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14 Huge Wedding Planning Mistakes

Tips For Planning A Wedding

By Jeffrey House Photography


Planning a wedding is never easy!

If anyone tells you otherwise, it's possible they need to have their head examined.  

Planning a wedding is a huge undertaking.  It requires a lot of time, energy, and money.  In fact, the average price of a wedding in Albany, NY is between $29,000 - $48,000.

When you consider 82% of brides regret how they planned their wedding, I feel it's our responsibility as wedding professionals to do everything in our power to help couples avoid making costly mistakes.  

As a Professional Wedding Photographer, we unfortunately see a lot of couples making the same mistakes time and time again.  In this article we are going to share 14 huge planning mistakes and tips for planning a better wedding!

14 Huge Mistakes Wedding Planning Mistakes

1.  Not Making A Guest List

Making a guest list is one of the very first steps you need to take when planning your wedding.  It might seem trivial, but it's immensely important to developing a budget and choosing a wedding venue.

Begin your guest list by making 2 categories:

  • Must Invite
  • Possible Invite

After placing guests in the appropriate category, you will now know how many people you have to invite and how many people you could potentially invite.  Keep in mind - For every 5 people you can remove from the guest list, it will save you a minimum of $1,000!  

Most wedding venues, especially for in-season weddings, require minimum guest counts (i.e. 150 guests) or a minimum financial investment (i.e. $15,000) in order to book your wedding.  Therefore, if the venue you love requires 150 guests, but you only have 100 guests, you're going to have to pay for 50 people that won't be in attendance.

2.  Not Developing A Budget

A wedding is an expensive event and trying to plan it without a budget could result in a disaster.  So, how do you develop a budget?

You will essentially have 4 avenues to consider when creating a budget:

  • Money you and partner currently have that can be allocated for wedding expenses
  • Money you and your partner can save until the wedding
  • Parent contributions
  • A small personal loan 

Once . you've addressed each of these aspects, you'll be well on your way to having a budget in place.  

3.  Failing To Research The "True" Costs Of Planning A Wedding

Planning a wedding involves a lot of different details and understanding the true costs associated with each aspect is critical to successful wedding planning.  Many times, couples create budgets using estimated figures based on what they think it should cost or they use other unreliable information.  

Let me explain.

You have a friend that got married last year and they paid $900 for their DJ.  But your friend had an "off-season" wedding and received a lower rate.  As you begin researching DJ's, you discover the average price is $1,800 - Double the cost!  You definitely don't want to find yourself in situation where everything is double what you expected.! 

This is a great website to help you understand the true costs of planning a wedding and what makes it so great is it's specific to your location.  When looking at details, they break out the costs into separate categories, so be sure to include everything that applies to you in order to get the most accurate cost.  

4.  Cutting Costs In The Wrong Places

It's not uncommon for couples to experience "sticker shock" as they begin planning their wedding. They start to feel a little panic about paying for everything, so naturally they look for ways to cut costs.  I'm always surprised when I see couples first trying to cut costs when it comes to hiring their DJ, wedding photographer, and videographer.  

Your wedding professionals play an essential role in your wedding and they can literally make or break it.  Earlier, we mentioned that 82% brides regretted how they planned their weddings.  Can you guess what they regretted most?

  • Hiring a "cheap" photographer
  • Not hiring a videographer
  • Not hiring a professional DJ 

A good DJ is going to entertain your guest and ensure you have an amazing reception.  They understand how to "read" crowds and implement strategies to keep them from getting bored.  If you've ever been to a wedding where the DJ couldn't get people up dancing, it's extremely awkward.  

When it comes to planning your wedding, you're going to pour every ounce of your personality into making every detail perfect.  Your photographer and videographer are going to capture and preserve every detail, every enchanting glance, and every heartfelt moment.  They are going to memorialize your day and allow you to treasure it forever.

Unfortunately, most brides lose sight of how important these details are until it's too late.  They're left feeling frustrated and heartbroken.  

5.  Focusing On A Number

A common frustration among many couples is wedding professionals that don't publish their prices on their website.

Everyday, wedding professionals are contacted by potential new clients and typically, the first question they ask is, "how much are your wedding packages?"  Many times, the professional gives them an initial quote based only on the information they have to date, which is usually very limited.  

The person disappears.

It's important to share the details of your wedding with potential wedding professionals so they can accurate quote you pricing to meet your needs.  Let's take a quick look at a real life scenario.

A couple looking to hire a wedding photographer for 8 hours contacts a couple of local photographers to get their package pricing.  

Photographer "A" quotes them $3,000 and Photographer "B" quotes them $2,000.  Photographer "A" never hears back from the couple.  The couple ruled out Photographer "A" because they were $1,000 more expensive.

The big mistake here was the couple failed to fully understand what each photographer included in their wedding package for that price.  It's imperative to remember that in many situations a cheaper price doesn't mean a better value.  

"Cheap" wedding photographers are usually cutting corners to give you that low price.  Generally, you'll find corners being cut in the post-processing of your photographs.  Being a wedding photographer is expensive and time intensive, so be sure to confirm all the details before deciding on a photographer.  

6.  Wanting Everything To Be Personalized And Amazing

It's very easy to want every detail of your wedding to be amazing.  You imagine your big day and how beautiful everything will be, and how impressed your guests will be.  

Many aspects of wedding planning have alternative options that are more affordable, but still look gorgeous.  Understanding where you should and shouldn't cut costs, is critical.  

7.  Not Having An Engagement Session

One of the most important things you can do for your wedding photography is to have an engagement session with your photographer.  

The engagement session is valuable to you and your photographer.  You will be able to learn about their work style and their approach to the professional picture making process.  On the flip side, your photographer will learn about each of you and your couple style - How you naturally interact with one another.  Working together and learning about each other will ultimately lead to establishing a trusting, personal, and meaningful relationship.  This is key to great wedding photography!

It's very common for couples to feel anxious being in front of the camera.  You don't really know what to do, what to expect or how you're going to look in the photos.  An engagement session will eliminate these thoughts and fears and when your wedding day arrives, you'll know exactly what to expect.  

8.  Inviting Too Many Guests

A lot of brides and grooms reflect on their wedding and wished they hadn't invited so many guests.  

Considering the cost of weddings, it's easy to see why so many couples share these feelings.  Not only will you save significant money on your venue, but you will also save money on invitations, place cards, thank you cards, favors, etc.  

9.  Having A Wedding Party That's Too Large

It doesn't take long after you get engaged to start thinking about who will be in the wedding party.  

Before asking anyone, it's critical you define the expectations you will have for those who agree to be part of the bridal party.  When asking that special person to be part of your day, be sure to clearly communicate your expectations and give them a few days to think about it.  Let them know if they can't or don't want to participate that will be no hard feelings.  

Couples often ask friends or family to be part of the wedding because they feel obligated to ask them. This can be especially true when parents are paying for a wedding and they want you to ask that distant cousin.  This can cause you to feel a lot of pressure.  

Couples even choose friends out of feeling obligated.  Maybe you were part of their wedding party last year and now they expect to be part of yours.  These can be stressful situations, but there several ways to handle it delicately.  

Sometimes couples choose long time friends, but don't really want them to be in the wedding party. Maybe they're that "jealous" friend that creates drama because you're getting married first or because you're wedding is more expensive.  They just seem to cause drama everywhere they go.  

Generally speaking, try to keep your bridal party to 3-4 people per side.  If you're having a very large wedding (i.e. 200 people of more), you can consider having 5-6 people per side.  Less people is not only more cost effective, but it typically means less drama too.  

One final note, don't worry about having an even number of people on each side.  People will tell you it's a must for your wedding pictures, but it's not.  Do what's best for your wedding.  Choose people that are genuine and 100% supportive of your marriage.  

10.  Not Keeping An Open Mind & Being Flexible

If weddings teach you one thing, it's the need to be flexible.  

You may have grand visio for your wedding, but may discover they won't work for one reason or another.  As you work with your wedding professionals, keep an open mind and be flexible. Clearly communicate your likes and dislikes with your professionals as they have a lot of experience, and unique ideas to share with you.  

11.  Too Much DIY

Almost every couple will include some DIY in their wedding.  It can be a great way to save money on your budget and add some personal touches to your day.

However, you also have to be very cautious not to take on too much DIY.  Your wedding day is one of the most special days of your life and don't want to feel like you're "working" it.  

You might think - "I'll just delegate what I need done to family and friends."

These are great intentions, but it rarely works out this way.

Naturally, you want everything to be just as you imagine it and it's very hard for most brides to relinquish control.  Even though you intend on delegating, you'll find you're still heavily involved in the details.  It will be a long day and you're going to be very tired by the end of the night.  You certainly don't want to have to worry about taking down decorations when it's all over.  

12.  Not Allocating Enough Time For Hair And Makeup

Weddings run on strict timelines and there are only a couple of areas that tend to cause delays.  The biggest culprit is usually hair and makeup.  

When hair and makeup run late it generally leaves the bride and bridesmaids feeling very stressed out.  It also means that you need to try to regain this lost time, so where do you make up time?  99% of the time it's with your wedding photography.  If hair and makeup run late, your photographer will have to get very creative with your bridal portrait session. They may have to find a way to fit an hours worth of work into 15 minutes.    

13.  Not Allowing Enough Time For Pictures

Couples often don't have a good wedding day timeline in place and they underestimate how much time is actually needed to capture their photos.  

A lot of different photos are captured on the wedding day - details, getting ready, bridal portraits, ceremony, formal family portraits, wedding party, creative photos of you and your partner, reception, etc.  

Speak with your photographer about the wedding timeline to ensure you have ample time allocated for your wedding photos.  Inevitably, something will happen to cause a delay, but having enough time built into your timeline generally won't cause a major issue.  

14.  Not Having An Unplugged Wedding

One of the most important parts of your wedding is the ceremony.

The ceremony is what your wedding is all about - The love, the vows, the exchange of rings, etc.  These are often some of the most romantic and heartfelt moments of the day.  However, the photographs of your ceremony are often ruined by your guests.  

It's certainly not intentional, but with the majority of your guests having camera phones, the professional pictures of your ceremony are cluttered with arms raised in air, people leaning or standing in the aisle, bright balls of light from their flashes, etc.  Many professional photographers have had beautiful images completely destroyed by guests taking pictures or video.  

Your ceremony has several defining moments and you want to make sure you get professional pictures of these moments - not blurry cell phone pictures.  

Prior to the start of your ceremony, it's best to have your officiant advise guests that you're having an "unplugged" ceremony - In other words, they should sit back, relax, and experience the ceremony through their eyes.  During they ceremony, guests aren't allowed to use cell phones, cameras or video. 

There are many tactful, friendly, and humorous ways to communicate these wishes.  

Please be sure to share this article with your friends and anyone else that could benefit from it!