I myself am fast approaching 20 years of wedded bliss. I’ve taken some time to carefully think about lessons learned from not only my own wedding day, but also the multitude of weddings that I have documented as a wedding photographer in Sydney. I have put together 10 simple tips which will hopefully help you make the most out of planning for your wedding day and making sure it’s perfect for you!

1.  PRICE

It’s a good idea to find vendors that you love and whose work resonates with you both. Try not to make decisions based on price alone. There is always a huge difference in the quality you receive from various wedding vendors, and the prices quoted can be a big indicator of what you’ll receive. Let’s take wedding photography as an example (after all, I am a wedding photographer, so I feel it’s kinda important to touch on this). You might contact 2 different photographers for example. One is asking $6500 for 12hrs of coverage including all digitals. The other quote you received is $1999 for 12 hrs and includes all digitals, an engagement shoot, an album, framed prints and the inclusions list goes on! You’ll probably sit there wondering why would you pay over $4000 more for the expensive photographer when you can get everything for $2000. There are some vital factors to check when selecting your wedding photographer (or any wedding vendor for that matter). The cheaper photographer might not be as experienced and the quality of their images might not be up to the standard you were expecting. They might not be insured, so if something happens on your day, there will be nothing covering you for this. Their equipment might not be current and God forbid their camera stops working just as you’re about to walk down the aisle! If they are not running a profitable business, then there is no guarantee that they will still be operating when your wedding date comes around. There are so many reasons that good quality vendors are going to cost more, and so this leads us into the next point…

The bitterness of poor quality remains long after low pricing is forgotten!”      

Leon M. Cautillo

2. RED FLAGS

If you come across any vendors requesting the entire payment up front and promising  you a huge discount, for example 50% off, this should send up a huge red flag! Let’s say you meet a vendor and they have a $2000 package which they will drop to $1000 if you pay everything up front. Firstly, that is a HUGE discount for any wedding vendor to provide if they truly value the work they do! Secondly, if you do not have a contract to sign, direct contact details for the vendor, or at the very least a receipt to prove you have paid them, be prepared to walk away! It is so important to do your research when selecting all of your wedding vendors – do they have great reviews (Google, Facebook, etc), are you able to meet with them or at the very least talk to them on the phone, have they been running their business for a while (this one is not essential, but it’s good to know that their business model is sustainable), can you easily find examples of their work so that you know what to expect, and also are they a member of a professional body? I am an Accredited Professional Photographer with the AIPP (which stands for Australian Institute of Professional Photography) and working in conjunction with the ACCC ensures that your photographer is protected by their professional body, and you the consumer are also protected.

Read here about a group of brides who had their wedding days ruined! https://www.9now.com.au/a-current-affair/2017/extras/latest/170623/angry-brides …

3. Plan for things you LOVE – Don’t just go along with the trend!

Looking online for wedding inspiration is great, but are you looking at what matters the most in your own relationship? Make your wedding day personal! The matching denim jackets, flash cars, donut walls, fireworks, 5 tier wedding cake (the list could go on…) are all great, and there’s nothing wrong with them, but ARE THEY YOU? Are you booking things for your wedding day because you feel the need to keep up with the current wedding trends? Do they make you happy? It’s almost 2019 and you can do whatever you want! You don’t have to dance! You don’t have to do speeches! You could have photos first and then the ceremony! You don’t have to wear a white dress! You can plan your wedding day any way you want it, as long as it makes YOU BOTH happy! Both of you get involved in the planning and arrange things that are going to set the foundation for a great marriage!

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4. Budget, but prepare to be flexible!

It’s important to set a budget for everything you are planning for your wedding. What happens though when your budget of $200 for your bridal bouquets needs an extra zero added to that figure!? Write out a list of everything that is important to you both, do some research on how much you should be setting aside for each vendor and remember to be realistic when setting your budget.

“A budget is more than just a series of numbers on a page; it is an embodiment of our values.”

Barack Obama

5. Wedding Dress Shopping

Yes, this is a gown that you will be wearing for that one special day, but that day can feel like a long, uncomfortable nightmare if you choose the wrong dress! I found myself in a painful mess when the metal boning in my dress poked its way through the material and began stabbing me near my underarm. There were so many photos of me looking pained and also adjusting the bodice constantly! Do you need the same silk gown with 5 metre veil that Meghan Markle wore on her wedding day, or are you a girl with simple tastes? A long veil or train may look amazing, but it will be a magnet for every stick, insect and piece of dirt that you go near! Some things to consider when selecting your perfect wedding gown are that if you never wear any kind of strapless garment, do not start with a strapless wedding gown (guilty – I did exactly this!!). You will be pulling and adjusting that thing all day, and your discomfort will show through in your wedding photos! Dress for the beautiful body you have and make sure that the style complements your shape and size. Make sure your gown is properly fitted to your body, because there is nothing worse than bits popping out on the day because your dress doesn’t fit. Lastly, while it may seem more convenient to save yourself a fortune and choose a dress online, this option is filled with danger! You have no measurement appointments to ensure the dress is a good fit on your body, often the online dresses are made using cheaper material, or they are so poorly made that they look nothing like the images shown on the Buy It Now screen. Online shopping should always be done cautiously!

Here are some tips on choosing the perfect dress for your body shape – https://www.modernwedding.com.au/how-to-choose-the-perfect-wedding-dress-for-your-body-type/ 

6. Ceremony + Reception venue – This can save you hundreds!

Having your ceremony and reception at the same venue can save you hundreds in budgeting, but can also be more convenient for your guests. Most wedding venues that cater for both will have refreshments available for your guests to enjoy straight after the ceremony while you head off for your wedding photography. Most venues have beautifully landscaped surrounds which are perfect for your bridal party portraits, and some even have a dedicated bridal suite decked out with canapés and drinks so that you and your bridal party can enjoy some down time together before the wedding reception gets into full swing.

Here’s a list of some of our favourite local Macarthur and Camden region wedding venues for which we also offer discounts due to the reduction in our travel requirements – http://www.elysiumphotography.com.au/Macarthur-Wedding-Venues.php

Shot at the always stunning Gledswood Estate Homestead & Winery

7. Have a Plan B!

If you have planned an outdoor ceremony or reception, there is always a chance that it could rain on your wedding day. It’s important to stay calm and remember this is not the end of the world! Most wedding venues will have an indoor space available for your ceremony to be moved to if it happens to rain. Your photographer should also have some creative ideas on how you can embrace the weather and make it part of your photographs. If you are feeling adventurous towards the end of the night, don’t be afraid to venture into the wet – rainy night photography can be pretty epic!

8. Sit-down meals or Grazing Table?

With so many catering options nowadays, which option is going to suit you and your wedding guests? There will always be pros and cons for both. Sit-down menu options are a great way to plan for an organised reception where everyone sits in allocated seating and receives set meals. While this is an extremely popular option, it doesn’t allow for much socialisation. The option of a cocktail style meal or grazing table is a great way to get people mingling and chatting. There is always a variety of food options and there’s sure to be something to suit every taste. This can also free up a lot more space since tables and chairs aren’t needed. A few bar stools and tables are all that’s necessary. Another catering choice which is growing in popularity is hiring a food truck to serve your wedding guests. I’ve seen some wonderful burger vans, pizza vans, and even an incredible Indian food van (that one was AH-mazing!) As always though, it’s a good idea to check with the venue you’ve booked and see what catering options they provide, and if theirs doesn’t suit your needs, would they allow you to book your own.

9. Think outside the square!

With these challenging times we now all face (I’m not going to mention the C word) we all have to think outside the box when it comes to event planning. With many weddings facing the prospect of no dance floors allowed, there are still plenty of ways you can get your guests to be involved in fun activities. Games and trivia are fantastic alternatives to having a dance floor. Our friends at Celebrant Connect Australia put out a wonderful blog post recently with some tips on keeping your reception fun and entertaining – https://www.celebrantconnect.com.au/2020/10-things-to-do-when-you-cant-dance-at-a-wedding/

10. Take time out to truly enjoy YOUR big day!

In the blink of an eye, your wedding day will be over and the whirlwind of preparation, the ceremony,  bridal party shenanigans, reception, speeches, and all the special moments in-between will be but a memory. Ensure you make the effort to connect with your guests, take time to laugh with your new spouse, dance as if no-one is watching, lose yourselves in the moments that matter. ENJOY!

All images copyright of Elysium Photography