Snip the stamen and 12 other tiny, unexpected ways to minimize chaos on your wedding day

Guest post by Angie Gaul
 | Photography by Milestone Images
All photos by Milestone Images.
All photos and tips by Milestone Images.

As a professional wedding photographer, I'm chock full of random, practical wisdom that you wouldn't think of if you hadn't been to hundreds of weddings. Here are my top 13 wedding-pro secrets…

1. Have multiple pairs of scissors around while you're getting ready.

Everyone has to cut tag, or those hangar pseudo-strap thingies out of their dresses. Scissors also come in handy for tips two and three…

2. Get a clear plastic “over the door” shoe organizer and fill it with things everyone will need while getting ready.

[related-post align=”right”]Hotel rooms with lots of women getting ready are hectic places. One person uses the scissors and leaves them on the bed. A garment bag gets thrown on top of them; no one can find them. “Have you seen the scissors? Where are the scissors?” Another bridesmaid finds them and leaves them in the bathroom. Aaaand they're gone again. It's enough to make any woman stuck in a chair with eyelash glue on her face lose her fucking mind.

Use the scissors and return them to the shoe organizer. Same with the double-sided fashion tape, the safety pins, sewing kit, bobby pins and extra can of spray deodorant. If you're getting to the point where you're about to declare it “Do Not Ask Me Questions” Time, kindly and gently ask everyone to please check the shoe organizer of All The Things they might be looking for before they ask.

Look closely, these lilies are stamen-free.
Look closely: these lilies are stamen-free.

3. Flower pollen is the one kind of stain that is 100% permanent.

If you or anyone near you will be carrying lilies of any kind, appoint a Keeper of the Scissors to snip off the pollen-laden stamen before you go near anywhere near the flowers in your wedding finery.

4. Have a can of clear, “little black dress”-friendly spray deodorant.

I recommend PURAX Antiperspirant Spray. But whatever you use, go for a spray since the spray can part makes sharing with other bridesmaids less icky.

5. Have someone else pick up your bouquet from out of the water.

You see flowers staying fresh in a vase. I see water about to drip down the front of your dress.
You see flowers staying fresh in a vase. I see water about to drip down the front of your dress.
Then make sure to “tap tap tap, dab dab dab” the bottom on a paper towel before handing it to you. Ribbon and fabric will soak up water, which then drips down the front of dresses and makes watermarks, especially on satin. Given that bouquets are often grabbed in a hurry right before pictures, water dripping on dresses is often the tiny, proverbial flapping of a butterfly's wing that blows up into a hurricane of stress.

6. Plan for lots of buffer time during major transitions in the day.

Everything on a wedding day takes longer and is infinitely more complicated than you ever imagined. People mean well, but they really and truly lose the ability to follow simple directions, like, “Please go here and do this at this time.” I don't know why. It's hard. It shouldn't be hard. It's hard anyway. Forewarned is forearmed.

7. Wedding trolleys are fun and photogenic, but they are also not permitted to drive on highways.

If you plan to rent one, be sure to plan for extra travel time on side streets with lots of traffic lights to get to the reception. This goes double if you're traveling in rush-hour traffic on the Friday of a three-day holiday weekend like Memorial Day or Columbus Day.


8. Have someone carry a plastic straw.

That way you can pop it into a bottle of water for quick sips during pictures without messing up your lipstick or having backwash drip on your boobs.

9. If someone is giving an extremely long or offensive speech, to the point where you're considering signaling the DJ to kill the mic, here's what you do:

Wait until the person finishes a thought or anecdote, then start an enthusiastic round of applause. Quietly let the people closest to you like the bridal party or your parents know you're going to do this so you aren't the rude guy doing the loud, slow clap, alone. Other people will join in. The newlyweds should then jump up and hug the speech-giver, quietly moving them out of the limelight as they do.

10. If you have a lot of buttons up the back of your dress, have a crochet hook on hand.

This would be a lot easier with a crochet hook.
This would be a lot easier with a crochet hook.
Someone can then close all the buttons quickly and efficiently when you're getting ready. Before you leave at the end of the night, have someone nimble-fingered undo those dozens of little buttons. In addition to killing the mood, you're going to want to divest yourself of your “foundation undergarments” as quickly as possible. Spanx: love 'em 'til you hate 'em. Discuss.

11. If the bouquet is caught by a little girl…

And the garter is caught by anyone more than a few years older, have him slip it on her wrist like a bracelet.

12. If you don't want to smash cake in each other's faces and there are particularly obnoxious people all around you screaming for you to do so…

Make eye contact with your newly minted spouse, turn, and smash the cake in the faces of the loudest people instead. Your mileage may vary on this, so you may just wish to entertain the thought while nicely feeding each other cake and ignoring the catcalls.

13. Wedding cakes don't like public transportation.

If you had a friend bake your wedding cake, make sure they do not bring it to the wedding on the subway.

Any other wedding pros out there? What are your tiny, unexpected wedding tips?

photographer: Milestone Images

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Comments on Snip the stamen and 12 other tiny, unexpected ways to minimize chaos on your wedding day

  1. Crochet hook is a really good idea. I was a bridesmaid a few years ago and there were at least 4 of us trying to get all those damn tiny buttons closed for a very very long time.

    • My groom with his stumpy fingers and a few beers in him had a really hard time undoing these at the end of the night. Luckily I could slip off my straps and twist the dress around to my front so I could undo them myself.

      • Change into a cute, travel-appropriate “going away outfit” before you leave the reception and begin your honeymoon. Let your bridesmaids help you out of the wedding dress and see it safely stashed away.

  2. Another tip that might sound very obvious is to ask your florist to label all personal flowers in some way that they are guarenteed to stay with the flowers until successfully handed to the right people. It is shocking how many people are drawn to idly fiddling with the tags beforehand, just out of nosiness or curiosity!

  3. my husband got the “you may dot me on the nose with frosting, and I promise not to shove cake down your shirt” deal. I wish we would have thought of “cover those most obnoxious with frosting.”

  4. Wedding cake on a subway. . .

    Am I the only one who really wants that story?

    • I don’t think that is too far fetched (or one poster above suggested: mind boggling). My sister is baking a wedding cake for a couple this fall. We all live in a city with public transportation so she does not own a car. None of the guests she knows who are going have cars either. How is she supposed to get the cake to the reception venue, which is on public transportation?

      Ask the bride or groom to drive over and get it from her on the morning of their wedding?

      Nope, she is asking her adoring sister (me) to drive it over for her. Lucky for her I have a car because otherwise she’d be on the subway.

  5. Oh! Lilies are my favorite flower and the stamen is what makes them so beautiful! Glad I’m already planning paper flowers. I love the clear plastic shoe organizer!

    One thing I’m planning is to bring mirrors. The cabin I’ll be getting ready in only has one very small mirror, and there will be me, possibly up to six bridesmaids, AND my mom getting ready. I feel like there would be a lot of regret if I didn’t somehow get at least three additional mirrors there somehow.

    • If you have a long, full-length mirror and an ironing board/dresser, you can lay the mirror lenghtwise on top of it and create mirror space for up to three bridesmaids for sitting and prepping. One of my bridesmaids thought of this and it really saved the day.

      • YES! My burlesque troupe does this sometimes when getting ready at one of our girl’s houses! Side note: How badly do I wish that getting ready to go on stage was as glamorous as Cher and Christina Aguilera made it look?

  6. The flowers can also be stuck in water soaked sponges or gel packs so you dont have soggy paper tissues floating around getting into everyone’s clothing. And they can go back into the sponges safely too! Just keep soaking the sponges if it’s a very hot day.

    • Or those little jars of water filled moisture beads that you can get for a whole $1 and put the bouquets down in. They are so much easier to transport that way also. At best if one turns over in your car, you have some run away beads and no huge water stains.

  7. Re: “It kills the mood and you’ll want to divest yourself of foundation garments as fast as possible”…


    But it has been my experience from my own life and hearing stories from friends that “that” (by “that” I mean sex) doesn’t actually happen much of the time on one’s wedding night. I know one couple who planned it that way, figuring they’d be too tired (they were) and as my friend had decided not to have sex before marriage, they agreed it wouldn’t be very good to try it for the first time after the most tiring day of their lives to date.

    And for me, we were just too tired at 3am after all that partying to get down to much hanky panky. I took off my dress and came to find my husband already curled up and asleep in bed.

    And it seems that’s way more common than one thinks!


    • Even with a morning wedding/brunch reception we were still too tired for wedding-night sex. We tried. It was terrible. We went to bed. I don’t remember if I wore spanx under my dress, but it wouldn’t have mattered anyway.

      • too tired 🙁

        Actually, I just felt like, we paid a lot of money for that reception, so dammit we were going to ENJOY IT. And by “enjoy it” I mean eat all the food and drink all the booze.

  8. Thanks for sharing, this is great advice! I will forward it to all brides-to-be I know (quite a handful at the moment).

  9. Hire a van.
    Trying to stuff dresses, suits, decor and everything you DIYed into a small car is not fun.

    • 1. Designate for tasks/ things to grab/ bring. Thankfully most of my family live really close to our venues so that want an issue. Also, since I’m an employee at the church we were able to stash the church decor there AND decorate early.
      For the reception venue we were able to get in a day early, thankfully without paying more. They also has a side lockable room that we could have used to keep everything in. Sometimes you just have to ask, though obviously this is a tad less helpful if you have a further away venue. It may work with destination weddings though, if you can coordinate really well with the hotel planner to have deliveries sent ahead

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