As a professional wedding photographer, I'm chock full of random, practical wisdom that you wouldn't think of if you hadn't been to hundreds of weddings. Here are my top 13 wedding-pro secrets…
1. Have multiple pairs of scissors around while you're getting ready.
Everyone has to cut tag, or those hangar pseudo-strap thingies out of their dresses. Scissors also come in handy for tips two and three…
2. Get a clear plastic “over the door” shoe organizer and fill it with things everyone will need while getting ready.
[related-post align=”right”]Hotel rooms with lots of women getting ready are hectic places. One person uses the scissors and leaves them on the bed. A garment bag gets thrown on top of them; no one can find them. “Have you seen the scissors? Where are the scissors?” Another bridesmaid finds them and leaves them in the bathroom. Aaaand they're gone again. It's enough to make any woman stuck in a chair with eyelash glue on her face lose her fucking mind.
Use the scissors and return them to the shoe organizer. Same with the double-sided fashion tape, the safety pins, sewing kit, bobby pins and extra can of spray deodorant. If you're getting to the point where you're about to declare it “Do Not Ask Me Questions” Time, kindly and gently ask everyone to please check the shoe organizer of All The Things they might be looking for before they ask.
3. Flower pollen is the one kind of stain that is 100% permanent.
If you or anyone near you will be carrying lilies of any kind, appoint a Keeper of the Scissors to snip off the pollen-laden stamen before you go near anywhere near the flowers in your wedding finery.
4. Have a can of clear, “little black dress”-friendly spray deodorant.
I recommend PURAX Antiperspirant Spray. But whatever you use, go for a spray since the spray can part makes sharing with other bridesmaids less icky.
5. Have someone else pick up your bouquet from out of the water.
Then make sure to “tap tap tap, dab dab dab” the bottom on a paper towel before handing it to you. Ribbon and fabric will soak up water, which then drips down the front of dresses and makes watermarks, especially on satin. Given that bouquets are often grabbed in a hurry right before pictures, water dripping on dresses is often the tiny, proverbial flapping of a butterfly's wing that blows up into a hurricane of stress.
6. Plan for lots of buffer time during major transitions in the day.
Everything on a wedding day takes longer and is infinitely more complicated than you ever imagined. People mean well, but they really and truly lose the ability to follow simple directions, like, “Please go here and do this at this time.” I don't know why. It's hard. It shouldn't be hard. It's hard anyway. Forewarned is forearmed.
7. Wedding trolleys are fun and photogenic, but they are also not permitted to drive on highways.
If you plan to rent one, be sure to plan for extra travel time on side streets with lots of traffic lights to get to the reception. This goes double if you're traveling in rush-hour traffic on the Friday of a three-day holiday weekend like Memorial Day or Columbus Day.
8. Have someone carry a plastic straw.
That way you can pop it into a bottle of water for quick sips during pictures without messing up your lipstick or having backwash drip on your boobs.
9. If someone is giving an extremely long or offensive speech, to the point where you're considering signaling the DJ to kill the mic, here's what you do:
Wait until the person finishes a thought or anecdote, then start an enthusiastic round of applause. Quietly let the people closest to you like the bridal party or your parents know you're going to do this so you aren't the rude guy doing the loud, slow clap, alone. Other people will join in. The newlyweds should then jump up and hug the speech-giver, quietly moving them out of the limelight as they do.
10. If you have a lot of buttons up the back of your dress, have a crochet hook on hand.
Someone can then close all the buttons quickly and efficiently when you're getting ready. Before you leave at the end of the night, have someone nimble-fingered undo those dozens of little buttons. In addition to killing the mood, you're going to want to divest yourself of your “foundation undergarments” as quickly as possible. Spanx: love 'em 'til you hate 'em. Discuss.
11. If the bouquet is caught by a little girl…
And the garter is caught by anyone more than a few years older, have him slip it on her wrist like a bracelet.
12. If you don't want to smash cake in each other's faces and there are particularly obnoxious people all around you screaming for you to do so…
Make eye contact with your newly minted spouse, turn, and smash the cake in the faces of the loudest people instead. Your mileage may vary on this, so you may just wish to entertain the thought while nicely feeding each other cake and ignoring the catcalls.
13. Wedding cakes don't like public transportation.
If you had a friend bake your wedding cake, make sure they do not bring it to the wedding on the subway.
Any other wedding pros out there? What are your tiny, unexpected wedding tips?
photographer: Milestone Images
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Comments on Snip the stamen and 12 other tiny, unexpected ways to minimize chaos on your wedding day
Great tips! I wouldn’t have thought of most of these!
That last one…. details unnecessary, the story is pretty self-explanatory, but WOW that you likely have not one but multiple examples of weddings you’ve been to that made that a piece of advice. Boggles my mind!
GREAT tips, many I haven’t heard before. Thank you!!
I had an outdoor, hot, summer wedding. We froze a few cases of bottled water for us and our guests. Not only does it keep them hydrated, but the ice helps to keep them cool. It was one of the best ideas ever. Also, it was raining super hardcore in the morning, but we weren’t worried at all- we had a plan B site for our ceremony. If the weather didn’t improve at least 2 hours before the wedding (to avoid a super muddy mess), we had a group of people set aside to contact all the guests and direct them to the reception hall instead. Thankfully, it stopped just in time. And one more thing: if you do have a summer wedding, and you know it’s going to be HOT, bring a fan. It doesn’t have to be huge. But it will help with the getting ready part. If the AC suddenly stops working, you don’t want a sweaty meltdown just before you walk down the aisle. It’s a lifesaver.
I have attended a few summer weddings where the program was printed on a fan. I thought that was a fantastic idea!
Thank you for this, what a great tip list! Totally bookmarking for later! 🙂
Oh, if only you taught me that clapping/round of applause trick before my aunts stepped in and made a mess of things.
One of the biggest saviors of the day was my bridesmaid’s tip to my makeup artist –
Can you do all of our makeup, and save the lips for last?
That way, the bridesmaid (and grateful bride) can snack and eat small sandwiches while getting ready without worrying about running their lips. No hangry bridal party here.
Any florist or floral designer worth his or her salt will a) snip the pollen out of any lilies and b) provide a towel for stems when delivering bouquets. But these are definitely good tips!
My advice, also flower-related: Have your planner or your floral designer or whomever is in charge of flower stuff pin (fresh flower) bouts on the gents while wearing their coats, then have them take the coats off, making sure the flower isn’t smashed. They can put them back on for photos or the ceremony (whichever comes first) without fear of hugs (there are LOTS of hugs on a wedding day) smashing everything beforehand.
My advice, in general: Have a point person whose job it is to hand out any final payments to vendors the day of your event, whether it’s a planner or the best man or a trusted friend. Then let the vendors know who that person is and make sure the person is available to pay the vendor when he or she arrives to deliver/set up. Your floral designer and cake person and probably some other vendors don’t stay for your event (unless you’ve invited them) so it’s kind of awkward to stand around waiting for whomever is supposed to pay to show up. Also, that way you don’t have to worry about dealing with the payment stuff yourself on the day of your event.
Another piece of general advice: If you have stuff that you’ve brought to your event (centerpiece elements, living room furniture, special cake cutting stuff, giant moon booth, whatever) that is yours and not being picked up by a rental company, have a plan for who is going to take it after the event is over and where it will go. It’s kind of a part of “have a plan for clean-up” but it’s not cleaning so much as making sure important/sentimental things don’t get lost.
True enough, but given how many of our readers DIY their bouquets, the advice is supremely useful!
And I don’t know if I’d consider my florist “worth his salt” or just “the florist who actually returned my phonecalls”, but I had stargazer lilies in my bouquet, he did NOT clip the stamens (nor did I know that this was even a thing) and I ended up with bright orange pollen all down the front of my pretty wedding bolero. Luckily, it happened at the reception not before I walked down the aisle, but still. Forewarned is forearmed, as the article says. SNIP THE STAMEN.
Wow that is so frustrating 🙁 My partner use to work at a flower shop, and we were just talking about this pollen thing the other day. He said he use to have to tweeze every single stamen… ugh! I asked him why they didn’t just snip them with scissors a he was all aghast– evidently the classy “worth your salt” florist thing to do is pluck them so that there isn’t a little twiggy stamen left behind. If you look closely at the white lilies in the photo above, the stamen are totally gone (plucked) not just trimmed. Who knew??
As someone below said, the stamens are really part of the flower and give lilies their character. I feel like “snipping” is sort of like flower castration, which is either better or worse because they’re already cut (insult to injury, you know). Is there a consolidant that can be used instead? A dropper full of a polymer resin in acetone couldn’t take much more time than tweezing. Has anyone tried this? Hairspray seems hard to control and hard to get ALL of the pollen down.
I used to work in a retirement home and one of the ladies there used to bring us lilies. So none of the ladies would have yellow streaks through their hair we used to get sticky tape and dab it on the stamens. It’s a little bit tedious but this way the flowers still look pretty, the pollen doesn’t come off, and nobody has funny yellow streaks in there hair.
I work at a cake/ hobby store. If you go to hobby lobby or Michaels or whichever, we generally tend to have fake flower parts in the cake aisle, esp lily stamens by Wilton. Just pluck out the real deal and insert these with a little glue to avoid the mess with little work. You can usually request this of a florist or if you buy them I’m sure they’d be willing to do it for you for even less cost!
I also made 3 oh shit kits for my wedding in two weeks; probably overkill but one was everything I could possibly ever think of. The other was just mine- extra makeup, hair accesories, another pair of earrings, etc to be kept close to me, and a quite smaller version for the guys so they wouldn’t have to come into the bridal space if something went wrong. AND I packed about 5 phone chargers, all with my name on it- they got mixed up at the last wedding I attended
I’m not a wedding pro, but I am a theater technician, so I costume a lot.
Added to that Door-ganizer of All the Things, which I usually call “The Oh Shit Kit”: FABRIC GLUE (the clear gel kind that smells like acetone). It makes a permanent bond from fabric to fabric and semi-permanent fabric to other things (plastic, metal etc.). SO MUCH FASTER than stitching, especially in those “10 till GO” moments when someone’s heel is BOUND to go through her hem, and useful for more things, like plastic accessories losing parts or yes, even shoe heels (though it really should cure for an hour for heavy use).
PEROXIDE: removes a lot of stains without *always* damaging fabric, but check it in a hidden area first. A few cotton balls in a pill bottle are usually enough, with the bonus of cleaning owies too. And finally
PANTYLINERS. Not necessarily for your undies, but for your armpits. Stress = sweat. Sweat + light colored tops = stains. Slap a liner in the armpits of your dress/bolero/shrug/flannel, and you’ve got less to worry about if your deodorant just can’t keep up.
Yay for OH SHIT KITS: http://offbeatwed.com/2012/01/wedding-emergency-kit 🙂
That is awesome advice and I would NEVER have though of panty liners in the armpits. AMAZING tips. Thank you!!! Love the “oh shit kit”
I have to mention rubbing alcohol for many stains on non-silk dresses. Hydrogen peroxide will not get rid of all stains.
The “ladies getting ready” photo-shoot is really a THING, isn’t it? Mind-boggling. That aside, it’s good hearing the tips from a pro!
I just want to mention that I did not have a “ladies getting ready” photo shoot. All our bridesmaids/groom’s attendants got ready before the wedding and showed up. My husband and I got ready in what everyone must assume (because there is no documentation of it) was a very dignified manner an hour before in our hotel room.
I don’t think I’ve ever suffered the least inconvenience because I didn’t have any pictures of me putting on my lipstick etc.
We have some pictures…but it’s because my mom and MOH’s were taking pictures. My dad also took all sorts of artsy fartsy photos of my dress and the bouquets I made (which is probably good, because our photog did not get any pictures of the things that took me over 100 hours to make, even after that being one of 10 photos on the “MUST TAKE” list)
We hired a photojournalist style photographer (who primarily works freelance for the NYT, so not super WIC) to capture the story of our day, as it unfolds. The time spent in the morning, with my mom and aunts and closest lady friends is a significant chunk of time, and a part of the day I’m really looking forward to. So, yeah, having those hours in the day documented is a “thing.”
The best photo of my 2 bridesmaids is from the “getting ready” shots. Our photographer showed up when all we had to do was put our dresses on, maybe 15 minutes before we left to do all the other photos. I wasn’t sure I’d actually like any of those pictures but after the fact, very glad I did them.
I didn’t have a “getting ready” photo shoot either, because I didn’t want the photographer guy who I’d only met once before watching while I was doing intimate things like getting dressed. Once I was all ready, then I left the room and did some photos on the hotel balcony. Do what you feel most comfortable with.
This is great advice and also hilarious! The scissors suggestion is super awesome.
One random one I encountered as a BM: find out if you get cellphone service at the venue. Nothing ruins an attempt to meet up with your plus one ( or checking in on your late bridesmaid) like realizing the day of that you can’t call anyone.
Thanks for this tip! We don’t have reception either place (one is a college chapel built to block cell signal, the other a museum built to block cell signal) so I should probably tell my bridesmaids.
Great tip! No cell phone reception at our location (but there is, incredibly, a pay phone!) I’m definitely making sure all our vendors and guests are aware of that, so they make sure they know how to get to the location before they leave.
And make sure your phone is charged up too!
Great tip! Also, I don’t know who else will appreciate this, but everytime I see someone post about bridesmaids as “BM” I think of bowel movements and giggle a little…
…one more reason to hate wedding acronyms!
also STDs for Save The Dates! eek!
Yep I work in care, we talk about ‘BM’s a lot. Occasionally they can mean the same thing. Have just re-read the post on ‘How to fire a bridesmaid’…
Crochet hook is a really good idea. I was a bridesmaid a few years ago and there were at least 4 of us trying to get all those damn tiny buttons closed for a very very long time.
My groom with his stumpy fingers and a few beers in him had a really hard time undoing these at the end of the night. Luckily I could slip off my straps and twist the dress around to my front so I could undo them myself.
Change into a cute, travel-appropriate “going away outfit” before you leave the reception and begin your honeymoon. Let your bridesmaids help you out of the wedding dress and see it safely stashed away.
Good call on the wedding bouquet. I’ve seen way too many wet wedding dresses in my time!
Another tip that might sound very obvious is to ask your florist to label all personal flowers in some way that they are guarenteed to stay with the flowers until successfully handed to the right people. It is shocking how many people are drawn to idly fiddling with the tags beforehand, just out of nosiness or curiosity!
my husband got the “you may dot me on the nose with frosting, and I promise not to shove cake down your shirt” deal. I wish we would have thought of “cover those most obnoxious with frosting.”
Wedding cake on a subway. . .
Am I the only one who really wants that story?
I don’t think that is too far fetched (or one poster above suggested: mind boggling). My sister is baking a wedding cake for a couple this fall. We all live in a city with public transportation so she does not own a car. None of the guests she knows who are going have cars either. How is she supposed to get the cake to the reception venue, which is on public transportation?
Ask the bride or groom to drive over and get it from her on the morning of their wedding?
Nope, she is asking her adoring sister (me) to drive it over for her. Lucky for her I have a car because otherwise she’d be on the subway.
Ummm, take a cab?!
Oh! Lilies are my favorite flower and the stamen is what makes them so beautiful! Glad I’m already planning paper flowers. I love the clear plastic shoe organizer!
One thing I’m planning is to bring mirrors. The cabin I’ll be getting ready in only has one very small mirror, and there will be me, possibly up to six bridesmaids, AND my mom getting ready. I feel like there would be a lot of regret if I didn’t somehow get at least three additional mirrors there somehow.
If you have a long, full-length mirror and an ironing board/dresser, you can lay the mirror lenghtwise on top of it and create mirror space for up to three bridesmaids for sitting and prepping. One of my bridesmaids thought of this and it really saved the day.
YES! My burlesque troupe does this sometimes when getting ready at one of our girl’s houses! Side note: How badly do I wish that getting ready to go on stage was as glamorous as Cher and Christina Aguilera made it look?
The flowers can also be stuck in water soaked sponges or gel packs so you dont have soggy paper tissues floating around getting into everyone’s clothing. And they can go back into the sponges safely too! Just keep soaking the sponges if it’s a very hot day.
Or those little jars of water filled moisture beads that you can get for a whole $1 and put the bouquets down in. They are so much easier to transport that way also. At best if one turns over in your car, you have some run away beads and no huge water stains.
Re: “It kills the mood and you’ll want to divest yourself of foundation garments as fast as possible”…
But it has been my experience from my own life and hearing stories from friends that “that” (by “that” I mean sex) doesn’t actually happen much of the time on one’s wedding night. I know one couple who planned it that way, figuring they’d be too tired (they were) and as my friend had decided not to have sex before marriage, they agreed it wouldn’t be very good to try it for the first time after the most tiring day of their lives to date.
And for me, we were just too tired at 3am after all that partying to get down to much hanky panky. I took off my dress and came to find my husband already curled up and asleep in bed.
And it seems that’s way more common than one thinks!
Even with a morning wedding/brunch reception we were still too tired for wedding-night sex. We tried. It was terrible. We went to bed. I don’t remember if I wore spanx under my dress, but it wouldn’t have mattered anyway.
Sneak away and do it in the bathroom during the reception.
too tired 🙁
Actually, I just felt like, we paid a lot of money for that reception, so dammit we were going to ENJOY IT. And by “enjoy it” I mean eat all the food and drink all the booze.
Thanks for sharing, this is great advice! I will forward it to all brides-to-be I know (quite a handful at the moment).
Hire a van.
Trying to stuff dresses, suits, decor and everything you DIYed into a small car is not fun.
1. Designate for tasks/ things to grab/ bring. Thankfully most of my family live really close to our venues so that want an issue. Also, since I’m an employee at the church we were able to stash the church decor there AND decorate early.
For the reception venue we were able to get in a day early, thankfully without paying more. They also has a side lockable room that we could have used to keep everything in. Sometimes you just have to ask, though obviously this is a tad less helpful if you have a further away venue. It may work with destination weddings though, if you can coordinate really well with the hotel planner to have deliveries sent ahead
Yes, avoiding chaos on the wedding day is a great idea, best wishes to all those lovely brides preparing, it will all go along great – just remember to breathe!
I never woud have thought of most of these! thankyou!
These are so helpful. Also: I recently went to a wedding where a pre-teen/young teen caught the bouquet and a guy in his late twenties caught the garter. They did not follow your advice and it was the most awkward thing EVER. Reason #523462 we’re not doing a toss of any kind.
One of the clearest memories of my wedding day is Angie and her never-ending supply of straws and water bottles.
That and the whole getting married/biggest party I’ve ever thrown thing. But mainly — straws and water bottles.
XD Aw, Erica, you’re the best! I can’t believe your one year anniversary is coming up in, like, six weeks!
Alternatives to stamen snipping: gather the pollen off the stamens with your fingers and “clean” the stamens. Depending what kind of offbeat you are (And what your allergies/sensitivities might be) You can use the pollen for curious things. I have a thing for making lily-pollen eyeshadow and facepaint, and if you have enough lilies you can put a streak into your hair as if you had applied hair chalk.
If you really love the look of the stamens, I imagine (though I have not tested this) that you could prevent the pollen from escaping by spraying them with a little hairspray. Aquanet for the win.
am i not the only one who feels just super weird about letting little kids participate in the bouquet/garter toss? like, i know it’s sorta a dumb superstition to begin with, but the 9 yo niece of somebody is really probably NOT going to be the “next one to get married” in a crowd full of 20/30 somethings. and none of those people want to hurt the little kid at the front of the group if the bride/groom doesn’t toss very far.
I caught the boquet when I was 10 and the whole thing was super traumatic. I refused to uncross my legs for some strange man and everyone laughed. 🙁
When I was in my 20’s my family tried to rig it so that I would catch my sister’s bouquet, but a little girl body checked me and caught it, knocking me to the floor. My boyfriend at the time caught the garter. Everyone yelled at her and she cried. Then they actually had my bf and her go through with the garter thing. The whole thing was humiliating and awful.
Morning of my wedding, I sent a bridesmaid a text that said “do me a bm solid in more ways than one… pick me up some immodium ad on your way here” bc it was the only thing not in the emergency bridal kit I’d convinced myself I’d need (I didn’t, phew). She wrote back “hilarious wording of that request” and now it’s a fun little thing between us!
NO GLITTER HAIRSPRAY – unless you want it to look like you have really bad dandruff in every wedding photo.
And it gets everywhere. I did glittery hairspray once and wear contacts. Not a beautiful combination. A lot more screaming and eye clawing than I ever want to do again.
Pollen stains can be removed with sellotape. (Add it to your oh shit kit.) Just don’t rub it!
As an Australian, I’ve never really been able to understand the cake smash thing….why? I’ve threatened the beloved with physical harm if he even thinks about it, let alone does it! (He’s Canadian, so, you never know…. ;p) I’m not paying a small fortune on a make up artist to have it all ruined by, admittedly, very yummy cake!
Good article. I will definitely be adding some of the items mentioned to my bridesmaid’s kit.
I love how reading the comments of articles on OffBeat bride can give you as many suggestions as reading the article itself! Pretty great collection of people contributing, obviously. 🙂
… And to add to the ‘tips list’, although it won’t help long-term, white chalk will temporarily disguise marks on a wedding dress for photos/ceremony.
Is number 13 a big problem that I wasn’t aware of? 😉
Despite going to dozens of weddings, I had never heard of the tradition of “the guy who catches the garter puts it on the girl who caught the bouquet thing” until I started planning my own wedding. I would be totally weirded out if anyone had ever tried to do this to me. (Or, for that matter, if I’d had to watch it.)
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