A Handful of Wedding Planning Tips [Part 1]

A Handful of Wedding Planning Tips [Part 1]

A brief introduction

You may know me as Just Tom, Amanda’s Husband, Amanda’s Assistant, or just ‘that random wedding guest [which no-one remembers inviting]’. Or even more likely, you may not know me at all.

Over the years, we [Amanda and I] have both heard a similar sentiment resonating from her clients, which is that the initial ‘Yes’ was, with hindsight the easy part, and all the subsequent wedding planning was far harder than ever expected.

Now, as some of you know. I [Tom] tend to buck the trend in most instances either intentionally or not and our own wedding was no exception. Because I pretty much planned the entire day [with the exception of dress and photographer]. And before someone tries to interject; no, the day was not a complete disaster.

Because of this, Amanda asked me, begged me, or maybe bribed me with chocolate to note down my thoughts / experiences about that time long ago, when I was ‘elbow deep in wedding planning shenanigans’.

The Big Take Away [to save you reading the rest]. There are very few things that are really worth losing sleep over. No, seriously. At the end of the day; you; your partner and some witnesses are all that is needed! The rest is just matrimonial fluff [well, with the exception of a photographer obvs].

I for example should have never invested two weeks of my free time looking for that perfect ‘laser cut, tiffany blue cupcake case’. Neither should I have lost sleep over initially only being able to find ‘warm duck egg’ cupcake cases. Nor should I have found myself arguing with people that had the audacity to suggest ‘just using teal’. AND finally, once I had found said perfect light medium robin egg blue laser cut, lace cupcake case should have even considered £7 per case would a ‘reasonable expense’. And that is what started Amanda calling me ‘Mr Groomzilla’.

But lets move on with what I found to be important items, and relatively ‘quick wins’* when planning a wedding.

The Important Items

  • A Budget
  • Set a Date
  • Book a Venue & Registrar
  • Create a Guest List
  • Consider Save the Dates [useful for wedding date over a year away

A heads up: I like playing a little management BS bingo with blogging. So be warned.

A Budget

I am writing this based upon the assumption that you [the reader] fall inline with vast majority of wedding couples’ i.e.  you will have to have, or need a budget. If you do not, then please contact Amanda for some special photography rates; or contact me and I will plan your entire wedding.

Budgeting for a wedding, is very much like building a house it appears; although to clarify I have never built a house. BUT I have watched far too much Grand Designs for my own sanity. Based upon our wedding planning, I would suggest that you have a crack at some hard math; and answer the following:

  • Question 1: Write down the figure to answer: how much money do we want to spend on our wedding day?
  • Question 2: Write down the figure to answer: how much money can we spend on wedding day without having to honeymoon in the back-garden [not a euphemism]?

Now, unless you are ‘in the know’ or retrospectively making a budget to fulfil what you have already spent (which is cheating). Then you will likely spend a figure in between Figure 1 & 2. Amanda and I never really considered how much we wanted to spend; I recommend you have a think about it.

But anyway, I digress. For those of you who thought tl;dr: Just consider the following

  • Talk about the budget with each other, it shouldn’t be a secret.
  • Know how much you are planning to spend AND
  • Make a proper effort to break it down by item,
  • Do NOT just look at the big item spends, a few smaller items can quickly dent the budget.

FYI: TL;DR; – “Too long; didn’t read”.

Setting The Date

When it comes to wedding planning, ‘setting the date’ is a very important milestone, and to be honest everything flows a little easier when the date is secured pretty early on.

  • Primarily as it is pretty difficult to book anything if you do not know when you require it.
  • Secondly as your guests will likely prefer knowing an actual date to save, rather than an entire month or nonchalant ‘season & year’ combo.

Securing a date will also assist with focusing your venue options. For example, Amanda and I were wed in a January and I can assure you that at no point did we consider a festival themed wedding.

Should you be wondering, what we tend to see is couples taking around 12-18 months to plan their wedding, thus:

  • Allowing them to save / fund their shindig
  • To give them enough time to organise the particulars
  • To increase the odds on their guests being available


The ‘Takeaway Points’

  • Most newly engaged couples we talk to expect to take between 12-18 months planning their wedding
  • Some popular venues combined with a bank holiday weekend may be secured further than 18 months into the future!
    • We tend to see a dwell in the planning between the initial date and venue being secured and the remaining items
  • Without a date, its hard to book anything else for your wedding..
  • Setting the date early increases the odds of guests not already having plans / holidays booked etc
  • Save The Dates are a great way to indicate to guests they will receive an invite at a later date; and that they should keep the date ‘free’. Without having to rush and send your invites out 12 months prior to the wedding.
    • Our Save The Dates went out once we had a guest list and a date.
    • Our Invites were posted 6 months before the ‘date of impending nuptials’
Amanda Forman Photography - Wedding Planning - Save The Dates
The Guest List

Realistically you can do one of two things when it comes to the Guest List

  1. Elope; only invite a handful of people; annoy a lot of close friends and family; BUT save having to feed people; listen to people; and manoeuvre around the minefield that is the ‘family dynamic’.
  2. Dont.

Presuming that Option 1 is only called an ‘option’ for the sake of irony; then I will let you into a little secret that I discovered when writing our list of free loaders [or close-friends and family as my wife calls it].

Writing a guest list does not have to be a stressful nightmare with heated arguments with your loved one; about if ‘that always overly inebriated friend’ should be invited or not [its ok, we all have one]. A good starting point would be:

  1. Initially write down everyone who, in an ideal world, you would want at your wedding.
  2. Now work out which of these potential guests require a ‘plus one’
  3. Find out how many your venue can sit for your Wedding Breakfast [also known as dinner on your wedding day].

If the total of Question 1 & 2 is larger than your answer for Question 3, then this leads you nicely onto the notion of wedding and evening quests. If however your venue can feed all of your guests; it may be worth finding out the answer to ‘what is the price per head for your wedding breakfast’.

Our Wedding Breakfast for reference was £60 per person; thus a guest plus their ‘random’ equated to 120 quid of food; plus drinks which we provided ourselves [Thanks Mum!]. 

One Guest List or a Day List and Evening Only list

There are pros and cons either way, however your hand may be forced if you are a popular person, know lot of people or have a large family; but have chosen a small cosy wedding venue.

The benefits include:

  • It gives guests who have day commitments the chance to be a part of your evening celebrations.
  • It allows you to invite everyone whilst keeping the Wedding Breakfast costs down
  • Allows you to invite all the people you want at your day; whilst keeping that cosy wedding venue


  • Be mindful not to alienate your evening guests. No one likes feeling unloved or second rate.
  • Consider segregating entire social groups to either the entire day or the evening; as that will limit the potential for squabbling.

Remember, contrary to what some people may tell you. Your wedding day is all about you, and people being their celebrating your love for each other [eurgh, I made myself feel sick then]. So if you close your eyes and imagine that in 10 years time you are looking through your wedding album; the people who you imagine are in there are those who you should consider inviting..


Amanda Forman Photography - Wedding Planning - Guests Partying
The Table Plan

A lot of couples dread the process of table plan, a family dynamic can be lots of things, but sometimes not conducive to prolonged close proximity to each other.

The dynamic of inter-friend relationships can also be a tricky path to tread; because after-all they are all there to see you, which doesn’t mean they like each other. And realistically, they’ll see a lot more of each other than you both on your wedding day.

I planned our table plan for all 98 guests in under 15 minutes, and although I approached it methodically, gave consideration to certain personality types and also tried to ensure no one was stranded on a table, solo.

My mindset was simple [one could say synergistic]; be considerate and relatively flexible, but at the end of the day. They are only there to see you, so If they are going to cause issues, they aren’t your friend and maybe not worth an invite.

Also remember that the majority of the costs you incur are to keep these guests happy; YES that is correct you are basically paying your guests to be there. After all, if we hadn’t have invited our guests, we wouldn’t have hired a Magician [Will Gray], a Band [BreakThrough], a Caricaturist [Tonys Toons]; or even the epic venue [Berkeley Castle].

Instead Amanda and I would have headed straight to the Maldives and got hitched in the sun.

Tabling Planning in a Nutshell

  • Do not spend days stressing about who can’t sit near who; remember they are only sitting there for a posh dinner! Not for the rest of their lives [all being well].
  • People deserving of being a guest will sit where they are told
Amanda Forman Photography - Wedding Planning - The Table Plan
To Summarise!

Planning a wedding is a massive task, the pressure to get it right is undeniably high. After all you don’t want to be the couple that hosted a crap wedding right?

Well, here is some truth for you reader. The people that would bitch and moan about your day do not deserve a place on your guest list.; and most certainly do not deserve the additional cost to feed them. #truth

Finally; after reading this epic post you may have saved enough money to book an awesome wedding photographer! But failing that, I would recommend you look at Amanda’s Portfolio. She is annoyingly talented [for the record]. And If you read that, then it proves Amanda doesn’t proof my posts! #mwahaha

Potential Future Topics

If I am ever allowed to blog on here again, then the next instalment of ‘A Handful of Wedding Planning Tips’ will hopefully include the topics:

  1. A Photographer – A Guide to Looking Pensive.
  2. The Wedding Breakfast – To Give Guests a Choice OR to Force Feed Them Chicken [Vegetarians Beware]
  3. Etiquette / ‘Schzmequette’ -Breaking From Tradition & Having Some Fun!
  4. Groomsmen – The Suits, The Responsibilities & The Faux Pas


How to prepare for your pre wedding shoot

How to prepare for your pre wedding shoot

Deciding what to wear and how to prepare for your pre wedding shoot can often be more stressful than the shoot itself.

Unless of course you have a cheeky little prep post like this one to help you along that is.

Your session will either take place at sunrise or sunset (preferably) so we can get some of that gorgeous golden light. It will last for up to 90 minutes which should give us time for at least two outfit changes.

My best suggestion for your outfit options is to keep them simple. You don’t want too many patterns and try to avoid clothing that has logos as these can date the image in years to come.

The outfits below would be perfect for a slightly cooler evening for your more casual outfit.

What to wear for your engagement session
What to wear for your engagement session

It is always nice to include a more dressy outfit as well. Try and think of it as an outfit you would wear for date night. Consider adding a little colour in to your outfit here as this is likely to be the one we change you in to when the sunset hits.

What to wear for your engagement session
What to wear for your engagement session

In advance of your pre wedding photo session

These are my top 10 tips for preparing for your pre wedding photo session.

  1. Drink more water
  2. Avoid the sun – tan lines and sunburn don’t make for great photos. If you really must be in the sun be aware of which outfits you will be wearing and try and avoid tan lines where possible
  3. Begin your skincare regimen – this will set you up for the wedding as well. Wash your face nightly, exfoliate every other day  and be sure to moisturise
  4. Get a manicure – everyone feels better with a manicure I am almost certain this should be a scientific fact!
  5. Gather and organise yours and your fiance’s outfits – make sure they are pressed and clean and that your colours don’t clash. Think about where we will be going for your shoot – if we are mainly going to be out in the countryside are those shoes really appropriate 😉
  6. Touch up your roots – if you dye your hair be sure to get this touched up before your photo shoot – the week before is ideal and get a trim whilst you are there
  7. Men – shave the day of and make sure your skin is moisturised
  8. If you have a makeup artist for your wedding day this would be the perfect day to book in for your makeup trial so plan it in if you can
  9. Get your beauty sleep
  10. Arrive on time

Pre wedding photo shoots can be booked at a cost of only £250 including your digital images for anyone who has booked their wedding day with me. And even better, if you have a dog and want them to be involved – they can come along too!



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A Winter Wedding Checklist

A Winter Wedding Checklist

Winter weddings can be magical, filled with warmth, rich colours, roaring log fires, and if you’re lucky… a sprinkling of snow! But of course with the cold weather comes a whole host of things that you will need to think about when planning your winter wedding. I have put together a little checklist to get you started. Number 5 is one of the most important!


1. Keep warm
Perhaps the most obvious one, but something to be considered when choosing your dress
and accessories. If you are having a winter wedding there are so many options for you to
keep warm. You could opt for a pashmina, a fur stole, a cape, you could even have a little
detachable top for your dress made in the same material.

Don’t forget the bridesmaids – they will need to keep warm too. They don’t need to match
you but a shawl in a similar colour either to their dresses or your shawl would work


Amanda Forman Photography | Winter Wedding Check List
Amanda Forman Photography | Winter Wedding Check List
Amanda Forman Photography | Winter Wedding Check List

2. What if it rains?

If it rains, it rains. It is England after all so there isn’t a lot we can do about the weather, but
we can put things in place to make the best of it. When choosing your venue for your winter
wedding be sure to take in to account the fact that if it is persisting it down you will likely
need to have many of your photos taken indoors so make sure you choose somewhere with
beautifully designed interiors. Remember if you have your heart set on a Tipi wedding many
will stop catering for weddings around September time.

Buy umbrellas – I actually have some of my own which I will bring to weddings with me for a
rain shot in the evening but it is always good to have one or two to hand, make sure they are
white though. If you have a coloured umbrella the colour from the umbrella will bounce on
to your skin giving it a strange colour tone and if you have a black umbrella it will suck up all
of the light. With a white umbrella light will be reflected back in to your face which is
beautiful for photographs.

3. Think about the light
When you are planning a winter wedding you need to take in to consideration the time the
sun will be setting. An earlier ceremony is always better as it means we have time to capture
your family formals and portraits of the two of you before you go in for your wedding
breakfast. It also means we can still bring you back out for a few more photos at sunset.


Amanda Forman Photography | Winter Wedding Check List
Amanda Forman Photography | Winter Wedding Check List

4. Change up your welcome drinks
In the summer you have champagne, prosecco and Pimms, well if you are having a winter
wedding why not switch to winter pimms. Don’t get caught out like we did though and buy
30 bottles of the wrong type, there is actually a specific type of Pimms for winter pimms.
You could also opt for mulled wine or mulled fruit juice for the children.

5. Think footwear
You don’t want to have spent a fortune on your gorgeous new shoes only to walk outside
and get the heels stuck all the way down in the mud straight away. Check out these babies
perfect for stopping your heels sinking.

If you know your white/ivory shoes will likely be taking a walk over some muddy surfaces
why not opt for a coloured pair instead? Or if you buy your shoes from Rainbow club you can
get them coloured for free after the wedding, #perfect!

Worst case – we can always put a sheet down to protect your feet 🙂

Amanda Forman Photography | Winter Wedding Check List
Amanda Forman Photography | Winter Wedding Check List

6. Festive flowers
Your florist will be able to advise you when it comes to the best flowers to incorporate in to your day depending on what is in season. If you want to bring a bit of festivity in to your bouquet then berries and rustic manzanitas are perfect! as well as pine cones and pale green foliage. Or you could opt for rich and vibrant colours such as purples and reds for a dramatic winter bouquet.

If you want a few more tips on choosing your wedding flowers check out this blog post all about choosing your wedding flowers



The Importance of a wedding band

The Importance of a wedding band

If I could offer one piece of advice to future brides and grooms it would be that should your budget allow, to have a wedding band at your special day!


There are of course several things to consider when choosing the music that will play at your wedding. What sort of music suits your taste, what will get everyone dancing, what space do you have at your venue, what is your budget. One thing is for sure that be it a DJ or a wedding band, getting these things right can make or break a wedding celebration.

Vibe: The type of music you choose should reflect you as a couple. Regardless of if you have a band or a DJ. Will you have a blues band, swinging 60’s. rock or funk. A one piece or an 8 piece big band set up.

Most bands will have a large set list and you can generally choose 2-3 sets. Some even offer to learn your first dance song if that is something you want them to do.

Budget: This is something you need to consider and it will go hand in hand with the size of the band you choose. Will you have the band for the evening only or will you want music during your wedding breakfast and drinks reception. It goes without saying that a band will cost more than a DJ and I am not saying that you can’t have a good party with a DJ you just need to make sure you have a good one. One that has a good personality and knows how to get people up and dancing. In my experience, every wedding I have ever photographed that has had a band has had a full dancefloor and this makes for some amazing evening shots.

Do your research on the bands you are looking at in the same way you would with any of your wedding suppliers. Check if they offer music between sets and if you can listen to them live then even better. We didn’t originally budget enough for a band for our wedding but after months of searching we finally increased the budget and booked Breakthrough it was the best decision we could have made. We left our wedding party with one of the guests playing air guitar over the guitarist in the middle of the dancefloor.

Space: This is something that can often be forgotten. When choosing your band for your wedding you need to consider how much space you have in your function room. If you have a large room then a solo artist could get a little lost, equally if you have a small room then an 8 piece band may not be the right option for you.

Some bands that I have had the pleasure of working with and come highly recommended are;




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