As a wedding photographer, I’m in the unique position of having observed countless gorgeous weddings. Along the way, I picked up so many wedding planning tips I wish I’d known when I was planning my own wedding! Learn from my experience, and pick up these wedding planning tips to make your wedding day a little bit smoother.
8 Wedding Planning Tips I Wish I’d Known
#1 – Check venue rules on volume and timing
Most people assume that the venue hire and booking a band or a DJ would be unrelated items on the to-do list. However, they’re connected much deeper than they think. Make sure that you read the venue contract that you’re signing, and pay attention to rules around noise and volume. It would be such a shame to schedule out your whole evening of celebration, and then have to cut off the dance floor early because the venue won’t tolerate noise beyond a certain time.
If you know that from the beginning, you can come up with other ideas: shift to a silent disco, perhaps? Bringing a round of post-dancefloor snacks or pizzas as the band leaves? Whatever you decide to do, knowing your venue’s rules and requirements is one of the most crucial wedding planning tips.
#2 – Remember VAT!
I’ll keep it short and sweet here – remember to factor tax into your wedding budget. This isn’t one of the most glamorous wedding planning tips, but knowing that you’re going to be paying between 5% and 20% above the quoted price on many elements of your wedding is going to be such a lifesaver. Don’t lose sight of it!
#3 – Move flowers and decor from ceremony to reception
This is one of those sneaky wedding planning tips I wish I’d known! It’s such a shame creating such gorgeous floral arrangements and decorations for your ceremony site for guests to enjoy them for an hour or two.
Instead, try to see if you can bring any of the decorations – flowers and signage, especially – from the ceremony venue to be repurposed at your reception. You’ll thank me later!
#4 – Don’t assume people understand the plan
You’ve been going over and over the details of your big day for months – but your wedding party hasn’t. One of my top wedding planning tips is to be SO clear in the expectations you hold for everyone who has any level of responsibility on the day, no matter how small. Some things will look obvious to you. However, I guarantee that there will be some things that simply slip your excited guests’ minds.
So, draw up a wedding day schedule with detailed instructions for each person: from who is picking up the tuxedos to who is printing out the readings to who is checking the sound system.
#5 – Love your vendors (and let them know!)
Throughout the planning process and on your wedding day itself, make sure that you’re going over and above to show your appreciation to your vendors. After a meeting, let them know how excited you are about working with them. When things are delivered, shoot them an email or a text with your honest delight. Spreading love is one of the best wedding planning tips to make wedding planning way less stressful for everyone. Plus, it’s the little things like this that will motivate your vendors to go that extra mile in making everything wonderful.
#6 – Explore the neighborhood when planning your wedding
If you’re getting married close to home, this won’t matter. But if you’re traveling for your wedding, even if it’s just to a neighboring town, make sure you take some time in the days before your wedding to drive through the local area. This is going to help you be prepared for any last-minute needs or emergencies on the day. Make sure you clock the nearest grocery store, pharmacy, and the local hotels where your guests might be staying. Even if nothing goes wrong, these wedding planning tips will help you have peace of mind as you celebrate.
#7 – Food for vendors
This is going to vary a lot depending on how you’re dealing with food at your wedding. Is the venue taking care of it? Are you bringing in professional wedding caterers, or have you hired a restaurant? Whatever the case, make sure you speak to the venue manager or the head chef to talk about food for your vendors. As questions like – is there a place where vendors can sit and eat? Does food for your team come as part of the package? What do you usually do for your own dinner on the night?
As a wedding photographer myself, I am super grateful when my own needs are thought about. A place to sit down and grab some dinner is a godsend. You aren’t obligated to figure out food for your vendors. However, working with caterers (or even just ordering pizzas!) to provide a meal for them is one of those wedding planning tips that is going to score you major brownie points with everyone working to make your day amazing.
#8 – Riff on your love story
One of the best wedding planning tips is to draw on your own love story to create unique features for your wedding. Remember, weddings have become a whole industry. It is easy to flow right into the cookie-cutter products and trends that dominate that year’s wedding culture. However, the best way to celebrate the meaning of the day is to incorporate little nods to your relationship.
There are countless ways to do that, from wedding favors to music to the kind of snacks you provide. It’s these little details that set your wedding apart from the crowd.
The best wedding planning tips for you
Every wedding is different. However, I’m pretty confident that no matter what you’ve got planned, these wedding planning tips will help you have a smoother planning process and more fun at your wedding! For more wedding planning tips and tricks, check out my blog. If you’re looking for a wedding photographer – well, I can help.