With another busy wedding season approaching, I thought I’d take some time to sit down and share with you some of the top wedding planning mistakes I’ve witnessed or heard of. Let’s be honest, weddings should be about the marriage – however there are still a lot of important and pertinent details that need to be planned regardless if you are hosting a small, intimate gathering or a large high end affair.
Set a budget, then make plans!
It’s so easy to get swept up in the romanticism and insanity of it all. Wanting the best of the best is wonderful, but there are places that every single couple will need to compromise. Couples should sit down and assess what is important to them, make a list of pro’s and con’s to each and really hash out what they want. Setting the budget early allows for less heartache and stress later on. The worst thing is starting your marriage of in a lot of debt and regretting the choices at the end of the day. Every wedding is beautiful in it’s own way, so I always tell couples to remember it’s about the marriage at the end of the day – not the wedding. If you can afford it, do it, but don’t feel pressured into spending money on things just to impress other people.
Plan for bad weather
Outdoor weddings are SO lovely and the lighting can’t be beat, but it’s important to have a backup plan. Remember to ask your venue what their turnaround time is and try to leave enough time for the room swap regardless of the weather so that your photographer can capture your ceremony and reception details. If you have a spring or fall wedding, have umbrellas, blankets etc. nearby. In the summer time umbrellas can be just as useful. I myself have nearly fainted during an hour long ceremony in the direct sun, and your guests dressed in their best will appreciate small gestures like umbrellas, parasols and ice water placed in buckets.
Have a backup plan for your photography experience as well. Remember that a little rain won’t ruin your day (sometimes it can be quite refreshing!) but consider investing in a backup venue for photos if it is in your budget.
Mistiming vows and photos
Now, this is coming strictly from a photographer’s perspective! I have shot hundreds of weddings with formals and ceremonies that happen during the peak midday sun. Unless you have cloud cover, it’s going to make for much brighter images. If you want the absolute best lighting for your wedding schedule your ceremony for an hour or two prior to sunset with your formals happening afterwards. Only do this if your travel between venues (if applicable) allows for it. You can also do some of your formals separately unless you do a first look in the time prior to the ceremony. Let the sunset airbrush you perfectly!
Loosen up a little, ok?
Ok I am being cheeky. I am a perfectionist at the best of times. While of course you want your day to go as planned, you also don’t want to develop an ulcer planning it! I’ll say it again – it’s about the marriage! At the end of the day you are marrying your best friend and that is what should be kept top of mind. Don’t bust a cog if you can’t get the flowers you really want because it’s going to be O.K. Take your time planning, enjoy yourself (trust me it goes by way too quickly) Remember that things will go wrong the day of and that’s ok too. That’s what your vendors and family and friends are there for – to help where we can. If you don’t have a planner, appoint people that you trust to be key decision makers – people who won’t panic under pressure. “If the caterer is late or lost, please try to deal with it and don’t tell me unless necessary”. If you forget to exchange a gift or wore the wrong bracelet – don’t stress. After all, being calm and collected reflects in how you present yourself and how you look in your photos! It’s easy to let a myriad of things build up as well. Repeat the mantra “Let it slide!” Hint: Mimosas also help.
Lock-down that microphone!
Literally. Hide it. Limit speeches to best man, maid of honour, parents and a Thank You if possible. Not only does this ensure your evening flows smoothly, but your guests will thank you for it. People are eager to let loose and often leave right after speeches, especially if they take too long, or there is a long break between speeches and activities/partying. An open – mic is often a recipe for awkward disaster.
A lot of people don’t realize that one area you shouldn’t bypass in your budget is stationary and instructions. Your invitation suite should be a reflection of you, your theme, and your wedding location. Your invitation suite sets a tone for wedding guests so they know what to expect. The more detailed you are, the better. There are numerous professionals, and I am happy to recommend to you my personal favourites as well!
It’s YOUR special day
Sometimes, (ok I’ve seen it a few more than sometimes) a wedding can become a second wedding for an eager mom, or a stylish maid of honour. It’s your day. You definitely want to let your family have some fun, so be clear about specific things they can decide on. Often parents contribute financially to a wedding, but that also shouldn’t mean they get to call all the shots. Ask them right of the bat what they would like to have a decision on, and if you feel it’s too much try to meet them in the middle. For example, my in laws were gracious enough to cover dinner and had a few special requests of guests to invite that my husband and I didn’t know very well. They were just beaming with pride and wanted to share it with those closest to them, so we encouraged them to invite them. If you feel pressured or all of the changes/suggestions or backhanded comments are sucking the joy from your day, it’s time to sit down and have a polite and warm conversation. “Mom, thank you so much for helping us with the wedding, I’d love “x” and “x” to be decisions that Mike and I make, but would you like to handle the cake or this or that? We would appreciate that so much!” Let’s be honest – take a hint from moms playbook and play to her strengths with a warm and gentle approach.
There’s a LOT more ground to cover, but I’m curious as to what you think! Do you have any other tips, suggestions or ideas? PLEASE sound off in the comments or shoot me an email at [email protected] I’d LOVE to include your ideas!
Check out our latest post about looking beyond-styled wedding shoots!
If you’re in the thick of wedding planning, check out this post on why you don’t need a second shooter for your wedding.