Meet Alex Cork who was married in May 2021 and had a 4 day wedding with his beautiful bride. He shares with us all their lessons learnt from this huge planning accomplishment.
Recorded 2nd Sep 2021
Entries close 24th September 2021
Alex: Yeah, sure. Well, at the moment, I’m at Easy Weddings as the head of client experience. So my main role is working for the suppliers who are on the website. So the people who advertise these weddings, my job is to make sure that they’re having a good time on the site as much as possible. And I’m providing value outside of inquiries is the main two things.
So trying to educate business owners who are advertising pays for weddings about how they can improve their business in many different ways, shapes or forms. And I think one of my challenges at the moment is really getting my head around the wedding industry, having not been in that previously, I’ve come from education, so work in education company, have been podcasting for the education company and still do, actually, if, if that’s up, I’m not going to give that apply. But at the moment here to talk about weddings. But yeah, so I came mainly for the education side where I was running, you know, webinars and this kind of thing. And now I’m doing the same kind of thing for easy weddings for the easy weddings, clientele.
And, you know, in terms of the wedding side of things that was really interesting how I came to join, I’ve, I’ve only been here for just over a month, I guess. But like I was looking for different opportunities after I got married, which I got married in, in May. And we’re going to cover a bit of it because it was like a, a crash course in weddings, that’s for sure. I feel a bit guilty about having like a big wedding this year, but like it, you know, because of all the COVID stuff, and how many people have not been able to do that, but we dodged the COVID bullet.
Very, very luckily. But in any case, I was looking at different jobs. I was applying mainly for different universities and different kind of, you know, top schools around, they’re doing their marketing, etc. And then I came across this job with Easy Weddings.
And I was like I you know, there could be a bit of an interesting, you know, take on things like I really enjoyed the wedding planning experience and getting involved in that. My wife is a wedding dance choreographer, she’s done a lot of that before as well. And I thought, Oh, I may as well give it a shot. And I put my application in at 10pm. And by 3pm the next day, I had a job offer. It’s the quickest turnaround I’ve ever been a part of which is great. So they must have liked me in the interview, which was nice too. Nice to know.
And yeah, since then, I’ve just kind of been finding my fate trying to work out like what is it that wedding suppliers really need at the moment? And what can we do from like, you know, educating a couple’s side of things as well like what ideally would support flyers want couples to know about getting married in 2022.
And I think that you know, those around like, Saturdays are often not going to be available like you opened a weekday weddings or things like, you know, COVID policies are likely to change and be open to not having your wedding rescheduled or not being able to reschedule your wedding due to COVID in 2022, because some venues are just not going to allow that anymore. So it’s all those little bits and pieces that I’m getting my head around the the wedding industry in general, but it’s Yeah, it’s been really great change so far, really enjoying it.
So my wife’s name is Lucia. So she’s Indian background. So North Indian; and yeah, like when I popped the question to her in another mini COVID break, which was I think July, you know, she knows this that. I think it was July kind of 2020 I kind of knew roughly what I was getting myself into, I knew that it’s you know, like a multiple day wedding. And I knew that, you know, there was going to have to be significant expenditure, at some point in time, or, you know, you’d have to shell out a little bit and whatnot.
But I think the amount of planning and the wedding that came together, and you know, at the end of it was probably more than I expected, like it was the planning itself, you know, planning a Friday, Saturday. So it was one event on Friday, which is called the sun gate, which basically is like a song and dance essentially, like, you just get together.
But we had to plan a dance for that. My wife planned a surprise dance. For me, I planned a surprise dance for her. We had heaps of people, we kind of tried to keep it fairly casual in terms of the clothing and whatnot.
And then the Saturday we combined two events because we wanted to avoid having an event on Mother’s Day. So we had two events on the Saturday, which was both home based events. Now, traditionally, home based events, one was the Haldi, which is like a purification ceremony involving tumeric, where I get like tumeric you know, kind of like caked into my face and my ears and everything else. But after a while it started burning a little bit which which isn’t great.
But other than that is like a super fun ceremony. And then the girls get their hair done. And when the girls were getting the henna done, I took the boys to go for a hit of golf, which was nice.
And then on the Monday, we had two ceremonies, we had an Indian ceremony in the morning, we had a Western ceremony in the afternoon, slash evening, we had him at two different locations, buses in between different guests.
It was hectic, I don’t recommend it to anybody to do what we did. But you know, and we planned this well, so we didn’t have a wedding planner, or anything. We did this old DIY. But yeah, there was definitely some lessons learned from that whole experience that I’ve been sharing with with couples and who have been asking not just with, you know, Indian couples, but anyone about planning a wedding. I think we learned a lot from that experience.
Alex and his Bride undergoing the Haldi Ceremony which involves Turmeric
I’ll give you a couple of things that I learned. Number one is, you know, it was an interesting thing around budgeting, because I didn’t really know what to expect from the budget. I mean, you can look at different people’s, you know, like estimates and averages and whatnot. But when you’re planning a four day wedding, all those numbers kind of go out the window.
So I said to my wife, and we kind of said, hey, look, let’s get some quotes. And then we’ll put our budget together, because we’re not quite sure what the costs will end up being like, if someone said, you know, what budget Do you want for your wedding? I’d say I don’t really know, because I don’t have any quotes yet. When I start getting quotes from venues and different suppliers and this kind of stuff, then I’ll have a rough idea of what my budget should be.
So we tried to do it that way, which kind of made sense initially. But as time went on, what I realised is that there is a lot of hidden costs with weddings, like I came from planning events in my education company that I was working for. And I realised that you know, I thought I thought that venues was going to be the primary cost because that’s what it was when you’re running seminars, but with weddings, like that’s just one part of it. It’s like half but then you’ve also got, you know, your food and beverage, you floristry you’ve got your entertainment, you’ve got your transport, you’ve got every all these other things, your bridal outfits, you know your groomsmen suits, you’ve got the hair Hair and makeup, oh my god, I hated paying for everyone’s hair. And I was like, surely they could do this themselves surely. And now my wife is like, No, no, we need to organise this, like, oh my god.
So all those hidden expenses. So now listen for the couples there. You know, don’t necessarily think about like when you’re planning your wedding budget, take into account all of the other things that might come into it and be generous, like, you know, budget more than what you think they might cost. And then hopefully, you can, you can undercut it. The second thing I learned was, when to stop being a wedding planner, and when to start being a bride and groom.
You know, because right up into the last day, on the Sunday, on the Sunday, I had to drive out to tullamarine to pick up my Indian wedding outfit, because it got delayed like three times I was I ordered it from Etsy from someone who’s got a shop on Etsy and whatnot, she made the lovely things and whatnot. And she delivered it to Melbourne like Express pose. On Friday night when we were doing our first event. They said, you’re not going to get it until Monday.
And I said, well, Monday’s no use to us like, going to be married at that point. Like I need it earlier than that. And so we actually like my wife got on the phone, she’s very good at this kind of stuff. And she was like, let me speak to your manager place. That’s as we were on our way to our bed on Friday. So anyway, I’ve got a message on Sunday, to pick it up and everything. But the lesson learned there was like, at some point, and this is the conversation that I had with my wife, I’m like, we need to stop being the wedding planner, and stop being a bride and groom.
So you know, that’s being present on the day, and everyone tells you to be present on the day. And I think if anyone was kind of thinking, you know, should I get a wedding planner, or should I not? I would say that having a wedding planner would probably have allowed us to be more present on the day. Yeah, because we were still you know, the best part, I’ll give you a quick little story that one of the best part of the wedding for me in terms of like letting go of the planning aspect wasn’t until the very final, you know, like we done the ceremony, we done the sparkler exit.
We’ve done all that, you know. Yeah. And the buses were there, ready to take people back. And we had two buses organised one to go back to Melbourne, and one to go to various places in the Yarra Valley to drop people off, Shawn. And the bus driver said to me, I said, I’m sorry, mate, like, I don’t know, you know, who’s going where I’m not quite sure there’s some details that still need to be sorted out. And this guy said, mate, don’t worry, we’ll random up. Oh, thank you God, like this guy basically said, Stop being a wedding planner.
You’re married now go enjoy your night type of thing. Yeah. And for me, that was like, that was the you know, I finally was able to let go. And I think if there was a wedding plan that there from the get go, it would have been a lot less stressful, obviously. Well, that’s the idea, I guess. So yeah, just just knowing if you are DIY in it, the planning aspect, knowing when to kind of get back into that groom bride mindset. And getting out of the planning one was was an interesting lesson.
I think it’s a really important one. There’s obviously benefits to planning your own wedding. And a lot of couples do that, even if they’re going to other venues, we have, you know, the wedding planner there to help plan, you know, the aspects and side of the wedding from the venue side. It’s really important to be able to trust your suppliers.
And it’s important to be able to just take a step back and just taking the day because you’ve literally spent so much money to make sure everyone can have an incredible time and have this great experience as you celebrate your relationship. And the last thing you want to do is be stuck worrying about all the little logistics. And that’s not an easy thing to do. And it will be different for each couple depends on personality type will depend on the vendors.
And that’s why when I recommend people finding suppliers, it’s we’ll find someone that you gel with, find someone who you know, you’re on that same sort of vibe when you’re here, they’ll really contribute well to our day. Because if you can just trust them, they will help you navigate all the little bits and pieces on the day. Like, you know, like the bus driver just taken that weight off your shoulders. You presented a problem to him. And you know, he wasn’t sort of like Alright, we got to fix it. He was like No worries. I’ve got your back. Yeah. And for you that just was like, Oh, that’s exactly what I needed, someone else to clean this up for me.
There was definitely some aspects where we saw the other side of that, though, where suppliers, perhaps were not as good at solving problems as you would hope they would be sure. We were dealing with one of the venue managers. And I was there, my wife wasn’t.
So this is on the Sunday as well. We’re in the Yarra Valley. And she was like, Oh, we need the final seating plan and seating plans as stressful as he is like, they are the worst part of I, my wife mainly did as and I do not envy her at all for it. It’s like the worst part of planning a wedding, I think, is that damn seating plan. Anyway, we went to the venue manager. And she’s like, Oh, we need the final one. The final final one, because we made like one tiny change. And the venue manager started like, saying, you know, can we get that final thing?
And my wife was on the phone. I spoke to her and she’s like, why is this so difficult? make one change? That’s all we’ve asked for. And it was a legal thing for the venue to say no, we need the final seating plan for legal reasons, because they’ve been sued in the past for seating plan that didn’t quite go according to what the bride and groom thought.
Anyway, my wife was like, pretty annoyed that we have to do this. And the venue manager literally started hyperventilating. She was like, Oh, my God, I’m so sorry. I’m really sorry. And I’m like, Whoa, whoa, whoa, like, this is so horrible. Like you chill out. I’ve already got one stress woman in my life, which is my wife, which is my mom, who was also very, yeah, I really don’t need you to stress out right now. And she’s, she said, She’s, you probably don’t need me to stress out right now. I’m like, I definitely do not need you to stress out right now.
So it was Yeah, it was definitely like, there’s some supplies, I think it’s knowing, you know, if it is that precious situation, how they’re going to handle it. But majority, you know, are ready and waiting to handle that pressure. And I’ve done it many times before. So it’s not too much of an issue. But yeah, there’s definitely some times I was like, really like, you’re no wedding planner, or like a wedding venue manager. I was like, that’s interesting.
Alex in his Sherwani and his Bride in her Panetar
The night before the wedding. We shared this like lovely house and in the event like 12 of us there and we’re on one side, groomsmen on one side and bridesmaids on the other.
And I said to my Best Man, I said “mate, there’s gonna be problems tomorrow 100% there’s going to be two kinds of problems. There’s going to be major problems and minor problems, major problems derail the wedding. We’re talking like emergencies calling the ambulance, this kind of thing. That’s the problems I want to know about. The second one minor problems. It’s you know, things are a little late things you know, food isn’t quite right. These kinds of things that I don’t want to know about it. I don’t really yeah, it’s just Yep, like, unless it is threatening to derail the entire wedding. I really don’t care. It is not worth solving on the day.”
And he was like like to be to be fair, he did a fantastic job as a best man. He really stepped up my other groomsmen bless. They kind of like they love the day, which is awesome. I know that a bit like you know when I needed someone to help out. I was like, I just went to my best man because he was on to it. And he was like, I’m here to make sure you have a great day.
My groomsmen, you know, my brother. He was, you know, wandering off and having fun. And I’m like, bro, yeah, I need your help with this, like, where are you going right now? So anyway, yeah, that. But definitely there’s two types of problems. And I think that second one, the minor ones are not worth your time.
Alex and his Bride Dancing at ONE of their FOUR wedding days
I think mainly, we were looking at cutting costs in some areas that, you know, like, it was just a matter of, do we really need some of these things? You know, like when it comes to entertainment or photography? So one of the major causes of video videography and photography, and that’s something that like, you know, it’s one of those things that everyone says after their wedding that they wish they had spent more on.
But when you’re doing four days or three days, like you can’t have a you know, professional videographer photographer there every day, because that will be like $30,000, or something like that. It’d be crazy. So we’ve got like, a pretty amateurish guy for the Friday. Which was fine. Like, we got some pics and whatnot, were they great, man, you know, not so good.
But like, it was at least something. And we ended up having a bit of a deal with a videographer on the, on the Monday. And he was really great. He was like, Hey, you know, I’ll charge you for eight hours, because I’ll do four hours at the first ceremony for as the second but I won’t charge you for that time in between. So who is really sweet about that, and that is driving us like to two grand just paid doing that kind of thing.
But here are some of the other ways we save some money was through some floristry and just bargaining with some people and being like, hey, what else can you do? Like, there’s the quote, and then there’s the follow up, quote, type of thing being like, okay, that’s, you know, $3,000 on flowers, like, can you get that down to two and a half, or, you know, for the groomsmen suits, for instance, I was originally going to buy them all suits, like just an MJ bail or something. And then after a bit, I was like, that’s not going to work at all. So I ended up hiring suits, which was cheaper. So it ended up working out, okay.
But from a budgeting perspective, it was really just kind of shaving a little bit off as many different people as we could as many different suppliers as we could. We didn’t, we didn’t want to like cut videography or photography. We just wanted to shave a little bit off here and there in a couple of different places.
Did we go over budget in the end? Yes, we did. You know, is that a kind of like a given almost for weddings? Probably.
Like, that’s just yeah, particularly when you’re doing for days, like one of the things that I really didn’t want to do is have to pay for alcohol for two different events. You know, the Friday night for 100 plus people and Monday night for you know, 220 people like that’s an absolute killer paying for alcohol. And my wife is like, No, we need to have it’s like the thing that I’m like, No, I’m not doing it. Well, we’ll do one drink on arrival for the Friday. And and after that people can can DIY people didn’t mind at all people didn’t really care people understood though, like yeah, you’re doing afford a wedding like chill. You don’t need to like do everything for us to have a being so yeah, I think some of the shaving a little bit of here. And there was probably the way that we approached budgeting ended up working not too bad.
I have to admit my mom helped us, you know, quite a lot actually with the Monday reception and you know, to be fair like that. kind of gave her allowance to invite quite a few of her mates as well. She was like, I want this person here and this person. I’m like, I don’t know those people. And she’s like, well, you’re going to because like, I’m helping you pay for this damn thing. So yeah, they’re coming. And I was like, okay, sure, sure. So there was that kind of flexibility. And you know, we’re really grateful that mom was able to help in that way.
But yeah, it certainly, yeah, budget wise. I was, like, I saw I’ve been saying to people that they Indian weddings are so big, because they don’t want you to get married twice. They want you to kind of like it get getting divorced and getting another Indian wedding is you ruin you financially. So he just just get married once. And you’re done.
I would say in terms of working with suppliers, I get on the phone, I just thought so much was lost over email, and so much time was wasted over email, I think, you know, I was the type of person that you know, when you’re planning a big, big wedding, I didn’t have time to kind of like, wait for email replies, and then you know, follow up, where was that email? Where did we leave a type of thing? Or just be like, Hey, are you free or available on this day? Is this something that you do like we check their Instagram, we check, you know, their, their Ew, storefront, these kinds of things, see the photos, images, videos that we liked. And if they were available, I would say, Great, send us a quick quote, and then we’ll get on the phone, and we’ll plan the rest.
So I didn’t like stuffing around on emails too much. I just think it wasted a lot of time. And I think the other thing is just being consistent with your planning, you know, over the one thing that I found hilarious that I’ll just start you as well, which is great, is when you are planning a wedding, you will very quickly know which of your guests have been married before, and which of your guests are not married? Judging simply by the questions that you get from them.
So we got some questions, bless from our, our non married guests around like, is this footwear for my boyfriend, okay to wear on the Friday night? Because we were like, you know, Indian wedding, you know, so people were a little bit unsure about it, and they should be or not be right. Sure. And this was like literally on the Thursday, before the Friday and we at that point could not have cared less as to what footwear people were going to wear. And and it was amazing, that kind of question. So if you are attending a wedding, and you know, particularly for a close friend, the kind of emails or messages that we’re getting from married friends was like, Hey, man, let me know if we can help in any way, shape, shape or form, like just anything we can do to help let us know all the best for the wedding.
And then I can non married friends are asking this trivial kind of stuff around, you know, yeah, shoes and whatnot. So Oh, my gosh, that was so frustrating.
But yeah, so one of the things we tried to do like one, yeah, one other quick tip for couples is when we put together a wedding website. Yep. And we used Actually, yeah, we use like an online wedding website type of thing. And we made it really comprehensive. And we had FAQs in there, we had as much detail as we could we had information about all the days we sent individual online invites for every event where we cover all the rest of them.
And that was, I think, a bit of a lifesaver for us, because we will just like just go to the website, just go to the website, the website. So I think that ended up saving us a lot of work down the line. Because people could refer to the information. But of course, we still got the question about random footwear if that person is listening right now. I still love you very much. Yeah, don’t ask those kind of questions in future like I just don’t care. I don’t need to know.
The FAQ page on a wedding website is you know, like probably the place that we send people the most particularly around dress code. Yeah, you know, I think a lot of guests get quite concerned about dress code, particularly for a multicultural wedding, not really knowing, you know, they don’t want to be the odd one out in like Indian garb when no one else says everything.
But yeah, we just said, hey, look, it’s it’s all on there. And we tried to stress that this is, you know, look nice, but don’t be worried too much. If you’d like at our ceremony, for instance, or our second ceremony, we had people in taxes, no taxes, but suits and people in like Hooters like Indian menswear or saris and this kind of stuff. And it was great. It was colourful, it was fun, like, it was fine. And I think some some guests get too hung up on the dress code side of things. So if you can just make it clear in your invites, and in your wedding website. If you’re doing it, then that can help a lot.
Entries close 24th September 2021
So I’ve put the survey together for this year for the both the b2c or business to couples, as we might call them in this instance. So basically, like the opportunity for couples to tell us about their wedding experiences, as well as the business to business one, so the wedding industry survey. So we’ve been doing this survey for the last, I think six or seven years, that easy, but he’s been doing this maybe even longer.
And essentially, it’s the largest survey of recently engaged and married couples, also recently married and engaged couples, as well as wedding industry businesses. And we aim to have around like four and a half to 5000 couples filling this survey out. And what it’s aiming to give is a really comprehensive picture of Firstly, you know, given the last 12-18 months, what effects have COVID had, what effects has COVID had on wedding Australia wide. And that could be like on a state by state basis.
So we can break the data down that way, like wedding, like in Victoria versus New South Wales, etc. How the wedding industry might look in the next 12 months as well, you know, what are people thinking will be the future of weddings? are they thinking that there’s going to be more zoom weddings, or more outdoor weddings or bigger weddings or smaller weddings? And we’ve got a question like that in there. And then also like, what do people value? What are people looking for when they’re choosing suppliers? Are they looking for suppliers? Who have photos and images that really suit what they’re looking for? Or do they want, you know, suppliers with really good reviews? Or do they want word of mouth recommendations? So everyone’s got a bit of something different?
At the moment, we’ve got about one and a half 1000 responses, which is great. And you know, the more information we get from couples, either as said, like, you know, recently married or engaged, will really help, you know, 1000s of wedding businesses know a little bit more about how to market their services to couples.
But it will really kind of help the industry in general, which is like a huge industry, when you think about it, to kind of, you know, work out what is some of the averages? And what are some of the trends we’re seeing more broadly, because otherwise, it’s just like instinct and gut feel as to like the you know, I think there’s going to be more small weddings. But at the moment, like, there’s a lot of people that are saying that 2022 will be bigger weddings, because they like people who you know, wanted to get out and live right, you know, they’re gonna stick into small weddings potentially.
So there’s been quite a few people saying bigger weddings are going to be a feature of 2022, which might fly in the face of what some people think is going to be the case. So the more responses we get on these kinds of questions, the more we can kind of get a sense of what the wedding industry is likely to be over the next 12 months.
Yeah, so there’s two there’s two different surveys. So there is a couple’s one. And if the couples are saying the business link, you probably shouldn’t be but essentially, like you should be looking for the Australian wedding survey for couples. And then the Australian business where the wedding business survey wedding industry survey for wedding businesses.
So yeah, and like we’re certainly giving couples a chance to vent their frustrations about planning a wedding in the last 12 months. You know, like, how many times they’ve been postponed and what kind of other comments they have around COVID what have been like, you know, they said that, so far 70% of couples have said that COVID uncertainty or delays has been the biggest, most stressful factor about planning a wedding even bigger than Guest lives or budgeting or in laws or anything else.
And then some couples have said, you know, like, how they would have more confidence about a wedding 2022? Like, what would need to happen? And it’s like, I think a lot of couples are saying at the moment that government policy around lock, snap lock downs need to change, and or vaccination rates need to increase these kinds of things. So yeah, cuz that’s like the main factor here in Australia that we’re saying is different to the US, and particularly the UK or the UK, for context on the day that they announced when their freedom day would be.
So they announced in February, that they were going to have a Freedom Day. And like mid June, on that day that they announced when that freedom day would be wedding websites crashed, because there was that many people being like, now I need to book my wedding because I pay but here in Australia, we haven’t had that like definitive date as to when lockdown policy would change. And so couples are just still feeling this kind of like uncertainty, which is just weighing on them so much, and suppliers as well.
You know, who obviously got the headache of rescheduling 1000 different weddings, everything. So yeah, it’s been really challenging for Australian couples in particular, not because we’ve had like the highest COVID numbers in the world, but because we’ve had probably the most uncertainty around what governments are likely to do in response to any kind of numbers like you know, 10 cases, snap lockdown. You know, there was couples recently who I’ve heard about who were about to get married, on the day that the regional lockdown went in place at 1pm. And there was couples like getting ready for an afternoon wedding crew then had to cancel. Yeah. Like, yeah, which is absolutely crazy.
One thing we were looking at in the survey as well is, you know, what are people’s plans? If their wedding has been that impacted by COVID? as well? Are they looking to still hold that one big day events that they originally thought that they were going to be able to do?
Or are they moving towards kind of a smaller ceremony, five people that or whatever it might be, and then holding a one year anniversary reception, which is what’s quite common in the US at the moment, but it’s like the terminology of anniversary reception is virtually unknown here in Australia, but in the US, it’s quite the damn thing. So a lot of couples who got married and locked down with, you know, 510 people in the US are doing the biggest celebration for their one year anniversary. And a couple I know that Australian couples are doing it like they’re having a party, but they might not necessarily call it an anniversary reception.
They’re just like, let’s get together and finally celebrate with all their friends and family. So it’s interesting to see some of those responses come through on the survey as well as to like, you know, if COVID has delayed your wedding heaps of times, what impact is that having on your wedding? Are you spending more spending less? Are you you know, how many guests Did you ideally want? And how many guests? Did you end up inviting these kinds of things that we’re, we’re processing?
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