Category Archives: Wedding Planning Advice

The Pre-Wedding Freak Out

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Dear Kat

My girlfriend and I got engaged in June and we’re getting married quickly, over Christmas this year. Having to plan a wedding is such a short amount of time is causing so much stress between us. We are mostly paying for everything ourselves and our budget is also very small, just £1000.

I am doing a lot of the decorations myself to save money, and we’re hosting it in our own house (this is all whole other stress!) My sister is making the cake and we’re catering it ourselves. We’re both hoping to find second hand or high street dresses too. I don’t know how to cut costs more than we already are but we keep fighting about the expense of everything. I’m trying to convince her I’m doing the best I can, but we still argue constantly about the wedding.

I’m worried our wedding is going to be rubbish because our budget is so small and because I’m not as naturally creative as some of my friends. I’ve been to their weddings recently and they’ve all been SO COOL. I know it’s not supposed to be a competition, but I can’t help but feel our wedding is going to be uncreative and boring in comparison.

While getting married is supposed to be one of the happiest times of your life, there’s also a whole heap of stress that can come with it. Organising such a big event (even if it’s a small wedding!) is a part of that, but today’s couples also put a lot of extra pressure on themselves to have the most unique day possible.

While our parents might have worried about what their weddings said about their status or bank balance (the bigger the better!), modern day brides and grooms have a whole other set of pressures. Now, it seems that it’s more about using your wedding to show just how damn cool and laid back you are. “Oh no, it was so easy, I just threw this wedding together in a few weeks… and oh yes and I handcrafted everything completely on my own… in my sleep. I was such a laid back bride dontyaknow? Oh this old thing, it’s just something I came up with because it’s ‘so us’!”

I guarantee that all those cool as cucumber couples will have had their own moments of pre-wedding freak out too. So first of all, don’t beat yourself up for having moments of panic. It’s perfectly normal.

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Here are just a few pieces of advice that will hopefully help you in your moments of dismay.

Realise that it’s just one day

Yes, getting married is a big deal, but as ironic as it might be for me to write on a wedding blog, it’s just a wedding. It’s only one day in your life and it’s supposed to be fun! Weddings are about celebrating your love and they’re a nice way to start married life. They are not compulsory. If you wanted, you could run off to the register office and get married quick as a flash! Everything else is just accessorising.

Just remember, how this day goes does not define the rest of your life. So chill out and stop demanding so much from yourself.

Ask for help

It’s almost impossible, especially with a low budget or DIY wedding, to do everything yourself. You are not Wonder Woman! While it’s awesome that your family are helping you with things for the wedding, I bet there are other things you can outsource too.

Even if it’s just the decorations; grab a few bottles of wine, gather your besties, and have an afternoon of crafting together. It will be much more fun than struggling with papier-mâché and sticky back plastic all on your lonesome!

You also need to ask for help from your girlfriend. Sit down with her and discuss how you’ve been feeling. Be calm and open and listen to what she has to say too. It is vital that you move forward together and you do this thing as a couple. There is a lot of “I’m doing this” in your email. It is both of your wedding days after all.

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How To Get The Most Awesome Engagement Photos


As wedding season winds down for yet another year, we’re going into a time where, traditionally, most people get engaged. From now until Valentine’s Day expect to be inundated with friends announcing their upcoming nuptials. It’s all very exciting! If you’ve just got engaged, firstly CONGRATULATIONS, I’m so thrilled that you’ve found this blog! Have you started to think about your engagement shoot yet? Do you even know what an engagement shoot is!?

While certainly not compulsory, an engagement shoot is a great thing to do while you’re planning your wedding. Not only does it give you the chance to practice in front of the camera, they’re a great way to get to know your photographer and for your photographer to get to know you. Having a relative stranger at your wedding can be a bit daunting, but if you shoot with them beforehand you’ll not only be able to figure out whether you get along, but you’ll also get to see how they photograph you before the wedding. If you don’t love the photos you get back from your engagement shoot, it is perfectly acceptable to cancel the wedding booking and find someone else. Of course I hope this doesn’t happen for you, but it’s better to know that now rather than get your actual wedding pictures back and not like them!


So how do you make sure you get the very best out of your engagement shoot?

1. Wear something that makes you feel fabulous

This is the perfect excuse to buy something new, or pull that dress you love but never have the chance to wear out of the back of your wardrobe! If you’re more of a jeans and tee-shirt kinda gal, it’s OK too, but I always think engagement shoots look so much more fun when the couple go to town on what they’re wearing!

Think about how your outfits work together too. While you don’t have to go completely ‘matchy-matchy’ (unless you want to!) the photos will turn out much better if your outfits compliment each other. If you were wearing a ball gown and he was in a tracksuit it might looks a bit weird! Think about colours, patterns and styling, and just wear outfits that look great together.

This is also the perfect chance to have your hair and make up trial for your wedding. You’ll feel really good having your hair and make up done, but it’s also a really great way to test how it will photograph on the wedding day.

2. Have an idea of theme or location and communicate it to your photographer

It’s always better to have some kind of idea about where you’d like to shoot or how you’d like the photos to turn out rather than winging it on the day and hoping for the best. After all, a photographer can only shoot what’s in front of them!

If you’re stumped, a good way to start is to think of somewhere meaningful to you as a couple. Maybe the bar you first met in, the area where you had your first date, or the place they proposed!? A variety of backdrops will always result in more interesting pictures so think of places that offer more than just plain brick walls.

Think seasonally too. If your shoot is taking place in autumn, why not take advantage of the changing leaves and shoot in a woodland? If it’s winter why not wrap up warm and take pictures in the snow?


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The Pinterest Bride

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Remember that movie The Princess Bride? Well The Pinterest Bride is not quite a fairytale but it is a phenomenon that I’m hearing about more and more often.

First up, please, please don’t get me wrong. I adore Pinterest. I use it in my own business to seek inspiration and promote myself as a wedding photographer. I also actively encourage my couples to send me links to their wedding boards so I can get a sense of their style. I can hardly remember a time when it wasn’t part of the wedding industry and I believe that it can be an amazing tool in both planning a wedding and communicating with your suppliers.

HOWEVER… there is a new breed of bride who maybe takes it a little teeny, tiny, too much to heart. It’s IF I PIN IT, IT WILL HAPPEN, like that is actually enough to make any of this wedding stuff happen!

A prime example is a lovely friend of mine. She is getting married next year and like many people only discovered Pinterest when she started planning her wedding. For months, she has been merrily pinning away and now has a pretty sizable board with plenty of ideas on décor, food, dresses and flowers. She popped the other day to see me and was telling me all about how she’d been having trouble finding ‘the’ dress. She’d decided that it simply didn’t exist so instead she was going to go to a dressmaker to get something especially made to her exact requirements. She told me she wanted a dress that might be backless but corseted, full skirted but sleek, boho but princessy.

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She had pinned several beautiful frocks and was excited for her first appointment with the dressmaker, fully expecting her to be some some kind of fashion diviner who could make all of her wedding dress dreams come true. I guess she thought she could take all these ideas and like some modern day Molly Ringwald from Pretty in Pink, be able to mush them all together into one killer dress. Well, it turns out she couldn’t. The dressmaker told her to first go and try on some other dresses to narrow down her options considerably. It was impossible to create a dress that fit into all her requirements. She had Pinterest Bride Syndrome for sure.

Talk to any supplier involved in weddings right now and I’ll bet that they could tell you plenty of stories about times that they were asked to recreate something that came from a Pin. Most of the time, it’s totally fine but every now and again it just makes no sense.

I have been stood in a cornfield in lashing rain with a wedding couple trying to recreate a shot they loved on Pinterest that included a vintage bicycle with a basket full of flowers on the front. All the while the perfectly rustic, hand drawn ‘just married’ sign was slowly being washed away at the back. The bride was so concerned with getting the one shot ‘just right’ that she failed to notice there was a great big amazing rainbow in the other direction. Luckily I did notice it and we were able to get the most incredible shots of them standing under it.

I’ve attempted to pull off bridal party shots on a seafront so blustery that their giant round balloons almost garrotted a small child.

I’ve been asked to do couple shoots like those beautiful sunset ones you see taken in a desert… except that wedding was in Central London and when I checked the sunset times it would be the middle of speeches and there was no room to manoeuvre in the schedule. My bride looked at me expectantly as if I could actually bend time…

I’m not one to burst anyone’s bubble, and please do keep using Pinterest to help you define your wedding style and come up with ideas. It’s all part of the fun of planning a wedding. However, here are a few suggestions to make sure you don’t get carried away:

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What’s Your Love Language?

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When you get engaged, inevitably your mind quickly becomes encompassed by things such as guest lists and table plans, dresses and shoes, flowers and cake. Of course all of these things are important to pulling off a beautiful wedding, but what are you doing to make sure you pull off an even more beautiful marriage?

A impending wedding has a bit of a habit of bringing things that you might not be completely happy with in your relationship to the forefront of your mind. While no relationship is perfect, thinking about spending the rest of your life with someone can make you start to question if your relationship is ‘normal’.

One of the things I hear again and again from brides is phrases like “Oh I love him and can’t wait to marry him but I wish he wanted to be more involved in the wedding/ he’d spend less time on his computer/ we had more sex…” If there are things that have been niggling you over the years that have been easy to sweep under the carpet before, you might start to question whether they are more then just mild irritations when FOREVER is on the horizon.

It’s quite an old-fashioned idea, but just before Gareth and I were married we took part in a marriage course. When we were informed that we had to do one in order to get married at the church we had our eye on, I’m not going to lie, I was less than enthusiastic. I was annoyed that we had to give up one night a week for a whole month to go and talk about, I assumed, the outdated views of the Anglican Church on what makes a good marriage. I mean, we’d lived together for over a year, how different was marriage really going to be?

We went to the first session with dragged feet and closed minds, but we were pleasantly surprised at how wrong both of our expectations and assumptions were. We’ve now been married for seven years, but regularly think about many of the topics we were given the opportunity to discuss during the course and I hand-on-my-heart believe that it was one of the best things we’ve ever done for our relationship.

Not only did it give us the space to think and talk about our expectations of marriage, but we also learnt about the Five Love Languages. Pioneered by Gary Chapman in 1995, the concept outlines the five ways to express and experience love. It states that everyone feels and acknowledges love different ways, and to make sure you’re communicating it in a way that means the most to your partner, you need to know what “languages” those are for them. It’s quite normal to have more than one but the key is to understand what they are for each other.

The five love languages are:

♥ Words of affirmation
♥ Acts of service
♥ Receiving gifts
♥ Quality time
♥ Physical touch

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How to Ask For a Discount without Offending Your Wedding Suppliers

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Let’s not beat around the bush: Weddings are bloody expensive. There’s so much to think about and so many things to pay for, who can blame a girl for wanting to save every penny possible?

There are a myriad of ways to plan a wedding at a pinch, but what if you’ve got your heart set on something in particular that doesn’t fit in with your very strict budget? Is it ever OK to ask for a discount and if you do will those suppliers get mortally offended?

As this seems to be a hot topic right now, I figured I’d go straight to the source and ask some of my wedding industry pals to shed some light.

Do you ever give discounts to clients?

“I ask for a few details from my couples before sending over a quote. I ask thing like the location, the number of guests and what time of year or day of the week it is. With this information I can provide an accurate quote and take into account if it’s low key/ off season /a week day or involves an overnight stay. If they come back to me and say it is out of their budget, I could look at taking things out of the packages for them to make it more affordable, maybe less coverage or taking out the album. However I don’t generally do this for key summer dates.” Lisa, Devlin Photos

“We are more than happy to give discounts to our custom order clients when we’re able to. For example if a client is ordering more than one piece in the same style and we can combine materials so we’re often able to reduce the cost per piece slightly. A lot of our ready-to-wear collections have long-term discounts and offers attached already though so we won’t take money off those just because someone asks!” Sophie, Crown and Glory

“If you’re a good friend or blood relative, you’ll get a discount without asking for it – it’s your wedding present. Better than a toaster, no? But in general, we don’t offer discounts. Full stop.” Rachel, September Pictures

“We mostly give discounts through offers on our magazine or blog advertising. However, if we feel like it’s really going to make the difference to someone we will quite often pre-empt a discount. We’ve also had situations where people have said ‘I’m not sure we can afford that’ so we’ll always do whatever we reasonably can to bring it in to the hallowed realms of affordability for them.” Matt and Leanne, Swoon at the Moon Stationery

“We are happy to offer a discount on large quantities of lanterns – what ‘large’ means varies from person to person and of course budgets vary greatly from wedding to wedding too. On average, most couples wanting wedding lanterns to decorate the whole reception space use 50-75 of them for a good level of coverage across the whole ceiling. On this quantity we would happily offer a discount of 15-20%. We also include free delivery on orders over £100. ” Aimee, The Hanging Lantern Company

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Do you ever get offended when people ask for money off?

“I don’t get offended, I understand that the precedent is often set by venues offering discounts or because couples have been told to haggle for everything. I know what it’s like trying to plan a wedding but some parts are worth investing properly in. I do find it funny when they come back with a comparison saying this other photographer is offering more hours or free albums, can I match it? Er no… just book the other guy!” Lisa, Devlin Photos

“Not really, especially when they are realistic about it. We can often knock a little bit off multibuys, but expecting to pay less than the listing price for a customised version of an existing design is probably not going to be possible and can come across a bit offensive!” Sophie, Crown and Glory

“I totally get why people ask for discounts: I know how horrifying it can be to budget for a wedding. I also think it can be pretty unclear how the whole thing works: is it like walking into a shop where you pay the price on the tag, or like hitting the Medina in Marrakech where you’re expected to haggle? Commissioning a photographer isn’t something most people have done before, so I don’t get offended.” Rachel, September Pictures

“We NEVER get offended when people ask for discounts but we probably would be offended if someone said ‘Yeah but X can do it for X price, can you come down to that?’ as there are so many variables and SO much competition in wedding stationery that it’s already a buyer’s market. Everyone is already competing at pretty tight margins and we all have their own reasons for pricing the way we do. If you like X’s product and it’s cheaper, then go for it!” Matt and Leanne, Swoon at the Moon Stationery

Are there any instances when you would never offer a discount?

“If it’s asked for without any manners or if someone says that their wedding will be ‘really cool’ as if that has any affect on how much work I need to do! By the way, when they say that, it usually turns out to be the opposite of cool!” Lisa, Devlin Photos

“If someone was being a jerk about it or expecting a discount for no reason other than they asked!” Sophie, Crown and Glory

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Wedding Traditions, What Are They Good For?


The story behind the flying wedding dress

I was chatting to my newly engaged sister last week who told me there was no way in hell she’d be doing a first dance and that come to think of it, walking down the aisle seemed mortifying and silly too. “But you have to walk in somehow,” I replied, “you can’t just ‘poof!’ and appear at the end of the aisle!”

As someone who champions alternative weddings day in, day out, I actually surprised myself at how horrified I was that she wouldn’t walk down a set ‘aisle’. I think because, for me, walking into the church and being given away by my father was such a special and emotional part of the wedding, I couldn’t ever imagine not wanting to have that experience. But that’s the thing with getting married in your own way, there really are no rules any more.

If my sister is worried about walking in and being the centre of attention, she could walk in with her fiancé, or there could be a circular ceremony set up (with no aisle at all), or we could all walk in together like a big rugby scrum around her – there are plenty of other options!

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