If you've just embarked on planning a wedding, we bet you're looking for ingenious planning tips, expert advice and life hacks that will cut both time and stress. Luckily you're in the right place: keep reading to discover our 35 top tips for easy (and stress-free) wedding planning.
1. Don’t try and do it all yourself
First things first: don't try and organise your entire wedding alone. As much as you might want to take control of every last detail, delegate, rope in trusted friends and relatives, and seriously consider hiring a wedding planner who can liaise with suppliers and take care of trickier aspects.
2. Go to wedding shows as early on as possible
There's nothing worse than showing up at a wedding fair a month before your big day and wanting to change your entire theme. Bridal shows are there to inspire you, so go as early as possible – even if you haven't booked your venue – to maximise their usefulness.
3. Hold out if you want to find a bargain
If you've got a strong disposition and want to bag a bargain, leaving it until around 5 months before your chosen wedding date will open up some serious bargaining room with your venue.
4. Cut 3 things off your to do list
When there's one month to go, look at your to-do list and chop three things off. Be realistic about what you can do with the time you have, and don't sweat the small stuff the closer it gets to the day.
5. Show your vendors rather than just telling them
Trying to express your vision to your florist, cake maker and venue staff can sometimes feel like an uphill struggle. Rather than writing lengthy descriptions, show them pictures and Pinterest boards of what you want – creative people are far more likely to respond to visuals than endless text.
6. Streamline your dress-shopping clique
Take just a couple of close friends or relatives who will offer useful opinions to your dress appointments. Don't be afraid of saying no to your sisters and even your Mum if you don't think they will be helpful.
7. Bring three pairs of shoes
Aside from your heels (obviously) pack a pair of pretty flat shoes for the end of the night when you want to throw some shapes. Be super prepared and add a pair of wedges into the mix if you're having lawn drinks or garden games.
8. Watch endless beauty tutorials
Get a good idea of what you want hair and make-up wise before your first beauty trial appointment by researching online what you want. YouTube is filled with endless beauty tutorials – look to industry pros like Lisa Eldridge and Charlotte Tilbury for gorgeous inspiration that's practical and achievable, too.
9. Forget about shopping for ‘the one’
Rather than setting yourself the pressure of finding a wedding dress that is 'the one', tell yourself that you're going to find one of many beautiful dresses.
10. Don't choose a dress that doesn’t fit your venue
Choosing the wrong dress for the venue is one of the biggest mistakes a bride can make. If you're getting married in the depths of a forest, a princess ballgown won't work. Likewise, don't choose a backless boho number if you've chosen a church ceremony and hotel reception.
11. Prepare for your wedding dress appointments
Come to your bridal boutique appointments armed with research about the type of look you want, pictures of magazine shoots you love, and with an idea of what works for your figure. But, take note of the well-trained boutique owner's eye, and try on a few wild cards.
12. Don’t ignore guests' needs
From arranging a fleet of taxis to line up at the end of the night, to buying games and activity books for any little guests, and popping a basket of beauty essentials in the ladies' bathroom, don't forget to take care of your attendees.
13. See your reception as a party not a wedding
Rather than seeing the whole day as a wedding, where the focus falls on things like flowers and tabletops, think of the reception as a party or reunion, where the main priority is having fun. Things like the music, dancefloor space and making sure everyone's glasses are filled will make your night, not the vases your flowers are in.
14. Put the bar next to the dancefloor
After the meal, people will gravitate towards the bar: make sure it's right next to the dancefloor so your guests can't resist slipping away for a dance...
15. Think hard about table shape and layout
While large circular tables with huge candelabras might look great, they'll make it harder for your guests to talk. Consider the space you'll be in, and pick the set-up that's the most intimate and conversation friendly. It's better to have tables a little crowded than too spaced-out.
16. Choose interactive food
Getting guests to interact and enjoy themselves is high on any bride's list. Shared platter starters, edible centrepieces (we're thinking macarons) and a bottle of port with a large cheeseboard will get people chatting far more than an individual mini baked camembert.
17. Decant boxed wine
Worried you'll be judged for serving up boxed wine at the bar? Decant it into carafes for the tables – no one will be able to tell.
18. One week before give everyone a schedule
To avoid any on-the-day disasters (and to keep yourself sane) email a final schedule and order of the day to all key people, including your vendors.
19. Trust your professionals
Although it's tempting to want to be on-hand to watch your florists set up the ceremony room, it's time to step back and let the professionals do their job – trust us, it will all look brilliant.
20. Make an emergency contact list
On the big day, the last thing you want is guests and vendors calling your mobile while you're in the depths of the big get-ready. Along with the running schedule of the day, give everyone an emergency contact sheet and direct them to the best man and maid of honour rather than yourself and your groom.
21. Create an emergency bride kit
Pack lipstick, tissues, blister plasters, mints, safety pins, hair grips and a mini hairspray into a clutch bag, and get your maid of honour to carry it for the day.
22. Pop some pregnancy nausea lozenges
An unlikely bet, but pregnancy nausea lozenges will get you through any wobbly moments before you walk down the aisle – they taste pretty great too.
23. Number your RSVP cards
Add a tiny number to the corner of every RSVP card you send out that corresponds to a spreadsheet with guests' names on it to avoid any awkward illegible handwriting situations.
27. Set up a new email account
If your current inbox is filled with at least 700 unread emails, get yourself a brand new account for wedding-related business to stop important messages getting mixed up with that newsletter you've been meaning to cancel since 2008.
28. Seal envelopes with a pastry brush and water
Licking endless envelopes is an onerous task: make it easier with a mug of water and a pastry brush or mini sponge on a stick.
29. Use postcards for save the dates
Or, cut out envelopes altogether, and send out your save the dates as postcards!
30. Use sticky labels with colour codes to sort your seating plan
Divide your guests into the following categories: bridal party, his, hers and joint. Now, move the sticky labels around paper 'tables' until you get the perfect seating plan.
31. Write down who all your gifts are from – or use sticky labels
If your guests are wrapping and bringing gifts to your reception, write down who bought what as you open them. Or, write everyone's names on sticky labels, and stick them to the presents.
32. Take your ceremony flowers to the reception
Flowers can take a serious cut out of your budget, so save some serious pennies by taking your ceremony flowers through to the reception.
33. Repurpose things from your own house
The style of your wedding is an expression of what you love – the chances are, you've styled your home in a pretty similar way. From small things like lamps and throws to larger items like sofas and chairs, decorate your venue without spending a pound.
34. Set up a wedding website
Avoid the endless onslaught of emails and phone calls and direct your guests to a dedicated wedding website which lists the timings, locations and other must-know info.
35. Address thank you envelopes before the wedding day
Write out envelopes with your guests' addresses on ready for thank-you cards before your big day. Then, when you're back from your honeymoon, you can do all the nice jobs (the card writing) and none of the dull jobs (envelope writing).