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All in all it’s been more than a year since I got married in the summer of 2018. I’m not sure that this qualifies me as an expert in all things wedding, but recently I’ve started to get a handful of messages about the practicalities of wedding planning. I don’t mind, I’m usually pretty happy to chat about how we arranged everything and to help others if I can. In fact a reply I wrote to someone the other week – asking me if there were non-obvious things we would have done differently for our wedding – is what has led to me writing this post today.
I feel like I need to start this with a disclaimer: our wedding day was fun, we both loved it, but if we did it all again there are some things both big and small that we’d probably do a bit differently. Plus there are absolutely tons of things that we just straight up forgot about. Upon reflection I think a lot of what we’d change comes from getting bogged down with what we thought we should have rather than what we actually wanted.
So if you’ve found your way here because you’re currently planning your own wedding and are after some tips then I hope this list helps you with the process, or at least something here prompts you to pop something in your plan you might not otherwise have considered.
I’ll start off with one that is most likely to be bad advice and runs most contrary something you hear a lot: ‘your main expense should be your photographer as the day will only happen once so you should hire the very best that you can afford or you’ll regret it’. It gets said everywhere and, sure, I understand that logic but I don’t think it worked for me. I’m not advocating for everyone to completely leave out having a wedding photographer, more like I’m advocating for realising an all day professional photographer is kinda ~optional~
I’d argue that it’s worth thinking about what you really want and need with regards to photographs. I found that I was painfully aware of our photographer all day and felt uncomfortable being professionally photographed from all angles. I only genuinely relaxed once he had left in the evening, I feel that perhaps we would have chosen a smaller amount of time, or even half a day if we’d realised it was an option.
Worn My Hair Down (And Brought A Brush!)
I never wear my hair up, but as the summer of 2018 had been an absolute scorcher, I made the last minute decision to hire a hairdresser to pin my hair up with some fresh flowers. Sadly the day ended up being not hot at all, and my hair was so long and heavy that the style didn’t hold. With the help of my Mum my hair was unpinned after the first dance, but with no hairbrush at hand my poor hair hung a little flat and tangled all evening. I should have stuck to my original plan to wear my hair in its tried and true long style from the start, which in turn would have helped me feel a little more like myself.
Chosen A Reception Venue Based On The Indoor Space
Speaking of the weather, you absolutely cannot count on the British climate for an outdoor wedding no matter what time of year, so when you’re choosing where to tie the knot take note on how the inside space looks. There’s no point in hiring somewhere for its beautiful gardens if it’s too cold or rainy to use them. Our venue was a gorgeous riverside outdoor location, and we spent lots of time decorating the main marquee, but we didn’t do anything in the indoor/bar area which was relatively ordinary looking. I regretted that later on in the evening when some people started to feel the chill and congregated inside.
Eloped… (or done the legal bit separately)
When we first started the planning I would throw eloping into the mix as a bit of a joke, as we both knew our families would be really upset if we even considered it, but as time went on I have to admit it became very appealing.
With eloping off the table I wish we’d thought about having a private legal ceremony the day or week before the big party and reception. For me especially, it would have taken so much of the pressure off, as – believe it or not – I no longer enjoy being the centre of attention. It would have allowed me to focus more on Andrew and our vows, and less on controlling my anxiety and discomfort.
Tried My Dress On More Than Once
I bought my dress from ASOS some time before the wedding and promptly forgot about it while I organised other things. A week before the wedding I tried it on to show my Mum (who hadn’t seen it yet) and it didn’t bloody fit. Not even close. After some frantic Googling I managed to find the dress in a bigger size which my Mum then ran some alterations on. It was incredibly lucky, but all very last minute, ASOS even did me a solid and agreed to refund the dress that didn’t fit which I didn’t expect AT ALL. But if I’d just tried my dress on more than that very first time I could have completely bypassed the tense couple of days which I absolutely did not need so close to the wedding.
Asked Someone To Herd People At Key Times
Neither of us had a wedding party so there was no best man or bridesmaids, there was no wedding planner and we didn’t have an MC, so there wasn’t necessarily that default person (or persons) who would run the day for you. As a consequence our guests got a little drifty at times with no one to direct them where to go next. With hindsight, asking a couple of people to give everyone a prompt when it was time to eat or to head out so the tables could be cleared would have helped that part of the proceedings go a little more smoothly.
Put A Vase Of Water On The Table For The Bouquet
My bouquet was absolutely beautiful. It was a dreamy, colourful arrangement and I couldn’t have loved it more but by about 6pm it was looking a bit bedraggled as I just had it out in the middle of the table. I wish we’d thought to pop a vase of water on the table to keep it looking fresher for longer, especially as we had a few pictures taken later in the day and you can see my bouquet is a little the worse for wear.
Planted Some Guests To Join Us Halfway Through The First Dance
We went back and forth about whether to have a first dance or not, but in the end we went for it because we didn’t want to regret not having one. It felt like a pivotal moment, y’know? Sadly, it became more and more awkward as the song went on and no one came to join us on the dance floor. Basically, everyone stood and watched for the whole song, or got bored and wandered off, while I cringed myself inside out. We absolutely should have agreed beforehand with some of our nearest and dearest to come up and dance after a minute or so, it only takes a couple of people to do it and then others will soon follow.
Most importantly, we both took the success or failure of the day wholly onto our own shoulders and remained super tense until way after the speeches and we were drunk. I want to go back to the evening before the wedding and have a word with the both of us: you’ve done everything you can, if it’s not sorted now you can’t change it, and people will just get on with it and look after themselves so chill out.
In the end, did any of this matter? Yes and no. Of course I wish I’d noticed or thought of some of these things ahead of time but I didn’t. Neither of us did. We’re still married, we’re still very happy, and despite being a bit stressed out we genuinely did have a lovely day. Andrew still considers it to be the best day of his life.
As much as everyone talks about weddings and wedding planning or will offer you all manner of advice, you can do as much research and preparation as you like but it’s all a bit of a mystery until you’ve done the day. Of all the things we would have done differently for our wedding, the most important is probably that last point; relax and put less pressure on ourselves. As trite as it is, focus more on the marriage than the wedding and you’re likely going to be off to a good start.