Some hopefully helpful advice for your Wedding Day
Getting married or organising a wedding isn’t something most people do very often. Having photographed many, many weddings patterns start to emerge and we tend to see similar things happening over and over again. It isn’t that couples getting married aren’t prepared, it is more likely that until that "something" actually happens it will never have occurred to them that a particular situation could unfold. This section is written using this experience from attending weddings as a photographer, as a wedding guest and from a personal point of view as my wife and I approach our twelfth wedding anniversary. This advice shouldn’t be taken literally or too seriously or is aimed at any particular set of people but is aimed at being a humorous, tongue-in-cheek guide with a hint of the truth somewhere in there!
Please bear in mind this is written by a man with an engineering and scientific background so may be a little too cynical for some…
Your Wedding Day is the beginning of your journey, not your destination!
Marriage is the start of your journey together through life, not the end point! I’ve seen brides where planning for their wedding has taken over their lives, sometimes for years, it has almost become their entire purpose for living! When the Wedding Day is done they have a massive void in their lives with nothing to fill it. A Wedding Day is a momentous day in your life but that day will pass and fade into history leaving you with the memories of it (and you other half), so don’t get too obsessed and have something planned for after the Wedding Day to look forward too.
NOTE: Being well organised and having your special day planned out isn’t the same as being obsessed!
Most important of all is to remember why you are getting married. If you are getting married because someone else thinks you should or because all your friends are then it is probably for the wrong reason. I hear in many Wedding speeches that you “don’t marry someone you can live with, you marry someone you cannot live without”.
Dedicated email Account
One of the most useful pieces of advice I can give is to set up a dedicated email account for your wedding. This is useful in a number of ways, it keeps all your wedding related emails together in one place so you can easily keep an eye on things and more importantly not lose an important message in amongst your day-to-day correspondence. It is also beneficial in that you won't still be on someones mailing list years after you are married getting email offering you wedding related services. With the advent of the General Date Protection Regulations (GDPR) in 2018 this shouldn't happen anyway but there are always some suppliers who don't do what they should, mainly through lack of knowledge.
Think about the Dress
That amazing dress with 30 layers of fabric underneath might be the most beautiful thing you have ever seen and in the nice air-conditioned bridal shop it feels great but think about the time of year you are getting married, if it' a summer wedding are you are likely to overheat and pass out? From experience of moving and lifting Wedding Dresses about to photograph them some are incredibly heavy. You will be wearing this dress all day, it needs to be comfortable and allow enough movement to do what you need to do. If you are having a Church Wedding you will probably need to kneel, you will almost certainly have a first dance so how able are you to move about in your dress? How are you getting to the venue? If your dress is ten feet wide will it fit into the Wedding Car? I have also seen a couple of unfortunate Grooms (and Fathers of the Bride) stand on the bottom of dress only to receive a severe reprimand! Remember someone will walk you down the isle and someone will bring you back, do you want them close to you or six feet away unable to get close? As well as being too warm during a Summer Wedding, a winter wedding will require some thought too. That tiny, strapless dress might leave you feeling very c-c-c-c-cold so something warmer might be required (or a coat but then your dress will be hidden).
Following on in a similar way from the Wedding Dress choice, shoes are just as important. That fantastic pair of designer shoes you have set you heart on, how could you not buy them and they are only a grand and the eight-inch heals are simply wild! The thing is having bought them you will want to wear them and you have to wonder how you might feel when you arrive at the venue to find you can barely walk as they have already broken three of your toes! Later in the evening after a glass or two of prosecco you might take a spill off your fantastic heels and spend the first half of your Wedding Night in A & E waiting for an X-ray on your suspected broken ankle! I would always choose comfort over style but I don’t like pain! Worth choosing shoes wisely (or bringing another pair for dancing).
Something won't go to plan…
There will always be something that doesn’t quite go to plan, it is the way of things. Good planning is important and knowing what should happen when and where and who is responsible for what can help reduce the risk of potential problems and stress on the day. Know who to contact to get an answer about each part of the day and try not to panic. Officiants, Wedding coordinators, hotel staff, chauffeurs and even experienced wedding photographers(!) will have been to lots of Weddings and have an idea how the day should flow and should hopefully be able to offer help and advice and if not at least another brain to try to think things through.
NOTE: Again, being well organised and having everything planned out is the sleep easy option and is not the same as obsessing over everything!
It’s your day do it your way!
If a so-called expert tells you that this year it is “in” to get married at a sewage farm would you follow the “new way” or be an old fashioned sort and choose a church or hotel? There are so many people with an agenda (usually to sell you something), it can be tempting to follow some of them and pay their price. Run your Wedding Day your way, do what you want to do and don’t get dragged into things you don’t want.
Budget (AKA Keeping up with the Joneses)
As mentioned above, marriage is the beginning of a life together, there seems little point spending £150,000 on your Wedding only to have to live in a cardboard box under the railway arches for the next two years because you are massively in debt and cannot afford anywhere else to live. There are plenty of people out there willing to spend your money for you, you need to decide if the things they recommend are the sort of things you actually want and need for your big day. Your wedding day is yours to do with as you like, chose the things that will make you happy.
If some random website or strange program on some virtually unknown TV channel tells you that the current trend is to arrive at your wedding at the local landfill site on a camel carrying a bouquet made of solid gold barb-wire and you think this isn’t quite the type of thing you had in mind for your Wedding Day then don’t do it!
I have seen brides and grooms arrive by all sorts of unconventional modes of transport wearing all sorts of interesting outfits, carrying some strange things and go on to do some unusual things. The majority of them look completely happy with their choices; they are doing what they are doing because it is there day and they want to do something special to them or their future life partner on their Wedding Day, not to please some slick-talking snake oil salesman out to separate them from their hard earned cash for a quick earner!
I have seen others who are wondering what they were thinking when they decided to agree do what they were doing as they continue to look more and more uncomfortable as the day progresses – I’ll say it again, it is Your Day, do it Your way, you are paying the provider of the goods or service to do what you want and this also goes for wedding photographers too! Remember who is working for who and who is paying the bill!
Keep in Touch with Your Suppliers
The run up to a wedding can be a chaotic time with hundreds of things to organise and keep an eye on and for this reason it is always worth keeping you suppliers informed of any changes to your wedding day plans. All your suppliers want to do their best for you but as suppliers we don't know about any changes of plan or special circumstances unless you tell us! We want your day to run smoothly and without any hitches so keep in touch with all your suppliers and fee back to them any pieces of information which might be useful!
And Finally, & Probably Most Importantly, Get Married for the Right Reasons!
On our journey through our wedding photography life we have attended the weddings of many, many couples. Personally, one of the most upsetting emails I ever received was from the mother of a bride a couple of months after her daughters wedding telling me the couple had split up. It had thrown their family into chaos and caused a considerable amount of distress even to me as an outsider as this couple seemed happy together.
I guess that sometimes we all do things for the wrong reasons. Perhaps we get swept along with the tide or we do something to try to please or make someone else happy. In the normal run of life this isn't too significant but when the end result is marriage then the level of complication is much more significant!
As a good Yorkshireman I hate waste! I think of all the expense of the wedding day, all the peoples journeys to gather together that has all cost money, and has used the resources of the planet. But more significant than this is the emotional tole on particularly the other half of the couple but family and friends too. There is never a good time to back out of a marriage but it seems much more sensible to back out before it has happened rather than after the event.
We know of very few of our couples who are no longer together, most from what we can tell are still together so this type of situation is mercifully rare. Before you marry think about why you are doing it and for who. If it isn't because you want it mainly for you, to make you happier then decide if it is the right thing to do, you could be saving yourself and other a lot of future heartache. Good Luck!