Wedding Planning Tips

You are engaged – yay! The Pinterest browsing starts (It’s OK, we don’t need to tell anyone you had the secret boards for the last 5 years anyway!), the magazine pile grows and the visits to wedding fairs begin. One of the best resources at your disposal though, are us wedding suppliers. We go to loads of weddings so are pretty well informed as to what works and what doesn’t. So, here are some useful, sometimes forgotten hints and tips from me and some of my favourite wedding suppliers to help you start planning your Kent wedding.

1.  It’s all about the Light

In its simplest form, photography is recording light. Really think about how many hours of daylight there are at the time of year you want to get married. It can have a massive impact on your wedding photographs. Whether you are thinking about beautiful daytime portraits in a gorgeous landscaped garden, or if you fancied warm, golden hour light as your setting, make sure that your ceremony is appropriately timed according to the season to try and achieve the shots you want.

It can be dark at 3pm in the winter so choosing a venue because you imagine your portraits and groups in their amazing gardens and then combining it with a 2pm ceremony will leave you disappointed. There is nothing wrong with indoor portraits but it would be such a shame not to take advantage of beautiful surroundings and this can be easily fixed with an earlier ceremony time.

And don’t automatically think a summer wedding is fine whatever time you choose. The sun sets much later in the height of summer. If your photographer is working 8 hours and they start at 11am because you wanted the fun bridal preparation photographs before an early ceremony, then they will be packing up and going home before the sun is close to setting so golden hour, sunset shots will be missed. Ensure that you have booked long enough coverage and that your photographer will still be there when the light is at its best or simply move their start time later.

Groom holding his brides cheek in gorgeous golden hour sunset in long grassBride and Groom holding each other as the sun sets through trees behind them Bride and Groom kissing at sunset Bride and Groom kissing under the ligh s of the Great Hall at The London Golf Club

2.  Start Big then go Small

Make the important elements of your wedding stand out and the rest will follow. Holly is the face behind Locate to Create, a fabulous prop hire and venue styling company. I love her work and her creativity so I asked for her thoughts on styling.

‘My best bit of advice for couples deciding how to style their wedding venue is to think about what is going to make the biggest impact. You can end up spending a lot of money on small things that don’t actually get noticed on the day. Invest in items that are going to give your wedding the WOW factor. 

Where should you begin planning your wedding props and styling? A top tip of mine is to make sure you think about the elements of a wedding that you have to have first. Get creative with those elements and go from there. Make the really important elements of your wedding stand out and the rest will follow.’

Floral Wedding reception set up at Great Comp Gardens Kent Wedding breakfast set up at The Bull Hotel, Wrotham KentWedding reception decoration in the Glass house at The Secret Garden wedding venue Kent

3.  Time travel

I know you’ve heard it a million times…..but… days really do fly by. Make sure you allow enough time for everything but most importantly that you have enough time to actually enjoy yourselves and relax with your guests. 

Allow enough time to get from hotels to the Wedding to reception venues. Think about the mode of travel you are using to get there. Will the old Rolls Royce, stretch limo or bus be able to negotiate the tiny country lanes to get there or will they have to take a 12 mile detour in order to reach it? It’s fine if it does but make sure it is factored into the schedule. A routemaster bus pickup of hotel staying guests looks amazing in your pics and is a super fun addition but remember to account for how long it will take to get everyone there. A quick pint before the ceremony is also a common occurrence but don’t underestimate how long it takes to get between each place and to find parking for everyone else who does that too. 

Lastly on this topic, don’t forget to get your photographer on the bus or in the camper (we like doing that) and also make the most of it for photo opportunities at the reception.

Groom and fiends in front of wedding decorated red route master bus Bride and Groom kissing in the top deck of route master bus Bride and Groom wave goodbye to their guests in a vintage Triumph car Yellow VW bus decorated with wedding flowers Bride and Groom kissing in the rear of a wedding VW camper van

4.  Play the Game

You have gone to the expense of booking lawn games, mini golf, giant jenga or cricket for your guests to have a fun time. But make sure you remember to have a go yourselves and actually play the games, for two simple reasons. Firstly, you paid for them so make the most of them. Secondly, I guarantee that if you have a go, your guests will too.

Wedding guests with accessories using a selfie mirror

5.  Go unplugged?

This one will really split opinion but that is my reason for including it in here. Having an ‘unplugged’ wedding has become more fashionable in recent years. I agree with encouraging your guests to be present in your day and not having their heads in their phones. And it can be frustrating when I’m about to take a shot and a guest steps in the way (which happens a lot) But…many couples don’t want to tell their guests they can’t have their phones or cameras. It can be great to look at your guests’ photographs of your wedding. After all, we photographers can’t be everywhere all the time.

Just think about your feelings on the topic and recognise if you have a strong opinion either way. That way you can prepare a nice sign at your venue or a few lines from the celebrant if you want to ask for guests not to take pictures. If you don’t mind, then happy days! You might get great moments like these ones.

Wedding guests all holding mobile phones to take pictures of the Bride as she enters Brides mother takes pictures of Bride and Groom with her iPad Wedding guests take a selfie with their mobile phone

6.  Don’t put cakey in the corner

You don’t want your cake knocked over so you tuck it away in the corner of the reception room. We see it all the time but what a shame not to be able to see your amazing cake in all its glory.

Charlene Russell from Cherry Tree Cakerie is a cake designer and baker from Buckinghamshire, specialising in modern, boho, vintage and whimsical style cakes. We have worked together a few times now and I asked her about this very thing. Here are her thoughts on it for you.

‘You will have spent quite a bit of time thinking about your wedding cake and working with your cake designer to create the showstopper of your dreams but all too often, little thought is given to the set up of your cake at the venue. The cutting of the cake will actually be one of the most photographed events of the day and I’ve seen countless images of the cake being sliced with an unattractive fire hydrant or an ugly old radiator on the wall behind it or worse, a fire door – your cake deserves better than that!

Elevating your cake on a simple stand and decorating your cake table will make sure that your cake is a part of the decor and not an afterthought and it doesn’t have to be an extra cost. Some simple foliage arranged on the table with some tea lights would look beautiful or if you want to really make it a centerpiece then how about a macrame backdrop, balloon installation or flower wall? There are many options, just don’t put cakey in the corner!’.

wedding cake in beautiful barn surroundingsemi naked wedding cake in beautiful barn surrounding

7.  Make the second song a banger

Everyone thinks about their ‘First Dance’ song but did you know that the next few tracks can be just as important? Most photographers stay until the first dance and perhaps the next couple of songs. Make sure that you make the second song an absolute floor filler to get some great dancing action shots before they leave. Phil Harvey is a DJ from 2020 Sounds. I asked for his thoughts on some great tunes for second songs to really fill the floor and these were his suggestions:

Hold My Hand – Jess Glyne

Shut Up & Dance – Walk The Moon

Marry You – Bruno Mars

I gotta Feeling – Black Eyed Peas

Signed, Sealed Delivered – Stevie Wonder

He also has these tips for you. 

‘Of all the weddings I have been asked to DJ, never once have I heard a couple say “I can’t wait for my first dance, in fact I have been looking forward to it all day”. It’s awkward and unnatural to dance in front of your family and closest friends. This is why I always ask if the couple would like their first dance on their own or if they would like me to encourage their guests to join them at a certain part of their song. It makes the couple feel more settled and takes away the stress and pressure. Most (in fact all) couples ask for their guests to join them. This is a win-win as you get to see the couple’s first dance and their guests dance with their loved one. Two great pictures for one great song. For the same reason it’s important to follow up the first dance with a good party starter showing all the guests dancing and enjoying themselves.’

Bride and Groom on the dance floor of their wedding reception Happy couple dancing on the dance floor at their friends wedding


I hope that some of these tips may help relieve some of the stresses of thinking about all the different aspects of planning a wedding. If you would like to know more about some of the venues and suppliers that have been mentioned then the links are below for you. Don’t forget, as wedding suppliers, we work with so many others and will always be glad to recommend people to you.

Holly from Locate to Create – wedding styling and prop hire company

Charlene from Cherry Tree Cakerie – creator of beautiful and unique wedding cakes

Phil from 20-20 Sounds – provides a DJ service, photobooths and selfie mirror.

The Bull Hotel

The Secret Garden 

The Plough at Leigh

The London Golf Club

Great Comp Gardens

Granary Estates

I am Nicola Dawson, a Kent Wedding Photographer for relaxed and laid back couples who want to look and feel great on their wedding day.


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A Wedding at The Secret Garden in Ashford, Kent

A Wedding at The Secret Garden in Ashford, Kent

Nestled in the lovely countryside of Ashford lies a hidden gem known as The Secret Garden. This enchanting wedding venue in Kent is a dreamy escape from the hustle and bustle of city life, making it the ideal setting for an intimate wedding affair.


I'm a Kent Wedding Photographer for happy, relaxed, loved-up couples who want to look and feel amazing on their wedding day. I also cover Surrey, Sussex, Essex and beyond.


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