Weddings – the happiest and most stressful time of your life, says Susanna Richardson.

Take it from me, the person who becomes a bride many times a year, it’s not for the faint-hearted, but it’s also the most amazing rollercoaster you’ll ever take. Here are my top tips for brides-to-be…

Formulate a plan >>

Starting as you mean to go on is the best way forward. Discuss your ideas with each other and make a list of what you really want, where your dream wedding would be held and most importantly, how much you want to spend. I know it sounds frightfully dull, but the more you can get down on paper in the early stages the easier it will be.

Dress the boys well >>

It was Carson Kressley on “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” who said that hired suits should all be banned and a man should walk down the aisle in a custom suit. I am with him totally. Why should the girls have all the fun? Every man should have a tailored suit at some point in his life and there is no better time to treat him than his wedding day.

The dress >>

I like to get bride’s out shopping once the venue is booked, so they can get a true idea of what suits them. It’s very rare that a bride goes for the style they think they will. Unless they are used to wearing evening wear on a regular basis, most brides haven’t really ventured down the road of formal and how it fits and changes your shape. It’s important though, not to get too carried away and buy too soon as I can guarantee that there will be an “I’ve chosen the wrong dress” meltdown at least once before the big day. So get to know the collection seasons and when your dress would need to be ordered, most work six months ahead, to minimise the torment time.

Oh and if I am ever asked about this next sentence I will vehemently deny it to any grooms, but there is a practicality for having two dresses. Wedding dresses are tricky to manoeuvre, so if you are a party girl and you want to dance the night away, you’ve got no chance surrounded by oodles of tulle. This is where the second dress comes into it’s own – a sleek little number allowing you to bust those moves!

Shoes >>

Now, I need to be honest here. Just like boys, the pretty ones always hurt you the most! The more gorgeous the shoe, the more it will make you cry when it lets you down on the dance floor. I have lost count of the number of times I have seen a Choo discarded, lying lonely on the floor in favour of a hotel slipper. So when you go shopping I usually suggest that you choose two pairs, something gorgeous and pretty for photos and something more practical to actually wear. Of course they both need to be the same heel height or you won’t be able to walk in your dress.

Is one day enough? >>

Truthfully, no! Destination weddings have this right, with their cheeky three-day extravaganzas, but you don’t have to jet off to Tuscany – you can easily extend the celebrations in the UK. It also needn’t add massively to the budget if you include some things which are already on offer, like making the hotel breakfast the next day into a group brunch. A ‘rehearsal dinner’ or ‘arrival party’ is also a great way to kill those nerves. I also find that couples really enjoy the day after, a time to chat about the wedding day antics and really welcome the world as the new Mr and Mrs.

The art of negotiation >>

For me, it’s a given that there is always a little bit of wriggle room and who doesn’t want to feel like they’ve got a deal? However, you also need to choose your battles and many suppliers and venues can book your date 10 times over so you need to be realistic. Just because a supplier isn’t in your budget, doesn’t mean they are expensive. It’s much better to ask for additional items rather than money off, so maybe ask your photographer to include a couple of extra hours or your dress shop to include the veil. You’ve got a much better chance of being successful.