A Guy’s Guide To Planning A Wedding
I knew from the start that I wanted to be heavily involved in bringing our wedding to life – especially with regards to putting our stamp on it. The trouble with weddings in hotels is they all end up feeling the same. Not unique. Not personalised. Not a true representation of the couple getting married. Just a cookie-cutter day like all the others.
I guess the thing that influenced out wedding the most was something that started over a decade ago when I met my wife Kate: Travel. We’ve been to amazing places together which without each other’s influence we may never have done so this was always going to be part of our day – exhibited in the center-pieces, wedding favours, table plan etc.
You’ll no doubt find your wedding theme influenced by something that is important to both of you – whether it be based around a certain movie genre (such as Disney), a certain decade in history, a season of the year, or whatever makes you tick as a couple.
This article outlines a bunch of ideas I had that helped make the day more ‘us’ in an effort to help inspire you and your big day. This is by no means a complete wedding ‘To Do (before “I Do”)’ list, but more of a collection of ideas for the Groom to help take some of the pressure of the bride (whilst also trying to avoid a sickly ‘girly’ wedding!)
Gift For Wife (Difficulty Level: 3/5)
This one was easy – in fact, I’d already had this idea several years ago. We had already picked out our first dance song when I discovered the band ‘HeIsWe’ four or five years ago (if you listen to the song, you’ll see why it is perfect as a first dance) and decided to choreograph a routine for it. This moment in the wedding was already special to us so what’s a better gift than having a reminder of that hanging in our living room?
I managed to source the sheet music for this song and with the help of Andy (my Sister’s fiancé) and her, we managed to turn 8 sheets of music into one elongated page. This would have been almost impossible without the graphic artist and music reading talents of these two but I would have settled for framing all 8 sheets in a block. This single sheet was blown up at a printing store to match the size of the frame I’d picked out and I finished it by writing a line from the song over the top of the music with a sharpie. Lastly, I added a quote that I serendipitously found on the back: “Marriage is like music. Some high notes, some low notes, but always a beautiful song”.
Center-pieces (Difficulty Level: 1/5)
Flowers as center-pieces is so boring. We wanted our guests to be entertained even in the lulls of the day whilst learning that little bit more about the couple whose wedding they’re witnessing.
A while back we noticed LEGO were starting to produce a series called ‘Architecture’ – models of landmarks from around the world. Perfect! We love LEGO (who doesn’t) and they have monuments from a bunch of places we’ve been to together. They aren’t cheap, but over the course of the year leading up to the wedding we bought the Eiffel Tower, New York skyline, Trevvi Fountain, a half pipe (to signify the snowboarding trips we’ve taken, Big Ben, an underwater dive scene (to illustrate our trip to the Great Barrier Reef and lastly, ‘le piéce de résistance’ a LEGO camper van Kate had bought me the previous Christmas as a nod to our surfing trips to Newquay.
For each of these, we wrote a little anecdote about the trip for a more personal touch on the back of a photo which went down very well. Each story highlighted a moment that was a turning point in the relationship or entering a certain stage which ultimately tied in with the wedding.
Personalised Converse Shoes (Difficulty Level: 1/5)
A friend of mine owned a pair of Converse sneakers with his nickname on the back and I suggested to Kate one day that we get personalised footwear for the evening so we can dance the night away in comfier shoes. It turned out that Converse has stopped doing customisations (in the UK at least) so after hunting around, we found Custom Converse who were very good and turned them around pretty quickly.
We decided to get hi-top Converse 2’s (very comfortable) with strips on the back with Mr/Mrs Eliason on one foot and the date of our wedding on the other. These would serve us well on honeymoon!
Customised Beers (Difficulty Level: 4/5)
My entourage of best men (two of them) and ushers were a big part of the day. These were friends I’ve known years (one of which I’ve known my entire life) who I’ve shared many a story and beer with, so what better way than gifting some commemorative beers to mark the culmination of this story?
I shopped around online for specialists who do custom beers but they we’re either too expensive or quite limited in the customisations so, thinking it would be easy I just decided to do it myself. I modelled the label on one of my favourite beers at the moment, Punk IPA by Brewdog and created a logo in the Brewdog colour scheme. Using Photoshop I removed the main logo and replaced my own (easier said than done!)
I bought a couple of cases of BrewDog on Amazon as well as some pop-out beer carriers. I soaked the bottles overnight in soapy water and peeled off the labels. Meanwhile I printed my labels on standard printer labels (sizing and aligning them was a little fiddly) and after drying the bottles, stuck the new labels on and put them in the cardboard carriers – job done! They looked great and the boys loved ’em!
Chalk Boards (Difficulty Level: 2/5)
Personalised chalk boards are nothing new (a quick search on Pinterest reveals many ideas) and we chose several that continued to help entertain and encourage guests that were dotted around the venue (inspiration here). Don’t underestimate how long these take!
Grab some A3 boards and chalk board pens (more sustaining than actual chalks) and get your artistic friends to pitch in when you have an idea of what you want to create. We had boards around the bar, dance floor, guest book, and other key areas.
Wedding Programme/Order of Service (Difficulty Level: 5/5)
This was one of the hardest things to co-ordinate and I even got a graphic designer to help (although there are cheaper alternatives on Etsy and similar sites). Typically the Order of Service contains the timings of the actual Marriage Ceremony itself as well as hymn lyrics and speakers. We took ours one step further to give details on the wedding party members, a welcome note, full day logistics and other little details to help people get the most from the day.
This went down really well and we got lots of comments on them and how different they were to the classic (boring) Order of Service cards you typically get. It was another way we could let our creative flair show on the day and for us it is a great souvenir.
WedPics (Difficulty Level: 1/5)
While many people are starting to ban guests taking photos on their phone and uploading them to social media (I’ve never really understood this), we were keen to get as many ‘behind the scenes’ and ‘real life’ photos of the day as possible – you can never have too many good memories. We had a great photographer who did an amazing job but he really can’t be everywhere at once, and it is those stories unfolding around the peripheries that we were keen to capture so everyone could share the day from their own viewpoint.
To encourage everyone to share their photos in one place, so everyone could see everyone else’s, we used a useful free app called WedPics which I highly recommend. Its like a Facebook feed that solely concentrates on your day and allows anyone to download their favourite photos. We set up an account a week or two before the day and sent ‘invites’ for people to join – that way we could get photos of the ‘getting ready’ part too.
We ended up with around 700 extra photos from the day and it meant people could look back on the day even before we’d received our photo album from the photographer.
Best Man Gift/s (Difficulty Level: 1/5)
Most best men will be heavily involved in various stages leading up to the day – not to mention planning their speech. You want to show them that this effort is not overlooked but also how much they mean to you so gifting is customary.
As well as the custom beers, I used Esty and Not-on-the-High-Street to inspire a couple of other customised gift ideas. In the end I opted for a personalised wooden hanger for their suits, a couple of “Dutch Courage” glasses (a nod to the impending big speech) with a little story on the back, and of course the classic Best Man socks to wear on the day!
Church Music (Kate’s Song)
I’ve mentioned several Wedding day things that I had thought about long before I’d even proposed. Another one is that ever since seeing my sister play guitar and sing at a local pub I knew I wanted her to play at the wedding in some capacity. For a long time it was doubtful whether logistically it would be possible but in the end, the church allowed us to set up a PA system at the front and use Lana instead of a CD while we’re signing the register.
I had so many positive comments about her I do wonder if the rest of the day was overshadowed in comparison ;-). She knocked it out of the park and we were able to have a sneek peak from behind the stage while waiting. The songs she played was perfect and while her stage time was limited she played an Anberlin song (my favourite band), When I Say I Do by Matthew West which reduced Kate to tears the first time we heard it and a couple of crowd-pleasers.
The groom has a number of “must do” jobs too, in addition to the above…
- Outlining and communicating duties for the Best man & ushers to make the day run smoothly
- Planning the honeymoon
- Helping plan the Stag Do (if necessary)
- Renting (or buying) matching suits for the whole party – you should pick out and get measured around 8 weeks before the day
- Sorting out the table plan (especially if you have people who might not get along!)
- Your speech (obviously) – Five to ten minutes thanking everyone, praising your bride and bridesmaids and throwing in a few jokes is customary
- Thank you’s – Often overlooked but always well received, make sure you thank your guests for travelling and joining you for your day. We took photos with a ‘thank you’ sign on our honeymoon (and where possible, showed how any monetary gifts were spent – to show them we really appreciate it)
I hope you enjoyed this and found it inspiring/helpful. I’d love to hear what you’ve got planned for your big day! Drop me a comment or question…