What I wish I’d known before planning my wedding: 10 tips from a baffled bride-to-be

Happy Monday!

The excitement is building, and butterflies flicker in my stomach when I think about it…it’s now just 85 days until Ben and I tie the knot!!!

Ben and I at Palm Beach Lighthouse

Ben and I at Palm Beach Lighthouse

It seems that we’ve had a slightly longer engagement than other couples we know, which has been great for us as we were able to take it slow with the planning elements, but then again we both work well under pressure so I’m sure we would have made it work either way.

The fact of the matter is, weddings are very personal and no one can tell you how big your wedding should be, who should or shouldn’t be invited or where to go on honeymoon (although many people *will* try to help—which may also make it more confusing for you!) so it’s important that you make your own choices that make you and your partner happy.

With this in mind, I thought it may be useful to impart some of my own wisdom (if you can call it that), as I near the final stages of the planning process…

1. Create a simple budget and checklist as SOON as you start planning

wedding-002

I have been extremely lucky in that my fiance Ben is super organised and excels at excel! Ben created a multi-tab spreadsheet right at the start, which had formulae to calculate our total cost based on how many attending guests we had.

Now, if you’re not proficient creating your own, the good news is the internet is absolutely full of free downloadable budget spreadsheets that you can use as a starting point and customise as you need to….You can find some great examples here.

In one tab of our wedding super-spreadsheet we also had a month-by-month checklist which has been an absolute LIFESAVER! Yes, I am behind on a few things but at least I am aware of it (and getting married on a Tuesday means certain things have been much easier to organise) and can’t forget anything! You can find an example here, but there are many more online that are easy to find on Google.

2. If you have overseas guests, give them as much notice as possible

Interactive-global-map-of-all-the-Planes-in-the-air-2

This is partly from my experience on the other side, being an expat from the UK living in Sydney, Australia. I pretty much let people know as soon as we got engaged, at least those closest to me – when we intended to get married and indicated if they could make it I would love them to be there. This was so important for us as we chose a date that was a. close to Christmas and b. Sydney is one of—if not THE—farthest and most expensive destination for Brits to visit. However, Ben and I are planning life about a year in advance, including any trips back to the UK or anywhere else – so we’ve missed out on a few friends weddings because we weren’t given enough notice ourselves. It doesn’t even need to be formal (I just sent informal Facebook messages) but once you know the date, make a list and go from there.

3. Don’t be afraid to break traditions

Breaking-Wedding-Traditions1

This is a big one. Families are complicated and there are a lot of things and people to consider. Each of us has our own family dynamic. Let me stress here, ultimately it’s up to you on the choices you make BUT let’s not forget we want to focus on the happy day, celebration of your love here and not make anyone feel uncomfortable.

You don’t have to have a maid of honour and one best man (I don’t have one and Ben has three best men!) – and table plans, speeches etc don’t need to be how they used to be back in the day. We live in 2015. We can do what we want and it’s totally acceptable. It’s also the norm now to ask for cash or a contribution to your honeymoon instead of gifts. Do your research, and think about what’s going to work well for your particular situation.

READ: 8 Wedding rules that can be broken

4. Try on dresses before you lock in your bridal style

gypsies2_1882855i

I did not grow up with any idea of what my wedding day would be like, not a single thing! And even if I did, it’s highly unlikely I would have guessed I would be marrying an Aussie in Sydney, Australia with 25 UK friends and family members coming all the way over to witness it! Dresses were stressing me out—I decided I hated all wedding dresses and I had a Pinterest board full of what I thought I loved—bohemian, Grecian, hold the sparkles.

When I finally tried on a selection of dresses, guess what? I felt and looked my best in the exact opposite to what I liked in pictures. Your body shape will determine what looks best on you, so head to the bridal store with an open mind, but have your budget locked in. Another tip – don’t even try on dresses out of your price range – I didn’t (thank goodness) and have heard of this ending in tears or a huge credit card bill. I knew when I found the one. And funnily enough it was the first dress I tried on! The shop assistant obviously knew what would work on me.

5. Pinterest is your friend

pinterest-logo

Flowers, cake, dress, bridesmaid dresses, hair pieces, hair styles..even dog outfits. Pinterest has it all. If you don’t already use Pinterest, it’s basically an image based social network. You create ‘boards’ where you can search a huge database of images relating to pretty much anything you can think of, and virtually ‘pin’ them to your boards for inspiration.

I used Pinterest to actually see how colours and styles work together, as well as finding inspiration for hair styles. It’s also collaborative, so I have been working with my friend who is making my cake—she can pin suggestions to me, and I can show her what I like. This saves us a lot of time which is great as we live far apart.

6. Expect the unexpected

It’s important to be flexible and willing to compromise on the less important parts of planning your wedding. Things will come up, people will not be able to attend (And I believe we might encounter this nearer the time) but you have to go with the flow. Wet weather backup is an absolute must! We almost forgot about this, assuming it’s going to be 25 degrees and sunny in Sydney in December (which it might be, we hope it is, but there’s a good chance it could rain) and it ended up taking quite a few weeks and stress to formulate a suitable backup plan.

Nothing is certain, but as long as you are your fiance are there on the day and there to make this special commitment to each other, I think anything unexpected CAN be dealt with.

7. Do you get dress codes?

dress-code-suits2

I don’t! Or at least I didn’t. Ours ended up as “daytime semi-formal”, but I came up with several custom dress codes that I thought were obvious. Luckily I have a few friends with plenty of event-organising experience who assured me people need an official dress code otherwise their interpretation could completely miss the mark. I will add that even my “official” dress code ended up with a few confused emails, so I made sure to contact all guests with the link above just to clear up any confusion. I really don’t want anyone in jeans at our wedding, and I heard at least one or two were considering it.

8. Online RSVPs are awesome

Have you heard of rsvpify.com? We went against advice given to us of supplying stamped envelopes with return cards and integrated an RSVP form into our wedding website. The brilliant thing about this app is that once people have submitted their response, you can use a drag-and-drop feature in to your table plan and move people about quickly and easily. We tried printing everyone’s names out and placing them on to tables, but this ended up as 120 scrunched up pieces of paper in the bin.

9. …As is weddingpaperdivas.com

I did so much research on wedding invitations and had about 20 quotes made for us. I was shocked to say the least about how much these can cost, especially if you have letterpress or foil invites, which was what we wanted. I then stumbled across Wedding Paper Divas—a US based company that has everything you could ever want printed for your wedding: save the dates, place names, menus, and everything in-between. We had some wonderful high quality foil invites printed and shipped from the US for about half of what it would have cost here in Australia. This company is highly recommended by me!

10. HAVE FUN!

having-fun

There are moments where one or both of us has been feeling the pressure, or stress about making the right decision. One of the best things about our relationship is I think we’re really good at balancing each other out, so we remind each other of what’s important on a regular basis, and then it goes back to being fun again. Yesterday we had Spotify open and drank a few beers while organising songs for our ceremony and reception. We laughed, cried and it was really fun…I think that is what planning your wedding should be like! So my last piece of advice is: stay grounded, remember what’s important to you and your fiancé…and have fun!

Happy wedding planning!

Coco xo

10 beginner’s running tips I wish I’d known

I always wanted to enjoy running, but I found it hard to get into.

I took more of an interest in it when I moved to Australia back in 2011. It’s very popular here—we also have the nice sunshine to complement it—and you can’t walk further than 10 metres before you see someone jogging along. Mothers running with their prams are everywhere. I don’t think I have ever seen this in England.

I began slowly and with a lot of walking breaks. It’s hard at the start because after about 30 seconds you feel like you really need to stop, but after you begin to push through the pain barriers you will improve with each run, which is encouraging.

Photo Credit: ncngpao on Flickr

Photo Credit: ncngpao on Flickr

It helped me to run on a treadmill, to gauge a comfortable speed, measure distance and see overall fitness improvements as the weeks went on. Not everyone would agree with this because it can be boring when you have no scenery.

It took about six weeks before I could manage running 5KM in 34 minutes, and it was hard. My fastest 5KM now is 27 mins and my goal is to do it in under 25, so I’m going to keep pushing through those uncomfortable runs until I can.

I’ve realised now that a big challenge is the psychological barrier – being held back by the belief you have hit your limit and can’t push through.

However, I’ve also learnt the importance of training properly and not doing too much too soon. Your fitness improves faster than your body’s strength and ability to cope with harder, longer runs.

With this in mind, I thought I would compile a few tips I can vouch for that are helpful for getting started. I’m by no means an experienced runner, but I can comfortably run for an hour or so.

  1. Stick to a plan, no matter how simple

    This simple Couch to 5k Running Plan is a good place to start. It incorporates lots of walking, while slowly introducing running.

  2. Never increase distance more than 10% each week

    Now this is debated amongst the running community, but the principle is correct. Increase slowly, do your research and be sensible (the first goal is to be able to run non-stop for a period, then you can think about this one).

  3. Alternate between two pairs of trainers

    recent study has found that rotating two different running shoes reduces injury amongst runners – but that’s not the only reason. Running shoes only have on average 500 KM of life in them before they should be replaced, so alternating between two pairs means each pair will last longer.

  4. The importance of cross training

    I try to swim, use the elliptical and attend at least one spin class per week. It is good to train the rest of your body and reduce the stress on your knees – running is a high impact exercise. It will still benefit your overall running fitness to do cardio on your non-running days.

  5. Think in minutes, not miles or KM

    When you first start out it can make you feel defeated when you realise how slow you are. By incorporating minutes instead of miles or KM into your training, you can focus on building up your aerobic fitness, rather than stressing about your pace and the distance covered.

  6. Consistency over distance OR time

    So what, you had a bad day? At least you went. Reaching your full potential in running takes a few years, and there are no shortcuts.

  7. Listen to your body

    Muscular pain is normal after exertion through exercise. You know when the pain is not just that, so see a physio if you encounter new persistent pain and rest sufficiently. New runners are prone to injury if they don’t do this – it was true for me.

  8. Try running without music

    I always used to run with music, but as I’ve run more and more I have found it can be nicer without. It means you are more connected with your surroundings, and improves safety because you are aware of traffic and other people.

  9. Sign up for organised events

    I really think this helps you to stay focussed on your training program and keeps you accountable. I used to dabble in running but only since I have been doing events have I been consistent. This year I’ve done two events so far – the Sydney Harbour 10K and the City2Surf, then in five weeks I have signed up for Blackmore’s Half Marathon. When I feel like sleeping in, I remember I’ve paid for and committed to whichever event is next and it motivates me.

  10. Remember that euphoric feeling at the end of a run

    It gets me going every time!

 

Do you run? What tips would you give to a beginner runner?

Coco

xx