How to plan a wedding (without starting a war)

How to plan a wedding without going mad

How to plan a wedding (without starting a war)
Planning a wedding is easy! (Promise) Image: Lola Photography

Baffled by bridesmaids and plus ones? Struggling with too many wedding planning dilemmas? We help you navigate the wedding day minefield…

1. How to tell a supplier you’re unhappy
Florists, caterers, photographers, venue co-ordinators – there’s a lot of people to liaise with during wedding planning so it’s no surprise that things can get a bit fraught. Think of them as your team of expert helpers – communicate clearly what you want and what you don’t want from the start, and get your groom involved too. Avoid issues by having confidence in your decisions, but if a problem arises, nip it in the bud straight away rather than letting it fester.

2. How to explain kids aren’t invited to your wedding
Ooh, it’s a tricky one, isn’t it? The older you are when you get married, the more likely you are to have friends with little ones in tow – and that can bump up costs considerably. The key is to make a decision and stick to it.

“There will always be one or two guests who feel disgruntled about a no-kids wedding, but making an exception to the rule could upset those who have organised childcare,” advises etiquette and wedding consultant Jo Bryant ( “Be clear in the information that is sent out with the invitations that children under a certain age are not invited. Sometimes it helps to give a reason, for example safety (a lake in the venue’s grounds) or size (if the reception venue is small). Remember that many parents will welcome a child-free weekend away!”

3. How to stop your mother-in-law interfering
As with any big occasion, your close family will want to be involved – and inevitably have their own opinions on important issues like fruit cake versus sponge and where uncle Eric is sitting. “If you’re having problems with your mother-in-law, give her specific tasks,” says Jo. “By keeping her busy, she won’t interfere with other organisational elements.”

4. How to tell a bridesmaid she’s not pulling her weight
She’s been your bestie since birth (well, almost), but she just doesn’t seem that into this whole wedding thing. She’s late for fittings and you’re not even sure she’s started organising the hen do yet. Cue awkward friendship dilemma.

But have faith – it’s just a communication breakdown. Be clear about what you expect rather than just presuming she knows what’s required in her role, and when she does help, thank her hugely so she knows how important she is to you.


5. How to make sure the best man doesn’t give an X-rated speech
Drunken mates + grandmas = potential disaster zone, so it’s understandable that you’re a bit nervous about your husband-to-be’s beer-loving best friend oversharing about drunken holidays and bedroom antics.

“The best man’s speech is a highlight of the day and there is always pressure to do something amusing,” Jo points out. “However, you should brief the best man fully on what is expected of him on the day – hopefully, when he sees the importance of the role, he will realise that a simple, heartfelt and genuinely amusing speech will always win over the audience. Anecdotes should be fun and witty; inappropriate stories or shock confessions will usually turn the audience cold.”

6. How to seat divorced parents
When family relationships are complicated, it can be a good idea to step away from tradition. “Instead of a large top table, ask each of your parents to host their own table, which can be situated right next to yours,” suggests Jo. “If you really want a top table, go for a round one so that they can sit on opposite sides.”


Image: Steve Gerrard

7. How to tackle the plus one debate
If your budget’s tight (or if you’d rather just not have people you don’t know at your wedding), you need to set some rules on plus ones. Jo recommends that couples who are married, engaged or cohabiting should ideally be invited together, but be prepared to make exceptions. If a friend is coming who doesn’t know anyone else, let her bring a date. A group of work or uni mates, however, might not mind leaving their partners at home!

8. How to deal with dress codes
If you’re not paying for your wedding party’s outfits, it can be tricky to find a balance between giving them free reign and creating a cohesive look. “Your bridesmaids and ushers will want to look good for you, so
offer them a few style ideas,” advises Jo. A shared Pinterest board is great for this – include pictures of accessories and flowers and involve your mums too (you don’t want them to clash in the wedding photos!).

9. How to avoid late RSVPs
Having to chase up 50+ replies can be time-consuming and awkward, so make your RSVPs fun! There will always be a few stragglers to chase but if you ask for song requests or a self portrait for their place cards on their RSVP cards, guests will want to get involved (and stop putting off posting it!).

10. How to ask for money for your honeymoon
“Asking for money only goes wrong when guests feel as though they are just adding to the bride and groom’s bank accounts,” says Jo. “Offer guests the chance to put money towards an actual ‘thing’, such as car hire, a night in a hotel, etc, and they’ll be more than happy to contribute.”

Still got 99 wedding problems? Here are 6 moments that will make you want to call off the wedding 

We use cookies to improve your experience of our website. Cookies perform functions like recognising you each time you visit and delivering advertising messages that are relevant to you. Read more here