Even if the course of true love has twists and turns, with some careful planning and advice your wedding day should run smoothly. Here are ten of the all time best nuggets of wisdom for couples looking to tie the knot:
1. Be yourselves
Above all else, your wedding should be personal and unique to you. Granted, it’s easily said when there are relatives and close friends adding their own ideas and pressures! Just remember that although there will always be obligations, you don’t have to live up to anyone’s expectations except your own.
If you want a simple, understated wedding with no fanfare and just a handful of your nearest and dearest, that’s fine. If you want a celebration more like a summer festival than a traditional white wedding… just go for it! Life isn’t a fairy-tale, and the only perfect wedding is the one that reflects the two of you best.
2. Establish a budget early- but expect it to grow
The dreaded M-word is bound to be key to your wedding planning, so face the money requirements early. Again, be yourselves and don’t feel you need to have a super "bling" wedding. Simple is fine and the worst way to start a marriage is in debt or with nothing spare for your honeymoon. Budget for venue hire, food and décor first. Write it down for clarity but be aware that the bill is always likely to expand rather than shrink, so leave some wriggle room.
3. Shop around for venues and don’t jump in
Picking a wedding venue can be tricky, so don’t rush. Draw a shortlist based on your budget, but remember that it’s often best to choose modestly and then spend more on the reception, rather than overspending on the venue and then having to scrimp on things like entertainment and special features. Visit all the venues on your shortlist, if you can. There’s no rush, so negotiate and shop around.
4. Trust your instinct
Following on from the above, the best tip of all when getting the right venue and any help with organisation is to trust your gut instinct. Approach the events manager or wedding planner with a rough list of your own needs and any questions, and you’ll soon know if you get on. If you get on from the beginning and they make you feel at ease, brilliant. If they are at all pushy, try to sell you lots of extras or don’t seem great at listening, avoid.
5. Don’t skimp on the important things
It can be a fine tightrope planning a wedding on a budget. You might not need a magician or a firework party, but too many couples these days are skimping on things they shouldn’t.
A wedding photographer is a classic example of this. Getting a friend to do pictures is risky at best; it brings pressure and stops them from fully enjoying the event. And even if they are willing to stay sober and snap away dutifully for hours on end, you won’t get the results of a seasoned professional.
6. The invite list is entirely your say, period.
Take it from experience: however you do it and whoever you invite, one or two will criticise. So why worry? If you want to invite someone, do it! If you don’t want someone there, too bad. In particular, pay as little attention as possible to daft rivalries and family politics. If so-and-so doesn’t like person A or B, hard luck. As long as you act in good faith, it simply isn’t your problem (and they don’t have to sit next to each other to be at your wedding).
7. It’s ok to divide into full day and evening guests
On the subject of invite lists, it is also fine to divide this in two. Unless yours is a small and intimate wedding, most couples will have two invite lists. Firstly, an inner circle of close family and friends. It could well be fewer than half the guests who join you for vows and the wedding breakfast. The rest can come later because… well, Dave from accounts and that girl you hadn’t seen since school don’t need to sit through the whole thing. Again, it’s your call so don't feel bad about it. You can’t keep 100% of the people happy, but if they were worth inviting they will understand.
8. Handle technology with care
Are mobile phones a blessing or the bane of weddings? It’s your call, but a lot of couples ask guests not to post on social media during the actual wedding day. It’s a nice thing to have hundreds of images then, but you don’t want technology to cut through every aspect of the day. It’s certainly not a bad idea to have a friend or compere to remind guests to keep phones silent during key parts of the day such as speeches and vows.
As for a dedicated wedding website, these might sound too much hassle but can be very helpful. From saving you stress with late requests for directions, dress code and other wedding protocol, through to giving everyone a portal to add their thoughts and images, a wedding website is not essential, but could be a good move.
9. Personalise and ask for help wherever you can
The likes of Pinterest, Instagram and Etsy are not the only reasons weddings have got more and more crafty and handmade in the past decade. Personal connections with your décor, favours, flowers and other features add magic. They make the event your own and connect you to those you love and their many talents, whether it is designing a wedding invite or adding decorative or musical talent. They might just save you a small fortune, too. So be brave and ask around for some help.
10. Take time to pause and let the moment soak in
As any bride or groom will tell you, the day itself can flash by in a blur of pictures, toasts and conversations. While it’s easy to get swept up, you will want to pause, breathe and treasure the day. Easily said, yes, but in practice you might need a little time out or two.
Having an old friend you go somewhere quiet with for a few minutes is always welcome. Do spend some time on your own on the day if you need to as well. Above all, enjoy it and don’t feel the need to rush around and have a conversation with everyone there.
Even if you don’t manage to hang out with everyone you wanted to, the fact that they were there will be enough. So breathe deeply, smile and be sure to pause regularly and enjoy the moment, whether it’s to watch your nieces playing or chuckle at your uncle’s terrible dancing. Little moments like these make a wedding.
Weddings at Hotel Bristol, Newquay: the friendliest of Cornish wedding venues, right by the beach!
Located just a few steps from the sea, Hotel Bristol has a long tradition of hosting beautiful weddings on the Cornish coast. With experienced staff, excellent food and facilities, we have everything you need for a truly special occasion. We host weddings year round, too, with a range of packages to suit every budget, along with the flexibility to tailor the big day to your exact requirements. See our weddings section for more details.