Tips & Tricks For Planning Your Wedding
One of the HUGE bonuses of being a wedding photographer is that I’ve had the opportunity to learn so much about planning a wedding. Whether it’s been advice from fellow suppliers, hacks from my amazing couples (you lot really are the best) or things I picked up back in the days when I worked in marketing (yep, I used to organise the odd event), here are some of my favourite tips and tricks I’ve picked up.
No.1 How To Break In Wedding Shoes
My advice, go to the supermarket. I know it sounds nuts, but think about it. Your supermarket has smooth clean floors level floors, perfect for breaking in your shoes without any risk of them getting ruined, plus you can lean on your trolley if they begin to pinch.
No.2 Think About Parking
Consider reserving spaces at your wedding venue for key guests. People like your registrar or even any elderly guests that may struggle walking too far. It’s a very small gesture, but they will really appreciate it.
I could write an essay on sparklers, but here are some top tips:
Get permission from your venue before the big day as not everywhere allows them
Remember to buy lighters
Have buckets of sand ready to dispose of them safely
Rather than having a sparkler exit, what about having a sparkler entrance? Check when sunset is and have sparklers light your way to your evening reception and first dance, it makes an amazing grand entrance
Rain, wind and wet grass are not a great combination when you have sparklers, so if the weather doesn’t look great, swap your sparklers for glow sticks for a safer (and cool coloured) alternative.
No.4 Rain On Your Wedding Day
Don’t worry if it rains on your wedding day, it’s actually meant to be good luck.
My advice though is bulk buy clear dome umbrellas from Amazon or eBay. I have a car full of these, they are so useful! The dome keeps your hair and makeup looking good, but being clear means you’re not hidden in shadow and we can still see your face.
Trust me, photos with a clear umbrella can be just as much fun! Plus, who doesn’t love having a Mary Poppins moment!
No.5 Four-Legged Guests
I love dogs at weddings, dogs at engagement photoshoots, dog at family shoots, basically, I LOVE dogs.
However, if you are planning on having your fur baby attend your special day, make sure you have someone assigned to look after them the WHOLE day. Someone who can love and adore them, as well as take them outside for a discreet break
This seems to confuse everyone, so here’s how you rock a buttonhole.
Traditionally, Grooms, Groomsmen and Father of the Bride wear buttonholes on their left on the widest part of their lapel (roughly over their hearts).
Whilst the Mother of the Bride and Mother of the Groom wear corsages on their right.
There are loads of different ways of attaching them, from pins to magnets (personally, I’m a fan of safety pins) and it depends a lot on how big the buttonhole is. So before the big day, ask your florist if they can either write down or just make a small video about how to attach them. It will save you a lot of time and a lot of confusion on the big day.
No.7 Personalise Your Wedding Ceremony
Fact: At the time, brides would vow to “love, cherish and obey” their new husband, however, Princess Diana REFUSED to say obey and changed her wedding vows.
If Princess Diana can personalise her wedding vows, why not you!
I love personal wedding vows
From giving flower crowns instead of rings, handfastings and even a couple who vowed to always make the other a cup of tea even if they were arguing, make your wedding vows about you as a couple for a truly personal ceremony.
No.8 When To Send Out Wedding Invitations
When we’re able to have big weddings again, you’re going to want to invite everyone, but when should you send out the invitations?
The recommendation is 3 months as that seems to be the sweet spot for people to get organised and get back to you. However, I do have a few things you need to think about before you schedule your invites:
Do you have any guests flying in? Give them as much notice as possible so they can find the perfect flight.
Check if there are any local events happening the same weekend. I once went to a wedding that was the same weekend as their local marathon and all the hotels had been booked up months in advance.
When do your caterers need the final numbers by? Make sure you add a buffer so you have time to chase guests for their RSVPs.
What do your guests do for a living? This might be a really odd consideration, but in my family, it’s a necessity. My mother runs a Foot Clinic and is always booked up a few months in advance, my sister is in a band, so is booked at least 6 months in advance, then there’s me and I already have weddings booked in for 2 years in advance. Trying to invite my family to an event on a Saturday is a nightmare, so if you have guests who are equally as awkward, maybe send them a save-the-date well in advance.
No.9 Remembering Those Who Can’t Be There
I’ve seen so many beautiful ways of remembering those who can not be there. Here are a few of my favourites that may inspire you if you are looking for a way for them to be there:
Whether they are hidden on bouquets or on lapels, pins are a beautiful addition.
Wearing their jewelry or re-purpose it, necklaces can be turned into subtle tiaras and earrings into charms easily.
Have a beautiful framed photo of them on display.
Play their favourite song during the reception.
If they had a sweet tooth, why not serve their favourite dessert, or maybe even create a cocktail in their honour.
Whatever you choose, it will beautiful
No.10 Keeping Guests Warm At An Outdoor Wedding
I LOVE fire pits, but not all wedding venues allow them.
If you want to keep the outdoor celebrations going, have a basket full of soft blankets for your guests so they can wrap themselves up to keep toasty.
No.11 Wedding Accidents
I’ve seen wedding dresses rip, shirts get stained and at one wedding I had to put my camera down to sew a bridesmaid into a dress as the zip broke.
These might sound like nightmare situations, but I’m here to tell you DON’T PANIC, here are my top tips for dealing with the unexpected:
Firstly, surround yourself with your own personal dream team. Whether it’s your wedding party or suppliers, having people around you who are happy to step in and help in any situation is amazing.
Pack a sewing kit and stock it with a couple black, white and clear buttons.
Pack a plain white shirt in case someone needs a quick change.
I love Tide Stain Removal pens, obviously, check they are suitable for the fabric first, but they are brilliant for small stains.
Have antacid and your favourite headache medication on hand just in case.
Pack a pair of plain black flipflops, brilliant for anyone who’s shoes begin to pinch.
Have a written list of all your suppliers’ phone numbers, yes it’s great having them on your phone, but if your battery dies it becomes a problem.
Remember your phone charger.
Most importantly, remember to take 5 deep breaths. No problem is too big when you are surrounded by those who love you
No.12 Toilet Goodie Baskets
I bet you weren’t expecting me to talk about toilets during this month of wedding advice, but let me explain.
My couples have been super sneaky and have been placing a basket of goodies in their wedding venue toilets. Everything from deodorant, mints, sanitary products, hair products to glitter and stick-on tattoos.
It’s such a simple thing to do, but these goodie baskets are always a HUGE HIT and are massively appreciated by all the guests.
No.13 The Cake
I’m not going to tell you what flavour to get (although gluten free salted caramel is the best) this is about what to do with your cake.
After choosing such a beautiful, delicious creation, I have seen wedding cakes hidden in dark corners unloved. Please don’t do that, they are works of art and you want to show that off!
Here are my top tips about where to put your wedding cake.
Place your cake on a level surface. I have seen so many cakes placed on wonky floors and wobbly tables, you can imagine what happened.
Don’t place the cake in front of a radiator or a bright window, cakes do melt, get sticky, just not great and again they collapse.
I’ve seen so many cakes placed in front of fire exit signs. I don’t know why, but there always seems to be a fire sign behind them. Now I know that’s not really an issue, until you slice your wedding cake. It’s not just your photographer armed with a camera, but your friends and family will be taking photos on their phones of you cutting the cake and that neon sign behind your cake in all of those photos will drive you nuts.
This last tip is actually from my Mum, who made wedding cakes in 80s. She used to ice hidden messages to the couple on the back of their cake. Things like “Smile For The Camera” or “Congratulations” or “Hope you get the big piece”, silly messages to make the couple laugh. If you want to surprise your newlywed, why not contact your baker and see if they can ice a message on the back of your cake.
No.14 First Dance Music
Let’s start Monday with our dancing shoes on and talk about the first dance!
“The first dance will be a song special to both of you, but contrary to popular belief it doesn’t need to be a slow number, one of my most memorable was the ‘Lambada'”
No.15 Shopping for THE dress
As well as being a photographer & knowing lots of bridal boutiques, I’ve also been a bridesmaid 5 TIMES. I’ve helped a lot of brides pick dresses, here are my top tips:
Don’t feel like you need to bring everyone with you. You don’t need to follow this trend of to bring your squad, family, partner’s family etc. It’s 100% OK to go by yourself.
If you do take someone with you, take positive but honest people. Leave the eye-rollers and the “should wear” comments at home, take people you love, respect and who have your back. .
Have ideas about what you do and don’t like, BUT keep open minded. The staff at those boutiques know their stuff and are there to help you, so stay open to an out of the box idea. You may try it and it doesn’t work, no problem, but you may also try it & it’s amazing.
Think about where you are getting married. You might love a giant ballgown with a long train, but if you’re getting married on top of a mountain, it might be tricky.
Don’t think you need to lose weight to wear a wedding dress. I’m a Curvy Goddess, I understand the pressure, but I’m telling you to celebrate those curves! Feel good in your own skin and find a dress that feels amazing for the beautiful body you already have. Honestly, if you feel good, it will shine bright through all those wedding photos regardless of what you’re wearing.
Make sure you can sit in the dress. You want to be comfortable when you sit down for that delicious wedding breakfast.
Colours. Yes you have white, cream, eggshell, ivory, but if you love colour, why not rock colour of your wedding day! My sister wore a stunning Cadburys purple wedding dress and it looked amazing on her
It’s all about #showyouruniquestyle
No.16 Eat Before Your Wedding Ceremony
I know you might be nervous, but do make time to eat something. Yes, you have your amazing Wedding Breakfast to look forward to, but that might not be until 4pm!
So try and create time in the morning where you can put on some tunes and enjoy a leisurely breakfast with your wedding party. You won’t regret it.
I hate the clean up, but I LOVE the stuff, here are my top tips for confetti
Check your venue allows it, not everywhere does.
Think about environmentally friendly alternatives, you can easily get hold of biodegradable confetti or dried petals.
Pinterest is FULL of ways of making your own confetti. It takes a long time (I’ve tried it) and it’s well worth becoming friends with lots of gardening enthusiasts to get enough petals and leaves, but it’s a great alternative.
If you’re not allowed confetti, don’t worry. Use silk ribbons, bubbles, paper airplanes, give everyone bells to ring, or as on of my couples did, create an arch of surf boards to run through!
No.18 Your Wedding Portraits
There had to be some tips about your wedding photos, I mean, I am a wedding photographer.
My big tip is to carve out time for your Wedding Portraits, just 20 minutes, to get those precious of you and your newly wed. Have it as a set time on your wedding schedule so they don’t get missed.
When your working out what time to have your photos taken, think about the light. Do you want that bright, airy (but sometimes harsh) noon – 3pm light or are you holding out for a dramatic sunset?
If you dream of sunset photos, make sure to check what time sunset is, you don’t want to leave half way through your dinner to have your photos taken, so you may need to reshuffle a few things to make sure you have time.
Louise & Tom actually made time for BOTH and what a sunset it was
If you’ve tried my cooking, you’d understand why I turned to the experts for this tip. Here’s some advice from the amazing
“Take a moment together to give a thought into what kind of atmosphere you wish your wedding catering menu to enhance. Are you striving for a relaxed and informal feel? Perhaps you are bringing together many guests who will meet for the first time and wish for ways to break the ice? Then you may choose to serve sharing boards or bowls. Similarly you may wish to take this to new levels and add a touch of theatre to your wedding breakfast and love the idea of the interaction between guests carving their meal at the table – then we have just the sharing board for you here. Alternatively, intimate vibes are more your style… or perhaps you are channeling your inner Joey from Friends and just simply prefer not to share food. Then plated food could more up your street! Lastly if you want to have your cake and eat it – a hybrid of these styles is the way to go and offer a mixture of both formats with a sharing starter, plated main and sharing dessert.”
Side note, if you ever are offered one of @Fossil Food Catering’s lemon possets, trust me, don’t stop to think about just say yes and enjoy, it’s so good.
No.20 Ideas For A Green Wedding
I love how creative people are getting with finding environmentally friendly alternatives for their weddings, here are a few of my favourites:
Save on paper and use E-Invites or have a website/Private Facebook page with the bulk of your wedding information on
There are so many ways of getting an ethical wedding dress, whether it’s second hand from suppliers like Bridal Reloved
or an ethical dress maker like IndieBride London
Think seasonal and local for your wedding flowers and food
Provide a bus service for guests or set up a private FB group so guests can arrange a car share
Use natural or biodegradable confetti
Even if you just do one or two little green touches, it all adds up
No.21 Wedding Flowers
“If you’re choosing your flowers, check online or with your florist what flowers are in season for the time of your wedding. If you’re engaged a year before, check out what’s in the shops the month of your wedding. It can be difficult to set your heart on Pinterest peonies to be told they’re hard to get hold of or four times the price if you’re not having an early summer wedding. Never fear, there’s always alternatives, such as double tulips in winter or garden roses in summer.”
No.22 Seating Plans
Remember in F*R*I*E*N*D*S when Rachel suggested she’d sit at the bar when Monica was stressed with her seating plan? Well hopefully these tips will make life a little less stressful:
Where do YOU want to sit? Pick your seats first, it’s your day so pick the prime spot.
Do any of your guests need easy access? Are there any kids that love to run around? Seat them somewhere that’s easy for them to get to and easy for them to nip out if they need the loo.
Who is making the speeches? You don’t need them all seated on the top table, but you want to be able to see them easily from where you’re sat, so don’t hide them behind a pillar.
If you’re seating your photographer or videographer amongst your wedding guests (we do love to be fed, just saying), again, don’t hide us behind pillars. Give them a seat that they can easily move away from so get more shots of the room, but that they can also see you from, that way you’ll get more photos/video clips.
No.23 How To Do Up Wedding Dress Buttons
Those teeny tiny buttons on the back of wedding dresses look beautiful, but when you’re excited about your wedding, they can be a nightmare to do up.
Don’t worry though, there is a trick to doing them up.
Simply get a crochet hook, you can hook the buttons and pull them through the loop. Easy!
Trust me, a crochet hook is an essential purchase if your dress has buttons.
No.24 Group Photos
These have to be the Marmite of wedding photos, you either love them or hate them.
I’m a little mischievous with my group photos, yes you will have the traditional beautiful one suitable for Nanny’s mantelpiece, but I love creating a few cheeky ones that really #showyouruniquestyle
My advice is try to limit the number of group photos you really want. Make a list of around 8 group photos that you truly want and that are precious to you. That way you can spend more time enjoying your wedding day rather than trying to remember all 87 group combinations.
No.25 Drinks At Your Wedding
Long gone are the days of just bucks fizz being served at weddings.
Why not serve you actually LIKE?! I’ve seen signature cocktails, favourite types of tea, a COFFEE VAN (yes, I may have almost fainted from happiness at that one), craft ales and so many more.
So think outside the box and serve drinks that you enjoy and you want to share with your loved one.
No.26 Go On A Date
Wedding planning can be stressful and with everything else going on, it can be hard to have some down time. So plan a regular date with your partner Doesn’t need to be anything fancy, just a walk along the beach or an evening of computer games. Create time for the two of you to forget about planning, forget about bills, chores and work, and focus on just having fun together.
Whether they make you laugh or cry, here are my top tips for wedding speeches:
Make notes! Yes it’s tempting to wing it, but trust me, you’ll appreciate a few notes in case you go blank.
Think about your audience, do you really, really, want to tell THAT story? (of course if the story is that good, just tell me later).
Chat to the kitchen first. With more and more couples having their speeches in between courses, if you are planning a 20 minute speech (not the longest I’ve heard) let the kitchen know so your food doesn’t get cold.
#ShowYourUniqueStyle yes this includes in your speeches. I’ve seen powerpoint presentations, life size cut outs, baby photos and not forgetting Jonny who wrote a song for his bride rather than giving a traditional speech.
The final piece of advice this month had to be this one: BE YOURSELF.
Celebrate your love and rock being yourselves! If you want colourful outfits, rock bands, fake tattoos, ice cream vans, fireworks, you DO IT! If you want a quiet, intimate, day with just a handful of your family and friends enjoying an afternoon tea, DO IT!
Don’t believe the “shoulds” or “it’s a not proper wedding if you don’t have…” when you plan your big day, be yourselves and love every moment.