Avoiding The Biggest Wedding Planning Mistakes Couples Make | Willow & Oak Events

Avoiding The Biggest Wedding Planning Mistakes Couples Make

We’re often asked about the biggest wedding planning mistakes couples make as they approach all things logistics, design, vendor selection, contract negotiation… essentially, all things wedding! And today we wanted to dish on this topic from a planner’s point of view in hopes that your wedding will be every bit as fulfilling as it should be.

spring wedding tablescape with garden flower centerpieces, textured pink taper candles and rose glassware
Photo by The Happy Bloom and styling by Willow & Oak Events // full gallery + vendor team here

Whether you’ve hired a powerhouse team of vendors or you’re going at it alone, be wary of these biggest wedding planning mistakes along the way:

1. Having too many cooks in the kitchen

At the outset, determine who the decision makers will be and don’t let anyone’s opinion get in the way from that point forward. Of course, if your wedding vendors are giving you advice based on their seasoned experience, value that advice. They only want what’s best for you and have the years of know-how backing up their recommendation. That being said, if you have a nosy aunt or member of the bridal party who wants to insert themselves into the planning action, kindly remind them that this is your vision and you’ve thought everything through!

Be mindful of how much inspiration you’re consuming as well. There are hundreds of thousands of amazing wedding ideas out there and trying to absorb it all is going to just plain drive you mad. Trust your vision, instincts and creative energies of your design team, and don’t look back once decisions are made along the way because you will only end up in a rabbit hole until absolutely nothing makes you excited anymore.

woodsy wedding ceremony witha  greenery and seasonal flower arch and couple kiss
Photo by Brian D Smith Photography with planning + design by Willow & Oak // full gallery + vendor team here

2. Not hiring vendors you trust

Working with a team that you trust wholeheartedly is key. If along the way, you begin to doubt them or have frustrations with communication, it’s only going to put a damper on the planning experience. Ultimately, you’ll find yourself stressed, disappointed and overworked – which is the polar opposite of how you should feel during this time! Look for red flags in the beginning with each vendor you think about bringing on board, and listen to your gut. It’s going to tell you everything you need to know.

3. Following traditions blindly

There is absolutely no reason you need to wear white on your wedding day. Or process to the Bridal March. Or toss the bouquet…. The list goes on. If  a tradition feels  forced or you’re only doing it because your cousin had it at her wedding or you saw it on a planning checklist, save yourself the regret and focus only on including those traditions that have a genuine place in your heart. And if you want to begin a tradition that’s unique to your family or relationship, do it! Your wedding is a reflection and celebration of you (and only you).

lilly pond bridal portrait with a semi-sheer embellished bridal gown with long sleeves and a garden bouquet
Photo by Julie Livingston and styling by Willow & Oak Events // full gallery + vendor team here

4. Creating a jam-packed timeline

Word of the day: Breathe. Allow for buffer room! Because a jam-packed timeline will not only leave you and your guests feeling exhausted, it might put you in a pickle should anything run behind. If hair + makeup ends up taking a few minutes longer than anticipated for instance, you could wind up beginning the ceremony late at the expense of your guests’ comfort, not to mention having to likely shorten the cocktail hour to accommodate the dinner timings. Work with your planner directly on where in the schedule to pad time, and beyond timing, remember that less is more. You don’t want your wedding to feel like a marathon with an exhausting sequence of events for your guests to attend on the day. A five hour reception is usually the sweet spot.

5. Not Making a Plan B

We always suggest that couples be as ecstatic about their rain backup plan as they are about Plan A, so consider this when you’re vetting venues. Be sure to see exactly where the contingency plan would take place and visualize how that might look for you. Planning a wedding without a rain backup is just asking for trouble. Many times, couples assume it just won’t happen to them, and they are hesitant to put down a deposit on something they may not use. But in our experience, the peace of mind is worth far more than these retainers – and you’ll thank yourself profusely to have a Plan B should the need arise on the day .

English manor house wedding ceremony in a sunken garden with oversized floral urns
Photo by Julie Livingston and styling by Willow & Oak Events // full gallery + vendor team here

6.Assuming private estate weddings come with all the fixin’s

Tent or marquee weddings at private estates can mean a beautiful blank canvas for something 100% unique to you, and we sure do love them! But private estate weddings do come with a unique set of challenges that you might not ever consider. Ultimately, you cannot assume that the same allocated budget that might work at one venue will transfer over equally to another – especially one that requires custom builds like private estates! You will have far more logistical concerns in the latter scenario, such as renting lighting, temperature control, restroom trailers, generators and in some cases additional kitchen facilities. These costs do add up quickly, so it’s important to be mindful that while private estate weddings can be breathtakingly gorgeous, you will definitely want a team that has your back on the production front.

concrete texture wedding cake with a lilac silk runner
Photo by The Happy Bloom and styling by Willow & Oak Events // full gallery + vendor team here

7. Skipping cinematography

If there’s one element of the wedding day you forgo, don’t let it be videography! These artistic films have a unique way of capturing your most treasured moments that you’ll want to look back on through the years. Being able to watch that dip he gave you during the first dance or the way he teared up when you walked down the aisle, in action, is simply indescribable. And it’s something you may not even realize is important to you until it’s too late. Even being present for every moment on the wedding day, it will go by in a flash, so this is one area we’d always recommend making an investment.  

8. Giving tasks to your loved ones on the day

As much as your parents and friends are there to support you, and might even offer to do some manual labor on the day, resist the urge! These tasks can be painstaking for someone who is not seasoned and will likely take longer than you think to accomplish. Not only does it put your timeline at risk, their comfort should be a top priority. After all, no one can be in full celebration mode when they have a list of to-do’s on the horizon. We implore you to give all your loved ones, especially your VIPs, a chance to enjoy your wedding day to the fullest. It’s going to result in heartfelt moments you’ll remember forever.

aquamarine engagement ring with gold coral flanking
Photo by Anneli Marinovich and styling by Willow & Oak Events // full gallery + vendor team here

9. Keeping your head in the clouds

We always want to know what our couples’ “sky is the limit” wedding day looks like from the moment they wake up to the sendoff that night, but there’s a difference in trying to understand what those key priorities are for each person and getting your heart set on ideas that your venue, budget or other cannot accommodate. The very first thing you should determine is your budget – from there, tackle the guest list + the venue and the rest of the planning decisions will follow. There’s simply no good that comes from planning and designing without considering these things, as they will drive the very options that are possible. So staying connected to reality and recognizing what’s most important to you while trusting your vendors to stretch your vision in every way they can is crucial to having a wedding that you’re excited about and remember fondly.

10. Forgoing wedding insurance

Too many couples assume this doesn’t apply to them. But when push comes to shove, you’ll be thankful that you have it! In all honesty, there are so many external factors that can have a negative impact on your wedding day – be it an Act of God, illness in the immediate family or beyond. The most important thing is to ensure you are protected if say, a hurricane uproots all your wedding plans and you need to postpone. Your wedding vendors will do everything they can to have compassion and work with you, but sometimes there are hard costs that cannot be refunded (i.e. flowers and ingredients), so this is where insurance comes in. There are all sorts of companies that offer general liability insurance policies (and many venues these days require it), and you can find policies offering up to $1 mil of coverage for between $200-500. So be sure to do your homework and book a policy that gives you peace of mind should the unthinkable happen.

vintage Europan arm chairs for a wedding tablescape in a garden
Photo by Julie Livingston and styling by Willow & Oak Events // full gallery + vendor team here

11. Forgetting the comfort + experience of your guests

Design is important, yes. But design that hinders experience is silly. While not every design detail has to offer a crucial function, it’s important that you consider the comfort of your guests every step of the way. Think about the tablescape for starters – are the chairs you’ve selected going to be cozy enough for the 2-2.5 hours they’ll be sitting at the table? Do your place settings feel natural or do they just feel busy? What about the outdoor ceremony in November… could you offer hot cocoa as they arrive or pashminas for the ladies to guard themselves against the chill? These are the questions to ask yourself every step of the way!

12. Keeping your guests in the dark

Part of this experience is communication before the day, don’t forget! So be sure to provide them with ample information beyond the schedule of events, i.e. transportation schedule, meeting points, special attire considerations if the wedding is outside… Always err on the side of overcommunicating or you will inevitably have guests texting you during the wedding weekend with these questions or getting left behind because they assumed the bus pickup would be at the porte cachere when it was at the side of the hotel.

calligraphed wedding invitations with a brass wax seal
Photo by Julie Livingston and styling by Willow & Oak Events // full gallery + vendor team here

13. Not getting everything in writing

A paper trail is good, but contracts are the holy grail. Make sure that you carefully review each line of a vendor contract before you sign the dotted line. These can be tedious, we know! But oftentimes, your contact within an organization might change one or two times as you go along, so the catering manager you have on the day might be the person you started with who promised you x,y, z but never wrote it down. For food + beverage agreements particularly, be sure they articulate specifics like staffing, alcohol varieties + brands, the specific food/courses that are included, as well as additional costs and upgrade options (spell these out!).

14. Opening up the floor on the wedding night to speeches

We love toasts + speeches as much as the next person! But we’ve all been too a wedding where the speeches went wayyyyy too long and killed the whole mood. It’s best to save an open mic night for something like the welcome party or rehearsal dinner, if you have to have one at all, and keep the list for the reception to a minimum. Typically, we’ll see the father of the bride prepare a welcome toast, then the maid of honor, best man and groom give speeches later on in the night. If you can keep these speeches short + sweet, about 5-7 minutes each, you’ve done yourselves a huge favor for the party to follow!

sage green groom suit and apricot silk wedding dress couple portraits in fall
Photo by Brian D Smith Photography with planning + design by Willow & Oak // full gallery + vendor team here

We hope you’ve found these tips helpful on your planning journey! For more insider knowledge, check out our posts about how you can infuse the local culture into your wedding day and balancing your full-time career with wedding planning next.

Til we meet again…

Xx,
Haley

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