Hello again! It really is wonderful to be back and gracing the pages of Love My Dress, especially after a VERY busy summer of weddings. If you’re a newbie to Love My Dress, then a big hello and if you’re a loyal follower then I’m back (post by summer season absence!) and ready to dish out another helping of honest wedding planning advice.
Today, I’m here to talk about the perfect wedding BUT before you start thinking that this feature is going to be full of planning tips that will guarantee you a dream day, I should warn you right now that this is not the case. Oh no, I’m here to tell you that YOUR WEDDING WON’T BE PERFECT but also to explain why that’s absolutely fine…
The perfect wedding – it’s what every couple dreams of as they plan their big day, right? It’s what you work towards and stress / lose sleep over for months upon months. It’s what you know is possible because you constantly see and are surrounded by hundreds of immaculate images full of smiling couples enjoying their picture-perfect day. The perfect wedding really does exist.
It’s time to get real because no matter how much you prepare, weddings very rarely run to plan because there are just so many factors at play.
Well no, it doesn’t. Your wedding won’t be perfect, I can absolutely promise you that. The truth of the matter is that a truly perfect wedding is a total and utter myth.
Weddings, and I mean every single one of them, are imperfectly perfect.
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KAT... that’ll be me! In addition to my @katrinaotterwed & @cocoandkat hats, I’m also one proud and incredibly passionate half of @planningredefined, which provides ongoing support, HONEST advice and RELEVANT training for today’s modern wedding planner. There are some exciting changes underway with @planningredefined and a big announcement to be made soon so watch this space! Image by @luxepersonalbranding.
Things can, and very often do, go ‘wrong’ at weddings. However well you’ve planned, however much you’ve organised and however many times you’ve gone over and over every single detail, things do go wrong. Whatever you do, there are just some things that you can’t plan for. You can’t foresee every eventuality and you can’t be prepared for everything.
So, it’s time to get real because no matter how much you prepare, weddings very rarely run to plan because there are just so many factors at play. You might have a great timeline but an accident on the main road can hold up all your guests. Your décor might look amazing but a guest that trips or an overly exuberant child can soon put an end to that. You might have planned garden games with drinks and canapes outside, but the only rain shower of the entire summer could start just as you’re about to head outside.
Even for the professionals, things go wrong and believe me, I have a few stories to prove it!
For example, let me take you back to April 2017 and a gloriously sunny day on the picturesque banks of Loch Lomond. You can almost image the scene – a beautiful outdoor ceremony, the sun glistening off the Loch, the prettiest of floral arches and an unscheduled helicopter landing. Yes, that’s right, a blinkin helicopter. 30 minutes before guests were due to take their seats and out of nowhere, with no permission from the Hotel, a helicopter lands right next to the exact location of the outdoor ceremony. Cue chairs being blown into the Loch, orders of service floating away, the arch snapping in half and a wedding planner (that’ll be me!) jumping into the water to retrieve as much as possible. Now, that’s a dramatic example but it goes to show, things happen.
And they do happen, with alarming regularity, particularly when Mother Nature is at play! But, do they automatically stop your day being brilliant, memorable and all kinds of wonderful? No, they don’t unless, of course, you let them.
Of course, there are some things that you definitely CAN do to reduce the risk of any potential issues. And with that in mind, here’s how to make sure that your plans are in the best shape possible for the big day:
- Be organised. Now, I know this sounds insane, but you’d be surprised how many couples really aren’t as organised as they could be. Get everything prepped well in advance, check and double check that you have everything you need, don’t leave things to the last minute and allow more time than you think you’ll need. If you’re expecting help from friends and family, confirm with them exactly what they’ll be doing and when. Be organised, not hopeful.
- Try not to over complicate your wedding. The more you try and include, the more there is to go wrong. Remember that your wedding doesn’t need to feature every single great idea that you’ve found on Pinterest and in fact, simple weddings flawlessly executed can be much more impressive. Also, resist the temptation to cram every minute of your day with entertainments and activities. Give guests time and space to enjoy the day and each other’s company. When everyone’s relaxed and happy, far less goes wrong!
- Allow LOTS of time to set-up. I totally understand why so many brides love to get involved with the set-up of their wedding day because it’s always such a treat to see venues transformed and plans come to life. However, allow yourself LOTS of time for this because things can, and do, take longer than you think. If you over-estimate, then that’s a wedding win because you’ll have some time to relax but under-estimate and you’ll be stressed and prone to making mistakes. You know how it is – things always seem to go wrong when you’re rushing and the same is true when you’re setting up for your wedding. Time is your friend.
- Always have a Plan B and possibly a Plan C too. Having a Plan B is essential and sometimes, you’ll need a Plan C too, particularly if any of your wedding day involves being outside at the mercy of the weather! So, whilst you might have planned for drinks outside after your ceremony, know where you’ll go if it’s raining and think about the knock-on effects that this might have. For example – there might be an indoor space that’s perfect for drinks but what happens to the string quartet you’ve booked, the décor outside and the games you were hoping to play? By knowing what you’ll do (and what you might have to give up on) if things need to change, you’ll be much happier if you have to move to your Plan B because it’s something that you’ll have approved of in advance.
- Work with a trusted and professional team of suppliers. And I stress the word professional. These are the guys that will totally have your back should something happen on the day. Chances are that they’ll have seen it before and know what to do without you even noticing. They’ll be able to react quickly to anything that happens without causing a fuss or putting any extra pressure on you. Your wedding dream team should be people that you know you can rely on and they should be people you trust to do the best for you, whatever the circumstances. Their knowledge and experience really can’t be beaten.
- Create a detailed schedule and briefing document for each supplier and even get them to liaise with each other where there’s an overlap. The more information that everyone has, the better. Detail your Plan Bs (and Cs!), provide postcodes, access times, locations for changing facilities and outline the times that you believe everyone should be arriving and departing. Confirm exactly what you want and what you’ve ordered or booked and provide a contact number for queries on the day (this absolutely shouldn’t be you by the way – a trusted friend or family member should field all calls for you!).
But, as I’ve already mentioned, sometimes the fates will conspire against you however well you’ve planned. Things will go wrong and the only thing you can do now is embrace your imperfectly perfect wedding day because whatever happens, this is YOUR day and you won’t get to do it again.
Remember that an issue will only become a problem if you let it. Embrace the imperfections and go with the flow of the day. Your guests will feed off of your emotions and reactions so something that they won’t even have noticed risks becoming a really big deal to everyone if you let it. You might have wanted the cake to be a certain position, but your guests won’t know (or mind!) if it’s elsewhere so let these things go. Don’t waste your day trapped in a negative cycle of unhappiness.
Make sure that you have your own personal A Team around you. Brief your bridesmaids and groomsmen and have them deal with any issues that arise. It’s much more subtle to have a groomsman talk to the venue coordinator or wedding planner about an issue than having the bride or groom getting involved. Delegate certain people to keep an eye on certain things so not one person has responsibility for the whole day, explain how things should be and what your Plan B is and let your trusted friends manage things for you.
Lastly, just let go and have fun. Your wedding day is when the planning stops, and you enjoy this momentous occasion. Everyone will tell you how quickly the day goes by and this is so very true – make sure that you stop planning and enjoy yourself. Yes, something might get missed or something might happen at the wrong moment (hopefully not a helicopter!), but do you know what, that’s ok. What really matters is that you have a brilliant time with your friends and family celebrating your love and marriage with a once-in-a-lifetime party. And that really is under your control so have fun and you’ll have a fantastic wedding.
Katrina is a national award-winning wedding planner who specialises in beautiful, stylish and timeless weddings throughout the UK. Katrina is a regular contributor to Love My Dress, the resident wedding planner for Coco Wedding Venues and co-founder of Coco & Kat, a creative consultancy for wedding venues and beyond.