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7 Things A Wedding Planner Wouldn’t Do At Her Own Wedding

If you’ve hired a wedding planner, there are some helpful bits of information you’re going to receive. You’ll be told to invest in a great photographer and to make sure there’s plenty of food for your guests, among many other pearls of wedding wisdom. But have you ever wondered what a wedding planner would do at her own wedding day and what she wouldn’t do?

In my years of planning and coordinating weddings, I learnt a few things which shaped the way I planned my own wedding.

Related: My Wedding

1. Set up her own decor on her wedding day

When it comes to wedding decor set up, there are two options:

  1. Set it all up the day/night before the wedding.
  2. Get someone else to set it up.

A wedding planner will know that the last thing you want to do on your wedding day is set up decor. If you have a particular vision for your decor, sketch it out or put together a mood board of photo inspiration, and get someone else to handle it for you.

Related: 10 Things You Should Avoid Doing On Your Wedding Day

2. Plan an outdoor ceremony during rainy season

If there is even a chance of rain, a wedding planner wouldn’t even think about hosting an outdoor ceremony. The stress of having to check the weather and arrange a last minute back up plan is not worth it.

Related: What To Do If It Rains On Your Wedding Day

3. Use her iPod instead of hiring a DJ

I am a huge believer in a good wedding DJ, because I know that there is so much more to the job than just playing music. You want someone reliable, who has a great sound system, lights, backup equipment, and the ability to take initiative. You want a DJ who’ll know when to stop playing Michael Buble and when to get the party started. An iPod simply won’t do the whole job.

Related: How To Effectively Open The Dancefloor // Advice From A DJ

4. Plan a wedding that only looks good

I’m all for pretty wedding trends, but a wedding planner won’t include anything in her wedding just so she can come across as trendy. Wedding planners know that the essence of a special wedding is in the stuff you can’t see in photos. A memorable wedding is one that makes guests say “Wow, I love these guys!”.

Related: How To Have A Fun Wedding

5. Become Bridezilla to get her own way

A wedding planner has dealt with many unreasonable brides and guests, and will know how to manage everyone effortlessly. A wedding planner knows which wedding etiquette rules are archaic and which ones simply help everyone to be on the same page.

Related: Wedding Etiquette Rules For The Modern Bride

6. Check the time

A wedding planner knows that it’s not the bride’s job to keep track of the time on her wedding day. That’s what wedding coordinators are for! Managing the timeline and making sure all the vendors are working together well is not something the bride should ever need to think of.

Related: How To Create A Wedding Timeline [Part One]

and How To Create A Wedding Timeline [Part Two]

7. Host a wedding that looks like everyone else’s

Wedding planners have seen every “original” wedding idea under the sun. The same wedding trends are seen in multiple weddings, and wedding planners know what makes people roll their eyes. A wedding planner will try to create a wedding that is uniquely hers (or his) and not try to mimic weddings seen on Pinterest.

Related: Why We Didn’t Have Flowers At Our Wedding [And How We Pulled It Off!]

How To Avoid Long, Boring Speeches At Your Wedding

I coordinated a wedding recently and had an experience I’ve never had before. It came to that time where guests were being ushered inside for speeches. Personally, I love wedding speeches and I love hearing about how loved the bride and groom really are. Well, one of the guests at this wedding was not excited about the wedding speeches. She came up to me and said “Are we being shuffled inside for speeches? They’re probably going to go on and on and on, so can I wait outside?”. I thought, “How rude!” and then realised that this lady has a good point. When the speeches go on and on and on, they can be really unbearable.

So, in today’s blog post I’d like to give you a few helpful tips to make the speeches part of your wedding something that everyone will love.


Rule #1: It’s all about how you ask

If you go up to your favourite uncle and say “Could you please make a speech at my wedding?” he’s probably going to prepare a speech that shares a lot of stories and special tidbits of information about you. If you had to say “Could you please make a toast at my wedding?” you’re looking at something short and sweet.

Rule #2: Be specific

To build on from Rule #1, you could say to your favourite uncle “Could you please make a toast to my parents at my wedding?”. Getting more specific gives each person a goal. If each person is tasked with toasting to someone in particular, you’ve got shorter speeches that are each full of something special that makes your close friends and family feel loved.

Rule #3: A time frame is your friend

I do this often and it sometimes works. It works often enough that it’s worth a try. Tell each person that they have two minutes to do their speech/toast. Two minutes will always become five, but that’s better than a five minute speech that becomes ten minutes, and so on.

Rule #4: Group them up

If you have four bridesmaids who each want to say something at your wedding, don’t give them each a slot. Ask them to do a short speech together.

Rule #5: Split them up

If you are having six speeches/toasts, don’t have them all in one chunk. Have three speeches, serve your main meal, and then the rest of the speeches afterwards. It’s a little easier to sit through speeches when they aren’t all grouped together.

Rule #6: Make sure your guests are comfortable

If your guests are seated – even in a non-traditional sit-down meal manner – and they have just eaten something, they will enjoy the speeches more. Have them standing around with empty bellies and they will start to get bored.

For more tips like these:

How to write a winning wedding speech

How to choose your wedding MC

Why I Declined The Invitation To Be A Bridesmaid

There is a common misconception that being a bridesmaid is an easy job. You get to spend the morning of the wedding with the bride, you get to wear a pretty dress and walk down the aisle, and there is that awesome bachelorette that you get to be a part of. Sounds fun, right? Well, yes it is a lot of fun, but it is also a lot of work. Being a bridesmaid is a commitment that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

How To Be The Best Bridesmaid Ever


I got married in May 2015 and I had 9 lovely bridesmaids. I had a great support system and lots of help leading up to the wedding. A lot of the girls were in constant contact with me, asking how the wedding plans were going, and actively showing their support and love as often as they could.

During my engagement, a friend of mine asked me if I would be her bridesmaid. Well, she didn’t really ask. She just sort of mentioned it in passing. “You know you’re my Maid of Honour, right?” was thrown into the air, like it wasn’t really a big deal. I remember feeling a bit weird about it, but saying “OK, sure”.

Once my wedding had come to an end and I was back into “normal” life, I started thinking about how great my bridesmaids were. I really appreciated them and the effort they made to love me and help me during my engagement and on my wedding day. It struck me – once again – that being a bridesmaid is quite a task. My bridesmaids bought their own dresses, did their own hair and makeup on my wedding day, they planned my kitchen tea and bachelorette, contributed money and gifts at each, they bought wedding gifts, they made sacrifices to be at my wedding rehearsal, to help put together my wedding invitations and to help with a “DIY decor” day we had just before the wedding. That’s a lot of stuff to be involved in.

I like to think I was a pretty chilled bride and I was pretty easy to get along with during my engagement. At least my husband thinks so. So, even though my girls had a relaxed bride, there was still a lot to do and I’m sure there were many things that went on behind the scenes that I wasn’t even aware of.

So, when my friend just kind of expected me to be her Maid of Honour, I was a little surprised that I wasn’t actually asked, and that it was such a seemingly unimportant task that was required of me.

There were many external circumstances that led me to the decision not to pursue a friendship with this person. So, I was forced to make a decision:

Option 1: Be her bridesmaid and then never speak to her again afterwards.

Option 2: Be her friend and force myself to stay in her life afterwards.

Option 3: End the friendship now.

After giving it a lot of thought, I realised that the only fair thing to do was to go with option 3. I sat her down and told her why I had to end the friendship and that as a result, I would not be able to attend her wedding and be her Maid of Honour. Can you imagine looking back on your wedding and thinking “I wish she wasn’t in all my photos. She isn’t even my friend anymore”? I wanted to spare her of that experience. I wanted to give her the chance to ask someone else. Someone who wanted to stick with her through thick and thin and support her marriage in a way that I couldn’t.

I’m sharing this very personal experience to show girls that being a bridesmaid is a choice. When your bestie pops the question, you don’t have to say yes. You can – and should – give it some thought and ask yourself whether or not you are prepared to make the necessary sacrifices to make her wedding day and buildup as special as possible. This may require not being able to buy yourself special things, so you can save money and put that towards your bridesmaids dress and wedding gifts. It might mean sacrificing a couple of social events here and there, so that you can be at the pre-wedding functions at the bride’s side. It might also mean that during a time of stress, you put yourself aside and show support to the bride without making the situation about you.

Whatever you choose to do, please know that the bride loves you. If you tell her in all honesty that you don’t think you have the time to commit to being the best bridesmaid you can be, she will still love you.

>> Get your own wedding planning checklist right here <<

Wedding Day Emergency Kit Checklist

You never know what may go wrong on your wedding day, so the best way to be prepared for anything is by putting together a kick-ass emergency kit!

Prepare for common wedding mishaps

emergency kit

For dress disasters

  • Safety pins
  • Small scissors
  • A mini sewing kit
  • Fabric tape
  • White chalk or baby powder

For suit disasters

  • Dark chalk
  • Shoe polish kit
  • Lint roller
  • Floral pins

For mini medical situations

  • Pain killers
  • Allergy pills
  • Nausea tablets
  • Diarrhoea tablets
  • Plasters

For hair protection

  • Hair pins
  • Hair bands
  • Gel or hairspray

For hydration and energy

  • Bottled water and straws (to prevent lipstick smudges)
  • Light snacks

For makeup, nails and accessories

  • Clear nail polish
  • Lip balm
  • Extra earring backs
  • Lipstick in bride’s colour

For freshness

  • Dental floss or toothpicks
  • Eye drops
  • Deodorant
  • Tampons
  • Breath mints or gum
  • Hand towelettes
  • Tissues
  • Tweezers
  • Nail clippers

Things to print

  • A detailed list of all wedding suppliers and their contact details
  • Contact details for the bridal party


  • A mobile phone charger
  • A fully charged camera for “getting ready” selfies

Wedding Favours On A Budget

When planning a wedding on a budget, wedding favours are a good place to save. They’re also the thing that can creep up on you and really add up if you aren’t careful. The ultimate way to save money on wedding favours is not to have any – think about it, if you are able to take the time to thank each guest personally on your wedding day, they won’t notice they didn’t receive an official wedding favour. However, if you still want to bless them with something to take home, here are some fun ideas that should help you save some cash too.

My favourite way to save money on a wedding is to double up. Your food platters could serve as centrepieces, for example. There are many ways to do this when it comes to wedding favours too!

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Something sentimental

Imagine going to a close friend’s wedding and receiving a handwritten note to thank you for coming to the wedding? It’s something special and inexpensive. The only tricky part is that you’d have to write 100+ thank you notes and you may end up having to write to guests you haven’t met yet or don’t know well. The solution: a well thought out generic thank you note that looks pretty.

favour thank you card.jpg

Something edible

Here’s a good way to double up: allow your guests to take their dessert home (or eat it at the wedding) as a wedding favour. Cupcakes, macarons, cake pops, you name it! Anything edible can be both a dessert and a wedding favour!


OK, this won’t count as a wedding favour if you get up at the end of your wedding and say “Please take some flowers home with you”. It’s a lovely gesture but it feels like an afterthought. For our wedding, we lined our tables with little trees which had a note on them saying “Thank you” and “Watch our love grow”. We didn’t have to worry about clearing wedding flowers from the tables, because there weren’t any there! And our guests got a wedding favour that was really unique.


Something that’s already on the table

Some of my favourite wedding favours were things on the table: a wine glass, a coaster, and a wooden magnet that served as a name card. All three ideas were smart and lovely.

Something useful

If you’re going to give someone a wedding favour don’t just do it for the sake of giving them a gift. 20 years ago you’d receive those weird pink and white coated nuts which no-one really liked, did they? Rather give your guests something they’ll actually use. A keychain, olive oil, matches, and coffee beans are just some of the fun ideas to get you thinking creatively.

Something fun

Are you big on games? Give each guest a pack of cards. Do you love reading? Give everyone a vintage book from a thrift store. Are you a music lover? What about a mix CD of your favourite songs? How about maximising on the adult colouring book craze and having each place mat be a thank you note that can be coloured in?


How To Pick The Best Wedding Date For You!

Choosing your wedding date is one of the first big things on your wedding to-do list and it’s a big one! I don’t mean to scare you but the wedding date you choose affects every other wedding related decision you’ll make (which suppliers to choose, which flowers are in season, and so on).

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So, here are some things to keep in mind while choosing the date that suits you:

The weather

Are you a warm weather person or do you prefer a chilly day? Each season has its own unique perks so sit down with your fiance and choose the season that you both like best. Do you want an outdoor wedding but your fiance really doesn’t want to wear a tuxedo? Sounds like Spring is the best option for you!

Winter and Summer Weddings – Advantages and Disadvantages for each

Your budget

You probably don’t have a clear idea on this yet, and that’s ok! If you know you will be on a fairly tight budget then consider a less traditional day for your wedding. Everyone gets married on a Saturday or public holiday, but Fridays, Sundays and even weekdays are becoming more popular. You won’t have to worry about whether or not your venue or suppliers will be available and you are guaranteed to get a great discount on all of the above.

Special dates

Is there a date that has meaning to your relationship? Your anniversary, or the anniversary of your parents or grandparents. Perhaps you met on Christmas Eve and that’s when you would like to get married. Maybe there is a number that holds significance – for example, if you love the number 11, pick a month in which you can get married on the 11th.

Prior commitments

Consider the important events in your life – and in the lives of those you really want at your wedding – and make sure you don’t get married on those days. My husband’s birthday is in March, and so is mine, my husband’s dad’s, and half our bridal party’s. So, I really didn’t want to have another thing to celebrate in March – or anywhere near it, for that matter. With other friends getting married, consider their dates and plan accordingly.


Some people have to get married during the holidays because of annual leave and other work related commitments. Others really don’t like the idea of getting married – and going on honeymoon – while everyone and their uncle is on holiday. There are benefits to each option but choose the one that works for you!

Throwback Thursday // The 2015 Weddings

2015 has been a great year. We began the year as Illuminate My Event and changed the name to Lovely Pretty. I got married and I got to plan my brother’s wedding too! I also had the privilege of working alongside some incredible brides and grooms. So today’s post is a Throwback Thursday tribute to an incredible year.

Kate and Shane

This nautical themed wedding was the perfect setting for Kate, Shane and their sailor friends. With hand made ships as table numbers, sea shells as name cards, and the most delicious nautical cupcakes, a great time was had! Atic Mobile DJs got the party started and Kate and Shane made a point of celebrating with their guests.


Kelsey and Micha

Tokara Wine Estate was the setting for this elegant wedding. The lovely bride and her groom, Micha, had a relaxed afternoon out in the sun, followed by a delicious meal and dancing out on the deck. The decor was simple with white linen and touches of navy blue and blush pink. My favourite thing was the coffee wedding favours put into bags with cute messages on them. Things like “Love is brewing” and “Thanks a latte”.

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Roxy and Ivor

What’s the best way to keep your guests full of good food? Get Luke Dale-Roberts to cater! Roxy and Ivor’s wedding took place in the mountains of Botrivier in the secluded KolKol Mountain Lodge. They got married with a gorgeous view, dined in style, and danced all night long.
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Carrie-Anne and Chris

Lourensford was the backdrop to this gorgeous pink and mint wedding. Carrie-Anne and Chris, who live in Joburg, pulled out all the stops and made sure their travelling guests were in for a treat. Lots of incredible food, personal touches to the decor, and an atmosphere of love and celebration is what made this wedding stand out!

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Matthew and Jessica

My little brother got married to the woman of his dreams and I got to be behind the scenes as a wedding planner, bridesmaid and sister too. The wedding took place at Babylonstoren, where we got to feed the donkeys, enjoy an immaculately displayed dessert in its very own room, and dance in the rustic studio. It was a really special day and I have so many happy memories!

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My wedding

Would I be biased if I said this was my favourite wedding of the year? Glen and I got married in our church and celebrated at Langverwagt, our dream wedding venue. The Autumn weather was echoed in our pink and gold woodlands theme, and we can honestly say that there were no hiccups on our day. We had the best time!

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And a sneak peek of our honeymoon…

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Wedding Planning On A Budget

The wedding industry has managed to get brides and grooms to believe one huge lie: your wedding planning can either be stress free OR on a budget. People have bought into this lie and now they believe that if they can’t afford professional help, the wedding planning stage is going to be stressful.

Well, as a wedding co-ordinator and planner, I am here to tell you that this simply isn’t true.

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I would love to share a few tips on how you can dominate wedding planning while still remaining within your budget:

Learn learn learn

The internet is full of incredible tips. By doing a simple Google search you can find out the best way to put together wedding invitations or how to gather RSVPs.

If you are still starting out, have a look at last week’s blog post and get your own 12 month checklist for free. You can do that here.

Get yourself a Pinterest account (it’s free and very easy to sign up) and have a look at creative wedding ideas, pretty photos and find tons of wedding tips from professionals!

Get professional help

Now I know what you’re thinking… “wedding planners are expensive”. Yes, wedding planners are expensive but you should consider hiring an on the day wedding co-ordinator.

Your on the day wedding co-ordinator can be hired anything from twelve months before your date right up until the three month mark. It is much more affordable to hire someone for the day than to have someone plan your entire wedding, but you can still make the most of having a professional on your team.

As a wedding co-ordinator I am able to get discounts on certain suppliers in the industry and if I am hired early on in the wedding planning process, I can basically pay for my own services with the discounts I can get for clients.

Your wedding planner has relationships with tons of vendors, which gives her the advantage of knowing which are amazing and which are terrible. She’ll be able to recommend the ones who are right for your budget and will take great care in making sure your vision is executed just as you imagined. – Jordan McBride

Your on the day wedding co-ordinator will also take over communication with your wedding suppliers a few days before the wedding. Having someone else email everyone and confirm their arrival times will save you time and give you peace of mind.

Added to that, your on the day co-ordinator will run the show on your wedding day so you can spend the morning of your wedding day sipping champagne with your ladies and thinking about marrying the man of your dreams!


profile pic resizedKelly Jane Hartmann is a newly married wedding planner and the owner of Lovely Pretty.