Wedding planning pitfalls and how to avoid them

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People have been getting married for thousands of years (the first recorded wedding ceremony dates from about 2350 B.C. in Mesopotamia).  And over those four thousand years a body of best practice has emerged as couples have learnt, from experience, what worked well…and what didn’t!  In this post we share a few common mistakes that brides would do best to avoid.   If you want a fairy tale wedding read and take note!

Please yourself

We go through life being told we mustn’t be selfish – but this is one occasion when (within limits…nobody likes a total Bridezilla!) you are allowed to indulge yourself.  Other people, from your parents to your in-laws, your friends to your relatives, are going to have certain expectations and opinions.  It’s diplomatic to hear them out but this is the biggest day of your life, not theirs, so don’t be unduly swayed by them. 

Likewise, don’t be overly concerned about stage managing an event that’s going to look great on facebook and Instagram – concentrate on creating a great experience for those who are in the room rather than those who aren’t! 

Another thing - try not to think about your friends’ weddings and out-do them.  It’s a wedding, not a competition, and having a ceremony that’s perfect for you is far more important than anything else. 

So, if your happy place is a festival field then an overly formal wedding celebration is probably not for you.  But if you and your partner are more black-tie and ballroom then something casual and rustic-chic is best avoided!

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Avoid under-budgeting

You need to be realistic – weddings are expensive.  According to Hitched magazine’s National Wedding Survey the average total cost of a wedding in 2019 was £31,974.  Of course you can do it for less but the danger is that you optimistically assume you can come in way under this – only to discover half way through the process that you either have to find more money or scale things down a bit.  It’s no fun going into your big day with money worries or having to make do without some of the exciting extras you’d really set your heart on.    

To avoid this situation we’d advise having a contingency fund built into the finances - at least an extra 10% on top for forgotten or unforeseen costs. Trust us, there will be something you didn’t think about, and finding an extra £500 to pay the DJ or £1000 for evening food that you forgot you ordered the week before your wedding will be almost impossible.

Another useful tip is to get acquainted with Excel, or one of the many free wedding budget spreadsheets that are available, well before you start looking at dresses, venues and photography portfolios.

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Be sensible the night before

The idea of a warm-up session with your friends the night before your big day is probably appealing – but not wise.  Not only will you wake up feeling less than your absolute best but a puffy face and baggy eyes is not the look you want to achieve!  Much better to have a quiet night in and get a good night’s sleep.  Best to drink plenty of water, rather than alcohol, and go for something healthy and wholesome rather than pizza with Doritos and popcorn on the side! 

Avoid putting glamour before comfort

Of course you want to look stunning.  But don’t squeeze yourself into a dress that causes you discomfort, or is too daring, just to impress (remember what we said earlier about being too influenced by Instagram).  Being in pain, or feeling awkward, can seriously spoil what should be an entirely magical experience.  Choose a dress that flatters your figure without being so tight or low-cut that you're constantly squirming or adjusting things.  Also consider flat shoes rather than high heels.  It’s a long day with a lot of time on your feet, followed by an evening of dancing – you don’t need blisters spoiling your memories!

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Resist the temptation to order your dress a size too small

Following on from the previous point it’s best to play safe.  If you regularly fluctuate by a dress size, and you know it won’t be a problem to drop a dress size between ordering your outfit and your wedding day, then go ahead.  However, we suggest you’re better off choosing a dress that suits you at your natural normal size rather than trying to alter your body to achieve a desired look.

It’s important to look and feel like yourself on your wedding day – you don’t want wedding photographs where you don’t recognise the bride!  And spending the last couple of weeks before your big day feeling miserable and hungry is a sure way to spoil the countdown.

Don’t let someone talk you into a hairstyle that isn’t ‘you’

Again, beware of Instagram, pinterest and other social media posts that feature hundreds of gorgeous, braiding up-dos, flower embellished halo braids and the like.  Do you usually wear your hair up?  If the answer is yes then it might be appropriate on this occasion too.  But if you don’t then it may not be such a great idea.  As with your dress it’s important you look and feel like yourself on your wedding day.  A completely unfamiliar style may make you feel slightly uncomfortable and this is not a good time to invite a bad hair day!

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Prepare for the unexpected

Even the best laid plan can be thrown into disarray – stuff just happens!  Whether it’s a wardrobe malfunction or a misbehaving child you need to plan for every eventuality.   

A few things you should probably consider:

·         Make sure every single child has an adult watching over them. Give clear instructions that the child (and adult!) can understand.

·         Ask the wedding party to arrive early so everyone is on station with time to spare.

·         Have a fully stocked first aid kit on the premises.

·         Make your photography and social media policy clear before people go snap happy and start posting pictures half way through the ceremony. 

·         If your wedding is in a church and some of your guests are unfamiliar with the religious protocols provide instruction or explanation so they won't be embarrassed or have awkward moments.

·         Have a box of tissues on every pew or row during the ceremony so guests can dab their eyes before their mascara starts to run. 

·         Nominate someone who is unlikely to drink a lot to keep an eye out for those who might drink a bit too much.  If they see someone who is starting to lose it they can have a discreet word with the bartender and generally monitor the situation so it does not end in tears (or worse).

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Don’t bet on good weather

Even if you are getting married in the height of summer it pays to be prepared for a bit (a lot?) of rain.  It’s smart to pick a venue which gives you the option of holding some of your event outdoors (photographs, al fresco drinks reception, barbecue, games for kids…including big ones!), but with plenty of appropriate spaces under cover in case the weather decides to dump on your big day. 

Provide super clear and simple directions

This is especially important if your reception is in a different location to the ceremony.  Leave nothing to chance - print some detailed directions and include them in the invitation.  If you’ve got a website post them here as well.  Plus you can hand the directions out as people leave the ceremony.  Nothing puts a damper on things quite like people who arrive late and stressed because they got lost!

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Beware of overcomplicating things

If you’ve got the budget, the time and the inclination you really can go mad with little details to make your big day extra special.   But sweet individual favours and unique personalised table decorations, lovely and thoughtful as they may be, are not essential to your guests’ enjoyment. The chances are at least 50% of your guests will leave their favours behind (hello money-down-the-drain).  If your budget is tight you’re better off swapping decoration or favour money for some extra table wine – this will probably be more popular than organza chair sashes or little pots of jam with your initials on!

Make time to talk to everyone

Although this is your special day it’s important to make every guest feel special too – and nothing does that quite like paying them some individual attention.  Obviously you’ll need to focus on members of the wedding party, and you’ll also want to socialise with your closest friends.  But you also need make the rounds of all the other guests to say a few words.  Thank everyone for sharing this special day and let them know how much it means to you for them to be there.

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Be prompt with the Thank You notes

No one expects you to write thank you notes during your honeymoon.  But you should make that a priority as soon as you return. The sooner you do it the less likely you are to get tied up with other things.  Doing it late is better than never but don’t leave it too long.  Who writes the notes?  Both of you.

Anything else?

Organising a wedding is a complicated and challenging project and there are bound to be things which, with hindsight, you could have done better.  Although this list could have been much longer (but we don’t want to overdo it) it probably covers the most common areas where people trip up.  We hope you find it useful but if you’d like to discuss your own particular wedding plans just get in touch – the experienced team at Clevedon Hall is only too happy to offer more expert advice.   

Jim O'ConnorComment