13 Things I Wish I Knew Before Planning a Wedding

    I reckon, if you’re reading this, you probably aren’t married yet? Well, I am. I’ve been married since 2018, and since then, I’ve learned a thing or two that I wish I had have known back then. Things that could have made planning a wedding easier for me and my now wife. Things that could have made paying for a wedding easier for me and my wife. Even things that would have made my wedding day more enjoyable. So if you want to enjoy the benefit of my hindsight, let me run you through 13 things I wish I knew when I was planning a wedding.

    #1 | You don’t have to have a ‘wedding’

    No one will ever tell you this, but you don’t actually have to have a wedding. What do I mean by that? Obviously you want a wedding, otherwise you wouldn’t be here.

    Well, have you considered an elopement, or even an intimate wedding? If you aren’t sure what these are, check out the difference between a wedding, intimate wedding & elopement.

    So many people get conditioned by movies, TV shows and society to think that if they want to get married, they should, or have to have a wedding. This simply isn’t true. The amount of variation you have available to you in terms of what your ‘wedding’ looks like is incredible. There is literally nothing you cannot do.

    At the end of the day, you have to do what feels right for you two, not what people expect. Trust me, this is something I wish I knew when planning a wedding.

    TLDR – You don’t actually have to have a wedding as per traditional standards. You can choose to elope or even have an intimate wedding. Do what feels right for you.

    When planning a wedding you dont have to actually have a wedding. Beautiful image of bride and groom walking through field under a tree laughing.
    Bride and groom standing in front of a soft lake at gorgeous sunset in Australia. Bride is laughing in intimate embrace with groom.

    #2 | Memories are more valuable than money when planning a wedding

    Think about this for a second. If you earn $1000 this week, you can earn another $1000 next week, or even more if you do overtime. You could sell things, get a second job, right? So money is there for the taking. You can always get more of it, right?

    What about time? Can you get time back once it’s gone? Can you buy time with money? Sadly, unlike money, time is not an abundant resource. It is finite. Once it’s gone, it’s gone.

    It is literally for this reason I value memories and time over money. Money is crucial yes, but at the end of the day you won’t be talking about all your money to people, you will be sharing your experiences and memories.

    So when it comes to planning a wedding for you and your partner, just remember, value experience over money. You will never regret spending a little more on a great experience, but you will regret missing out on an amazing opportunity to save money.

    TLDR – Value experiences and memories over saving money.

    #3 | When planning a wedding, you can skip traditions

    So many people just do wedding traditions because they think they have too. Perhaps they think they’re just a little bit of fun. However, a lot of wedding traditions are rooted in some dark history.

    If you want a breakdown of all the creepy historical bases for our modern wedding traditions, check out these 10 wedding traditions you might want to skip. Most tend to be rooted in mysoginistic and patriarchal practices, which I know doesn’t sit well with a lot of people in 2021.

    So why not skip them? There are no rules saying you have to do a bouquet toss, or a garter toss, or a father daughter dance.

    I mean, of course, if you actually want to do them, please, be my guest, have fun. But for those of you who don’t want to do them but weren’t aware they could actually just skip them, now you know.

    TLDR – I wish I had have known I didn’t have to do every single wedding tradition, there are no rules, just do what you want.

    Two brides in colourful coates walk through Australian bush heading for cliff edge in the Blue Mountains where their elopement ceremony will be.
    When planning a wedding be less strict on budget. Photo of bride and groom sitting on top of Coromandel peak in New Zealand having a picnic at sunset

    #4 | Be less strict with your budget

    Ok, honestly this one is a biggie. I remember when we sat down, we set out our budget for our wedding (I think it was about $35,000), and decided we would be strict on it.

    And we were. We simply refused to go over that budget. Planning a wedding was going to be a success for us. Well we got to $35k and still didn’t have a wedding video, so what did we do? We didn’t get a video! We did not want to go a couple grand over budget.

    Was this a good idea? Absolutely not! My wife and I still regret that decision (you can see our home made wedding video here, it’s all we have). We valued money over our own memories. We stuck to our budget yes, but what we didn’t know is that a budget should be a ballpark you are aiming for. Not a hyper strict number.

    Had we known this, we probably would have just splurged, got the wedding film, and been happy with our decision.

    TLDR – Budgets aren’t designed to be strict. Most people have no idea how much wedding stuff costs, so instead of setting a final number, set a ‘ballpark’ budget with some flexibility.

    #5 | When planning a wedding, D.I.Y can be more expensive

    Yes, D.I.Y is fun, and can add a touch of personalisation to your wedding day, but let’s be honest, most people do it to keep costs down. So does it actually do that? Let’s look at wedding cakes as an example.

    In order to make a wedding cake that would feed, let’s say 80 people, you’re looking at around $100 worth of ingredients. Now let’s just assume you have all the tools, and an appropriate sized oven. On average, a professional baker will spend 12 hours on your cake, so let’s say it takes you 15 (i’ll be generous).

    Now let’s just say that your hourly rate at work is $35/hr. 15 hours of your time is worth $525. So, in order to make your own cake, it’s cost you a minimum of 15 hours (most likely a lot more), and $625. In Australia the average wedding cake is $537. So in this case, D.I.Y has cost you an additional $88, plus a tonne of stress. Why would you want that for your day if you could avoid it?

    TLDR – When planning a wedding I wish someone would have told me to include the cost of my time in the total cost of D.I.Y elements of our day. It would have saved us a lot of time and stress.

    DIY can be expensive when planning a wedding. Photo of bride and groom having a first dance in the rainforest
    Photo of groom picking bride up and spinning her around as the golden sun pours in on their faces over the moutains

    #6 | Please yourself, don’t worry about others

    Honestly, this is a big one. So many people go into planning a wedding with the notion that they have to try and please everyone. They’re concerned about what their parents want, what your parents want, what their friends will expect.

    This type of thinking can not only ruin the planning process, but the actual wedding. Remember, it’s your day, it’s not theirs. They have either already had their chance, or will get it in the future, but this is yours.

    This is kind of where it comes to eloping. A lot of people want to, but are concerned that it will make others upset. Fuck them! It’s your day, it’s your love, it’s your life. You need to worry solely about what you and your partner want. What will make this day perfect for you? What would make it a true and honest reflection of your relationship? Then, go ahead and do it!

    TLDR – It’s your day, it’s your love, celebrate it however feels right for you. Don’t worry about or even give thought to pleasing other people.

    #7 | Don’t let people ‘buy’ part of your wedding planning

    This is something I see a lot. When planning a wedding, you will often get people, parents typically who want to help you pay for things. On the surface level it seems like a really nice thing for them to do, and it can reduce financial stress associated with planning a wedding, right?

    However, what ends up happening is that the person contributing money thinks and feels as though they now have a say in the decision making process.

    This is a big no no! I wish I had have known before my wedding that giving people an inch, would lead to them taking a mile. It seems fair in the moment, “they’ve given us $5k for a photographer, they should have a say”. Then, you end up compromising on things to please someone else, and end up unhappy with your decision. Ultimately you will end up wishing you hadn’t taken the money and just done it yourself. So if someone offers to pay, thank them and continue planning your wedding, your way, even if you take the offer.

    TLDR – Just because someone helps you pay for your wedding, doesn’t mean they get a controlling stake in it.

    Don't let someone buy your wedding when planning a wedding. Photo of bride and groom in coastal outfits posing in front of lake at sunset
    You won't spend much time with your partner on the day, photo of bride and groom laughing in front of three blue ducks in sydney

    #8 | You won’t spend much time together (unless you plan for it)

    This is one I really wish I had known beforehand. Everyone always talks about how quickly your wedding will fly by (and it did), but no one actually mentions how little time you will spend with your partner!

    Now let’s think about it, it’s your day, its your love and a celebration of it. So wouldn’t it make sense that you actually spend a lot of time together? Well, at a normal wedding, I can now say it’s pretty standard to only spend an hour at most together (during portraits). The rest of the time, you’re busy with other people.

    Something seems off here, doesn’t it? This is one of the main reasons people elope, because it is more intimate and they get to actually spend time with the person they love. So if eloping is out of the question, you simply need to ensure you plan to spend time together. Trust me, you will regret it if you don’t.

    TLDR – Weddings don’t often allow you to spend much intimate time with your partner, so make sure you plan to include it, otherwise you might not see them much on the day.

    #9 | Who cares if you piss people off

    It’s difficult to accept, because we live in a society that aims to please. We aim to keep people happy. Often we will put ourselves out, or hurt ourselves just to avoid upsetting others.

    This is no different with weddings. I hear it a lot, people agreeing to do a first dance even though they don’t want to, just to not upset their parents. Agreeing to invite cousins and parents, because they don’t want to upset their family, or ending up with wedding parties of 10+ people because they don’t want to upset any of their friends.

    Remember, it’s your wedding, it’s your love. If you piss people off, then so be it. If they are the kind of people to hold a grudge against you for planning a wedding that suits you and fits your dreams and desires, then you don’t need them in your life anyway.

    Do not be afraid to say no, and do not be afraid of upsetting people. At the end of the day, the only people who need to truely, 100% love this day is you and your partner.

    TLDR – You will piss some people off, so be it. The only people who have to be truly happy with the day are you two.

    When planning a wedding it doesnt matter if you upset people. Photo of groom in green velvet suit and wide brim hat standing on rock shelf at newcastle baths
    Photo of bride and groom holding picnic basket, trekking up coromandel peak in new zealand

    #10 | Wedding video is just as important as wedding photos

    “We don’t think we will need a video, we have such an awesome photographer”

    I get this all the time, in fact, I said it for my own wedding (what a fucking fail). But it isn’t true. Videographers and photographers are not interchangeable. They do not offer the same product (see why you need a film here, plus examples of professional films and my home made wedding film).

    This would be the same as saying, “I don’t need a suit jacket because I have amazing suit pants”. Well ok, they’re both clothing, so they belong to the same category (ie photo and video are in the same category), but they go hand in hand. They go together. You don’t buy a jacket, or pants, you buy both!

    Take it from me, I still kick myself daily for not booking a videographer for my wedding. I’ve actually contemplated having a vowel renewal elopement with only my closest friends and family and having that professionally videoed, but thanks lockdown for stopping that!

    TLDR – Photo and video are not the same thing, they are not an either/or service, they are complimentary and work amazingly together.

    #11 | You don’t need a wedding party when planning a wedding

    People get so hung up on choosing the right wedding party. Now don’t get me wrong, having an epic wedding party can be of great use. More often than not they do absolutely nothing bar stand next to you at your ceremony and get drunk at your bucks/hens party.

    So why do we put so much pressure on ourselves to pick a party? And why do so many parties blow out in numbers? People feel bad for who they pick and who they don’t. So a lot of the time, they just start including everyone. Then you end up with a wedding party of 7 or more people (remember, you are probably paying for their outfits, or at least tailoring, so calm down).

    A trend I am now noticing is that people are either not having a party at all, or having a small party, but not having a ‘best man’ or ‘maid of honour’. It makes choosing simple, less stressful and makes everyone else feel better.

    Generally speaking elopements and intimate weddings don’t bother with wedding parties, and personally, I am yet to hear one of these people say they regretted it.

    TLDR – If you want a wedding party, of course go for it, but you actually don’t have to have one, trust me, they don’t do that much for you.

    When planning a wedding you don't need a wedding party. Photo of bride with crutches laughing
    when planning a wedding, don't just waste money. Photo of stunning boho bride in lace wedding dress standing on rock platform in ocean

    #12 | Don’t waste money when planning a wedding

    I don’t want to make it seem like certain things are less important on your wedding day. But, you need to understand to prioritise things. What is most important to you? Food? Photos? Maybe your outfits.

    The bottom line is that spending money on things that don’t matter is a great way to blow through your budget. For example, I wish when I was planning a wedding that I knew how little guests care about wedding favours. No one even remembers what we got them (it’s only been 3 years). However it still cost us like a grand.

    Another one is brides spending $10k on a wedding dress, but saying they don’t have money for a wedding film. Maybe i’m wrong, but I can’t see how having that specific, ultra expensive dress could make your day so much better? You could get just as amazing a dress for $1500-$2500

    If you add up all the little things that don’t really add to your day, you’ll find you probably have enough money for that wedding film after all!

    TLDR – Spending money on things that don’t really add to your wedding is a great way to blow out your budget. A lot of them could be totally skipped, or at least downgraded to free yup room for more important things.

    #13 | You don’t have to invite partners

    Damn I hate this one! For starters, it costs you a lot of money. At an average of $170/head, if you invite partners for an average sized wedding, you might end up spending an extra couple grand on people you don’t even know!

    There is a reason I am a big believer in intimate weddings and elopements, and its because its more intimate and emotionally connected. It isn’t about the grand show, or trying to feel popular by having hundreds of people you don’t even know.

    So save yourself the thousands of dollars, don’t invite partners. Will you piss people off? Probably, but either they’ll get over it, or they won’t and then you can un-invite them too (more savings). But in all honesty, most people will get it, and won’t have an issue. Planning a wedding is expensive and they know that, so they’ll just be excited that they made the cut.

    Side note, now you have money for that wedding film you now know you need!

    TLDR – Don’t waste money inviting guests partners unless you actually know and love them.

    You dont have to invite partners. Bride and groom standing in the mountains in barrington, as golden sun fills the valley at sunset behind them

    And that’s how simple planning a wedding can be

    Planning a wedding is daunting, and for most people, its a new experience. But, rather than ‘learn the hard way’ like most people do, if you follow the suggestions above, you will find that the process is easy, and the day itself will be amazing.

    If you want to speak to me about helping you start the planning process, or get me on board to shoot your day, you can always contact me here, and we can get the ball rolling.

    james white
    May 28, 2022