11 Essential Wedding Planning Tips

I don’t know about you, but when I planned my own wedding it was the single biggest event I’d ever organised – and I have to say, it was a little bit daunting.

I mean, this is a major exercise in project management. There’s an entire industry to deal with this stuff for people, you know – so take it easy on yourself.

You’re doing a great job.

And because I know how hard this can be, I’ve put together my top 10 tips. You get five today, and five more tomorrow.

I hope you find them useful!

1. Choosing The Dress

Apart from the fact that it’s much more fun to take your mum or a good friend, wedding dress shop owners may not always give you an honest opinion. Plus, you can’t always trust your own judgement, especially if you’ve got a fixed idea of the type of dress you want. It might not suit you! So make sure you’ve got at least one person with you who isn’t afraid to be truly honest. You might also find that they all start to merge into one big white blur after a while, so it’s good to get a fresh perspective.

2. Who To Invite?

Let me put this into perspective for you: approximately half your wedding budget will go towards wining and dining your guests. It’s always hard deciding on your guest list and your ‘cut-off’ point. But you must be clear about your numbers when setting your budget – and stick to it. Because the guest list is the one thing that could increase your budget by hundreds (if not thousands) of pounds. Adding one extra table of 10 at £50 a head will increase your budget by a minimum of £500 – and that’s before you add on the additional table decoration, invitations, favours, stationery… The guest list is something that all couples have to wrestle with, whether their constraints are financial, available space, or simply their preference. So don’t feel guilty or otherwise bad about restricting numbers.

3. Kids Or No Kids?

If you’re not welcoming children with open arms, this is always going to be a thorny subject. People’s children are the centre of their world (for obvious reasons) and most don’t stop to think that their children aren’t the centre of everybody else’s worlds too… It’s perfectly okay to decide on an adults only wedding – or invite all your guests children. There are other choices too, though: you can include immediate family’s children only, which everyone will understand. Or you could delight your parent-friends by providing a childcare facility or entertainment for the kids at your reception so everyone gets the best of both worlds.

You can avoid hurting people’s feelings by being consistent: if you allow some families to bring their children when you’ve said no to others (unless they’re members of the bridal party) your guests might not understand why.Remember, though: this is your wedding, and it’s your decision. As long as you’re tactful, your guests should understand.

4. Your Budget

Keep tight control over your budget, because it’s easy to get carried away. Believe me, I know… Start by setting your budget using the budget planner I gave you in Email 3. Remember my advice about ranking aspects of your wedding in order of importance? Decide what you can’t live without, and make those the priority. Cut back on the things that aren’t so important. For example, if your venue and food are fabulous, does it really matter if your table decorations are a little smaller? (And you can always make your own gorgeous table decorations – it just takes a little imagination.)

5. Get Organised

Before you start meeting your suppliers, have your Do List ready, get your budget planner set, and sort out a guest list planner. It’s a good idea to get a binder so you can file all your wedding correspondence, together with your theme ideas and other inspiration you’ve cut from magazines. You could also think about setting up a dedicated wedding email address so you can easily access all your wedding-related emails. Gmail addresses are free and easy to set up.

6. Write Down Important Numbers

Put your mind – and your groom’s mind – at rest on the day by having all your emergency contact numbers written down. You don’t want to be spinning around on the morning of your wedding desperately searching for an elusive phone number! Give them to a responsible family member or good friend, so if you need to contact any of your suppliers, the number is right there to hand.

7. Confirm Non-Standard Arrangements

If you’ve organised anything out of the ordinary for your big day, always make sure you get all the details confirmed in writing. For example, you may have arranged for the bar to stay open longer than it normally would. Getting confirmation in writing could save trouble later, especially if the person you made the arrangements with is no longer working there when your wedding day arrives. Check everything is still okay a few days before the wedding too – you don’t want any last-minute shocks.

8. Give Guests Directions

Make sure you provide accurate driving instructions to your guests – and if Sat-Navs tend to send people on wild goose chases, do warn people! Even better: you could include a print-out of a map with your invitations. Your guests will definitely appreciate it. Remember: you don’t want to arrive first, so accurate directions are a must! All my additional info cards are here, they all have my optional printing service

9. Timing

Be realistic with your timing and don’t leave anything until the last minute – it’ll cause you unimaginable stress, which is the last thing you want or need in the run-up to your wedding. If you’re anything like me, you’ll underestimate how long it takes to get stuff done, so always build in more time than you think you’ll need. I know that baking your own cookies for favours sounds like a great idea now – but will you really want to spend the night before your wedding baking? If you’ve set your heart on home-made favours, I’d suggest choosing something you can make far in advance, or asking a good friend to do it for you as a wedding present.

You want to be pampering yourself the night before your wedding, not slaving over a hot oven!

10. Put Someone In Charge

You’ll be so busy getting married and having a wonderful time on the day, that you won’t have time to make sure everything’s running smoothly. That’s what your bridesmaids and groomsmen are for. Consider putting one or two people in charge, so that if anybody has any questions or problems, they can solve them. Take your trusted friends out for a meal a couple of weeks before the big day and go through all your plans – as well as everything that could go wrong – and make sure they know what to do. It’s one less thing for you to worry about – and it’ll make a big difference.

11. Savour Each Moment On The Day

Your wedding day will fly by at lightning speed, so be sure to soak up every single moment! Don’t worry about anything that goes wrong – on my wedding day, it was boiling hot and the hotel’s air conditioning wasn’t working. However, there was absolutely nothing I could do about it, so I didn’t let it spoil any part of my day – and my guests all had a lovely time anyway.