As a wedding supplier, I thought planning a wedding would be something that would come naturally to me. And in some ways it did. But there were lots of surprises and unexpected elements I encountered in the course of planning our day! These are some of the lessons I learnt along the way —
1 | Opinions Will Fly — Let Them Fly On By
Jordan and I were incredibly lucky that when we announced our engagement and intention to have a small wedding with just our immediate families, our close network were incredibly supportive. As were friends from near and far who knew that meant they wouldn't be there when we exchanged vows!
The most important thing that I learnt in the early days of getting engaged and soaking up our love bubble was to hold firm to what Jordan and I had discussed and what we knew we wanted. Weddings bring up all sorts of opinions, feelings, emotions from close ones and strangers alike. We fielded conversations with people who'd immediately speak of their divorce or why their wedding was a disaster and others' expressing their opinions on what I'd wear, where we'd get married, what the stationery would look like. I had to learn that everyone is entitled to their opinion, but it didn't have to have any impact on what we chose or what felt right for us as a couple. (And as an empath who wants everyone to be happy, this was a slow and sometimes stressful lesson to learn!)
2 | Consult Your Period Diary
You know what you don't want to be dealing with in the week lead up to your wedding? Impending dread that Miss Flow may arrive at any minute. When we managed to get the 22 September 2022 as a wedding date, I fell in love with the date. I loved how it looked, I loved how it sounded. But I did not consult my period diary, and that was not my best decision ever made. When it came up in a discussion with a fellow bride-to-be, I quickly looked up my period diary and realised with impending dread that our wedding date would be Day 3. As it turned out, I stressed out so much about the weather and my period coming that she didn't arrive until the day after. Oh the irony! Despite this, my advise would be steer clear of the week of your period, even if just to not deal with all the hormonal changes that occur in your body naturally with the coming and going of your period.
3 | Know Thy Selves & Have a Clear Vision
Jordan and I made a number of decisions that went against tradition or the grain — from buying our wedding clothes sight unseen online (Thank you Galvan London & Mr Porter) to booking a venue we'd never set foot on and didn't see until the day before our wedding. But we felt comfortable with both decisions because they correlated with the vision we had for our day.
When we first started discussing our wedding, it became clear that Jordan could have the big celebration and I had my heart set on an elopement or smaller ceremony. Sitting down and creating a vision and mood board like that outlined in "Creating An Effective Moodboard for Suppliers" meant that anytime we had a difference of opinion, we could go back to the mood board for reference. It also helped with choosing our suppliers, identifying what we'd need and what would work with the greater vision of our day.
And have somewhere where your can work through our ideas. We loved our An Organised Life Wedding Planner as Beck has included lots of practical pointers and it was a good space to pop all quotes, notes, and ideas before moving them onto emails and more solid decisions.
4 | Contest the Idea of What A Wedding Means For You
After so many postponed weddings, more and more couples are contesting the usual format of the day and re-writing what a wedding looks like for them. We completely leant in to this to shape our day into one that felt truly right for us. It's really easy to get caught up in the list of things to do and the normal format but if it doesn't resonate with you, why do it? For this reason, we didn't have a first dance, I didn't wear a traditional wedding dress, we gave a speech together, we stayed together the night before our wedding and bought our wedding garments online. It also meant that I leant into traditions in other areas where it felt right for us; I wanted to wear a veil, we wanted our father's to give speeches and we had a jitters dinner & recovery brunch. By the end of the day, I could truly say the wedding and the days surrounding were a perfect reflection of us as a couple.
5 | Choose Suppliers Who Truly Align With Your Vision & Do Your Research
We worked with a stellar group of suppliers on our wedding day (Thank you Elope Micro Weddings!!) and I'm so grateful to every single one of them for bringing our vision to life. One of the best things I experienced in the planning stage is how much easier planning a wedding is when you work with a collective or aligned suppliers.
One of the greatest gifts of working with Emily at Elope Micro Weddings is that she has a curated and incredibly talented list of local suppliers that she works with. Working with a group of people who have worked together before, also adds to the ease of planning and co-ordinating your wedding. We stepped out of line in one regard and that was with choosing our celebrant. We flew Pip Best, our celebrant, up to Byron as she married close friends of ours and we LOVED her beautiful nature & tone and knew she was the perfect celebrant for our day.
It also helps when the suppliers' work aligns with your own vision. Our florist Em of FLWR Studio absolutely nailed the vision that we had for our tablescape; and we knew she would be the perfect supplier to work with from a thorough look at her Instagram, reading about her philosophy and approach to floristry, website and other couples' reviews. From my own experience as a wedding supplier; when couples' come to me with a clear vision based off my own work, the outcome I produce for them is always much better than what I can produce with references from a variety of other creatives.
Lastly, it's really easy to get caught up in Instagram hype, celebrity recommendations or pretty websites but identifying a supplier whose main bread and butter is exactly what you're after will make the process streamlined and straight forward. Additionally, look for other couples' reviews as it's important not to just rely on a pretty instagram feed. There are lots of great resources, but I know Wed Shed's Wed Chat Facebook Group is an invaluable resource to many of my couples as they're able to get real opinions and reviews from couples' planning their wedding and those who have just been married.
6 | Plans Will Inevitably Change — Be Prepared & Budget Accordingly
When a public holiday gets thrown on you at the last minute, you want to be sure you're ready for a price increase. Whilst our suppliers were AMAZING in this regard, and it's unlikely that your wedding day will end up being a spontaneous public holiday, I did notice that there are a myriad of ways to spend extra money in the few weeks before the wedding without considering this curve ball. And as you get closer to your wedding day, it'll be very tempting to just throw in extra things. Treat it like buying a home. If your initial budget is XXX, budget for XX and allow the extra amount to be ready for last minute additions and changes.
In addition to this, and this advice comes from being a supplier, get everything you could possibly want quoted on initially. You may cut back once you see the quote, but it will give you an idea of what the worst could be and then you can work from there. I frequently work with couples' who add 1-5 more things to their invoice in the few weeks before their day and this ends up being far more expensive as I'm not able to package them / print them with other items they have previously ordered.
7 | No Such Thing as Bad Weather
A week out from our wedding the forecast went from sunshine to light showers - then thunderstorms - then 100% rain and thunderstorms. I'd be absolutely lying if I said this didn't phase me in the least. Whilst I was rationally telling myself that as long as Jordan and I got married it would all be fine, there was a loud part of me freaking out that the day would be a disaster and not at all what I'd hoped.
We woke up on Thursday to torrential rain and I made my peace there and then that we weren't going to get married under the gorgeous fig tree at Tides. All the stress dissipated; the day was absolutely magical. Our suppliers were a light beam of positivity and it made for an intimate, moody ceremony just as we intended.
And luckily, I came prepared with some alternate shoes and a dress change in case it rained! (To be fair, the change of dress was so I didn't get food down the front of my main dress, but it ended up helping me with the rain too!) So nothing ruined the day and the rain added to the drama and intimacy of the day.
When the sun came out on Saturday and we were still at the Villa we agreed & were grateful that the weather had been overcast for our wedding as it changed the colours, look and feel of our surrounds and we felt the moodiness had really matched the wedding we planned.
8 | Breathe — Stay Present
One of the things that Jordan and I knew we absolutely wanted for our ceremony was for Pip to lead the guests through a closed-eye meditation before I walked down the aisle. The moment of quiet and stillness where guests were encouraged to listen to the birds, and surrounding sounds, meant that everyone was incredibly present for the ceremony. Throughout the day, I kept telling myself to breathe and be in the moment; and as a result I remember the details of the day (although it might get a bit fuzzy as the wine caught up), the conversations I had and the things we experienced. It's easy to get caught up in the run-of-the-day or where you need to be, but nothing could be worse than your wedding day - the one that you've planned and dreamed of for months - disappearing in a blur.
On a slightly different note, Jordan and I wrote cards to each other on the morning of our wedding and it was a really special moment to just be present with each other and take in the joy & gravity of the decision we were about to undertake. Even with a micro wedding and no bridal party we didn't see each other much on the morning of our wedding so this little moment was a really special tone-setter for our day.
9 | The Best Day Yet — Not The Best of Your Lives
Some of the messaging that surrounded our day really surprised me; that we would be having the best time planning our wedding, that I would be working towards looking the best I've ever looked on the day, that we would be super excited in the lead up and that our wedding day would be one that we'd look back on as the best day of our lives. We had a spectacular day and loved our wedding; but I was often stressed when planning, or too immersed in work to pay it much attention. I didn't have a grand vision of looking my best on our wedding day - I just wanted to look like an elevated version of myself. And I spent the week before the wedding more stressed than excited (I blame my addiction to weather apps and the conflicting weather reports and I definitely should have taken more time off work pre-wedding than I did!)
The outside messaging and expectation of how you will feel can be a lot — and can make you question the wedding itself! I'm grateful that I was absolutely sure that I wanted to get married to Jordan, otherwise I suspect I could have been rocked by how different the journey was for me compared to the journey I was supposedly meant to be on. The grand message here is, your wedding and the lead up to it is going to be unique to you as a couple; and you don't have to take on the expectations or ideas of others.
10 | Pre-Plan For The Aftermath of Your Wedding
I wish I was talking about a long, relaxed honeymoon here but I'm not. I'm guessing you have that well and truly covered. I'm referring to all the things that are nice to do after the wedding. In the course of locking in suppliers, I was where possible, jotting down their addresses & emails. Whilst hiring your suppliers is a great thing in itself as money is exchanged and small businesses are supported, I'm a firm believer in following up and thanking the people who made your day special (and not just because I'm also a supplier!) I made sure that I had some additional cardstock & envelopes printed so I could send out thank you cards straight after the wedding. (If you have these printed and supplied at the same time as your menus / on the day stationery, you'll also most likely save on cost).
I learnt that in having taken the time to do that work at the outset - as frivolous as it seemed at the time - it was really easy and relaxing to follow through straight after the wedding and send off emails and cards. And once again, that little bit of pre-planning meant that I saved on overall costs of our stationery.
Jordan and I have many more wonderful best days to come and for this reason, the wedding was incredible but we're also looking forward to the ones to come!
I hope some of these lessons will help you throughout your wedding planning journey and give you permission to feel what you're feeling and know that you're not alone in feeling bewildered, excited, overwhelmed and insert all your other feelings here. Wedding planning - event planning - is something that others do professionally so be kind to yourself and give yourself permission to just experience what the journey brings.
Photography | Brendan Back - our amazing photographer