Beginning of the year is usually a busy time for couples getting married in the upcoming months. Wedding plans need to be finalised, suppliers booked and details arranged. It's hectic, but very exciting time! I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to share inspirational mood-boards put together with images from beautiful weddings I photographed. I will also be listing all the incredible wedding professionals I got to work with. First up is a snapshot from Alice & Daniel's wedding at Ballathie Castle in Scotland, kindly put together by Bridal Musings blog, who published the images back in December. They went for a natural, relaxed, country-chic theme which complimented the beautiful Scottish countryside and setting.
I photographed Sofia and Louis' wedding day just over a month ago. It was right at the start of the 'summer', but we got sunshine when we needed it! The drinks reception was in the gardens of the beautiful Old Palace, and guests were enjoying the rays and bubbly)) It was such a lovely day, and I enjoyed photographing the dancing in the evening. Sofia and Louis did the traditional 'money dance', after which the party really kicked off! They do know how to party! Over to Sofia to tell what it was like to plan her wedding: I only had a mild interest in weddings before my husband proposed to me. I didn’t have a scrap book waiting in the wings, bursting with dress designs, flowers and cakes. I hadn’t really thought about where I might get married or what kind of wedding I’d like. Yet once the question was popped and I said YES I found myself getting swept up in the frenzied excitement and euphoria of planning our wedding. Themes! Colours! Venues! Oh Joy! There were, of course, also times when it was overwhelming and stressful (Oh yes. Just ask my husband!) Which dress? Which florist? Which colour? How ever will we decide! But looking back now, there was no need to worry. It all turned out right in the end and we had the Perfect Day. We really wouldn’t change a thing! So, based on my own experience, I’d like to impart my wedding wisdom – because every little helps!
The best place to start planning a wedding is probably WH Smiths. Buy a load of wedding magazines for inspiration and ideas. Even if it’s just to help you know what you don’t want initially – it’s still a start! Also read wedding blogs like Rockmywedding.co.uk to get a sense of what you want your big day to look and feel like.
While you’ve got to make your own decisions, getting the advice of people who’ve already tied the knot is invaluable. It’s a great way not only of getting ideas for your big day, but also of getting the contact details of valued suppliers such as florists, venues and photographers.
If you don’t want your home to resemble a wedding fair, then invest in a wedding planner. Really useful for getting organised, structuring your day and for keeping all those cuttings, quotes and receipts. I was recommended the Wedding Bible Planner by a colleague and never looked back. It literally helped me keep it together towards the end.
Sometimes, it’s time to stop. It’s tempting to blow the budget, for example, but please don’t! Once you’ve agreed on one, try and stick to it, or it will get out of hand. In the same vein, if you’re on month three of the search and found a nearly perfect favour box then just go for it! Sometimes nearly is enough J
Try and test
There are a lot of good websites out there. But a good website does not a good supplier make! Don’t just take a wedding cake at face value, eat some! It may look a lot better than it tastes. Similarly, go and meet people! OK, we had a great feeling about Dasha, but once we’d met her we knew she was the photographer for us and would capture our day perfectly.
Don’t sweat the small stuff
You can spend hours googling your eyeballs out over bouquets, buttonholes and favours. But remember that even if you don’t find the perfect shade of rose or quite the right size favour box, only you will know this! To everyone else, these details are all just wonderful little pieces making up your big day, and people will love it all.
Trust the experts
I sometimes found it challenging to take the word of suppliers, be that wedding seamstresses or florists. But happily the vast majority of suppliers and specialists I encountered on my wedding planning journey did know what they were doing! You just need to let them guide you! Remember, they want you to have a perfect day just as much as you do.
Be a little bit crazy
There has to be a bit of crazy in there in the run up to the big day, otherwise where’s the sense of occasion? Really though, it’s ok to feel a bit highly strung, even a bit hysterical! It shows you care! And those that love you will know this and bear with you J
Mix it up
There’s no such thing as a traditional wedding any more. There are no rules, just lots of glorious variety! We had a Greek Orthodox ceremony in a former Catholic Church, and celebrated afterwards with Greek dancing in the childhood home of an English Queen, and it was great! It brought together our mixed backgrounds and perfectly reflected who we are both as individuals and as a couple.
Innovate and improvise
Things can go wrong. But there’s nearly always a way to turn things around. My father, for example, left his smart shoes at his hotel. It was only when he was standing in my lounge in a suit and trainers that we thought, ‘Oh Dear.’ But on the day, survival instincts took over and luckily the two men in my life take the same shoe size. We polished up a pair of my husband’s work shoes –– and hey presto, we were ready to go!
Revel in your big day
Last but not least, remember to celebrate! This is your day and it all goes so quickly! So enjoy every minute and remember to take some time with your other half to revel in what will surely be one of the best days of your life.
Huge congratulations again to Sofia and Louis! Enjoy your party in September, guys! Lots of love x
First of May! It's been a bit wet and chilly lately and there is a great anticipation of sun and warm weather, which will hopefully come soon! I shared the images from Cilla and Alan's Monks Barn wedding last week. It was one of the warmest and sunniest days in April, and I really enjoyed photographing their day. It's time for Cilla to share her experience of planning their wedding. If you at the 'planning' stage I hope you will find this post helpful)) Feel free to leave your comments and questions at the end of the post! Hello, I’m Priscilla Miller and I’m one of Dasha’s newlyweds. I got married on the 14th of April at Henley on Thames Town Hall, then had the reception at Monks Barn in Hurley. I’m not ashamed to say I began looking for a photographer before my husband even popped the question. I had an inkling it wasn’t too far off, and as a teacher I’m quite an organized person so I began to look around for a few ideas. I found Dasha on a great photography website, and I am so glad I did. She captured everything so wonderfully, and has become a real friend. She has asked me to share my experience of wedding planning, so I hope my experience is useful to any future brides to be.
ORGANIZE, BUT DONT GO NUTS!
I loved planning the wedding! It took away from all the school-based work related stresses, and gave me a great excuse to procrastinate while still feel that I was using my time well!
The best thing I did when beginning to organize, was create a to do list. My bridesmaids and I got some nibbles, and together we went through several wedding guides and wrote up on a loooooooooong piece of wallpaper roll everything that needed to be done month by month. It stretched half the room! Having that done made the whole task seem suddenly manageable. The key here though is that once we had done that, we didn’t need to look at it again. All I would say is don’t think you need to book everything by a certain date. The things that are important to you get onto ASAP, otherwise you might ﬁnd the perfect caterer and they are already booked. Everything else you will always have time at some point to sort out.
SELECT SUPPLIERS WELL
One of the reasons I enjoyed planning so much, and why the day went so perfectly, was the quality suppliers I found. Simple as that. Yes I had a budget to stick to, and yes we went slightly over, but at the end of the day you do get what you pay for, but you also get a feel for true professionals and truly wonderful people. Dasha was a brilliant photographer who we knew would take photos to last us a lifetime. The lighting company was run by a brilliant lady who offered us a great deal as they put the lights up with a ladder rather than scaffolding. And my caterer - it was like hiring a master of ceremonies and wedding planner at the same time. She was just brilliant.
IDEAS TO MAKE YOUR HEAD EXPLODE!
Even before getting engaged, I began looking around for ideas. I knew I wanted something different to the usual weddings, one of the main things being afternoon tea instead of the breakfast (Alan and I are tea-maniacs!). So I started buying magazines. And bought more. And more. I have a huge bag of them now. Small tip - limit yourself on how many you buy, and buy ones around the time of year you are getting married. Christmas ones were a great read, but useless to a spring wedding.
Then I discovered the blogs. They were so beautiful and interesting, I found myself keeping up with 5 different ones on a daily basis. I always criticized my husband for following football blogs, but he had nothing on me. After a while, it became too confusing. If I hadn’t slowed down with it all, the wedding would have been an aladdin’s cave of DIY wedding ideas. I doubt there would have been room for the guests! So do your research, but try not to let it take over.
KEEP MANY SCHEDULES
And pass the schedule on! I had made a running order of the day, and had given it to my caterers and photographer, but completely forgot to share it with, well, everyone basically on it! I feel sorry for Alan’s best men, who had to desperately study it on the morning to see what they needed to do and when. A schedule of the day is key, but so too is one for all the things you need to do the few days before. DIY weddings are beautiful, but tough. I became a taxi driver in the three days before the wedding, I was in the car more than not. Keeping on top of where you need to be and when before the wedding will keep you calm in the days leading up to it.
Every bride will tell you, delegation is the key (as is choosing the right bridal party -girls you rocked!). I am very ashamed to say I should have followed that advice more. I am such a control freak, I found it tough giving others responsibilities, as they just didn’t seem to completely picture what I was getting at. The fact is, on the day, some things weren’t exactly as I pictured. Some things I ran out of time before I got to do. And although I laughed at other brides who said it didn’t matter, the fact is it really didn’t. And not just because on the day, getting married is the most beautiful thing. When you see all your efforts begin to come together, it is a beautiful thing, even if the seating plan is a last minute job, and you didn’t get to make that burlap runner for the top table. It’s still all gorgeous! And you did it!
FOLLOW YOUR HEART
A lot of times during planning, we’d ask people what they thought of certain ideas (one of the key ones was take away pizza for the evening, which never failed to return a great response). As we were doing it our way, there were times when we were really concerned whether people would enjoy it or ‘get it’ as we did. But that is what invitations are for. At the end of the day, they are people you love and that love you. They have come to celebrate the biggest day of your life so far. They will always have fun. I think the thing that was the biggest surprise was Dasha’s style of photography. We know couples who had the traditional ‘line up every different group one by one’ and while yes these photos are incredibly important, and if that’s what you want, that is brilliant; it’s not what we wanted. As a guest I have found it necessary but slightly dull waiting for that part of the day to be done; I wanted to celebrate with the couple! As a bride, I wanted to get everyone to the party as soon as possible, so we didn’t have many of those photos. For certain older more traditional family members, this seemed strange to them. We even got one or two comments afterwards about how it was a shame we didn’t have more of them. But we stick to our decision, and always will. The photos record our wedding, and we couldn’t be more in love with them. It is the photos showing every real moment, every touching memory, that take us back there.
My husband isn’t exactly extroverted. We have never shown many public displays of affection. And one of the most daunting things for him when we ﬁrst got engaged, was his speech...and being photographed. I never expected having a pre-wedding shoot, so when Dasha said it was something she did with all her couples, I didn’t really know how Alan would take it. We are both so glad we did though. Alan was nervous at ﬁrst, but he really relaxed (completely due to Dasha’s relaxed style) and we have some pictures before the wedding that we absolutely love. It also meant that on the day, it was one less thing to be nervous about. We knew her style, we got great photos because of it. Always have a pre-wedding shoot if you can.
IF I COUD DO IT ALL AGAIN...
I wouldn’t change a thing. Well, nothing in my control anyway. I stressed so much on the day, wondering what would go wrong, would people remember to turn up, would it rain. The fact is, everything works out; nothing can ever be perfect, but it feels perfect. The one piece of advice I will say, is try to circulate at some point during the meal, and again at some point in the evening. For yourselves more than anything. In the day, we were able to talk with most of our guests, and circulating the tables during the tea really helped this, but by the evening we were so in the groove with celebrating, that we barely got to talk to those that had turned up after the tea. In similar situations, I haven’t minded when brides and grooms haven’t been able to talk to me as much, but as a bride it would have been nice if we had managed. Oh, and a small tip to the guests...get on the dance ﬂoor! That’s where you’ll ﬁnd us!
As I mentioned in January, I'm shaking things up a little on my blog this year. You all can read my review on each wedding I photograph when I blog them in full, but I would also like to share my brides' experiences about what it was really like to plan a wedding. From the proposal to the wedding day itself, with all the joys and stresses. I hope these posts will help any bride in her wedding planning process throughout the year, and hopefully reading about the whole experience from someone who has 'been there, done that' will make things a little easier)) This is also the first ever guest post on my blog! Eeek! Stephanie and Gary got married on a Leap day just over two weeks ago. It was a beautiful day, and you can see their wedding in full Here. Over to her:
"Hey, I’m Stephanie Hudston and I just got married on the 29th of February at Dodmoor House. Dasha was there to capture all the moments of my day and I couldn’t have asked for anyone better. She got in contact with me asking if I could write a guest post on the experiences of planning my own wedding and any tips I can share with all of you. As someone who didn’t know anything about weddings, I have discovered quite a lot in my 6 month journey. I hope that my experiences can help out anyone who is about to get married!
Find Time to Unwind
However long you spend on planning your wedding, you’re going to have to stop sooner or later. My advice: don’t wait till the wedding to stop fretting about things. Pick a day to get everything done by and then just relax. Stop thinking about all the little details and start thinking about getting yourself mentally and physically prepared. Go out for a meal, get yourself pampered, read a book and just enjoy it all. All the people you hired, all the people that are around that want to help you, let them, that’s what they are there for. Sometimes the planning of a wedding can consume you so much that even if you had another three months left, you will still find something to add, change or do. So make sure to give yourself some much needed rest before the big day.
You can find inspiration for a wedding absolutely anywhere and when you do, the place I recommend storing it is on Pinterest. Other sites I used for daily inspiration were: Rock My Wedding, Style Me Pretty and for a bit of the eccentric, Offbeat Bride. There really are hundreds of wedding blogs out there, so you should never be lacking some inspiration! It can get a bit overwhelming at times, but you just need to refocus and make sure you use your time wisely. Looking at all of these pretty images will give you tons of ideas. I know at one point I wish I could extend my wedding by a couple of days and have different themes just so I could include all of the things I liked! This stuff makes you a bit crazy like that, but just as long as you have fun with it and know the reality of it, then you can always dream.
Staying on the Right Path
When I got engaged I knew the bare minimum when it came to weddings. I honestly didn’t even know the difference between engagement rings, wedding bands and eternity rings. In the 6 years I have been with Gary, I have actually never pointed at a ring before... I didn’t know you had too! So when I entered the world of weddings, it was all new to me. I had 6 months to plan and having a wedding planner never crossed my mind. I bought ‘Brides’ magazine a few days after Gary proposed and that’s when I began to learn things, like the fact that a wedding breakfast is the dinner you have, not an actual Full English. Okay, so I had a lot to learn and that I did. I Googled. A lot. I got all the ridiculous sounding checklists from magazines and wrote many, many lists.
You may want to do everything yourself and even think you can handle it all, but if you have people that want to help you, trust me, take their help - it will only make your life easier. My priority was all the details of the day, so that was everything from doing mood boards for the florist to designing my dessert table. I made sure that I kept a list of everything I needed to get done and in order of priority. I had a folder that I kept all my wedding things so nothing would get lost and I basically just worked hard at it. I was very lucky that I had great suppliers and that I didn’t have anyone that let me down, so everything went pretty smoothly. Make sure to do your research on the people that will be helping you with your big day, read any reviews and testimonials you can and go with your gut instinct.
About 8 weeks before the wedding, write down everything you have planned for the day; from the time you wake up to the time you go off as newlyweds. This served as a great reference to give to all my suppliers, especially Dasha and my videographer. We also created a spreadsheet that was just a page long of all the times and what was happening, such as entertainment, cake cutting and departure. Whoever is helping you run the day, make sure you talk through everything with them, such as how you want your day to look with instructions of where you want certain things placed to the timings of everything. It may seem a bit much but our day would have not run as smoothly if people weren’t on the same page.
A few other things that I found useful were:
- Make a list of all the decorations and things you will be bringing to the venue for the wedding day. This makes it a whole lot easier for everyone to keep track of things.
- Have all your suppliers’ numbers on the phone just in case you need to get ahold of them wherever you are.
- Get in contact with your suppliers a few days before the wedding day to make sure there are no problems and if there is, you still have time to get it fixed.
- When you go for your dress fitting, make sure you’re comfortable sitting down with your dress!
- Pack a little emergency kit with things you may need on the day; headache tablets, straws, bandages, sewing kit, nail polish, etc.
- Give Dasha/videographer a list of important shots you want. They may not be able to get everything but it helps them in knowing what really matters to you.
I would say that having a pre-wedding shoot was just as important as tasting the food and getting fitted for a dress. It was all part of the process and I am so glad we had one. Gary didn’t really understand the point of a pre-wedding shoot till he actually did it. I for one understood it entirely but was so nervous the night before and on the day, that I felt like calling Dasha up and telling her to forget it. Gary and I are pretty shy people, and the fact that we were meeting someone we had never met before to be photographed being affectionate... that was terrifying! We were so terrified of this that we had the shoot done at Gary’s parents house just so no one from the public would be watching us. But we met Dasha and we talked to her and then we realized... actually, this is not as bad as we thought. The first 10 minutes are probably the most difficult as you’re trying to act natural and show the world that you really do love each other without being awkward because you’re having photos taken of you. After the nervous laughing is done with, we just got into the flow of things and had tons of fun. The time passes by so quick, I was actually sad when it was over! It was really great to finally have photographs of us that weren’t taking on a bad quality camera and that are more casual than our wedding ones. Having this pre-wedding shoot prepared us for the wedding as we knew what to expect and all we had to do was just be us!
Surround Yourself With Calm
Who you choose to have with you on the morning of your wedding is really important. Apart from my make-up artist, videographer and Dasha, the only other people in the room with me were my bridesmaid and mother-in-law. I wanted for my morning to be relaxed and hassle free. I was nervous but also really excited by the fact that I was finally seeing all the things I had visioned come to life and coming together so nicely. By having my bridesmaid and mother-in-law there, they were finally finishing the journey of all the months of planning that they had helped me with. I was very lucky that everyone around me that morning helped to create a really peaceful atmosphere. Share your special morning with the people that you feel most comfortable with and that give you a bit of breathing space when you need it.
Just because you’re having a wedding, it doesn't mean you have to follow the rules. If you aren’t comfortable with something, either find an alternative or don’t do it. Gary and I had a civil ceremony and although we really wanted to write our own vows, it just became too stressful so we stopped. What we decided on instead was to write each other letters that we read before we saw each other. It was more personal to us and made us more relaxed during the ceremony. We also decided to not have a first dance or any dancing at all. Dancing has never been something we've done so we weren’t going to start at our wedding! I didn’t give out any gifts during the speeches and I didn't throw my bouquet. Gary had three best men and I had one bridesmaid. Your wedding is about the two of you and if at any point you’re uncomfortable with a certain thing or you have changed your mind about something, that’s completely fine. Within limits, do whatever it takes to make your wedding all about the two of you, even if it means forgetting about every tradition and doing it your way.
What Really Matters
Every bride is different. Some love the planning of their wedding, others not so much. Some find it really stressful, while others can cope with it. Some want to create every single last detail, while others would rather just buy it. Maybe you’re somewhere in between! Whatever bride you are, what really matters at the end of the day is the person you’re marrying. Weddings can turn into monsters, sometimes big ones. We all have a vision of how we want our day to look like and somewhere along the way that will probably change. One thing can lead to the next and we’re left standing there wondering... is it all worth it?
There have been so many times when I wanted to just quit, when I kept over thinking every little thing I was doing. It scared me because I have never had a vision of what I wanted my wedding to look like till I decided with Gary that we were going to have a wedding. I always told myself that I would have a very small gathering, it would be nothing fancy and that I would never be a stressed out bride. Yet here I was freaking out over the style of my invitations. Woah, what happened there?! Well, the wedding monster of a wedding did. I was the bride that enjoyed planning, making the details and kept pretty calm about things. But sometimes there were just days that I got fed up of it all and didn't feel like going on with it. I could easily go and get married, so if that’s all that mattered, why didn't we just go and get married already?
And that’s because it has been one heck of a journey to get where I wanted to be with Gary. Yeah, we could have gone and gotten married without any fuss, but we wanted that celebration. We wanted to share with our friends and family, to show everyone that all our hard work that brought us to this day was for a reason. We began our life as Mr. and Mrs. surrounded by people that wanted to be there, by smiling faces and well wishes. We ate amazing food, we had incredible entertainment and the whole time I looked around I knew it was our wedding. Even though at some points during the planning I didn't think the little details would be noticed, they were. When I didn't think the day would run as I had hoped, it did. To some, weddings seem like a complete waste of money, and I was beginning to think that too, but when I got married to Gary it became the best day of my life so far.
It’s okay to be calm one second and very stressed out the next. It’s okay to be really indecisive about things. It doesn't matter whether you’re having a really big celebration with hundreds of guests, 50 or much less. You need to do what makes both of you happy. You get to marry your best friend and show all the people that matter. Remember to take some breaks from your planning and spend some time with your other half. They may not be as interested in the type of shoes you’re wearing but they still want you to be happy, so don’t forget them.
And the most important thing of all, enjoy every last minute of it. I know that the photographs Dasha has taken of our wedding will always be treasured. It’s only been over a week and I look at them and get to relive the whole day over again. I can’t help but smile and feel the same emotion I felt on the day. Like everyone says, it goes by like a flash. Although there was some up’s and down’s along the way, I wouldn't have changed anything. To walk down the aisle and see Gary standing at the end of it, to say “I do” and to exchange rings made all the hard days worth it.