We spoke to two Brisbane-based wedding experts for their top tips for planning your big day. From aisle to dance floor, this is your guide to pulling off the perfect wedding day.
So, you’re engaged – congrats by the way – now what? Before choosing the colour of your napkins or deciding on the perfect first dance song, it’s worth laying out a plan to ensure your big day goes off without a hitch.
Brisbane-based civil marriage celebrant Erin Woodhall has seen her fair share of wedding ceremonies over her seven years marrying couples. “I realise how daunting it can be standing in front of your nearest and dearest while declaring your love – so I like to keep things light, fun and sincere so my couples can really relax and enjoy it,” says Erin.
We’ve narrowed down our top wedding planning tips with the help of Erin and Anne-Marie Buhse – event sales executive, Treasury Brisbane – to take you seamlessly from ceremony to reception (and everything in between).
1. Begin with your priorities
The planning process should be fun, so try not to get bogged down in the details at the very beginning. “Write down your non-negotiables and go from there,” suggests Erin.
2. Decide where to spend your money
Your non-negotiables list will also be helpful when it comes to keeping within a budget. You might be a big foodie but aren’t too fussed about photography; or perhaps you have fallen in love with a venue but you’re happy to compromise on decorations and music. Figure out where you want to spend your money and where you’re happy to compromise.
3. Book your venue first
“Book your ceremony venue and time and then plan other details from there,” says Anne-Marie. Once you’ve locked in a date that will help narrow down the other vendors – especially since celebrants, photographers and wedding bands tend to get booked quite far in advance. Ask your chosen vendors whether they have any recommendations for other people in the industry – most have probably worked with a lot of local suppliers and have a black book of contacts.
4. Find a celebrant you connect with
Although everyone looks forward to kicking their heels up at the reception, it’s important to put some time and energy into planning the ceremony – that’s the bit everyone came for after all. Find a celebrant who you connect with and who can guide you through the process of planning, legal work and make you feel comfortable on the day. “The best compliment I ever receive is when the couple tell me that their ceremony was the highlight of the day,” says Erin.
5. Lock in a wedding coordinator
The last thing you want on your wedding day is to be receiving calls from vendors running late or re-arranging furniture to accommodate for your cousin’s date who didn’t RSVP. That’s where dedicated event organisers or an enthusiastic friend comes in handy.
“Our bridal couples have one touch point from their initial enquiry through to the follow up post the wedding,” says Anne-Marie. Not only does the team at Treasury Brisbane assist in choosing vendors, hosting site tours and decorating the space before the wedding, but they will be your go-to coordinators on the day – think J-Lo in the Wedding Planner.
Give yourselves the day off from organising, planning and problem solving by outsourcing the ‘on the day’ work to a dedicated team of event planners or a group of willing friends and family. Let everyone else stress about the cake arriving late while you focus on getting married – and having a jolly good time doing it.
6. Think of your personal touches
“Weddings don’t need to be expensive – simple personal touches make an impression,” says Anne-Marie. Planning your dream wedding may require a few compromises but in the end you (hopefully) only get married once, so make it count.
“We arranged cold fireworks for a couple in the hotel courtyard while still meeting the heritage building guidelines in Queensland,” says Anne-Marie. If you have a dream for how your wedding will look it’s worth asking the question of your wedding planner or venue – chances are they can make it work.
7. Find your plan B
“Contingency plans are required for everything,” says Anne-Marie, “it can be as simple as spare safety pins for a fallen hem, spare pins for buttonholes or an event space as backup for an outdoor wedding ceremony.”
As much as you hope your plan A will be flawlessly executed, the events of the past year have shown us that it’s worth putting energy into a backup plan.
“Be flexible with your vendors and your vision for your wedding,” says Erin. “Most vendors will move heaven and earth to be there for you and will do whatever they can to accommodate you.”
8. Take time for you
Whether it’s leading up to the big day or during the festivities, make sure you and your partner are taking time out to enjoy each other. Agree to a time in between speeches where you can sneak off for a night walk – just the two of you – to take in everything that has just happened. And no matter what happens along the planning journey, Anne-Marie reminds couples to “always stay focused on what your wedding is about – the two of you getting married.”
You can find Erin Woodhall @erinwoodhallcelebrant and erinwoodhallcelebrant.com