Congratulations! If you are reading this, then you have most likely been recently proposed to! Now the overwhelming task of planning a wedding lies before you and your stress levels are rising quickly. Believe me, I know the feeling. After helping my wife plan a wedding, along with photographing countless weddings, I have witnessed brides, grooms, parents and friends all fall prey to their frustrations. But here's the good news: there is hope! By following these five tips that I have learned through my experience of getting married and helping couples plan their dream day, you will be off to a great start to your stress-free wedding!

1. Research Your Options

Ok. So you have a shiny new ring on your finger and you are eager to start planning! If you are anything like my amazingly organized wife, you probably have a spreadsheet, a checklist and twelve Pinterest boards ready to go. But wait. Take a breath and do some research. So many brides start planning their wedding and quickly get overwhelmed by how many decisions they need to make. This leads to rushed and careless choices that could negatively affect the feel of your wedding day. Make sure you do some research, read reviews, make phone calls and send emails. Trust me; it will be worth it. This could mean the difference between a photographer who is passionate about his or her work and your second cousin who just bought a point-and-shoot.

2. Meet with Vendors In Advance

Once you have decided on a vendor, it is tempting to just write a check and be done with it. You have more important things to do, right...? Wrong. It is crucial to actually sit down and meet with your vendors if they have anything to do with the timeline of your big day. You have to be able to trust each of them to deliver their product or service in the time span that you give for them. Otherwise, your day gets behind schedule. And once that happens, its hard to get back on time. I recommend meeting with at least your photographer, videographer, DJ, Host & hostess, and caterer. As a wedding photographer, I take pride in being able to create a timeline for the day and sticking to it. This takes such a huge stress off the shoulders of brides and they are always very grateful! Make sure each of your vendors have a copy of your schedule and fully understand it before you move on. The last thing you need is a vendor showing up three hours late and ruining your day. In addition to this tip, I always suggest that brides should pay their vendors in full before their wedding day. It's best to get it all taken care of so you don't have to be thinking about money when you should be focusing on making awesome memories!

3. Delegate

Are you part of the 1% of brides who don't care if other people make decisions on your wedding day? I didn't think so. Like any bride, you probably have a very high expectation of how your wedding day should run, and with good reason! I mean let's face it: this is probably one of the biggest days of your life! However, you need to realize you can't do it all yourself. It is important to delegate tasks for other people to be in charge of. Hiring a wedding coordinator can take care of this problem, but many brides still are not using coordinators and are relying solely on their own ambition to get the job done. Ask your mother to be in charge of something. Assign the best man with the task of keeping the rings in his possession all day. Have your maid of honor grab you a bite to eat. All of the little things add up quick and if you can delegate some of these tasks, your day will be less stressful!

4. Drop the Phone

This tip might not go over so well with some of you. Try giving your phone to your maid of honor and have her "play secretary" all day. You will already be interrupted all day every five seconds with a question that you have already answered or with a compliment from a guest. Who needs the extra distraction of receiving phone calls from people with questions, Instagram and Facebook notifications, and taking selfies? (After all, aren't you hiring a professional photographer so you don't have to take photos?) :) Not everyone will listen to this tip, but I have seen so many brides become stressed out from something they see on their phone, or from a phone call right before the ceremony. It doesn't have to be this way. So drop the phone!

5. Have Fun!

When all is said and done, everything about your day is going to fly by. Make sure you enjoy it! Talk to people you don't see very much. Smile and laugh often. Kick back and let loose!

I hope these tips will help you in your wedding planning process. No one wants to be stressed out on their wedding day. If this has helped you, please share it so others can read it too!