Wedding Planning Tips. Tess + Theo

Plan a stress free wedding with insightful tips from real couples who have already walked down that aisle. Wedding photography by James Robertshaw.

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Couple : Tess + Theo
Location : East Sussex
Wedding Photographer Website : James Robertshaw
Ceremony Location : Bentley Country Park, Halland
Reception : Bentley Country Park, Halland
Wedding Date : 7th June 2014

Wedding Planning Tips

1. Definitely keeping on top of our budget was a must because we had a fixed amount that we couldn't go over. We made a pretty geeky spreadsheet with an estimate for all of our spending in different areas, and then another column for expenditure as it happened. It really helped and we didn't overspend at all because of it. It also helped us keep on top of the overall financial picture and move spending from one thing to another, save in some areas etc.

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2. Along a similar vein - be savvy about spending - we definitely did find that unfortunately there are some unscrupulous people out there who up their prices as soon as the wedding word is mentioned. We just made sure that we shopped around for all the big things to make sure that we were getting the best deal possible.We got a bit creative on some things, e.g. our venue didn't have a corkage charge which was great, so we bought all our wine and champagne in the 50% off deals that the big supermarkets do at Christmas. My brother got married the year before us so he was able to give us really good estimates for how much wine we might need. In fact we ended up over catering on this front (even though we didn't end up spending much!) and we're still working our way through it now!

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3. We hired a coordinator for the day itself which was a life saver! Our venue was not set up with anything (really it was just a woodland and a field!), which meant that on the day itself and the day before, there was a lot to be done to get it ready. We're really glad we hired a coordinator because it meant we didn't need to worry at all on the day.

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4. Enjoy enjoy enjoy! It's so easy to get bogged down with all the admin that needs to be done, but we always made sure we were enjoying the process and keeping the whole purpose of the day at the front of our minds. We were clear from the beginning that we wanted to go with the flow and not get too caught up on having things a certain way which meant we were able to relax about things. Actually there were some fairly major hiccups, like the florist being involved in a car accident the day before the wedding (fortunately she is ok now, but had to go to hospital!), but in the end it didn't really matter as long as everyone was safe and happy! There was a huge thunderstorm in the morning and we had a 100% outdoor venue with no plan B. Fortunately we were really lucky that it cleared up just in time for our ceremony in the woods. We probably should have made a contingency plan!

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5. Trust in your chosen team of suppliers.

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6. We found that everyone really wanted to make the day as great as possible for us, and so we trusted the great team of people we had found to do their jobs without us stressing about it. It really paid off - everyone did such a good job and we were shielded from the (no doubt) endless stress that they were probably experiencing.

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7. Personally I was worried about walking down the aisle in front of everyone, because I really don't like being centre of attention and I almost wanted to just get that bit over with - but actually on the day it was really nice and I felt that although all eyes were on me, everyone was wishing us well and wanting the day to be perfect, so my advice would be not to worry about it.

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8. We always said we wanted the day to reflect us which meant a low key, informal day. Sometimes this meant going against others' expectations or wishes, but we stuck to our plan and in the end everyone loved the day, even those who might have been more used to more traditional weddings. We just made sure that we kept the important people (parents etc) aware of the plan and why we wanted to do it our way. When we look back on the day we have such amazing memories that are really reflective of us as a couple, and we wouldn't change a thing.

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9. We made the most of having all our friends and family in one place by booking the outside space at a pub the following day for a big pub roast - it was so nice to see everyone looking so relaxed for one last celebration before everyone had to go home again.

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We're not fans of staged wedding photography, and wanted to find someone who could capture the low-key vibe of the day we were planning. From the moment we first met James we knew he was right for us. His website features some stunning photography to begin with, which is why we got in touch with him. He has a really rare skill of being able to capture genuine emotion in his photos, without imposing his presence. In fact, everyone forgot that he was there on the day. We met up with him to discuss wedding photography and he was so lovely and laid back - really listening to us and what we wanted. He brought some example photo books of previous weddings he'd shot, and they were absolutely beautiful so we knew we wanted to book him. Before the day we did an engagement shoot with him at Seven Sisters in East Sussex. It was a great way for us to get to know him and start to relax around him. The photos he took for us that day are absolutely stunning! His photos are a little unusual - they are really works of art in their own right, rather than being wedding shots. He's also great at storytelling through his pictures. When we look through our beautiful photo book that he made us from the day, it really draws you in and tells you the story of the day so that you almost feel you're there again. Rather than taking an 'obvious' shot, he'll always go for an unusual and unexpected angle which has left us with such beautiful photographs. Having said that, we did have some relatives who wanted some standard 'posed' wedding shots, which he very kindly did for us as well, so everyone was happy.

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We decided to look for unusual / unexpected photographers rather than google 'wedding photographers' and this led us to James, who was definitely out of the ordinary in such a great way. We love our photos! We'd probably also recommend finding someone you click with,we really got on well with James and it made it really nice on the day as you actually spend quite a bit of time together throughout the day, so it's great to have someone who helps you feel at ease. On the day we almost forgot he was there which was perfect as he was able to get lots of really natural photos.

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Wedding Venue & Ceremony Details

We got married in the woods at Bentley Country Park in Halland - such a lovely low key venue where they were totally accommodating of all our plans and everything we wanted to do. We set up a big tipi style tent in the field next to the woods where we had our reception, with a big bonfire and camping for our friends and family. It was perfect.

Wedding Dress Details

I had my dress made by a beautiful Brighton bridal shop - and the price was actually the same or cheaper than off the rack dresses. It's called White Leaf bridal. They have a few key dress shapes that you can try on when you go in, and then they can alter it to suit you. When you have the first fitting, they play around with different neck lines, different lace types etc and you end up with exactly what you want. It was really lovely going with my mum and maid of honour. I did go to a posh bridal shop earlier in the day and tried on a super expensive dress, but in the end I decided the money would be better spent elsewhere!

Wedding Shoes Details

I wore pink Vivienne Westwood heels with big bows on the top. Not usual woodland attire!

Wedding Flowers Details

Our flowers were done by Wild and Green who understood our rustic aesthetic from the beginning. They did lots of unusual floral features for us to fit in with the woods. I was worried you wouldn't really be able to see the flowers very well in such a huge forest setting, but they looked stunning and the florist really worked with the natural environment. It was lovely.

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