I am right in the middle of wedding planning, so I thought I might share with you a few of the tips I’ve picked up along the way.

1. Find someone good-looking to marry

The most important thing of any wedding is having great photos, therefore you will want your photos to be as beautiful as possible. You probably can’t do too much about how attractive you are (you can only do so much with raw materials), but you can do something about who you have by your side. So choose someone attractive. You won’t regret it when you have that giant, canvas print of the both of you on your wall in you newlyweds’ pad.

Plan what type of wedding you want – hipster, down-to-earth, fairytale – then choose your partner accordingly. It is important to do this as you may pick someone who is thematically wrong for your wedding. Imagine going for the princess wedding and then finding yourself walking down the aisle towards a devastatingly handsome, but bearded, tattooed and bow-tied hipster? A mish-mash, wedding disaster! Choose early and choose right. I suggest not even getting engaged until you know what the meta-narrative of your wedding will be, just in case your prospective spouse will won’t gel with your artistic vision.

2. Plan your wedding budget around your prospective gift intake

Many couples planning a wedding fail to make an adequate assessment of the financial means of their guests and end up running their wedding at a loss. My suggestion is that you plan your wedding budget after first assessing your guestlist and how much each guest is likely to spend on you. Only after you have done this can you plan the budget. I always suggest planning for a profit of no-less that 20%, this gives room if things go wrong like going over budget or having stingy guests.

Here’s a sample calculation:

Number of guests: 100
Estimated average gift value or amount put in wishing well: $150
Net intake: $15,000
Total Budget ($15,000-20%): $12,000

Now you might feel that this doesn’t give you a lot to work with. But if you are feeling the strain you may like to raise revenue in a number of other ways, invite more guests particularly rich ones, or perhaps consider doing a deal with the venue to charge for parking and split the profits, or charge guests with varied dietary needs a fee. Don’t worry about upsetting them, it’s the most special day of your life, they’ll understand.

3. Plan your ceremony to highlight the “magic moments”

The are many great moments in any ceremony, the arrival of the bride, the teary groom, the handcrafted vows, the first kiss. These are what I like to call the “magic moments”. Many couples think these will just happen but in fact they are best achieved through well planned spontaneity. For instance when the bride arrives sometimes there is a collective gasp among the congregation. This is rarely an unrehearsed moment. Like it or not, pretty much everyone in the building has seen a bride before, they’re not going to gasp in delight at the sight of another bride. Face it, a bride is a bride is a bride. However if you line up a few friends and family beforehand to gasp at first bride-sight, perhaps at a particular cue in the processional music, others will get swept up in the moment and they will think that truly this is the most beautiful bride they have ever seen.

Be sure to think through other ways to make the most of these “magic moments” perhaps eye drops for the groom, professional writers to make your vows pop, tips on kissing from stage directors. Every little bit can make your wedding the perfect wedding.

4. Book your venue for its look not its food

Many couples book a reception venue for the friendly staff, comfy seats, perks like attached hotel rooms, and worst of all, good food. These are unimportant. Don’t think with your stomach. You want a venue that looks amazing. Like we said before your photos are the thing that will actually last from the wedding day. For many couples the photos of their wedding will last longer than the actual marriage, so make sure it looks spectacular. One massive trap is to pick a venue with great food. Venues with great food usually charge through the roof, or skimp in other ways (like shabby carpets and worn furniture – both of which look terrible on camera). You will not eat on your wedding day anyway, so who cares if the guests have a bad time. In fact the worse the food is, the less they will eat, the quicker they’ll get drunk, the less you have to spend on alcohol. However you can never skimp on what looks good. Pay for that hipster delight, rustic community hall, or that dining room looking over the ocean, or the reception inside the aquarium. If it looks good, get it. Don’t ruin your eternal memories with something as fleeting as comfort and taste.

5. Finish your wedding as late as possible

Finally, your wedding is the one day that is all about you. It’s the one day of your life when everyone you know has to give up a whole day to celebrate you (especially if it’s your first wedding). So make the most of it, start your ceremony early, and leave your reception late. You’ll love every minute of the attention. You’ll love the chance to listen to speeches about you. You’ll love having everyone eat a meal in your honour. Don’t cheat yourself and wrap everything up by 5pm. You’ll regret it later. This is your day, that means the whole day is yours, your guests can have suck it up and love you, it’s your wedding, damn it!

Photo by Ryan Polei