They say that your wedding day, and the months leading up to it can be the most stressful time of your life. Well, in my opinion, whoever said that just didn't have their shit together.

From music to colour themes, guest lists to favours, wedding rings to the dress, it's difficult to know where to start, and how to know what you're looking for. The secret to pulling off a beautiful wedding is all in the detail, and being able to plan and organise effectively.

Hopefully, you'll only plan your own wedding just the one time, but the downside to that is I always find myself thinking "If only I'd done this before, then I'd know what to do!"

So, to all my fellow first-time brides out there, here are some tips and things I've learned from planning my own wedding, which will hopefully make things a little easier for you!


Figure out a budget and prioritise.

If you're lucky enough to have your parents contribute towards your wedding, I'm afraid you're going to have to have the awkward conversation in asking them about exactly how much they're happy to contribute. Just suck it up and do it. Once you know how much help you will get you can start to figure out how much you'll be able to save, or what you can afford using existing savings. Unfortunately, prioritising comes hand in hand with having to make sacrifices. I find this so difficult because whenever I see something wedding-related, regardless of what it is, I need to have it. I'm just one of those people. You may love the idea of a photobooth or chocolate fountain at your wedding, but if it eats into your band fund, you may have to let go of your chocolatey dreams. To help do this, make a list of your absolute must-have's for your wedding, then another list of luxuries which you'd love to have if your budget allows. This also helps to curb impulses when you're looking around wedding fairs - I'm looking at you, Marryoke!


Be practical.

This point can also relate to prioritising, but when trying to decide between options you need to think practically. Although your wedding day is going to be filled with love, the planning part of it needs to be ruled somewhat by your head. The other day my MiL-to-be asked me what car I'll be having on the day. Car? I hadn't even thought about getting a car! I figured the easiest option was to stay at the venue the night before. That way, all my stuff is already there and I won't have to worry about check-in times etc. That was, until she mentioned the car. I did have a look at a few wedding car websites, but many of them are hideously expensive. I'm not really big on tradition, and the thought of having your typical wedding car doesn't really appeal to me. Although I did see one website offering a Lamborgini that might be tempting! This is also an advantage of having your ceremony and reception in the same place, and having a venue which includes accommodation!


Take advice, but not too much!

When you're planning your wedding, it's easy to get overwhelmed by all your options. That's why it's good to have your friends, bridesmaids, and family there for support. If you're unsure about something relating to your wedding, it's fine to ask your support network for their advice, but don't let them persuade you into something you know you don't want. Remember, it's your day. I've been tempted to hire a sweet cart for the reception, but after seeing one at a wedding fair with one of my bridesmaids recently, she told me she'd been to a wedding which had one and by the end of the night there was over half of the contents left, so I decided against it. At the end of the day, no one will care about your wedding more than you do, so you make the final decisions!




When you find the one, you'll know.

This applies to venue, flowers, the band, the dress - pretty much everything. You'll know it's meant to be yours because you'll get 'the feeling'. (If you've had it, you'll know what I'm talking about). Don't panic if there's still that one thing left to find, because a lot of the time, it will find you. The one thing we'd struggled to find was a band. We knew we wanted live music at our reception, and we had trawled through hundreds of band's pages on the internet, with no joy. (Actually, we did find one we loved, but they were booked). I loved the thought of having a swing band who could do both old and new style music, but to get a good one was way out of our budget, so we had to rule that out. Then, I found our band at a wedding fair. They played a few songs throughout the catwalk show, and they were everything I was looking for - when I wasn't even looking for it!


Don't go with the first thing you see, but don't rule it out, either.

I've actually been quite lucky with a lot of my wedding prep. We looked at four venues, and out of the three we could afford (that fourth one was my dream wedding venue), we just had a feeling about the very first one we saw - so we booked it. I also only went to two dress shops before I found my dress. In the second store, the one I tried on first was the one I ended up getting. I knew straight away that I loved it, and every dress I tried on after that, I kept comparing to the first one. (I was actually kinda gutted I found my wedding dress so soon, trying on dresses was so much fun!) The same applies with our photographer. I spoke to so many at a number of different wedding fairs, but none were as good as the first lady I saw.


Don't let vendors pressure you.

Wedding fairs are brilliant - they help you find things for your wedding you didn't even know you needed. A lot of them will try and entice you to book there and then, but don't be pressured by their "20% off - today only" offers. The good ones will understand that it's not an easy decision, so they will give you their card, and the time you need to make that decision. When I come back from a wedding fair, I always go through the goody bag straight away, and only keep the leaflets and cards of the companies I actually remember. If I have no idea what stand was theirs just by looking at their card, then they obviously didn't leave much of an impression on me. This point applies to the sales people in wedding dress shops, too. Most of them will understand that buying your wedding dress is probably the most important purchase you'll ever make, so the good ones won't want to rush you. I actually did let the woman in the shop pressure me into buying the tiara and veil. I hadn't fully decided I even wanted a veil, but for some reason I didn't say no. I wish I had now, as the hairdresser I'm thinking of booking hand makes these beautiful hair pieces. I think I'll probably sell the tiara, and maybe even the veil I have, so I can spend a bit more time looking for the right thing.




Try everything.

This mainly applies to wedding dresses, but you'll never know what looks good on you until you try it on. Before I went for my first session I was terrified that nothing would suit me and I'd look like a whale bride in everything. To my surprise, I actually found that the opposite was the case. A lot of wedding dresses are made to be very flattering, as a lot of them are very structured (and heavy!). It's great to go to a shop with an idea of what you want, but make sure you try everything, even if just to rule it out. You may surprise yourself and find yourself loving something you didn't think you'd like.


Your wedding should be a reflection of you.

Pinterest is a great tool for deciding what kind of wedding you'd like to have. It can also be very dangerous, as if you're anything like me, you'll find yourself falling in love with every single thing on there. Your wedding day should be a reflection of you as a couple, but if you trust your gut and go with your 'feeling', then this should happen naturally. I usually like things which are very different. I don't like having the same things as everyone else, but I also don't like being the centre of attention. A lot of the things I've chosen for my wedding are quite unique and unusual. My dress isn't what you'd call your typical 'Bride' dress, and neither are the bridesmaid's dresses. Our colour theme is navy and rose gold, which is modern and unique. Rather than booking a standard function band, we've gone for an amazing jazz duo who can do anything from the old classics like Hit the Road Jack, to a 1930's style cover of Gold Digger!


DIY it!

Why pay other people to do what you can do yourself!? This can apply to invitations, centrepieces, favours - if you can make it, why shouldn't you?  You can save a ton of money, and you can inject your own personality and style into your wedding to create something really personal. This is one of the things Pinterest is an absolute goldmine for.




Don't sweat the small stuff.

It's such an overused phrase, but it's so true! No one is going to care about what colour your napkins are, okay? Just focus on making your day as enjoyable as possible for everyone involved. I mean, you're buying dinner for up to 100 people, they don't have the right to comment on any of your choices! You can't keep everyone happy.


Don't have all the traditions just for the sake of it.

When I told a lot of people I was getting married, they would ask me questions about it, and a lot of them seemed shocked that I wasn't having a church wedding. I'm not religious, so in all honestly I think I'd be bored if I had a church wedding! Also, I personally   don't really love the idea of the father giving the bride away. It just seems like it came from the times where a man would sell his daughter for a cow and three goats. But, I'd never deprive my dad of this moment! My fiancé also assumed we wouldn't want a receiving line. Why would I not want people queuing up to tell me how amazing I look?!


Don't involve people just to be polite.

Guest lists and seating plans can be very tricky. The best piece of advice I can give for this is to only invite the people you can't imagine your wedding day without. It seems like whenever a wedding is on the horizon, people seem to pop up out of nowhere so make sure you stick to your instincts. Work colleagues is always a tricky one - if you invite some, you feel like you have to invite everyone, etc. Ask yourself whether they would invite you to their wedding. I think it's fine to only invite a few people from work that you're close with. If anyone asks if they're invited and you don't know how to tell them that they aren't, just politely say that although you'd love to invite everyone you simply don't have the budget to have a big wedding. There's this one person I used to be very good friends with, and we've since fell out of touch. When I announced my engagement, she didn't congratulate me, ask to see the ring - nothing. All I got was a 'like' on Facebook. I found out a few months later that she thought she was going to be a bridesmaid. Would you ask someone to be a bridesmaid who didn't even acknowledge your engagement?




Have fun!

Planning your wedding can actually be very fun if you're a bit of a Monica like I am. Just remember why you're getting married and everything will fall into place.

And make sure you don't turn into a Bridezilla!


Do you have any tips to share?



Published by Kimberley MacGregor