Hank's Blog

The 3 Most Common Mistakes in Wedding Planning

Imagine going into a job interview and telling the interviewer that you have zero experience! Suffice to say, that would be pretty daunting. When it comes to planning your own wedding, experience is not a common qualifier. For most couples, this is the first and last time they have to plan an event of such significance with a big price tag. Sometimes this lack of experience can lead to stress or disappointment as a result of some easily avoidable mistakes. Here are some tips on what common mistakes I have seen people make, and how to avoid them.

Mistake #01: Not Aligning Your Wedding to Personal Values

People often make the mistake of not aligning their wedding to their personal values and beliefs. This can ultimately lead to disappointment on what should be one of the most special days in life. Don’t discount the significance of how your values can shape your wedding to be unique and utterly memorable.

Personal values come in many different forms, but at their core, they are guiding principles that make you who you are. Things such as cultural background, family traditions or sexual orientation all influence what your values are and how you may choose to express them on your wedding day.

A vegan bride might want to cater their menu accordingly; a socialist groom might ask for gifts to be made in the form of donations to their favourite charity. Think about any and all ways you want your values to shine through. This could include what you wear, who you invite to speak in the ceremony, or how the day/weekend is structured.

Personally, I encourage everyone to consider the importance of incorporating a Welcome To- or Acknowledgement of Country in their ceremony. You can read more about that in my blog post, How to do an Acknowledgement of Country at Your Wedding.

Mistake #02: Not Planning Around ‘Golden Hour’

The second mistake I often see from couples planning their wedding is not fully grasping how crucial sunset is for the portrait photo session. In the industry, we speak about something called ‘Golden Hour’. Golden Hour is typically the hour prior to the sun going down. (Pro tip: there’s an equally beautiful golden hour at sunrise. This is totally an option for those brave enough to have their portrait photos taken at the start of the day!)

Golden hour is the best time to take wedding photos because of a few reasons:

  • Number one, it is the most flattering sunlight for your skin. Harsh sunlight often amplifies imperfections. It also casts dark shadows in your eye sockets that make it look like you’ve got a black eye!
  • Number two, the low angle of the sun lends itself to beautiful backlighting and lens flares. There are some fun lighting conditions for an experienced photographer to play with!
  • Number three, golden hour lights you and your surroundings evenly. Consider if you’re wanting photos on top of a mountain, on the beach or in a whimsical forest… Sunset will allow for all aspects of the background scenery to be lit as beautifully as you are, thus providing your photos with a gorgeous palette of colour and light.

Practically, what this means is that couples need to know exactly what time the sun is setting on their chosen wedding date and plan their whole wedding around it. I wrote about this at length in another blog article, Your Wedding Timeline – A When-To Guide.

Mistake #03: Not Investing In Exceptional Wedding Photography

henry paul photography

Of all the things you spend money on for your big day, the photos are the only things that gain value the older they get. And no, I’m not suggesting you’ll be able to sell them in 20 years for twice as much as you paid for them! I mean sentimental value. Shared by you, your spouse and your family. Generations from now, these images will form a part of your legacy and the family narrative.

By not investing in an exceptional wedding photographer, you are leaving yourself vulnerable to potentially being disappointed with the photos you have received. Remember this: In 20 years from now you want to love how you looked and remember how you felt. That’s what good wedding photography can do. It is a window into the activities and the emotions from the day, so you can hold on to all of the romantic feelings, even when your spouse leaves their underwear on the floor for the millionth time.

In summary, the three most common wedding planning mistakes are as follows:

  • #01: Not Aligning Your Wedding to Personal Values.
  • #02: Not Planning Around ‘Golden Hour’.
  • #03: Not Investing In Exceptional Wedding Photography

Hopefully, this list has given you some insight into what not to do and instead give you peace of mind as you embark on some of the most exciting days ahead! One of the most important aspects of planning a wedding is finding someone who can capture these memories in a relaxed and romantic way. If you are looking for an experienced photographer with a keen eye, I would love to be there on your big day – please head to my contact page and get in touch!

Writing Your Wedding Speech

Wedding Speech tips

Giving a speech at your own wedding can be nerve-wracking for anyone, but it is especially challenging if you’ve been so focused on the wedding planning that you haven’t had time to sit down and formulate your words. Here are my tips on writing the perfect speech that will give everyone the warms and fuzzies without putting too much pressure on yourself.


The best way to start a speech the first time is by telling an amusing story or joke. Humour can help lighten up the mood and make your speech more enjoyable for everyone in attendance, so no one feels uncomfortable.

  • What’s the funniest thing your spouse does in the mornings when they wake up?
  • Was there ever a time they did something so hilarious you couldn’t stop laughing?


Share one of your fondest memories with your spouse. Give your guests an insight into the love story that brought you this far.

  • When was the moment you realised you were falling in love?
  • Where were you when you shared your first kiss?
  • What is something your spouse has done that made you feel proud of them?

Thank yous.

Okay, you’ve shared some heartfelt stuff. Now you can dring your wedding speech to a close with some gratitude. As the host of this big party, it’s your job to let everyone know that their presence is appreciated.

  • Thank your parents, thank your families, thank your wedding party. No exceptions.
  • Shout out anybody who gave up their time and/or skills for your wedding.
  • You can also make your wedding vendors feel special by acknowledging their contributions to the big day.
  • Keep it short and sweet. Whilst it can be very sweet to thank every person individually by name, there’s no need to let it drag on.
  • A final thank you to your brand new spouse! Say “I love you” and you’re done 🙂

A few extra thoughts:


Short and sweet.

Keep it short and sweet. An average speech should last for only about two to five minutes. Keeping your speech concise ensures that you will be able to logically address all of your points without rambling or going off-topic.

  • If you don’t like public speaking, simply say a few kind words, raise your glass for a toast and hand back the microphone.
  • It’s easy to talk too fast when you are nervous. Slow down your speaking in order to allow your guests to hear you more clearly.

Be sincere.

Show your family and guests much you care for your friendship with them and express your gratitude for their participation in the event.

  • Take a moment after the speech to give a hug to your parents or your spouse. Physical touch helps reaffirm the things you’ve just said about them.
  • It’s common for people to get a little choked up while giving a speech. If you have prepared enough in advance, you will be able to push through the tears.
  • Don’t be embarrassed if you do cry, this shows that you care deeply for the person or people who are being honoured.

There are many ways to end a wedding speech, but the most important thing is that you be heartfelt and sincere. I hope these tips will help you on your journey to create something special that expresses how much joy and meaning this day holds for you. Now it’s time to take out those notes on paper and go practice! If this has all been so helpful, please consider sharing this article with others who might need help writing their wedding speech too.

Abby & Amit – Old Coach Stables Wedding

old coach stables wedding portrait

Abby & Amit’s wedding at The Old Coach Stables was emotive, jubilant and picture-perfect. The drive out to Gunning was a clear indication of how the day was going to be; the wide New South Wales country landscapes evoke a romantic escape from the day-to-day business of life in the city.

Words from Amit:

I first saw Abigail at a dance festival. She was wearing this beautiful black dress and she looked total smoking hot. I remembered asking her for a dance to which she said yes. We had few dances and they were definitely the highlight of the night for me. We didn’t get to have a conversation that night as she was with her friends. Our “first” meeting was when she came to a group dinner I had organised (we had common friends). After dinner we were going to a house party, I took the chance and offered her a ride to the party. She agreed to it. Bingo!!!! At the house party, I got tipsy but remembered paying my utmost attention to her all night. The next morning I woke up with a massive hangover but made sure I messaged to check on her to see how she was doing. When I found out she’s having a hangover too, I prepared a little care package (fresh juice, chocolates, water bottle and little goodies).

From then on we got chatting on a regular basis but was not sure if she was interested in me or not. I invited her to Tuesday Latin night that I used to host and DJ at. She cancelled on me last minute a couple of times. I remember one Tuesday night she came and I got butterflies in my stomach when I saw her. I gave her a kiss on the cheek but she seemed a little hesitant and it made my heart sank. My friend looked at me and said “you really like her, don’t you”. That moment it became really clear in my head that I do like her more than I realised at the time. I summed up courage and walked up to her and asked her if she had a minute to chat. I told her that I was falling for her and wanted to know if she wants me to make an effort or if she wanted me to stop. To my absolute delight, she said she wants me to NOT stop and that she likes me too. That was IT! That moment changed my life.

Words from Abby:

Amit and I met through the Latin dance scene. As a new student (he was an instructor at the time) I had seen him in passing and had had a nice dance with him once in Sydney and remember being intrigued, but we didn’t really talk until my best friend invited him to a party she hosted. He caught my eye there because I remember he was well dressed, and from there a conversation started which led to him inviting me to a group dinner. He then asked to drive me to the after-party. He absolutely loves his car and takes a lot of pride in it. I think he was expecting me to be impressed when he drove me to the party 🙂 but I don’t know anything about cars, so I just appreciated the gesture. From there (lots of) tequila got the conversation flowing and we hit it off. We had dance workshops the next day, and he brought me flowers and juice (a hangover cure) in a new thermos. I’m not big on gifts, but it was more of the thought and time he’d put given from his already busy morning to make me feel special and carry on the connection we’d felt the night before.

Old Coach Stables Wedding Venue

The Old Coach Stables have been recently restored into a beautiful wedding venue and restaurant. It is 5 minutes out of Gunning, and 30 minutes drive from Yass, NSW, and provides the perfect rural setting for a beautiful wedding day filled with joy and celebration.

walking down the aisle at old coach stableswedding confettibride and groom cuddlinggunning wedding photos

I was particularly excited to discover that all of the catering Abby & Amit had selected was vegan and vegetarian, cooked by the incredible chefs in the Old Coach Stables kitchen.

old coach stables wedding portrait

Photography: Henry Paul Photography | Wedding Ceremony Venue: The Old Coach Stables, Gunning New South Wales | Wedding Reception Venue: The Old Coach Stables Restaurant | Florist: Louise Sumner | Engagement Ring: Unique Diamonds (Braddon, ACT) | Videographer: Karlo Aliling from Say Hello To Forever | Wedding Celebrant: Sue Jose | Catering: The Old Coach Stables | Entertainment: Steve Amosa | Cake: Rebecca Hannan | Invitations: SayIDo online | Photobooth: Happy Days Canberra | Wedding Bands: Michael Hill (Abby) & Mazzucchelli’s (Amit) | Bridal Gown Designer: Diane Lewis Couture (Bespoke) | Abby’s Shoes: Wittner | Hair: Rachel Kate | Makeup: Elaine Marie Artistry | Shirt: Eaton | Jacket: Reiss | Pants Reiss | Amit’s Shoes: Aquila


Your Wedding Timeline: A When-To Guide

guide to planning your wedding timeline

Planning your wedding timeline can sometimes feel like doing a 1000-piece puzzle. You have a vague idea of what the end product should look like, but it takes hours of formulating to get all the correct pieces in order.

When you are investing a large amount of money on one big day, it is well within your interests to make sure it’s all going to run smoothly. But you’ll soon come to realise that there is a plethora of conflicting advice from your venue, your wedding photographer and your mum’s best friend.

I’m going to show you how to put together a run sheet that flows well, doesn’t leave your guests with too much spare time and allows breathing room in case of any delays.

One: Work Backwards from Sunset

I generally recommend working backwards from sunset as a starting point to work out the ideal timing of your day. Keep this in mind when choosing a date for your wedding.

To find out the time of sunset, simply search “sunset” plus the date and location of the wedding. For example, if you type “sunset 21st october 2022, sydney” into Google you will see the sun is scheduled to go down at 7:13 PM.

One of the most important factors in “pretty” photos is working with the best light available. That means that if you are wanting to take your portrait photos outdoors, the “golden hour” leading up to sunset is the best time of day.

I recommend crafting a wedding timeline so that your portraits photos are happening as close to sunset as possible.

Note: if your sunset is late at night, say after 7:30 PM, then you may like to schedule your portraits earlier in the afternoon and simply set aside 10 minutes at sunset for you and your new spouse to run outside and take a few more photos in that glorious golden light.

Two: Ceremony length

The length of your ceremony will naturally affect the time you (and your guests) will arrive. Most Australian wedding ceremonies go for 15-30 minutes, however, if you are getting married in a church, or having extra readings or songs featured during the ceremony then the formalities may take a little longer.

Don’t forget that after the ceremony, your guests will want to come up and give you hugs and kisses and take some photos with you. Try to account for this time by giving yourselves a 15-20 minute buffer as to not rush to the next thing.

Three: Locations and travel time

If possible, try to choose a location that allows you to do as much as possible on-site. Consider also getting ready on-site, or close to where the wedding will be held. This will save you time on the day, and reduce any stress associated with potential traffic. Having your partner stay nearby can make things easier if people need to travel between the two. Airbnb always has great options!

Four: Chat to your photographer

Your photographer is the most knowledgeable person to speak to about this topic, as they will be able to give you advice based on the hundreds of weddings they’ve been to. Every wedding timeline is going to be different, accounting for whether the sun is setting at 8:30PM or at 4:30PM. Working with a professional photographer to make the most of your time will save you from stressing out in the lead-up, or even worse, on the day itself.

Example timeline:

Sunset: In this hypothetical example of a wedding time, we’ll plan for sunset to be at 6:30pm. In this case, we ideally want to schedule the portrait photos sometime between 5:40pm and 6:40pm.

Family photos: Working backwards, it would make sense to schedule some family photos at 5pm, allowing plenty of time for hugs and kisses.

Ceremony: Assuming the length is an average 20 minute ceremony, let’s schedule it to begin at 4:30pm, giving us some breathing room if things run a tad late.

Arrival: Guests should be encouraged to arrive between 4pm and 4:15pm.

Jumping forward:

In this example, you may then consider starting your wedding reception at 6:30pm for the happy couple to join at 6:45 with a big entrance. Try to intertwine your meals with speeches, cake cutting and any other formalities you are planning.

Dancing: It’s best to have all of your formalities finished before you begin the dancing to not interrupt the flow of the night too much. In this example, I think you’ll be ready to hit the dancefloor at 9:30pm.

Let’s summarise this timeline:

4:00PM | Guest Arrival
4:30PM | Ceremony
5:00PM | Hugs, Kisses & Family Photos
5:30PM | Canapes/Cocktail Hour
5:40PM | Portrait Photos
6:30PM | Reception
6:45PM | Couple’s Entrance
7-9PM | Dinner and speeches
9:10PM | Cake Cutting
9:15PM | First Dance
And onwards | Dancefloor

To summarise this article, here are the key points:

  • Sunset is the first piece of information you need to start your timeline planning.
  • The second thing you need to know is how long your ceremony will go for.
  • Finally, you will need to account for any travel time required between locations on the wedding day.

wedding timeline sunset golden hourFeatured photos are from Abby & Amit’s wedding held at The Old Coach Stables in Gunning.

Henry Paul Photography acknowledges Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. I pay my respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, and to Elders both past and present. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples should be aware that this website may contain images or names of people who have since passed away.


Pin It on Pinterest