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I Don't! Wedding Day Do Nots

5 Don'ts for Your Wedding Day:

Tips from a professional photographer

Photographers see a lot of weddings. A lot of the behind the scenes – the good, the bad, and the oh-so-ugly. Sometimes people kind of forget we’re there, and let the drama flow. Sometimes things just happen to happen right in front of us. I’ve seen everything. And over the years, I’ve compiled a list of things I wish my clients would stop doing, stressing about, or implementing – things that do nothing to enhance the wedding, or keep guests from enjoying the party and celebrating the happy couple (that’s you).

Happy couple with wedding guests

So, consider these don’ts while you begin planning your special day. Want some more helpful wedding planning tips? I have a whole book – contact me here to get a link to the digital guide.


Disclaimer: If you’ve done any of these things at your wedding, please don’t feel like I’m calling you out – the point of this post is to help guide those who are having a hard time deciding what’s important (or not) for their own special day. If you planned a wedding you loved that includes some of these, then I’m happy for you! This post is based on my personal opinion and professional observations.

Bridesmaid gives bad news to bride at evening wedding reception

No Drama Llamas

Don’t have people in your wedding party that you have to think twice about asking. What’s that mean? When considering your wedding party, ask yourself questions like these:


Are we besties?

Will we be friends in 5 years?

Do they keep away from drama?

Do they think about others first, even if it doesn’t benefit them?


If you answered no to any of those, don’t ask them to be in your party. I guarantee they’ll bring their flair for drama to your wedding. You don’t want that, do you? And come to think of it, you don’t even have to invite people like that to your wedding – family or not!


Your sides don’t have to be equal – if you have 3 and your fiancé has 4, cool beans! Don’t bring in someone who doesn’t care about you just to have symmetry. Seriously – don’t stress about this.


Instead, consider your wedding party to be those people you love the most, who will be there to support you through thick and thin.

1950s themed wedding couple with dramatic lighting

Have To vs. Want To

Don’t listen to people who say you “have” to do something. It’s YOUR wedding, and it should reflect your unique styles and personalities as a couple. Did your mom say it has to be done at the church she got married in? But mom, I’m not religious! Then don’t have a church wedding! Tough cookies, mom. Not everyone knows what’s best for you two, but you know what feels right.


Instead, listen to the suggestions of your wedding planner, your bestie, or someone you trust to have your best interests at heart (like me! Your friendly neighborhood wedding photographer!) – but in the end, it’s YOUR call. You want a spooky-themed shindig at a cemetery, complete with black outfits? DO IT if it feels right.

Small box of macarons as on wedding table

Tacky Crap

Don’t spend money on frivolous or ridiculous favors. I know this is a hot take, but hear me out – your guests don’t need coozies, bottle openers, or bubbles. I’ve seen so many trinkets left behind because people just don’t care, and then you’re stuck with 200 personalized heart shaped bottle openers.


Instead, if you really want party favors, consider something useful, edible, or memorable. People love food, and things they can use. I’ve seen personal thank you notes from the couple, cookies, s’mores kits, custom roasted coffee, and personalized wine glasses. Even better, forgo favors all together, and put that money towards beefing up another part of the budget (like photography!).

Set up for small, intimate forest wedding

Money Doesn't Buy Happiness

Don’t feel like you need to have a huge, expensive, lavish wedding. Weddings shouldn’t be about taking out loans or going bankrupt. They should be about celebrating love and unity. An intimate courthouse wedding is just as meaningful as an elaborate wedding – it’s YOUR journey, and in the end, whatever type of wedding you have – you’re no less married than the couple who spent tens of thousands. And please, please – no matter who much or little you spend on your wedding, DON’T make someone feel like crap for how much or how little help or money they put into their own wedding.


Instead, sit down with your fiancé and really talk about what you want. With any luck, you’ll only do this once, so make it a point to plan a wedding that is meaningful to both of you. Be on the same page with budget, what’s important, and who you want to be there. Don’t invite great Aunt Sara if all she’s going to do is complain the whole time. Her $20 in a card isn’t worth it.

Unenthusiastic women line up for bouquet toss at wedding reception

Party Poopers

Don’t bother with a dollar dance or bouquet/garter toss. I know, I know, Alicia, it’s tradition! But know your audience – are guests going to have cash on hand for a dollar dance? Will be worth it to interrupt food and dancing for the three people who want to participate while everyone else sits on the sidelines waiting impatiently to have dessert? Don’t let the party die! And honestly, how many single guests will you have? For the love of this Good Green Earth, stop calling them out on the mic! No one likes that! Emily, we hear you’re single! And 39! And have three cats! Not necessarily that dramatic, but still. Leave Emily alone. She doesn’t want to be the only single person on the dance floor with the overly excited flower girl trying to catch a bouquet that will probably wither in a week (like her last relationship).


Instead, consider alternatives, or not doing anything at all, and just leaving people be. An anniversary dance could be really fun – inviting couples up to dance who have been together 5, 10, 20, or even 50 and 60 years. Maybe a bestie dance? Maybe the bride can start a dance with her father, and then the DJ can call up other father/daughter duos to join in. Two birds, so to speak.

Professional photography equipment

Bonus Don't: Don't Skimp on the Pros

I’m including this because it’s a shameless plug, and I didn’t feel right including it in my top 5.


Don’t skimp on your photographer. Yep, it’s about ME. Seriously though. At the end of the day, your photos (and potentially video) are all that’s left of your months – or even years – of meticulous planning. Don’t trust someone inexperienced or cheap. They’re cheap for a reason, I promise. Don’t let your cousin’s boyfriend’s friend’s ex-girlfriend do your photography because she took one class one time and has the newest Nikon. Anyone who’s been doing this for a good, long while has perfected their strategy, gotten experience and education, and know how to handle any crazy situation that comes their way. Choosing a good photographer may be pricey, but you’re not just paying for photos – you’re paying for the years they spent dedicated to making this look easy, for their time (we’re with you all day), for their compassion (we see your most intimate moments), and their support (we love you!). We want to make this day easy, memorable, and beautiful. A good photographer considers their clients members of their extended family. Your memories are as important to me as they are to you. We’re here to capture this beautiful moment in your story. So maybe skip the personalized can coozies and splurge on your professionals.


In another shameless plug, consider splurging on other professionals to make this day special – a graphic designer for your wedding stationary, a florist who will go above and beyond getting the perfect arrangements for your bouquets and boutonnieres, or even a specialty baker for cupcakes that everyone can eat (even your gluten-free and vegan cousins!). DIY can get you pretty far, and with social media these days, finding second hand decorations that still look like new are easy to find. Decide what’s important, and splurge on those – find ways to minimize budget elsewhere so you can make sure your memories are lifelong.



Want to know my top DO suggestions for your I DO’s? Come see me next month! We’ll deep dive into how to make your day extra special, and make sure things run smoothly.


Need help planning? Have questions? Send me a message! I’m happy to help.

Love, Alicia


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