Tips and Tools to Plan Your Day
100 Wedding Tips
1. Just Engaged
Don’t make any big decisions just yet. Not even your venue or bridesmaids. Just take a few weeks to let this amazing new phase of your life settle in. It’s a huge change for both of you and a moment that slips by all too quickly – it took me too almost two years to even pick a date! – Alice du Parcq.
2. Back to Basics
When you’re ready, think of the most basic thing first: what kind of wedding do you want? You don’t have to make specific choices, just aim for a general ‘mood’, for instance boho-vintage, traditional, quirky, city glam or even just simple countryside – it will help you in the long run.
3. Pick a location
Work from the outside in: think about the ideal location for your family and friends, whether it’s a big hotel that everyone can stay in, a marquee in your mum and dad’s garden with plenty of B&Bs nearby, somewhere abroad with lots of easy accommodation and so on. Once you’ve chosen the right fit, finding the venue will be so much easier.
Looking after yourself is essential to relaxed planning. Mark in your diary regular evenings dedicated to you, where you take a long shower, exfoliate top-to-toe, do a face mask, moisturise with your best body cream, curl up in front of something silly on TV, have a glass of wine and give yourself a manicure. It’s good for the soul, for the mind, for your skin and for your relationship with your fiancé (no one finds a Bridezilla sexy!)
5. What’s important to you?
Think about the best weddings and parties you’ve been to and why they worked so well. This will help you prioritise what’s important to you, whether it is loads of dancing time and great food like me, a romantic church ceremony or guaranteed sunshine like my friend who’s getting married in Greece. Suddenly, everything will have more direction.
Be prepared: everyone will have an opinion and a suggestion about what you should do and when – grit your teeth and be as gracious as possible, thanking them for their ideas and for being so exciting about your wedding. Then lock the door and turn on that shower!
7. Start a scrapbook
Yes, it sounds a bit school-y, but it’s a great way to create a visual idea of your wedding. Don’t worry if nothing matches to begin with. Eventually a pattern will emerge, and you’ll gravitate towards a recurring style.
8. Home Inspiration
Look around your own home inspiration – mementoes of your relationship will create a fun, relaxed atmosphere at your reception.
9. Budget It
Prior to making any decisions about anything wedding-related, figure out what budget you are working with – it will guide the rest of your decisions.
10. Hen Party
Avoid succumbing to a tacky night out for your hen-do and opt for a stylish alternative instead. Isn’t a night of wine, cheese and chocolate with your hens what you really want?
11. Gift List Tip
Make your wedding list as varied as possible. Don’t worry about putting too many things on it; it is better to put a variety of prices and items on your list. This way fewer of your guests will go off-list.
Do you have a set of aunties you’re not sure whether to invite or not? They might be a bit old, or live quite far away, perhaps you don’t want the added spending of a few extra guests? When deciding whether to invite them to consider your budget and the emotional cost involved.
13. Check In
Check the hotels before recommending them to people – especially the bedrooms so you aren’t condemning Aunt Sally to nylon sheets and a communal bathroom.
14. Who’s Paying?
She who pays the piper calls the tune. You can’t insist on chartreuse tablecloths if you aren’t the one paying for them.
15. RSVP Dilemma
Put ‘RSVP by’ followed by a date on your invitation. You might be overly excited about your wedding, and while some of your guests will share your enthusiasm, they won’t drop everything to RSVP to you the second they get the invite. An RSVP-by-date will serve as a deadline for your guests.
16. What about him?
Remember, it’s your husband’s Big Day too. While you are having a champagne breakfast, getting your make-up and hair done, getting dressed – what is he doing? Make sure he gets a chance to relax and enjoy the build-up as much as you.
17. Little touch, big memories
The little details are most often the most memorable. Try writing personalised questions for each guest to ask their neighbours at dinner as conversation starters. It is guaranteed to get people talking and make it even more memorable!
18. Disaster Strikes
Pre-warn your friends, family, bridesmaids and groomsmen that should disaster strike, you wish to remain utterly ignorant (unless necessary, of course…) – it is better this way.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with your decor. The most visually intriguing weddings are those where the bride and groom have incorporated all the things they love.
20. Picture List
Take time to think of the pictures you want – the spontaneous pictures will take care of themselves – but make a list of the pictures you want and speak to your photographer about capturing those moments. You will be too busy (and too happy) on the day to remember to get a picture with your great aunt Maud.
21. Talk to him
Enjoy every second of your engagement because as soon as you mention ‘we were thinking about next summer’ or ‘we thought we might like a city wedding’ everyone will have an opinion. Keep your mouth smiling and shut until you’ve had a proper thought and discussion with your fiancé about what you both want first.
22. Start Early
Venues, photographers, make-up artists and vintage cars all book up early. And bridesmaid frocks and wedding dresses always take longer to make/be delivered than you think. You have enough to stress about without being told you’ve left it too late.
Delegate and ALWAYS get the mothers involved. It’s a win all round: you’ll have less to worry about doing yourself, the mothers will feel happy and involved in the day plus it might distract them from any intervention into areas you’d rather they stayed out of.
24. Bold and Brave
Be brave with colour – not too wacky, not too bright, but shades that tie in with your theme – something to add a bit more personality and a personal-touch to your Big Day.
25. Make it yours
It’s your wedding day after all, don’t forget that. Add personal touches that will remind you of that – from your stationery through to your decorations and favours.
26. Get him involved
Include your man in the planning. And find things he will be interested in – odds are he won’t care about what napkin linens you choose, but he might be more interested in the bar set up, the photography and DJ.
27. Thoughtful planning
When picking your date make sure you factor in time for any travel arrangements your guests may have to make and look out for the bank holidays too! It will give you (and your guests) a little extra recovery time after all the celebrations.
28. Table Talk
When deciding how to dress up your tables do remember that socialising is part of the evening – so keep your floral arrangements, candelabras and details under 20 inches high, so that guests can view and converse with each other across the table.
29. Enjoy the build-up
I wish I’d allowed myself to enjoy the build-up a little more. Foolishly – but mainly because the wedding was supposed to be a secret – I only took the day before off work. All my friends had said this wouldn’t leave me enough time to do the ridiculous pampering that probably makes no difference to the way you look but how you feel you with excitement anyway – and they were right.
30. Are you covered?
Are you covered in case anything goes amiss? If you are worried, you should get insurance. (And even if you aren’t worried, you should still get insurance.)
Look for inspiration in unconventional places. You can get inspired by the classics – flowers, decorations, your dress – but why not try something a bit different and take inspiration from films and other non-wedding related places?
32. Weather Warning
Don’t, whatever you do, look at the weather forecast. Nothing good can come of it, and what is more: you can’t change it. Have a Plan B, but love it as much as Plan A.
33. The name of the game
No matter what you may think, you can’t handle everything by yourself – as amazing as you may be. Weddings are major endeavours, so enlist friends and family to help make place cards, tie bows onto favours, and run errands – delegation is the name of the game. Play it!
When it comes to choosing your bridal party make sure you pick wisely: the work that comes with being a bridesmaid is more than it may seem at first. And don’t feel you must choose an equal number of men and women. Loved ones don’t come in boxed sets, and neither should your wedding party!
35. Pet Love
Love your pet? There are all sorts of way you can involve in the Big Day – including making them the ring bearer! Or include them in your wedding day pictures – so cute!
36. Sign on the dotted line…
When signing any contract with suppliers check that everything you want is included. And ask at least two people to look at it too – sometimes it takes a fresh pair of eyes to see loopholes!
37. Take it easy
Do you have an enthusiastic wedding helper? If you find yourself disagreeing for the sake of it take a step back and count to ten. Your life will be 10 times easier with their aid, you just need to find out how to work together.
38. Wedding Day Look
Road-test your dress with underwear. You don’t want to find that all kinds of underwear can be spotted through your dress on the Big Day. And you don’t want to spend your entire wedding day hiding the straps of your bra, either…
39. Party Dress
Remember: you must be able to move in your dress! A body-skimming, silk sheath dress, slashed to the thigh, may be beautiful but it will not be practical. You want to be able to dance the night away, don’t you?
40. Be realistic
Think of your shoes and your setting – are they a match made in heaven? Of course, you want to wear champagne-silk Christian Louboutin’s, but if you are spending a long time in a grass area – is that really going to work?
41. Dress Shopping
Going dress shopping? Go with your mum or with a close friend who will be honest and will be able to make various appointments with you – that way they can comment on different dresses. If you take more than one person be prepared for a plethora of opinions…
42. Take a Chance
Go for the wedding day look you’ve always dreamed of but be ready to take advice and give new ideas a chance, too – they could be the key to your perfect look!
43. Rework the traditional
Even if you aren’t a traditional bride, it’s worth considering wearing a veil. There are lots of different way to wear them and you can add flowers, brooches or hair slides to add a modern touch if you so please. Bring all the elements together to give your look strength and personality.
44. Don’t forget the accessories
Don’t forget the details: ask the bridal boutiques you visit for suggestions on accessories. Sometimes we can concentrate too much on the dress and forget about the little details that bring it all together.
45. Look Book
Don’t want to stick to a single look? Change your accessories throughout the day. A cathedral-length veil can easily be swapped for a quirky birdcage design at the reception.
46. Seductive Lingerie
If you can’t indulge in seductive lace for your wedding day then, when can you? Go all out, get the full designs we always covet and succumb to. Agent Provocateur, Damaris, Carine Gilson and Fox & Rose – watch out!
47. Time to adjust
Did you get your dress months and months in advance? With all the stress and wedding worries you might find it doesn’t quite fit as it should. Make sure you try it on again beforehand and leave plenty of time for last minute adjustments to be made if necessary.
48. Have spares
Always have spare hairpins with you. You never know when you will need them…
49. Make it natural
Avoid dramatic changes in hairstyle and make-up before your wedding day – you want to feel and look like you on the day!
50. Make like Middleton
Stick with your usual make-up palette. The Duchess of Cambridge didn’t deviate from her sultry Smokey eyes just because she was entering to royalty. And if the future Queen of England can do it, why can’t we?
51. Sleeping Beauty
A good night’s sleep will leave you feeling like you can take on the world. To help you catch those extra zzz’s, cut out caffeine and sugar after 2pm every day the week before the Big Day and make your beauty sleep a priority.
52. Bridal Scent
Your hair and make-up matters on the big day, of course. But take time to think about your wedding day fragrance. “Our sense of smell is one of the strongest senses, evoking memories, thoughts and feelings that linger in our minds for years,” explains Jo Malone. So, take time to find something that will be distinctive and serve as an olfactory reminder of your wedding day for years to come.
53. Smile Power
You will be smiling a lot on the big day – and nothing like a clean set of pearly whites to show your happiness. Consider having your teeth whitened three months ahead of your wedding.
54. High Street
Don’t underestimate the high street – particularly when there is a sale on! Your bridesmaids will appreciate having a dress they can reuse, and you will appreciate the cost.
55. Radiant Skin
Fact: No one is born with radiant, smooth and spot-free skin. But the good news is that – just like corsets and control pants – there are many clever bridal buys to fake your flawlessness. Why not read some of TWESH’s blog posts.
56. Family Photographer
Have a back-up photographer. It can be a friend, but it should be somebody who’ll dedicate themselves to taking photos. So often the official photographer becomes fixated on the girl in the sexy red dress who wasn’t invited but came as somebody’s arm candy, while ignoring the relatives who travelled thousands of miles to be there.
57. Magic Flowers
Put little flower posies in the loos – it keeps the magic going in a very un-magical place…
58. Seating Plan
At your wedding breakfast, it is usually better to place guests in particular seats rather than letting them choose their own tables – otherwise the shy and the vulnerable end up sitting alone and feeling miserable.
59. Have breakfast
If you go to your wedding feeling hungry, the chances are you’ll develop a huge tension headache. Also, keep hydrated. If you are thirsty that glass of champagne will be drunk as though it were water. And that on an empty stomach is not ideal…
60. Scared you might fall?
Don’t worry too much about tripping your way down the aisle – chances are you won’t fall. And if you do, you will still have a smiling husband-to-be standing at the end of the aisle waiting to marry you!
61. Guest Party
Try to spend time with all your wedding guests for unforgettable memories of your wedding day…
62. Reserve seats
Block off the front seats at the ceremony for your bridal party and make sure the ushers know where to direct people.
63. Guard your gifts
Appoint someone to collect your gifts and transport them safely home after the reception. This also goes for any hired suits; ask a trusted family member or friend to return these for you while you’re away.
64. Schedule your exit
At the reception make sure guests know when you’re leaving. If you intend on partying the night away say so, but if you have a getaway vehicle planned it is also nice to let your guests know. That way they can plan their departure too.
65. The Importance of Food
While you’re getting ready, don’t forget to have lunch (or brunch if you’re having a late ceremony), or you risk the reception drinks going straight to your head.
66. Feed your staff too
Don’t forget to feed your suppliers too: a hungry DJ won’t thank you at midnight! And ask someone to save you a favour and a piece of cake – you want to ensure you get a taste of them.
67. Pre-wedding Jitters
Feeling a little jittery? Relax, it’s normal, healthy even. You are just concerned about a lifetime commitment – it’s hardly the end of the world – and it doesn’t mean you don’t want to get married. Acknowledge your nerves, discuss them with a trusted friend, and move on.
68. 10-minute break
On the day have a bridesmaid or the man of honour take you and your new husband aside, so you can just have 10 minutes alone together. Your vows may be the most important part of the day, and despite it being the first day of your lives together you will be surprised how little time you will spend with him on the actual day. This way you can be sure to have a minute to take it all in before the guest-welcoming-and-thanking beings!
69. On-the-day coordinator
Have an on-the-day coordinator so you don’t have to worry about all the details.
Your wedding day goes by quickly, so make your preparations part of the whole celebration. Really enjoy throwing yourself into every detail and savouring the creative process.
71. Ribbons, ribbons
Take a collection of ribbons with you – in case anything needs a bit of upgrading. A little ribbon can go a long way!
72. Printed paraphernalia
Hang on to all printed paraphernalia such as invites, order-of-service sheets, menu cards, etc. these things become precious mementoes later.
73. Think about the morning
Were you a DIY Queen? Don’t forget to think about the next day – the hired crockery, glassware and cutlery will need to be packed and collected. Don’t get caught at 9am the next morning unaware!
74. Personal Thank You
Don’t forget to thank everyone who took part in your big day. How you do it is up to you – but why not print your favourite bride-and-groom photo and write personal messages to those you want to thank the most?
75. Honeymoon Thoughts
Make time to put together your ‘honeymoon trousseau’. I used to love reading about women in Edith Wharton or EM Forster novels going to Paris to ‘assemble their trousseau’ for the honeymoon (and the start of their married life) and it felt like such an enchanting idea.
Where are you going on your honeymoon? Make sure it is somewhere you both want to go – remember it is meant to be the best holiday of your life!
77. Season Travel
Pick the right destination for the right time. It’s no good to be in a beautiful destination if it’s the wrong weather – even the most romantic beach in Mexico can be miserable if it’s raining all the time – or even worse: mosquito season!
78. Honeymoon Budget
Like all other wedding related-planning, make sure you stick to your budget and plan accordingly. Being realistic is the most important part of planning your honeymoon.
79. Honeymoon Gift List
Instead of asking for pots, pans and blenders – why not get your guests to buy you activities on your honeymoon as gifts? It will give you the chance to do interesting things and open your honeymoon to your friends and family!
80. Beach Time
If you are combining beach and activity or safari, plan some relaxing beach time at the beginning to unwind.
Be brave and haggle – negotiate with the venue – challenge them on corkage, catering, bedroom packages and room hire – all of which should be flexible in some way. They want your business as much as you want to have your day there.
82. Dear Diary
The night before the wedding and the day after (and throughout your honeymoon, if you can be bothered), write a diary. It’s amazing the things you forget that mean so much in a funny way – like the fact that the revered who married us had a small plaster on his index finger that I kept staring at wherever I felt myself getting emotional, or that my six-year-old nephew spilled a glass of red wine down my dress the night before the wedding. In years to come, all those little details will help you form a clear picture of those days.
83. Beware the bridal bore
Ever feel like you wedding day is taking over your life? Don’t let it be everything you talk about – you don’t want to become a bridal bore!
84. Honeymoon packing
When packing for your honeymoon think of few clothes but plenty of accessories – that way you can pack light but still transform your look to fit whatever happens!
85. Healthy Morning
After the big day, be sure to pack your morning with a healthy breakfast and smoothie to put right all the toxins and excesses of the night before – your head will thank you later!
86. Sparkle Away
Less is more when it comes to a wedding reception, so consider ditching the 30-minute video montage or the fireworks display for something less elaborate. Even a gesture as simple as distributing sparklers at the night’s end can charm guests and keep them from feeling overloaded.
87. Don’t forget about mum
We all hate staged photos, but make sure you take time to get a snap of just you and your mum – it’s a picture you will both treasure forever.
88. Bag it up
Pack a small essentials bag with lipstick, face powder, tissues, nail polish, cash (for tips etc), mobile phone and mints. Ask your maid-of-honour to carry it for you when you can’t.
89. Wedding Planning Notebook
Not all of us can afford a wedding planner to sort out the lilies and playlists, but we can all get a dedicated notebook or file to write down all you wedding ideas and inspirations. It is the perfect place to stick in tear sheets from magazines, and print outs from the web. It will help you define themes, colour etc and keep your receipts, contracts and suppliers’ phones in order.
90. Modern Flower Girl
Instead of classic posies, pick a beautiful style with a difference to give your flower girls and bridesmaids a modern look. Why not try flowers in a small terracotta pot, a foliage wand or a wreath?
91. Something Borrowed
Generations of brides are always looking to their mothers and grandmothers for wedding-day memorabilia. Let your father or grandfather have a role by making your ‘something borrowed’ theirs – why not wrap a bow tie around the base of your bouquet?
92. Stencil or Stamp
Do you want something to bring everything together? Consider taking a stencil – incorporate it to your stationery, your cake and decorations, it will gather everything into one beautiful theme!
Wear waterproof mascara. Even if you don’t usually. Even if you don’t like it. You’ll be grateful you did when you start crying for the tenth time in an hour, trust us.
94. Stick to the plan
Have a clear vision of what you want from the beginning and don’t keep thinking ‘I want that, oh, and that.’ Stick to the game plan.
95. Couple Time
Tensions can run high between you and your groom when there’s so much work to be done, so plan and make time to spend together without the wedding getting in the way. It’s important to remember that you are in it together.
96. Be yourself
Act naturally and everything else will fall into place.
97. Enjoy it
It’s easy to get bogged down by dreams of perfection but if you’re having a good time and all your guests are too, nothing else matters.
Not everyone will exhibit perfect, selfless behaviour: your bridesmaids might refuse the position if they don’t like the dress you choose, your friend’s baby might cry through your vows. Just try to retain a sense of humour and perspective.
99. The Vows
Among all the madness, the table plans, the dress fittings, the family feuds, the tensions and tiaras, there is an oasis of clarity at one point during the event – the vows. Don’t worry about anything else, because when you say those words, the rest seems so insignificant.
100. Ask For Help
There’s no doubt about it, organising a wedding is a big job. If you need help, ask for it. Have a look at our free TWESH VIP service if you’d like help sourcing suppliers.