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5 Tips from a Wedding Planner

There is an abundance of help and advice out there which on one hand is useful because you’re only a couple clicks away from hundreds of people who have taken to social media or blogs to share their mistakes or display their great ideas. But on the other hand, this easily accessible information can be incredibly daunting and leaves you feeling overwhelmed with all things planning as you struggle to keep a set vision for your day.

With 10 years experience in planning, coordinating and running of various events, I have picked up my fair share of tips and advice that I would gladly pass on to those planning a special event or wedding. By keeping it honest and short, my aim is to not bamboozle people but for the advice below to be as useful as possible. So when reading remember to take the bits that are relevant and helpful and put everything else to one side!

#1 - Plan for you, not your family & friends.

When it comes to making decisions, especially about big things, we do look to family and friends for help. However, if you are easily swayed or not great at making decisions then it is easy to see why people find wedding or event planning such a minefield. Before long you will have lost track of what you had envisioned in the first place and the whole thing fills you with dread rather than excitement. This is not a position I would like a Bride or Groom to find themselves in!

Now don’t get me wrong, there are certain criteria that without question you will happily take into consideration especially, if they hold significant importance and are in line with your wishes for your day. For example, choosing a venue depending on accessibility options is something you would put at the top of the list when venue searching as maybe a family member has difficulty in walking so will come in a wheelchair. Considering the day would not be the same without them, you will find a venue that ticks your boxes whilst also being suitable to their needs. Super - everyone is happy! However, it is the not so obvious requests or suggestions from others that can so very often snowball or drag you away from what you want and all of a sudden you no longer recognise your day.

I once worked at a venue, that let’s say was not your usual church or hotel venue so the parents were not convinced it was the right choice, aka not the ‘traditional choice’ for their daughters wedding. However the Bride and Groom were in love with the venue and thankfully decided to hold their ground and booked their date. In the lead up to the big day, there were further occasions where the parents had voiced their worries and I always assured them on the day itself they would be pleasantly surprised. When the day finally came around, they later admitted that despite not being able to see the vision at first, they were won over and the venue was absolutely perfect for the couple as it suited their style much better than any traditional venue could have. I was so thrilled this Bride & Groom had decided to continue with their vision despite concerns coming from close family because they had the day they wanted.

Another major note that I would be remiss to mention in this section is do not plan your wedding for the ‘gram'. We of course, want to think that pictures posted by you, or your suppliers, will be liked more than most because it's different or just flat out gorgeous. In most cases this will absolutely be the case, however if your sole aim is to get those 'likes' you are creating your wedding vision for people you've never met before and not yourself. Staying true to you and planning in those quirky and personal details, by default, makes your day stand out from the rest.

#2 - Be comfortable

Now, I always remember one bride, very early on in my career, who had this very bejewelled, corseted princess dress. It was beautiful but during her wedding breakfast she had to ask a friend to completely undo the corset so she could eat and sit. Then, for the rest of the day she had her dress hanging off her body because the rigidity of it was too uncomfortable to be done up again for the dancing and evening buffet… No no no! No matter how beautiful that dress may be, if you cannot wear it through the day or do not feel like yourself in it, then it will have impact on how you feel and when looking back, trust me that will niggle! I'm not only aiming this piece of advice at the ladies, the same can definitely be said for the gents out there. I have seen my fair share of Grooms putting something on they've only seconds before taken out of its original packaging and realising that it's super uncomfortable (biggest culprit: new shoes!). So please, please, please try the stuff on beforehand and make sure it will see you through the whole day and not just through the ceremony.

This piece of advice does not just extend itself to what you’re physically wearing, but most importantly to the day itself. We’ve all been in situations that have made us uncomfortable or have pushed us outside of our comfort zone, however these are not scenarios I feel we should be allowing in on such an important day. So if you’re not a fan of dancing and the thought of that first dance fills you with dread then don’t have one or the thought of standing up in front of everyone and talking makes you wish the floor would swallow you up, then you don’t have to do a speech. If you think outside the box and plan things that actually make you happy and comfortable you may find a completely new way to freshen up those ‘traditional’ aspects . For example, with the first dance, you could have one with just the two of you at the end of the night when no one is watching, or do the speeches informally during the drinks reception rather than with everyone sitting down watching you. There are so many options that can be tailored to ensure they fit in with you as a couple, you as individuals, and your hopes for the overall day. The joy of making the day exactly how you want it is the best bit, so don’t feel restricted by the traditional timeline of events, think outside the box to ensure you are comfortable both physically and mentally.

#3 - Nobody remembers all the details.

Now this one pains me to write a little because I live for the details no matter how small they are - but that is why I do the job that I do! However, it is safe to say I am in the minority here and most people do not notice, and certainly do not remember every aspect of a wedding day. So for this very reason, if you find yourself too stressed or falling out of love with planning because you feel like certain aspects aren’t coming together exactly as you had envisioned then please do take a moment and do not worry. I’m absolutely not saying that these things are not important because they are, and exactly what a wedding planner lives for, but as I mentioned before - other guests do not notice to the same level as you may think. The two things that guests take from weddings are: was the food good and did they have a good time / was the entertainment good. The rest of the details are forgotten about - trust me! So if you’ve ticked both of those then the day was a huge success with your guests.

#4 - There is time for spontaneity.

Again, not an easy one to mention as this does go against my time management, spreadsheet loving self but even I can admit that those spontaneous moments can totally make your day and more often than not are the ones you remember the best.

It is very easy to find yourself focused on the timings of the day and make sure you are sticking to schedule, which is every wedding planners dream, but I’ve had plenty of occasions where brides or grooms have made the decision to do something for them, that had not been planned and it has always turned out for the best. Now, I know in some cases you can be more limited and it may not lend itself to going off course but it is important for you to know there is an option out there it just takes some shuffling about. It is better for you to be enjoying the day to its fullest, whatever that entails rather than restricting yourself and not mention it as you are worried about time keeping.

The way I go about this, as a wedding planner is to always have little pockets of extra time throughout the day so that if a part of the day finished early or even on time then you know you’ve still got a bit more time to play with should you need it. I was once running this wedding and the bride and groom found themselves enjoying the drinks reception so much that they asked it to be extended by 30 minutes. After some rejigging back of house, it was possible to work in the extra time needed - mainly for more fizz drinking and to enjoy the always unexpected Scottish sunshine!

#5 - Do not leave any of that to-do list for the morning.

After many many months of planning and sorting out every last detail in your own time, it is hard to imagine that eventually the day will come around and all of this planning will finally come to life. But those last few weeks of final decision making and confirming details do creep up on you, and is amplified further when family and friends start arriving for your big day! Where you were once calmly planning what you need to do the morning of, it is easy to understand how you could be lulled into thinking that a seemingly small and unobtrusive last minute tasks would not make that much difference. But from experience, those who have had to start the day with ticking off those final things have had unnecessary worry to deal with. And don’t forget, this is the time all your wonderful chosen suppliers (and maybe wedding planner?) come into their own and are busy bringing your vision to life for you.

I once had a bride tell me that she was going to bake her wedding cake the morning of the wedding. After my alarm bells had finally stopped ringing, I did mention my concerns for this plan as it would no doubt take longer than she had expected, cause unnecessary worry and most importantly take her away from a morning that should be relaxed and memorable (memorable for all the right reasons, not the kind that make you look back and wince). Despite my best efforts, she went ahead with the plan and it was only when I saw her later on did she admit the plan wasn’t one of her best and she should have done things differently.

As you will have gathered, my advice here is simple. Keep the morning for both Groom and Bride as free as possible, if not completely free to just get ready and enjoy the morning that you want, not one filled with things you have to do or that pull you away in various directions.

There we have it…

10 years of planning, coordinating and running many weddings and events boiled down into five most useful tips, but with one underlying message - plan in the bits you like and get rid of all the bits you don’t. That way you can look back on your day and say ‘Yes - that was exactly how I wanted it and it was amazing!’


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