What people don’t tell you about planning a wedding


With the perspective that only time can grant I would like to offer a few observations that are not generally discussed while wedding planning.

  1. How comfortable you become telling loved ones to ‘F’ off

Wedding planning can be a stressful time. As with most major life events, everyone has an opinion on what the wedding should be like and for some reason the most uninformed hold their opinion the strongest. However one positive I really gained from the experience was how comfortable I became with telling my nearest and dearest to just shove it where the sun don’t shine, regardless of what ‘it’ was. As time went on I derived more joy than I really should have from saying it to people. I very quickly learned that the only opinions that mattered were mine and my partners, so I learned to smile, nod, and file the advice in the trash can. This has stood to me well in life following the wedding too.

  1. How everyone has a surprisingly strong opinion on price and priorities

This piece of advice comes from a friend’s experience, but please do not let anyone tell you what you should pay for any part of your wedding. A wedding dress for instance can be a simple white dress from Penneys for e7 or a designer dress costing e100ks, with every other dress being somewhere in between. Much like house prices, the cost of dresses are dictated by what the materials they are made from and the market rate. You deserve a beautiful dress and so long as it is within budget, if you find one that you like (that does not look like it came from Big Fat Gypsy Weddings) then tell everyone else to eff off and buy it for yourself. That goes for everything else as well. Different things are more important to different people. Kate Moss rearranged her whole wedding to get the photographer she wanted – pictures being more important than a date to a professional model. I spent hours on stationary, because I love paper and it was important to me, while a friend spend 20 minutes following the design wizard and ordered everything on Vistaprint, while another got Daintree to do everything from picking the colours to sealing the envelopes. Each to their own.


  1. How some suppliers are under the impression that they will stay in business long term even if they constantly tell clients their requirements are not possible

Laugh at anyone who says you can’t have what you want in your timeframe – time equals money and in such a competitive industry there will always be someone to supply exactly what you want, when you want it, while wearing a smile and offering you champagne as they do. Please bear this in mind when confronted by a supplier that gets the impression that you need them more than they need you.

  1. How sometimes tolerating insulting dress shop assistance is worth it to try on *those* dresses

There are literally hundreds of wedding dress shops out there, but unfortunately a lot of them stock very similar merchandise. If you are looking for something a little bit different, I suggest that you try some of the specialist vintage stores. Even if you do not ultimately want to wear a vintage dress on your big day, these shops can be very inspiring, as they give you an opportunity to try styles which are out of fashion at the moment, but are extremely flattering to your figure. But, be warned, in true vintage stores, everything is designed for the very young bride (it being the fashion in bygone times to marry at 18) so everything is on the small side, and the women who own these shops are usually in dire need of a customer-service course, so be prepared for some old biddy to comment on your thick waist or engorged boobs, while manhandling your body like she is stacking recalcitrant oranges.

  1. How some suppliers forget it’s your wedding that is being planned and not theirs

Once we were engaged my partner and I wandered around wedding venues like two unschooled toddlers, picking up shiny things and generally not having clue what we wanted or why. On our first outing with a hotel wedding coordinator, she asked us what was the theme of our wedding. My partner took a moment and replied quite bluntly ‘I thought wedding was the theme’. In response he received her best withering stare (she must work on that at home with a mirror), then turned to me and suggested that we go home until we were going to take this a little more seriously.

I won’t lie, we went home a little shame faced and dejected, and sat down to concoct some suitable answer to this ridiculous question. We spent several horrifying months trapped in similar situations. At the start of the weekend we would be excited and giddy about planning the wedding, by the end of the weekend we would be huddled on our couch, drinking to forget the horrors “..you enter here, cross the petal lined floor, either side of the live swans, not too close because they bite..”, blocking out images of brides unable to move without a swarm of bridesmaids, and people asking What Would Martha Steward Do?

  1. How difficult it can be to find an ready-to-wear dress that is a little off the beaten track

Dress shopping was a real eye-opener for me. When I started I was pretty confident I knew what I wanted and what would suit me. I was horrified by some of the “items” my chief bridesmaid convinced me to try on, in terms of style, quality, price and how big my a*se looked in them, but was then pleasantly surprised by others I thought I would hate (my dream dress turning out to be a diamondee encrusted meringue that could have got us on a reality TV show). In general, however, I felt that most of the dresses I tried on looked the same; floor-length meringues. I had palpitations every time I was shoved into one of them. I felt constrained and claustrophobic. I was helped out of the dressing room by dumpy middle-aged woman, muscles bulging under the weight of the petticoats and boning, and directed to a plinth upon which I was put on show to everyone in the shop, who gathered around and assessed me (not necessarily flatteringly). While they twittered away, I stood looking at my reflection thinking how impractical the dress seemed to me. How would I dance, or sit, or eat, or walk, or use the bathroom? When I voiced these fears aloud everyone in the shop smiled a little knowing, patronizing smile and said “but you look like a princess, dear, you don’t need those other things.” Ermmm …. I think my bladder would disagree! I soon made up my mind that I was having a short dress- even if I have to make it myself from toilet paper (thankfully I found the excellent dressmaker Sarah Foy, so that wasn’t necessary).

About Cathy Clarke

Cathy lives with her husband, offspring and so many animals that her household often feels like a small petting zoo. She is one half of the team behind AHomeMadeByCommittee.com (an Irish Lifestyle blog) where she discusses motherhood, weddings, DIY, GIY, and everything in between. And she is one third of the team behind IrishWritersPodcast.com, a podcast which discusses topics interesting to writers. Follow her on twitter at @CathyCClarke.
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