The definitive guide to planning your 'I do' moment - without losing your bridal chill in the process
When it comes to wedding traditions, there are few so universal and all-consuming as the stress of planning. There, we said it. The elephant in the room has been announced, people! Because fact of the matter is, organising a wedding can be blooming difficult: from working out budgets and finances to having awkward conversations with distant cousins about why they're not on the guest list... There's a never-ending scope for awkwardness
#1 Swap 'should' for 'could'
One of the hardest things to hang on to during wedding planning is that it is your wedding. Yours! It belongs to you and your partner, meaning there will never be another celebration quite like it, because it's unique to the two of you. So no matter how many moodboards you make on Pinterest, how many Instagram screenshots, how many ideas you spot at other people's weddings... All that really matters is what you want to do, and how you're going to do it. Comparison is the thief of joy (to quote Theodore Roosevelt), so instead of thinking you 'should' do something because your best friend did it at her wedding, or you 'should' spend £3k on that expensive photobooth because you read about it on your favourite blog, take the pressure off yourself and your plans.
#2 Plan the wedding YOU want
Yes, that is basically what I just said in the previous point. But I'm reiterating it once more because it's such an important notion to hang on to during your planning - it's your wedding, so do it how you want to.
#3 Likewise, involve the people YOU want to
From bridesmaids to guests in general, keep it true to you when it comes to picking the people you want to include in your plans. Don't want any bridesmaids? Cool! Want 12 bridesmaids? Good for you! Only want to invite people you've seen in the last 12 months? Fine! Make it clear from the off where you stand on inviting 'extras' - people your parents might want there, long-lost friends from university, plus-ones you've never met before, children... Make a set of rules and stick to them firmly.
#4 Book a brilliant photographer
One of the most common regrets couples have after their wedding day is not spending enough money or doing enough research into photographers or videographers ahead of their wedding day. Booking someone whose style you love and who you can feel confident will capture your day beautifully will take a weight off your shoulders - and spare you crushing disappointment after the wedding day too.
#5 Care less about what society tells you to
From losing weight to having a jaw-dropping viral-worthy first dance moment - don't worry about it! This stuff is fine, of course - if it matters to you. But that's a big 'if' and so if it doesn't, then don't let it bother you. There's no point going through the motions of doing something simply because it feels like everyone else is doing it.
#6 Spend money on the things that matter
What matters to you will be different to what matters to another couple. You'll know what matters most to you - and if you don't, work out what it is that does matter to you.
#7 Avoid getting into debt
Starting married life with a heap of debt lying in front of you is a little miserable, don't you think?
#8 Let the professionals help you out
From a make-up artist to a venue stylist - leave the things you're not 100% about to the experts. They do it full-time for a reason, after all!
#9 Book your honeymoon for a short while after the wedding...
...Rather than straight after. Not only will you be spared the ~stress~ of trying to make sure everything is ready all at once but you'll also have a little extra something to look forward to.
#10 Decide in advance what you want to do with your dress/decor/details afterwards
Rather than shoving everything into boxes, work out in advance if you want to dry your flowers, sell your decorations, clean your dress...
#11 There's no shame in asking for help
From off-loading to your partner to delegating to your bridesmaids, the wedding is not solely your responsibility. There are people who will want to help you - whether it's because they should (cough, H2B) or because they're, er, contractually obliged.
#12 Shop around - but don't bombard yourself with options
Browsing is fine but rather than searching for one wedding dress and ending up with, er, 73 different possibles, set yourself limits: in terms of money, in terms of time and in terms of sheer volume.
#13 Borrow rather than buy when you can
If your metaphorical purse strings are on the tight side, work out if there are any elements of your wedding day you can put together without a price tag. For example, enlist the services of a talented friend to make your wedding stationery in lieu of a gift, or find out if you can hire your friend's amazing vintage car to drive you to your venue in style.
#14 Pick one venue rather than two
By which we mean choose a venue where you can have both your ceremony and your reception, rather than having to work out how to transport yourselves (and your guests) from Venue A to Venue B. If your dream ceremony venue doesn't offer reception functionality, at least try to book somewhere that's nearby, rather than a 20-minute car drive away.
#15 Avoid leaving things until the last minute
If the phrase "Oh, I'll do it next weekend" has been omnipresent throughout your planning, ditch it, now! Whilst having a last-minute idea is all well and good, leaving the actual fundamental basics of your celebration (dress, favours, cake and so on) to the last minute is just, well, silly.
#16 Worried about photos being shared on the day without your say-so?
Some brides might be cool at the thought of being tagged in a million-and-one photos on her wedding day - whilst others might flip-out at the thought. If you're one of the latter and the thought of an unsolicited shot of you with happy-tears mascara running down your cheeks brings you out in hives, do three things. One, request guests to not share photos of you from the day online. If that seems a little extreme, then on to option two: set your social media settings to 'approval required' so you can't be tagged in photographs without your permission first. And finally! To make instant sharing of that spontaneous Snapchat shot or Insta-video seem that little trickier, request the venue turns off its WiFi. Might not be popular with your guests but no one will be asking you for access to the WiFi password because hey - you're the bride.
#17 Don't spend every spare minute of your time thinking about 'wedding stuff'
Planning your wedding can be all-consuming - if you allow it to be. But don't! Instead of spending every waking moment thinking about all things bridal, give yourself lots of 'down' time; meet friends (and don't talk wedmin), enjoy an evening on the sofa with your love, read a book, shop without bridal intention... Keep as much 'normal life' going as you can so that your world doesn't feel empty once the big day is over. Plus, relaxing activities - such as chatting with friends, watching a boxset, mooching around the shops and so on - will help keep your stress levels under control, too.