The Things I Wish I’d Known When I Was Planning My Wedding
Emmeline Smith shares some key elements she wished someone had said to her when organizing her wedding.
I absolutely loved my wedding day, but now that I’m older and wiser, there are a few things I wish I’d known back then – or at least – things I wish I’d been braver to do when planning my wedding. Things have changed a lot since our wedding in 2008. The concept of designing a unique wedding and doing it your own way was still a relatively fledgling concept. In many ways, 2022 is a totally different world.
Recent world events have made many keen to grab opportunities and follow our dreams, whenever we get the chance. To live life with no regrets. I certainly don’t have any regrets over my wedding, but there are a few things I wish someone had told me before my big day – so if you’re planning your nuptials now, this might be worth a read.
Planning My Wedding: Things I Wish I’d Known Before…
Personalize your day
Now, I’ve never followed the crowd in any aspect of my life, so I knew I didn’t want a totally traditional wedding, or it just wouldn’t be me. My husband-to-be was happy to let me take the lead on our big day, so it was important for me to focus on putting our own unique stamp on the day that would reflect both of us.
However, I also knew that our catholic families would be expecting a certain amount of tradition and ceremony, so I worked to create a unique wedding that we would love while considering the expectations of our families too.
When choosing the dress, don’t feel you have to follow the crowd, follow your dream! I’ve always been bold with my style and everyone was guessing what sort of wedding dress I’d have as soon as we announced the engagement. The intake of breath from our guests as I walked into the church in my knee-length, 50‘s style wedding dress – quite radical in 2008 – was one of the best moments of my life.
Most brides were opting for full-length, off-the-shoulder numbers at the time – I knew I wanted a statement as I was planning my wedding. You couldn’t get ‘alternative’, affordable wedding dresses off the peg back then, so I designed my gorgeous dress with a local dressmaker which was such an amazing experience. It had such an impact on me, that it actually led to me doing a fashion degree.
Something I didn’t do and I wish I had, is to try on different styles of dresses. I had a fixed idea of what I wanted from the offset, but you might not know what you want or find the dress you wanted doesn’t actually suit you. By trying on various styles, you’ll see what does and doesn’t work for you – and when you know, you’ll know.
I’m very lucky, my dream dress did suit me, and looking back, I still love it, but still wish I’d tried a few others on, just for fun.
With our guests betting on whether my dress would be black, red, or pink, I surprised them all by opting for traditional pale ivory. The twist was that it was just below the knee with a huge red bow on the back and layers of petticoats with red edging, adding a splash of colour. I’d say to anyone who’s unsure to go with your heart, not the latest fashion, and don’t worry about what anyone else will think. For more tips on choosing your wedding dress – check out this article on Brides.com.
Bust your own beat
Now I’m not suggesting you get rid of all the traditions of a wedding, just keep the ones you want, not other people. It’s very easy to get carried away with what you’re ‘supposed to do’, but remember, you don’t have to do all of those things. We decided to scrap the first dance as my husband-to-be was mortified at the idea of having to dance in front of our nearest and dearest.
We had no Master of Ceremonies, which saved us a fortune and the speeches consisted of the best man playing the banjo, while my new husband performed a brilliant juggling act! We did away with wedding favors altogether as we simply couldn’t afford them. And guess what? No one actually noticed. The day was still spectacular.
Decide the areas that are most important to you and invest in them. For us, it was the dress and the food. We invested a lot of our wedding budget on a fabulous three-course meal for our guests, which we still think was money well spent.
But you don’t have to do that if it’s not your thing – a BBQ, a buffet, an afternoon tea, or a feast where guests bring one item of food, might be perfect for you. Remember to do what you will enjoy.
You may dream of a stunning wedding cake, but it wasn’t a priority for us, so we bought three plain iced, fruit cakes from M&S and stacked them. I decorated them with feather butterflies from a florist and put marzipan versions of our 2 cats on the top and we had our unique wedding cake, all for less than £100.
The engagement ring
One area I really compromised on when planning my wedding was my engagement ring. As I’ve hinted at, money was tight, so every penny we spent had to be carefully considered. The engagement ring turned out to be a source of much angst for me.
We’d agreed that we didn’t want to start married life in huge debt, paying off the wedding and a giant ring that we couldn’t afford. But, my style is pretty ‘extra’ – I don’t wear one or two rings, I wear huge, chunky rings on every finger – I soon realized that a dainty solitaire diamond ring – that would look beautiful on many fiancées – would be dwarfed next to my giant skull rings!
I needed a statement engagement ring, but after an initial ‘diamond engagement ring’ online search, it was clear that everything I liked was way, way out of our price range. I felt like there was so much pressure on ‘the ring’. It’s the first thing everyone asks to see and I was dreading the disappointed looks.
I wondered why engagement rings have to be made from diamonds anyway? It’s such a huge expense when you’re already saving up for a wedding. Diamonds are described as “a symbol of mutual commitment and everlasting love”, implying that you must have a ‘real’ diamond. If you don’t have a traditional diamond, does it mean that your partner isn’t going to love you for eternity? Well, actually no, it doesn’t.
Many gems were originally used in engagement rings and the use of diamonds gained popularity in the 1940s, after brilliant marketing campaigns. Although they’re undoubtedly a beautiful gem, you don’t have to have one – especially if you can’t afford it.
De Beers is the world’s leading diamond company and in 1947 created – possibly the best marketing slogan of all time – “a diamond is forever”. They encouraged people to use them for engagement rings and for celebrities to wear them and gradually, it became commonplace.
At the time of my engagement, I gave up hope of finding a suitable diamond option and chose a more affordable, man-made opal engagement ring. Although I loved it, I did feel a pang of disappointment that it didn’t look quite how I wanted it to.
The good news is, that just as trends come, they can also go, and increasing numbers of couples are questioning these traditions and being brave enough to shun the ones they don’t want to follow. With an increasing awareness of the terrible association of some traditional diamond mining, looking for a more sustainable alternative is growing in popularity.
According to the Cambridge dictionary, the term blood, or conflict, diamond refers to “a diamond that has been mined in an area where there is a war or fighting and that is sold to get money to continue the fighting.”
Unfortunately, you can’t be certain if a diamond is a blood diamond by looking at it so if you are going for a traditional diamond, make sure you get it from a reputable shop. If this is something that concerns you, opting for a man-made alternative could be the answer – you can be 100% sure that it’s an ethical choice.
Moissanite vs. diamonds
14 years after our wedding, I found a rock that I love and that we can afford! As much as I’d dreamt of owning a giant Beyonce style diamond, we didn’t have a cool £3.9 million to spend, but by replacing the traditional diamond with a moissanite, I got the engagement ring that’s my absolute dream, without breaking the bank.
What is a moissanite, you ask? How moissanites were discovered is so brilliant and romantic. They were first discovered in fragments of a meteorite that fell to earth – literally from the stars! This vibrant gemstone is named after the French scientist who discovered it, Henri Moissan.
However, meteorites containing this gemstone are so rare that modern moissanite is created in a lab. It took many years to perfect moissanite creation and now, scientists can replicate the same material that originally came to us from the stars.
Something to consider when looking for an engagement ring, is to look into the wearability and durability of the gem you pick. You’ll hopefully wear this ring for the rest of your life, so you need to consider your lifestyle and choose something you can wear every day, without having to worry about it.
Will this ring survive all of the things that you do day-to-day? I didn’t think this through and after just a year, the gorgeous opal in my engagement ring shattered.
When the jeweler talked about the hardness of a gem, I thought it was a bit of a tall tale to convince me to buy a diamond instead. But it turns out, she knew what she was talking about! Opals are gorgeous, but not durable enough to wear every day and this is ultimately one of the reasons people chose diamonds.
Natural diamonds are the hardest known mineral, which makes them great for everyday wear, but during my research, I discovered that moissanites come a very close second when it comes to hardness. Gems are ranked on durability using Moh’s hardness scale which measures a gem’s ability to withstand surface scratching. Diamonds rank at the top at 10, with the moissanite rated between 9.25 and 9.5.
To put that in context; copper ranks at around 3.5, with glass at 5.5 and steel at 6.5 – so, aside from a traditional diamond, a moissanite is the most enduring choice by far.
Ok, so they’re hard, but do moissanite rings go cloudy over time, or lose their sparkle? As moissanites are a natural mineral, like a diamond, they’ll never become cloudy or change colour. The brilliance will also never alter as long as you keep it clean. So is moissanite ok for an engagement ring? Absolutely!
Can you tell moissanite from diamond?
A diamond jeweler told me that it’s very hard to tell that your moissanite engagement ring isn’t a traditional diamond, although there are subtle differences that help identify them if you were to look at a moissanite vs diamond side by side. While a diamond gives off white flashes as it reflects the light, a moissanites gives off a rainbow-like reflection, but you’d really have to be an expert to notice the difference!
Moissanite price vs diamond
Maybe the most important question is, how does the moissanite cost compare to a mined diamond? As with diamonds, there are various factors that determine the value of these stones, but a rough estimate suggests that a moissanite is around 90% cheaper than a diamond – yes, 90%!
All my dreams came true when I got my new engagement ring, 14 years down the line. I got mine from www.flawlessmoissanite.co.uk which specialise in the most gorgeous and unique moissanite engagement rings and I’d highly recommend them.
They have so many different styles and you can design your ring and choose from platinum or white, rose or yellow gold. You can also select the size of your moissanite stone to make it your own. They also have a vintage-inspired collection of moissanite engagement ring sets, so you can get your wedding ring to match too.
Aside from the ethical benefits of a moissanite engagement ring, you can really afford to go large, for a fraction of the cost of a traditional diamond – and no one will ever know! I got a whopping 5-carat radiant cut moissanite, set in a platinum ring and it’s amazing!
Ultimately, the most important aspect of an engagement ring is that the wearer loves it and loves what it stands for – and it’s durable enough to wear every day for the rest of your wonderful lives together.
In conclusion, knowing all these things while planning my wedding would’ve been a huge help! So I hope these tips will help you on your BIG day…:)
Lastly – watch this awesome clip before you plan your wedding:
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