Having attended hundreds of weddings over the years as a photographer I have picked up quite a lot of useful information about one of the biggest days in your life. I would like to share some of my ideas about how to organize your wedding day. It is not a complete list but I am sure that you will be able to find something of use.
OK so you’ve just got engaged!? First thing to do is relax and the second thing to do is relax, the third thing is…you get the idea! However, whatever your budget or time frame, be organized and work out what would like and do some research and KNOW YOUR BUDGET!
Have you set a date? Planning and organizing for your big day can never start too early!
Think about what type of wedding you really want. Do you want traditional church or civil ceremony? Do you want a destination wedding or do you want to get married in pub or at the seaside? What about a rustic barn wedding with 150 guests or do you want a something smaller like just you and your parents or friends? The best part is, it’s completely up to you!
It may be a good idea to get a scrapbook – any ideas can go in here and your inspiration can come from literally everywhere. I suggest reading through wedding gardening, fashion and food magazines. Gather all the ideas that you can.
Try and work out an approx. number of guests you will be inviting before settling on a venue. The venue space can be an integral part to how the wedding feels and looks. Is it easy to get too, what’s local accommodation like? Book a venue that you both love and agree would be an ideal space for your wedding. When we booked our venue mainly because the booking costs were within our budget and the space indoors and outdoors were exactly what we wanted. The venue we chose went with our relaxed vibe; the event organisers reflected this. Look at the ceremony space and possible outdoor areas for guest to use if the weather is good.
Too many rooms open in a wedding venue can seriously cut the wedding party up and leave your wedding feeling a bit empty and cut off. For example our venue had several rooms that were all available to use but we made the decision to let the event organizer know we wanted those rooms to be out of use for our wedding.
Go with the place that you love and can afford, if something niggles you upon viewing, it would only be worse on the day. Lastly, be patient. It can take a while to find the perfect venue.
If, by this time it is all becoming a little too much, then consider hiring a wedding planner – seasoned professionals who will certainly make lighter work of all the planning. However, have you allowed for one in your budget?
By the way, did you have an engagement party? Make the most of the joyous time and share your news with a good knees up with all your friends and family.
Being in the wedding industry myself as a professional wedding photographer I understand not only the true value of good photography but also other professionals within the wedding industry such as florists, make up artists and wedding planners. Make time to research and look at wedding photographers, look at things like what kind of work they produce such as Traditional/Classic, Reportage Photojournalist, High Fashion or Natural Light. Look at how many hours they cover and what the package includes.
Check the style of image you like is consistent throughout the photographers work. A good photographer shouldn’t be bossy, they should be able to shoot without being noticed and take lead when required. Once you find someone, book them as early as you possibly can. Most wedding photographers we know take a small deposit (£300-£500) to secure your day with the remaining balance due a month or two before the wedding date. Remember, you get what you pay for and the photographs are for a lifetime and are an investment to your memories.
For us, it was about showing our personalities and keeping it as relaxed as possible. The word “relaxed,” can scare parents a little bit as they will be expected lots of formal shots, structure and want to help out but stand strong, explain you know what you want to do and tell them to relax. If they can do this, it will be the best wedding they ever attend.
Start looking at what kind of dress you want. Do you want a traditional style or alternative style? If you already know what your dream dress is in your head then go try one on nice and early. It might be your dream dress in your head but you might not like how it looks on you or how it feels. Book appointments and check out the different styles and colours. It might be a good idea to think about the length of time you’ll be wearing the dress and the location/time of year your wedding is. For example if your having a tipi wedding in a field in England, whether its summer or winter it’s a high possibility that its going to be raining and this might be a problem with a long dress. This doesn’t mean don’t get the dress you love it just means be aware that the dress may get dirty/damaged. This research is all good if you are thinking of buying a dress online especially for sending accurate measurements. If you are buying your dress online give yourself as much time as possible to allow for returns, alterations and delivery.
The invitations should be sent out at least 6 months before the wedding. This will give the guests ample time to ensure that they can join you on your special day. The design of the invites is again down to personal preference and budget. A lot of people chose the browse online shops such as etsy.com and other wedding stationers. It is becoming more popular these days for a more hands-on approach from the couples. A visit to the local craft shop and a little bit of inspiration from sites such as pinterest.com and notonthehighstreet.com is all some people need to produce their very own personalized and bespoke invitations.
This is where your personalities can really shine. Think about the details and other wedding vendors you might want to use on your day such as florists, make up artist, Hairstylist etc. Where can you save money to get what you want? We decided to save money by not purchasing a drinks package as from my experience I’ve seen these drinks go to waste or the quality of the drinks are questionable. We decided to book an ice cream van instead for our guests to use after the main afternoon tea had finished. We also booked a pop up sweet shop for the evening reception, which doubled up as our table favors. We got golden tickets made for the tables which could then be exchanged for sweets. Everyone loved these and it gets people mingling.
Think about things like the time of year in regards your flowers and their availability. It’s the small things like this will help you with avoiding disappointment and managing your own expectations.
Over the years of attending many weddings I have seen so many different forms of entertainment. Again, this will come down to your budget. Some people elect to have a caricaturist or a magician. The idea of a magician is a great idea as there generally is a lull after the ceremony while the bride and groom are having their intimate photos taken. The wedding magician can work around all the guests and can act as a great ice breaker while the wedding breakfast is being prepared.
During the wedding breakfast some people chose to have some accompanying music. This may or not be to your taste but there is something truly magical about having a violinist playing in the background.
For the night guests there can be the addition of what are becoming ever more popular these days – Photo booths. These provide a lot of fun as everyone has the chance to get snapped whilst dressed up with silly hats and masks.
These ideas and tips are only my opinion and shouldn’t be taken as gospel its an view point based on my own experience, ideas from within the wedding industry and planning my own wedding. Do what you want to do, follow your heart and have a great day!
Happy wedding planning and remember to RELAX