By Hayley Devlin, The Brisbane Bridal Coach
From the moment you start planning your wedding, you'll realise how many do's and don'ts there are to consider. In this beautiful digital world we live in, it's easy to find all the information you need to pull off a stellar wedding. But with the good comes the bad... for all the valuable information you come across, there is also MISINFORMATION. Lots of it.
Family, friends and industry experts are happy to share their opinions on how to plan a wedding (and here I am doing just that!) but it's worth bearing in mind that not everything you hear, even from the pro's, should just be accepted as fact. Some of the advice, no matter how well-meaning, can actually make it more difficult to plan your day and cause you to stress unnecessarily.
Here I share 5 common weddings planning myths and why you shouldn't always believe what you're told.
Myth #1: The first thing you should do is a book a venue
NO, NO, NO... I hear this one ALL the time and it drives me crazy! Every wedding planning checklist out there has 'find a venue' somewhere at the top, usually straight after 'set a date'. The reason for this is because venues often get booked well in advance, some as much as 2 years! I know, crazy right!
In order to avoid disappointment you DO need to get your venue sorted fairly soon into the planning process but it's definitely NOT the first thing you should do.
Before you start Googling wedding venues, you need to be clear on what you want.
What are your wedding priorities and what style of celebration do you want to have? Figuring out how you want your day to be is the first step. This is a process that I call Wedding Concept Creation and it is a crucial, but too often overlooked, part of planning a wedding. Your Wedding Concept is a definitive guide to how your day will look and feel, a blue-print for your perfect day based on your preferences, memories and personalities. Booking a venue before you're clear what you want may lead to stress as you are far more likely to change your mind further down the line.
As an example, imagine you've booked a stunning reception venue and paid your deposit. Then you sit down with your partner to work out what your wedding style is; a big affair with hundreds of guests. You want to share your day with everyone you know and love in the world. You decide on a casual, family dining style reception with an emphasis on good, hearty food and lots of fun - completely in keeping with your personalities. The most important thing is to be surrounded by all of your nearest and dearest. Then you consider the venue that has already been booked and realise that it won't accommodate all your guests, not even half of them in fact. You're crushed. Your options are either to cancel the venue (and lose money) or sacrifice having all your friends there. Either way you'll be disappointed.
Don't book your venue (or anything else for that matter!) until you have a clear, well thought out Wedding Concept.
Myth #2: Your wedding needs a theme
This myth is so widespread that you've probably already had a least one married mate asking "what's your theme?". People will tell you that having a theme is important to avoid your wedding looking like a big mishmash of different styles.
Whilst this may be true, choosing a generic theme such as Beach, Rustic or Vintage, is not necessarily the best way to ensure consistency. Sure, your wedding will look pretty and the decorations will work together in your space but using a popular theme to set the tone for your day can translate into a very predictable wedding.
Your wedding should be every bit as unique as your relationship, not just an adaptation of how another couples celebrated theirs.
It's not a 'Rustic Vintage' wedding, it's YOUR wedding. Make it about YOU! Read more on why you DON'T need a theme but you DO need a Wedding Concept.
Myth #3: Weddings take years to plan
Well, technically this may be true. According to The Knot's 2014 Real Weddings Study, the average engagement is 14 months.
While weddings generally do require lots of organising, it doesn't mean you can't plan yours in a short space of time. The statistics around how long it takes to plan a wedding are surprising... over 200 hours. That's five weeks of full time work!
Considering how time-poor most of us are these days, it's no surprise that couples are giving themselves over a year to tick off all the tasks on their checklist. Yes, it's great to have that time but even if you don't, there's no reason to panic.
The important thing here is not how long you have to plan but how effective you are with the time you have.
The majority of your wedding planning hours will be spent searching for and managing the suppliers who make it all happen. Let's assume you'll need at least one supplier for each of the main wedding categories (venue, celebrant, florist, photographer, dress-maker etc) and that your wedding will likely have around 13 different people responsible for delivering a product or service. A traditional approach is to search for suppliers in your area then get 3 quotes for what you want. 13 categories and 3 quotes each, that's 39 phone calls and/or meetings; before you've even booked a thing!
Then there's the whole back and forth, back and forth trying to make sure the suppliers you eventually choose are able to deliver exactly what you want, it's no wonder that the process can take ages.
If you value your time (and you certainly should) don't waste it on unnessary communications. Consistently and effectively express your vision, along with your budget range, by sharing your Wedding Concept. Armed with this information they can give you a much better indication as to how long it will take, what is required and how much it's likely to cost. Which brings me to my next point... the money myth.
Myth #4: Weddings are expensive
There is no doubt that weddings can be expensive. From Wills & Kate to the Kanye/Kardashian wedding, there are plenty of examples of lavish, luxurious events with multimillion dollar price tags. The average cost of a wedding in Australia is around $36,000.
If this figure is stressing you out (and I understand... that is a lot of money for one day), bear in mind that this is NOT what the majority of couples actually spend.
There is a common misconception here that the word average represents what most people are spending. This is wrong. As an example, if 99 couples spent $10,000 each on their wedding and just one, super-wealthy couple spent $1 million then the average would be just under $20,000. Even though almost of all them are spending only $10,000, the average is almost double that due to the couple with a huge budget.
Some industry professionals will quote the national average as a benchmark which can be extremely misleading. I won't deny that weddings can be expensive but maybe not as much as some people would have you believe.
In reality it IS possible to get married without spending a fortune. All you actually need is a celebrant and two witnesses to legally get hitched. It's not the ceremony that is costly but all of the trimmings, the fabulous flowers, the fancy frock and the reception party... all the extras which make your wedding so much more than just a day. How much you spend on these is completely up to you.
With so much beautiful wedding inspiration everywhere, it's easy to get carried away and spend more than you really need to. Once more, this is where your Wedding Concept can help.
Before you book or buy anything, ask yourself... does it fit with my Wedding Concept? If the answer is no, you don't need it.
No matter how much you have in your budget, I doubt you want to waste any of it.
Myth #5: You don't need a Wedding Day Co-ordinator because your venue has one
This myth is probably the worst one for me because I know how many things can and do go wrong at weddings. Some of the things I've seen would make you laugh, so long as they weren't happening to you!
The celebrant who turned up drunk (true story), the $1,200 cake that was placed too close to the drummer and started to crack during sound check, the bridal car that broke down, the best man whose pants split straight down the middle (just before the ceremony too!) and a heap of other wedding disasters that I could mention. Fortunately though in all of these situations I was able to find a solution without ever having to disrupt the bride and groom. Well, except the broken down car - the bride was in it on her way to the church!
Having a Wedding Day Co-ordinator means that you are free to really enjoy yourself instead of stressing over late suppliers or last minute changes. After all the time, effort and possible expense you have put into your wedding, it baffles me that some couples just leave it to chance that everything will be fine on the day.
Honestly, ask anyone who has ever got married and they'll tell you that at least one thing didn't go according to plan. If you are lucky it will be very minor and maybe no one will notice but are you really prepared to take that chance on such an important day?
Now I've clarified why you need a Wedding Day Co-ordinator, I'd like to take a moment to explain how that differs from a venue co-ordinator. Whilst one of these professionals is hired by you, accountable to you, responsible for looking after you, your bridal party and your suppliers for the whole day, the other is employed by the venue and only responsible for what happens there.
Don't make the mistake of thinking your venue manager will help if your problem is not related to the venue.
Some may try their best to help within their powers but few are contractually obliged to assist you. Sure, if the food is late or the tables aren't set up properly, a venue co-ordinator should fix it but anything outside of that, you'll probably be sorting it out yourself.
If you want to really enjoy your day, do yourself (and your partner) a big favour and book a Wedding Day Co-ordinator. For around 2.5% of your budget, it's well worth the investment for peace of mind that even when things go wrong, everything will still be perfect.
So there you are, hopefully now you have a clearer insight into planning your wedding and understand the importance of both a Wedding Concept and a Wedding Day Co-ordinator. Please feel free to share your comments or wedding planning nightmares below; I love reading them.