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Are you currently planing your wedding? This article is full of advice from Newlyweds who went through the same thing last year

I’ve had the pleasure of working with over 100 couples over the years as their wedding photographer. One thing that’s come up, especially in the lead up to the wedding are the challenges in planning a wedding. Planning a wedding should be fun and exciting, but it can also be a headache at times. There’s so many moving parts and you suddenly have to be an expert in lots of different areas, especially when it comes to booking suppliers.

I’ve written a few guides in the past to help with these challenges, but this year I thought I’d try something a little different. Instead of writing advice based on my experience, I thought I’d ask my couples to share their own personal experiences. After all, who better to offer advice than people who have lived it.

So I reached out to my newlyweds and asked for their best advice for couples currently planing their wedding. And here is what they shared.

The advice below is broken into 2 main sections: 1) Advice on planning your wedding; and 2) Advice on enjoying your wedding day itself. Enjoy!

ADVICE ON PLANNING YOUR WEDDING

Stick to Your Values and Do things your way

 

“Only take on board the advice you really think is important. There’s so much out there it can become overwhelming very quickly. Try and keep in mind the one or two things that are most important to you and for your wedding day and stay true to that.

For example, we knew from the offset we just wanted to have a really fun, relaxed party with our family and friends. That helped guide us on venue and suppliers. If you keep that in mind as you go through your planning, it’s also easier to make choices to the myriad of decisions that will come your way.” – Jody and James

 

“Prepare a wedding which is right for you. We had a lot of pressure from both families coming from different cultures. Initially we tried to accommodate for both, but eventually we realised that doing something that we really wanted to do felt a lot better and it was a lot easier. The day of the wedding everybody was happy for us and no one cared about the small things that were different from traditional weddings.” – Cristina and Remi

 

“Keeping your values true to you is so important. I’m a strong feminist and as such find some things about weddings a bit off-putting. I had to make some tough decisions, such as telling my dad he couldn’t walk me down the aisle, because to me it felt too much like being given from one man to another. It was really hard to do, but it wouldn’t have felt right to me otherwise.

I also had two brides-men and I didn’t wear a white dress. Some people thought this was weird, but ultimately this is one day of your life that is yours to decide exactly what’s right for you. Don’t compromise because of what others think.” – Jody and James

 

“Forget what everyone else wants and do things that make you both happy and mean the most to the both of you. You can never make everyone happy and to be honest the day is about your current and future relationship, nothing else.” – Janina and Dan

Delegate the Planning

 

“Let others help you do some of the planning, even if it is just the church flowers or steaming the bridesmaid dresses.” – Rosalind and David

 

“Delegate as much as possible. It’s also fun to include your nearest and dearest. I found my mother and mother in law needed to feel involved so it was helpful to give jobs away as well as to involve them as they wanted to be involved.” – Stephanie and James

 

“Our parents were an incredible help and we couldn’t have pulled it off without them. But it’s useful to establish boundaries upfront. They can get soooo excited, which I found it a bit overwhelming at times!

I found that giving them tasks to run with that I wasn’t too attached to was a good way at keeping them involved whilst giving us a break from all the questions! That was our experience, but I’ve also had friends whose parents have been really insistent on guests list or other decisions. That’s why establishing expectations upfront is so useful to avoid upsets further down the line when things can become more emotional.” – Jody and James

 

“Listen to the expertise of your suppliers. There’s nothing wrong with getting a second opinion, but these people do weddings all the time and you (hopefully) only do it once!” – Sophie and Max

Managing Your Budget

 

“You’ll have to decide on what’s more important to you – quality or saving pounds. There might be some areas you care about about than others, so perhaps it would balance out if you’re happy to pay a more premium rate for one supplier than you would be in another area.” – Jody and James

 

“Don’t give yourself too many fiddling tasks that end up taking more time than the money saved was worth!” – Rosalind and David

 

“Weddings are expensive, so save money on the things that really don’t matter. Digital invites can save hundreds of pounds on things that otherwise end up in recycling. Wedding cakes are extortionate and basically no one eats it – sugar will always taste good however it’s served so just get a few normal cakes instead. No one takes the favours – save your time and money!” – Jody and James

Work as a team

 

“Discuss options together and don’t book any viewings/tastings without consulting your significant other first.

We found the planning process is much easier with both of you having your input, even if that’s one half of you suggesting things and the other half agreeing with everything! You might clash on certain things, but we found it meant we hadn’t found the right venue/suppliers, if one of us didn’t agree.” – Simmy and Dan

How important are the decorations/details?

 

“Don’t spend too much on decorations. These days there are so many wonderful pictures and ideas online that you can so easily get swept up in making everything look nice. Ultimately your friends and family won’t remember specifics too much. As long as they have enough food and drink they will enjoy themselves whatever!” – Stephanie and James

 

“We spent a decent amount of time choosing the flowers and the table decorations. On the day of the wedding, nothing was the way we planned it. No one cared, and to be honest, we did not care at all either. So, if we were to do it again, we would spend less time worrying about the details.” – Cristina and Remi

How early should you start planning your wedding?

 

“You can never get the big things done early enough. Venue, band, photographer. People get booked up really early on and if you have particulars in mind don’t worry about contacting them ages in advance.” – Sophie and Max

 

“Create a spreadsheet and start planning as soon as possible – even if the planning is just putting down suggestions and not actually booking suppliers or venues. Having several options makes it easier and don’t pin all your hopes on certain suppliers as they may not all be available on the same day.” – Simmy and Dan

 

“We are terrible procrastinators. Whilst there’s no rush to do absolutely everything months in advance, we’d recommend doing as much as you can before the last countdown month arrives to avoid the stress that will inevitably happen then.” – Jody and James

 

“We would definitely recommend couples to start early. We were not very keen on that, but the problem is that most people are! Consequently, by the time you start looking into it, things are booked up and the whole process becomes very stressful.” – Cristina and Remi

 

“We ended up planning the wedding in 5 months which to be honest worked for us because we both mull over decisions for ages before setting on something. Having the short time scale meant we had to go with our gut and I think it meant they day completely tied in to the type of people we are.” – Janina and Dan

 

“Don’t pick a date that falls on the same day England played in the quarter finals of the World Cup (who could have predicted that?!).” – Jody and James

 

(Anyone remember England vs Sweden [2-0] at the World Cup last year? Here’s the scene at Jody and James wedding)

Mastering the Logistics 

 

“Contact suppliers using a joint email so that you both know what’s going on.” – Janina and Dan

 

“Give yourself a task a week. Often it can get quite overwhelming when you realise how much there is to do but take a task at a time and work through lists. I had lots of lists!” – Stephanie and James

 

“Make a list of all the key elements of the day/ days, and work back the lead time needed to put them in place and any inter-dependencies. This will help to make a work plan to more efficiently organise the event.” – Hannah and Joseph

 

“If you both work full-time, it could be difficult to schedule tastings, viewings, etc. Be prepared to take time off work to commit to planning and organising!” – Simmy and Dan

 

“Make a huge guest list with addresses, rsvps, food requirements and after the wedding is done gifts they bought you so you can stay on track.” – Janina and Dan

 

“Leave plenty of time for decorating and have a plan of what different people could do to help.” – Rosalind and David

Tools Can Be Your Best Friend

 

“We used Paperless Post to send save the dates and invites – so much easier (and cheaper) than mail.” – Jody and James

 

“We used Trello to keep an eye on what needs to be done, what has been done and what is in the process of being done. You can share it with a load of people, attach the action to different people and comment on then to keep track of your progress.” – Janina and Dan

 

“We used The Knot (website) for invites and sharing information, collecting menu choices etc It was pretty handy and easier than always posting things to lots of addresses for both them and us.” – Rosalind and David

 

“Use spreadsheets. We had one big master Google spreadsheet with different tabs for each area of the wedding we had to plan. It really helped for making sure everything was covered.” – Sophie and Max

 

“We used Excel but may have cheated as one of my cousins sent us theirs which we adapted. It had lots of formulas for working out budgets, deposits, etc. It was also heavily colour coded and contained all information including seating plans, guests’ hotels, itineraries, etc. We deleted it recently with smug and victorious grins. In hindsight, we should have probably kept it to help others!” – Simmy and Dan

 

“We created our own wedding website on wix. This was a great tool to make sure everyone had all the information they needed and collected all of our RSVPs.” – Jody and James

 

“We downloaded an app called ‘Between’ which is a soppier version of merging your Google Calendars to keep up with anything wedding related. It was great because we could access our calendars whenever wherever, even when we weren’t together. We still use it actually – it doesn’t just have to be for your wedding.” – Simmy and Dan

 

“We linked our wedding website our registry, which was online with Prezola where we could choose physical or cash gifts. The great thing was with the cash gifts you could select lots of things you would be putting the money towards – such as honeymoon flights, diving, honeymoon cocktails etc. So your guests still felt like they were buying you an actual gift rather than just giving money, whilst you still have complete flexibility of what to do with the funds. They also have a facility for charity donations in lieu of gifts.” – Jody and James

How to find the perfect suppliers

 

“Get recommendations from your friends and family. We found our photographer (Matt), florist, make up artist, hair stylist, venue and food through friends and family. If you’ve been to an event where you loved how something was done, find out who did it and get in touch with them.” – Sophie and Max

 

“Ask for advice from people who have already got married nearby – they might have a great person in mind and will have done a lot of research for you!” – Rosalind and David

 

“Nothing can beat a first-hand recommendation, but otherwise lots of research – from the right places. Deciding on what type of wedding you want to have should inform the types of websites or magazines you’re looking at as they tend to list suppliers more suitable for those kind of weddings. Sometimes knowing what you don’t want can actually help guide these decision more.” – Jody and James

 

“When you have an idea of the suppliers you want, make sure you meet or have a call with them to ask plenty of questions and get a better idea of whether they’re going to be a good fit for you.” – Jody and James

 

“If you don’t feel like the supplier puts you at ease from the beginning, they’re probably not for you.” – Simmy and Dan

 

“Check supplier’s ratings and reviews to make sure they are quality. You want to make sure that tings run as smoothly as possible.” – Janina and Dan

 

“Trust your instincts. As with anything, you get a decent impression of a supplier within the first minute of communicating with them. If a person or company doesn’t feel right, they probably aren’t and best to look for alternatives.” – Hannah and Joseph

 

“Talk to a few suppliers and go with the ones (that are in your price range) and that you click with the most – you’ll be spending a lot of time talking to them and potentially dealing with them on your wedding day so you have to be comfortable and get on with them.” – Janina and Dan

 

“Consider a second hand wedding dress. I found a dress agency in London who had loads of sample dresses and some second hand. She was fantastic. I paid £500 for my dress.

You could also consider selling it second hand after you’ve worn it. You will never wear it again and it will only clog up your wardrobe. I ended up giving mine to a charity who helps couples wanting to marry quickly due to terminal illness.” – Stephanie and James

bride dancing with her bridesmaids in colourful dresses at her wedding

And above all, Have Fun with it!

 

“Enjoy it! It’s all part of the fun. The wedding is only one day after all so enjoy the journey of getting there too. And specifically to the men – pull your weight earlier on! James looked like he was having a heart attack when the magnitude of what he still had to do on the wedding weekend finally dawned on him!” – Jody and James

 

“Try to enjoy the planning process – it shouldn’t be stressful and don’t let people panic you in to making decisions. You have time!!” – Eliza and George

 

“Stay relaxed! I had no preconceived ideas of what our wedding day should look like. I just wanted to have fun and enjoy the company of our family and friends. The small details really didn’t matter to us as long as everyone was happy then so were we!” – Michelle and Andrew

 

“We just wished we hadn’t had such anxiety in the months before about the church bit as it was totally unnecessary and on the day the adrenaline works its wonders.” – Eliza and George

ADVICE ON ENJOYING YOUR WEDDING DAY

Delegate On the Day

 

“Delegate! We were not so great at doing this so ending up still trying to organise a lot on the day. If we’d have been better prepared beforehand at delegating out tasks it would saved a lot of stress. The easy trap to fall into is it seems easier to do things yourself rather than taking the time to explain, Everyone was constantly offering to help – we really wished we had taken more people up on their offer!” – Jody and James

 

“Put someone/ people you trust in charge of key things throughout the day, so you don’t spend the day going through a check list in your head.” – Hannah and Joseph

 

“Try to delegate as much as possible on your wedding day. We thought the few things we had to take care of were not such a big thing, but you do not want to add stress to the day. You spend a lot of time planning it, make sure you have the time to enjoy it :) ” – Cristina and Remi

 

“People are there because they love you, not to judge you so don’t run around after them. That’s what your bridal team is for 😉” – Janina and Dan

Take a Moment for yourselves

 

“Take time out for you both just a few moments here and there to check in and bask in the awesomeness of the day.” – Janina and Dan

 

“Spend time with each other. We were getting married because we love each other, so it makes no sense if you spend your wedding day mainly apart. We held a really informal BBQ and drinks the night before, which was a great way to get all the hellos out of the way. It meant we could spend our actual wedding day having proper catch-ups rather than a hundred brief hellos, and also had time to enjoy each other’s company too.”  – Jody and James

 

“If there’s time on the day, do something fun in the morning to take your mind off the things that might cause stress or worry. ” – Rosalind and David

 

“Try and capture everything around you as often as you can. The day goes so fast that to just stop and look around and observe is important for the memory bank.” – Stephanie and James

Booze – Friend or Nemesis?

 

“Try to eat something so you don’t get too tipsy too soon!” – Rosalind and David

 

“Don’t get too tipsy that you won’t remember it!” – Stephanie and James

 

“I was told by friends not to drink too much, so that you remember the day, which was a great tip (it is easy to get carried away).” – Hannah and Joseph

 

“I think some brides worry about keeping up appearances. Sod that – it’s your day and you’ve busted a gut to pull it off, Get as pissed as you like and dance like you just don’t care. You’ll have so much more fun!” – Jody and James

And what if things don’t go to plan?

 

“If things go wrong don’t worry and let other people sort it out.” – Sophie and Max

 

“If any problems crop up, don’t stress and just let things wash over you.” – Rosalind and David

 

“I think everyone says – things won’t go as you expect at all points through out the day but that is OK. Ours rained all day and although that wasn’t how I envisaged it I almost think it made the day better! Ie. however the day pans out you will always have an INCREDIBLE day.” – Eliza and George

 

“Chill out! By the time you’ve got to the wedding day, what’s done is done. If something hasn’t come together perfectly, just forget about it – nothing is changing now. And remember – no one really takes notice of the small details the way you do. Everyone’s here because they love you – all they want is for you to have the best day; their day will not be destroyed if the ceremony music wasn’t loud enough or the flowers are droopy.” – Jody and James

 

“Just relax, enjoy your day, and forget about things that you “should do” or you are “meant to do”. The day does not have to be perfect. You will remember the day from the good things and you will laugh at the bad ones.” Cristina and Remi

 

“Don’t focus on the things that go wrong – ultimately they’ll just become stories that add to the character of the day.” – Janina and Dan

Enjoy it!

 

“Once it gets to the actual day there’s not much you can do anymore so just relax and enjoy it!” – Sophie and Max

 

“We actually wish we could do it all again and worry LESS. It sounds cliche, but you really must keep in your mind that you are unlikely to do this again! In the end, we completely enjoyed it (especially when the alcohol loosened us up!) but we were so shattered by the end of the day, we could barely walk back to the hotel without falling asleep on the spot. (We are also aware that not every wedding will be such a jam-packed week as Indian weddings!)” – Simmy and Dan

 

“The day flies, it will be finished before you know it.” – Cristina and Remi

 

“Enjoy every minute. That was the simplest, but best advice I was given before our wedding, because it will rush by so fast. I kept this in mind throughout the day, making sure to take every part in properly to enjoy it fully.” – Jody and James

 

“Your wedding is for you, don’t worry too much about making everyone happy. Do it your way. The day of the wedding, everyone is happy regardless of things not going exactly as planned or if things are not the way you absolutely wanted them to be.” – Cristina and Remi

 

“Smile, relax and let everybody look after you! This is your chance to celebrate and it shouldn’t be stressful. If you are relaxed then so will everybody else. When we share our photos with people their first comment is on how happy everybody looks!” – Michelle and Andrew

FINAL THOUGHTS

Reviewing the above comments, echoed by my own experience of photographing over 100 weddings, my advice summed up in 3 points would be:

 

  1. Identify what’s important to you and don’t loose sight of that in the planning process.
  2. Forget the idea of a ‘perfect wedding’. If everything doesn’t go to plan on your wedding day, that’s ok.
  3. Have fun and enjoy the day! You’ve earned it.

 

A massive thanks to all my awesome couples of 2018 who took their time to share the above advice from their personal experiences.

 

To couples currently planning their wedding, I hope you found this helpful. Best of luck planning your wedding and I hope you have a fantastic day!!

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