5 Things You Probably Don’t Know About Planning a Wedding

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DIY Village Hall Wedding 

There are a few things about planning a wedding that can come as a bit of a surprise. Things you just assume are one way but you then find out are actually completely the opposite! So to try and eliminate those “What the hell..?” moments, I thought I’d tell you about them right now!

Here are some things you might not know about weddings.

1. The confetti shot will need to be staged

Those fabulous, spontaneous looking confetti shots outside the ceremony – all totally staged. I don’t know why I assumed these would just happen, but no, they need to be set up by your photographer. Not least of all because you normally walk back up the aisle and leave the room before your guests do!

If you’re doing a confetti shot, your photographer will organise your guests once they’ve all come out. You’ll then go back inside and walk back out again – ta da! spontaneity at it’s pre-staged best!

The other thing worth noting for this iconic shot, is that if you want it, you’ll need to provide the confetti. Some guests will bring some, but most of them will forget. Oh, and when it comes to confetti always remember, the more the better!

2. If you want to provide your own booze you’ll have to pay for the privilege

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Corkage? What the eff is that about?

If you want to try and save money by bringing your own alcohol into your venue (instead of buying it from them) you’ll have to pay a fee per bottle to do so. I think it’s usually around the £10 mark, which means that your £3 bargains from your booze cruise to France no longer seem like such a cheap alternative after all.

If you find a venue that doesn’t charge corkage then book them immediately I say!

3. You need to apply to be married at least 16 days in advance

In England and Wales you need to give notice to marry at least 16 days in advance at your local registry office. Your dream of rocking up to the court house and saying “I do” that same day isn’t actually possible. If you want a church wedding the notice period is even longer. The Church of England required that the banns of marriage are read at four consecutive Sunday services before they can legally marry you.

4. Children cost just as much as adults

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This is something that I actually only discovered recently, but at many venues or for many catering companies, a child meal costs the same as an adult one. Adding on to the kids entertainment company that you might decide to book to keep the little blighters occupied throughout the reception, and suddenly the idea of a child-free wedding doesn’t sound like a bad idea at all…

5. Custom made wedding dresses are actually very good value

I assumed that getting a custom made wedding dress would be massively expensive, but I was wrong! While a dress from a bridal boutique will probably set you back at least £1000 (plus alterations), with an awesome dress maker, and some clever fabric and style choices, the wedding dress of your dreams might be much more reasonably priced than you expect. Before deciding on ‘the one’, why not ask around and get some quotes to get something made just for you? You might be surprised at the savings you can make.

Did I miss anything? Was there anything you discovered when planning your wedding that you didn’t expect?

For more wedding planning tips and advice, have a read of my How to Plan a Wedding series.

Supporting Cast

36 comments

  1. Yeah I completely forgot to plan a confetti shot which is pretty gutting because they’re often my favourite photos from other people’s weddings! It just didn’t occur to me at all.
    We did have our reception in a field though so won on the cheap booze front.

  2. For the Confetti shots, vive la France ! :)
    All the guest come out of the church first. Then the bride and groom walk back up the aisle while the bridesmaids give confetti to your guests outside. When you come out, everybody is cheering, and throwing confetti to the newly weds !

  3. In our case, thankfully, the kids meals were for free but yeah, unfortunately there are places that charge you full price. But an extra advice could be to take the chance and negotiate! With that and with lots of things for the wedding, you never know where you might end up getting a discount. We tried that for our wedding and it worked for the drinks and dinner. It’s a matter of just asking. It was worth the shot!

  4. Laur

    My biggest shock was how tedious my dress shopping experience was! I found that shop assistants were either way too enthusiastic (everything was ‘stunning’) or I felt a bit ‘pretty woman’ in some boutiques. The dresses I thought I liked didn’t suit me and will NEVER look the same as on that 6ft+ model that is also stood on a box and photoshopped to perfection in the magazines. I had a 6 month break and a read through R&RB before dress shopping again was better prepared!

  5. Amazingly, that venue didn’t charge corkage! That was one of the reasons we booked-highly recommended venue :o)

    And totally agree on ‘that shot’, there weren’t really many on my list but a confetti shot was right up there… every guest had a handful of confetti… ‘123… GO’ shouted Sassy!

    Lots of useful tips that I wish I’d known at the start x

  6. Emma R

    I was totally shocked that my custom made dress, which was EXACTLY what I wanted came in a good £400 cheaper than anything I had seen in shops. We were lucky our kids meals got charged 1/2 adult price too :)

  7. Claire

    You forgot the VAT added to pretty much EVERYTHING!!! VAT is my arch nemesis when it comes to planning our wedding in April!!

  8. Kat! Good shout about the confetti shot!

    As a wedding photographer, I would also add that the group photos will take about three times longer than anyone would imagine! I find that couples often don’t realise how long it can take to set up a group photo at a wedding.

    Photographers will often recommend allowing between 5 and 10 minutes per group shot to allow time to round everyone up, coax them away from their conversations, take them to a suitable spot for the photo and get them nicely posed :-)

    I always recommend keeping the list of group photos at a wedding as short as possible. Getting through a long list of groups is going to take a whole heap of time out of your wedding day!

  9. Natalia

    We were married in Italy and found them to be very child accomodating
    At our reception the children ate a la cart and the venue said from the beginning if the kids don’t eat very much (as they were all under 9) they wouldn’t charge for them at all and they didn’t!!
    Our confetti shot was staged but we only realised at the last second it would need to be

  10. Totally with you on the custom made dress, all in it was £450 cheaper than anything I saw in the shops :) my wedding is in 12 days so thanks for the tip about the confetti!

  11. Jessica

    So True! This advice is all so exactly spot on! Exactly everything we’ve found with our wedding!

  12. Amy B

    We have luckily found a venue where they don’t charge corkage. It’s a DIY venue in Devon, which means we can arrange our own catering, bar etc and it comes in MUCH cheaper than any of the package venues we’d looked at. We can actually invite all the people we wanted to now, rather than having to have our guest list massively restricted by venue catering costs. It shocked me how many venues insist that you pay for rooms as well – they say ‘you can get your guests to pay for them’ but there’s always a minimum number, and if you’re getting married locally to where you live most guests won’t need to book a room and you can end up massively out of pocket. There’s also pressure from family and close friends to let them have a room for free when they know you’re already paying for it (there’ll always be one cheeky blighter who drinks themselves stupid and then HAS to stay, knowing that there was that room that no one else wanted…!). Personally, I’ve never expected a room for free as a guest at another wedding and I think it’s disgusting that some venues charge for individual rooms AS WELL AS an exclusive use fee! Also, with regards to dresses, don’t forget that ‘pre-loved’ dresses are available – I’ve managed to get a designer dress for £500 that would’ve cost more than £2000 new and would have been totally out of my budget. It’s gorgeous and I love it! I’m only 5′ 1″ so I will need to get it altered, but it’s still much cheaper than any other alternatives I looked at – and I couldn’t find anything ‘off the peg’ in a similar style in ANY of my local wedding shops. I’m so pleased with it and I can’t wait to wear it on my big day. :) There are websites online dedicated to pre-loved dresses and eBay is another great place to look. x

  13. In France it is normally rice not confetti when you go out from church/town hall :) and they publy in public 11 days before the wedding the announcement (in case one is still maried for example…)

  14. The biggest shock for me was that 5 months is considered to be short notice to buy a dress; I had to pay extra for a rush delivery for my June wedding as we didn’t order the dress until mid-January.

  15. Violette

    For me top of the list would be that I never knew how difficult it would be to find someone to marry. It seems to happen so organically for most people. 20 year ago I never thought that at 35 I would still be waiting and looking for Mr Right, but I am…

  16. Claire

    The biggest thing for me has been how the second you say ‘wedding’ everything goes up by a grand and how a ridiculous amount of vendors have been disinterested in selling themselves. Seriously, customer service has been pretty rubbish! Also, transport…I knew that booking transport in a fancy car may be expensive so I decided to go with a vintage bus to take all the guests ten minutes down the road…£750 for ten minutes?? No wiggle room?? Normal bog standard bus £450? May as well use public buses… I know I’m probably being really naive and it will all come down to petrol and licences etc but TEN MINUTES?! Thinking of getting a limo for £350 to ferry everyone plus get champagne provided…! Most frustrating experience so far…

  17. Claire

    Actually, as I’m having a bit of a moan I was also very annoyed that all the beautiful budget weddings I was seeing had the use of a family member’s or friend’s back garden which was massive…why doesn’t anyone I know have a massive garden they would be happy for me to positively ruin as the venues are such a big chunk of money! AAAARRRGH! Rant over…apologies! :)

  18. ashley crikelair

    claire, that’s a pet peeve of mine as well. articles feature a couple who had a budget wedding and promise you can too, then everything from that wedding was donated…venue was a friends house, sister made the cake, cousin happens to be a top-notch photographer…unless you are magically surrounded by an array of talent and generousity that applies to wedding skills, you will have to pay for those things. if you’re going to show me a wedding on a budget, show me good negotiators, creative ideas, and areas of sacrifice – THAT i can learn from.

  19. Claire

    Oh thank god I wasn’t being utterly unreasonable! I had been insisting I would only pay 5k for my wedding as I was fortunate enough to have money put aside for me by my dad before he passed and I wanted to be financially sensible with it…something he would have been very proud of! But now the venue itself is over that ‘budget’ and although I’m doing loads of DIY, buying sensibly, saying yes to everyone who offers to help and negotiating absolutely everything it’s looking like I’ll be lucky if I only spend double my initial ‘budget’ and that’s hugely frustrating and sad for me. I appreciate that I am incredibly lucky to have this money but that doesn’t mean I want to spend it all on one day…I’d like a little something for the actual ‘marriage’ as opposed to just the wedding!! Ok, I’m getting off here now and going back to writing my masters dissertation (I must be insane to do a masters while trying to plan a wedding!)

  20. Very pleased to say that we do not charge Corkage and children under 12 are free. One of the many things we have disliked about the normal constraints put in place by venues. We have very few constraints.

  21. Sam

    Our wedding came in at under 2k and we didn’t have a use of gardens etc. I brought a custom dress and hired out the top part of a local pub that had a mini carousel from the ceiling! I did make lots of paper decorations myself but it was just things like paper chains and wrapping ribbobs around anything. Weddings are as much as you want them to cost. The only thing I didn’t bother with was cars as it seemed a waste of money and most guests drove. And things like place settings and centre pieces, chair covers were done away with because we wanted a relaxed feel :)

  22. Ashley and Claire,

    Totally see where you’re coming from but would like to let you know that Kat hasn’t used pics from a high budget wedding to tell you how to get a cheap one, nor were that couple fortunate enough to get anything for free. The best bit of advise I had when planning was to set a budget, and stick to it, that means some things have to give (no DJ, no wedding cake, no florist, charity shop suits) and you put whatever money you do have towards whats important (photography, dress…photography, no corkage, no catering restrictions…. photography)

    Honestly, you can still plan an amazing budget wedding but you’ll undoubtedly struggle to get £20k of wedding trimmings for £5k

    Your bus does sound particularly bad though! I feel for you there! I can recommend Mervyn’s coaches, they have a few different vintage options, though don’t know where you’re based? They were well under the price you’ve been quoted and they drove 15 people for 2 seperate half hour journeys!

    Apologies for the long rambling comment but I do love a genuine budget wedding ;o)

  23. From attending lots of weddings, well the evening receptions, with the photo booth, I have learned people ways over order on the evening buffet!! Not everyone from the day will want to eat two/three hours after they put their forks down from the wedding reception. I see so much good food go to waste at weddings and you could save so much by just ordering less.. But don’t worry.. Book me and I’ll help you eat it all too.. Multi services!!

  24. briony

    Our venue tried to charge corkage but when we negotiated and said we’d bring our own glasses (which you can hire for free from big supermarkets – Waitrose and Sainsburys definitely do it. There is a deposit to cover breakages, and you have to wash them up and return them, and that’s it!) and didn’t want any bar staff, we were able to bring booze for free.

    So it’s always worth asking!

  25. Alistair Goddon

    We avoided the planning for a confetti shot by getting an industrial snow machine that pumped out confetti for a full five minutes. Im hoping that this will provide for a good couple of pics although haven’t seen the photos yet!

    As a service provider and a customer I was prepared for corkage charges. A word of advice though – always ask if they will do a one of charge. Often a place will accept a few hundred quid upfront rather than actually count how many bottles you bring in and it will actually work out cheaper.

  26. Gayle

    My dress shopping experience was horrible! I’m a curvy girl and you could see the looks on their faces that they didn’t want to deal with me. Any dress I looked at was not right and all they would let me try on was a couple of cheap looking bridesmaids dresses. I felt so self conscious and sad considering there was a wee skinny bride in at the same time and she was getting fussed and fawned over. Thankfully I had already seen the link for Honey pie boutique on this site and picked my dress from there x

  27. Laura

    With regards to the confetti shot not all venues allow them so check with the venue before

  28. The banns being read (for a UK CofE wedding) is actually quite complicated: they need to be read at the church you are being married in AND the parishes that you live in. They read them for three weeks and then issue a form to show it has been done.

  29. Good shout about the corkage. This is a massive additional cost. Sometimes it is just cheap to go with the booze that the venue provide or find a place that will allow you to bring your own with no corkage. Let’s face it, everyone likes a drink at a wedding.

  30. Laura

    My tip would be ask about VAT!!! Half the venues and caterers we looked at showed you a price before VAT, then added the VAT at the end. Always always double check any price they quote is including VAT as it will increase your costs by 20%!

  31. OMG, I was having a debate about the confetti pictures with my sister recently and now it’s all clear!!!

    Sis: How is it confetti pics are so natural when brides and grooms leave the church before anyone else
    Me: Not sure, don’t they wait for guests to leave first?
    Sis: But that means no-one sees the couple leaving the church?
    Me: Good point, that would be very disappointing if you’re the last people to leave….

  32. In your blog, it is the fifth point that actually surprised me the most. I used to share the same misconception that custom made things cost more that the readymade ones. I am sure I will look forward to a custom made bridal gown if what you are stating is actually true.

  33. Thats so true about the confetti shot – staged is best, and throw that confetti up in the sky so it falls down onto the couple. Always makes a beautiful photo.

  34. Leah Pavey

    Getting married in 7 weeks arggghhh!!! Thanks for advice on confetti shot. We’ve gone for a budget reception in a local pubs function room, which fortunately has a play area in garden for children and if weather is agreeable they also have a bouncy castle :-) we’ve found a photography student to do our photos at a greatly reduced rate (she gets to use photos in her portfolio). My dress I found on ebay, exact one I wanted, but pre owned for £26 :-):-):-) I just ran it through washing machine on short delicate cycle inside a duvet cover, it came out perfect, was slightly worried during wash as its two tone (white/burgundy) but they wanted £100 + to dry clean. But as I stated came out absolutely perfect………one very happy bride to be. Also suits were cheaper to hire than buy and we used a small independent shop which was cheaper again than big department store hire.

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