12 wedding planning mistakes to avoid


Planning a wedding is exciting but can also be quite overwhelming at times. There may be certain planning stages that will be unique to your wedding that you may not find online help with. However, there’s also a set of universal tips that apply to almost every wedding. Take a moment to brush up on these common wedding planning mistakes that I’ve seen people make. Be sure you also avoid making them so that you’re fully ready for your big day. 

These nuggets of wisdom cover budgeting, logistics, and overall best planning practices. Being aware of these aspects in advance can make the preparation process a breeze. Whether you’re just beginning or counting down the last few weeks.

Common wedding planning mistakes to avoid

1. Not Having an Unplugged Ceremony

This isn’t something I recommend for my sake as a photographer but for you and your guests. The ceremony is one of the best parts of your wedding day where you should be feeling the love and support of your nearest and dearest. That won’t be the case if everyone is too busy witnessing the moments through a screen. Or even posting your intimate ceremony moments to socials. Your guest will truly appreciate the opportunity to be fully present for this once-in-a-lifetime moment rather than snapping or recording the ceremony on their phones or tablets. Plus, you’ve hired a professional photographer or videographer for that. The best way to implement an ‘unplugged ceremony’ is by having your celebrant kindly remind everyone before the ceremony begins. 

2. Not learning how to tie a tie – and other common clothing issues

It might seem obvious, but it’s crazy how often I come across grooms and groomsmen facing the issue of not knowing how to tie a tie. I frequently see them scrambling to YouTube or Google adding unnecessary stress. It’s so easily avoidable by learning to tie a tie or having them pre-tied before the big day.

Now, onto another classic: the top button dilemma. I can’t tell you how often this happens (almost every wedding I shoot). Checking if the top button on shirts actually buttons up will save you a heck of a lot of time and stress. The last thing you want is to have a groomsman’s top button undone because the shirt’s top button didn’t fasten around their neck. Double-check and then triple-check that your shirt’s top button can do up, and then check with all the other groomsmen as well. Ideally, check this during tailoring. Belts pose another common clothing challenge. Ill-fitting belts or ones that are too big can throw a curveball into your wedding day prep. Double-check sizes and ensure everyone’s belts and shirts fit. These are such common clothing mistakes and they can be so easily avoided. You’ll thank me later!

common wedding planning mistakes

3. Including Traditions Just for the Sake of Tradition

There a plenty of traditions you can incorporate into your wedding day. But don’t get too caught up in incorporating too much tradition for the sake of tradition. It’s okay to break some too. Some traditions, such as waiting until the ceremony to see each other or tossing a bouquet to all the single ladies, might not resonate with you and that’s ok.  Some traditions come and go and some certainly stick around for longer than others. Choose what resonates with you and don’t feel bad about tossing out those that don’t. You shouldn’t do things on your wedding day that aren’t an authentic representation of your relationship and you don’t need to feel bad about it. Just make sure to speak to your venue coordinator or planner so they don’t just assume you want certain things because everyone else does it. 

4. Not Having a Weather Plan

While it might not be something you want to think about, this is a very important aspect to consider. Be ready for unpredictable weather, especially when hosting an outdoor wedding or if you’re planning to have your ceremony outdoors. If your venue or ceremony location offers both outdoor and indoor spaces, check if the indoor area is an option in case of adverse weather, and don’t just assume it will be available. Some venues may schedule multiple events simultaneously if space permits. Of course, if you have a venue that offers exclusive use of their space, that’s great, but speak to them before the day to see what the plan is for a last-minute ceremony change.

If relocating indoors isn’t an option, consider having a contingency plan for an alternative venue. Additionally, it’s a smart move to have umbrellas, ponchos, and blankets available for guests, along with plastic coverings for decor or food that might be vulnerable to rain exposure. Rest assured that you won’t need to worry about how your photos turn out. Some of my favorite moments at weddings have been capturing wet weather ceremonies.

12 wedding planning mistakes to avoid

5. Letting Someone Else Dictate Your Guest List

You shouldn’t feel guilty for making your guest list. It’s a day where you will be intimately sharing with the people who attend. These people will have a huge impact on how you and your fiancé feel on your wedding day, so the last thing you need is to have this list be dictated to you by someone else. Your priority should be creating the wedding of your dreams, not trying to please everyone who has an opinion (because everyone has an opinion).

6. Not Hiring Your Dream Team of Vendors

I cannot over-emphasise how important your team of vendors is to help you pull off your perfect wedding. I know the reason for so many horror stories from past couples has been due to them skimping on certain vendors for the sake of keeping costs down. And while being budget savvy is extremely important, going cheap on certain vendors can make or break your wedding day experience. Cheap vendors in the wedding industry are notorious for leaving you without photos, with wilted flowers, or even no food for your guests. Quality, experience, and expertise equate to vendor costs. If you have high expectations make sure your budget reflects that.

7. Not Hiring Your Photographer for Most of the Day

There have been instances where I’ve been hired to capture specific parts of the wedding day and not the whole day. As a documentary wedding photographer, weaving a cohesive story becomes a bit challenging when I miss out on the full scope of the day. While I understand budget constraints or couples not seeing the point of capturing the reception exit, I am here to tell you it’s worth the extra effort to move your budget around so every moment is captured, or at least all of your ‘formalities’ are captured. Indeed, you don’t necessarily need the exit captured.

Now, this doesn’t mean you need a full 10-12 hours of coverage either. Keeping your photographer around until the very end of your reception to capture an exit isn’t the most savvy way to spend your money. But keeping your photographer until at least 30 minutes of dance floor is a good idea. Doing so will make sure the day is covered in its entirety without overdoing it. You don’t need an extensive album of your best friend’s wild dance floor moves. Speak to your photographer about what is enough time to capture the story of your day. And you don’t need endless pre-ceremony preparation photos either, but dedicating at least an hour or two before the ceremony should be plenty. It’s all about striking the right balance to ensure your day is documented without unnecessary time wasted.

8. Not Doing a Trial Run for Hair and Makeup

When you wake up on your wedding day, the reassurance that your hair and makeup will align perfectly with your vision is such a huge stress relief. That’s why a trial run is a must! A great way to maximise your time and its benefit is to consider aligning it with your engagement photos, bridal shower, or even a romantic date night with your fiancé. Timing matters too—schedule your trial run a few months before the big day. This way, if your initial ideas don’t pan out as expected, you’ll have ample time to explore new looks and schedule another trial appointment to ensure everything falls into place. Communication with your hair and makeup artist is key. Don’t expect them to know what you want if you’re not communicating with them. A good hair and make-up artist will always listen to your ideas and offer suggestions if need be.

9. Going too large with your wedding party

Considering the size of your wedding party is crucial. While there are advantages to having one, the decision to go big should be thoughtful. If your wedding party is too large simply because trimming down the list feels challenging, it could lead to unexpected costs. A larger wedding party means more time spent on photos, additional expenses on gifts and outfits, and crowded getting-ready spaces. Some couples believe a larger wedding party equals more help, but from my experience capturing weddings, the reality can be the opposite. Managing a larger group on the day can heighten stress, particularly if transportation is involved. In contrast, couples with smaller wedding parties often find they enjoy a smoother day with fewer potential stressors. It’s all about finding the right balance for a relaxed and memorable celebration!

12 wedding planning mistakes to avoid

10. Spending Your Entire Bridal Fashion Budget on Just the Dress/Suit.

Your wedding dress is the star of the show, no doubt. But let’s not forget all the other fun stuff that completes your bridal look! Think shoes, bling, lingerie, and those alterations to make everything just right. This should go without saying but account for professional hair and makeup (unless you are a pro yourself). And perhaps consider even a reception dress for dancing the night away. It’s crucial to incorporate all these components into your bridal fashion budget. Remember to allocate sufficient funds to cover these aspects once you’ve discovered the ideal wedding dress or suit.

11. Anticipating a Certain Number of Guests to Decline Your Invitation

As a very general statistic approximately 15-20% of guests RSVP “no” to a local wedding, and anywhere from 30-50% of guests RSVP “no” to a destination wedding. If your venue has a strict guest capacity or your budget has little, to no wiggle room for extra guests, it’s wise to be cautious in predicting acceptance rates. Keeping your assumptions conservative prevents over-inviting. Making a guest list too large will blow your budget significantly and it’s an excellent reason not to feel guilty about cutting your list down or keeping strict numbers. How big or small your wedding is and who’s there should always be up to you. 

12. Assuming DIY is Always a Cheaper Option

While the idea of crafting every detail from centerpieces to invites might sound like a budget-friendly adventure, it’s essential to tread carefully. DIY doesn’t always translate to the cheapest option in the wedding world. Sure, Pinterest is brimming with inspiring ideas, but the costs can sneak up on you. The materials, the time invested, and the occasional mishap can make it a tad more expensive than anticipated. Now, don’t get me wrong – I’m all for adding a personal touch to your big day. However, DIY weddings come with their own set of challenges.

Picture this: you’ve spent weeks handcrafting the perfect decor, only to realise on the day that you’d rather be sipping champagne than dealing with last-minute DIY disasters. Trust me, I’ve seen it happen. So, my advice? If you’re considering the DIY route, plan wisely, know your limits, and maybe reserve some tasks for the professionals. After all, you’re meant to be enjoying the celebration, not stressing over glue guns and table settings. I’m not saying DIY can’t be cheaper. But you shouldn’t assume that every project will be cheaper simply because you’ll be making it yourself.

12 wedding planning mistakes to avoid

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