Wow! It’s overwhelming isn’t it! Not only does a wedding eat away at your bank balance (and very quickly), it can be stressful too. And I bet you are still waiting for Uncle Bob and Aunty Jane to reply to your invite so you can sort your table lists out! Some people eh!

We had a destination wedding and while we had a mega awesome day, there is probably a lot of things I would do differently if I was to get married today. We chose Bali and we organised everything from here in NZ, so trust me when I say that I know the work involved in organising a wedding. I had photographed many weddings before I got married, and even as a photographer who sees lots of different ones, I don’t think I fully respected just how much effort goes into a wedding, until we had to do it ourselves. The good news is, somehow it all seems to come together and your day is going to be massive fun. For sure!

In fact, your wedding is going to be epic! It's all about celebrating your love for each other with friends and family. You are going to make a promise to your partner, that out of the gazillion people on this earth, you choose to be with them. Forever. Awesome!

To help you along, I have created this tips page. These are purely recommendations only. They are definitely not hard and strict rules - so feel free to take some/all/none of it on board:

1) TIMELINE - Solid planning for your day’s timeline is very important. Time slips away very, very, very quickly on a wedding day (just like normal time, except wedding day time is normal time x 10)

You will need to choose locations for both of you getting ready, the ceremony, wedding party and creative portrait session, and the reception. Definitely try be realistic and keep all these places close to each other, if you can. Take into account driving times and traffic (if any) for you and your guests. Having everything nearby helps in so many ways. Less time driving and sitting in traffic means more time with guests and loved ones = more time having fun

2) HAIR & MAKE-UP - Be clear with the artists about exactly how long they need for everyone. Factor in all people involved, and any family members too. Once done, add on 30 minutes for touch ups (seriously)

3) THE WEATHER - is something we simply cannot change. I have done rainy weddings, sunny weddings, stormy weddings and even weddings with hail. At the end of the day we always get great photographs no matter what, and very often the ‘bad’ weather makes the day even more special. Photos in the rain can be fun and beautiful too. You might not believe it, but a sunny day is not always best. An overcast or cloudy day can be really good, as it's cooler, it gives you shade to rest in and the photos look great too (even lighting and no-one squinting). So don’t stress about the weather, no matter what mother nature brings on your day, it’ll still be special!

4) CEREMONY LOCATION - is there shade? Not just for your guests, but for you too. Ceremonies in the full sun (or dappled light) can be challenging for a few reasons. It's uncomfortable to be hot and sweaty in full sun, while wearing dresses and suits. So if your ceremony is in baking sunlight, then definitely consider how long you want it to be. About 30 minutes is standard and usually more than enough to cover all the important stuff

Talk to your photographer about the timings of your ceremony if you need to. And if you want a really cool pic, then definitely plan to have guests throw something cool at you when you walk back up the aisle (petals, confetti, popcorn - whatever works for you!). And make sure there is LOTS of it!

5) YOUR CELEBRANT - Talk to them! Get to know them! Make sure you are on the same page. Meet with them for a coffee/beer/wine before the big day, to see if they are the right person for you. It’s a short but important part of the day that they will be part of. You have some meaningful and special words to share with each other. Thats pretty huge, so you want to make sure you are comfortable with the person standing up there with you guys. Talk to them!

And while we're talking about words, take some time to write some personal vows for each other, it's always more meaningful than generic ones found online ;)

6) GOING 'UNPLUGGED' - Phones and tablets are part of the times we are living in now. Many of my wedding couples choose to have an 'unplugged' ceremony so the photos are of their faces and not their screens. Personally, I really don't mind. The only thing I might suggest is asking your guests to refrain from posting anything on social media until you (or your wedding photographer) posts a photograph that you would be happy with

7) HUGS AND KISSES AFTER CEREMONY - This is honestly one of my favourite parts of the day. A showering of genuine emotion and real happiness from your guests, which I just love capturing. This 15 or so mins of congrats time after the ceremony is so important, definitely factor in the time so you can soak it up and enjoy

8) FAMILY & GROUP PHOTOS - The best time for these is straight after everyone has congratulated you. It’s best to start with the big group photograph of everyone first (before people disperse) and then move onto the important family photographs straight afterwards. It can be a mission getting everyone together and it takes time, but something that makes it easier is to ask your MC (or somebody who knows most of your guests) to help get everyone together. Closer to the date, it’s a good idea to make a list of what family/friend photographs you want

9) YOUR PHOTO SESSION - Always try leave enough time for wedding party photos and your creative portrait session. We know you don’t want to be away from your guests for too long, but we do need some time to make sure we get great photographs for you.

10) FIRST LOOKS - expanding on the point above, one of the ways to have your day flow a bit easier, is to have what we call a ‘first look’ (or reveal), where you get to see each other before the ceremony. The great thing about first looks is that you can get all the wedding party and couple photographs done before any of your guests arrive at your wedding. Then, after the ceremony you won't need to go anywhere or leave your guests. This is a major advantage in my opinion. It does however mean that you both see each other before the ceremony, so if you’re not the traditional type, i’d strongly suggest you consider a first look. First looks can be fun, and many couples prefer seeing each other for the first time while alone, rather than in front of all their guests - it's definitely something cool to consider

11) EAT. DRINK. EAT. DRINK - make sure you have a good breakfast, and that there are plenty of snacks around during the day while getting ready. For the photo session make up a hamper for you and your bridal party with some drinks (some venues do this complimentary). Throw in a bottle of cheap champagne too (one that you don’t mind spraying) as it always makes for fun photos. Drink lots of water! Especially if you are going to be drinking alcohol later

12) TRY STICK TO TIME - I have thrown this in at this point, because by the time you get to your reception, things are likely to get a bit delayed in the enjoyment of the day. The only reason I suggest trying to keep to time as best you can, is to ensure you have enough time to party, socialise and have fun with your guests. I have seen speeches go on till quite late and the band arrives all set up and ready to go, then they have to wait for 2 hours before they can play, and only end up playing for 1-2 hours. Bands love playing, guests love partying and dancing, so make sure to leave enough time for everyone to have a great time

13) SPEECHES - talking of speeches - I know some people have a lot to say (a real lot), but if you have too many people all talking for too long, it can quickly eat into your socialising time with your guests. Unless this is what you want (which is perfectly fine too), then maybe speak with your MC and anyone else who is doing speeches if you are concerned about time, and allocate a certain amount of minutes for each speech

14) SUNSET PHOTOS - I'll always suggest we take a 10-15 minute gap for some sunset photos. This truly is the best time of the day for light and your photos will be epic! This is of course if there is a sunset happening, so if you feel like it's your thing, then take a look at the sunset times to try fit it into the agenda. Even if there is no sunset happening, it's still cool to get some photos at this time of day as light is better

15) TAKE A TINY MOMENT ALONE - it’s a mega busy day, with so much happening and a timeline to stick to. So don’t forget to take a breather and have a little moment alone for yourselves. After all, it's your day! A good time to do this is right after your sunset photos. I remember my good mate giving me this advice at our wedding. We went for a toilet break and then stood watching while all our mates partied and danced. It is one very special part of our day that i’ll never forget, hand in hand with my love

16) VIDEOGRAPHER - If you can afford to have one, go for it. We never had a videographer at our own wedding and in a way I wish we had. If you are interested, let me know as I have some recommendations for you

17) PHOTOBOOTH - these are good fun too, if you have budget for it of course. It really is a hit with guests. A photo will always make a good addition to the messages in your guestbook

18) CHILL - Others may have ideas and advice for you, and thats fine - but remember that it's up to you to make the decisions - after all, it's your day. But it’s a big, long day too, and things might not go to plan, but that's not important - how you deal with it is though! So...just like beer, for best results keep chilled...