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Me oh my. I love this time of year. My social media timelines are going insane with New Year and Christmas proposals it is a joy to see!
If you’re one of the lucky ones…Congratulations!!!!!
I hope you’re enjoying the giddy excitement that comes with the territory!
I’ve had a few readers contact me about how overwhelming they found wedding planning when they first got engaged, not knowing where on earth to start and not knowing how much to spend. (A wedding costs as much as we choose to invest in them). It’s true – it is a minefield out there in the wedding world. But if you take your time it doesn’t have to be.
I have put together a guide of some useful ways to get your wedding planning journey started – minus the overwhelm.
It’s very easy to get carried away in the wedding euphoria and automatically think of how many people, what designer shoes and magazine worthy florals you want….as wonderful as they all are – you can’t kick-start your planning until you do a little bit of donkey work first. And it involves budgets and spreadsheets. (DULL)
Whether you like it or not, you will need to get organised. There is a lot to consider when planning a wedding and it’s impossible to keep on track without a diary. If organisation is really and truly not your thing – time to think about delegating or hiring a wedding planner (the human type!)
Decide when you might to get married. Now, I’m not talking about specifics of dates just yet – (unless your heart is set on a special date) but what year, this year? Next year? 3 years time? Unsure? Although it is good to have an idea in mind, the timing of when you get married will be highly dictated by your finances and venue availability.
Everything will be dictated by your budget. EVERYTHING. So take your time.
Yes its arduous and if you’re anything like me with a large disdain for numbers, it’s about as painful as doing a tax return 2 days before the deadline!
BUT it has to be done! How much do you want to invest in your day? £3,000 or £80,000?
Working out your budget may involve working out how much you and your partner can save each month, raiding the savings, awkward conversations with relatives about what they can / can’t / would like to contribute.
There’s no escaping it, without an understanding of your budget and it’s boundaries, you cannot plan your wedding accurately. PLUS it’s very easy to get sucked into the engagement euphoria and just want to book anything and everything, especially since most suppliers only request a deposit on booking and ask for full settlement much closer to the wedding. Easy to think “Excellent – payment isn’t needed for months, we’ll be able to pay for that by then”! Chances are something else will absorb it along the way!
Don’t get tempted to go overboard. To avoid embarrassment, keep your guest list CLOSE to your chest until you have confirmed your budget and venue. Seriously. We learned the hard way.
No-one wants to start off married life spiralling into debt and falling out with friends and family, because you’ve already invited 200 people and can only afford 50.
Have a rough idea of how many guests you would like and be prepared to compromise in areas. Ultimately it is your budget that will dictate the size and type of wedding you can have and whether you can have it in 6 or 36 months, with a party of 10 or 300. Do the donkey work and number crunching first.
The world is your oyster when it comes to hosting your celebration, you just need a little inspiration and think outside of the box. The web is a great place to give you a taste of what is feasible. Yes it can be a little overwhelming, but use it as a starting point.
Chic venue ideas can be found at Coco Wedding Venues, or more traditional via Country House weddings , Hitched or check out Space and Rock for some awe-inspiring locations and land for you to do your very own thing.
Local wedding magazines can often be picked up at wedding shows and supermarkets or bridal boutqiues and are another good starting point to narrow down that needle in a haystack.
If you’re really overwhelmed consider hiring a planner that does wedding venue sourcing on your behalf!
Decide what “type” of wedding ceremony you would like. What type of ceremony do you feel will truly solidify your union and represent you both?
For example do you want to have a traditional Church of England , Catholic service or your religious equivalent, a Civil ceremony or a bespoke or Humanist ceremony for example? Do you want your Priest or Rabbi who you have known for years to deliver your service or a registrar, or even a family member? Humanist and bespoke ceremonies are a great option for this. They are growing in popularity in the UK because of their flexibility and ability to personalise your service and include friend and families to even officiate . I have witnessed some absolutely stunning bespoke ceremonies on Nu Bride, so don’t dismiss them, but you would still need to sign your legal paperwork via your local registrar to be legally married first in the UK).
Arrange venue viewings
Once you have done a little research and have narrowed down the area(s) you might like to get married, start booking show-arounds at venues. You won’t know until you start getting a feel for venues and their staff.
Even if you decide to get married abroad, I cannot highlight enough how important it is for you to view potential wedding venues in the flesh before making a decision. Always take someone with you, take your time, don’t feel pressured to make a decision on the day.
Take a note pad and prepare the questions you would like to ask in advance and never be afraid to negotiate on the price! If you are booking several viewings in one day – I wouldn’t advise doing more than 3 and don’t forget to allow yourself travel time in between!
Photography and Film
Think about how you want your day captured.
This may feel premature, but once you have secured your date and venue – it is well worth thinking about how you want your day to be captured and remembered and booking your wedding photographer and / or cinematographer. This is the one area I would recommend investing in. Our wedding photo’s mean so much to us, especially as time has gone on and some of the people who celebrated our day are no longer with us and there they are in our images and film. Priceless.
Start researching photographers and film-makers – look at their style. Compare prices with photographers with comparable services and shortlist and arrange to meet with your top few. Take your time.
Use real wedding on blogs for inspiration – ask the bloggers for recommendations (I am MORE than happy to recommend some excellent photographers), search for photographers on instagram – check out their portfolio – is it professional, is it diverse. Is it consistent, is it representative of the overall look and feeling you like.
Any questions – happy to recommend
Getting the message out
OK – now is the time to start shouting from the rooftops to your nearest and dearest.
Once you have secured your venue and selected a date, consider sending out Save the Date cards – e-invites or video messages for guests you are ‘certain’ you want to invite!
Save The Dates are especially helpful if you are having a destination wedding or if any guests will have to travel abroad for your wedding. The more notice for overseas travellers, the better. These can be created via reputable stationers, or even simple postcards can be created on resources like Photobox for example.
Or you could be really creative and put together a save the date video instead!
Save The Dates ensure all your favourite people are there by giving advance notice ahead of traditional invitations (which are traditionally sent around 3 months before your wedding day)
You may also like to consider joining a free wedding website to help you with your planning journey. They are also useful to help guests follow your planning journey and keep them informed of key information and updates. Squarespace Wedding Site and Getting Married are good starting points.
Subscribe to wedding blogs…
(Hopefully you have already subscribed to Nu Bride if you have stumbled across this post! )
There are such wonderful wedding resources out there via the world of wedding blogs. Providing information, wedding traditions (or the opposite!) advice, tips, designs, ideas, real weddings and showcasing quality wedding suppliers. Lots of wedding suppliers that you might not be aware of, are often featured on wedding blogs and frequently offer discounts and reader offers. They also offer couples with a lot of variety and choice, plus a supportive network to share ideas and showcase inspiration both within and outside of what you traditionally see in magazines.
About 80% of my planning journey was inspired by several wedding blogs! Hope on over to Bridal Musings extensive list of some pretty epic blogs!
Use social media
More and more couples are booking wedding suppliers via instagram. It’s brilliant for checking out work and visual inspiration.
Pinterest is an excellent resource for us visual learners to get ideas for decorations, designs, themes, colours, to view and create mood-boards and ideas along the way! Also great for discovering hairstyles, shoes and make-up ideas to name a few!
Be warned you can easily spend hours on here and just because you see something you like on Pinterest doesn’t mean you have he budget and access to suppliers who can create it. SO just use it as a starting point. Budgets, location, suppliers all have an impact on what you can and can’t achieve for your own wedding, so show your ideas to your suppliers as a starting point and let them work their magic and create something unique for you, not a carbon copy of something you’ve already seen on Pinterest.
Phew – that should be more than enough to get you started over the next month or two! Finding the venue is the most time consuming part of planning, so once you have nailed that, the rest should start to fall into place.
As enjoyable as it is, I don’t want you to fall out of love with your wedding planning journey. Planning is fuller than a full-time job, so for a smooth journey, do plan ahead, ask for help and delegate. Don’t underestimate the time you will need to dedicate to prepare for it, don’t be afraid to consider getting a wedding planner onboard for some, or all of the planning stages. Their expertise and contacts in the industry could often save you time and money.
So to summarise, confirm your budget, consider hiring a planner, start venue hunting and save a date.
But most importantly…..ENJOY being engaged. Savour it. For most, it only happens once and relishing in everyones joy for you is quite magical. Enjoy the entire journey because, believe me, it goes so fast and there is nothing quite else like it! Congratulations!
Let me know how you get on! And ask for help!
Photography: 2 Brides Photography