10 tips for ensuring a smooth wedding
Congratulations, you’re getting married! It is one of the most exciting and overwhelming times in your life, and for the majority of people, it’s usually the first time you’ve ever experienced something of this magnitude. Now, I can assure you that you will create the day of your dreams, but there will be a lot of information, advice, questions, and potentially even a few mishaps along the way. From working with hundreds of brides, and having been one myself, here are my top 10 tips for ensuring your big day runs as smoothly as it can.
Don’t listen to anyone.
You will get a lot of advice. I mean, a LOT of advice. Most of it will be well-meaning- and remember to always feel gratitude that people are wanting to help you get your day right, but you’ll find a lot of what you get told doesn’t necessarily fit what your vision is, or that it contradicts something else you’ve heard, and all of a sudden, you’ll find yourself confused and overwhelmed. So take everything on board, but take only what you need. Trust your gut, trust your suppliers, and trust each other- after all, you and your partner are the most important people to please for your wedding day.
Remember the why.
From the outside, it seems obvious that your wedding day is all about you, your partner, and the love you share. But when you’re inside it, I can promise you that it can be far too easy to get caught up in the ‘bride vibe’ and forget that the ultimate goal of the day is to celebrate the most significant moment in your relationship, and that all the rest of it doesn’t (really) matter. Truly. If your centrepieces weren’t the right height, or the wrong song played when you walked into the room, it’s okay. As long as you and your new husband/wife get to the end of the day and you are married, it was a perfect day.
Don’t buy anything on the spot.
Don’t book anything, don’t buy anything, don’t commit to anything the first time you see it. The giddy excitement of being a bride can easily get the better of you, and may cloud your judgement when you go wedding shopping- buyer’s remorse is a big thing with weddings. Even if the shop assistant or vendor says it’s your only chance to get it- don’t do it. Go home- or at least leave the store and go have a coffee- and look at your budget, your list, and your partner, and make a controlled and realistic decision. If, you then decide you do want it, go back to get it. It will still be there- and if it’s not, that’s just the Universe telling you it wasn’t actually right, and something even better will turn up in its place.
Capture your day.
For most people, this will be a no-brainer, but even if this one makes you go ‘duh’, have another think about it. On the day, you will be caught up in the adrenalin, the rush, and the emotion. Time will stand still, and time will fly, and things (and people) will rush around you and at you and for you. And you will miss things happening- not for lack of wanting to experience it all, but because there’s just too much going on. So think about how your day is being captured- whether you go all out with multiple photographers, videographers, and photo booths, or if you’ve just got a close friend taking shots for you, think about what you want to be able to look back on, and make sure those who are getting the shots know what to look out for. When the day is done, looking back at everything that came together- and everyone who came to share in it- you will revel in what you discover happened while you were busy elsewhere, and you’ll melt all over again.
Tell people what is going on.
A run sheet will save your life. It tells your vendors, your venue, and your bridal party what to expect, when to expect it, and how to make sure it gets done right for you. Even if you have sneaky surprises for each other, or for your guests- SOMEbody needs to know what it is, so that it can be executed properly. So whether you hire a professional planner for the day, or you sweet talk a friend or family member into being in charge for the day, make sure everyone who needs to know, is across the plan for your day. My DIY The Wedding Planner has a run sheet ready to go for you (download via www.felicitycook.co/store).
Set a budget BEFORE you start buying.
Honestly, unless you have all the money in the world, chances are you will be working to a budget when it comes to planning your wedding. My advice is, be practical, and set it up before you get started, instead of getting halfway through your money before you’ve booked your celebrant and thought about feeding people (believe me, it can be very easy to get side-tracked by pretty vases and cute ideas for asking gifts for your bridal party). Working out a budget will be eye-opening for you, and you may find you quickly discover what is and isn’t truly important to your day (aka Pinterest weddings aren’t cheap). And set up a separate bank account for wedding savings. You’ll be able to track how much you have/still need, and you’ll be less inclined to spend on anything else from that account, when you know what that money is earmarked for.
Choose your bridal party strategically.
Ultimately, you want your nearest and dearest standing beside you on your day. But there is generally a fair amount of responsibility for your bridal party, and it’s important to think about who each individual person is. If one of your besties is actively trying to start a family, and there’s a high chance she’ll be pregnant at wedding time, she may not be the best choice for maid of honour. If one of your partner’s best mates is incredibly shy around people he doesn’t know, and gets nervous in public situations, he may not be the best person to choose as someone to give a speech. Create a shortlist of people you’d love to have stand beside you, and then go through them practically, and choose a team who will be able to help make sure your day is a success. And don’t choose someone out of guilt- you’ll feel it later on, and if it’s going to cause stress, avoid it completely!
Don’t buy into family guilt.
Hubby and I were lucky- our parents, while wanting to contribute to our day, knew from the outset that we had things covered, and didn’t interfere (too much) with our wedding plans. Not all couples will be that lucky- unfortunately in some families, a wedding is an opportunity for other family members to either relive their own weddings, or create something they never got a chance to have. And it causes tension, stress, and tears. This links back to the advice bit- accept with gratitude all suggestions and advice you may receive, but don’t be afraid to gently and firmly reiterate that you have things under control, and they’ll love what you’re putting together. Another way to help them be involved (especially for parents who wish to contribute financially) is to give them things to pay for. For example, if you’ve picked a florist or a photographer, take the invoice to the family members in question, and tell them you’d love if they could pay for that vendor. They will be able to be a part of your day, but under your guidance.
Book in advance.
Whether you’re getting married in six months or two years, the sooner you book things in, the lower your stress levels will be. With vendors, you don’t necessarily need to know the nitty gritty, but if you know there’s a specific photographer you want, book them in as soon as you can! Most vendors request just a deposit to confirm (if anyone asks for all up front, perhaps look elsewhere), so it won’t dig into those savings funds too harshly to begin with, but even just appointments for getting your hair colour done, or for suit fittings, or sizing your wedding bands, when you lock them in and tick them off, you’ll know you’re one step closer to done. Everything comes to a head a few weeks out from the date, so I promise you can never be too organised.
For me, the preparation for our wedding was almost like moving house. I started with a small collection of items I had curated for our day, but as the months went by, I discovered my small pile was turning into a heap, and I was losing track of what I had covered. So I bought moving boxes, tape, and a permanent marker, and I boxed items up according to their section (ceremony, reception, girls, boys etc) and listed what was in each box. We had just over a year between getting engaged and getting married, and I started collecting from the beginning, so even by the time we got towards the end, I opened a box and discovered things I had forgotten I had already found. It will help you keep track of what you have purchased, but it will also help you keep track when it comes time to transporting to the venue/s- you’ll know what goes where, how many of each there should be, and they can be easily packed into anyone’s car (great for delegating tasks!). you’ll also be ensuring nothing gets left behind.
Your wedding day will be a multitude of things. Not everything will go right- no matter how well you plan- but on the day, none of that will matter. You will be safe in the knowledge you did everything you could to make it the way you envisioned, and most importantly, the journey getting to that Big Day will be something you look back on and smile about, because it was a smooth and memorable experience- exactly as it should be.