13 Things You’ll Wish You Did On Your Wedding Day

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Hindsight is a wonderful, if not mildly frustrating, thing. It’s all very well and good learning a lesson from an experience but most people don’t ever go back to have a second wedding! So here are 13 things from my own experience that I recommend prioritising on your wedding day.

1. Start the DIY early

We didn’t have a lot of DIY in our wedding (we did the stationery ourselves but that was about it) but even then I wish we’d started it much earlier than we did! These things always take longer than you anticipate so give yourself a fighting chance and get those craft supplies out sooner rather than later! I can’t think of anything worse than still having DIY to do the night before your wedding. That is so not fun!

2. Have your hair and make up done by a pro

I did my own make up, but looking back I really wish I’d had a professional make up artist to do it. I hadn’t yet discovered just how amazing make up done by someone who knows how to contour and properly blend eye shadow can be. I had a few trials in the run up to our wedding but I must have been going to the wrong people because I left each one thinking “Meh, I can do this myself, what’s the point?”

While, in the end, my make up was okaaaay, I would have looked, and felt, a million times more beautiful if I’d had it done by someone else.

I strongly advise having at least one trial before the wedding day (of both hair and make up) to make sure the person you book understands exactly what you want. Bring photographic examples with you to show how you want it to look, and afterwards have someone take photos of you from every angle. It might look great in person but you’ll want to know how it photographs too.

By the way, if you’re in the UK I love and recommend Elbie Van Eeden and Lipstick and Curls for hair and make up, and Allison Cameron for make up. Other artists that I’ve worked with and loved around the world are Regan Rabanal (make up), Kristen Jackson (hair) and Eryk Datura (make up) in New York, Your Beauty Call in Vegas (both), Lauren aka Queen of Blending in LA (make up) and Bernice in Melbourne (make up).

3. Delegate!

A lot of couples don’t seem to like asking for help, but believe me, most of your friends and family will be happy – thrilled in fact – to lend a hand. You can not do everything yourself, especially on the day, and especially if you are having a DIY wedding!

Its also a really good idea to have a specific person in charge of certain things, for example the playlist (if you’re not having a DJ or band), keeping the photo booth ticking over and riot-free, and for rounding up wayward family members for the group photos!

4. Have a ceremony rehearsal

We had a rehearsal the day before our wedding and at first I thought it was going to be weird, “Who needs to practice?? I thought, “surely I just walk down the aisle and say ‘I do’?”.

But there’s a lot that goes into some ceremonies (particularly religious ones) so it’s a really good idea to have a run through. In ours, we actually had to respond with “I will”, not “I do” so I would have got that wrong for starters..!

It’s also good to find out in advance things like what to do with your bouquet, who’s going to pass you your vows and when, and where you have to go to sign the marriage certificate.

You’ll also probably be really surprised just how poignant the ceremony is. I’m not a teary, emotional person but I burst into (happy!) tears when we were practising our vows. I’m glad I didn’t do it in front of a church packed with every single person I know!

Oh and practice your walk down the aisle. I practically sprinted down the thing I was so nervous and excited. I was at the bottom before the song had really even begun. Take your time!

5. Have a back up copy

…Of everything! The music, the group shot list, the seating plan… you just never know. Give one of each to a responsible bridesmaid or groomsman.

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6. Make time for photos

If you want some of those beautiful portraits that you’ve seen all over your photographer’s website, then you need to set time aside for them. You’ll be looking at around 15-20 minutes, which, in the grand scheme of things isn’t that long. Taking just a little while away from your reception to do these will be so worth it, I promise. We only did about 5 minutes of portraits on our wedding day and I don’t really like any of them because they were so rushed.

Remember, these will probably be the photos that will grace your and your parents’ living room walls for the rest of your lives so they’re worthwhile taking some time over! I wish we had.

For bonus points, do some more as the sun starts to set, during the magic ‘golden hour’. The light will be flipping incredible and you’ll get some totally amazing shots. You seriously won’t regret it. It’s also really nice to have an excuse to escape the party and have a little space and a few moments with your new spouse. For the rest of the reception you’ll be talking to everyone else constantly!

7. Get photos taken with the people you love the most

While we managed to get a photo of nearly everyone who was at the wedding, I wish we’d had some photographs taken with the people we love the most. Grandparent’s especially. It sounds morbid, but you just never know how long they’re going to be around. My Grandmother has since passed and my Grandfather, now at the ripe old age of 95, is in a nursing home in Ireland. I wish I’d had a photo taken with them on the happiest day of my life.

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8. Practice your first dance

I couldn’t have cared less about the whole ‘first dance’ thing, but I do wish we’d taken some time beforehand to plan what we might do. We’re not exactly natural dancers so an embarrassing shuffle to All You Need is Love was about as much as we could muster. Even if we’d just planned a little spin or a dip or something it would have been much less mortifying.

9. Buy flat shoes

Seriously. You’re going to be on your feet ALL DAY and by 8pm I guarantee you’ll be kicking off those oh so beautiful but oh so painful bejewelled skyscrapers and wishing you’d bought something cute and practical.

10. Skip the traditions you don’t care about

I’ll never forget throwing my bouquet, it bouncing off the back wall and hitting my maid of honour in the head. I really wasn’t that bothered about the tradition of throwing it, and in fact I forgot about it completely until someone reminded me to do it right at the end of the night!

Don’t feel obliged to include anything in your wedding just because it’s tradition. If you don’t care about it, ditch it!

11. Get the speeches out of the way early

Most best men, father’s of the bride, and grooms will be pretty nervous about their speeches. So give them a break and get them out of the way sooner rather than later. That way, they can enjoy the rest of the evening and they won’t have drunk too much beforehand!

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12. Eat the food!

You will be a bundle of emotions all day, and whilst the champagne will slip down easily, you’ll probably forget to eat. Or you just won’t be hungry at all. But, seriously, eat the damn food and taste your cake! Not only have you probably spent a lot of money on them but I bet it’s all your favourite stuff too! You might as well enjoy it, even if you don’t really feel like it at the time. Eating will also massively help the inevitable post-wedding hangover!

13. Realise what the most important thing is…

On the day you won’t really care about the little stuff. Not because you didn’t bother or make an effort, but because you’ll be so happy to just be getting married! You won’t care if your flowers wilt, you splash a bit of red wine on your dress, or you forget to cut the cake… its all part of your story.

What matters the most is that at the end of the day you’ve said “I do” and you fall into bed, as husband and wife*, realising just how lucky you are to have found each other. It’s then that the fun really begins anyway (no not that you kinky mare) – the MARRIAGE!

*or wife and wife, husband and husband – yay!

35 comments

  1. All good advice! I was interested once to read a thread on Brides Magazine where people stated what their biggest regret was. For around 80% of people it was economising on the photography. So I would add booking a great photographer to the list!

  2. Wise words Kat!
    One thing I really regret is receiving our lovely relaxed, reportage-style photos only to realise the only pics of my brother are the giant group ones. With hindsight we should have given our photographer a ‘hit list’ of the most important people.

  3. I would honestly recommend an hour for photography, especially if you want to travel to a location, if you have a big bridal party 1 and 1/2 seems to be a great amount of time to shoot everyone in a relaxed but professional style.

  4. Marie Corcoran

    Splendid advice-glad I did most of these! A lot of planning and preparation but boy was it worth it- amazing day! Picking the right photographer is massively important too- someone you can get on with and who ‘gets you’ helps to achieve the perfect pics- something so important as the day is like a dream after and you need to be able to remember. I had a friend unable to make our wedding and after viewing our photos she said she felt she had actually attended- priceless. We used Jaye Enme Photography- highly recommended :-)

  5. Thankyou so much for writing this! I’m getting married six weeks on Saturday and this is exactly what I needed to read. I feel like there are so many little things I won’t think about or don’t know about and I want to limit the number of regrets I’ll have about things we did or didn’t do.

  6. Natasha

    Fantastic points on all counts. We did none of the above to the point that i as the bride was queuing my own first dance music and dealing with the playlist as well as organising everyone and didn’t get a stitch to eat i was so busy which resulted in abandoning my reception early to be away from it all.

  7. Lindsay

    Wow! This list is tip top , and I’m a little proud that I did most of these things at my own wedding! But I had this blog as one of my guides! It really helps to get tips from people who are married and have the hindsight.

  8. Pavla

    Love this. My wedding is next month, I cannot wait and this is a really good advice, I feel like I need a timetable for the day so that I don’t forget anything :D

  9. I got married last year and lots of these things rang true to me. Great advice! Especially eating the Food still gutted I didn’t get to try all the different flavoured layers of our wedding cake and totally skipped our hog roast in the evening…I love food too!!! Your wedding looked classy and full of happiness :-)

  10. four weeks till my big day and I love this, happy to say ive sorted flats (cons) for myself and bridesmaids already!

    xxx

  11. Steph MJ

    I did all of these things having taken advice from other blogs/magazines and I’m so glad I did. The decision to dispense with the bouquet toss was a particularly good decision – it was made of brooches and would have killed someone!

  12. Chloe

    I do love reading your blog, you put things in such a way it makes sense and you are realistic! Reading your blog makes me even more excited about our special day and it gives me the much needed confidence boost to stick to my guns and plan things the way we would like them to be! <3 and also yay to wife and wife :-) I can't wait to hear those words!

  13. im not planning a wedding or getting married just yet but I helped with my sister’s in June. I agree with all of these point- especially starting the DIY early; we were up the night before cutting and sticking and decorating- it was so exhausting and stressful for her
    Miss Tulip x
    The Thrifty Magpies Nest

  14. Andie

    This is a great list! I was thinking to do my own hair and make up on my wedding day but this made me re-think about my choice :) Thank you for this amazing tips!

  15. Aww. Such a good list. The most important things are to relax and enjoy your day… and to hell with what anyone says you SHOULD be doing. x

  16. Choose a professional Officiant not a friend or family member.
    A professional Officiant will know how to make the ceremony flow properly.
    The ceremony is the reason while you’re there and why everyone else is as well.
    Make it spectacular and have people walk away from the ceremony going that was an amazing ceremony instead of thank God that’s over.
    A professional Officiant like me and my Great Officiants will guide you through the process of ceremony design and content.

    Remember if you choose a friend and they screw up your ceremony you can’t really do it again. Don’t let somebody practice on your wedding.

  17. kizzie

    These ointment are perfect and spot on. I got married on Saturday just gone and am glad to say we did Al 13 of the above and our wedding was absolutely amazing :) god luck to the everyone out there currently planning… I promise the hard work and effort is worth it.

  18. To add to your points about photography-
    – Give your photographer your family portrait. If you have a big family allot at least 30 minutes for just those, and have a person on each side of the family wrangle the strays!
    – To get the beautiful couple and bridal party portraits – I would say give yourself plenty of travel time plus 30-40 minutes. If you have a rowdy wedding party, give yourself an hour, so you can have fun and no stress. The less stressed you and your photographer are, the better your photos turn out.

  19. Brilliant list!
    I so agree with making time for photographs, even better if you can go off and have them done somewhere away from guests.. that way the time will go much smoother and you won’t spend extra time trying to prize yourself away from Aunts and Uncles and Second Cousins.

    Also hell yes to ‘Golden Hour’. Those are the kind of pictures from the day you will definitely have put up on the wall.

  20. Elizabeth

    This is wonderful! I would also suggest the following, too:

    ~Have a photography back-up plan… our wedding day poured and while we had umbrellas in our wedding colors, our photographer didn’t do any great photos with us and the bridal party outside. Our only photos with our bridal party are overly posed, in church and in the upper room (looks like a studio-all white)before the wedding… HAVE A PLAN and make sure your photographer follows it!

    ~Dance. We spent so much time going table to table greeting guests, before we knew it, the night was over. We barely danced.

    ~Make sure that your family/friends can clean up the venue and gather your items so you can leave.

    ~Tell everyone that they are adults and they need to be responsible for their own rides, transportation, stuff, problems and stay out of it. Bridesmaids/groomsmen who can’t do the simple things you ask of them (being with the group for photos/getting ready/etc), if they can’t, ask if they can opt out of being part of your special day!

    Love this list! Thanks for sharing!

  21. Sarah Gibbon

    I’m going to follow as much of this advice as possible, especially about the first dance!

  22. Mrs H

    Me and my gorgeous hubby got wed after 11 years together. Didn’t do any of the above apart from the flats and saying ‘I do’. We ran away in secret to Gretna Green on our own……just the two of us, I wore converse and he wore jeans (amongst other garments obv!). Pleased nobody but ourselves. It was the best day ever and I honestly wouldn’t have changed a thing. It’s not for everyone I know but for us…….it was perfect :-) You look beautiful by the way.

  23. Couldn’t agree more on the DIY – I started a year before our wedding and although my family mocked me for it, I’m so glad I did!! x

  24. As I am planning a wedding myself I am an avid reader of your great blog. Love the tips especially the one about the extra pair of flat shoes.

  25. I went, as a guest, to a friend’s wedding and they had a family member officiate. I felt so embarrassed for them. He was very nervous and made the entire ceremony about himself. A professional wedding officiant knows how to make the wedding ceremony about the love and commitment that the bride and groom feel for each other. Go to a pro for that part.

  26. Camila Miranda

    I decided to plan my wedding myself but OMG! There is so many details! Your blog is helping A LOT. Great post, very helpful :)

  27. Juliet

    Yeah re photos! 30 yrs ago photographers didn’t shoot friends as standard – we have no pro ones of our friends and hundreds of my husband’s great aunts etc who I’d never met before and never did again. Our tog also ignored request for no soft focus (no probs with that today- deservedly out of fashion!) so fave compositions of me and husband are soft focus!!!
    My mum also missed out on a pic of me and her- as my dad gave me away- lots of me and him!
    Make sure you have some time for just the two of you- easily missed in a busy day and you could look back with regret when you realise you hardly saw/ spoke to each other all day once the party had begun (have done this ourselves at big birthday parties!) ! You could always get the photographer to take some couple pics away from guests then leave you alone for a while! This was easy thirty years ago when newly marrieds went away on honeymoon half way through the day!! Have a great wedding day :-)

  28. Priceless advice. Sometimes the Wedding Photography is given a low priority, some chasing the cheapest available, rather than the best that they can afford. We believe that professional Wedding Photography is priceless, so agree with your advice Kat of not scrimping on memories. Keep up the good work.
    top-photography.co.uk

  29. This is great advise for pre wedding planning, as it’s only after you get married or when a bit of time has past that you realise how important the photographs of your wedding day really are. Also Speeches, why don’t we just get them out of the way before food? it’s always a stressful thing stand up in front of you friends and family, so why let it ruin the dinner you have been dying to eat.
    Top advise, explained perfectly, thanks Kat!

  30. Emily

    Absolutely agree on all of these! I got married last year and about half of these applied to me. Also I would say try on wedding accessories beforehand such as shoes and tiara/hairpiece. I bought a rather expensive tiara which after a few attempts to get on comfortably never actually made the cut on the day. I went with a lovely hair comb instead, it was super comfortable and didn’t move all day. Anyone interested in a hair comb should look here as they were my saving grace! http://lolabeeandme.com/wedding-hair-accessories/hair-combs.html

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