12 step guide to planning an alternative wedding
Updated: Jul 19
Remember, it ain’t anyone else’s wedding
Alright, so I ain’t gonna ramble on too much to begin with. Because you’ve got shit to do and a wedding to plan. But lemme start by giving you the three golden rules of wedding planning: plan a day you both actually want. Make sure you both get involved in the decisions. And fuck any traditions that don’t float your boat.
And whatever you do, don’t stress it too much. All you gotta do is plan a day you’re both going to fucking love, and make sure you say ‘I do’ at some point. Everything else is just decoration, entertainment and refreshment.
But it’s still a big deal, right? So to help you kick it off the right way, here’s my 12 step guide to planning the perfect wedding.
1. Pick your priorities and decide on a budget
Get ready for some real talk. Every wedding has a budget, and there’s gonna be times you have to make sacrifices.
So sit down and have an honest chat about the things you each/both really want and what you’re not really bothered about. It could be a live band, a cool venue, a wedding photographer you have to have, a stunner of a dress. Try and stick to three or four priorities. And remember, they’re your priorities, not anyone else's.
Now for the money. You know those groggy mornings when you check your bank balance and your stomach does that ‘oh fuck’ thing? A wedding can do that times a hundred. So have a proper frank and honest conversation with each other about how much you can both afford, and how much you’re willing to spend. If family members have offered to help, chat to them too. Then write that down in giant numbers and stick to it.
2. Get organised
On the day, you wanna be able to let loose and have fun without worrying about anything, right? But that super-comfy ‘everything’s taken care of’ state of mind takes some prep.
So go into full organisation mode and spreadsheet the shit out of it! Get yourself a big tick list of all the things you need to sort out. Have email addresses, phone numbers, how much deposit you’ve paid, what’s left outstanding. It’ll make it a whole lot easier and a lot less stressful if you have it all written down in one place.
It’s also a good idea to have it as a shared doc so you can both access it at work (I mean, let’s be honest, you might as well be getting paid while you plan).
3. Choose a time of year
The time of year has a knock-on effect on everything else, so it’s good to decide on that early.
Summer’s more expensive obviously, especially for venues. But a summer wedding does not guarantee sunshine. As I write this, we’re in the middle of the longest heatwave on record and it’s pissing it down. Plus, sticky heat ain’t all it’s cracked up to be. And besides, you’ll have better availability of venues and vendors off-season.
So give the other seasons a chance! A winter wedding means you can have sparklers or fireworks before everyone
gets too drunk.
An autumn wedding means amber trees, floors littered with russet leaves and a moody grey sky. A spring wedding means apple blossoms and gorgeous flowers. Think about what kinda wedding you both envision and see what time of year would suit it best.
4. Time to get inspired
Right, it’s time for the fun stuff! Have a think about the overall sort of vibe you want for the day. Is it gonna be intimate and romantic with 20 guests? Or an off-the-wall batshit crazy party with hundreds of people, tequila shots and a bucking bronco? Is it gonna be super-classy and sophisticated? Stylish and cool? Quirky and weird?! This is the fun part where you get to imagine the sort of day that’ll make you happiest. And remember, fuck any traditions that don’t float your boat.
Now go get inspired! Read wedding blogs, go on Pinterest, follow wedding blogs and planners on Insta. There’s so much content out there and there ain’t no shame in nicking ideas off other people.
Now you’ve got a few ideas under your belt, make yourself a mood board. Not only will this keep you both excited and inspired, you can share it with florists, photographers, stylists and all sorts so they know where your head’s at.
5. Choose a venue that suits your wedding
When you’re choosing your venue, refer to points 1, 3 and 4. If the venue was one of your priorities, throw money at it. If not, don’t. Think about whether the venue suits the time of year, and if it fits in with the overall vibe you’re after. Basically, choose a venue that’ll suit the wedding you’ve decided you want, don’t change your wedding to suit the venue.
And don’t just think about how it looks. See if you both catch good vibes off it. I’ve been to a few venues where the venue itself was fucking cool, but the people were just a nightmare to deal with. So go visit the venue before you book and see if you like the atmosphere and if they’re your kinda people. Venues are usually the things that get booked up first, so if you’re in love with a venue and it’s within budget, snap it up.
If you’re not dead set on getting married in a church, having a venue where everything is all in one place makes for plain sailing. Transport from bridal to prep to ceremony, then ceremony to reception is a logistical ball ache.
6. Book your wedding photographer
Choosing your wedding photographer is a big decision. Their photos will be on the walls of every house you’ll ever live in, so you need to love the style of their work. Can you imagine yourselves in the photos? Can you imagine those photos on your walls?
And pay attention to the kind of moments they capture as well. Are their shots posed or candid? Are they more focused on details or people? Do the couple look like they’re relaxed and having fun or do they look bored and awkward as fuck? Think about the things that matter most to you in your day and see if their focus aligns with yours.
And most importantly of all, you need to make sure you could happily have them by your side all day on the most emotional day of your lives. You want someone who’ll be your best friend, be your emotional support. That little voice of crazy that pushes you to have the best day ever. And that little voice of calm that allows you to take a breath, let your guards down and just be yourselves.
If that’s me, great! Get in touch and let’s chat! If not, that’s cool too. Just make sure you choose the perfect photographer for you.
7. Be cutthroat with your guestlist!
Before you start ordering food and stationery etc. you need to know how many people are coming. And prepare to be ruthless!
Children you’re not bothered about? Uncles you haven’t seen for 20 years? Plus ones for random girlfriends? It sounds harsh, but this is your day and you’re allowed to be selfish about who you choose to celebrate it with. Plus, you’re buying dinner for these people, and plus ones and random uncles add up. And if anyone has a problem with it? Fuck ‘em, if they can’t see it’s your day, they don’t deserve to be invited anyway.
Haha it’s a harsh mindset, right?! But stay strong and get through it together. A few awkward conversations beats a massive overdraft and a wedding filled with random people whose names you’ve never bothered to remember.
8. Book the things you really need first
Go back to your priorities (see, I told you they’d come in handy!) And book all the things that are important to you before you do anything else.
Whether it’s a pizza truck, a cool wedding car, a videographer, a wedding alpaca, whatever. These things were your priorities when you were clear-headed, semi-rational human beings (before wedding planning started to eat away at your sanity). So make sure you get them in the bag before you start spending money elsewhere.
Then once all that’s covered, you’ll know exactly how much you’ve got to spend on all the other things that matter less.
9. Find suppliers and vendors whose work you love and who get your vision
Instagram and Pinterest are great for planning a wedding. You can scroll through endless photos until something catches your eye.
But once you’ve found someone, don’t just book them without talking to them! Have a chat with them, see what they’re like. You’re trusting them with a shit load of money and a big responsibility, and you need to make sure they’re a good fit. Anyone half-decent will happily chat to you before you commit, so don’t be shy about asking for a conversation first. Tell them your vision, be open about your budget, and see if you like what they say.
And remember they’re experts at what they do (hopefully!) So trust their opinion and ask for their advice. Just be strong, stick to your vision and budget and don’t let them push you around!
10. Consider an unplugged ceremony
A sea of phone screens can ruin a photo of an amazing moment like you wouldn’t believe. And anyway, you want everyone to be in the moment with you, not fiddling with their phones.
If this is what you wanna do, put it on your invitations so people have it in their minds before they come. And then on the day, put up a massive sign telling people to put their cameras away so they know you’re serious! It’s really common nowadays anyway, so no one will have a problem with it.
Oh- and I speak for every wedding photographer in the world when I say this- whether you’re having an unplugged ceremony or not, please tell uncle Bob to leave his giant DSLR at home.
11. Planning your timeline
To start with, put in the immovable times. Your ceremony, dinner, and anything else that’s set in stone. Then work backwards and forwards from those in chunks of 30 minutes.
And always start getting ready earlier than you’d think in the morning. If you’re late for the ceremony, it puts the whole day out of whack. And if you’re ready with time to spare? Great, crack open another bottle and let the good times roll. Early and chilled beats late and pissed off every time.
You want to give yourself more time than you think for everything. Give yourself some wiggle room so you’re not always watching the clock. And don’t pack too much in. A day where you’ve got 5 minutes for this, then running across the venue for 10 minutes of this, then sprinting back to the reception for 6 minutes of drinks. I mean, that’s a shitty way to spend a day. Be kind to your future selves, and plan a day you’ll have time to actually enjoy.
12. Assign tasks to your minions
You know those emperors who used to get fanned by giant leaves whilst being fed grapes? You want that to be you.
So go through your timeline and think about what’ll need doing and when. Then delegate these tasks in advance to family members, friends, and key members of the wedding party. Share the timeline with them, print it out, tattoo it on their arms.
You want to have all the people around you completely up to speed, and fully aware they’re expected to be your bitch for the day. Then you can just sit back and cruise and enjoy yourselves knowing everything’s covered.
Ok, so I’ve saved my best tip till last.
Whatever you do, whatever happens, never forget this day is a celebration of your love for each other. So spend as much time together as possible, kiss as much as you can, dance like maniacs, and have the best fucking day of your lives. Your love is one-in-a-million, and this day only happens once. So make the most of it.
If you love my work and think you’d want me to join you for some crazy celebrations, let’s chat! If you’re still not sure, read point 6 again and come back to me.