Planning Guides: Wise words for wonderful weddings

If you're currently planning your wedding day, here are a few of our alliterative top tips for maximising the fun and minimising the stress on your big event!

There's a lot of advice here, so sit down with a cup of tea, or glass of wine, depending on the time of day, and enjoy.

You have your permission to roll your eyes at some of this terrible wordplay!

gut your guest list

It’s not always easy, but try to invite only the people you really love. Does that third cousin twice removed really need to be there? There can be family politics involved, particularly if relatives are helping pay for your big day, so have those discussions early on. Also, during your celebrations, try not to feel too much pressure to “do the rounds” with every single one of your guests. Spend the time with the people who matter.

blitz your budget

Decide on the things that are going to be really important on your wedding day. Obviously having awesome and fun photographers there will be a top priority! At my wedding with Phil I wanted to make sure we also had great food and drink, so some of our budget went there. But you’ll be surprised how much else you can sort out yourselves. For instance, nothing looks better for a spring wedding than £1 bunches of daffodils from the supermarket in vases from IKEA.

Craft beer themed wedding flowers.Craft beer themed wedding flowers.

You can also

bond over the bunting

as Phil and I did - we bought a cheap sewing machine and made miles of the stuff over several evenings at home. It was surprisingly easy and very therapeutic! We actually ended up with too much, but we managed to streamline our sewing 'sweatshop' and became a rather well oiled team. There was a slight chance that guests may have become entangled and trapped in the miles of bunting, but I'm pleased to say there were no friends and family caught in a spiderweb of bunting when we took it down the next day. Obviously it doesn't have to be bunting if that's not your thing, or if your sewing skills would make your putting look like a three year old has made it. It's more about if you can make something for your day, especially if it's together, then you are making special wedding memories before you even get to the big day itself.

Home made wedding bunting.Home made wedding bunting.

Try to think of things you may be able to do without. One example to consider is to

chuck the chair covers!

There are lots of nice touches you can add to your wedding, but having them all can mean your budget goes through the roof. You don't need every single wedding embellishment to have an amazing wedding day. Prioritise the details that mean the most to you and just choose those. Besides, I mean honestly. What ARE chair covers all about anyway? Whose idea was it to make a chair look like the ghost of some poor long-dead chair? A chair by itself looks… fine! It’s a chair! *hyperventilates* It's lucky Phil didn't want chair covers for our wedding, if he had he would have witnessed eye rolling like he's never seen before.

forget the favours

Full disclosure, we actually had favours at our wedding day. Phil didn't want to spend the extra money, but he'd designed awesome wedding stationery for us featuring our disembodied heads (which were also featured on our wedding cakes). I loved the idea of having these as badges, so that guests could randomly wear our faces, then take the badges home and randomly wear badges with our faces on at home too! Who wouldn't want to wear badges with our faces on? We definitely didn't need them, but we saved in lots of other ways so it was a low cost indulgence. If I hadn't thought of a quirky idea that I liked, we just wouldn't have worried about favours. They are a strange tradition; little gifts for guests. But when you think about it your guests are getting a FREE meal, so unless you can think of something that would be unique and mean something to your and your guests, then their 'favour' is some food.

Wedding favour badges.

take a taxi

You may have read in our previous post about our wedding day, tthat Phil and I got a taxi to our venue. We could have hired a swanky car, but it was a short distance, and as I always say "unless we could ride there on unicorns I don't want to know". Fancy cars for a short journey are another cost you may be able to save on. If you are in to your classic or sports cars then by all means make that a big part of your day, as it would be something that resonates personally. If not get your mate to give you a lift in his Vauxhall Corsa.

authentic attire

You don't have to wear a super expensive wedding dress, or a personally tailored suit. Obviously if you want to, then do so. But if you're buying expensive outfits because you feel you should and it's 'the done thing', then maybe stop and have a word with yourself. High street stores have some pretty amazing and inexpensive choices nowadays. Places Like Zara and ASOS have great selections. You may even find an awesome and inexpensive vintage dress or suit on eBay. Phil picked up our suits in the Next sale, for next to nothing (no pun intended). They are great quality suits, and we looked pretty dapper in them even if I do say so myself. The same goes for shoes and accessories. Also ladies TAKE SOME FLATS, by the end of the day you'll be glad you did.

Alternative wedding shoes.Alternative wedding shoes.
Alternative wedding shoes.

check the clock

Have an itinerary planned around the time-sensitive parts of your day. Allow lots and lots of time for getting ready, so you can enjoy the process and not get stressed, and think about the possibility of traffic if you’re travelling to your venue. If you’re having a ceremony with registrars it’s worth being mindful that they may be attending more than one wedding that day, and really need to start on time! It’s a great idea to

cut that cake

right after your ceremony. You’ll save money on not needing canapés and your cake will actually get eaten, rather than being ignored by evening guests who are already full of food.

Checking the time just before the wedding ceremony.

One thing you can’t control is when the sun sets, so

love the light

you get on your wedding day. We’ve had couples plan for a 4pm ceremonies in late December, if you're considering the same don't forget that it will be almost completely dark at that time of year! Winter weddings are beautiful, but an early ceremony at noon or 1pm is ideal. There are creative things we can do with artificial lights once the sun has set, but it's nice to have the best of both worlds, with lots of photos using gorgeous natural light. You can also consider a “first look” where you

trounce tradition

and thumb your nose at convention, and have some pictures of the two of you before your ceremony takes place. Make sure you

get out for golden hour

- there’s a magical period if you’re lucky enough to get a sunset on your wedding day where cherubs float about in the air, angels pluck at their harps, and the light looks fab! So if Phil or I tap you on the shoulder while you’re having dessert and suggest we get those shots, hit the floor running!

Faye and Gemma on their wedding day at Pendrell Hall.
Stacey and Aaron on their wedding day at The Wroxeter Hotel.George and Mark on their wedding day at Bridge House Barns

ghostly guestbooks

Guestbooks can be an inexpensive touch to add. Having memories personally recorded by your family and friends, ones that you can look back on and read can be lovely. But only if people realise your guest book is there. This is a lesson we personally learnt at our wedding. We left the guestbook out, but forgot to announce it was there for people to add messages in. To this day it is only half full which makes us look rather unpopular. We're not, we promise, but we could have ended up with lots more messages had we let people know. Maybe we'll just add some fake ones in sometime, like "I've never seen you looking so lovely as you did tonight, I've never seen you shine so bright Toby".

On a related note get guests to write

meaningful messages

otherwise you risk a book full of 'Congratulations, thanks for inviting us' in eighty different hand writing styles. Consider making the first page of your book instructions to your guests. Such as 'Tell us something that made you laugh at our wedding', get them to fill it with anecdotes of your day that you may have missed out on. Phil and I have a tradition that if all the other messages in the guest book are on the traditional side, we use our opposite hand to write something along the lines of 'THANKS FOR INVITING US, IT WAS NICE! THE DRESS LOOKED ALRIGHT' This then looks like a three year old has left a message, but as our friends know us well, they'll know it was us and love our 'alternative' message. I guarantee it will make them giggle when they look back on their guestbook, and amongst all the 'normal' messages ours.

Bridesmaids having fun.
Bridesmaids having fun.
Bridesmaids having fun.

delight in a dirty dress / smeared suit sang-froid

The alliteration is getting worse, isn’t it? I’m not sorry. Wedding dresses in particular are amazing collectors of of floor grime, red wine stains, and if we take you outside for some adventurous portrait shots, you may bring half the forest back inside with you. Don’t worry about it. In fact:

don’t sweat the small stuff

There may be some things during your day that don’t turn out quite the way you expect. Phil likes to tell the story of some fairy lights he bought to decorate our venue for our wedding day. We set up a lot of the decorations ourselves the day before. After winding the lights carefully around a pillar, he turned the switch on only to find that they didn't work. It was disappointing, but they were just fairy lights. A string of broken fairy lights weren't going to make or break our wedding day, so we just shrugged our shoulders and moved on. Remember, your guest won't know all your carefully laid plans. If something doesn't come together, or is missing, no one will notice. They'll be having way too much fun enjoying your wedding day. Our very favourite couples are the ones who just laugh and get on with having a great time with their mates.

A fun and messy wedding reception table.

Shouldn't should

Lastly don't get caught up in the ‘this is what a wedding should be like’ mentality. The word 'should' shouldn't be used when wedding planning (see what I did there?) Instead try and relate it with the word 'want'. You may find that it helps you get to the heart of what means the most to you, which in turn can make your day that bit more personal and unique.

We hope our tips are food for though, now it's time for me to hop on my unicorn down to the shops to pick up some milk.
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