Category Archives: Wedding Planning Advice

10 Things I’ve Learnt About Wedding Planning in 10 Years as a Wedding Blogger

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I usually do an introduction type post at the start of every year, where I tell you who I am and show you around the blog… just like a digital tour guide. But this year, my TENTH as a wedding blogger, I thought it would be fun to try something new.

If you’re anything like I was when I first got engaged, right now you’re feeling a heady mixture of emotions – including but not limited to – excitement, nerves, ecstasy and nausea. You have the mammoth task of planning a wedding ahead of you and all the stresses that come with it. OH ISN’T THIS FUN!?

If you’ve stumbled across this site its probably because the idea of a traditional wedding fills you with dread. If you’re worried about how your grandparents will react to you walking down the aisle to your favourite Megadeath song, or wearing a big white dress and covering your tattoos is quite frankly OUT OF THE QUESTION, then good news! You’re in the right place.

Today I want to put your mind at ease and let you in on the 10 most important things I’ve learnt about wedding planning throughout my 10 years in the wedding industry.

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You will NEVER please everybody

I have lost count of the number of brides and grooms who’ve told me they started their wedding planning without wanting to upset anybody, but when the day rolled around they were really pleased they just picked the things that made them happy.

Look, there will always be someone who doesn’t like some of your choices, but – newsflash! – it’s not their wedding, its YOURS. So start your wedding planning off without the headache of trying to keep other people happy and do things that make you squeal with joy. At the end of the day who cares if someone doesn’t like the food you served, the tunes you played or the dress you wore? It’s your wedding and if they don’t like it they can jolly well stay at home!

Choose things that reflect you

When I look back at my own wedding, I do sometimes wish that we’d been braver with some of our choices. I only started this blog mid-way through planning our wedding and the industry was much, much less open to the idea of weddings that were a bit different. Back in 2008 it was pretty radical that my bridesmaids wore black (yes, really!)

I really wish I had walked down the aisle to that rock song we originally wanted, I wish we had taken the risk and booked that quirkier venue that had never hosted a wedding before, and I do wonder what my flowers would have been like if I hadn’t just agreed to everything that the venue’s recommended florist suggested.

At the end of the day, it didn’t matter of course. I still look back with the fondest of memories, but if I could do it all over again, we would 100% be choosing things that were much more reflective of us.

But don’t be an arsehole about it

This is an important one! Yes you are ‘the bride’ but no you are not always right. No you are not the most important person in the world. No, everyone does not have to do what you say and bow down before you.

A wedding is about two people committing their lives to each other, but its also about two families coming together. It’s also about those you love celebrating with you so do not think its acceptable to just do whatever you want without considering other people. Do not stamp your feet if you don’t always get your own way. Compromise is important. The little boy that got everything he ever wanted didn’t live happily ever after (sorry Willy Wonka), the little boy that got everything he ever wanted turned into a massive brat.

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How to Rock Your Winter Wedding Photos

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For many couples, the idea of hosting their wedding in the winter is a really romantic one. A cosy day filled with log fires, twinkly fairy lights and hot chocolate, what’s not to love? Not to mention the fact that you’ll probably save a ton of money with off-season deals! But have you given much thought to how your photos are going to turn out? A winter wedding means less light and if you’ve been carefully curated inspiration boards with images of couples in summer fields or backlit with pretty sunsets during ‘golden hour’ (just as the sun goes down where the light is oh so perfectly pretty!) then you might be in for a bit of a shock.

Make sure you are looking for realistic inspiration for your winter wedding photographs by looking at photos that were actually taken in winter and in a similar location to yours. There is no point pinning pictures of a couple frolicking around the Las Vegas desert or casually strolling along the beach in California if you’re getting married in Milton Keynes in December!

Photography Farm Shoot Scotland

If you are having an indoor winter wedding, earn bonus points with your photographer by considering the lighting inside your venue. From a photography point of view, downlights and uplights are a real nightmare. They both create pools of incredibly bright light and if you’re standing under them you’re going to get really ugly shadows under your eyes and nose. If your venue has directional lighting that’s fine, but I wouldn’t recommend having the key moments (ceremony, speeches) with them right behind you. 

Late afternoon winter light can be very pretty, but the sun goes down quickly. Be optimistic in your planning process and set aside some time for your portraits. If you are getting married in the late afternoon, by the time it comes to doing your formal pictures, it will be dark. Any ceremony after 2pm really limits what can be done afterwards. In the depths of winter it starts getting dark as early as 3pm in some places, so make sure you remember that if you’re doing the bulk of your planning over the summer when it’s light until 10pm!

Photography Farm Shoot Scotland

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Don’t Book a Wedding Photographer Who Does This

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If you’ve been reading Rock n Roll Bride for a while, you’ll know how important I think having a great wedding photographer is. You may also have seen how devastating it can be when it all goes wrong and the photos someone ends up with are either really terrible or, in some truly awful cases, never delivered at all.

This isn’t meant to scare you, but choosing your wedding photographer is a big decision. It also makes me so very sad when I see couples upset because they’re unhappy with their pictures. So today I wanted to give you some concrete guidelines of what to look out for, or more specifically want to avoid, when it comes to booking the person who will capture your day.

You shouldn’t book a wedding photographer who:

Advertises to-good-to-be-true discounts on Groupon 

As a general rule (that part is very important) most of the photographers I see advertising on places like Groupon, Craigslist etc are offering deals that, to me, seem way too good to be true. And this makes me question why they do it and how they can offer such cheap rates.

Let’s look at this this way – a wedding photographer with a decent skill level will not need to discount their rates so much to get bookings. The average cost of a wedding photographer in the UK (for a full day booking) is between £1200-£1800. Of course their are fluctuations due to experience and location to take into consideration, but if someone is advertising saying they’ll shoot your wedding for, say, £100, then clearly something is up. Either this isn’t their full time job, they’re brand new, or their skill level simply isn’t up to par. Its unlikely that they’re going to deliver the same quality of work and service as someone who costs ten times more.

Which leads me nicely onto my second point…

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Is much cheaper than everyone else

Again, there are always rare exceptions to this rule, and everyone has to start somewhere, BUT there is always an element of risk when you book someone who’s newer and still building their portfolio. Yes, they might be an amazing photographer and just finding their feet by offering cheaper deals, but there is always going to more chance that they could make a mistake. It is also unlikely that they will give you the same level of service as someone with more experience.

Of course if you have a small budget and are comfortable with the risk, then by all means, book someone less expensive (it is not my place, or anyone else’s, to tell you what you should or should not spend on any element of your wedding) but always do so with your eyes open. Someone who’s charging much less will in most cases not be as ‘good’ or in-demand as someone who costs the national average or higher.

Undercuts the competition

I guess this one is related to the two points above as well, but its a massive red flag if a photographer will offer to undercut their competition in order to shoot your wedding. It usually means their desperate for your booking which should say a lot about how their business is going. Its also super uncool and a pretty shady way to run a business TBH.

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What Your Wedding Photographer Wishes You Knew

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To get the best wedding photographs it’s important that you and your photographer communicate. Disappointment is almost always a result of both parties expectations not being well aligned beforehand. As well as letting them know what you want, it’s also really important to listen to their advice and to trust their expertise.

Sadly sometimes couples do end up disappointed with their wedding photographs, but it’s almost always because there was a lack of communication with their photographer beforehand. Maybe their expectations were unrealistic or they booked a photographer without fully understanding their style or method of working.

However, if you’ve never worked with a professional photographer before it can be difficult to know what are even the right questions to ask! So I’ve done the legwork for you and spoken to some amazing wedding photographers and asked them to share the things they wish all their clients knew:

“Stop obsessing over the weather! Refreshing the forecast won’t change anything, and rain can actually make for very beautiful photographs. No matter how hard you wish for nice weather, worrying about it won’t make any difference. Rain never ruins a wedding, only people’s attitude to it does. Yes, you might get soggy, your hair might get a little frizzy, and you might have to change some of your plans at the last minute, but you’ll be the cool couple who didn’t give a toss and partied hard anyway! And here’s a little secret – super bright sunshine does not make for the most flattering pictures either. So even if it does rain, get out there and dance, kiss and enjoy it.” Sassy Lafford, Assassynation

“If you’re traveling between different venues for your ceremony and reception then consider moving the ceremony to an early time so that you still have plenty of time for your couple shoot and group shots without missing out on mingling with your guests.” Fiona Watson, Fiona Watson Photography

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“Trust your wedding photographer. If they come up to you during dinner or while your dancing with your friends and ask you to come outside for five minutes then there will normally be a very good reason such as a rainbow, sunset or simply beautiful light. They will have you back in no time and you will get some amazing photos for your efforts. Trust also extends to believing in their ideas and style of photography. They may pick locations or poses that may seem a bit strange to you at the time but remember that you can’t see what they are seeing and it will all make sense when you see the photo.” Neil Douglas, Neil Thomas Douglas Photography

“When a client chooses not to book a professional photographer, instead opting for a friend or family member with a nice camera, I wish I could tell them that they most probably (or rather definitely) won’t get the same kind of service that they would get from a seasoned professional. Yes, a pro photographer may bump the cost of your wedding up (sometimes considerably) but what you get at the end is something to cherish. Uncle Bob may have started to have a tipple or two long before you have finished needing his services, and he may not get round to editing your photos for a considerable amount of time – sometimes if at all. I have had many friends left disappointed when they went down this route for their photos.” Rhian Wood, Rhian Wood Photography

“Please don’t take our photos and post them on social media with yucky filters!! Your photographer will have already edited your photos when they give them to you and it’s totally heart-breaking to see something you’ve spent ages on covered in a yellowy filter! You should choose your photographer because you LOVE their editing style and would never dream of editing them further yourself!” Emma B, ELS Photography

“I’m sure loads of people think wedding photography is as simple as having a good camera and then turning up on the day and snapping away! I wish they knew the reason why the photography can be perceived to be ‘expensive’ and the many, many hours that actually go into their photographs. It’s not just ‘one day’s work’, there is so much preparation beforehand and then all the editing after. Plus there’s all the equipment we have to buy, the training we have to do, the insurance we have to have… when you look at all these factors it really doesn’t work out to be that expensive after all!” Rosie Hunt, Ragdoll Photography

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How to Get Married in Las Vegas

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Janneke Storm (full wedding here)

There are always a lot of questions in the Rock n Roll Bride Facebook group about getting married in Vegas – how to do it, if its legal when you’re not from the US, recommendations for suppliers that will do a good job… So I thought a post going through all the ins and outs of the process would be helpful.

In the interests of keeping things simple, I’m going to write this in a Q&A format. If you still have questions after reading this article, or you have any of your own advice or recommendations, feel free to pop them in the comments!

Do you have to be a US resident to get married in Vegas?
No, and other than book your chapel there really isn’t anything else you have to do in advance either. You can go and get your marriage licence as soon as you step off the plane and then get married straight away if you want to! Your marriage will be recognised back home in the UK (and pretty much everywhere else in the world).

How do I get a marriage licence?
When you arrive, you and your partner will need to go to the Marriage Bureau of Las Vegas (located at 201 E. Clark Ave. Las Vegas, NV 89101). You can fill in an application form online to save time once you get to there. The office is open from 8am to midnight 365 days of the year and a license costs $77.

You will need to bring your passports as proof of identity (at least one form of ID is required but I’d suggest bringing two just in case, a drivers license or birth certificate would be fine). If you are divorced, you will also need to know the exact date and city of the divorce. A copy of the divorce decree is not required.

You must be 18 to be married in Vegas however if you are 16 or 17 you can get married if a parent or guardian gives consent in person at the time of application.

There is no waiting period for the license to be granted so as soon as you have it in hand you can head to a chapel and get hitched! The licence is valid for 60 days.

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Kristen Marie Photography (full wedding here)

How do I know where to get married?
There are so many chapels in Vegas and a spot of Googling should set you right. You can also see all the Vegas weddings we’ve featured on Rock n Roll Bride here! I’ve listed some of the most fun chapels at the end of this post.

I’d suggest booking your chapel before you leave the UK to make sure you get the date and time you want.

How long does the wedding ceremony last?
Usually around 15-30 minutes but it depends on the chapel.

Do we have to get married in a chapel?
No! The great thing about getting married in the US is that unlike the UK it’s the minister that’s licensed to perform the ceremony, not the physical location (in the UK both need to be) In America you can legally be married ANYWHERE you like! Some popular Vegas spots are the Neon Graveyard, Nelson Ghost Town and random spots in the desert..! You can really use your imagination – fun!

Will my marriage be legal in the UK?
Yes! You won’t need to go to the register office when you get back to the UK. The marriage certificate that you’re issued in Vegas will be all the proof you need to show that you are married.

When do I get my marriage certificate?
The minister has up to ten days to register your marriage. You can then get a copy of your marriage certificate for $10 from the Clark County Recorder. You can either pick it up in person, or have it sent by post if you’re heading home.

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Forged in the North (full wedding here)

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Feeling Body Confident for Your Wedding

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While body confidence isn’t something you’ll just magically be able to come across just in time for your wedding (it’s a life-long struggle for a lot of us), marriage counsellor and founder of Mindful Bride to Be, Collin Christine, is here today to talk us through some ways you can have a positive body image, for your wedding day and beyond.

Congrats! You’re engaged. Now you’re probably experiencing what most women experience when they get this happy news: “I am SO happy but now I am going to be on display for my friends, family, photographers, and future husband… I better look hot.” At this point a lot of women start to feel overly conscious of their body and start to do crash diets, exercise like crazy, and restrict themselves in mind and body. During this time even of the sweetest of brides might be a tad bitchy because they’re trying to hard to be perfect.

If you want to feel confident in your body on your wedding day it’s time to look a little deeper and make some healthy adjustments. Want to break up with bad body image before your wedding? Try these four tips to have you truly shining on the inside and out.

1. Comparison is the thief of joy

Everyone at some point has something that they wish they could change about their body. When you notice yourself wishing that you had someone else’s body, you’re taking for granted what is uniquely you.

You’re very rare and special and so is your body! Perfect is an illusion so try and ditch that mentality before your big day, and while we all have areas we can improve on, that has nothing to do with your value as a person or how much love and gratitude you deserve.

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2. If the only prayer you said in your life was “Thank You”, that would suffice

Rather than spending your energy on wishing you were thinner, redirect your focus to something you already have at this very moment – whether it’s something like your beautiful eyes that allow you to take in the world around you, your ears so you can hear the sound of the ocean or the magic of a great song, or just your arms so you can embrace loved ones and cuddle with your pet.

It really doesn’t matter; the act of expressing gratitude actually has a chemical effect in your brain and makes you happier! Just thank the universe for what you have and you will feel its gratitude in return.

3. You can have anything you want in life if you dress for it

When you’re physically uncomfortable in your body, it’s important to wear clothes that you feel good in. This doesn’t mean you have a license to go out into the world wearing your PJs every day (not that there’s anything wrong with that once in a while), but you should consider clothes that make you feel physically comfortable so you aren’t tugging on them all day.

There is also value in dressing to how you want to feel. If you want to lose weight so you can wear the latest fashions, then wear them already as you are. You will look hot if you feel hot!

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