As we grab hold of the last few weeks of autumn before winter is well...
With Christmas and new year being the most popular time for engagements there are a lot of you out there who are just getting used to that new sparkly ring on you left hand! You will also be facing the rather daunting task of planning your wedding! Planning to some people is a dream, to others it can be a nightmare, there are so many different things to think about when planning a wedding, but if you get yourself in order and take one job at a time, you will avoid the stress and may actually enjoy the whole process.
As a wedding planner as well as a blogger I have planned all manner of weddings, some big some small, some fancy, some low key, BUT whatever the size or style there are always the same basic rules that apply and things that need to be done in a certain order!
So today I am here to help with a step by step guide to help plan your big day!
Sit down with your partner and talk through your ideas together, you should be making these decisions together! Men these days want to get involved; after all it’s their wedding as well. Ask each other what sort of wedding the other has envisaged, you may both have completely different ideas. Do you want a Church ceremony, a civil ceremony or a Humanist ceremony or a blessing?
Once you have done this then look at your budget, yes I know it may not be the most romantic aspect of planning a wedding but it pays to be realistic about your expectations and also it will help with the whole planning process. Talk about what you can afford, what you have saved and how much you can put away each month. The amount of time you need to save may also have a reflection on your wedding date. Also it’s a good idea to find out if family members are going to be contributing, and if so how much? Don’t presume, it’s always good to know at the beginning stages.
Once this done you can look at the mood of the day and ideas on how you want it to feel/look. Do you have any sort of theme, have you seen anything you like the look of, do you have your own ideas how to make the day special to you?
Discuss with your fiancé what is important to each of you. For one a photographer may be the most important thing to get organised, the other it may be the entertainment, but you may not be too bothered about the car. This way you know where you need to spend your money and where you can save it. By doing this now you won’t make any mistakes further down the line, by not allotting each supplier enough time, money or attention.
Get a folder together containing divider cards and plastic envelopes. Make a section for each thing you can think of; venue, photographer, cuttings from magazines, etc this way nothing will get lost. Here you can keep all contacts, contracts, emails and quotes in one place.
It’s also a good idea to put together a spreadsheet with all the details on it; a to do list, guest list, budget planner etc. Keeping everything in one place will help later on in the planning process and make your life a lot easier.
Decide what part of the year you both want to get married and check with important family members before you book anything. Be ready to be flexible if you can and have a few dates in mind as many venues may not be available if you only have one date in mind.
Once you have this, draw up a very rough guest count so you have some idea what sort of numbers you have, remember the more guests you have the more expensive the wedding will e, so choose wisely!
Once you have an idea of what needs to be done don’t over face yourself by trying to do everything at once. List each job to be done and then break down how many months you have to do it all before the wedding, then allot each month a list of jobs. Keep this list in your wedding folder and tick off each job as it is done.
This may be time-consuming but don’t take the first option given to you, or make hasty decisions. Each supplier needs researching, what was good for one person may not be good for you! By spending time looking at all of your options you will not only save your self-money but create a more personal wedding with your own style.
Finding your venue could very well be the hardest part of the planning process, as it will be the biggest decision you make and set the whole tone for your day. But once you have you will find a lot of things fall into place.
Lots of popular places get booked up quickly, especially if you are looking for a Saturday venue. If you are looking for a Friday, Sunday or mid-week then there may be more availability and flexibility, however Fridays are becoming nearly as popular as Saturdays these days. Try and think outside the box if you are looking for something a bit different. There are so many places that hold wedding licences these days, cinemas, old swimming pools, warehouses, pubs and bars, you aren’t just limited to the old stately home or church. And dental forgets about marquees and tipis. This could be a more flexible option if you are looking to put your own stamp on your wedding day
You will find that good wedding photographers get booked up a year in advance, so this is one of the first suppliers you need to book. If you have your eye on a certain person you don’t want to be disappointed because you haven’t got your booking in quick enough. Photography is a very personal thing and there is a huge amount of choice. I would advise you to look at the photographers blogs as well as their website as they tend to put more up to date work on them, also you get to see whole weddings not just the best bits that may be on the websites. Also look at different wedding blogs as this is often a great way to find the style of photographer you may be looking for. Choose your top 2-3 and go and meet them. It’s SO important you get on with your photographer because if you don’t you won’t be comfortable in your pictures and it will show! Your photographer is the one person you will spend the whole day with so it’s important you get on.
This is probably the best bit of the whole wedding experience!! To most brides it is so much fun but some brides do find it stressful and put so much pressure on finding ‘The’ dress! The first thing I would say to do is research! Make sure you do as much research as possible. Look through the magazines; search the internet so you have a good idea what you like before you go. Be ready to try as many style’s on as possible and go with an open mind. What you thought you may choose may not be what you finally decide on. Also a lot of the dress shops have a 9 month league time from choosing the dress to it being delivered to the shop so you need to make sure you leave yourself enough time.
The next thing that gets booked up quickly is entertainment so get in quickly! The type of entertainment you choose can have a massive impact on the party aspect of the wedding. If you are choosing a band, try and get to hear them play first, ask for recommendations and choose a band that fits in with your taste. Also look at different parts of your day, there are so many different options these days from garden games, village fete games, magicians, photo booths, musicals, singers, circus acts….anything goes! Choose something that fits in with your theme and tone of the day.
Catering is another thing that gets booked up way in advance, so something you will need to look at early on in your planning. If you have chosen a venue that doesn’t have on sight catering then you will need to look into outside catering companies. Many will be able to provide the drink as well, or you may want to hire in a separate bar company, or run the bar yourself to save some money. You need to think about what sort of food you want and take it from there. Many catering companies will be able to help you with your menus choices, offering up ideas and variations. Remember there are so many options these days, you don’t have to go for a 3 course sit down meal, and something more relaxed may be up your street! A BBQ, Hg Roast, afternoon tea, crepe van, ice cream trick, fish and chip van, a buffet! Choose something that fits in with your day and tastes.
Once you have your venue, photographer and dress , entertainment and catering the rest of the wedding will begin to take a bit more structure and fall into place.
Get a list together of everything there is to do, invitations, flowers, cake, decorations, outfits, transport etc keep it simple an excel spread sheet may do the trick or maybe you just like good old pen and paper. Work out when each job needs to be done and spread it all out on a month by month basis. A check list will help you stay focused and also it helps to incorporate the budget which will help you stay on track. Also it’s very important to spend time researching each supplier; don’t book the first person you find. Where you can, go and meet them, sample what they have to offer. Look at their website, but also check out their blogs and Facebook pages, as with the photographers they may have more up to date work on these.
Here is the 12 month wedding planner that I use as the basis of all of my planning. It is broken down into 12 months but you can adapt it for however many months you have to plan your day. PLUS I have made it downloadable so you can print it off for easy access.
(Thanks to Lucy Ledger Designs for the PDF Designer)