing, have someone from your group you can truly depend on. 

That person should act like your wedding ambassador or wingman. They should be ready to take charge. Be sure they know their role in advance and are OK to be in that role for you. 

Whether a friend or family member, it’s important to communicate with them what you may need them to do. You may need them to deal with your phone all day, or direct vendors as they arrive. 

Especially if you don’t have a planner (but really, even if you do), make sure to give this person everything they need to be the best help they can. That includes the final wedding timeline and the family photo lists – so they are fully prepared! 

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it's ok to be anxious or nervous on your wedding day - tips for being in the moment on the big day
It’s your day, so just feel like yourself – it’s OK to feel whatever you feel! | Photo by Zoe Larkin Photography

It’s OK to be nervous or anxious

There is an abundance of wedding planning information out there that says, ‘Just be calm and don’t worry about a thing! Let it go!’ But the truth is, it’s completely normal and OK to hold stress, anxiety and worry about an occasion you may have been dreaming about your entire life. 

Weddings are high-stakes events, filled with pressure for everyone involved. Let’s just acknowledge that for a second. 

Give yourself permission to be true to yourself on the day. It’s OK to feel whatever you feel, even if it’s not the joyous, ecstatic zen-bride you may have seen on Instagram and Pinterest.

You may find it rewarding to see your plans unfold and getting real-time confirmation that everything is playing out just how it should. 

Some have said it’s a little condescending to tell a bride she should ‘just chill out’ or ‘relax and enjoy the day’, or ‘stop trying to take care of everything’. 

Instead, lean in to whatever makes YOU tick as a unique individual. For some, that may mean keeping up to date on everything that’s going on, so you can feel that validation and feedback that you need. 

After all, it’s your day.  And the experience of getting married is going to be different for everyone. 

couple kissing outside the Brazilian room, tilden park in Berkeley CA after suffering a power outage and rain on their wedding day!
Prepare for the worst – and then roll with the punches! You may even be pleasantly surprised! | Photo by Zoe Larkin Photography

Roll with it!

As Oasis once said, you gotta roll with it! Weddings happen the way they happen. The trick to having a great time on your day is to embrace it all. The good, the bad, and yes, the ugly. 

Stressing over unexpected surprises isn’t going to help anything. Simply acknowledge whatever it is that hasn’t happened quite the right way, and move past it.

Nothing can stop you and your partner from getting married. Not errant flower girls, arguing parents, your makeup artist running late, a freak rainstorm, or a mix-up with your florals. 

Believe it or not, the things that threaten to p*ss you off big-time on the day can actually make for the craziest stories in retrospect! So even if it’s different from what you planned, just roll with it 😎

Pin your choice of graphic to your Pinterest board and be sure to follow @zoelarkinphoto on Pinterest!

5 tips for letting go of wedding day stress! No matter how much planning you've done, there will be things that don't go according to plan. Check out my tips for understanding how to roll with it! Because no matter how ‘small’, ‘simple’ or ‘short’ your wedding is, there will be little things that will not go according to plan.  Don't miss these tips for savoring your wedding day, whatever happens! | #weddingplanning #bayareaweddingphotographer zoelarkin.com
 Don't miss these tips for savoring your wedding day, whatever happens!  These are my 5 wedding photographer tips for letting go of wedding day stress, no matter how much planning you've done and how small or simple your wedding is.  These tips will prepare you for whatever happens and encourage you to roll with it, because weddings never turn out exactly as expected! | #weddingplanning #sanfranciscoweddingphotographer #bayareaweddingphotographer zoelarkin.com
Zoe Larkin
Zoe Larkin

I’m Zoe, a wedding photographer based in San Francisco! My style is candid, capturing authentic moments for my couples all over the Bay Area and Northern California. Creating content is my passion! Follow along the blog, Insta and my YouTube channel!

everything you need to know about minimizing stress on your wedding day - tips to savor the wedding day

5 actionable tips for ‘letting go’ on your wedding day

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