Rock your wedding!! The complete wedding guide to planning a dream day.

Whoohooo! You’ve just said “Yes” and the festivities are already in full swing. If you are anything like me, the urge to start planning a wedding is real! And, if you’re looking to get hitched in the next 12-18 months, it should be! Of course, everyone works at their own pace but if you want to plan without getting overwhelmed, a recommended time of 12-18 months is advised.

I started at 12 months and honestly, I enjoyed it. It helped that I’m in the industry but I planned my wedding abroad so I didn’t know any vendors and even as a wedding photographer, there were things I still learnt. Don’t stress! With the right approach, it can be an enjoyable (and stress-free) process that results in a beautiful day that celebrates the best of you both.

To help you on your way, here is a complete wedding guide that I feel will give you a stress free year of planning and hey, you might even enjoy it!!

What’s your vision?

Decide what type of wedding you both would like. This could take some time or may have spoken about it already but you must be true to yourselves and each other. It’s the most important day of your lives, make it yours! Please try not to bring in the guests (that you have even invited yet) into the equation. It’s not their wedding!

Pinterest is your friend! When planning a wedding, create a mood board of ideas that will go with your theme and have this on the continuous throughout the wedding planning. It’s very handy when you want to show vendors what’s in your head.

Couple kissing at The canal in Dublin City, wedding planning guide
bride and groom posing, heads together and smiling in the flower garden of Ballintubbert Gardens and House, wedding planning guide

Some examples of different wedding styles I have
shot are below. This will also give you a good idea of wedding venues and what
they have to offer:

A castle style wedding – This type of wedding is
in a castle (obvs!) The estate is usually very big so can host very large
weddings and also accommodate them. If you love this old vibe and feeling lie a
price/princess go for this route. There are so many options here to choose from
in Ireland. To give you an idea, check out Aish
and Paul’s wedding at Kilronan Castle

Bride and groom standing with Kilronan Castle in the background,  wedding planning guide

A country house wedding – Some couples prefer a
more relaxed vibe with a bit more of a party atmosphere. Ireland has
spectacular country estates that ooze class but aren’t stuffy or too formal.
Anything goes and the venues usually allow you to really make things your own!
Why not check our Bairbre
and Alex’s day at the stunning Ballintubbert Gardens & House.

City centre alternative weddings – Whichever city
you love in Ireland, keeping things in the city can bring a heap of benefits
plus the option to explore some super alternative wedding options. Dublin has
some spectacular wedding venues with varied offerings. I personally love
shooting a wedding in Dublin, There is so much scope for portrait options and
often a change in venues throughout the day comes into play which keeps things
fun for the guests.

Have a goo at Victor and Ray’s
stunning New Year’s Eve
wedding at 25 Fitzwilliam Place or Garret and
Dermot’s super classy day at The Merrion here.

Set a wedding budget

Setting a budget is a different process for everyone. This is a no one rule for your wedding guide! Some couples have this money saved already (happy days), some couples save a certain percentage each month to allocate to the wedding pot.

Check out One Fab Day’s advice on budgeting which is specific to Irish weddings. It’s always a good idea to meet with an accountant or financial advisor to discuss your options for financing the wedding. They can help set realistic expectations regarding what you can expect to spend and suggest ways to save money.

Or speak to a friend that has just got married who you know if good with budgeting. Once the budget has been determined, the fun begins! Let the wedding planning commence! 

Set a date

I would suggest thinking of 2-3 dates that would work for you both and you think would suit your guests. The venue might not be free on your number one date so it’s always a good idea to have alternatives.

Book your venue

Research the wedding venues that you would like in the area that would like. For example, if you’re having an outdoor wedding, then consider booking a beachside venue or a garden. On the other hand, if you’re having an indoor ceremony and reception, then book a hotel, a hall, a restaurant, look for alternative wedding venues too, like art galleries, old barns etc.

Decide whether you would like an exclusive wedding venue completely dedicated to your party or if you are happy with an estate that can cater for both your wedding and external guests.

Once you have selected the venue, it is important to make sure that the venue confirms the date you want, and also the availability of services such as catering, decorations, and other things that may be required for the wedding. Also, check the capacity of the venue and make sure it can accommodate all the guests. Have list of questions ready for your wedding coordinator when you arrive to view the venue. My wedding was abroad so I googled loads of reviews and asked as many questions as I could online.

Hire your vendors (in this order of timeline)

12-18 months before the date:

Once the venue has been booked, it is important to plan the decorations. Before you go off frantically searching for vendors, always ask your venue if they have a suppliers referral list. Some venues may provide services themselves such as flowers and decor! When it comes to professional vendors, my advice is simple: hire the people that make you really get on with. You’ll be spending a lot of time with them as you plan your big day, so take your time finding the right ones! Here’s a basic list in the order that I feel is best for booking.

A photographer – Bear in mind, that a photographer might be your best bet of a vendor supplier too! We get to know most of the vendors that you will work with and have often built up a relationship with them. I have a vendor referral list that I always give to my clients but don’t be afraid to ask!       

A videographer – check with photographer, we make a great team on the day.

THE DRESS – I nearly got stung here ladies. Silly me, had no idea that once the dress is chosen and made, it still has to go in for a fitting which can take a couple of months due to the dress maker being so busy. Give yourself a year, at least! Don’t stress on the dress..just don’t.

An officiant/church – check with photographer if a civil ceremony.

A wedding planner (wedding planning services are really helpful if you are planning abroad, thinking of loads to incorporate into the day or simply do not have the time or head space)

Hair and makeup artists – check with photographer – recommended time is usually 12-18 months ahead of wedding date.

A florist – check with venue

A baker or cupcake specialist check with venue

A DJ or band check with photographer/venue

Things to do otherwise:

Send out your save the date emails and create a wedding website. I found this so helpful! I used JOY  but there are loads to choose from. Decide on your wedding party and pop the question to them.

Now you have the big stuff done, you can start to break the rest of the planning into segments.

When it comes to sourcing vendors for your big day, I have some tips that have been incredibly useful to me in my own wedding planning.

Research-First and foremost, research is key.

Spend time looking at vendor websites and social pages, asking friends for references—there’s so much information out there, and you’ll need to take the time to really understand what each vendor offers. Read reviews online and see what couples who’ve used the vendor before say about their experiences!

Ask About Their Process

You should also ask each vendor about their process—how they handle weddings, what other weddings they’ve done, etc. That way you can get an idea of how experienced they are and make a more informed decision. When hiring your photographer and videographer, arrange a zoom/call chat to get a good sense of who they are and how they work. You must feel a connection with these people!

At the end of the day, it really does come down to finding professionals whose style you connect with and feel comfortable with. Once you find those people, that’s when the magic starts happening!

A great resource tools are The Wedding Journal, One Fab Day and Brides. They have pretty much everything you want to know about weddings, especially if planning a wedding in Ireland.

Just breath!

Remember to have your checklist and slowly tick it off as you go. Try not to let things overwhelm you and don’t get weighed down by too much unwanted advice from friends and family. My best advice is stick to the wedding that you both want and be firm about who you want there. It’s your wedding, your loved ones will respect your choices.

If I’m your photographer, I’m always just a text/call or email away for help and advice.

Happy planning xx

Couple walking in the streets of Stephen's Green, Dublin, Wedding planning guide

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