A wedding is an amazing occasion. Not only are you taking that lifelong commitment, all of your closest friends and family will be there to witness and to share the joy.
The worst thing about a wedding is that you can't redo anything. These are precious moments that you can't pretend, retake or re-feel. They happen on the day and it's important to remember and treasure those moments.
I remember all those heart palpitations during the planning process last year. I kept thinking "What if I get it wrong?" Luckily it went well. Very well - the best day I ever could of imagined! So I thought, why not share my top three tips! Of course there's many more but these are the most important for me.
Photographs are important. When we grow old and our children and grandchildren go looking for photos of us, what will they find?
#1 Do Your Research
Research is key.
Make sure you have all the suppliers that will work hard for your day - don't just go for the cheapest ones! Remember, you can't re-do your wedding. Choose a musician that will play your song, a florist that will create the perfect bouquet for you and a photographer that you like.
There are wedding shows all over the country in Autumn and the beginning of the year but look online too. Go and meet them in person or chat on the phone. Work out if they fit your style.
The best way of finding out if a photographer will work hard to create your dream images is to book an engagement photo shoot with them first.
So why do an engagement photo shoot?
Apart from the obvious - it's fun! (no really, it is!)
It's a great opportunity to learn how to pose! This doesn't mean you'll end up with a ton of super wooden fixed cheesey poses on your wedding day. It means you'll know how to pose so you can be more natural. From the images you'll be able to see if this photographer has chosen the right poses for you. I talk each of my couples through the poses so they know why it's flattering and what looks best.
Each photographer has a different style. Do you prefer the look of film? Or Timeless and Classic? Choose the photographer that makes you go 'WOW'.
Look at, at least, three full wedding albums or online galleries. Look at a similar time of year (particularly winter weddings!!) so you can see their technique and know if it's right for you.
Find a style you like. Do you prefer natural light (left) or flash (right) or maybe somewhere in between. Remember your whole day will be in the same style.
Do you want posed or moments? Or a bit of both! Speak to photographers about this to find your perfect match!
This is the same for all suppliers. If you're having a vintage wedding, find a vintage specialist! Find the perfect supplier to fit your wedding.
#2 Have a back up plan
This is a really useful tip! And I don't mean have a back up bride or groom incase they change their mind, I mean have a back up location.
If you've planned a rustic outdoor ceremony and al fresco champagne afternoon tea - what happens if it rains? Hoping for the best is great, but always prepare for the worst when it comes to weather! Don't settle for a back room and just hope it stays dry. Have a plan where you would be happy with the indoor option. Are you going to be happy with the photos?
Buy umbrellas, wellies and fun rain activities! Get excited by the prospect of rain and you'll never be disappointed! You'll just get super interesting photos!
#3 Plan more time than you need
I hear so many stories about 'stressful days' and 'not enough time'.
Not from my couples, or my wedding day - but many many stories. The main reason is poor planning with timings. Wedding planning isn't something we do every day, so it's easy to not plan it correctly. Talk to hair and make up about how long it will take, ask the dress shop how long your dress will take to put on (and practice!!!! It's not that easy putting on your dress!!) put those timings together then add at least 30 minutes. Discuss with your photographer what photos to prioritise in the morning and when to do the posed ones. So much is going on, so many moments easily missed. Organise everything.
After the ceremony you won't want to jump straight into the formal photos, so allow yourself 10-30 minutes to mingle. Then when you plan your group photos allow 5 minutes per photo. Yes, 5 minutes!! Allow it and hope you don't need that long. Then it's up to you how long you plan for the couple photos. Just make sure there's more than enough time - your guests will be happy to mingle and have a drink (and the photographer has chance to snap some wonderful natural moments!)
The speeches can go on for an hour (sometimes!) so don't ask your evening guests to arrive during this time, allow another 30 minutes. Spread the day out and you won't be rushing. You'll be busy enjoying every second. It will pass in a FLASH so spread it out and soak it all in!
Before the wedding plan your timings. I chose to write out a spreadsheet (but then I did have 6 bridesmaids, 6 groomsmen, 3 sets of parents and 7 cars....)
We gave each of our bridal party an individual job - whether it was gathering people for group photos, helping people to their tables or just keeping my cousin away from the open bar (they failed!) it meant we didn't need to look at the time once on the day. They had one job each, nice and easy, they enjoyed helping. It made the day run smoothly and guests were happy.