How to plan your wedding in less than 2 hours

Grab your best friend, find a high speed wireless connection and pour yourself a glass of wine – because these are the three essential items for planning a wedding in just 2 hours. Remember, the goal here is “Happy ever after” – not wedding day perfection. So let’s plan this wedding and you can get back to the important stuff, like enjoying quality time with fiancé.

Step 1 – Download a fab wedding planning app

One of my favourites is Appy Couple. The app is user-friendly and syncs seamlessly, whether you’re planning from your office desktop (not during work time of course…. wink wink) or on the go via your mobile. Plus, it has three of the things you’re going to need over the next 1 hour and 59 minutes:

• Guest list/rsvp collection and seating plan creator
• Your own personalised website, complete with modern designs (including on-trend looks such as gold and copper, rather than the standard “flowery-wedding” theme.

Because let’s be realistic, if you want to plan your wedding in two hours there is NO time for DIY. Book a professional, put your feet up and let them do all the work.

Step 2 – Write the guest list

Once you know how many people you’re inviting, you know which venues you can look at for your reception. Think of guests in terms of their relationship to you and go through each group methodically.

Now is also the time to make the tricky decision about those pesky +1’s. They are a serious hit to the budget and a source of potential friendship conflict. So have a chat with your fiancé about who can to bring a plus one, and be prepared to stand together as a united front when the questions start to arise.

Don’t forget to include the kids on your guest list too, if they’re invited to the reception. You may also consider adding kid’s entertainment to your budget.

Step 3 – Write your budget

Google Sheets has recently released a Wedding Planning sheet complete with formulas to help keep your Wedding Budget on track. Follow the link below and you’ll be on your way in no time.

Start by plugging in your total wedding budget (can you believe the average is close to $50,000?!) and this fabulous piece of tech will apportion this total across all the different areas of your wedding.

So, if you’re total wedding budget is $50,000 then your dress should be coming in at around $4,000.

But this is just a suggestion. Now is the time to get realistic about your priorities and put your actual budget alongside the suggested budget.
Don’t forget to mark things off as you pay each supplier. I recommend paying things off over time rather than being hit with a lump sum at the end – paying the bills is a huge source of pre-wedding anxiety!

Step 4 – Set your date by booking the ceremony and reception

Now that we know our guest numbers and budget, this seriously narrows down our options for the Reception Venue. But there’s one more question you need to answer before proceeding: How much work do you want to do on styling the venue?

There are some incredible venues out there that have amazing views, but you’re going to need a small army of stylists armed with beaded linen and drapes to bring the luxe factor you need for a wedding.

So if we’re going to stick to our time limit of 2 hours, I highly recommend one of the Wedding Reception Venues that come with the complete package. Some of my favourites are any of the Le Montage, Sergeants Mess and Doltone House Hyde Park.

NB: Chair covers went out with the last century. If your venue only comes with chairs that require covers, keep looking. It’s an extra expense that a good full service venue should include.

Now is the time to decide if you’re going to pull out your “Sunday Best” and become an active part of your local parish, or follow the growing trend of making the most of Sydney’s amazing outdoor locations. For a fab guide to ceremonies in Sydney, check out these two websites:

Outdoor locations in Sydney

Church and outdoor locations in Sydney

If you can find a Reception and Ceremony venue available on the same date – SNAP! You have a wedding date!

Step 5 – Dress time!

Time to get off the couch and hit the dress shops. You definitely cannot order your dress online. Here’s a tip you might find surprising: do tell the Bridal Shop Assistant what your real budget is. And DON’T try on anything over it. There’s no point getting your heart set on something you can’t afford, trust me.

Step 6 – Get off social media

Social media is a fantastic place for inspiration. But it sucks for actually booking in suppliers. So once you’ve used Pinterest and Instagram to find a colour palette and theme you like – put yourself out of your misery and stop screen grabbing floral designs from overseas luxury weddings. Instead look to local wedding publications where you can find a directory of suppliers for each category.

Step 7 – No seriously, just make a decision and book it in

There are a lot of beautiful distractions in wedding world. So be decisive, tick off your list and move forward!

Step 8 – Hire an “On the Day Planner”

Even the greatest control freak in the world cannot manage her wedding day. As the bride you will be at home getting ready while the flowers and reception are set up. So to avoid any last minutes stresses, book in an “On the Day Planner” to take care of all the last minute details for you. Most wedding planners will provide this service.

Planning your wedding should be fun – for you. So whether that means planning your wedding over 2 years or 2 hours, enjoy the experience and don’t be afraid to be bold and decisive. Your wedding is a reflection of who you are as a couple, so don’t feel like you need everyone else’s opinion. Know who you are, relish it and plan away!

One of the country’s most in-demand Bridal Coaches and Director of Inlighten Photography, Rachael has been involved with over 1,000 weddings in the past 10 years. It’s safe to safe she’s seen it all.

Today Rachael devotes her time to running Inlighten, while also hosting group coaching sessions for brides. She advises women on everything from event styling to seating plans, and helps to alleviate the stress associated with planning a wedding.

Rachael will host her next bridal coaching session in February 2016. To keep up to date on session dates as they are confirmed visit

For more information about Inlighten Photography visit or call 02 9550 0332

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Celebrating Excellence: The WIPA Awards

It’s always good to know that the people planning, hosting and capturing your special day know what a real festivity is all about. Earlier this week, the head honchos of the wedding industry gathered together to celebrate and appreciate the hard work of their fellow businesses at the Wedding Industry Professionals of Australia (WIPA) awards.

Hosted by Wedding & Events of Australia (WEOA), the Awards were the perfect excuse for business owners in the wedding industry to glam up and enjoy a night of socializing and networking. The evening was held at the spectacular Doltone House, Sydney and was filled with a selection of Oyster Bay wines and the sweet melodies of musical duo, Duke Music.

The most significant event of the night was, of course, the announcement of the winners. Each WIPA submission received a rating against the Diamond Standard, and businesses who were awarded with one, two or three diamonds were recognized industry-wide as having excelled and flourished in their work.

What we love the most about the WIPA Awards is that they not only draw attention to the efforts of individuals in the industry, but are also a way of encouraging wedding businesses to pursue their highest aspirations.

Amongst the 45 businesses who were successful in receiving a 2 Diamond Rating were Couture Wedding Planning, Inlighten Photography, Lilli Marcs and The Honeymoon Boutique. All were recognized as being well-established businesses who boasted an abundance of positive testimonials.

Returning from the Awards with a more prestigious, 3 Diamond Rating were only seven businesses, including Makeup and Hair Boudoir, Milque Photography and Untitled Film Works. Receiving 3 Diamonds is a huge privilege, and is offered only to those who are stand out leaders in their field and who have little room for improvement. Congratulations to all those recognized for their enthusiasm and excellence!

For more information about the WIPA Awards and this year’s winners visit

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Style Shoot: Jasmine Hoffman

We’ve developed a real liking for Jasmine Hoffman, a professional makeup artist, who takes to her clients as deliberately as a painter would take to a blank canvas, using ten years of experience and her manifest skill to create that enviable glow of bridal beauty.

Jasmine believes that every individual’s makeup can be the ultimate artistic expression of personality and charm, and should always leave them feeling completely radiant – a task that is somewhat second nature to Jasmine, as seen through her style shoot this month at the whimsical Whitecliff Park, Vancouver.