From the flowers, to the dress, the food on the table and how to choose and negotiate with wedding suppliers, this is wedding planning made easy. Jade Beer has worked with thousands of couples planning their wedding days. ‘Regardless of the kind of wedding they are planning, so many couples worry about similar things,’ says Jade. ‘Constant decision making on top of an already busy life, complicated budgeting and trying to absorb everyone else’s views on how their wedding should look can be the major stumbling blocks. Here’s how to ace wedding planning from the word yes!
DO your research
You will get so much more out of your appointments and zoom calls if you schedule some time to run through the basics first. Ask yourself questions like, what season are you marrying in and what food, drink and flowers will be at their best then? Ahead of your first dress appointment you might want to consider the kind of silhouette (fishtail, A-line, ballgown etc) and fabrics (tulle, satin, silk, crepe etc) you naturally gravitate towards. Look at your own wardrobe and the dresses you already own and love. Are there lots of romantic ruffles, painterly florals or sharp architectural shapes? Do you know the difference between off-the-peg, made-to-measure, and couture? Five minutes swotting in advance will mean you don’t feel out of your depth at those first appointments. If you have got as far as identifying key designers you like, check they do design for the kind of look you have in mind.
You might consider the style of photography you think will capture your celebration the best? Do you want a very reportage feel, or something more posed and staged? This research doesn’t have to feel arduous, it’s sensible prep that gets everything off to a confident start. Then find a good way to log it all, whatever works for you both. It might be a master google doc that is shareable and easily updated or one of the many planning apps. The key is it must be easy and quick to use.
DON’T forget your network
Who was that amazing illustrator your cousin used for all her stationery? The unknown bridal designer your best friend discovered? The local caterer whose canapes guests were still talking about months after your colleague’s wedding? Chat to everyone in your circle and see who they rate. It is hard to beat a personal recommendation and that’s why the very best suppliers are often booked up well in advance.
DO remember the people behind the plan
So many talented wedding suppliers are small family run businesses. This is worth remembering when you are negotiating your payments and fees. Don’t risk insulting people with suggestions of unrealistic discounts. Look at their work and decide for yourself if the fee is worth the product or service they provide. If you decide it’s not right for you, then simply look elsewhere.
DON’T play it too safe
This is a celebration, so let everything about the event reflect your definition of that. Don’t feel you have to reign in your own preferences or loves to suite the taste of others. And some will be very keen to share their thoughts, of that you can be sure. If it has always been your burning desire to dance the night away in a thigh skimming sequin mini, then surely this is your time? If you have longed to walk the aisle followed by your fifteen best friends, isn’t this the moment? And if you feel like your entire life has been building to feeding each other a slice of cake from that six-tier buttercream tower (and the budget allows) then who can reasonably deny you?
DO look to the future
What often stalls wedding planning, or at least sucks some of the joy out of it, is the fear of making bad decisions and regretting them later. This is the moment to project forward ten years and ask yourself questions like, what am I likely to regret more, that the budget didn’t quite stretch to the fourth floral arch, or that I didn’t allow my parents to invite more of their friends so they could have a great time too?
DON’T be afraid of kids
When it comes to lightening the mood and stamping all over formality, kids are king. So many photographers will tell you they often make the wedding photographs with their mad unpredictable ways or unguarded cuteness so don’t discount them because you’re worried about interruptions and noise. Most people are very understanding of it. That said, if they are coming, plan for them. Small children won’t sit through a wedding breakfast for three hours with nothing else to entertain them and a bored kid is a dangerous one! My advice is to decide on your kid policy early on and then communicate it in an unambiguous way to the parents – who may well love you if you decide to ban them anyway.
DO value independent and expert advice
The experts, suppliers, creatives and surprise introductions who all cross your path on the journey from engagement to wedding day will probably have worked with hundreds of engaged couples before you. Chances are, they have vastly more experience of planning a wedding than you do. So, listen to them! When your cake maker tells you a fresh cream filled cake in the height of summer at an outdoor wedding is not the best idea don’t assume she is trying to sell you a more expensive option. She is in fact trying to save you wasting hundreds of pounds on something that will melt in the first hour. She knows, she’s seen it happen.
DON’T think everyone else’s lives stop when you get engaged
Delegating is always a good idea, assuming you have a willing list of helpers. Just remember you can ask but you can’t insist they help you tick everything off. And someone’s got to say it, so it may as well be me, you’ve got to keep the ego in check. Friends get pregnant, they lose their jobs, they fall out with their families, they hit financial hard times, relationships break up – and all the while you’re sampling wedding cake and planning your pre-wedding beauty treatments. If everything is wonderful in your world right now, just be mindful that it may not be for those people you are tasking with planning the hen or visiting six bridal boutiques with you on their only free Saturday of the month.
Do not pass go, do not book a thing, do not part with any of your hard-earned cash until you have worked out what you’ve got to spend and where your priorities lie in terms of how you want to spend it. If you book that incredible fashion photographer who shoots weddings in his spare time off from the latest Gucci campaign, and wipe out three quarters of your funds, what is he actually going to be taking pictures of? For some people (quite a few actually) it’s all about the cake. Others scale back on the dress and spend big on the shoes for the re-wear potential. You might prioritise an extended honeymoon. But you need eyes over it all before you start spending. While we’re at it, do book wedding insurance and don’t shy away from the money chat with parents if they are contributing financially. It’s the time for transparency, not guesswork.
DON’T feel you have to follow tradition
If you’re someone who knows you’ll need more time to get ready or feel relaxed, get wed later in the day. If you’re the kind of couple who like the idea of arriving together, want to party first and marry under candlelight at midnight, then do it. Just because your grandparents did it another way, doesn’t mean you have to. Take the traditions you love, update them for your day, and it will only feel more personal to you.
DO accept something will go wrong
Then ask yourself, is it really wrong? So what if it rains, it actually makes for incredible photography. You’ll get late declines that I promise will be meaningless once your wedding is underway. My husband knocked our wedding cake over on the day. It was funny, not catastrophic. If you can’t already, then learn to laugh at yourself and the silliness of most situations-gone-wrong. Failing that, assign a trouble shooter or two who will keep all bad news at bay on the day.
DON’T be a slave to Instagram
As one supplier said to me recently, if your wedding is just about impressing your guests with the excess of it all, then you may as well just send them all a cheque. If elements of the wedding are thoughtful, guests will respond to them and everything will be that much more memorable. Don’t pick a champagne just because it’s the expensive one. Don’t choose a wedding venue because it has the greatest number of potential social media backdrops. This should be about bringing guests into your world for the day. One of the most memorable weddings I ever encountered was one where the bride’s mother cooked all the food for the wedding breakfast, which struck me as the ultimate show of love. Guests sat in her back garden under a tree she had played in as a child.
DO show your suppliers the love
While you’re pressing the fresh, air-kissing for England, toasting your own gorgeousness and spinning around the dancefloor, they are working hard. Feed them, schedule plenty of breaks, and in amongst all the revelry remember to pay them or assign someone who can take care of all of this for you. And if you really want to show them you care, post positive feedback everywhere you can afterwards.
Would you like more expert advice and inspiration? We offer a Bespoke Wedding Consultation service, which is designed for couples at the beginning of the wedding planning process.
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