Having had so many conversations recently with friends and couples about their big days I find myself repeating similar advice. So I thought I would share some anecdotes and tips that I have picked up along the way. If I was going to get married again (you can have a vow renewal for your 10 year anniversary, right?! 3 years to go!!) then these are some of the things I'll be keeping in mind and I wish I'd have known when I was planning my own wedding. I've included some images from the beautiful weddings I have shot...
Go with your heart
I think with a lot of weddings, decisions are made that aren't necessarily that of the couple. When we got married, I felt pressure from people to do things a certain way - this included who we were inviting to the day and the evening. We would have loved to have all of our friends and family for the whole day but we just couldn't budget for it. In the end, the people we loved shared our day with us and that was what mattered!
Under pressure - the dress fiasco!
I wish I'd have followed my heart more when it came to my dress! This was possibly the biggest stress of the entire wedding. By the time I bought my dress, I was absolutely done with dress shopping. I tried on a dress which was lovely and also in the sale... but only until the end of the day! So after going to have lunch and talking it over with my mum, I decided to go with it. I wish I'd have just had a break from dress shopping and then tried again a month or so later. I had so many issues with the seamstress who the shop had provided, and the ladies who worked there just seemed a little cold.. the dress was just never perfect. I also cried every time I put it on during fitting sessions as I just felt it was too big and poofy, and just didn't fit quite right around my waist. This should have been a pretty good sign... In the end, with less than a week to go, we collected the dress from the shop and it still wasn't right. However, my mum, being the absolute legend that she is, managed to find a retired seamstress who made me feel so much better and worked on the dress until the early hours to make it *perfect*. I was so grateful to the lovely, lovely lady, but boy did we cut it close! Oh, and the seamstress from the shop had left a needle in the bodice. So glad we ended up getting it sorted ourselves, but that was definitely a stress I could have done without! Especially as I know so many lovely bridal shops now, I think I would have made some different decisions!
Budget the important stuff
Weddings are a pricey business! When we got married we tried to cut costs for everything.. on the one hand, I'm glad we aren't still paying it off seven years later, but I do think we could have been more savvy! There are so many hidden or surprising costs along the way so it's a really good idea to work out, before you start spending, the things are important to you as a couple. If you're a bit of a foodie, set aside a good chunk for some epic food. If you want to 'wow' your guests, pull out all the stops for an amazing wedding cake! As with so many things in life, you tend to get what you pay for if you are paying for a professional service. For us, we wanted a venue that had package options but I also wanted somewhere that I would be proud to ask my grandparents to attend. We looked around so many venues that were reasonably priced but just didn't excite me. When we found our venue and looked at the ceremony room, I saw the beautiful arched windows (anyone who knows me and my photography knows I love a good archway) and the lovely courtyard and knew it was the one! As a couple, it's important to decide where you want to spend your money. I didn't start focussing on photography wholeheartedly until a couple of years after getting married and so I didn't really know what I wanted style-wise. We cut costs there and I must say, I really regret not budgeting more for an amazing photographer. We did meet with a few photographers (which is super important), one photographer actually made a quip about my best friend's mum - I don't know what he thought he was going to achieve there, clearly not our custom anyway! I say it all the time, but your wedding photos are the lasting memories of your day and will eventually outlive you - they will be passed down for generations (I know I love looking at old family photographs). If we ever did do it all again, I would definitely make sure the budget reflected what was important - photography will be up there, and I'd love a band too!
Our wedding day was very 'us'. We managed to have lots of personal details throughout and this is such a lovely thing to see when I'm shooting weddings. The day is all about you and your partner so think about what makes your love unique. If we were going to do it all again, I'd love to have some special images of the two of us that were a little different. I love capturing the personalities of my couples when we have our private shoot away from the crowd on their wedding day. We were never whisked away for a private shoot but I wish we'd have had the chance. I always make sure, when I'm shooting weddings, that we can escape for just a few minutes to get some beautiful couple portraits. I think it's so important to have some time with just the two of you - not only does it give you a little down-time, it's also awesome to have some special images that everyone else hasn't half-captured on their phones!
And finally... remember who your day is about
Another little thing I try and say to my couples is to take time just the two of you on your wedding day. Weddings are an absolute whirlwind - everything is scheduled to the minute and it just goes by so quickly! Try and consciously put some time aside to sit with your new spouse and just watch what is going on. Enjoy the moment! I wish we'd have spent more time with each other on our day and really celebrated together. I think on my wedding day, our first dance was our last dance! We should have danced together more - especially as my husband has hips that were just made for dancing! What could be better than a good boogie with the person you are about to spend the rest of your life with?!