I love the idea of using this blog to help couples who are planning their big day, and I’d like to think that there are lots of tips on here to help you get started. However, as a wedding photographer, I often get involved in the day once some of the big decisions have already been taken. So I thought that this topic might be an ideal opportunity to bring onboard someone more qualified than myself to offer some top advice on planning your wedding day!
I first met Laura Fraser, who runs the fabulous Everything But The Guests – a bespoke wedding and event planning service – at Lottie and Adam’s wedding. I was so impressed by her attention to detail and tireless work throughout the day that I asked her if she would mind sharing some top tips for beginning the process of planning a wedding. Laura has over ten years of experience working in the events industry, and so it’s fair to say that she knows where to start with such an important task. Here is her advice, in her own words.
“I love being involved in weddings because there are no two receptions that are the same and you definitely learn something new on every single one. So my list of tips changes, but I think that the below are good foundations to planning a happy wedding day:
Insurance – Nobody likes to think of things going wrong, but sometimes they do. For the amount of money that is spent on a wedding day, insurance can be a small price to pay for protection. There are many packages out there and the majority offer protection against supplier failure through liquidation and bankruptcy of any pre-booked services; damage or loss of bridal party garments, rings and gifts. Two exceptions to this that I have found are marquee hire (sometimes covered but not always) and wedding planning services.
Purchase your insurance as soon as you have booked anything for your wedding. You need only to know the date of the wedding and estimated budget. The wedding date needs to be within two years of insurance purchase.
Suppliers – These days most people wouldn’t stay in a hotel without reading a Tripadvisor review first, and the same rule should apply to booking suppliers for your wedding! You may have met them at beautiful wedding fayres or in a lovely-looking boutique. They may have sounded very knowledgeable, and perhaps you just got on really well, and they could be wonderful and very legitimate; however, it’s always worth checking further before making a final decision.
If you are looking to use someone for your wedding who you don’t have first-hand experience of (a friend who has used them, for example) it’s a good idea to do some research to ascertain: how long they have been in business; if they have public liability insurance and if they have been recommended by others. If they don’t offer reviews or testimonials on their website or social media profile then it’s completely acceptable to ask for details of past customers, so that you can contact them to ask for feedback.
Finally, you should be given a contract for any work that you contract suppliers for; this is so that you have evidence of what the supplier is going to provide, and what they expect from you in return.
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Your wedding your way – There are many traditions when it comes to weddings, but you don’t have to follow any of them if you don’t want to! That’s not to say that traditions are not wonderful, but don’t fall into the trap of making so many rules for your day that it becomes a stressful experience for you and your partner. If the thought of doing a first-dance has your stomach in knots, then skip it! Similarly, if you would prefer to be seated on a round table with friends over family, then do that. It’s your day, so as long as you follow the legalities of the wedding service than anything else is up to you as a couple.
Wedding Planner? – It’s often thought that having a wedding planner would mean you lose control of wedding day but actually the opposite is true. If you have particular designs on theme, style or the running of the day, a wedding planner can ensure that everything happens just as you want it to.
Don’t fall into the trap of planning to do things that you don’t want to do, just because it’s traditional. It’s your day – do it your way!
If your wedding will be at a venue that offers a planner, then great stuff – you are probably already finding out how helpful they can be. However, some venues don’t offer this service, or they may have a wedding team but not a single point of contact that will be there on your wedding day. This can mean that some of the extra details that you planned so carefully could get missed in staff handovers. It might be worth considering hiring a planner who can coordinate everything on the day.
Timescales – There is nothing worse than leaving a big wedding to-do list until the last minute, then having extra stress in those final weeks when you should be enjoying those final preparations. Aside from the usual to-do lists and excel spreadsheets, one easy and free way to prep is to print off a large scale monthly planner and fix it to a wall or a fridge. Using skinny post-it notes, write each action point on a post-it and spread out your jobs across the months. It’s great because they are moveable (which deadlines need to be), it’s visual and you can even colour-code them (as I do!) so that they have categories: for example – pay photographer deposit (financial); suit shopping (groom’s list); hair trial (bride’s list). Nothing will be missed and you have the satisfaction of ripping them off the plan as you achieve them!”