7 Things I Learned When Planning My Wedding

If you didn’t catch my last post – I got married!

You can click here to read all about our wedding day, for details of my favourite memories scattered with stunning photographs.

Although our special day was beautifully autumnal and rustic, with the style of our photographs reflecting this theme, I also have a handful of black and white images that I absolutely love.

So I decided to use them for a more informative post!

As a self-confessed overthinker with a classic type-A personality, the process of planning our wedding was always going to be meticulous and thoughtful.

I’m proud to say that we pulled it off perfectly, while also learning a lot along the way. I’ve read a lot of wedding planning articles that all seem to give the same advice, so I hope I can share some new information with you that may help you feel more prepared for your own celebration!

Be a little bit selfish

It’s impossible to please everyone when planning a wedding, but the good news is that you don’t have to.

Your choices should reflect how you and your partner want your wedding day to look, regardless of other people’s opinions.

Be aware that your decisions may cause conflict, but stick to your guns and plan a wedding that best suits you. After all, it’s your one and only day to be a little bit selfish!

Elliott and I chose to hold a very tiny, intimate ceremony with only two guests – partly due to the pandemic, but also because that’s just what suited us best. We are so happy with that decision!

It did cause a little fuss, however, and some of my extended family members have chosen not to acknowledge our wedding, but I don’t let it bother me.

Everyone has different ideas of what a wedding means – some people see it as an opportunity to bring family together, while others (like us!) simply want to celebrate their love in a personal and intimate ceremony. How wonderful that there are so many different types of weddings!

I didn’t realise that our decision to have a tiny ceremony could be potentially controversial, but I would still do it again in a heartbeat. The most effective way to look back on your wedding day with a smile is to do exactly what you want, without worrying about other people’s opinions.

Hire a wedding coordinator

Looking back, I cannnot imagine our special day without our wonderful wedding coordinator Karin Tindall.

We were lucky enough to receive Karin’s services as part of our contract with Stratton Court Barn, but I would pay double to hire her again after seeing the immensely positive impact that she had on every aspect of our wedding day.

I only plan to get married once, so of course I didn’t have any prior experience of wedding planning. In fact, I’ve only attended a handful of weddings as an adult!

As a result, there were so many things that I wouldn’t have even considered without Karin’s input. From the entrance timings to the table decor, she was there every step of the way and we simply couldn’t have done it without her.

Of course, having a wedding coordinator takes so much of the stress and work off your shoulders – after all, who wants to spend their wedding day stresssing about the little details?

I know you feel like you can do it all yourself, but your day will run so much more smoothly if you let a professional step in.

Stick to your budget

Elliott and I pride ourselves on being completely debt-free, so we knew we wanted to pay upfront for any wedding-related costs.

We sat down together pretty early on to set a budget and decide what we did and didn’t want to include on our special day. It was pretty simple, as we were both on the same page – no bridesmaids, no groomsmen and a very small number of guests.

In fact, we ended up with just two guests – Elliott’s parents!

I’m happy to say that we didn’t scrimp on anything – all of our vendors and purchases were extremely high-quality, and for such a tiny wedding it was more expensive than many people would imagine. But we could afford it, and it was perfect for us.

However, I know how tempting it can be to go over budget when planning a wedding. In those moments, every pretty detail feels absolutely essential!

If you decide that you really do need more money, don’t just stick it on a credit card – find a way to earn it. Elliott and I both worked hard to ensure that we could easily afford our wedding while still meeting our other savings goals, and it was more than worth the extra effort.

Planning a tiny wedding also saved us money in ways that we didn’t expect – as we only needed our photographer for a few hours he was kind enough to charge us a very reasonable fee, and our catering was far more affordable than I had expected it to be.

A wedding is not worth going into debt for, no matter how beautiful your photographs may turn out!

Analyse your preferences

I cannot tell you how satisfying it is to watch your wedding visions come to life. But for this to work, you have to actually have a wedding vision!

If I could only give you one tip, it would be to get a good idea of your preferences when it comes to all things bridal – I used my trusty Pinterest board for this exercise, but you can use anything you like.

Most importantly, make sure to really study them in order to tease out all the finer details. Let me explain!

When choosing my photographer I made sure to carefully analyse countless portfolios as well as the inspiration photographs I had been pinning for months – what exactly did I like about my favourite images?

I realised that the shots I loved the most had a darker, more rustic quaity as opposed to the bright and colourful photos that I see so often. This really helped me to narrow down our photographer, as I knew Sam Bennett was the one as soon as I saw his portfolio.

I also saw that I preferred more staged portraits as opposed to the candid photojournalism style, which was helpful when speaking to Sam as it ensured that he prioritised this style of photography on the day. As a result, we got the shots that we wanted!

This analytical approach also came in handy during the search for my wedding dress – again, I examined all of the inspiration photos that I had gathered and tried to work out exactly what I liked about each dress.

It became clear that I wanted a simple gown with long sleeves, a low back and pretty lace details, along with a higher neckline and a slight train. I know it can be easy to get swept up in the world of princess-inspired ballgowns and intricate bodices, but at the end of the day that just isn’t my style.

I couldn’t be happier with the dress that I chose – I only wish I could wear it every day!

Instead of blindly following trends or settling for what you think you should like, dig a little deeper and try to understand your preferences – it’s worth the extra effort when you’re looking back on your special day.

Do a hair and makeup trial

I don’t wear a lot of makeup these days, so it was important to me that I still felt like myself on my wedding day.

As a result I searched high and low for a makeup artist with a light touch, who could give me the natural glow that I was looking for. When I found Lauren Wheeler Artistry I felt sure that I would be in safe hands, but I still opted to pay a little extra for a hair and makeup trial a few weeks before the big day.

I did this for a couple of reasons – primarily because I have sensitive skin, so I wanted to see how I reacted to the products that were used. I also felt that it would be a great opportunity to meet Lauren, as she was going to be such a key part of my wedding experience.

A hair and makeup trial can also highlight anything that needs to be changed and tweaked on the day – will your curls fall out after an hour, or does the foundation turn your face shiny?

I know it doesn’t seem that important when you’re in the throes of wedding planning, but you’re going to thank yourself when you look back on your beautiful wedding photos.

And make sure to listen to your hair and makeup artist – they have years of experience in the wedding industry!

I arrived at my trial with a photograph of the most beautiful, flowing waves entwined with a dainty hair accessory. Lauren told me in no uncertain terms that it would be impossible to achieve the same effect without hair extensions, so I took her advice and purchased the highest-quality extensions that I could find.

On my wedding day she was able to recreate my example photo perfectly, and I am still to this day absolutely obsessed with my hairstyle. I’m so glad I listened to her!

Add personal touches

We added so many special and meaningful touches to our wedding day – from writing our own vows to bringing along personal mementos, the entire celebration felt very much like us.

I have nothing against cookie-cutter ceremonies, but they just don’t appeal to me. I wanted something. that reflects who Elliott and I are, and I really feel as though we achieved that.

Don’t be afraid to personalise your ceremony as much as you want – venues and registrars are often more flexible than you realise!

Everyone was fine with the idea of bringing little Fujin to the ceremony, and our photographer was happy to capture some lovely shots of our sentimental items.

And of course, I highly recommend writing your own vows. There’s something really special about baring your heart to your partner, and hearing their beautiful words in return.

Adding personal touches to our wedding day was definitely a little more work, but the payoff was completely worth it.

Be realistic

I hate to break it to you, but even the smallest weddings have so many moving parts that something is bound to go wrong.

I’d read horror stories about the bride falling on her face as she walked down the aisle or waking up to pouring rain on the morning of a beach wedding, so I’d already promised myself that I would be realistic and remain calm no matter what happened.

After all, it’s only one day! If you end the day legally married, then I’d call that a successful wedding.

One of the funniest things that happened on our wedding day was when I broke one of my back teeth after chomping down on a breathmint! I had never had any tooth issues in my life (I hadn’t even had a filling!) so what are the odds that it would happen on that precise day?

Thankfully I wasn’t in any pain, and as the broken tooth was in the back of my mouth it didn’t show in any of our photographs. We saw the funny side of it straight away, and it became an amusing memory instead of a stressful one.

Being realistic about how you will look in your wedding photos can also help to avoid setting unrealistic expectations and will ensure that you love your images.

Most of us aren’t models, and we aren’t going to suddenly look like one just because a professional photographer is involved (unless you’re my husband, but I digress!)

Most likely, you’ll just look like you – but better.

I like to think I’m fairly confident in the way I look, but I still have some insecurities. Instead of burying my head in the sand and praying that our photographer had taken classes at Hogwarts, I worked on accepting them and acknowledging that they would probably show up in at least some of our shots.

And what do you know? I ended up absolutely loving our wedding photographs. I can see how happy I was, and I think I look beautiful – perceived flaws and all!

Planning a wedding is a major undertaking, even if your ceremony is as small as ours. While it may not be for everyone, I found that I enjoyed the process and loved seeing everything come together in the end.

Do you have any tips to share, or are you currently planning your own special day? I’d love to know!

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