Things I’ve Learnt Whilst Planning My Sister’s Wedding

Devlin Photos

June 27, 2016

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In less than a week my baby sister will be married. Next Saturday she’ll be standing up there and all the stresses and strains of planning The Wedding Of The Century (fact) will have been worthwhile.

I got married in 2008, and without wanting to sound 672 years old, things were so different then. Back then, the fact that my bridesmaids wore black and we made our own cake was considered pretty unconventional. These days most people (ourselves included) would look at our wedding and think it was actually very, very traditional.

So needless to say I have learnt a lot in the past 12 months. It’s given me a brand new perspective of what it’s really like down in the trenches, and I’ve a new found respect for anyone who’s having a completely DIY or budget wedding. This shit is stressful you guys!

You’re going to offend and disagree with people… and probably feel guilty a lot

Arguments will happen. Whether it’s between you and your significant other, your parents, or well meaning (but, at times, irritating) friends. Emotions are high and there’s a lot to do so they are pretty unavoidable. If you get through your entire wedding planning experience without a single raised eyebrow then you must be a saint. Report to the Vatican immediately.

Having a wedding is just like throwing a big party. That’s stressful on it’s own except this party is the party, everyone’s invited and there are no do-overs. Also everyone has an opinion about it and their own expectations.

You need to attempt to strike a balance between realising the wedding isn’t just about you but also knowing that at the end of the day, it actually is. You have to consider other people’s feelings (because if you don’t you’re an arsehole) and understand that doing so doesn’t mean you’re ‘selling out’ or that your wedding won’t be cool/ alternative/ the most perfect day ever.

If you are arguing a lot, don’t take it as a failure and try not to feel bad about it. It doesn’t mean your wedding day will be in any way less awesome. It probably just means that everybody cares, and (in our case anyway!) everybody has their own, very strong opinions of how they’d prefer things to be done.

Compromise is key, which brings me onto my second lesson…

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You won’t necessary get everything you wanted 

This isn’t a wedding from a movie, this is real life. There are other people’s desires to consider and, as frustrating as it can be at the time, you can’t just stick your head in the proverbial sand and do everything to satisfy yourself.

For example, parents. This is an important day for them too and (especially if they’re contributing financially) you should consider what they want as well. They might have different priorities to you, but that doesn’t make them automatically wrong. Sure, they might think all the extra stress of hand making the favours is pointless, whereas you can’t think of anything worse than asking your guests to stand in a receiving line. As frustrating as it is, try to see things from their perspective. And remember, letting them ‘win’ certain things will not make your wedding any less special.

In the same vein, budget constraints might mean that you aren’t able to have everything you initially wanted. Make a list of the things you absolutely can not live without, and ditch or consider cheaper options for the rest.

You’ll spend more than you planned to

Its very rare that I hear about a wedding that came in under budget. Whether you have £500 or £50,000 to spend, there are always costs that you don’t factor in. I don’t really have any advice here other than to let you know that this probably will happen so brace yourself!

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Finding, booking and paying for a venue is more stressful than you think it’ll be

If you want something very specific for your wedding venue (and if its more on the alternative side) then finding it can be damn hard. They’re also (on the most part) bloody expensive. Finding a venue that doesn’t specialise in weddings will save you cash, but may also mean you have to do a lot more legwork yourselves.

Rachel and Jamie’s wedding is taking place at The Outdoor Party Company near Reading. I found it on approximately page 275 of Google (they don’t even have a website – just a Facebook page) after searching for ‘woodland venue, Reading’. Turns out woodland wedding venues are really hard to come across but it’s the one thing Rachel and Jamie really wanted!

Anyway, the venue is amazing and was super cheap to hire, but we are having to do everything ourselves including bringing in generators for electricity and all the set up and pack down.

If you want something unique, start your venue hunt as soon as you possibly can because everything else hinges on it.

However early you start the DIY there will always be a scramble at the last minute

Again, inevitable. My sister has done a ridiculous amount of DIY (it’s going to look amazing!) and she started about six months ago… but with less than a week to go there are still things that need doing. There are also other ideas that had to be scrapped because there isn’t enough time. I can not stress this enough – start your DIY projects sooner than you think you need to!

You start stressing over little things you never even knew could be a problem

Like if the make up artist will have enough time to do everyone’s faces…  Or how the cake is getting to the venue and if the person who’s going to drive it might drop it (turns out this job has fallen to me – HELP!)

Remember to breathe, get enough sleep and stop thinking about all the worst case scenarios over and over. It will only drive you crazy. Once the day comes around you will have done all you can and if something does go wrong, the fact of the matter is that no-one apart from you will notice anyway.

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Having a day-of coordinator is INVALUABLE

Having a completely DIY wedding, at a venue without even electricity, meant that I campaigned long and hard for us to hire a day-of coordinator. Unlike a full on wedding planner who will help you find and book suppliers, and do most of the organisation throughout your engagement, a day-of coordinator will just work with you for about a week or so beforehand. Their job is to gather all the supplier info from you, create a schedule for the day, be the person someone calls if they have a problem (the last thing you want it one of your suppliers calling YOU the morning of your wedding to tell you something’s gone wrong!) organise all the logistics and lead the clean up in the evening.

If you’re getting married at a venue that’s used to doing weddings then one may come with your package, but if not, FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS HOLY, please hire one. We’ve booked Olivia from Nitty Gritty Events and she has kept us all sane in the last couple of weeks.

She also knows how to do this shit. I know a lot about weddings and what we should and should not have, but event planning is not my forte. HIRE ONE, you will not regret it.

Asking for help will stop you going insane

I hear this over and over again from the brides who’s weddings I feature, “Ask people for help”, they say, “Your friends and family will be more than happy to help out where they can.” However this can fall on deaf ears when you can’t think past everything you have to do.

STOP and ask yourself, “Can I outsource this to someone else rather than struggling through myself?” You are not bothering people or being annoying. People want to help, so let them!

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Someone will cancel at the last minute or not show up

Moral of the story: there will be at least one insensitive idiot who cancels with less than a week to go when the table plan has already been sent to the printers and the food order has already been placed.

Just be happy in the knowledge that no-on else will notice if one of the tables has one less person on it than the others… And then blacklist the canceller from your life forever (seriously, do people not understand these things have to be organised in advance!?)

You won’t be able to stop yourself obsessing over the weather

As much as I’ve said in the past “Rain on your wedding day can be fabulous, don’t stress about the things you can’t control!” I’ll admit, that even I have been slightly panicked about the crappy weather we’ve been having over the last few weeks. A completely outdoor wedding is amazing, but if it rains… Oh lord. I now totally understand why brides worry about it so much and although I’ve succumbed to the worry at times, I do have to keep reminding myself (and other people) of my own advice. Even if it does rain, the wedding will still be amazing.

So, over to you – what have you learnt throughout your wedding planning?!