20 Tips and Advice for People Getting Married
So I went and got married! It was absolutely the best day of my life. I know every says that but it’s true and to every bride or groom out there who panicking and fretting at trying to organise all the details and coordinate guests, vendors and venues all I can say is don’t worry, it all comes together on the day! Small hiccups might happen but no one will notice and as long as you don’t sweat the small stuff you’re golden. So without further ado, here are 20 things I learned when I got married, I hope you find it helpful!
I’ve shot a lot of weddings in my day and learned a lot through doing that. I though planning my own wedding in October 2019 would be a breeze! And for the most part it was, but there were a few things that surprised me and that I learnt during the wedding planning process. I’m going to list them here so that they might help guide someone else whose knee deep in wedding planning!
You can go wedding dress shopping alone
I will put my hand up and say I was super nervous about the whole dress shopping experience. I usually hate clothes shopping and having a ton of people with me giving their opinions and fussing at me just sounded like a load of stress that I didn’t need. I took it upon myself to make some appointments and trotted off by myself! It took a whole lot of stress and pressure off me as I was able to browse dresses at my own pace. Once I found a few I liked I made a short list and then brought a few select people for their final thoughts. There was a few raised eyebrows from some shops but for the most part no one thought anything of it! If its not your thing you absolutely don’t have to do the whole Say Yes to the Dress thing where you have everyone and the kitchen sink with you!
Do research on dress shops and specify size and budget
Now this might have been on me. I fall under plus size but it never occurred to me to mention this when making an appointment to look at dresses, I just kind of assumed all shops had a variety of sizes, unfortunately not so! The average dress shop stock sample sizes only, which means if your anything larger then a 12 and at a push a 14 your outta luck! The first few shops I visited simply didn’t stock my size, or anything remotely close to my size. Sure, they can order in larger sizes once you order said dress but its unhelpful to try on dresses that don’t even fit you. The very first shop I visited the owner resorted to pinning a dress to the front of me, so I could get an idea of how it might look. The whole appointment lasted about 20 minutes and I left feeling discouraged.
Luckily I went back to the drawing board and did some research, I found a selection of shops that stocked more sizes and went on to have two of the loveliest experiences possible in Curvy Chic in Belfast and Dreamy Curves in Bray. Dreamy Curves is where I eventually got my dress and Niki the owner couldn’t have been more wonderful. Her studio is gorgeous and she’s the only boutique who offered us Prosecco!
Do research before visiting a boutique, check their website to see what styles they sell and when making the appointment be specific about your size requirements and your budget.
Recommended invitation timeline
Appleberry Press supplied my invitations and I found them so incredibly helpful to deal with as well as being a well of information. The invitations were actually something I was genuinely stumped on, its just not something thats come up before! I had people telling me to send them out 9 months in advance and other saying a couple of weeks before was plenty of time. To say I was confused in an understatement! Appleberry Press were great though and gave me their recommended timeline for invites. Of course everyone is different and might choose to do things their own way, but here’s what they recommend!
Invitations should be sent out 6-8 weeks before the wedding date. They suggest having the invites in your hands 2-4 weeks before this so you can take your time writing the addresses on envelopes and sealing them etc. Trust me, this takes longer then you’d expect! For RSVP’s they recommend allowing a window of 2-3 weeks.
A lot of people will have a lot of opinions
This might go without saying, but you’ll find a lot of people will have a lot of ideas and opinions on things you should and shouldn’t be doing. It can become incredibly stressful and tedious and I think this is where a large part of the stress of wedding planning comes from. The unfortunate truth is you probably will end up accidentally offending someone (probably over nothing!) and you probably will get in an argument with someone over something stupid. Just remember this is your day and as long as your happy thats all that matters! Politely tell people you happy doing things your way, or even better operate on a need to know basis, does everyone need to know your plans for the guest list? No? No.
Consider having a second dress for nighttime
This is something a friend of mine mentioned to me and it was honestly the best decision I made. My dress while amazing was big, there was *a lot* of skirt and a *very* fitted bodice. It looked pretty spectacular in photos but once I hit dinner time it started to seriously weigh me down. I was hot and bothered and it officially became uncomfortable to wear for the dancing and partying. Luckily I’d made a last minute purchase of a lighter dress that I could throw on and dance the night away in. All official photos has been taken so it was a great relief to change out of the ballgown dress into something far lighter and easier to move in. You can find reasonably priced white dresses on Asos that have the bridal look and won’t break the bank. I got mine in Next, I ordered it a few days before the wedding and it arrived the day after ordering. Even if you don’t think you’ll need one, do it!
Get a videographer
I can’t stress this enough, you will regret it if you don’t! It wasn’t something I prioritised and even when the idea did start appealing to me our budget was already stretched to capacity. Looking back on it though its such a pity we didn’t get one as the things like the vows and speeches were so personal and emotional it would have been lovely to get them captured on video. Put it at the top of your priority list!
Wear a top you can unbutton in the morning
I think this is another one everyone probably knows but in the flurry of the morning I ended up wearing a normal t-shirt. Hours of hair and make up later it suddenly dawned on me that the rather tight neck of the t-shirt might mess up my hair and make up when I took it off over my head. Queue my sister with a nail scissors and voila the t-shirt was cut off me! Save yourself a t-shirt and opt for a button down top you can easily shimmy out of.
This is something I always recommend my brides do anyway but its merits being mentioned again. You will be on your feet for the vast majority of the day and might also have to walk a bit for photos. Do yourself a favour and have a pair of flats handy so you can be comfortable during the photos and during the dancing after!
Trust your vendors and don’t micro manage
Even though I work in the industry and knew this I did find it hard to switch off, both in the lead up to the day and on the day itself. But its so important to trust your vendors, from your photographer to your celebrant to your band. While this is a once in a lifetime day for you, they do this every other weekend and are dab hands at keeping everything going smoothly and managing any little hiccups that might occur. Sit back, relax and let them take the lead and do their thing.
Hiccups will happen, let it go
Yes, unfortunately small hiccups can and will happen. People might be delayed, suitcases can and do go missing for international guests, meticulously planned timelines can fall by the wayside and microphones can breakdown during speeches. The important thing to remember is almost no one is going to notice or remember these things. The whole day is about so much more and that’s what everyone is going to take away from it. Don’t sweat the small stuff and roll with the punches. Heres a small blog on 5 Ways to Avoid Disaster at Your Wedding detailing everything you can do to avoid larger issues coming up!
String instruments can’t play outside in certain weather
This is something I was completely unaware of and was so grateful to our string trio for bringing to my attention before the wedding. I had long planned an outdoor ceremony, telling myself and everyone else that unless it was full on raining it would be going ahead outside, in October. What can I say, I had notions!
Of course I figured that the string trio wouldn’t be able to play outside in the rain but assumed any other weather would be fine. Anna from Sacred Sounds was so patient and helpful though and really worked with us to try and make sure we had our outdoor ceremony with string music. As it happened on the day we moved the ceremony inside anyway but I thought it would be helpful to share the following. String instruments are incredibly expensive and therefore cannot perform in certain weather conditions, for example – rain, an obvious one, an indoor option will be required. Cold, anything below 16 degrees means they cannot perform outside. Direct sunlight, a parasol or shaded area is required. Something to keep in mind if you’re planning an outdoor ceremony with string instruments!
Type out your speeches and vows (beforehand)
A rookie mistake on my part, I left writing out my speech and vows to the morning of the wedding thinking I could jot them down quickly that morning and I’d be fine! Little did I know that writing out a speech and a vow first of all takes ages and second of all fills up an almighty amount of paper, also not helpful is my slightly hard to read hand writing. I asked the coordinators at Virginia Park Lodge if they might be able to print out my speech and vows and low and behold they had it done in under 10 minutes and sized so it could be held on small cue cards. So much easier and less stressful than trying to shuffle through 3 hand written crumpled pieces of A4 paper. I was lucky they were able to do this on such short notice but its definitely something to add to your To Do list before the big day!
Arrange a “post box” for the cards or ask your venue if they supply one
Just a handy tip, so your best man or appointed card carrier doesn’t have to spend the day running back and forth to the safe in the room to stash cards every time someone gives them to him. Our venue actually supplied a locked post box, it was placed in the main entrance room and everyone popped their cards in there, the box was unlocked the next morning for us to collect the cards. You can of course supply your own post box and its something I’ve seen at a good few weddings. We just found it incredibly handy and safe as well as meaning the best man could tick it off on his list of responsibilities.
Some people can find this difficult to do or the thought just mightn’t occur to you. I was fairly certain I could do most of the heavy lifting myself but as the day got closer small jobs started piling up and we became a bit frazzled and stressed with it all. Thankfully our bridal party, friends and parents were on hand to pick up any and all slack. I am HUGELY grateful to my bridesmaids for running around Dublin City centre looking for shoes and hand fasting ribbon as well as acting as a personal pick up service for things like signage and place cards and my poor mother who bought every black candle in two Flying Tigers. Don’t feel like you have to do everything yourself, delegate where you can.
A handy tip that Himself got when starting his suit search was to go to a department store, Marks and Spencers or the like and find a suit you like that would fit all the groomsmen. Once a colour and style was found for them at a reasonable price you can then search for your own suit to match (or contrast) with their suits in more expensive shops such as Louis Copeland. It’s easier to match groomsmen suits to the grooms suit also as places like Louis Copeland stock more colours and styles.
You can’t be too prepared
Why would we need wound wipes?? I remember asking my sister incredulously when she gave me a list of things she was bringing down to the venue with her. I laughed at the time but true enough, before the night was over wound wipes were needed! In the case of weddings you can never be too prepared. Even if you think you’ll never need them (wound wipes!) don’t risk it, stock up on everything you think you might need and don’t be caught on the hop!
Trust your wedding coordinator
Our co-ordinator Leila was absolutely on the ball. Even thought I’ve worked in the industry for a while she was able to effortlessly steer and guide us through the finer details of planning our day. On the day itself she was able to make a call on the weather and location of the ceremony when I would have been stuck dithering and unable to make a decision. Your coordinator does A LOT of weddings, they have come across every question, hiccup and obstacle going and know how to deal with them. Put your trust in them and let them guide you throughout the day as they do know best.
Consider having a wedding hashtag
We didn’t but in hindsight it would have been such a good idea! A lot of our guests took loads of photos and a wedding hashtag would have made it easy for them to all be collected in the same place. Its definitely not a necessity but if like me your nuts for photos its be a nice way to keep all the photos from your day together and makes a fun way for guests who can’t attend to see snippets of your day.
Bring tissues to the ceremony
I naturally bawled my eyes out walking down the aisle. Once I got to the top of the aisle and was seated and everyone had settled down I looked around for a tissue. No tissues to be had! I’d stupidly told my bridesmaids to leave their handbags in the bridal suite, all containing tissues. after much whispering and foostering a tissue was finally produced but its always a good idea to send down the handbags beforehand well stocked with tissues!
The day really does go fast!
I hear this all the time, and say this all the time to my own brides but it actually so true! Over a years worth of planning and organising goes by in an extremely fast 24 hours. A week after the wedding I was sitting on my couch genuinely thinking to myself “Did that really happen? Was I really there?”. Savour every moment of it, invest in a wedding photographer and a videographer that are amazing so they can capture all of it. Encourage people to take photos once the ceremony is over and to share them on social media. The day goes by so fast and its these things that keep the memories alive for you!
These are just a few of the tips and things I learned when I got married! I’m not saying anyone needs to do all these things or follow my example, weddings are personal and everyone should do what feels right for them! But if anyone reads this and finds something useful in it then thats great! Weddings can be hugely confusing and convoluted, for most of us its our first time getting married and largely uncharted territory so any advice is welcome.
If you have any questions or if theres anything wedding related I can help you with email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I can’t wait to hear from you!