Congratulations, you’re engaged! The period from Thanksgiving to New Year’s is the most popular time for engagements, and lots of couples will start planning their weddings right away. Wedding planning can be stressful, so I sat down to get some advice from one of my 2018 brides whose wedding started *on time* and who got every photograph she wanted because we stayed *on schedule* the whole day. All of this despite the fact that she had to deal with some serious health issues in the months leading up to her wedding. How did she do it?

Hiring vendors

Lisa determined priority vendors and booked them first, “as soon as possible” in fact. She planned an October wedding and those fall dates are in high demand in the Washington, D.C. wedding. Her wedding priorities were photography (yay! that’s me!), food and alcohol, and the venue. Those got attention first.

“Let things be easy – there’s no need to overcomplicate your choices. If you like the first vendor and they’re in your budget, book them,” Lisa said.

There’s no rule about how many vendors you need to interview, so if you have a good gut feeling, listen to it!

Be decisive 

Lisa’s next bit of advice may surprise you: Be decisive. “It’s ok to have opinions and express them. That doesn’t make you a bridezilla, but it does make you easier to work with,” she said.

As a vendor, I will 100 percent vouch for this advice. I want to know what you want so I can deliver it. Truly, we would rather have a conversation ahead of time rather than learn after the fact that you didn’t get something you expected.

Trust your people

But that brings us to one of Lisa’s best pieces of advice: hire good people and then let them do their jobs. Making decisions does not mean “micromanage.” Once you’ve communicated the big picture of what you want, it’s time to let the pros do the work.

“You do you, boo.” Lisa said that to me on her wedding day. She said it to  her hair stylist and makeup artist. I’m sure she said it to others, as well. She liked my work and I knew her priorities, so on her wedding day, Lisa was able to relax and let us do our jobs.

Hire a planner or coordinator

Wedding budgets are complicated. Lisa shared that some of the best money she spent was on a not-originally-budgeted-for coordinator. Coordinators set up or supervise the set up of both ceremony and reception sites, deal with any issues that arise and ensure everything is going according to plan so that you don’t have to.

You know what else I heard on Lisa’s wedding day? “That’s a Julia problem,” “I already asked Julia for that,” and “Julia is bringing it.” Julia, no surprise, was the coordinator.

As a photographer, I especially appreciate when couples hire wedding planners or day-of coordinators because otherwise those responsibilities tend to fall to me (as a sober person with the schedule). That takes me away from my job; I can’t take pictures of you dancing with your Grandma if drunk groomsmen are asking me to figure out the logistics of the sparkler exit (True story!).

Your wedding is going to be beautiful, and many people you love will be there. Don’t lose sight of what’s really happening (you’re marrying your person!), follow Lisa’s advice and you’ll have the best day of your life.