There are so many hidden extras and unknown qualities when wedding planning. It all seems pretty and fun on the outside but not given the proper attention it can rapidly turn into a stressful and less enjoyable experience.
To hopefully make things easier here are a few tips of the trade.
Never view anything that is not within your budget.
This is true for everything. Venue, dress, flowers, decor. You name it. Everything in a wedding has a price. Work out what price you want to pay before you waste time and money on options that don't suit.
Do your homework with suppliers.
When it comes to booking things for your wedding day don't just do it on a whim because you've seen something you like at a wedding fair. Go away, read the supplier reviews, look at what they have done in the past and get to know them a bit better.
Book insurance as soon as you can.
However, don't panic if you've started booking your wedding and haven't given thought to insurance. There is still time. It is such a small cost in the grand scheme of your day but will protect you if there is a problem with your venue, sickness of a key wedding party member or if a supplier becomes uncontactable or their business goes under.
Listen to those who know about styling.
This is not just styling your venue but also you as a bride. There is no one better to advise you on what will suit your body shape, skin tones and hair colour than a bridal boutique owner who as seen it all. By all means start with your dream outfit but if that doesn't work. Don't be disheartened, there is something out there for you and a professional boutique owner will find it.
Where possible attend menu and wine tasting, even cake tasting.
Most venues will offer this as standard, if you are using an outside caterer then maybe ask them if they are catering anything else that you can visit or if they do an annual or biannual open day for all clients to come and try the food. Most bakeries will offer cake tasting too. This is worth trying because you don't just want a cake to look good. It has to taste nice too.
Don't go over board.
There are so many nice things when it comes to weddings however, sometimes less is more.
Be straight talking with family and friends.
One of the biggest stresses when planning a wedding is dealing with what everyone else thinks. Remember this is your day and all that matters is what you and your partner want. By all means if you want help from your nearest and dearest then reach out to them but if you feel you are getting unwanted advice don't feel bad asking them to back off. It can also help to make decisions before consulting people. Be confident in the decisions you've made and stand by them.
Leave some cash to one side.
Most weddings end up finishing around 5% over budget. Make sure you have a little cash put aside incase this is you. If you don't end up needing it then great you've got some spends for your honeymoon.
Be prepared for the stress that is RSVP and non attendance.
Theres a reason wedding planners advise clients to send out invitations nearly 6 months in advance and that is because getting an answer from guests can be extremely hard work. Potentially causing rifts between friends and family you never thought would let you down. If you accept this before you begin it will make the process much less stressful. We all like to think of our wedding days as the centre of the universe but others don't, they will have existing plans or simply feel that doing something else is higher on their list of priorities. Don't be offended by this, simply chase them and if they still fail to respond class them as a non attendance and move on. These things are not worth falling out over.
Keep a paper trail.
Make sure you have a folder containing contracts and booking forms for all of your suppliers. Do not make a payment without a contract detailing what you will get for this money and make sure you get an invoice or receipt once you've paid. It is easy to get carried away with booking things for weddings. Many businesses who will supply you are independent, or even your friend but that doesn't make you, or them less liable to things going wrong.
Be realistic with your time.
Don't beat yourself up because at the beginning you had big plans to do lots of the wedding work yourself but in reality you never managed it. You will only be one of thousands of brides or grooms who end up mistaking how much work is involved. It is not a hobby. This is why wedding planners tend to do this as a full time job. Not a part time job around something else. It needs time and dedication. If you can't provide this don't feel bad about calling in someone to help. Even if it is only with the bits you're not enjoying as much as others.
I could be here all day sharing my planning knowledge but hopefully these few tips will take the edge off of what can be quite a stressful time. I am always happy to join in at any stage in planning a wedding whether thats right at the beginning before things take off or half way through when you realise things may not be going in the direction you initially wanted. If this isn't you and you're content with how everything is going then you deserve a great big pat on the back and a very large glass of champagne on your wedding day!
You've done a fabulous job.