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Wedding Planning: The 5 Most Costly Mistakes Couples Make When Planning a Wedding

5 common mistakes brides and Grooms make while wedding planning

So you’re getting married and planning a wedding? How exciting! I bet you have been dreaming of this day for years, if not your entire life. This is going to be one of the biggest days of your life. Wedding planning can be daunting, but should also be fun. Planning your wedding should be full of exciting options and possibilities, but for many couples, it can be stressful and frustrating.  Let me help you get the most out of your big day by avoiding these 5 common mistakes brides and grooms make when planning their wedding. 

1. Thinking that you need a huge budget to have a great wedding 

This one is less technical, and more personal. Sure, there is money associated with weddings, you have a lot of providers you have contacted to put the day together. But don’t be fooled, more expensive does not always mean you are getting a better supplier. At the end of the day, when you look back on your wedding photos, you won’t remember how expensive your dress was, or whether you hired the fancy festoon lights. You will remember the vibe at your wedding, the energy amongst guests. These people are all there to celebrate your big day because they love you and you love them. They will be there regardless of how much you spend.

Take home lesson – Remember this point when someone tells you that planning a wedding on a budget (read more on budget weddings here) means your wedding will not be perfect, they are wrong. After all, your wedding isn’t about dollars, it’s about people. 

wedding photography Sydney
Wedding Planning – Your budget does not define your wedding, your guests and you do!

2. Not meeting with your wedding photographer before booking them 

This is huge, and not just because I am a photographer. Let me ask you a question; would you and your partner like to hang out with me for 12 hours, side by side for the whole day? Often with me invading your personal space? I am a pretty nice guy, but I think your answer would be a resounding “No!” Why is that? It is probably because you don’t know if we would get along. You don’t actually know me yet, so I don’t blame you and won’t hold it against you I swear. So how could you work out the answer to this question? It is as simple as sitting down over a coffee to have a chat, or at the least having a phone conversation.

The scenario I just described is your wedding day, in case you missed it. Your photographer is by your side, all day long, often getting really close (I will ask first, I promise). It takes a lot of trust to make this work, and we use the initial meeting to ensure that you like me, and I like you. For my clients I use the complimentary engagement shoot to create this trust and friendship. By the wedding day it should feel like we are good friends which always leads to great wedding photography.

Take home lesson – Just because you love their photos, does not mean you will be a good match, make sure your photographer meets with you prior to booking (not after booking).

beautiful bride and groom wedding photography Sydney
Wedding planning – Having a meeting and an engagement shoot with your wedding photographer will ensure you feel comfortable and natural on the day

3. Trying to do everything yourself to save money on your wedding

This is a very popular one these days. Brides and grooms are very savvy, and with all the information they could ever want at their fingertips, why wouldn’t they be? This might seem like a good idea initially. You will save some money, and get to put your own touch on things but it is going to be a very time-consuming venture. When your wedding is getting closer and things are piling up to do, this can significantly add to stress.

Don’t get me wrong, I like the idea of brides and grooms ‘DIY-ing’ some of their stuff, maybe a bit of your stationary, maybe your welcome sign, could even be you cake if that’s your thing. However,it becomes a problem when you try to do everything, even if you have no skills in that area. I have seen brides try to do their own signage, their own cakes, their own dresses, and majority of the time, it has either ended in tears, or ended in the bride scrambling around, last minute, trying to organise having these things done by a professional. This usually costs much more due to it being last minute and you having no time to shop around.

Take home lesson  – DIY the things you are good at and have time to do, but leave the rest to a professional, it is not worth the stress.

bridal wedding flowers photography
Wedding planning – You can’t do everything, it’s not possible. If you want beautiful quality, hire an expert.

4. Inviting too many people to your wedding

“We’ve invited 250, but hoping heaps of them probably won’t come”. If I had a dollar for every time I hear this, I could retire! Well no, not really, but you get my point. What will you do if they do all come? Does your budget allow for that many guests? These are all questions you seriously need to ask each other.

Once you have a set budget, work out how many guests you can afford to have, and invite only that many. This will help to keep you on track with your budget and stop you from running out of money! Think of it this way, if you are hoping they might not come, then are they really worth inviting? Would you invite your best friend and be happy if they didn’t come to your wedding? Of course not, you would be really upset because that person means something to you. If they don’t mean something to you, my advice, don’t invite them.

Take home lesson – It is better to have 100 guests who you love and who love you, than to have 200 guests of which you won’t even speak to half of them (but you will certainly pay for them).

wedding group photography
Wedding planning – Only invite the people you truly want at your wedding and it will be full of love and laughter.

5. Letting your family friend do your wedding photography 

This is a big one! I will try sum up why in a very short space here so stay with me. 

What does a wedding photographer actually do?

A lot of people think wedding photography is easy, you get a good camera and click it at people. They couldn’t be further from the truth. It might look like I work 10 hours on your day, but 10-15 hours goes into initial meetings, plus planning the day, and then a good 30-40 go into the editing and delivering after the day. The actual day itself, whilst we look calm and composed, is extremely stressful for photographers. We stay calm and composed because we know that if we panic, you will panic. If we panic, you will become stressed and this will negatively impact your wedding photos. We do a lot more than you know, and you never will, because we keep these things from you so that you enjoy a stress free, beautiful day. I could go on for pages, but I won’t.

Is your family friend a professional wedding photographer?

So often I hear people say “Oh we love your work, but we want to save money so my friends uncle has a camera, he will do it for us”. This is a recipe for disaster!  They are likely to miss a majority of major moments, because they havn’t met and planned with you. They will not understand what you want on the day, or how to capture real emotions without awkwardly posing you. After the wedding is over, they probably do not have appropriate storage and backup facilities either, which ensure your images are not lost due to faulty or corrupt cards. A professional photographer can invest upwards of $10,000 in backup and storage to ensure your images are never lost. The last thing you want is to receive a call saying all your images are gone because they were not backed up properly, right?

I often get brides and grooms come to me, in tears, saying they have no photos of their day. They ask if I can edit them so they have some wedding photography, but it just is not possible. Please let me reiterate this point…it is not worth saving a bit of money to have this potentially happen to you! You will never have the opportunity to redo the wedding, so you need someone who is going to get it right first time.

This bride and groom now potentially have terrible photos, or worst case scenario, no photos of their wedding. I’m sure if you asked them if they were happy with the couple grand they saved, they would tell you, in hindsight they would have paid double what the photographer was asking.

Take home lesson – Do you want to trust a non professional with capturing the biggest day of your life just to save a bit of money?

beautiful bride wedding photography
Wedding planning – Make sure to hire a professional wedding photographer

Wedding planning take home lesson

Do your homework. Know what you want, and what you need. Know what you can and cannot do, and make sure you enlist the services of a professional for those things. When planning a wedding it is essential that you get these things right. They will set you on a path that will ensure you have a beautiful stress free, and happy wedding process, from start to finish. If you have any questions this article has not answered, please, get in touch with me. As a wedding photographer I have helped many clients through their wedding planning journey, and would be glad to help you on yours too. 

Make sure to check out 3 myths brides need to stop believing which will go into much more detail about wedding photography, how to pick a photographer, what to look for and what to avoid. Let me know what you think in the comments below!

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  1. This is great advice for brides, it is very stressful organising a wedding and you can go a little crazy. I have to say my suprise wedding was made easy I found planning a wedding in 3 months is far less stressful (watching friends plan theirs) than planning a wedding in 12. ????

  2. Super interesting read! As someone who will (hopefully) be planning a wedding in the next few years or so, I feel like I already have a better mind set! Thanks James 🙂

  3. This is definitely invaluable advice for all couples who are in the process of wedding planning and finding that perfect match in a great photographer to capture the day. I like the way you want to create an understanding and connection with your clients so that on the day any anxiety about photos are gone and the couple can be natural – and thus, allow you to capture the beautiful memories in photos they can keep forever. Well done!

    1. Hey Mel!

      Thanks for the great feedback 🙂 You are right, it comes down to nerves and anxiety on the day. If the couple are feeling comfortable it makes it so much easier to get great photos…plus it makes your big day so much better!

  4. After recently being in a bridal party, I couldn’t agree more! There are so many important elements in making a wedding a success and a professional photographer is right up there on that list! I look back on the photos and every single one has a special meaning/memory to it, I just couldn’t imagine not having those memories. Thank you for capturing such beautiful moments and sharing these pieces of advice! ????

    1. Always! I am so glad you all had such a good time at the wedding, it was truly a pleasure working with you all. Not going to lie, by the end of the night it almost felt like we were all life long friends? I didn’t want the wedding to end!

  5. This is a great article, James. Even though I am not planning a wedding myself right now, I will remember your helpful advice for future 😀 Having perfect wedding photos and a great photographer should be one of the top priorities for every bride, because it captures one of the most important days in their lives. I am looking forward to reading more posts from you 🙂

    1. Hey Tereza,

      Trust me, the time will come sooner than you might think! I totally agree, not trying to be bias, but wedding photography is one of the few things I would not recommend trying to cut costs on.

      I hope my future posts are as helpful as this one 😀

  6. Hey James, just wanted to say thanks for the info, it was super helpful and puts wedding planning in perspective! I’ll definitely be showing my fiance this! Keep them coming!

  7. I love this! Thank you for sharing this information…now to get the h2b to get interested and involved in the process haha!

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