Everyone gets the same amount of time; what you do with the time you’re given is the difference between satisfaction and regret.

If you’re like me, there are days when I feel like I can conquer the world, draining tasks like Steph Curry’s 3-pointers. Then there are days where I literally try to see how long I can lay in bed before someone notices. What if I told you that your wedding day could be more like the relaxed sleeper and less like the task drainer? For most couples, this is the ultimate goal, and as a photographer, my goal is not just to provide images you love, but to help you maximize time on your wedding day.

Hustle to flow.

It takes a village to make a wedding day run smoothly. Regardless of whether you’re planning everything yourself or putting it in the hands of a coordinator, events requires preparation. The amount of preparation you put into your wedding ultimately makes or breaks whether you will have a relaxing wedding day you’re able to savor.

Maximizing your time requires intentionality. I’ve found that the “type A” and “type B” personality types are a match made in heaven; the spontaneous meets the planner. Type, “A” and “B”, respectfully, is the idea that intentional planning first, ultimately produces relaxation. I call my system, “hustle to flow”, and below are some tips from that system to consider as you plan your perfect day.

Distance matters.

When you’re thinking of where to get ready in relation to your next destination, distance matters. Distance from the prep location to the 2nd location (first look or ceremony) is best when kept to a minimum. Time spent traveling should be thought of as wasted, because you’re not getting ready for the day, getting pictures taken, or doing anything remotely wedding-dayish. Minimizing commute time means more time spent relaxing and prevents being a cramped vehicle in your wedding day attire.

If your beloved hairdresser or makeup artist is not on the way to the ceremony site, check to see if they travel or find another hairdresser or makeup artist near the 2nd location. Think of your wedding day travel route like google maps in that the route should always move you closer to the next location.

Lighting over location.

Whatever portraits you plan to get prior to the ceremony, remember that lighting always trumps location. Lighting over location is true regardless of whether you plan to do a first look or not.

I am a person-centered photographer, meaning that I’m always looking for light that flatters my clients. When considering locations, look for places that provide some coverage such as trees or light-colored buildings. This keeps you out of the direct sun, and can cut down on uneven or harsh light on your skin.

Images of our wedding by Kelsey Nelson Photography


I always tell my brides that less is more. If your prep takes place at the ceremony location, then you only need to move for pictures and the walk down the aisle. Another idea is to have your first look and bridal party portraits at the same location. Maximizing the locations you already have help you get the most out of each space and cut down on time spent traveling.

Buffer time.

Always anticipate delays. I don’t care if you’re the most punctual person in the world, there is inevitably some variation of the wedding guest who gets lost, the late vendor, or hair or makeup going over. The key is to always begin earlier than you think you need to, and plan for delays, especially when it comes to pictures. For example, I always tell my brides to have 30-45 minutes of buffer time during prep as hair and makeup always take longer than anticipated. A good rule of thumb is to add 15-30 minutes extra for each transition in the schedule. The key is to plan for delays, and have buffer time reflected in your timeline.

Spread it out.

Weddings typically take place over the weekends with rehearsal happening the day prior. Even though it means an extra trip for bridal parties, I recommend having your bachelorette/bachelor parties at a time other than the night before the wedding. Couples who party the night before their wedding have told me they regret the hangover or fatigue the day after and were unable to enjoy the wedding day because they were so miserable.

Weddings are typically an all-day affair, so think of your wedding like your first day at a new job or an obligation where you need to be at your best. The more you end up doing the night before  the less you’ll be able to enjoy the day of.


When planning the wedding, consider how much you want to do and who in your life will come beside you to make your vision a reality. Some brides want to do everything themselves and others put everything in the hands of their vendors. Both will get you to the same destination, but each route is uniquely different.

If you’re all in with planning and executing most of the wedding details yourself, select wedding helpers, and get specific about what you need for them to do. I mean real specific. If you want an aunt to decorate for the reception, choose specific decorations and communicate exactly where the decorations need to go. If you want to put someone in charge of making a coffee run, choose your person, and give orders to that person the night before.


My sisters (left) painting signs at our wedding venue and the finished result on the right (photo by Kelsey Nelson Photography)

Get specific.

Whether you’re putting your trust in the hands of a coordinator or a family friend, you’ll need to articulate the vision you have for your wedding. Pinterest is great at helping you visually represent what you’re going for, and helping others understand your vision as well.

It is your job to help others catch the vision through your description of what you see when you picture each facet of your day.  You are the visionary and all that information is in your head, and your head alone. After you’ve communicated your vision, you can let the professionals handle it, Olivia Pope style. As a fellow wedding vendor, my job is to help your vision become a reality, and I absolutely love doing it. I just need to make sure that my interpretation of your vision aligns with what you had in mind.

It’s handled.

Now that I’ve given you a taste of hustle to flow, I encourage you to begin the exciting journey that is wedding planning. Intentional, careful planning drove my own wedding planning process, and I can honestly say that I had the most enjoyable and relaxing day that flowed from the moment I woke up until sparklers were extinguished at the end of the night. May you be able to experience a relaxing and smooth experience that flows from start to finish.