Hindsight is a wonderful thing so we asked some of our favourite brides to share the lessons they learnt on their journey to the altar. Bring on the wedded wisdom...
Nothing will ruin your day
“I wish I had told myself there were bound to be small glitches – including my veil getting caught in the door before I walked down the aisle, forgetting to bring my bouquet with me for the bride and groom photos and the candles not being placed the right way on the tables – they all happened! More importantly, I wish I had known my guests wouldn’t notice and none of these things would ruin my day.
Another tip is to try as many different styles of dresses as you can – especially the ones you think won’t suit you. I ended up wearing a full-skirted gown which was nothing like what I had originally envisaged, it also happened to be the first dress I tried on. Though I didn’t know it at the time, it ended up being the one.”
Emma Hawke, co-founder of Hawke & Hughes Wedding Planners
Delegate as much as you can!
“I wish I had hired a wedding planner so I could have relaxed more. We kept our wedding at Highclere Castle simple, with just 65 guests, but looking back it would have been lovely for someone to work out the timings of everything and liaise with the venue.”
Suzanne Neville, bridalwear designer
Stay true to your personal style
“I remember people asking me what kind of bride I would be and I had no idea! Gradually I found my bridal look and realised as much as I like to play with fashion, on this occasion I would choose my personal style over the latest trends. This became a staple I kept in mind for every part of my wedding and I soon learnt how to take inspiration from magazines while still putting my own stamp on the day.
A dress, flower or menu might have been used before, but your own colour theme and venue will give it a new look so don’t put pressure on yourself to unearth something new with each detail. Music was a big part of our day and we loved choosing songs which reminded us of our milestones together, such as meeting and going on our first holiday. We learnt catering for the music tastes of different generations is a winner, too.
Oh, and let your maid of honour and loved ones sort out any niggles; relax and smile.”
Martine McCutcheon, actress
It's decision time...
"I wish I had known that while having a marquee is a great idea, it’s also harder to organise. It’s fun being able to choose everything from the glasses to the cutlery, but it does literally mean you have to choose everything. There will come a day when you’ll fi nd yourself pondering over the style of six different water jugs and might need to have a word with yourself.
Also, prioritise your budget. Opting for a hog roast and a fantastic DJ might be a better option than serving four courses, dressing five bridesmaids and buying gifts for everyone if it means spreading the budget thinly on everything else.”
Nicola Elliott, founder and director, Neom Organics
Look after your pennies...
“...And the pounds will look after themselves. I had some amazing ideas, like a lawn full of plastic fl amingoes, a bouncy castle and giant illuminated letters, but for every bright idea I didn’t think about the budget. We bought 10 enamel buckets with our names written on them but, at £50 each, they became expensive buckets! I wouldn’t change a thing looking back, but perhaps I would’ve been more money-conscious.”
Kate Halfpenny, bridalwear designer
Don't let your big day take over your life
“I could easily have let my wedding plans with Tom (Fletcher, from McFly) take over my life, but no matter how tempting it is, it’s best not to mull over favour ideas for hours on end. Make sure you still focus on all the other important things in life including work, family and friends. Luckily, I started writing Billy and Me just after I got engaged and it really gave me something to focus on – it also helped me avoid the post-wedding blues!
Also try not to worry about keeping everyone happy, because no matter how hard you try you’ll never please everyone and there’s no point in losing sleep over it. Make sure you enjoy every second of the planning, before you know it it’ll be someone else’s turn!”
Giovanna Fletcher, author of Billy And Me (£6.99, Michael Joseph - Penguin)
“As a fairly last-minute person I found the organisation side of planning my wedding quite stressful at first, especially when my guests started asking questions about hotels and how to get to the venue, and I realised I didn’t yet know the answers!
Eventually we set up a wedding website on www.gettingmarried.co.uk and it really was the best thing we could have done. We wish we’d done it sooner. It’s free and the whole template is there ready to go. It has loads of information, from directions to places to stay, links to reviews of the nearby hotels as well as their distance from the venue, and even a gift list. It meant I could update my guests as I planned my wedding as well as collate all of our acceptances, whether for day, evening or overnight guests, in one place.
Another tip we learnt is to research the vendors your venue recommends, because they don’t always prove to be the most cost-effective.”
Rachel Riley, television presenter, Countdown
Remember it's your wedding
“I became obsessed over the smallest details and spent hours worrying about what everyone else’s perception of the day would be. Looking back now, all those moments spent fretting were wasted energy; all that mattered was that we had a fantastic day. From colour palettes to cake flavours, couples are bombarded with big-day inspiration and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the decisions you need to make.
While the details do make a difference to the overall styling on the day, it’s important to stay focused on those that are meaningful to you. Remember, if you’re having a ball, everyone else will too!”
Jo Kent, director of Something Blue PR
Enjoy every second
"Have fun in the moment. Don’t over-think your day or try to make everything fall into place, trust that it will all work itself out without you orchestrating every little thing! The night before your wedding you should be relaxing and preparing rather than panicking about every eventuality.”
Louise Redknapp, television presenter and co-founder of Wild About Beauty
Image: Catherine Harbour