6 EARLY DECISIONS WHEN PLANNING A WEDDING

There are few things more exciting than planning your own wedding. Many people have thought about their dream wedding way before they even meet the person they want to marry. It’s a task that is as exciting as it is overwhelming… but before making any decisions, there’s a few things to think about that can have a huge impact on your big day. I’m talking about the most basic of choices, some of which you already know the answer to without a thought. The when, the where and the how basically. Here are some of my thoughts on some options that are worth thinking about in the early stages of the wedding planning journey. These factors have a huge impact on a wedding day and are sometimes overlooked, so getting these decisions right early on is super important.

A night time portrait of the bride and groom under the moon.
A photo of the newlyweds walking together at their DIY festival wedding.
An outdoor summer wedding with guests drinking in the sunshine.
The bride and groom on their Wedding day in Autumn.

1. What time of year should we have our wedding?

Aside from the venue itself, the time of year of the wedding is one of the biggest factors to consider. This influences so many aspects of a wedding day, some obvious, some less so.

The weather is probably the first that springs to mind and although English weather is unpredictable to say the least, it is worth factoring into your plans. If you envisage you and your guests to be outdoor on your wedding day enjoying the sunshine, then it makes sense to have your wedding in the Summer when the weather is more likely to be nice. If you dream of a winter wedding in cosy indoor settings with open fires and festive feels then Autumn and Winter are clearly your best bet.

The time of year a wedding is also influences most decisions about the theme and colours that are used. Bold, bright and colourful palettes are usually more popular with Summer weddings. Autumnal tones like burnt orange and deep emerald greens tend to work better with weddings between October and December. It’s also worth thinking about whether your wedding date is close to any occasions like Halloween, Bonfire night or Christmas. Seasonal occasions could could be incorporated into your theme which you may or may not want.

Of course all these factors will be reflected in the photographs from a wedding. It’s therefore important to remember how different everything can look from season to season. Not only in the styling and colours chosen for a wedding but also in the outdoor settings. In late spring a venue is likely to be lush with greens and colourful blooms whereas the autumn will bring those beautiful autumnal oranges browns and reds.

It’s also worth bearing in mind when the sun will be setting at a particular time of year. Less hours of daylight at a wedding generally means less time for outdoor photographs. This can however open the door to different types of photo opportunities. Night time portraits, sparkler exits and firework displays are fantastic additions for you and your guests and make great photos!

‘2. What time of the day to get married

I often feel that the time of the ceremony and how it affects a wedding day can be overlooked. When planning a wedding this should be an early decision for me. The order of the day revolves around the ceremony and it can be crucial to how a wedding day flows.

There’s no right or wrong time to have a ceremony and occasionally it’s out of the couples hands, but if you do have a say it’s worth putting some thought into it. Weddings can be long days so you may want to avoid any lulls. If a ceremony is on the early side it might be worth providing entertainment in any downtime such as musicians, magicians, charactures etc. For my own wedding we chose a late ceremony time of 16:00 for this reason. We wanted to avoid any lulls and let the day flow straight into the night. This worked well as the energy continued without a dip into the evening do.

 a colourful group portrait of the bridal party in the sunshine.

3. DIY or wedding venue

Do you book an existing wedding venue or host and accommodate your big day somewhere yourself? A DIY wedding is exactly what it sounds like. A ‘do it yourself’ wedding, where you do it all yourself! Although this isn’t an option for everyone, it is definitely a consideration for those who have the choice.

They can be planned around marquees, tipis, yurts, barns, cowsheds and even boatyards. I’ve shot weddings on family farms, family restaurants, village halls and even the couples back garden. I actually had my own wedding in my Dad’s boatyard which was incredible.

DIY weddings are a lot of work and require immense planning, but they’re so rewarding. There’s definitely something special about hosting your wedding at a place of personal significance. Personally I love a DIY wedding, I’ve shot many over the years and no two have been the same.. If you have the option and want to create a truly personal wedding, doing it yourself is an amazing choice.

On the flip side opting for a wedding venue is an equally great option and is definitely more straight forward. A wedding venue is purpose built for weddings meaning that the majority of the logistics are taken care of from the start. The array of different types of wedding venues these days and the options couples have to put their stamp on them makes them super versatile.

This ones likely a decision that has been made even before the wedding planning began, but it’s definitely worth weighing up both options. For many a DIY wedding doesn’t even come into the equation but for those who it’s a potential option for, it’s a great one to have.

4. What type of venue should we choose

If you are booking a venue for your day, you’ll likely have an idea of what venue type you want. There’s so many different options out there, from manor houses to tipis and castles to barns, the list goes on. The setting for a wedding is everything and is the biggest factor in determining the vibe of the day.

From experience I know that the atmosphere varies massively between different venue types. For example a wedding at a castle is usually very different to that of a tipi venue. Castle venues generally generate a more formal mood whereas a tipi wedding has a very laidback almost festival like feel to it. This isn’t set in stone by any means but it is often a factor in what kind of day to expect.

For me, choosing a type of venue which best reflects you as a couple is a good rule of thumb. If you’re an outdoorsy and adventurous couple then a tipi or barn venue might be a good fit. Couples who enjoy the finer things, wining, dining and grand architecture will probably prefer their wedding in a manor house or castle style venue. You can check out a few different types of wedding venue in my Yorkshire Venues post by clicking here…

The wedding venue Danby Castle with the North Yorkshire Moors in the background.
A photo of the interior of the Tithe Barn wedding venue in Skipton.
Wedding guests enjoying the sunshine at an outdoor summer festival wedding.
Sneaton Castle wedding venue from the front surrounded by trees.
The Bride arriving at her festival wedding on a lawn mower.
Hackness Grange wedding venue from across a lake surrounded by beautiful scenery.
The rustic ceremony room at Danby Castle, North Yorkshire.

5. Small & intimate or a full on party

The scale of the wedding is obviously a decision which is made very early on in the wedding planning process. Having a clear idea of the size of wedding you want will make your decision making easier moving forward. Weddings are something that can escalate pretty quickly, so making a plan and sticking to it is important. A small and intimate wedding day is just as special as a full blown party with 100+ guests. Of course there’s always the option to elope, in which case it could just be the couple and witnesses present. This is a great option for couples who aren’t bothered for a big celebration and just want to marry the person they love. What’s important is to do your wedding how you want to do it, at the end of the day, it’s your day!

6. Where should we get married?

Do you have your wedding close to home? make a weekend of it and venture further afield or even make a holiday of it and marry abroad? This is a probably a pretty straightforward decision, but it will have an effect on other elements of your wedding. Whilst hosting your wedding locally could make it easier for the majority of your guests to attend, getting married further afield is a good way to make a weekend of your big day and even extend the celebrations over a few days. Generally speaking the further away the wedding the more logistics there are to consider, so careful planning is a must for weddings which aren’t close to home.

Much of the above are choices and decisions that will probably be made without much deliberating. A few may be decided upon naturally, without an alternative even coming in to the equation. Some may seem obvious, but how they can affect a wedding day isn’t as clear and can be overlooked. For me, some of these early decisions are the most important and are the first steps to a great wedding day! By considering the affects of these factors and working out what you want for your wedding day you can start to plan the day that you want for your wedding.

A DIY wedding reception venue in a cow shed.