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Five biggest wedding planning mistakes (and how to avoid them)

Introduction

As a wedding photographer I go to more weddings than your typical couple. So it puts me in a unique position to see what goes right and works but also what can often go wrong. When things don’t quite go to plan. In this article I will share the five biggest mistakes made when wedding planning and offer some suggestions on how to avoid them.

1. Packed Timeline

I get it. It’s your one big day. You have spent the last 12-18 months planning it, living it, breathing it. Your partner wonders what on earth you will both talk about after the wedding is over. As a result, you’ve added so much to the plans that there’s no room for slack.

The biggest piece of advice I can offer is to factor in some time for wiggle room. If you think it will take ten minutes to drive from the church to reception. Double it. If you think it will take twenty minutes to take photos. Double it. The reason is that guests will all be so excited to see you and spend time with you that they’ll all want to talk to you and also others they may not have seen for years. Time will literally fly by.

As an experienced wedding photographer, I know that after you both walk down the aisle as husband and wife that I will need to give you ten minutes whilst your family & friends congratulate you. But it’s something many couples don’t think about when planning their timelines.

You may think it will only take you five minutes to slip into your dress. The reality is that it won’t. It will be more like fifteen to twenty minutes. Consider how long it really takes you to get ready for a night out. Now remember this is one of the most important days of your life! You’re wearing the most expensive dress you will ever have bought. If you need to be tied into your dress, it will need a bit longer since often this is not something the person who is fastening you in will have done before.

If you are running ahead of time, then you can spend some time mingling with your wedding guests. One of the biggest regrets from our own wedding and something I often hear from couples is that they barely got to spend any time with just catching up with people.

2. Too many group photos

Most bride & grooms will want some formal photos with their families. It’s not often everyone is all dressed up and in one place. So documenting your family at such a time is important. However, how many groups do you really really NEED? Most will of course want a photo with their parents and not forgetting your kids if you have them. The rest often will depend on your own family circumstances.

The most common mistake I see being made is handing your photographer a large list of groups which then takes a long time. Guests are rarely in one place and it takes a long time to round the right people up. Guests will often nip to the loo, their hotel rooms, home to feed the dog (seriously this has happened), go to the pub (this has happened too!) and I’ve even lost the very people I’ve sent to find people! I often compare this time of day to ‘herding cats’

So my advice is to keep it to the minimum you need to keep family harmony. Five to ten is plenty in my experience. Any extras can be done ad-hoc as the day goes on and you can spend the extra time mingling and talking to your closest friends rather than standing in a line smiling for the camera. Your photographer can’t capture those ‘natural moments’ if you’re stood in an endless line of formal photos.

Belvoir Castle Wedding Photography

3. Unrealistic Budgets

Setting a budget which was too low for the sort of wedding you want is a common mistake. My wife & I got married before we were in the industry ourselves. So I admit, we made this mistake too. Most couples will have never planned a wedding before. It’s your first time. So we’ve no idea what things cost or the work involved. We make some educated ‘guesses’ then are shocked when we get the quotes.

“How much for flowers!?!?!‚” ‚ “Chair covers!?!?! What on earth are they??”  “You want how much for a video? I want to hire you, not buy the camera!” All are typical responses and embarrassingly what I thought too!

I still remember the shock of how much things cost. Over time you come to realise that there’s a reason for the prices.

The reality is that the wedding industry is awash with suppliers who can and do cater to all budgets. If one supplier doesn’t meet your budget, with some careful looking you will find someone who will. The question then is, do you like their product/work enough?

Sadly wedding industry is totally unregulated so you need to be very careful and consider why this supplier you may have found is cheaper than the others. They could be an absolute bargain. But they could also be cutting corners.

My suggestion is to go to some wedding fairs, ask your venue for recommended suppliers, ask friends who recently got married who they used and how much they paid. Do some comparisons before committing to a particular company.

I would recommend you prioritise what are the most important things for you and allocate your budget accordingly. Like most things in life you do get what you pay for. So if your wedding dress is important then allocate a bit more money to that. If it is having the best photos then allocate accordingly.

4. Disposable Cameras

The theory is great. You’ll get a few cheap disposable cameras for each table. Guests will use them and you can have a good chuckle at all the snaps over a glass of wine with your new husband/wife.

However, you may want to read this article I wrote a while back on why I don’t think Disposable cameras for weddings is a good idea.

Suffice to say that they are a 20th century product and have no place in the social media  smartphone world we live in today. Just don’t bother. Everyone has a smart phone nowadays and the quality of those are far better than the disposable cameras.

Children don’t understand how they work anymore. They get bored very quickly when they can’t see the results instantly like on their parents phone. Developing costs are horrendous. The quality, awful.  My advice is to skip it and save your money.

5. Wedding Shoes

Understandably, Brides choose the most beautiful dress and shoes they can find for their wedding day. Comfort is often not really a factor when deciding on which shoes to wear. Yet the day is long. Can you really last twelve hours in those killer heels??? I didn’t think so!

Bridal shoes on the windowsill of the bridal suite at Norwood Park

What I’ve seen many clever brides do though is pack a second pair of more comfortable shoes. These can come out after the ceremony is over, the main photos are taken and your feet are cursing your decision. One of my brides even wore slippers under her dress!

A comfortable pair of shoes will also help during the formal couples photos where you may need to walk on grass or soft ground where heels won’t be suitable.

Of course much will depend on the style of dress you have chosen. This may not be possible if your dress isn’t full length.

Summary

So those are my top five most common mistakes I see which can easily be fixed. I hope you have found this post helpful with your wedding plans. Feel free to click on some of my other wedding tips which I hope will also help you plan your perfect wedding.