When it was my turn to walk down the aisle, I’d been lucky enough to interview hundreds of newlyweds about their wedding planning advice.
Their candid sharing of what they’d do the same and differently if they could hit replay on their big day helped my partner and I decide what we wanted for our celebration.
Now I’d love to return the favour by sharing the biggest learnings from my own wedding planning. Here’s what a wedding blogger, event planner, chronic overthinker, creative soul and work-in-progress perfectionist thinks you should know before you tie the knot!
Focus your budget and time on the wedding details that mean something to you.
Besides cultural or religious considerations, there’s nothing you need to do or have on your wedding day except a legal ceremony.
Strip back everything you think a wedding should be and start by exploring what holds meaning for you. You want to have a good reason why you’re including certain details and traditions. Because it all costs money and all takes time!
If you need to make some compromises to keep your budget in check, you want to concentrate your funds on things you really care about.
Every detail you add is another thing to find time for in an already busy wedding day schedule. Wedding planning isn’t as fun if you feel like you’re organising things out of obligation rather than personal significance.
Decide what to plan together with your partner and what you’ll divide and conquer.
There are lots of ways to share fun wedding planning experiences with your partner – shoot engagement portraits, have dance lessons, listen to musicians live, go outfit shopping, enjoy cake tasting and menu sampling. So chat about what you’d like to do together and separately before you get started.
If there are things you or your partner aren’t as interested in, that’s ok! You don’t both need to be involved in every decision. In fact, it will make the list of tasks feel less overwhelming if you’re each researching different details and then sharing your shortlists with one another.
Encourage creative input from your wedding suppliers.
Something we hear all the time from newlyweds is to book wedding suppliers whose work you love, and then let them do their thing. I’m a big advocate for this too!
Be open to hearing your suppliers’ ideas as they can come up with things you didn’t think were possible or that are even better than your original plans. You’re collaborating with very clever people, so giving them some creative freedom can also help you get the most out of your budget.
If I’d tried to specify which blooms my florist used in her arrangements, I would’ve either gotten exactly what I expected, been disappointed if they weren’t seasonally at their best or surprised by how little bang I got for my buck. Instead, her artistry ran wild throughout our venue and it was the most special reveal when we saw the enchanting space she’d created. Sometimes it’s nice to be surprised!
Build some flexibility into your wedding day vision.
Inspiration boards are a fantastic wedding planning tool but there may be times when you need to adjust your vision to suit what’s available, affordable or achievable.
The wedding styling I had in mind couldn’t be perfectly replicated as I needed to work with what local suppliers had in their collections. Understandably, it’s not possible for them to have every Pinterest-worthy detail in their inventory!
The end result looked a little more rustic than I initially envisioned, but no less beautiful. And given the time and cost of finding exact matches, this was one thing to let go. Because even though some elements were swapped out, we added others that were unique to our suppliers and that made our wedding decor even more magical.
Try not to second guess your decisions, even if they’re quick ones.
Once you’ve made a decision, don’t keep shopping around. There’s enough on the to do list as it is! If you’re like me, you might end up asking yourself multiple times whether you’ve made the right choice. My epiphany was that the other options weren’t necessarily going to make our day better, just different.
So my advice is to take the win! Stop looking and don’t second guess. There’s always a hundred different ways you could plan your day, but you have to choose one.
Personally, I found a wedding dress I loved, but I also felt like I couldn’t be sure if it was ‘The One’ after visiting only one store. With just four months until the big day, I had to be decisive. If I walked away from it and it wasn’t there tomorrow, would I be disappointed?
I’m the kind of person who will research absolutely every option before making a decision, so it was a big leap for me to commit with still so much unknown. But did I ever regret my choice? Absolutely not!
Take a step back to see the big picture if you start feeling overwhelmed.
Wedding planning is a massive job. It’s likely the largest event you’ll ever plan! There’ll be times when you’ll wonder whether it’s even possible to get through the seemingly endless list of tasks. How does another job get added every time you cross one off?
If you’re stressing about something, ask yourself whether it’s an essential part of your big picture. If not, ditch it and don’t look back! If the answer is yes, take a break and tackle it again later, or seek some help to share the load. You’ll need to step away sometimes and that’s ok.
There’s really no such thing as perfect, so don’t put that pressure on yourself. Do the best you can and know that’s enough. As long as you enjoy your time with your partner and loved ones on your wedding day, that’s what will stay with you.
Choose how you want to involve loved ones in your wedding planning.
It’s wonderful when friends and family are keen to be involved in the wedding planning. But some may offer help that isn’t quite what you need or want. Rather than saying no, think about how best to include them and redirect their enthusiasm!
As for anyone who tends to offer their not-so-helpful opinions on anything and everything? Don’t feel guilty about holding back on details that may start a debate. Instead, keep the specifics to your inner circle and let everyone else be delightfully surprised on the day!
I think my grandma might have questioned us breaking tradition by spending the night before the wedding together, so I didn’t bring it up. However I knew she would love going wedding dress shopping with me, and now it’s a special memory I’ll always cherish.
Be ready for anything on your wedding day by planning for the worst case scenario.
It’s not fun to think about what could go wrong on one of the most special days of your life. Unexpected costs, bad weather, equipment failures, delayed arrivals, mud on your outfit…no wonder those wedding fears keep you awake at night! But if you’ve thought about it and made a plan for it, nothing can get in the way of a positive experience.
We woke up to the most dreary of days on our wedding morning, but it didn’t burst our happy bubble. Couldn’t we see the pouring rain outside? Yeah, but we’d already prepared for wet weather and all that was left to do was make the best of it!
And when the power went out before the caterers had made dinner? That wasn’t on our list of nightmare scenarios! We’ve never been more grateful to be working with the pros when they said, “Don’t worry, we’ll sort it.”
Leave space for last minute tasks in the final weeks before your wedding.
Try to have the majority of your wedding planning finalised a month before. Those last four weeks will fly by and little extras tend to pop up that you’ll need to find time for.
If you can, take a couple of days off work before the wedding to get all the last details finalised and savour the experience. It makes setup so much less stressful, and for us it meant we didn’t go into the day already exhausted. The final build up to your big day is surprisingly tiring!
Hire a wedding day coordinator to manage the logistics so you don’t have to.
The only thing you should be busy with on your wedding morning is enjoying getting ready with your loved ones. You’ll be watching the clock enough already!
If you don’t have an on the day coordinator, you’ll need help from someone who is not in your wedding party to be a point of contact for suppliers and guests, managing set up, answering queries and troubleshooting any issues.
When a glass sign smashed in a sudden wind gust, the DJ was missing a table, the candles needed lighting and the heating needed turning up, my family of practical planners helped out. I thought we had everything covered – and technically, we did. But in hindsight, we really should’ve hired a wedding coordinator who could’ve managed any unexpected issues for us behind the scenes. Then none of our guests would’ve been pulled away from the experience, even for a moment.
Express what marriage really means to you in personalised wedding vows.
Personalising your wedding vows is so worth it. It gives you an opportunity to really think about what you value in your partnership and want to promise to each other. It’s the foundation of your commitment to one another and what you wish for your future together.
I loved working with my husband on our vows. It was an important reminder of why we were planning the wedding in the first place and made our ceremony even more intimate.
Enjoy planning what matters to you, even if it doesn’t matter to others.
Many newlyweds say the little things don’t matter, that no one will notice them, so don’t waste time worrying about them. While these are wise words when you’re agonising over tablecloth lengths (yes, I went there), if there are details that will make your heart happy, you should make them happen!
We had guests compliment the flowers, lighting, food, music and family wedding photo gallery on the night – the gold cutlery we used even inspired someone to purchase their own set! Different people will appreciate different things. All that really matters is that you enjoy the process and are excited to see the end result.
Give yourselves time to rest and reflect on your honeymoon.
Please don’t feel like your honeymoon has to be a huge overseas holiday to be special. If your wedding is the reason to plan the trip of a lifetime, go for it! But relaxation and romance can be enjoyed in any destination.
My partner and I spent a week sequestered away in a luxury villa only a few hours from home and it still felt like a blissful escape from the everyday.
On the other side of the emotional high of the wedding day can be the need to do…not very much at all. I’m usually always up for an adventure, but in hindsight definitely didn’t have the energy for jet lag, packed itineraries or city hopping logistics.
Plus, if you’ve felt like your wedding day has gone by in a blur, a lower-key honeymoon gives you and your partner time to enjoy reflecting on the day, looking through photos and savouring the moment before you begin the next chapter together. You might even feel some sadness that your wedding day is over – there’ll be time to acknowledge that too.
More and more couples are opting for minimoons and replenishing their bank accounts before jetting off to their next bucket list location. But there’s no right way to getaway, just your way!
NOW READ: Top 5 Honeymoon Mistakes to Avoid
Say thank you to your guests at your earliest opportunity.
Thank you cards are a small gesture with big meaning to the people who have joined you on your wedding day and thoughtfully given gifts.
It can feel like a mission to write handwritten notes for each of your guests, but it leaves a lasting impression. Record who gave which gift as you open them and make it your first priority after the wedding or honeymoon to start working your way through the list.
To streamline the process, we asked our wedding stationer to design thank you postcards at the same time as our invitations with our names and address printed on them. This saved on postage costs, helped us keep our messages short and sweet and meant we didn’t have to write out our contact details every time. I also liked that the wedding experience started and ended the same way for our loved ones – with a special delivery in the mail!
Finally, we prepared a few common lines to begin every card that we then paired with a personalised note to show our appreciation for their attendance, gift or congratulations. I still got the occasional hand cramp, but I enjoyed signing off our wedding day this way.
I hope this helps you with your wedding planning as much as those who got hitched before helped me!