I’ve been a wedding photographer for 10 years and married for 20, so I thought I’d start sharing my 100 tips to wedding planning from engagement through honeymoon.
Below are tips that I’ve compiled. I hope that they help you as much as they’ve helped others. And you have one that’s not on here — please comment below so that I can add it to the list!
After getting engaged, don’t make any decisions for at least a few weeks. Just take that time and enjoy your news and brainstorm.
Before deciding upon venue or dress, choose the “feeling” of the wedding so you can narrow down to a theme/color. That will help you with all other decisions.
Visit many places that you think you want to get married and don’t put a deposit down on the first place you visit. You’d be surprised at how many brides wish they looked more because something else would fit better. Pick a time period and visit a many places. It helps you to dream and imagine your loved ones gathered. Then sit down and discuss with each other the place you love the mos (Think “house hunters on HGTV.)
Budget is most important before you choose anything else. If parents are helping or not, the budget will decide the venue, and date (depending upon how long you need to save).
Decide what’s important to you two. Think about weddings or bridal parties you’ve been to. Take what you loved and leave what you don’t. Get inspired by Pinterest, but don’t copy, just let it inspire you.
Be prepared for everyone’s opinions. They feel free to share. Be gracious, but let them know that you’ll add that to the list of advice you’re getting and that you and your groom will be deciding on what’s best for you two.
For inspiration on how to make your wedding especially you two, consider what you two have in common or love. Do you love the beach or the forest, have a common passion, love the same color or are you two casual or elegant?
Picking a wedding photographer is important. Make sure you click with their personality. Picking the right photographer will help you to remember your wedding for years to come.
Decide upon a venue by looking at the city that makes sense, then the number of people it holds for your budget, then the decor. You can always decorate it to your style.
When planning your wedding, think about the best weddings and parties you’ve been to and why they worked so well. This will help you prioritize what’s important to you, whether it is loads of dancing time and great food like me, a romantic church ceremony or guaranteed sunshine if you marry in a warm place like Greece. This helps you to decide upon the style of the wedding.
Self-Care is essential to relaxed planning and a beautiful wedding day. Schedule regular appointments to dedicate to self-care. This will look different depending upon what you need. They can include veg-days, massages, using your favorite body cream nightly, reality tv (I always find watching other people’s drama, enables me to realize my stress isn’t so bad), a long bath or shower, exfoliate top-to-toe, doin face mask sundays, a glass of wine/champagne, or a good mani/pedi. If it’s good for the soul, for the mind, for your skin and for your relationship with your fiancé, then block time in your week to do it.
Start a scrapbook either on paper, in an album or on pinterest. Gather all the things that you want people going to your wedding to “feel”. Anything that inspires you. it’s a great way to create a visual idea of your wedding. Don’t worry if nothing matches to begin with, because eventually a pattern will emerge and you’ll figure out your style. Also, add pictures of wedding planning and you can have a lovely keepsake of wedding planning too.
Look around your own home inspiration – mementoes of your relationship will create a fun, relaxed atmosphere at your reception.
Bachelorette parties are all about celebrating your last single days with your closest girlfriends, but don’t make bad decisions right before you get married. Alternatives to vegas and other crazy time? Tea party, wine tasting, spa day, rent a beach house for the weekend, do a scavenger hunt, camping, old school sleepover, have a wear your old bridesmaid dress party, go to an amusement park, have a glam photo shoot with your crew, escape room, visit a museum, pole dancing class, take a cooking class, bungee jumping or skydiving, learn to make cocktails class, going to a vacation destination.
Making your guest list is very stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. I recommend starting with listing everyone you think you want. Now take off anyone you haven’t seen in a year and is not family. Now you’ll have a paired down list and you can (depending upon your budget) add back people as you want. Don’t forget mom and dad will want certain people invited. If you have a tight budget, it’s best to give each parent a number they can invite. Then both sides parent’s won’t feel slighted. If mom or dad want more people, and you are paying for the wedding, they can pay the cost per person to attend your wedding in your wedding budget. If the person is important to them, they’ll help kick in or change their perspective.
When picking your date make sure you factor in time for any travel arrangements your guests may have to make and look out for national holidays too! It will give you (and your guests) a little extra recovery time after all the celebrations.
Have someone you trust to tap you on the shoulder every hour during your wedding. Take that moment for you and your Husband to take a look around and take in all the things and people around you. This will help build memories of your wedding day. Otherwise, the wedding will go by in a blink of the eye.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with your decor. The most visually intriguing weddings are those where the bride and groom have incorporated all the things they love.
Take time to think of the pictures you want. While photographers won’t copy them, if you have a few concepts you love, let them know. They will already get the “in the moment” type of images. Make a list to get to your photographer on the family groupings you want. Then either their assistant or wedding planner can call out the names at the wedding to keep organized.
Enjoy every second of your engagement. Remember that once you say what you are thinking about, it will be open season for people to give you their opinion. If you ask for opinions, you’ll certainly get them. If you don’t talk about it, people won’t offer advice.
Venues, photographers, Videographers, make-up/hair artists book up fast. And bridesmaid frocks and wedding dresses always take longer to make/be delivered than you think.
- Everyone wants to handles things on their own. You’ll be much happier if you delegate to those that you know you can trust. It’s always a good idea to ask the moms to help — they will be so honored and excited. They’ve been planning for this wedding since the birth of their child. It will give you “brownie” points for your mother-in-law-to-be too!
- Be brave with color. Try to pick shades that are next to each other on the color wheel or directly across. Here is a calculator to help https://www.sessions.edu/color-calculator/
- Make your wedding day your own! Add personal touches that will remind you of that – from your stationery through to your decorations and favors.
- Include your man in the planning. And find things he will be interested in – odds are he won’t care about what napkin linens you choose, but he might be more interested in the bar set up or the DJ.
- When deciding how to decorate your tables, keep your floral arrangements, candelabras and details under 20 inches high (or taller than that), so that guests can view and converse with each other across the table.
- Are you covered in case anything goes amiss? If you are worried, you should get insurance. (And even if you aren’t worried, you should still get insurance)
- Look for inspiration in unconventional places. You can get inspired by the classics – flowers, decorations, your dress – but why not try something a bit different and take inspiration from films and other non-wedding related places?
- Don’t, whatever you do, look at the weather forecast. Nothing good can come of it, and what is more: you can’t change it. By all means have a Plan B, but love it as much as Plan A.
- No matter what you may think, you can’t handle everything by yourself – as amazing as you may be. Weddings are major endeavours, so enlist friends and family to help make place cards, tie bows onto favours, and run errands – delegation is the name of the game. Play it!
- When it comes to choosing your bridal party make sure you pick wisely: the work that comes with being a bridesmaid is more than it may seem at first. And don’t feel you must choose an equal number of men and women. Loved ones don’t come in boxed sets, and neither should your wedding party!
- Love your pet? There are all sorts of way you can involve in the Big Day – including making them the ring bearer! Or include them in your wedding day pictures – so cute!
- When signing any contract with suppliers check that everything you want is included. And ask at least two people to take a look at it too – sometimes it takes a fresh pair of eyes to see loopholes!
- Do you have an enthusiastic wedding helper? If you find yourself disagreeing for the sake of it take a step back and count to ten. Your life will be 10 times easier with their aid, you just need to find out how to work together.
- Road-test your dress with underwear. You don’t want to find that any and all kinds of underwear can be spotted through your dress on the Big Day. And you don’t want to spend your entire wedding day hiding the straps of your bra, either…
- Remember: you have to be able to move in your dress! A body-skimming, silk sheath dress, slashed to the thigh, may be beautiful but it will not be practical. You want to be able to dance the night away, don’t you?
- Think of your shoes and your setting – are they a match made in heaven? Of course you want to wear champagne-silk Christian Louboutins, but if you are spending a long time in a grass area – is that really going to work?
- Going dress shopping? Go with your mum or with a close friend who will be honest and will be able to make various appointments with you – that way they can comment on different dresses. If you take more than one person be prepared for a plethora of opinions.
- Wedding Day Look – when you go have your hair and makeup trial – a. Plan to do you engagement photos right after so you can truly see how the makeup looks in an image. Also, listen to what they (the experts) have to say they would suggest. You may have your idea but you could also have a great modern look that you’d never think of, if you didn’t given the makeup/hair artist a chance to give their opinion. It is a trial after all.
Ongoing post that’s updated monthly until we get to 100 wedding tips!
As a wedding photographer (and someone who’s been married more than 20 years), I’m in a position to hear and know that these tips are super helpful and so true. But you can make that decision for yourself!
Enjoy the tips and if you have another tip that you think is good, please comment below. I’d love to add to my collection.
Congratulations on getting engaged!! I’d love the opportunity to work with you, contact me by clicking here!
If you aren’t engaged, feel free to share this blog with someone who could use these tips — Thank you!! xoxo *Jen