Planning your wedding is likely to be one of the biggest, most stressful and time-consuming things you’ll ever do - not to mention expensive. It can pose lots of logistical and financial problems, and what doesn’t help is that most people go into it blind. After all, planning a wedding is something most people only do once. It’s not as if we have any past experience to go on!
If you’ve never organised a big event before, it can be quite overwhelming. It’s so easy to make mistakes and forget things that in truth, very few weddings turn out perfect. But being aware of what could go wrong will give you a chance to nip problems in the bud before they develop.
We’ve put together a list of the 11 most common wedding planning mistakes that people make. Fortunately, they’re all easy to steer clear of, as long as you’re prepared for them.
1. Not Allowing Enough Time
Planning a wedding takes a lot of time. If you want to have as stress-free an experience as possible, start planning your wedding at least one year before the big day. Book your venue as early as possible, as many locations get booked up over a year in advance. And give yourself much more time than you’ll think you need to do everything else.
Take wedding dress shopping, for example - it’s not a day-long job. It can take weeks to find the perfect dress, and then you need to allow time for it to be ordered in your size. It may also need to be altered to fit you perfectly.
2. Doing Everything Yourself
We get it: it’s your big day, and you want everything to be exactly the way you’re envisioning it. But the truth of the matter is that no single person can plan and orchestrate an entire wedding by themselves. You’ll get overwhelmed by everything you have to do, and end up forgetting things or messing up.
Hiring a wedding planner is the most convenient solution, but it’s pricey. If it’s not an option, choose a few close family and friends to help share the burden. Delegate certain tasks to certain people so that everyone knows what they’re doing. And remember, you and your fiance(e) will still have the final say.
3. Trying to Please Everyone
If you’re a people-pleaser, or you have difficult family members, you may be used to getting bossed about and giving in to the demands of others. But your wedding is about you and your partner. If you let other people decide what you’re going to do, you’ll end up having a miserable time.
For example, don’t let your family start inviting people without asking you first. Being related to someone is not an automatic wedding invitation - put your foot down and say no.
Undoubtedly, friends and family will start offering their opinions on what dress you should wear, what kind of food you should serve, and what traditions you should include. Listen to their opinions if you want, but feel free to ignore them. And never JADE (justify, argue, defend or explain) your choices - it’s your wedding day.
4. Ignoring the Wedding Budget
Weddings are more expensive than most people realise. Most weddings in the U.K. cost around £30,000, and that’s not including the honeymoon. So it’s absolutely essential, before you go booking or buying anything, to sit down with your partner and make a budget.
Do your research and figure out how much everything is likely to cost, and set individual limits. And just in case, take 5-100% of your overall budget and set it aside for things you’ve forgotten about. It’s easy to overlook the ‘little’ things like wedding invitation postage - 100 first-class stamps will cost you at least £70.
Once you’ve set a budget for a particular item, do not be tempted to go over it. Even an extra £50 here and there can quickly add up. The last thing you want is to realise you haven’t got enough money left for something important.
5. Having Unrealistic Expectations
Sites such as Facebook and Pinterest can be a godsend when it comes to planning a wedding. They offer endless amounts of inspiration for everything from flowers, to cakes, to dresses.
However, comparison is the thief of joy. There’s a dark side to wedding inspiration sites - they can make you feel that your own plans aren’t good enough. It’s important to be realistic: you can’t have absolutely everything that you see and fall in love with.
Keep yourself grounded and focused on the future. Your wedding is going to be beautiful and wonderful in its own way, whether or not it looks like that ‘perfect’ Instagram wedding you saw last week.
6. Not Taking Time Off
Wedding planning is extremely time consuming, as we’ve already mentioned. But it’s absolutely crucial that you don’t dedicate too much of your life to it. If you don’t take scheduled days off, when even thinking about your wedding is banned, it could start to rule your life.
The most important thing is to get enough sleep. It’s so much more difficult to plan anything with a foggy, sleep-deprived brain. During the day, keep all of your wedding-related papers and materials in a dedicated filing cabinet and only let yourself look at it at specified times. And when you’re spending quality time with your partner, try to avoid ‘wedding talk’, otherwise you may find he becomes resentful.
7. Falling For the ‘Wedding Tax’
The ‘wedding tax’, or ‘wedding markup’, is the term for when suppliers, stores and services hike up their prices when the word ‘wedding’ is mentioned. If you’re not paying close attention, you may miss it altogether, and end up spending unnecessary amounts of cash.
For example, a hairdresser may charge (for example) £25 for a formal up-do, but £50 or more for ‘wedding hair’ of an identical style. A supplier may charge £200 for renting 100 ‘white chair covers’, but £400 if you want ‘wedding chair covers’ (which are exactly the same).
We suggest avoiding writing the word ‘wedding’ when searching for anything you want to order online. And when requesting a service, ask for a quote for a ‘gathering’ before you mention that it’s a wedding.
8. Cutting Too Many Corners
It’s fine to have a strict wedding budget and it’s fine to try and reduce costs where possible. However, there should be some limits on your corner-cutting - otherwise you may find it creates a lot of unnecessary stress.
For example, yes, things are often cheaper online. However, ordering your bridesmaids dresses from dodgy knock-off websites may be a bad idea. They might be cheap, but they also might look tacky or fit incorrectly - and will you have time to replace them before the big day?
In the same vein, be wary of hiring friends and family members as your wedding suppliers in order to cut costs. Your cousin might have a nice DSLR camera, but he might not be a great wedding photographer. Auntie Sue might shine at bake sales, but is she really up to making a professional-looking three tier wedding cake?
9. Not Reading the Small Print
When it comes time to book your venue and your wedding suppliers (photographer, entertainment, florist, caterer, etc), you’ll be given a contract to sign. At this point, you might be so excited that you skim it, or sign it without reading it at all. But if you do this, you may miss crucial details.
For example, take your wedding venue. You were given a quote in person, but does that include the service charge, the cleaning fee, the late bar fee, the security fee? You were told that the venue could hold 50 people, but is that excluding or including your photographer, band, caterer, and venue staff? What is their cancellation policy? Make sure you understand everything completely before you sign anything.
Sending out wedding invitations requires some forethought. It’s easy to accidentally send out your invitations and/or save the dates too early - or too late.
Before you send out your save the dates/invitations, you must finalise your guest list, decide whether you’re allowing kids at your wedding, and who gets a ‘plus one’. You’ll need to check that your venue can hold everyone, and ensure that you have a big enough budget to cater for all your guests. You don’t want to have to uninvite anyone.
But if you send your invitations too late, your invitees may have already booked prior commitments and won’t be able to come. Not only that, but you won’t have any time to invite ‘plan B’ guests.
In the same breath, avoid making your seating chart until you’ve received all of your RSVPs. Otherwise, you may have to completely redo it.
11. Losing Sight of the Bigger Picture
It’s easy to get completely overwhelmed while wedding-planning. The longer you spend on it, the more consumed you’ll become by all the little details. But at the end of the day, it’s important not to lose sight of the big picture - the whole reason why you’re doing it in the first place.
The most important thing is that you’re marrying the love of your life. So if you find yourself in the midst of a panic about the colour of the napkins not precisely matching your bouquet, take a moment to breathe and realise that you should be enjoying this process. Things rarely go exactly according to plan, but you’ll have a wonderful day nonetheless, and you’ll be able to look back and smile.