The Do’s and Don’ts of Planning a Wedding

August 3, 2023


1. Don’t be superbride.

Your head’s screwed on, you’re focused, you’re excited. But you’re still one woman. Superbrides—those engaged gals who devote every waking hour to wedding planning, brushing aside all offers of help—eventually run out of steam and end up near the big day with favours unassembled, invitations unstamped, shoes un-dyed, heads uncounted. How do you avoid this? Call in your trusty crew before you’re really scrambling. Here’s a little secret: People want to help. So do yourself a huge favour and accept their helping hands. Then, once you’ve got a workforce of helpers stuffing your envelopes, sit back and have your toenails polished. You deserve it.

2. Don’t be bossy with your bridesmaids.

Firstly, you’ve asked them to be a part of your day. They have not forced your decision to make them art of your team. Well I hope not anyway! So do not treat them like they are a problem or in your way when it comes to your wedding. In the most traditional sense, your bridesmaids, in particular your maid of honour, are there to stand up for you as you take your vows, to act as witnesses to this loving event. Somewhere along the line, bridesmaids have become, well, more like maids, and to an extent there’s nothing wrong with that. These are your sisters, cousins, best friends, future in-laws, and there’s something sort of sweet about the way they gather around you, wearing finery you picked out, helping you pin up your bustle, holding your flowers. But some brides ask (or worse, demand) far more: They expect their bridesmaids to shell out for needlessly expensive outfits, to run endless errands, to wear their hair just so, to attend (and buy gifts for) countless all-for-you parties. Don’t let this happen. Be sensitive to how you’d feel if the tables were turned. Gifts to the maids are always welcome, of course, but a little kindness and care go a lot further than any pashmina shawl or monogrammed trinket. Remember also, even though your wedding is the main thing in your life right now, your bridesmaids do have their own lives. They have jobs, partners of their own, their kids or even parents/ grandparents they may be looking after. Be realistic in your expectations of them. Don’t expect them to drop £500 on your hen do when they have mouths to feed and a mortgage to pay.

3. Don’t make guests cool their heels for hours between ceremony and reception.

I once attended a lovely wedding at a venue in a rural area. Beautiful. I saw the schedule for the day, and there was a 3 hour gap between the ceremony and the meal. What?! I know weddings can’t be filled with back to back entertainment, but that was one hell of a wait until the next thing. The only thing there was to do whilst us guests stood around waiting for the group shots to be done and to be called in to eat? Drink! We drank! And to be totally honest, we were full on giggly tipsy by the time we sat down to eat. I don’t even remember the speeches! I know that whatever you book for your wedding, you’re the one footing the bill, not your guests. But keep in mind that your guests do need something to do during those “lull” moments on the wedding day. Wether it’s a magician, a live singer or even some lawn games. Guests need something to do besides draining the bar dry.

4. Don’t plan a difficult destination wedding.

The dream of jetting off to a hot country to have your happily ever after—you can just picture it, can’t you? Exchanging vows on top of a volcano in Hawaii… or how about on the beach at sunset in Barbados? Hmmm, nice idea, but will Grandma Rose be up to the trip? Will your teacher pals drain their bank accounts to get there? No, and no. Destination weddings can be amazing, but as with any wedding, it’s not only about you, it’s also about your guests. While some friends and families welcome—and can afford—a travel adventure, others will end up resenting the cost and hassle or simply decline the invitation. Make it easy for everyone by (a) choosing a well-traveled locale, (b) planning well in advance and (c) providing information and help (securing group rates, for example). Bon voyage!

5. Don’t go DIY crazy.

You know that clever bride who dyed her own dress and handmade her own invitations? Or the one who baked her own three-tiered cake and created her own florals? Everyone’s in awe of the women who can do these things, and I say good for them—if they did it because they really, really wanted to, and if they managed not to get stressed out. The point of these projects is to use your craft/sewing/baking/designing skills to save money and to put a one-of-a-kind stamp on some aspect of the wedding. But if you are really not the hands-on type, don’t drive yourself crazy hot-gluing faux greenery and folding fiddly favours until 3 a.m. Do only what you can, and beg, borrow or buy the rest.

6. Don’t let parents steamroll your invite list/ day. 

Back in the days when parents footed the bill and brides were traded as property, the guest list was more Mum and Dad’s idea of a good party than the couple’s. Times have changed, but that doesn’t stop some pushy parents from insisting on having the whole book club, golf club or garden club at the wedding. I’m pretty stone cold when it comes to this topic as I’ve seen it at many weddings where the parents have invited guests who the couple haven’t even met before. This is not a chance for Mum to show off to her work pals what a fabulous wedding she has thrown for her daughter, or for Dad to have another excuse to hang out with his golf buddies. This is your day. Just you two. And those there should be there for just you two also! Stand firm with who you want there on your big day. Stay in charge!

7. Don’t forget about your fiancé.

It may not seem like something you’d ever think you’d do, but it happens. We’ve got our heads stuck in a bridal magazine, or scrolling our Pinterest feed for hours looking at cakes, when all our men know is that there will be flowers at the wedding. We’re neglecting our regular TV and pizza night in favour of dress fittings. Listen up: You’re not just having a wedding, you’re getting married—to that guy over there, sitting on the couch, munching a cold slice of pizza. Put aside the bridal to-do lists and go give him a hug, would you? This is BOTH your day, not just yours. And there is still a world going on outside of your bursting at the seams wedding planner/ diary. So talk to each other. Talk about your life together. Talk about what colour you want to paint the bedroom, what you want to name the puppy you’ll adopt—whatever. Anything but flowers and centre pieces, please.

8. Do take inspiration from other weddings (but don’t compete).

With the amount of weddings that go on every day and the various things you can have at weddings, it’s near impossible to have something at your wedding that wasn’t at someone else’s. If it’s something small like the cake topper, or something bigger like the colour scheme/ theme. Do not feel bad for having something at your wedding that someone else you know had at theirs. Don’t get me wrong, don’t go copying someones wedding, make sure it’s a day that still represents the two of you. But I’m a big believer in taking inspiration from other weddings. (I’ve been doing it my entire career in preparation for my own wedding day!)

9. Do set a budget and try to stick to it.

It’s very easy to get carried away when planning your wedding. You’ve found your dream dress. The venue convinced you to book out all the rooms before even sending out the invites. You saw a good deal on a photo booth you weren’t even planning on having and snapped it up. Things can escalate quickly. You’re in the mindset of it’s one day so let’s make it one to remember. What you’ll also remember is the huge bill you had after that day was over. It’s not my place to say how couples should spend their money, but it is my place to advise them that their wedding day will never be worth putting themselves into debt for. Prioritise what is most important on the day. For me that would obviously be the photographer. Make that list from most important to least important. Scribble out the things that you could easily do without. And don’t be embarrassed about admitting that you can’t afford something.

10. Do have fun!

I know I know. Cut the cheese Helen! But seriously, have fun with your planning. Getting everything together, booked, made, delivered or whatever, is already pretty stressful, but you’ve still got your own lives on top of all that. Work, family, friends. Life is crazy enough without throwing a wedding into the mix! So tensions can get high when things get a bit much, and it’s important to remember not to snap or take it out on each other. If things get a bit much, take a step back, breathe, and figure out a way to solve it, together! Don’t make it your life. Set aside 30-60 minutes a day for wedding planning. Even if it’s just emails or making notes. Then no more wedding talk, until the next day.

Best wishes, warmest regards.


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ABOUT helen

At home nearest good company. Ever-focused on the experiences my job brings me. 

I know that this will sound so clichè to say, but I really do love my job. I live for it!! They say you should do things that make you happy, and honestly, knowing that the photos I capture can bring others such joy, that makes me complete.
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