Ten pitfalls to avoid when planning a wedding

A few months ago I published a quick post with five major pitfalls for wedding planning. During the period from December to February Christmas, New Year and Valentines Day are some of the busiest periods for people getting engaged so I thought I would update the post to include some more of the most common mistakes we see in the planning a wedding. Your Wedding Day should be a very special day and hopefully these warnings will make sure that it goes well and help avoid some of these common mistakes.

Ten mistakes not to make when planning a wedding!

Mistake No. 1:  Not taking out wedding insurance before you do anything else.

We all begrudge paying for insurance. After all its annoying to pay for something that you then don’t use! However, we strongly recommend Wedding insurance. Weddings usually involve a lot of money and you will want to be covered if something goes wrong. If the supplier (or venue) you have booked and paid money to disappears or lets you down you will be so grateful that you took out insurance. If you have paid out thousands to your chosen wedding venue and they go into administration (as happened with a big local venue this summer), insurance should help you pay for a replacement venue. Without insurance could you afford to pay for another venue?

Make sure you take it out right at the start, because many policies will have a limit on how much you can claim where you have booked and paid for something before the policy was taken out.

Mistake No. 2:  Not being clear on your expectations.

Before you start your plans make sure you understand what is important to you. Separate fantasy from reality and define what you want for your wedding day. There are almost unlimited choices these days so decide what your priorities are and what and what compromises you are prepared to make. Doing this will save a lot of heartache and will help you in setting your budget.

Mistake 3: Failing to set a realistic budget

The budget is one of the most common sources of tension. Work out a realistic budget for your wedding and stick to it. There are a number of steps to go through:

  • Prioritise – work out what is important to you and produce a prioritised list of costs for your wedding
  • What can you afford? – Work out what your overall budget is in terms of affordability.
  • Research costs of the items you want and remember to prioritise to not cut costs on the important items. Be realistic on costs and expectations. Most people do not have any idea of how much things cost, so do some research. Wedding Fayres, Internet searches and talk to any friends who have been married recently. Be wary of just looking for the cheapest of everything, especially if its important to you. You are not planning to do it again, so you want it right first time! Prices vary immensely – be realistic. Its no different to buying a car: You may not want a rust bucket that will cost a fortune to keep on the road and may break down on you, but equally you may not be able to afford a brand new Bentley!   I know of photographers who charge anything from £250 through to £10,000. Be practical – pitch it at a realistic balance between the the quality and reliability of product you want and the price you can afford.
  • Add up what everything will cost and see if its in your overall affordability budget. If it isn’t decide if you want to cut things from your budget or delay your wedding to enable you to increase your affordability budget. Be wary of cutting costs on the priority items on your list.
  • Once you have a budget – stick to it!

Mistake 4: Failing to communicate effectively.

Throughout the whole planning process make sure communication is clear. It doesn’t matter whether you are talking to family, friends or suppliers, make sure you communicate clearly. Remember, sometimes its not what is said, but how it is said that can be most important. Make sure you communicate clearly where you have made a decision and seek advice where you want/need it. You may need to (gently) remind people that it is your wedding, and when you do make sure you are calm, gentle but firm.

Mistake 5: Not booking professionals

It might seem perfect when a friend who is an “aspiring” dress maker, cake maker or wedding photographer offers you “mate’s rates” for your wedding.  Don’t get me wrong, it can be great, but it can also be a disaster that not only ruins your wedding day, but also ruins a friendship for life.

I am not saying you should never do it, but please make sure that you apply the same criteria and checks to all your suppliers, whether they are friends, recommended by a friend or someone you found on the internet. For example, when choosing your photographer, insist on seeing several complete weddings from their portfolio. Being a wedding photographer involves more than just having a nice camera! There’s more advice on booking a wedding photographer here.

Another point to remember is that wedding insurance almost certainly will not cover you for amateur suppliers. I regularly find that couples who have been let down by a friend have no budget to book a genuine supplier with. In fact, during the summer I had no less than FOUR phone calls in three weeks from bride’s who were getting married in the next two months and have just been told that their photographer has cancelled and now are desperately phoning round to find a photographer who is free on their date. Unfortunately we were already booked up for most of those dates and so were unable to help.

It has been said: “It is easier to make a friend out of a wedding professional than make a wedding professional out of a friend.”

Mistake 6: Leaving it too late to book your wedding professional.

Every week we get a request from a couple looking to book a wedding photographer, but we have to respond with “I am sorry to say we are already booked”. There are plenty of other photographers out there so all is not lost, but if you want to have your first choice professionals then book them as soon as you can. Depending on the profession they can book up 6 months a year or more in advance. Whilst we still have availability for 2016, we also have bookings up to two years in advance!

If you want the best choice, book as early as possible. However, do your research, find the right supplier for you and when you do, book them. If you still have questions, or are not sure…do more research.

Mistake 7:  Getting caught out by wedding scams

Alongside businesses running a Facebook Page (including us!) there has been an increasing number of people running a business entirely from Facebook and offering low cost services. Some of these are legitimate. Some offer the services at very low cost but aren’t insured and don’t register the business with HMRC (and these are risky to trade with!). Some are simply scams. It can be difficult to tell the difference. However there are a few things you can do to protect your self:

  • The business should be run from a business page not a personal profile. Scammers will often set up a fake profile and sell from that. When Facebook find out its a business or fake profile they can take the profile down without notice.
  • Get a real address and contact details outside of Facebook (and check them out!) so that if they disappear or things go wrong you have a real address. Trading Standards can’t do anything without an address and you will need the address if you end up in the Small Claims Court.
  • Get a contract before parting with money for services….and read the contract. I know its a pain, but understand what you are signing. If the business does not have a contract – RUN!
  • What do you need to pay and when? Only pay the company you are trading with, not a friend or relative!
  • Remember, if it seems too good to be true it probably is!

Mistake 8: Trying to please everyone.

You will end up with 20 bridesmaids, ten best men, a full a la carte selection on the menu…. oh and still someone will find something to complain about!

All in all your wedding is your special day so do it your way and don’t try and make everyone happy

Mistake 9: Letting the stress take over.

There will be things that are difficult and stressful, but if you let it take over you won’t enjoy the day. Whether its the relative cancelling on the morning, or the flowers arriving late, just remember that if you can’t control it, don’t get stressed. Ask yourself what you can do to fix it and if the answer is nothing then just move on and don’t get stressed. No matter what, its still your wedding day and the absent aunt, or slightly too dark red button holders will not change that! Enjoy the day!

Mistake 10: Underestimating

It is easy to underestimate how much things cost, especially when money is tight. Always overestimate. It is better to end up spending less than you thought than run out of money when you have to pay all the balances in the month before the wedding.

Overall, just remember that something will go wrong, but hopefully these tips will help you avoid these common mistakes when planning your wedding.