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I do… I don’t


Planning a wedding can be stressful, but knowing your own mind and being firm about your decisions will make it much easier. New bride Risée Chaderton offers some words of wisdom

Getting married can be utterly overwhelming. Believe me: I have a lot of experience – as a professional photographer, I have been involved with many, many weddings over the years. But even that couldn’t prepare me for the scale of the task when planning my own wedding last year. There was just so much to do! I often felt like there was never going to be enough time to get everything done.

Added to the regular, run-of-the-mill wedding stress, I was also quite ill for several months. Even so, I had to make decisions during this time, making the whole process even more difficult.

As the date approached, everything seemed to be going OK – until one missing document created a cascade of issues, with the result that we weren’t able to apply for our marriage licence until just three weeks before the wedding! Somehow, we managed to get that done (thankfully, in Barbados it takes only one day). And on the day of the wedding itself there were very few glitches – albeit one major one – and we made it through in the end.

So,as a survivor, I am here to say: it will be alright! And to help, here are some tips for planning your big day.

Wedding do’s

• Do set a budget: decide what is most important to you both and prioritise those items.

• Do check the weather forecast and plan for rain. Note the rainy seasons and weather patterns of your country of choice – for instance, some islands are prone to afternoon thundershowers at certain times of the year. Checking out the overall pattern can save you a lot of anxiety on the day. Include a contingency plan for rain in your budget.

• Do think about the heat when choosing your bridal gown, suits and the clothing of your attendants. It is hot out here – really hot! – so unless you have a fully air-conditioned venue you may not want to be swathed in ten yards of satin or a fine wool suit for a 2pm beach wedding. My dress was actually 63 yards of tulle and lace – yes, 63 YARDS of fabric! But my fabulous designer, Jaye of Jazz Applewhite Designs, chose very light fabrics so she was able to accommodate my request. I had a dozen acrylic butterflies stitched to my bodice and my train to create even more magic. Don’t underestimate local talent – you can find wonderfully creative and talented artists who can make your dress dreams come true.

• Do get a wedding planner. A planner saved my wedding day. Without her I’m certain things would have collapsed into chaos. A good planner will deflect any difficult questions away from you and ensure a stress-free day. Trust me: you may have to stretch your budget a tiny bit and forgo a few things but skimping on the planner won’t make your wedding day easier – it will make it harder. Having a planner made it possible for me to do the most important thing on my wedding day: relax.

• Do be gentle but firm with your family as they try to invite the entire neighbourhood – and everyone who has ever said hello to you – to your wedding. Discuss how you want to handle this issue with your fiancé, and remember to present a united but gentle front. If you get a request that you haven’t yet discussed with your intended, don’t be afraid to say: “We haven’t yet worked out that part – let me get back to you later.” Be sure to keep your promise: discuss the issue, and get back to the family member with a gentle and polite response. Remember that “No” is a complete sentence. Once you’ve agreed a plan and are sure about the guest list STAY FIRM. Don’t let your mum’s repeated requests to add that cousin you haven’t seen since you were three lead you into overextending yourself or making your day full of uncomfortable interactions.

• Do make time to attend a cake tasting. Yes, this matters. Your wedding planner (remember them?) will organise this and make sure that you have options. As Cute as a Cupcake made my cake; Joanna was so dedicated to making sure I was happy I didn’t really worry about anything else once I’d decided on a flavour. This may not seem like a big deal but I have seen many brides and grooms utterly disappointed with their cakes because they didn’t think attending the tasting was a big deal or there wasn’t enough communication with the baker.

• Do create something sentimental. My son helped me make our ring box – we stencilled, painted and stuck in the pictures together. The memories are priceless.

• Do take the time for a mani and pedi. Your hands will be the star of many pictures so you will want them to look their best.

• Do make sure that your planner or a trusted friend collects all of your belongings from wherever you are dressing. It is easy to forget things in the chaos but if you assign one friend to make sure that your keys, phone etc are safe, you will be able to relax.

• Do explore all options before deciding on an island. Would you prefer the convenience of an all-inclusive hotel package? Or the freedom (and extra work) of choosing off-property suppliers? It all depends on which option feels best for you.

• Do make sure that all your documents are in order. Check, double-check, triple-check then have your planner check. Nothing will ruin your wedding day as spectacularly as f inding out at the last minute that you have forgotten an important piece of documentation that means you cannot legally get married.


Wedding don’ts

• Don’t overspend. You don’t want to be struggling after the wedding. If you have to borrow to get it done, consider whether you really need to have it.

• Don’t skimp on your photographer but stay within your budget. You’ve seen the most amazing photographer online but when you get their price list you know that even if you ditched everything else you’d never be able to afford them. Now you are sad. Don’t be sad. A good photographer will usually be willing to work with you to craft a reasonable plan that will fit your budget. Don’t choose a cheaper photographer whose work doesn’t excite you simply because you feel you cannot afford the person you really want. Speak to your dream photographer – you might be surprised by what arrangements can be made.

• Don’t do your makeup yourself. Unless you are a professional makeup artist, do make a booking. Doing your makeup for everyday is different from doing it for photographs. Remember that awesome photographer you just booked? A professional makeup artist will know how to make you look your best both to human eyes and to the camera. Research, and make sure your chosen artist is familiar with your preferred style and is also willing to do a consultation. Sherry-Anne Moore of MakeupBySAM was both professional and fun – she was also one of my bridesmaids so I kinda cheated!

• Don’t be afraid to just elope if that is what you really want. If you make this choice don’t feel guilty. It is your wedding and at the end of it all it is just between you and your partner. There will be hurt feelings but if you have made the decision and you are firm in your reasons don’t let the expectations of others sway you from what you feel is right for both of you.

• Don’t be afraid to choose fake flowers for your bouquet. Real flowers are fabulous but if you are trying to keep your costs down, check out artificial blooms. As an extra bonus, they won’t wilt in the heat or require refrigeration to stay gorgeous!

• Don’t spend the day before your wedding suntanning if you have skin prone to reddening or burning in the sun. The same applies to wedding attendants and parents. Reddened or sunburned skin makes for less-flattering photographs.

• Don’t forget to have fun! It is your wedding day! Have a blast, drink champagne, dance, laugh with your friends – and kiss your new spouse often. You just got married and there is nothing in the world more amazing than that right now.


Barbados bride guide
Planning a Bajan wedding? Try these…
• Wedding planners – Allison Burnham at Sugar Plum Events (246 260 2224), Soulmates Barbados (246 420 6349;
• Bridal dresses and headpieces –Jazz Applewhite Designs (
• Fascinators and accessories –The Crop Pop Up Shop (246 253 4271;
• Makeup artist – MakeupBySAM (246 234 6194;
• Hair stylists – Donna Sealy (246 265 4131), Donna Smith at Hair By Donna (246 234 3731;, Cagney Kells Consultancy (246 821 3607)
• Beauty treatments – Xi-Ela’s Beauty Box (
• Lighting – Juan Watts (246 233 0449)
• Decor – Petals Paradise (246 231 9993;
• Photography – (246 823 1191;, Leslie St John Photography (246 231 3509;
• Caterers – Courtyard Caterers (246 421 7732;
• Bar – Palette House (246 240 8547)
• Wedding cake – As Cute As A Cupcake (246 426 1899;
• Wedding singers – Debbie Reifer (;