1. Only invite people you like and want to spend time with. So many of my couples have said (on the day itself) that they’re spending all their time making small talk with a distant cousin they won’t see again for years and can barely remember their name, instead of having a good time with the people they really want to see.
2. Details and decorations are awesome, but for a relaxing lead-up to the wedding, try not to worry too much about the little things (that might feel like big things!). You won’t notice them once you’re surrounded by friends and family. As soon as it stops being fun, leave it.
3. If you’re using a professional hair and make-up artist have a trial. Make up artists know how to make you look amazing for the camera and they’ll use special products so that even with tears, rain or sweat running down your face, your make-up will stay put. I’m a huge advocate for doing your own make up though – you know what suits you and how you feel comfortable.
4. Wear flat shoes – heels get painful, especially brand new ones. If you’re wearing a long dress no one will see your shoes anyway.
5. Wear a light floaty dress if you’re having a summer wedding. A few of my brides have compared their dresses to “wearing a quilt” in the heat of the summer!
6. Have a ‘first look’ if you’re having a late winter ceremony, so we can make use of the natural light. It gets dark really early from October onwards, so consider this when booking your ceremony time (or change it if you need to).
7. Consider having the official legal ceremony the day before or after. If you want to get married in a back garden, a field, a campsite, beside a lake, on top of a mountain, you can! Just sign the papers another day. Don’t let logistics stop you from having your perfect wedding!
8. If you’re having confetti, get LOTS and make it as colourful as possible. A lot of places only allow biodegradable confetti.
9. Consider asking your guests not to take photos during the ceremony. You are paying for a professional photographer, so you’ll have all the photos you need. You also want your guests to be completely present at your wedding, and to see their faces when you look back at them — and not their cameras!
10. Go without a veil – they weigh your head down and cover the hairstyle you’ve spent all morning perfecting.
11. Forget the table plan. It’s the singular most stressful part of planning a wedding and totally unnecessary. People will sit with people they know, and anyone on their own would have been sitting with strangers anyway. Dinner is a very small part of the day timewise, and most people get up and wander around between courses anyway. As a compromise, why not say which table people should sit at but not give them specific places?
12. Plan to serve the cake straight after the ceremony instead of doing the cake cutting after dinner when everyone is full and just wants beer. Cutting and serving the cake right after the ceremony mean guests will actually eat it (and you save on canapes!)
13. Research your DJ. Do you want a 65-year-old dude who loves the sound of his own voice and thinks “Celebrate Good Times” is a song you want played at your wedding, or do you want someone who gets you, who knows what to play and when? I recently shot a wedding where the DJ played a slow smoochy song as the third track of the night. I’ve never seen a dancefloor empty so fast.
14. Think about the type of music played. Your favourite songs aren’t necessarily what will get people dancing, and there’s nothing sadder than an empty dancefloor with just your uncle swaying drunkenly on his own.
15. Invest in food. If you’re a foodie, a bad meal (and hungry guests) can ruin your day. A pizza truck in the evening is an awesome idea and your mates will love you.