Your wedding day is of course, one of the very best days of your life, but the reality is that it can be one of the most stressful too. I have been to hundreds of weddings (including my own) so I know how hard the planning can be. There are plenty of ways that you can reduce the stress, but bizarrely no one ever tells you about them until after the big event. So, I’m breaking with tradition, here are 10 things that will make your wedding planning easier (and hopefully less stressful):
Don’t get a cheap photographer with little experience
Ok, so maybe I'm a little biased here but trying to cut corners on the photography is a sure-fire way to ensure that you don’t get the pictures you really want of your special day. Bear in mind that in a few years time, the pictures may well be your primary memory of the day, so it’s really important to make sure that they do what they need to. It might be tempting to opt for a cheaper option, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s really not worth the risk.
Perhaps you know someone who has a 'big camera' and they offer to photograph your wedding, it may be an uncle or a close friend who offers this for free. It will seem too good an offer to turn down, after all they have taken some great pictures of their kids or their Instagram feed is littered with stunning landscapes from their last holiday. Their heart is in the right place, after all they're just trying to save you money, but if this is their first experience at photographing a wedding day then my advise would be to politely refuse. Ask yourself if you would allow someone with no experience of cutting or styling hair to have a go at your barnet on the morning of your wedding. Of course not! You wouldn't want them to have that responsibility, if they messed up your hair they would never forgive themselves, and you want to look your very best on the most important day of your life. Same with your wedding photos.
You will offend someone, or upset someone, or feel guilty at some point during the planning process
Let’s get this straight out in the open because it’s one of the most important things that any wedding couple need to know.
There is literally no way that every element of your wedding will make everyone you know happy. First of all there are the invitations – you’ll only have a limited amount, and there will always be people who feel they should have been invited. Then there’s choosing the bridesmaids and the ushers, which can always be a contentious decision. Then there’s the ceremony, the food, the drink, the music… In short, there are plenty of things that will divide opinion at a wedding, and it’s important to make peace with the fact that you can’t cater for everyone.
Invite who you want to invite, choose who you want for your bridesmaids and ushers, eat the food you want, drink the drinks you want, have the music you like. While you're making your preparations just remember that it’s your day, not anyone else’s.
You need to learn to make decisions
Are you one of those people who can never decide where to go out for dinner? Are you always trying to get other people to make the decision about which film you watch, or what to do at the weekend? You can’t be like that about your wedding.
You will have to decide a whole load of things - dress, colour scheme, flowers, venue etc - so you’re simply going to have to learn to be the person that says, “this is what I want”, rather than the person who says, “I don’t mind”.
You will have to prioritise
No matter what your budget is, you will probably need to prioritise what you feel are the most important elements of your wedding day. Generally speaking, venue, food, dress, photographer and entertainment are the five biggest expenses, and it’s important for you to figure out what you regard as the most crucial. Having the best food might mean that you can’t get that band you really want, but if you feel the food is more important, then that’s a decision you’re going to have to make.
Get comfortable delegating
You might not be a natural born leader, and that’s okay, especially if you’re using a wedding planner. Nevertheless, delegating is an important skill as a bride or groom, as even if you’re employing a wedding planner, you’re still likely to have a list of things to do as long as your arm. Get used to asking for help, and choose people you trust to do important tasks; once you’ve offloaded the task on them a weight will have been lifted.
It’s your day, not anyone else’s
I alluded to this earlier, but it’s important to consider it in more detail. This is YOUR wedding day. Not your mum’s. Not your dad’s. Not your gardener’s. Your dad might desperately want a traditional top table, but if you don’t want it, don’t have it. At the end of the day, you’re going to want to look back at the wedding day and say, “that was our special day, and it was exactly what we wanted”, and if you can’t, you’re likely to look back at it less fondly.
People want to help
Often we’re reluctant to ask for help, but it’s really important to remember that people close to you WANT to help you with your wedding. Your bridesmaids and your ushers have presumably been chosen because you’re very close to them – they want to help out in any way they can. So don’t feel guilty about asking your maid of honour to do you a favour, if she really is one of your best friends, she’ll live up to her title.
You need to take a second
Your wedding day will be the fastest day you have ever lived. Seriously, it will pass as a blur, and at the end of the night you’ll be thinking, “How have so many hours past?!”
That’s why it’s really important to just sit down and take a second to soak up the occasion, to really remember who’s there, what the experience is like, and just enjoy it.
Entertain your guests
Whilst I’ve given you the sage advice that it’s your big day, that doesn’t mean that you should forget entirely about the needs of your guests.
One of the most common complaints that guests have about weddings is that there is too much time when they’re just standing around doing nothing. It’s a fact of life – people get bored.
So it’s worth factoring that into your wedding planning. Do you want to provide them with some entertainment for after the ceremony while they wait to go into the reception? Even putting out some boules or a croquet set will help your guests to alleviate their boredom, an area set aside with toys and games for the children will keep them entertained and take some of the pressure off their parents so they can enjoy the day too. It’s often those little touches that transform people’s experiences at weddings.
Ask for what you want on your wedding list
Okay, so this one isn’t about the wedding day per se, but it’s still really important. Most couples tend to make a list of lots of wedding presents from a shop or website that they then circulate to their guests, and this is a pretty effective way of ensuring that you get bought what you want and need.
However, one thing that lots of couples do is underestimate how much people want to spend on them. Plenty of guests will want to spend a good chunk of money on a wedding present for you, so make sure they have the opportunity to do so by putting things on the list that you really want; as opposed to things that you think people will be prepared to buy.
Hopefully these ten tips will help you in your wedding preparations – it’s certainly useful to know them before the event rather than after!
—William Lyon Phelps