Ten Things I’ve Already Learned About Planning A Wedding

We’ve been engaged less than two months, but already we’ve managed to nail the majority of the wedding planning. Our big day is six months away (I don’t hang around,) so we’ve had to crack on and minimise the faffing in order for it all to fit together and for us to pull off a pretty massive operation with not a lot of time. Having been to a lot of weddings over the last few years, I already knew a lot of what I did and didn’t want (and Josh was pretty clear that he didn’t want a massive formal day,) so it made the process simpler – but it’s still been somewhat of an eye opener. As we step closer towards our date I thought it was the perfect opportunity to reflect and share what I’ve learned to date about planning the biggest party of our lives.

1. Everything is more expensive than you’ll anticipate.
They tell you weddings are a costly affair and that the average one will set you back in the region of £20k, but what they don’t tell you is how much you’ll be forking out on flowers and a photographic memory of the day. I thought I had a pretty good steer on the cost of most things, but as soon as the word ‘wedding’ is involved it seems to rapidly double. Having budgeted a hefty amount towards the event I was confident we’d come in well under what I’d put aside, but in fact I’m currently about fifty quid shy of the full figure. Eeek! 

2. The perfect venue will help everything fall into place.
I researched to my heart’s content when we first got engaged, but without knowing what your venue will look like it’s practically pointless to set your expectations on something that might be completely wrong for you in reality. We’re getting married in an old manor house and barn, so everything is very Tudor-esque and rustic; as a result we need less polished decorations and are avoiding a colour scheme altogether. Deciding upon the location makes everything else fall into place behind it, so I’m glad we didn’t consider invitations and attire until we’d booked it. 

3. You’ll question your friendships and realise who’s really that important to you. 
One of the biggest things I’ve experienced (which wasn’t anticipated) is reflecting upon my friendships and deciding who the most important people in my life are. Some of those I deemed to be of utmost importance have actually transpired to be not as close as I thought; friends I rarely see or don’t often talk to have however become a really important part of my day – I can’t imagine it without them. When you’re spending over £100 to feed and water each guest it makes you pinpoint who is worth the expense and who you could do without. Harsh but true!

4. When you find the dress, you’ll know. 
As someone who’s always loved fashion and dressing up in general, I was surprisingly blase about the whole dress shopping thing. I wasn’t that fussed and knew I didn’t want the whole princess look, so it became something to tick off rather than enjoy. However, all that changed when I tried on my chosen dress and cried my eyes out! I approached the process practically and logically, but as soon as I stepped out in the dress I would become a Mrs in I was overcome with emotion; eye rolling my way through conversations where I was told ‘when you know, you know’ certainly backfired!  

5. Pinterest is an incredible inspiration resource.
I can’t tell you how many evenings I’ve wasted flicking through Pinterest and creating endless boards of inspiration. If you’re not sure what style you like, what will work with your venue or what can make the whole day a little bit more unique, then Pinterest is the ultimate place to start. I’ve created boards which showcase exactly what I’m after and have shared them with everyone from my florist and cake maker, to venue stylist and hairdresser. It’s so much easier to explain what you’re looking for by showing them. 

6. Magazines are pretty useless (and expensive.)
One of the first things both my mum and I did upon getting engaged was rush out to stock up on some bridal magazines. Not only are they eye wateringly expensive at around a fiver a pop, but they’re full of the same relatively useless information and recommendations that will set you back a crazy amount of money. My favourite was the piece on statement cakes, which started at £3000, and which designer shoes you should be wearing underneath your dress. Unless you’re a millionaire, magazines provide a great way to dream but provide very little practical advice; I’ve found far more inspiration, contacts and information on bridal blogs than in any of the magazines. 

7. You don’t need everything you think you do.  
It’s easy to get carried away thinking you need everything on your Pinterest inspo board and more, but in reality it’s often best to keep it simple – and it saves you some much needed cash too. We’ve cut out many things from our big day (including hay bales and an ice cream van) because it started to feel like overkill; the most important thing is to have some cute decorations and plenty of drink, because people are there to share in your happy day and not feel like they’re at a fairground.  

8. Get the big (and legal) bits out of the way first.
Sure, the most excting bit it deciding what you’re going to do with your hair or what you can source on eBay to decorate the tables, but the most important parts of planning a wedding are the stuff you need to book with the longest notice. I had no clue that people will literally ring up the registrar exactly a year to the day of their wedding, just so they can book their desired slot, or that suppliers can get busy up to two years ahead. Luckily our wedding is slightly out of season and on a Thursday so we haven’t had many issues, but I’m super glad we booked the big things (photographer, florist, registrar) first so we didn’t have to worry. 

9. It’s important to put your own twist on everything.  
Our day won’t be glossy magazine ready, but it will be a reflection of who we are as a couple and include lots of little twists that we love. From a Back To The Future quote on our wedding invites, to our unusual entertainment and non-traditional favours, everything will have our own fun little twist. I’ve been to so many weddings and you never remember all the fine details; what you do remember is the things that are unique (Sylvanian Families on the wedding cake) and the moments that make you smile (dancing to Gangnam Style on repeat.)  

10. Stressing about it doesn’t make it better.
So many people have asked me whether I’m getting stressed about the planning, and the answer is ‘not yet’. Right now I’m planning the whole thing logically and with perspective, because I know getting stressed or in a flap about it won’t make it any easier. There’s a lot to do, but having endless spreadsheets makes it easier to manage. It’s also important to understand it’s just one day and it doesn’t have to be perfect: you simply need two rings, all your loved ones and a tonne of champagne to drink afterwards. All the rest is supplementary.

What are the biggest pieces of advice you can give me during this planning process? What were the tidbits that you learned during the planning of your own wedding, or that of a loved one?

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  1. Katie Scott
    April 2, 2017 / 10:55 am

    One of the best things I got out of our wedding was actually the guests who turned up. It's fine inviting those who are obligatory – i.e. family – but for those who don't turn up just show how much your day means to them. We have grown so close to the people who did attend and we are better for it. A wedding really is a family event and they all want to help! #bonus Katie – Blooming Fiction

  2. Steph Hartley
    April 2, 2017 / 3:01 pm

    I always think I'd be so overwhelmed by the idea of planning my own wedding – everyone seems to talk about just how much there is to sort out! I'm glad everything is going well for you, and that you're not stressed out yet Steph – http://www.nourishmeblog.co.uk

    • Hayley Carr
      April 3, 2017 / 9:00 am

      There is a lot, but if you treat it logically rather than emotionally then you can tick off the majority pretty quickly. It's when people faff about the millions of details and can't make a decision that it gets complex I think!

  3. Anonymous
    April 2, 2017 / 3:48 pm

    Great post! When I planned my wedding Pinterest didn't exist and neither did bridal blogs really, for that matter. So wedding magazines were my obsession – I really wish I'd had the insight of Pinterest and bloggers to help me plan my big day. Maybe I'll do it all again for my 15th anniversary and use Pinterest that time! But no matter what resources you have, there's no doubt that planning a wedding is great great fun!

    • Hayley Carr
      April 3, 2017 / 9:03 am

      Do it! I think it's a lovely idea to revisit your vows – and it's an excuse for a party too.

  4. last year's girl
    April 3, 2017 / 8:42 am

    I think the point when I realised I couldn't give you any advice was when you said that you didn't want guests to feel like they were in a fairground… since most of our photos were literally taken in one (not planned, it just happened to be there – but they're some of my favourite photos).My biggest regret from my own day is that I didn't go up for seconds of that delicious barbecued food that we paid for. But you're a few months off worrying about that yet!Excited for you!Lis / last year's girl x

    • Hayley Carr
      April 3, 2017 / 10:47 am

      Haha an ACTUAL fairground sounds amazing!! And that's my priority – eat all the food and drink before everyone else does!

  5. Amy
    April 3, 2017 / 12:30 pm

    This sounds pretty spot on to me! The main thing that I found is that, although everyone will say 'do it your way' and 'don't compromise', that's actually not very realistic. Obviously you don't want to be compromising on the really big things, but being a little bit flexible so you can make sure that your guests enjoy the day / can actually afford to attend, doesn't take anything away from the day. I also learnt that wedding planning takes as long as you give it. You could spend months agonising over flower arrangements, but ultimately the flowers aren't going to be that much better than taking half an hour to look at some options and just making a decision. There are some things that take time (writing out addresses/gathering RSVPs!) but for most of it, you can choose to make it a lengthy process or a snap decision. I was very much the latter type!

  6. Elizabeth Anne Norris
    April 3, 2017 / 3:29 pm

    It's great to hear what you've learnt about wedding planning, sounds like you've done so much already. Well done and thanks for sharing. And you seem to have your priorities straight too, wedding venue, dress, legal bits and the rest will slot into place. It's interesting for me to hear your view on Bridal magazines too (coming from someone the other side of the fence, so to speak). I really hope your friends understand all your planning and decision making too. Enjoy planning your big day.

  7. Danielle Alexa
    April 4, 2017 / 6:28 pm

    This is such a great post, I have had to share it with my sister who is getting married. For me my wedding would just be a very laid back affair. I don't want a formal meal or speeches, I just want a big space with the people that I love and a laugh!Danielle xxhttp://www.fashionbeautyblog.co.uk/

  8. scottm
    May 4, 2017 / 2:00 pm

    Great post!

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