How To Have A Chilled Out Wedding

10 Tips For A Super Relaxed Wedding Day

A relaxed wedding, full of fun, joy and love with no stress, wouldn’t that be perfect? From my experience there are definitely things you can plan to ensure you have a relaxed wedding day that you and your guest will love and still be talking about for years to come.

Keeping these tips in mind as you begin to plan the schedule and smaller details of your day. The most important thing to remember is that it is YOUR wedding day so plan with yourselves in mind thinking about what is important to you, who you really want to spend your day with and how you can ensure everyone is relaxed and having a great time.

1) Only keep traditions you like.

There are so many traditions associated with weddings that it’s really easy to get caught up in them all even if they don’t sit well with the overall vibe of wedding day.  When planning your big day it’s really worth remembering is that it’s your wedding. You have the choice of which traditions to keep and which ones are relevant to you and which you’d rather ditch.

Don’t do anything that makes your feel uncomfortable, or to please others, especially if you think they’re a bit naff.  If you’re not religious or never go in a church and it’s not a comfortable or meaningful environment for you, then why would you get married there? Loads of Bride and Groom do a cake cutting shot because, well just because it’s what you do at a wedding. I’ve had so many couples say to me “we don’t really want to do this photo but you have to don’t you?”  The truth is that you don’t have to do anything! 

If you really value following traditions then that’s great, but if you want some individuality and want to get married in the woods, have all your guests sitting on blankets eating fish and chips at your wedding breakfast and sleeping in tipis at the end of the night then absolutely go for it – being true to yourselves is super important and your guests will love you more for it.

2) Unplugged Ceremony.

One great way to ensure that your guests are completely present during your ceremony is to go tech free. Have a rule where all phones, iPads and other devices switched off before and during your wedding ceremony.  You’ll probably be surprised that most guests will completely respect this. Most registrars and celebrants will be happy to announce your wishes at the beginning of the ceremony and can mention that there is a professional photography present who will ensure everything is covered. 

You’ll have your wedding guests undivided attention during the vows and won’t be faced with a wall of phones and iPads as you turn to walk the aisle together. Your photographer will thank you for it too if they don’t have Auntly Joan standing in their path as they try to get a shot of you walking the aisle while obstructing the view of the professional that you have paid to be there.

Arrival of Bride & Groom at informal Barn Wedding in Cambridge

3) Ditch the seating plan.

If you won’t to go really informal then save yourselves the headache of organising a seating plan. Make the planning process a stress free as possible by choosing a more informal approach to the meal such as choosing a buffet style . The variety and quality of catering suppliers now is incredible and you can be assured everyone can have an amazing meal without having to have a three course waited table service.

I’ve seen picnic tables, blankets, hay bales and beanbags replacing formal table plans while still keeping a “top table” or centre section  where everyone can focus their attention for the speeches (if you want them).

A guitarist playing a barre chord at a wedding reception.

Musician playing during a drinks reception at Huntsmill Farm

4) Choose the right music.

Even if music isn’t normally that important to you it is easy to underestimate how it can affect the mood and atmosphere of a wedding. There are so many options for when and what music to fit into the proceedings. I have seen many variations, from a full live band performances during the ceremony to one solo musician playing throughout the evening. Again it is important to be true to yourselves and your tastes.

A string quartet or harpist fit wonderfully with a country house wedding but not so much on a farm. Depending on the length of your wedding; choosing to have musicians during a drinks reception can really add something and help everyone relax into the day rather than checking their watched to see when the food is coming. 

I personally love to see a live band for the evening reception – it’’s the perfect and most personal way to get your party started. Read my blog post on live music at weddings here.

5) Only invite people you love.

It is very easy to get carried away with lists of long lost Great Aunts, Second cousins and school friends that you ought to invite to your wedding. In my experience photographing many weddings and talking to couples during the day, they always comment how quickly it goes and how little time they get to spend talking with their loved ones. In my opinion, less is more here – allow yourselves time to mingle with the people that mean the most to you and will be cherished most when you look back at your photos through the years.

If you are choosing to go a little left-field and non-traditional your closest friends and family are much more likely to ‘get it’ and enjoy than those family members that you rarely see and don’t know so well.

Wedding guest winning at Jenga

6) Turn up the fun.

If you want everyone at your wedding to be super relaxed, then provide them with a means to entertain themselves. Party games are a really popular way to add a sense of fun to the day. When the drink is flowing people usually turn into big kids and love nothing more than playing games or mucking around. Photo booths with props are a popular way to add a fun element to the day but often keep guests away from the dance floor in the evening so consider what might be your priorities here.

Giant board games and garden toys are a surefire hit, keeping everyone amused during the reception between ceremony and eating.

7) Don’t get caught up in the detail.

Planning a modern wedding can be an overwhelming experience, every element of the day can be planned and thought through in minute detail. Part of having a relaxed wedding day is to not have a stressful planning experience. By keeping things simple you’ll have less things to worry about and less things that get go wrong. When you look back at your wedding it will be the experiences and interactions with your loved ones that you remember not the design of the favours or the colour of the fairy lights. 

It may be that that the small creative details are important to you in which case then indulge yourself, just don’t let it stress you out. The golden rule when planning is, if you enjoy it and it gives you pleasure then go with it – if it’s causing you any kind of headache then re-assess how important it actually is in the grand scheme of the day.

New Forest Treehouse Wedding Venue

8) Choose a venue that is “you”.

There has never been a better time to plan a relaxed wedding than now. The are so many choices and varieties of venues available that you are bound to find something to suit your personalities. What matters most is that you choose a venue that you feel reflects you as a couple. Gone are the days of church and village hall or local hotel.  Be imaginative in your research and don’t just choose somewhere because it’s convenient or where your sister got married. 

Another thing to consider is how flexible the venue can be an how much creative input you can have – this can vary hugely. Many venues operate with a military precision and will plan and organise everything for you which can be reassuring if you feel overwhelmed by choice. Alternatively other venues offer freedom and flexibility letting you have as much input as you wish. 

If you’re looking for a less traditional venue my guide to my favourite venues in Cambridgeshire may help.

Destination Wedding in Greece guests jumping into pool

9) Spread the celebrations over 2 or 3 days.

I have seen a big increase in relaxed wedding celebrations where a number of guests spend the days prior to and after the wedding at the venue. Many venues now offer exclusive use of their facilites for the days either side of the wedding day itself.  This is a really good way to create a relaxed atmosphere allowing everyone to have plenty of time together and avoiding the need for newlyweds to rush around trying to catch up with everyone on the day.

I’ve been at a few weddings where everyone mucks in with the preparations the day before and it creates a wonderful atmosphere. You can share a relaxed meal with everyone the day before, or maybe a BBQ lunch the day after the wedding. I can offer extended packages to capture photos on the days either side of the wedding.  

Bride and Groom Cambridge Humanist Wedding

10) Take time out for yourselves.

Something that many of my couples have said on their big day is how they actually  get very little time on their own together to catch their breath a soak it all in. Having a professional photographer at your wedding for the whole day gives you a great excuse to take a break from the proceedings and go for a wonder together away from everyone for a few minutes.  Use your photographer’s couple portrait time to breath out, relax and enjoy the moment.

I typically take around 15-20 minutes for the portrait shoot. I will scout for good light and locations while allowing  my couples a little distance so they can reconnect, chat and walk together and in between will offer some guidance on how to look amazing for some more intimate portraits. For more on my thoughts on the importance taking this time out read my blog post here.

I hope these tips give you some good ideas and planning a super relaxed wedding. I am Cambridge based wedding photographer shooting all over the UK. I specialise in non-traditional, fun and relaxed weddings for couples who love life.

If your planning your big day and looking for a photographer with a modern approach and a relaxed style then I would love to hear from you.