Contrary to popular belief, wedding planning doesn't need to be a stressful or overwhelming experience. There are lots of useful articles and online tools out there to help you track your progress, but ticking things off a checklist doesn't really mean you have a strategy!
So here are a few things I've learnt that I hope will help you in some small way.
1) Invole your hubby-to-be
Remember that it is his wedding too, so you two should have an equal say in things (unless his are truly silly ideas, in which case you refer to #2 below).
2) Smile and nod
Image credit: http://www.keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk
As soon as you announce you're getting married, you'll find that everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, is going to give you (well-intentioned) advice. Ok, I realise technically I'm giving you advice here... but trust me on this one if nothing else. It will save a few tears and a few hairs that you need for that pretty up-do.
3) Have a coherent theme
Themes are so often overlooked. Planning a wedding is like putting a jigsaw puzzle together - you need to know what the picture is going to be right from the start. No pressure here, but as soon as your Save The Date arrives in your guest's inbox, you're setting a scene and to some extent, an expectation.
A theme can be as specific or generic as you want. A colour palette, a font, a common interest between you and your Mr Right, a memory, anything. It's great if you've already got everything figured out, but it's also ok if your ideas keep evolving! Try to make sure that at least some elements are carried through from day one to the big day itself.
4) Rules are there to be broken
Who says you need to wear a white dress? Or have something old/new/borrowed/blue? Or equal numbers of bridesmaids and groomsmen? Or a cake, first dance, bouquet toss...? Your wedding should be uniquely you, and you shouldn't be bullied into doing something you don't want to.
Since I didn't want a wedding (the non-elopement ones), I was determined to break all wedding rules in protest. So apart from the white dress (which, wait for it... I bought second hand *gasp*), I didn't do any of the above. We had 3 bridesmaids and 2 groomsmen (I think odd numbers make better photos anyway). Instead of a first dance, we did a Team Lil vs Team Jim boat race (the beer drinking version). And we skipped the whole cake cutting thing entirely because I couldn't be bothered to bake in the end.
5) Always have a Plan B
Especially when it comes to the lovely English weather. Pick a venue that has an indoor contingency plan for cocktail hour. Prepare a bridal emergency kit (mine had a sewing kit, plasters, safety pins, bobby pins, etc). Have a music playlist on your phone in case your DJ is late or doesn't show up.
That said, things will still go wrong on the day but likelihood is only you will notice, so just go with the flow!
Happy wedding planning!
Photography: Adam Johnson at ARJ Photography