14 ESSENTIAL WEDDING PLANNING TIPS
Are you now looking to plan a perfect wedding? Think it’s an impossible task? Fear not. I’ve been a wedding photographer for over 25 years now and over that time, as you can imagine, I’ve covered many weddings.
I’ve noticed that those weddings that run smoothly all have a common theme. While those that could have been better organised weddings and so don’t run smoothly are usually for a handful of the same reasons.
More than likely this is your first time planning a wedding, and you’re probably thinking ‘where do I start?’
That’s where these tips come in for you. As one of the most experienced wedding photographers in the region as I’ve been a wedding photographer in Birmingham since 1987, I’ve seen what stresses many out and discovered what they would have changed in hindsight.
But you don’t have to learn the hard way, as I’m sharing with you my 14 essential wedding planning tips that will guarantee you’ll enjoy your wedding planning, the wedding day itself, and most of all, the years of married life together after.
1. PLAN AHEAD
I know some couples are super organised, and have been able to plan a perfect wedding in a few weeks! But, if you’re like me, giving yourself time to plan will ease the pressure levels. Most take at least a year which allows time also to save for those special treats you’ve dreamed of having. I’ve found when couples plan their wedding on average 12-18 months ahead, they’re the least stressful and best planned weddings.
Things to consider planning can include simple, but essential things such as what style will your wedding be: traditional or relaxed and informal? What colours will you choose? Soft tones or or bold colours? (You can check out the latest wedding colours in this article: Your Go-To Color Palettes for 2018 by Azazie)
2. Budget Sensibly
No one wants to start married life with a heavy debt, so be realistic and make and then stick to a budget. It will help you stay in control. Here’s a recommended formula for how much of your total budget to spend on different suppliers:
Photographer/Videographer: 10-12 %
Entertainment and Music: 8-10 %
Flowers: 8-10 %
Attire: 8-10 %
If you mange to keep to the lower of the percentage figures you’ll still have another 5% which can then be used for unexpected expenses.
3. KEEP A SCRAPBOOK
Many get so wrapped up in the planning stages that they actually miss it once the wedding is over! So keep all your receipts and little momentos from your planning/shopping trips etc.
Take plenty of photos of the venues you’ve visited, dresses you tried on, cakes you tried etc. Then you can look back over these on your first anniversary to relive the fun you had.
4. BUY WEDDIING INSURANCE
With the average wedding now costing approx. £30,000, wedding insurance can help recoup these expenses should the worst happen and you had to either postpone/cancel your wedding.
Or it’d help you if a wedding supplier went bust or something disastrous were to happen to your dress, flowers, ring etc. on your wedding day.
Many find it’s a small price to pay for the added peace of mind during the time they plan a perfect wedding.
Do you really need to do everything yourself? Friends and family would love to help out, especially on the wedding day.
Plan and delegate as much as possible, especially for the forgotten things like:
Who will have the instructions for how to tie the men’s cravats or knows the etiquette for which side the button holes or women’s corsages go? Who’ll make sure that the house is locked up before you leave for the wedding? Who is the emergency contact for the wedding should something need urgent attention?
6. CHOOSE THE BEST TIME
Send your invitations out on a Wednesday or Thursday so they’ll arrive in time for the weekend, when your guests will have more time and will be more likely to RSVP straight away.
7. WHAT IS PERFECTION?
You may think you know exactly how to plan a perfect wedding, as you’ve been planning it since you were a little girl, but remember to expect the unexpected!
Embrace things that don’t go to plan and you’ll find you’ll enjoy the day more. Remember too that “perfection” can be altered by how you view things. For eg If you look at a beautiful forest scene from a distance it looks perfect.
But if you go into the forest and stare too closely at the details and how each tree looks, you could get disappointed very quickly with the unsightly bark or the leaves that didn’t fully develop.
So, especially on your wedding day, learn to step back and look at the whole beauty of your day. That’s the best way to enjoy a perfect wedding.
8. BE PRESENT IN EACH MOMENT
While your wedding planning will some time, your wedding day will go by very quick! So I always advise couple to take time to savour the day.
Plan a 10 min break during the day / evening so you can both step back and talk to each other about how much you’re both enjoying the day.
Or as one couple said: “Just try and take times out during the day where you put the focus on each other and forget and ignore everyone else around you. Plus do plan all the bits that are important to you beforehand as it won’t stop you worrying on the day, but it will reduce it.”
9. DO A DRY RUN
During your wedding planning schedule, choose a similar day and time to your wedding and pretend it’s your wedding day.
What are the road conditions like? Do you need to adjust your journey times to compensate for traffic? Check local websites for any events that may be happening nearby/on route to your wedding. Call up local hotels to see if they’re aware of any special events people are booking up rooms for on your day. How will that affect your travel and parking plans at the ceremony and venue locations?
A good idea is to provide accurate online or printed driving instructions for all guests to know the recommended route to and from venues.
Consider doing a dry run for hair and make-up too, so you know exactly how long it takes and also if you need to guide your stylist on things you like or dislike.
10. HAVE A PLAN B
Most weddings are planned during the summer when “the weather is at it’s best” (“Yeh right!” I hear you say)
But if it does rain, don’t agonise over what could have been, but be prepared to embrace it, as you’re marrying the love of the your life and one day of rain is inconsequential compared to the years of happy married life ahead of you both!
So although you aim plan a perfect wedding, remember to plan for imperfect circumstances, an allow for a backup plan in case the weather doesn’t play according to the rules.
Why not buy some white umbrellas and make it a part of the photos, as many artistic photos have been taken in the rain! Or try buying multicoloured umbrellas for the bridal party and plan for a splash of colour!
11. TRUST YOUR SUPPLIERS
While this may be your first wedding planning adventure, it won’t be for your professionals. So don’t stress if things start to go wrong, let the professionals handle it for you as they’ve likely dealt with more bad weather, stressed guests, straying scheduling etc. than you need to know about.
They the best way to get things back on track, as their priority will be caring for you and making sure you enjoy the day as much as possible.
Also, I came across a great blog post that I just had to share with you all, especially if you’re undecided whether to book a professional photographer to record your wedding, or instead ask a friend with a camera to do the job.
Can I add too that I know there are a few “professional” photographers who do a less than stellar job and quite a few amateurs who do a fantastic job.
But if you take a group of 100 professional and another a group of 100 amateurs, which group is more likely to deliver the goods for you consistently? I’ll leave you to decide! You can read the article here.
12. RECEIVING LINE: YES / NO?
It’s been a long traditional to welcome your guests into the wedding breakfast room during a receiving line.
Instead, why not schedule some time to chat with your family and friends before the wedding breakfast? You’ll enjoy the time more, instead of only having a quick 30 sec chat during the receiving line.
In fact, if you have 90 guests to welcome, that’d take around 45 mins! Precious time that could be spent else where.
13. STEP FIRST BEFORE YOUR WEDDING
If you’ve bought a new pair of shoes for your wedding, make sure to break them in before your day comes.
You’ll be on your feet for several hours, so do you really want to be wearing a brand new pair of shoes and end up with blisters?
But still be prepared by packing a neutral pair of shoes in case a heel breaks or, with the best planning in the world, you still feel uncomfortable in your footwear.
14. MAKE SURE YOU EAT AND DRINK
You’ll get so hyped up wanting everyone to enjoy the day that you can easily forget to look after yourself, or be afraid that you’ll miss something if you stop to have something to eat and drink.
Don’t try to be everywhere at one. You not only want to plan a perfect wedding, you also want to remember it for all the right reasons.
Aim to enjoy the moments around you and let your photographer and videographer capture those other moments for you to look back over after the wedding.
MORE WEDDING PLANNING TIPS
- Micro Wedding PhotographyPlanning a smaller, micro wedding celebration and don’t want all the fuss with a traditional wedding? Here’s a simple, helpful guide for you.
- 5 Tips for the Groom When Getting ReadyThe ladies have always had a knack at making the most out of their wedding day. “But lads, how can you and the boys do it too?” With these 5 simple tips. Your wedding day will be bound to be glorious.
- Wedding Photography in WinterWhile wedding photography in winter requires a different mind to summer weddings, it’s still a wonderful and unique time to arrange a wedding celebration. Here are my 5 top tips as a winter wedding photographer.
- Is it OK For The Groom to Cry?It’s 100% OK for a groom to cry at his wedding! But what if he’s expected to shed tears and he’s not that type of person? Read how to avoid that pressure.
- Just Got Engaged? | 15 Essential Things To Do NextJust got engaged and wondering what comes next? Here’s 15 essential things every engaged couple should start doing to start planning their perfect wedding.
- How To Organise Your Modern WeddingYou may be a great manager. Maybe you run an office or run your own business. Multi-tasking is easy for you. That is until you decided to have a wedding. Follow these tips, and you are sure to have a beautiful wedding, with little stress.
- How to Plan Your Wedding From Abroad | Callum and JeanDon’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it’s plan sailing to plan your wedding from abroad, but it need not be a daunting task with the right team on board. See how I helped Jean plan her perfect wedding while she lived in China.
- Simple Surprise Proposal Idea | Rick and RebeccaGuys, are you looking for simple proposal idea to ask the love of your life to marry you? Why not try what Rick did, who planned his proposal with me, even though he lives in America. Read how it all was planned
- Documentary Wedding Photographer
- Ways to Propose | Jason and Lisa in BirminghamWe decided that around 3pm on Dec 5th he would take Lisa into Birmingham and they’d stand by a predesignated street sign and he would pretending to look for directions, giving me chance to spot them in the crowd. (We sent each other a few secret text messages to co-ordinate things with military precision!) Then…
- Planning Your WeddingHow do you plan a perfect wedding? After shooting weddings for over 25 years, Here’s my list of a few important things to help you avoid common pitfalls.