Wedding planning: Things no one told me

I’m going to tell you the things that I wish those tight-lipped brides of the internet had of told me.

We had a beautiful wedding on February 23, 2019.

We had it at my parent’s rural home in Auckland, which was where my happiest childhood memories are.

We were so lucky that most of my other half’s friends and family came all the way from the UK to share the day with us. I will always be grateful for them being so accommodating and generous with their time and money.

It definitely would have been easier for the majority of the guests if we got married in the UK, but thanks to their generosity we were able to have it at my dream location.

The lead up to the wedding day was probably similar to everyone else’s: hectic. With lots of tears and lots of frustration.

During this time, I watched YouTube videos of brides speaking about how to have a smooth day. But I never found the answers to my burning questions.

Most of the brides on YouTube had unlimited money and time, so their problems were things like ‘finding the perfect dress’ or ‘which manor house to have the wedding at’. But I wanted to know how to prepare for the unexpected – I needed a little ‘heads-up’ on what may go wrong!

I was constantly asking around for new brides to tell me their regrets and the things that I should prepare for… But no one would spill the beans.

So. Lucky you! I’m going to tell you the things that I wish those tight-lipped brides of the internet had of told me. These are the things you didn’t know to prepare for.

I think the weather is one of the worst hinderances for an outdoor wedding. I didn’t feel any better about it, no matter how many times people assured me that ‘you can’t control the weather’.

Especially when I was alone at 4am pre-wedding listening to the rain fall on the roof.

So, if you are planning on having an outdoor ceremony and/or reception, I urge you to prepare for the worst weather. And don’t you dare tell me that you don’t have to have a plan B because you’re having it in the height of summer!

February in Auckland should be hot and dry with mosquitoes and flies. Yet, while I was busy buying suncream, mosquito repellant and hay fever tablets in bulk, Cyclone Oma was circling her way toward our beautiful outdoor wedding.

A week out from the wedding, we were frantically organising a plan B:
Could we rent the community hall?
How can we weigh the marquee down?
Who has a second marquee we can use?
Could we usher everyone into mum and dad’s living room? We could push the TV aside and organise the couches to make room…

Everyone was right; you can’t control the weather. But you can control the wedding.

The last thing you want is to force your guests to sit in a hailstorm because there’s no alternative. It might not be the wedding you always pictured, but it will be enjoyable anyway because you’ll be surrounded by the people you love and whom want to see you have an awesome day despite the rain!

TOP TIP: Watch About Time if you want to feel a bit better about rain on your wedding day. Despite the characters getting married in a storm, they all looked so happy and totally embraced it! That film got me through some dark times, ladies.

Thankfully for us, Cyclone Oma turned around and went to Australia. I don’t know who to thank for this, but I am eternally grateful. (So sorry to all the Aussie brides on the weekend of February 23!)

It did drizzle through our ceremony though, which made me realise how much I regretted not getting clear umbrellas! There are giant rainbow umbrellas and Toyota branded umbrellas in all the photos of the ceremony now… But at least that’s my only regret!

Right. I knew this from the get-go because I’m all for comfort. But I want to bring it to your attention. When you’re trying on dresses make sure you can sit down in it comfortably.

When you go to try on dresses, you’ll be encouraged to stand and walk in it – but you must ask for a chair to sit in! It’s the biggest test, because you will sit down a fair amount during dinner and throughout the evening.

On that note, allow for a bit of give in the tummy area because you’re going to be much more relaxed after the ceremony and ready to eat an enormous amount. You don’t want to get indigestion or feel too restricted because you won’t have a zip to unzip or a belt to unbuckle and let your tummy hang out. And that, ladies, is a crime. You paid for that food, and you need to make the most of eating it.

Finally, if you have a train I STRONGLY recommend asking your tailor to include a button on the back of your dress and a loop at the end of your train so that you can ‘hang it up’ while you’re dancing! It’ll pick the train off of the ground and you’ll be able to move far more freely.

Oh my Lord. This is such a big thing that we brushed over, but getting a bartender for our home wedding was the best thing we spent our money on. A friend of my Chief Bridesmaid was our bartender – he is actually a bartender professionally, which was awesome in terms of the cocktails that were made that evening.

He was one of the most popular people at our wedding because he was chatty and sorted everyone for drinks. A hidden perk is that every one has someone to give their empty bottles to – so less tidying up to do! He’s Auckland-based, so if you want his number, let me know!

Having a summer wedding? Don’t stress about getting a tan… Stress about not getting tan lines! Cover up entirely when you’re out in the sun, and if you do need to get a tan, do it naked or get a spray tan. You can fake a tan, but you can’t cover up tan lines… Hence why I kept my veil on all day and all night at our wedding.

I’m the worst at picking at my skin at the best of times. But don’t do it if your wedding is next week. Now I don’t know if I got bitten by a white tail spider, a mosquito, or if I just had a spot too close to my eye. But in any case, me fiddling with it did not do me any favours because my eye BLEW UP. Eyes are very sensitive, and as soon as there’s an infection near it, it will explode your face.

You can cover up spots and blemishes, but Thin Lizzy can not help you with a swollen face! I’m just thankful that my Chief Bridesmaid is a very talented beautician who helped with skin remedies to reduce the swelling before the big day.

I thought I was going to be able to do all the last bits and pieces on the morning of the wedding. But you can’t. The bridal party gets their hair and make-up done, which means you can not go outside in the rain.

We weren’t going to get a wedding planner because, well, we’re not in an American rom-com. So we appointed an usher instead; my wonderful brother-in-law called Harrison.

Now, when we asked him to be the usher I thought his duties would just be to show people to their seats. Harrison, I am eternally sorry how that wasn’t the case.

He ended up doing so much more. He was out arranging the seating and decorations in the rain before anyone arrived along with Uncle Rick, my dad, his dad, Aunty Sue, my sister-in-law, my brother… Honestly, everyone pitched in and did everything that needed to be done!

Having helpful guests who are happy to get their hands dirty is such a huge blessing. I didn’t realise how much help we were going to need until the wedding morning itself.

Harrison was brilliant at being the communication between me and the guests/family who were running around the garden setting everything up. Despite all the hard work, he was the coolest and calmest person ever.

For example, he came up to me – soaking wet from the rain and said: “Jodie, the fabric on the hay bales are a bit damp. I think we should put them in the tumble dryer.”

Whereas, I would have said, “Jodie, the bloody stupid sheets are piss-wet from the RAIN THAT WASN’T SUPPOSED TO HAPPEN and now all the guests are going to look like they’ve wet themselves because they’ll be sat on SOAKING WET FABRIC.”

Another example was when the cake arrived and we needed to cover it up. We couldn’t figure out how without damaging it. But Usher Harrison – who happened to be strolling past the door at the time – said rather cooly: “Get the washing basket, turn it upside-down on top of the cake and place a towel over it.” It had taken about eight of us around 20 minutes before he took care of it.

I am forever in debt to the Beach and the Hart families for everything they did on the wedding morning. Without them, guests would have gone thirsty, have wet bottoms and not know where to go.

So in short, ask for help in advance and consider yourself lucky if you have amazing family and friends around you on the wedding morning who are happy to help.

If the caterers don’t arrive, order pizza.
If the portaloos don’t arrive, use a bush.
If the cake doesn’t arrive, send someone to The Cheesecake Shop.
But there are no alternatives for the photos and the rings. At the end of this hugely special day, those are the only two tangible things you’ll be left with.

I had heard so much bad feedback about people using photography companies rather than freelancers. So I’d definitely recommend looking into the reviews and using individuals rather than the cheaper companies that are around because you don’t always get to choose the specific photographer who will turn up on the day. Photography is very personal so I think you should always meet them first.

Reece and Jodie, James and Avrielle (brother and sister-in-law). My hands are massive.

Boy, I’m so glad I did this. I wrote down every single family and friend combination photos for the photographer so that all she had to do was call the names, take the photo, and move on to the next one. While I did forget to write down a photo or two, I did get the majority of the important snaps that each guest would be happy to frame and have in their living room.

The most important photo for me was a group photo of every guest. This ensured that every person who was there on the day was in at least one photo with us and everyone else. To do this, the photographer can stand on a chair – or in our case, the deck looking down on to the garden where we were all standing – and if the guests can see the photographer then the photographer can see them.

Additionally, find some cute places to have fancy couples-photos in. Maybe a picture frame hanging from a tree, or in our case, a bloody great big piano hidden in the bushes.

This is my biggest piece of advice. Using companies are impersonal and typically more expensive. However, using freelance individuals, you will get the personal touch and a lower price because they’ll typically be working from home without the costs of running a shop or paying employees.

We had an amazing florist called Mel (Bloomin’ Krazy) who gave us an amazing deal on our flowers. The flowers looked amazing – everyone said so. We had a table arrangement, archway arrangement, buttonholes and bouquets. They had a wildflower theme to fit in with the rustic aesthetic.

We got a great deal on the cake too, which looked amazing. Sadly the flavours were not how we remembered the testers tasting a couple months before, so we were a bit disappointed about that. However, none of the guests complained!

Our photographer, Katherine (The Undefined Photography), was unbelievably amazing! Her photos are stunning and she was so upbeat and friendly all day long. She had her work cut out for her because neither Reece or I were extraverts in front of the camera, but she was super laid back and instructed us so well.

If you are having a party on grass, do not buy glasses made of glass. Buy plastic! You don’t even have to get paper cups, you can find plastic cups. If you take the time to search for them online, you’ll be sure to find nice-looking plastic wine, champagne and beer ‘glasses’. You’ll probably be able to sell them on easily too, so keep the packaging.

This is so underrated. Yes, you can buy everything you need online, but you can also make it! It helped to make our rustic wedding look like a genuine ‘home’ wedding.

We did heaps of DIY with the decorations (thank you to my chief bridesmaid Sascha for helping!) so that helped to keep a personal feel to the day and helped to keep the costs down.

Having it at home, we needed a marquee. We realised quickly that hiring a marquee was a huge cost and hassle. So we ended up buying a second-hand marquee, which we plan to sell on. I definitely recommend doing this if you are having a wedding at home because you can set it up days in advance and practice decorating it. Then, pack it up and sell it on to get your money back!

It’s much better than spending $1800 on the same kind of marquee, only for the company to arrive the day before – leaving you little time to decorate it – and collecting it the day after the wedding before you’re ready to say goodbye to your special day!

My man is super handy – he MADE our arch from SCRATCH! He found the wood, banged it together and stained it. It was my dream archway too, which would have cost us hundreds of dollars if we had of bought it. I’m so lucky he was able to create such a special arch that is still standing in our garden today.

My parents were in the fortunate position to bale their own hay – I don’t think they’ll ever want to do that again though!

Nevertheless, it saved us heaps on seating and decorations and my parents got their money back by selling the hay we didn’t need. Again, huge thank you to Sascha and Harrison who spent hours in the sun with us, trying to shift hundreds of bales of hay around the paddock.

Before you start planning, think of what you can’t do with out and what is important to you. For us, it was close friends and family, simplicity, authenticity and FUN!

Strangely, my pin-up wedding was the wedding in the M. Night Shyamalan thriller The Village. Because it was a close bunch of family and friends, there were tonnes of wildflowers, pretty dresses and a huge dance at the end with loud music through the night! (Until the murderer strikes again, but ho hum.) Very modest, very boho, very down to earth. Love it!

FNeither of us are showy or enjoy our photos being taken, but we did want candid photos of all our family and friends. Photos that documented the day exactly how it was – good and bad. So the photographer focused on family portraits and candid shots rather than too many couple shots.

I am a sentimental person, so I couldn’t do without a nod to my late great nan. I wanted to represent Nanny Ellie because I was close with her as a child. So I wore her wedding ring on my right hand (I would have worn her engagement ring but it was too loose, sadly!).

My aunt-in-law (Aunty Sue) very generously gave me her mother’s eternity ring. I couldn’t believe it and felt so privileged – I couldn’t not wear it on the day, it was so special! It’s blue too, so it was my ‘something blue’. I wore it on my right hand with Ellie’s ring so that both sides of the family were represented, especially as they had both passed on and would have loved to have attended our wedding.

It was also important that everyone had an awesome time, so we got games to play (limbo being the most popular) and focused on the music.

The music was super important to us so we made a Spotify playlist in advance and spent a long time breaking it up into sub-playlists for each section of the day. I thought I was going to wish we hired a band, but no way! It was heaps of fun hearing our favourite tunes and having the flexibility to break into karaoke when needed.

Enjoy the day – both good and bad! Accept that the day isn’t going to go 100% as you planned, and embrace the surprises because these little nuggets will give you stories to tell after!

Your wedding will be perfect, because you’re marrying your best friend. For the things that don’t go to plan, accept that these are the flaws that give your day its personality, and love it all the more for it.

Stay laid-back about your wedding. What happens, happens. As long as you’re married by the end of it and everyone has a smile on their face, who cares about the rest.