20 wedding planners share their best planning tips
20 Expert Wedding Planning Tips to Achieve Your Dream Wedding
So, here you are, engaged and ready to tie the knot with the love of your life. That sounds very exciting until you meet the ultimate nemesis of couples getting married - the planning stage.
We've heard stories of brides-to-be usually getting overwhelmed with their wedding preparations. Where should we hold our wedding? How many guests should I invite? What should be our color schemes and floral arrangements for the big day? What's the perfect wedding dress for me? Which vendor should I hire first? Why is this so hard to do? I just want to get married!
While the common bridezilla stories sound a little scary, planning your wedding is more enjoyable than what most people think. All it takes is smart preparations and the right information to make wise decisions. To help you with your planning duties, we've asked 20 wedding planning experts to share their tips on how to organize and enjoy your dream fairytale wedding.
1. Trust your gut.
It's a little cliche, but I see couples getting caught up all the time in what they think they should do, or what their parents want them to do. The day is about you and your partner and you should have the wedding you want!
That advice also applies to vendors and budgets. If a vendor doesn't give you the warm fuzzies, there probably is one out there that will, so keep looking. And finally, trust your gut with the budget. Spend on what's important to you, and if a number makes your stomach turn, there are ways to save.
2. Be yourselves and make decisions on what is important to you.
Take inspiration from Pinterest, Instagram, websites, and magazines like Hello May. But be sure to make it your own rather than create a carbon copy of something you've seen someone else do. Don't ever feel like you need to include an element in your wedding day because it's what is socially accepted or what others are doing. If you don't like cake but love a good margarita, then ditch the wedding cake and serve a round of cocktails come dessert time - it's your day, go your own way.
3. Find the wedding suppliers who get you and your vision for your wedding.
When you're doing your supplier research, be guided by the work you see and their style. This doesn't mean you have to go for a cookie-cutter version of something they've done before. But picking a supplier whose style compliments your ideas means you can work together on something truly exceptional.
- Gillian & Ellie
4. Set your budget from the beginning.
Once you have this set, you can work out what type of venue you're looking for and how many people you can invite. From there, you can start to plan the fun stuff - all the added extras that make each wedding unique.
5. Dream big, educate yourself, and take your time in planning.
Dreaming big means allowing yourself to find inspiration from everything! Seek out the most beautiful designs, imagine bountiful menus, and imagine the world as a perfect place. What does it look like? How does it feel? And why do these elements speak to you?
Once you know what you love, and why it moves you, educate yourselves on the vendors that are available to you and the costs associated with them. Then make your decisions based on what matters most. You always want to tell a story and connect with your guests. Invest in the elements that will make a major impact, and remember to enjoy your day!
6. Make your wedding feel more personal and memorable.
One of the best ways to do this is to do DIY projects with your family and friends. When the wedding day is over, you’ll have so many special memories as well as paper flowers and other cherished projects you can hold on to forever.
7. Meet your vendors in person.
Obviously, you can fall in love with a photographer's photos, pictures of a wedding venue, or even some clips of a wedding band (and that should certainly be the start of your research). But I recommend physically meeting them too.
Let's face it - you actually spend more time with your photographer and videographer than you do with 99% of your wedding guests. If you don't gel with them (or their presence seriously irritates you), then it will throw the whole day off.
The key vendors to do a vibe-check with are the following:
• Photographer and videographer
• Venue staff
• Wedding planner
• Hair & makeup artist
8. Knock out all your wedding planning tasks 2-3 weeks before the big day.
The more things you take care of early on, you will feel more relaxed and less frazzled. Pre-emptively setting up a wedding website with answers to commonly asked questions from guests (like dress code, gifts, directions to the venue, etc.) can also save you a great deal of time in those crucial days leading up to your wedding.
9. Don't hesitate in using technology for your wedding.
However, technology comes with its challenges. Perhaps the biggest concern is the lack of intimacy on your guests' parts. There's no chance for social interactions with other guests, which is crucial, especially for Indian weddings. We at WeddingWishlist.com focus to overcome this challenge and help couples plan their virtual wedding to make it memorable and maximize the guest engagement & experience.
- Kanika Subbiah
10. Set a budget from the start.
It should be one of the first things done before any planning begins to happen. The budget will drive the number of guests and your wedding venue. It could also help you decide what is most important to you as a couple. We always ask our couples what are the three things most important to each individual so we can be sure to allocate enough funds to those areas to get all that they want.
Couples need to figure out who is helping financially with their wedding when creating a budget. We tend to see couples and multiple sets of parents contributing to the wedding. Hiring a planner helps to know if their budget and vision line up and how to breakdown the budget for each vendor or category.
Without setting a budget, the cost of a wedding can get out of hand fast. Money conversations can be tough, but they're imperative to have from the start to ensure a smooth planning process for you.
11. Always remember what is most important to you and your partner.
And make sure all your decisions reflect that. Try not to compromise on the big things that mean the most to you, and don’t fret the small stuff. This is your special moment. You want to look back on that day and think, wow, I did get the wedding of my dreams. You’ll be married to the love of your life, so make sure you remember to have fun!
12. Read before you sign any contracts. And learn to be versatile.
Couples should do their due diligence in selecting suppliers and before contracting any wedding services, including the venue. Do your homework and find the most reputable suppliers for your special occasion. Many couples still shop for the lowest price and find themselves getting what they paid for - the lowest cost and quality.
Budget for a contingency plan. Murphy's Law does exist. What could go wrong could go wrong on one's wedding day. That might include a tornado or even civil arrest. What is plan B? If hosted outdoors, do you have a plan in case it rains? If there's an unexpected protest taking place near your location, how will you deal with this situation? How is your venue prepared to handle such a situation?
Read the contract and make sure you know what you are signing. If you must cancel or alter your wedding plans, is your deposit refundable - and if so, how much? What is the time frame for changes to be made? What's included and excluded in your wedding package? What's your liability, and are you adequately prepared for those?
If you have questions about clauses in the contract, address the matter with your vendor. If needed, seek the assistance of an attorney to protect your interest.
Be flexible! Mother Nature does exist. Even if you've already planned specific flowers, weather conditions have a way of altering your choices.
13. Book your wedding planner FIRST before anything else.
A wedding planner can help you find the dream venue, the best vendors for your style and budget, and guide you through this overwhelming process from Day One. They avoid costly mistakes, know the "hidden gems", and can often negotiate for perks on your behalf. If you think about it, all of these services will already make up for the planner's fee. You also get peace of mind that this wedding professional will manage your planning seamlessly and with minimal stress.
14. Do your research!
Look around social media and find planners you connect with and have a style that aligns with your vision for your day. For example, if you're getting married in Sydney, follow the hashtag #SydneyWeddingPlanner. This will showcase the work of different planners around Sydney with different styles and portfolios.
A Google search for the best wedding planner in your area will also lead to a lot of fantastic planners. For example, try searching "Sydney Wedding Planner" or "Best Wedding Planner in Sydney." When you've found a possible candidate, be sure to read the planner's reviews online.
You can also ask around friends and family and see if they have any recommendations and if they had a great experience with any planners.
For added assurance on your part, check if the planner is afflicted with any industry bodies. For example, a fantastic way to find a wedding planner in Australia is to check whether they are the Member of the Australian Bridal Industry Academy (ABIA).
While researching, make a shortlist of planners you love and contact them for their package information. I would suggest you meet at least three of the planners. You'll be spending a lot of time with your planner over the next year, after all. So start building a great connection with them and be sure that they'll be a great advocate for you during your planning process and if anything does go wrong.
- Fiona Deans-Dundas
15. Get into the business of budgeting.
It’s alright to shoot for the stars when it comes to wedding planning, but your budget will set your reality. No one wants to be a broke-ass bride, so be realistic in what you can afford and what you want to spend. Prioritize this conversation with your fiancé, and remember to be open and honest about your expectations.
It’s rare these days that parents pay for weddings, so don’t rely on this. However, if you think they will or can contribute, have a conversation with them about this and factor it into your budget.
When setting your budget, break it down into key areas such as ceremony, receptions, apparel, stationery, entertainment, and beauty. Once you've set your budget for each aspect of your day, stick to it.
- Jo, Nat, and Sef
16. Don’t try to impress your guest with three cheap parties for the sake of it.
Be creative with your planner to have a simple yet effective welcome, which does not need to be a dinner. Focus on ensuring that you treat them well on the wedding day. As an extra tip: a good bottle always avoid headaches (and bad guests comments)!
- Fabrice Orlando
17. Don't sweat the small stuff!
Weddings don’t have to be the epitome of perfection. They aren’t fairytales. They’re real-life events produced by human beings, and sometimes, things can go out of control (hello, rain when you expect sunshine). It’s how you react and roll with things that make or break a great event. Besides, isn’t that what life is all about with your partner? Rolling through the punches and doing so as a team? Make up your minds from the beginning that you're going to have an incredible wedding day, and you will!
18. Be yourself and find the wedding planner that reflects your vision.
Let the planner guide you into the wedding planning process. Trust our experience, quality, creativity, and innovation. When you have to make choices, follow your heart and desires. It's your wedding, and it's all about having the best day of your life. Your planner will take care of each detail with precision and elegance. Each wedding is unique, created specifically for the couple, to whom we dedicate attention, passion, and professionalism.
19. You can choose how your ceremony will turn out.
The registrar handles the legal part of the marriage. That's given. But the ceremony itself can be conducted by a Celebrant. If you are a couple of multi-faith, not religious, more spiritual, or just looking for a different and personalized celebration, then a Celebrant is the person to book. They can conduct your ceremony where you want it to be. It doesn't have to be a licensed venue. It can be where you had your first date, your proposal venue, your back garden, indoors or outdoors.
The beauty of a Celebrant ceremony is that you can also include Asian rituals, songs, music, and more. You can also have as many people as you like, have live music, readings, poems, and even include your pets.
20. Don’t get bogged down in the details.
The faster you’re able to make decisions through the planning process, the easier and more fun it will be. There are so many big and micro-decisions for your wedding day, so as a couple, go with your gut. If you have differing opinions, that’s the time to talk about it and come to a mutual decision. Then move on.
Don’t sweat the small stuff. None of your guests will wish you chose a stemless wine glass over a stemmed glass. Go with what works best for you, make the decision, and stick to it.
The path to saying I do can be as fun and dreamy as it sounds.
You don't have to stress yourself too much to bring your vision to life. Just take the words of these experts! Remember, when your planning duties start, talk with your partner about your priorities for the wedding. When you have an end goal in mind, it would be easier to create a suitable budget.
Next, do some research before hiring or signing any contracts with anyone. Jump on the internet or ask families and friends for recommendations on the best wedding planners and vendors in your area or chosen destination. Don't forget to take a breather when things get too stressful or overwhelming for you. A simple walk to the beach or a romantic date with your partner can help you bring back your focus on your duties as the bride-to-be.
Also, remember to be flexible. You'll have to be open-minded that your original plans may not happen. That's why having a Plan B is one of the best things you make during this planning stage.
Lastly, relax and enjoy your hard work. Things are bound to go wrong, and that's okay. Don't worry too much about these kinds of problems. Focus instead on the reason why you're celebrating - your marriage with the person you chose to spend eternity with.