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TO CREATE YOUR OWN WEDDING MAGIC LET YOUR WEDDING MATCH YOUR STYLE. Tonya and Scott blended their families at a cabin in the woods amidst autumn’s splendor. (photo by Maya Ana Photography)






Welcome! This site is a tribute to my many wedding couples who have created unique and beautiful surroundings for their weddings. Their creativity and ingenuity reflected their personalities and together we have often created new ways to modernize old traditions.

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Sensible Ideas For a Stress-Free Wedding From a Wedding Photographer’s Point of View

photo by A. J. Dunlap Photography

Weddings are the happiest days of our lives - and often the most stressful days of our lives. Quite an emotional powder-keg combination for a day that means so much to us. I came across a very sensible blog post today about how to ease some of that stress. Written with a photographer’s keen eye for practicality as well as beauty, you might find this great advice from A. J. Dunlap Photography (a local husband and wife wedding photography team) very helpful. 

You can read their post on their blog and I have printed it below in its entirety as well. A. J. has some clever ways to circumvent that wedding day stress and make your day go so much smoother.

“If things can go wrong on a wedding day, they will.” Being in the wedding industry, I hear sayings like that all the time, and for the most part they’re true. Just like life, wedding days aren’t perfect. People don’t show up who RSVPed yes, it rains, the bride is late, the groom can’t find his tie, and the list goes on and on. You can try to control each aspect of your wedding day as much as possible, but it’s pretty much guaranteed that something will not go according to plan. Every wedding has a story, and you won’t know what yours will be until the day arrives. Ours was the minister telling us 5 minutes before the wedding that the photographer wasn’t allowed in the church. We were sad, disappointed, and mad, but we still got married and life goes on.

We’re about 70 weddings into our career, and have gathered a little expertise over these last few years that we wanted to share with you. Based on our experience these are the 10 things that most commonly go wrong on a wedding day. But I’m not just going to leave you there with a list of negatives, I want to share with you solutions on how to plan for these ahead of time in hopes to avoid them! So here we go:

1. The hair & makeup people take longer than expected. This is single handedly the most common issue we deal with on a wedding day. When this happens it puts everything behind schedule and stressed the bride out, which is not what you want on your wedding day! Solution: Tell your hair and makeup people you have to be done an hour before you actually need to be finished. Then you have some grace period in case they run late. And if they finish on time, you have some extra minutes just to chill before you walk down the aisle! Also, tell them upfront how many people will be getting their hair done and how many people will be getting their makeup done. Then they’ll be able to tell you how long all that should take. Don’t surprise them with extra people on the wedding day and expect them to be able to fit them all in. Also, brides, go first! The bride should not be the one who’s rushed at the end. Let a bridesmaid or mother be rushed, not you!

2. Guests arrive late or right at ceremony time instead of early. This is especially a problem when there’s a distance between the parking area and the ceremony location. Solution: In your invitation include something that tells your guests to arrive 15-30 minutes early so they can walk from the parking area to the ceremony. Don’t just put this on your wedding website, because not everyone checks that. Be upfront, and tell them to plan ahead.

3. The groom/groomsmen can’t find their ties, or some other piece of their wardrobe…or it doesn’t fit. This happens more often than you realize. Solution: Most of the time this can be avoided by the groom & groomsmen trying on every piece of their wardrobe when they pick it up from the rental company. Then if they’re missing their bowtie or something doesn’t fit properly they’ll know instead of discovering that on the actual wedding day. If your groom owns everything he’s wearing, then help him make a checklist so he won’t forget.

4. Traffic on the wedding day. Solution: Plan ahead. Schedule in extra travel time. If it takes 15 minutes to get from the hotel to the church, plan for 30. Sometimes guests are late to the ceremony because of traffic, we’ve even had grandparents late on multiple occasions. It’s up to the couple at that point if they want to wait for the missing guests or go ahead and hold the ceremony.

5. Rain. It stinks, but sometimes it does happen. Solution: Have a backup plan. If you’re planning an outdoor ceremony, have a tent rental company on standby. When it comes to pictures, hiring a professional will alleviate any stress there. We’ve never had rain completely ruin a wedding day portrait session. There’s always a way to get great portraits even if we have to stand in the rain with an umbrella while the couple is under and awning.

6. A dull reception. Solution: This can be avoided by hiring a good DJ. Our brides all get the name of our favorite DJs when they book us, for this very reason. DJs make or break your reception. This isn’t an area you want to skimp on, I promise!

7. Your timeline doesn’t go as planned. For instance, this very last wedding the hair & makeup people ran almost 2 hours behind schedule, which in turn put all of the pre-ceremony events off too. Solution: Hire a wedding coordinator and a professional photographer. In the instance of last weekend, Kyle & I were able to work with the couple’s coordinator to shift the timeline around and still be able to take all the photos the bride could ever dream! We used our combined expertise, and flipped their day from stressful to enjoyable.

8. Anxious parents of the couple. We get asked all the time if we deal with Bridezillas, and the answer is always no. It’s never the bride that’s stressed, if anyone is it’s the parents. Solution: Most of the time this is because the pressure of organizing the wedding falls on their shoulder. Take that pressure off of them and put it on to a wedding coordinator. It’s a small extra expense for a lot of extra happiness. If they do get hard to deal with, don’t let it get to you, just keep smiling!

9. Photographers aren’t timely. They take longer than planned after the ceremony, and delay the couple from getting into their reception. Solution: Hire us, joking, joking. Hire someone like us, who believes in keeping the couple on schedule throughout their wedding day. If any vendor, photographer included, runs longer than expected it puts added stress on all the other vendors. If your photographer doesn’t plan with you before the wedding, call them and talk to them about the timeline so that everyone is on the same page.

10. Extreme heat or cold. Solution: If you plan a wedding for mid-July in the south or Mid-Janurary in the north, expect there to be extreme weather. Don’t be surprised on your July wedding day when it’s 99 degrees out, and you’re melting. Keep cold water on hand for the wedding party and the couple, and keep cool towels available too for the guys. Schedule in air conditioning breaks so you don’t overheat. If it’s cold out plan to have a shawl, fur, jacket, or something around to keep you warm, or wear long underwear under your dress since no one sees that anyway. Also, plan your bridesmaids dresses accordingly. Don’t make them wear long dresses in the summer and short dresses in the winter. Sometimes, not always, there’s an indoor option for pictures, but most of the time the best photos are taken outdoors, so plan ahead for the weather conditions.

Bonus…something goes wrong with the wedding dress alterations. I made this one a bonus because it’s not actually something that goes wrong on the wedding day, but the weeks leading up to it. We’ve seen dresses where the tailor has ruined gowns, poked holes, or just been late and added stress to the bride. Solution: Take your gown to a reputable tailor. Someone who’s accustomed to altering formal wear. Check with friends & family to see who they recommend. I guarantee someone has used a good tailor before. If you’re in the Triangle check out Rachel at Perfect Fit Tailoring. She has worked with several of our brides, and they have all loved her! And please, please, PLEASE don’t take your dress to David’s Bridal for alterations. I’ve heard more horror stories than you ever want to know! 

There is one piece of advice I want to send out to all the brides, grooms, parents, wedding party, wedding guests and vendors out there:

It’s not going to go perfectly! Expect for something to go wrong, and keep a good attitude the entire day! Stay smiling, and don’t let ANYTHING bother you!


Thanks to A. J. Dunlap Photography for such creative ways to be proactive when dealing with the stressors of a wedding day. And thanks also for the tip about Rachel at Perfect Fit Tailoring!


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