If you’re in the process of planning a wedding and…
In my past life I was a professional event manager, so not only do I theoretically know what makes for a great event, but I have done the hard yards, putting together dozens of events of all different sizes, styles and purposes.
But I’ve never done a wedding. And I’m tired already. I’m busy doing other things. You know, writing blogs, pfaffing around on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Pinterest, Instagram and trying to save the world.
My partner and I decided on December 31 that we would get married in June. No, not June next year – THIS JUNE!
What were we thinking? Wait, WE? Why did I think this event would involve joint decisions with my beloved? Turns out there is no WE in WEDDING afterall! I’m in this thing alone, well, except for my Mum of course. Mums just can’t help themselves. Thank god.
Of course he thinks he’s involved. That’s a job in itself, making him feel like he’s contributing. However, every decision he has supported so far is the one that makes his life easier. And I totally love him for it. Why? Because I want that too! I’m so jealous!
One of the pitfalls of being a ‘one time event manager’ who has a history of complaining about badly run events is that your friends have high expectations of what kind of event you’re going to put on for your wedding. On top of that, my partner is a professional entertainer so, basically, all eyes are on us. No, not ‘us’ as in he and I and our special union of love – just the event itself.
At least that’s how it seems. Of course no one actually says that, do they? Instead they say ‘It’s your day.’ and ‘Do whatever makes you happy’ etc. Yeah right …
What they really mean is ‘Oh dear, another wedding? This better be good.’ or ‘At least there will be some live music.’ or ‘What? They’re having it at a warehouse?’
The good news is, I’m three months out and I’ve pretty much got it all sorted. I’m not going to pretend a wedding like mine is everyone’s cup of tea, but if you’re a busy bride, here’s 20 pointers to make the whole experience much less painful.
1. Save The Date Announcement
As exciting as it is, don’t tell anyone about your engagement (except close friends and family of course) until you decide on a date – or at least settled on a month – for your wedding. Once you’ve respectfully informed close friends and family, send text messages to your friends with the announcement and pop it on Facebook. You can decide later whether you want to invite them or not and what the ceremony and reception is actually going to look like.
Having to wait to share your news will encourage you to quickly decide on a date. Once you’ve committed to this date or month, it’ll be all systems go and you’ll be ready to start making it happen.
Telling your friends sooner rather than later will go down well. Your friends will thank you for respecting that they have busy lives with jam-packed diaries to manage as well and, given they’d love to attend, they too want to book it in as soon as possible.
2. Engagement Party
Skip it. Move straight onto the big day.
Save time, fuss and money by having your ceremony at the government registry office. While there are strict limits on the number of people who can attend, it can make for a much more intimate affair and you and your partner will feel less pressure to ‘perform’ and have more space to be yourselves. It’s also incredibly affordable and the ceremony rooms can often be quite beautiful. Civil and religious celebrants can offer similar fuss-free ceremony options in parks, gardens, churches and halls. In fact, the ceremony’s often the easy bit.
4. The Bridal Party
You don’t have to have bridesmaids or groomsmen. Instead, let your besties, brothers and sisters have a good time and wear what they want. They will thank you for it! Plus it will give them heaps of time to do something special for you, from the heart, without the pressure. Plant that seed in their minds, instead.
5. Reception Venue
Unless you have a dream location that happens to be everyone else’s dream location and you’re willing to wait for a year to secure it, scout around for somewhere different. Consider social enterprises, warehouses, community halls or – if it’s manicured enough – your own back garden. Despite your friends and family being vocal and saying ‘It’s your day’, that’s not really true. You want everyone to have a good time. And they want to have a good time. A relaxed atmosphere where everyone has an awesome night can match an ostentatious extravaganza any day – and still be talk of the town.
6. Back Of House
If your venue doesn’t provide catering or catering staff, consider finding staff on Airtasker, an app that provides skilled people who are willing to do pretty much anything for you at a competitive rate. Alternatively, chat to your caterers. For an additional fee, caterers often provide front and back of house services as well.
If you’re too proud for ‘bring a plate’ or a backyard barbeque, you’re going to have to cater and catering is expensive. If you want 200 people attending your party, you can. You just have to get creative. Arrange 10 friends or family members to bring a big meal each to share (nibbles, mains, salads, desserts). You can still pay them for the produce, but having their help will ease the pain. If you don’t want to bother your friends, consider hiring a professional caterer to look after the main course and self-catering your appetisers and desserts. All you have to do is drop the extras off (or ask a friend or mother to) and your hired front of house can lay them out.
8. Party Hire
These days, you can hire everything you need – chairs, tables, cutlery, crockery, glasses, decorations, balloons, helium bottles – from the same company. Hire comfortable chairs. You know those white plastic chairs that everyone seems to get for their wedding because they look pretty with a cover and a satin bow? Don’t get them. They’re the most uncomfortable chairs ever. Spend an extra $2 per chair for the next level up – something less rickety and with more padding. Your guests will love you for it. If you have extra cash, hire someone to put on some fireworks. Seriously, how amazing would that be? That’s a wedding I’d never forget!
People want to drink at weddings. That’s an Aussie fact. If your guests are the type who won’t cope if the bar goes dry, but you can’t afford to provide an endless supply of alcohol, be sure to provide facilities where they can purchase more. Alternatively, supply endless bubbles, wine, beer and soft drinks and invite people to bring their own spirits. If you’re on a tight budget, offer some fancy offerings earlier in the event and bring out the cheap stuff later in the night. By that stage, guests won’t even notice and will just be grateful for the tipple.
Live music always goes down a treat and a quality covers band will get your guests dancing and having a good time. If you want to create a party atmosphere and encourage dancing, you have to create the right mood. A daytime reception may not enable the right ambience for dancing, but an evening event – with dimmed lighting, disco lighting and a smoke machine – will create excitement. Encouraging dancing is all about encouraging people to be as uninhibited as possible. Mood lighting (and plenty of drinkies!) achieves that. If you do not have time to concern yourself with live music, put together your own music playlist and simply set it to run throughout the whole night.
Lock in a terrific MC early. You know who they are. Be kind and give them a running sheet. Don’t write it on the back of a napkin on the day. Put it together at least a week before so they have time to plan their wit around the proceedings.
Speeches from family and friends provide endless entertainment. Everyone loves a good wedding speech. Don’t invite people on the night or the week before to do a speech. Give them plenty of notice, so ideas to amuse and entertain your guests can start percolating in their minds months ahead, resulting in a great speech. For those you know have a tendency to rave on and on, give them a time limit.
The process (and the cost!) of choosing, writing and mailing paper invitations is time consuming. Go digital! There are quite a few online invitation services popping up of late. I received my first digital invitation just the other day – and loved it! Be sure to check it out.
If time’s an issue and money’s no object this is a no brainer. Go shopping and choose your favourite! If money is an issue then shop around online – online jewellers and craft websites like Etsy have some beautiful options. In your downtime, Pinterest is great for inspiration. If you are after a unique piece (whether that’s an engagement ring or wedding band), jewellers can now look after you completely online, meaning you can avoid the shopping centre carparks.
14. Clothing, Hair & Makeup
If you don’t have bridesmaids and groomsmen to consider, this is a much quicker activity both for you and your future husband. You can then dedicate all your time to finding something that’s perfect for you. If you don’t have time to visit bridal shops or attend dressmakers fittings, hop online and search the entire globe for your dream dress. This is ideal for the busy bride to be whose only spare time is at 11pm on a Tuesday night.
No matter how busy you are or how simple your dress is, don’t go DIY when it comes to hair and make up. Pamper yourself. It’s only a few hours out of your day, on the day of your wedding. The results will be worth it, particularly for the photography which – unlike your youth – tends to stick around for years to come!
15. Hen’s Night
Skip it. Or instead treat yourself and a few friends to a day spa and massage. Busy brides to be need massages not extra events to organise. Yes, I do realise it’s the job of the chief bridesmaid, but how grateful will your busy bestie be if you let her off the hook?
16. Vow Picnic
When else is this going to get done if you don’t schedule it in? Power couples need time together and what better way to complete your vows than arranging some quality time to focus on this important task?
17. Playlist Picnic
Struggling to find time to plan which songs to play for your ceremony and reception? Combine it with the above.
If you want to capture your special day, find someone who knows what they’re doing. This person usually costs a lot of money. Don’t get excited by someone who’s ‘cheap’. I’ve seen friends rave about their cheap photographer and they now have the very ordinary photos to prove it.
Set aside some of your budget to put your favourite photo prints on glass. I love that we offer newly weds affordable custom photo prints on acrylic glass. Check out the prices now and include professional photo prints in your wedding budget.
19. Gift Register, Charity Register or Wishing Well
Guests love to give a gift at weddings, but it’s important to make it as easy as possible for them. If you’re keen for cash gifts but you’re too busy for craft, find a crafty friend to build you a wishing well. There’s an abundance of gift and charity registers online these days, so choose these early and include them on the invitation.
Busy people shop online. If you’re after a big worldwide adventure, find a good travel agent to look after you. If you’re after something more humble, choose something that requires as little effort from you as possible to organise: a nearby beach resort, a tropical island holiday or a cruise.
These 20 tips do not provide a recipe for a traditional fairytale wedding, but it’ll get done and everyone will have fun. In the end, that’s the main thing right?