top ten wedding mistakes title card

top Ten wedding mistakes

Our little guide to avoiding wedding day headaches

I’ve been to a lot of weddings. Hundreds in fact. So, I see quite a lot of the same wedding mistakes happening over and over. It’s no-one’s fault. In most cases, you’ll only organise one wedding in your whole lifetime. That wedding will no doubt be the best wedding that you’ve ever put together. You won’t consider these things until afterwards.

To be fair, some of these are not the sort of mistakes that will completely ruin your day. They’re things that people don’t think about because they haven’t been to hundreds of weddings. But I needed a “click baity” title and “top ten things people don’t think about because they’ve not been to hundreds of weddings” wasn’t very catchy. Top ten wedding mistakes was.

Regardless, if you take these points into consideration, they’ll make your wedding day run a lot smoother.

1. not taking the (Big day) off

This is one of the biggest wedding mistakes you can make. It’s one that people frequently make on their wedding day and it does have the potential to ruin your day. So we’re starting with it first.

A lot of people leave too many jobs to be done on the day itself. They may then give these tasks to willing volunteers who have no idea what they’re doing. There may still be tasks on the wedding day that need completing, however no one knows how to do it… apart from you. This means that well meaning family and friends will constantly be coming to you with issues that you really don’t have time to sort out.

Make sure that you have all your plans in place before the big day. Make sure that any volunteers know what they’re doing and where to find the items they’ll need. Make sure that the only thing you have to do on your wedding day is get married… both of you. The last thing you want to be doing on your wedding day is planning your wedding day.

Brides: you can’t organise everything whilst getting your hair done in the morning. Grooms: all those errands you think you can fit in before you put on your suit, you can’t. Get someone else to do it and tell them a few days in advance. Doing this will help you avoid a lot of other potential wedding mistakes later in the day as well.

wedding day mistakes image relaxed couple

2. Being late to your own party

You’ll hear this so many times: “the bride’s supposed to be late”. Taking this to heart is one of the most frequent wedding mistakes that we come across. There are two main reasons that this becomes a problem.

Firstly, think back to the last time you were waiting for someone that was late. How much did you enjoy it? Wasn’t it a blast? (Correct answer is no). Your guests and your significant other are going to be stood twiddling their thumbs doing nothing but getting bored/nervous. So don’t keep them waiting.

Secondly, every minute you’re late for the ceremony is a minute that you’re not spending with friends and family at the reception later.

Sometimes being late is unavoidable. But a lot of the time, you can be on time. Speak to your hair and makeup artist (MUA) about your morning plans. Make sure you definitely allow time to have your beautifications done and get into your dress, especially if the MUA is doing your bridesmaids as well.

It’s a good plan to be stepping into the dress 45 minutes before you need to leave. Make sure whoever is helping you into the dress knows way in advance that they need to be ready by that point. If you want your dad to see you in the dress before you leave then let him know he has to be ready before you put the dress on too.

Side note: It’s also a good idea to tell dad that the cars always come early. Just because it’s arrived doesn’t mean he needs to run around the house like a headless chicken telling everyone they’re going to be late! For some reason the sight of the wedding car appears to send  fathers into a frenzy of panic, despair and denial.

3. not telling the vicar where to go

This goes for photographers and videographers too.

No one should be standing between the bride and groom when the bride walks down the aisle. This is a very special moment between the two of you. 

Some vicars are of the opinion that it’s their sacred duty to process directly in front of the bride. Some photographers think this an appropriate moment to get their award-winning close ups. Some videographers decide to go full Tarantino in the central aisle. All of them are, of course, wrong.

Make sure that you have told them this before the wedding day. It’s your day, it’s your moment.

4. forgetting about time travel

Sorry. I mean travel…time. But a time travel wedding could be interesting.

Don’t forget to factor in the time it takes to travel between locations. I’ve seen a lot of wedding mistakes where couples haven’t thought about long drive and how it affects their timings for the day. This goes for your guests too. If you’ve timed something for when you arrive at the reception you need to factor in the fact that moving 100 people from one place to another in separate vehicles is like herding cats.

 5. Having no time to enjoy the reception

This follows on rather nicely. Don’t try to cram too much into the time between your ceremony and your wedding breakfast. Think about how much time you actually have (factoring in travel time as well).

If you have a late ceremony at 2.30pm and then a half hour drive that means you won’t start your reception until at least 3.30pm. If the caterers want you to start your wedding breakfast at 4.30pm that may seem quite reasonable at first. However, there are things that you’ll want to do at the reception.

During the reception, your photographer and videographer are very active. They will be trying to get shots of all of your guests enjoying themselves, as well as getting shots of your venue and reception room plus… they need shots of you.

You will obviously be needed for any group shots you want, plus this is usually the best point in the day for the videographer and photographer to get some shots alone with you.

Factor in that group shots usually take around half an hour (depending on your list…so keep it short) and a couple shoot will take between 15-20 minutes. That doesn’t leave you very long to actually spend time with guests. Plus, venue and catering staff will want to liaise with you to check plans and ask you to see the wedding breakfast room, so that’s another 10 – 15 minutes.

Finally, you’ll probably need to pee at some point. Gents, that’s 30 seconds. Ladies, that’s upwards to 10 minutes in that dress.

tope ten wedding mistakes couple enjoying reception

When sitting down to plan with your caterer or venue manager, be realistic about how much time you’ll need to enjoy the reception. Don’t be afraid to ask them to push the timing back a little, they may be resistant to it at first but it’s your wedding day and you should be able to enjoy the reception. 

The evening reception will obviously be a little shorter if you extend the afternoon, but there’s two other reasons to do it. Firstly, the sun. You’re usually going to get the nicest weather in the afternoon. A warm summer evening is lovely but frequently it gets a little too cool for people to sit out when the sun is calling it a night. Secondly, nothing really happens in the evening. After the last speech or final course people just tend to sit around waiting for the party to start. If you have evening guests, they will begin to arrive but you can continue to socialise with them even after the DJ has stated blasting out his wedding cheese (we’ll get on to him in a minute).

Wedding mistakes like this can easily be avoided with a little planning.

 6. forgetting to Entertain your guests

This is one of those big wedding mistakes that so many people overlook in planning. This is one of the most frustrating wedding mistakes for your guests to experience. It’s so easy to avoid, doesn’t cost a lot to fix and yet so few people consider it. 

 Think about the weddings you’ve been to. It’s almost guaranteed that you’ve been to a wedding where you only knew one or two people there and had to spend the entire day making small talk with them. Wasn’t it awkward?!

The wedding day revolves around you. The bride and groom. Everyone will want you for something throughout the day even if it’s just a chat and a hug. You will know everyone in the room. The day will go so quickly for you. But it will go a lot slower for your guests, especially if you have long periods in your day with nothing much happening.

Now, when I say entertain your guests, I don’t mean you personally. Some brides and grooms have been known to perform in some way shape or form, but don’t feel pressured into performing your synchronised breakdance routine during the canapes. What I mean is, consider what your guests will be doing for the longer parts of your day. What can you do to help them enjoy their time even more?
This can be really simple things like putting out some lawn games or creating a wedding bingo sheet. Indoors a few quick simple board games might help…I’ve even seen someone’s gran dominate a game of Cards against Humanity.

You could go a bit further. Think outside the box. I’ve seen bouncy castles, bake-offs, Karaoke, arcade games, helter-skelters, nerf guns, magicians, mariachi bands, table football… and a Santa’s Grotto (that was our wedding. It was December. We got carried away).

In essence, it’s your wedding day. Start a sentence with “Wouldn’t it be fun if we had a…” then whatever just came to mind…do it. Be the bride with the bucking bronco!

entertain your guests bride riding a train

 7. Making receiving line wedding mistakes

I’m not entirely sure where the idea of the receiving line first came from. I think it was originally intended as a way to punish catering managers who were getting over confident in their abilities to deliver hot food to guests on time. But somewhere over the aeons the meaning has been lost. It’s a wedding tradition that isn’t as popular as it once was but it still rears it’s head once in a while to remind us of its existence.
Unless you’re desperate to shake the hand of literally everyone at the wedding (and let’s be honest we’re all a little nervous of sweaty palm shakes in this post lockdown world) then ditch the receiving line.

The idea behind it is that the wedding party greets all of the wedding guests that they wouldn’t have met otherwise. But, in reality you don’t have time to actually have any meaningful conversation. You have to keep the line moving. Inevitably your mother in law will strike up a conversation with someone that lasts a lot longer than the allotted fifteen seconds required to get through all 130 people in half an hour. The whole line comes to a halt whilst you wait for them to finish. In the meantime, your Dad has started telling one of his stories to your spouse’s cousin and the catering manager is nervously texting the chef to hold off on the souffles.

If you really want to greet everyone, there’s usually time to speak to people during the wedding breakfast after you’ve finished each course. You’ll frequently find a bride and groom visiting each table to say hello during this time.
An impromptu receiving line frequently forms after the ceremony as well. When the bride and groom leave the ceremony they often have nowhere to go and find themselves waiting outside as the guest start to file out behind them. Inevitably they will greet those guests as they come out. A spontaneous receiving line forms. This is a much better place for it to happen, with just the two of you the line moves quicker and it gives the photographer the chance to organise people into a confetti shot as they’re coming out. Also, your dinner doesn’t get cold.

 8. letting the speeches go on forever!

Wedding speeches have become such a big part of the wedding day that it’s almost impossible to imagine a modern wedding without them.
With them being such an important part of the day there’s a lot of pressure put on the speakers and a lot of potential wedding mistakes as a result. I’m just going to focus one thing though… timing.

All too frequently, speakers haven’t been given a time limit for their speech or even a guide for how long it should be. The couple then put the entire speeches section on their timings as 20 minutes, despite the fact that there are five people speaking and the father of the bride has barely let anyone get a word in all day. An hour later and you’re up to speech three and discretely googling bladder control techniques.

You know your speakers best, but a good rule of thumb is to tell each person to limit it to 8 minutes but factor in about 10-15 minutes in your schedule for each speaker. 8 minutes is long enough that you can say all that you need, without things becoming tedious for the guests.

In terms of where to put your speeches, it’s obviously up to you. Your caterers would probably prefer you do them all in one go after the meal as that makes their job easier. But for the guests and the speakers, the best place for speeches is actually after the first course. This means that people have a little food in their belly. They won’t be silently willing any pre meal speeches over so they can eat. They also won’t have had the chance to drink all of the table wine. Grandad’s heckling should therefore be at a minimum for any post meal speeches. Putting the speeches here also means that any nervous speakers won’t spend the whole meal worrying about their speech.

In case you’re wondering… the absolute worst place to put your speeches is one between every course. No one knows exactly how long each speech will last. The caterer is constantly having to guess when to plate your next course and it means their staff are going to have to clear up the previous course whilst someone is speaking. Also, your videographer and photographer are going to be exhausted. Throughout the long day, the meal is the only break we get. If we have to work between every course it means we’re only getting a few moments to rest before having to go set up for the next speech.

 9. Having an awful DJ

You know that stereotype of the awful wedding DJ playing nothing but cheesy music and shouting something indecipherable over the top of it… Well it’s not just a stereotype, it’s reality.

Sadly, I can count on one hand the number of weddings where I’ve been impressed by the DJ. The majority of  wedding DJs I’ve seen are unremarkable, playing the same mix as every other wedding DJ (I think they’ve unionised and selected one agreed playlist). At worst though, I’ve heard one play nothing but Abba for 20 minutes. I’ve seen another mix 5 songs badly in the space of 30 seconds as a poor sax player tried to keep up. The dance floors emptied pretty quickly in both scenarios and the DJ’s did nothing to fix it.

In reality, to call yourself a wedding DJ you just need a portable PA system and a laptop of mp3s. For the most part, they are not the sort of DJ you’d hire to get a party going in a bar, club or festival tent. They’re just a bloke* playing some music. So vet your DJ as best you can.
If you are cool with the DJ just playing cheese and songs that only granny will dance to then you’re probably fine to just Google “wedding DJ” and go with the first one you see.

But if you really want one who gets the party started, shop around. Ask your friends for recommendations. Ask for sample playlists and mixes. See if they have any videos online. With a little research any DJ related wedding mistakes can be eradicated.
Or better yet, think outside the box. Look for someone on the club circuit that plays the sort of music you’re into but is open to mixing in a bit of classic pop for the masses.
And for the love of all that is good, tell them to shut up when the music is playing! We know who’s wedding this is, stop telling us.

*I’ve met precisely two female wedding DJs over my 7 years filming weddings (Tallulah goodtimes and Deejay Sparksy). They were both better than the majority of their male counterparts.


 10. the Cake is confusing

Now this may be personal preference, but it has happened to me a few too many times and whilst we’re talking wedding mistakes, this needs addressing:

Don’t tell me that you’ve got a giant cheese cake as your wedding cake and then wheel out a bunch of cheeses stacked on top of each other! IT’S NOT CAKE! It’s just a pile of cheese!

It’s not a cheesecake. A cheesecake is a delicious cream cheese flan with a buttery biscuit base. What you’ve got there is just cheese on top of more cheese!

I love cheesecake. I love cake. My relationship with non-melted cheese is civil at best. So stop getting me all excited about giant cheese cakes and then dashing my dreams so expertly with this fromage falsehood! Bring out the wedding cake already… WHAT DO YOU MEAN THAT IS THE CAKE!?

Fine… I’m going to Greggs to get a muffin.

Planning a wedding?

 It’s all a little overwhelming isn’t it?

We’ve been there. If you want a little help or some ideas from people that go to weddings… a lot, then we can help. We’ve sat down and written loads more wedding planning advice for you here

If you’re planning an amazing wedding, you’re probably going to want an amazing wedding film as well. Something that showcases all of the hard work that you’re putting in.

It just so happens that we specialise in amazing wedding films! Invite us along and we’ll make you a unique film that honestly captures something of you and the day that you had.

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