Hooray! So Christmas day has been celebrated, and the New Year has crept up on the horizon. This means one thing is for sure- as well as sporting a new pair of Winter PJ’s and slippers for Christmas, a lot of you may have gained a new piece of jewellery. An engagement ring to be more precise. Christmas and New Year are one of the most predictable times you may see your Mister getting down on one knee and making the declaration that he (gulp) wants to sent the rest of his life with you. Seriously, it’s a biggy!
Once the shock is over, the champagne has been supped and you re-visit your wedding Pinterest board you’ve been pinning to perfection for years (he still doesn’t need to know about this by the way) along comes the important part: planning.
Whether you plan a speedy wedding for 2016, or want to take more time to save up and opt for 2017/2018, there’s no denying that a lot of effort, thought, organising and budgeting needs to start happening in the journey to creating your perfect day. I’m not married, nor am I getting married in the next year, but I am a bridal make-up artist and happen to be involved with the wedding industry quite frequently. So I’ve put together this super simple guide how to make your planning as pain-free as possible…
1. Set your budget and your theme
Sit down with your partner and talk through your ideas 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, a Church ceremony, a civil ceremony, a blessing? A large scale affair, a small scale affair, or an abroad venture? Once these details are in place, it’s never too early to start being inspired for themes. Buy Wedding magazines, trawl through blogs, other peoples wedding photos, Pinterest… the inspiration is endless! Have a chat together about the general theme and what type of budget you will need to aim for.
2. Prioritise what is important for both of you
Does your partner care more about an intimate ceremony with just the nearest dearest? Do you want everyones families, partners and children to be able to come? Think about travel arrangements. Is it important to you everyone can travel to the venue, or are you happy with having a secluded day with just your closest? Get these priorities in place at this stage, and it will save a lot of hassle (and fall outs!) later down the planning journey.
3. Get organised
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. In the folder, keep all contacts, recommendations, contracts, emails and quotes in one place. Make it easier to read through so you don’t get discouraged to open it up.
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.
4. Set the date and a to-do list
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 and have a few dates in mind – some weekends are popular than others, and a lot more people are opting for Fridays to save on money. Once you have this date set, 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 be, and you also can’t cancel on guests once those invites have gone out, so choose wisely!
5. Open up a joint wedding bank account
Start putting money aside from the early stages. Not only will it help you too see your progress, it’s also a good time to see what contributions you may receive from family. Once this is set up and you know it’s there, it’s really easy to keep adding to it and watching it grow.
6. Find your venue
One of the most important things is to select your carefully. Analyse it’s travel distance, look at it’s photographic value, look at nearby accommodation, visualise how it will look with your personal touch. Find a venue which reflects you and your partner. Try and think outside the box if you are looking for something a bit different too- there are so many places that hold wedding licences these days, cinemas, old swimming pools, warehouses, pubs and bars, marquees and tipis. This could be a more flexible option if you are looking to put your own stamp on your wedding day. Take a look here to help you find your ideal venue.
7. Find a Photographer
It’s incredibly important that you get on with your photographer once you meet with them, as they need to understand what photography style you want, who is important to you the most out of the guests, and for them to know your personality and reflect this in the finished images. Good photographers get booked up a year in advance, so this is one of the first suppliers you need to book. Photography is a very personal thing and there is a huge amount of choice. I would advise you to look a range of different wedding blogs as this is often a great way to find the style of photographer you may be looking for. If you are starting from scratch, use a search site like Bark, which will help you to reach out and find the right photographer for you.
8. Decide on Bridesmaids, The Best Man, and The Bridal Party
Usually one of the most exciting parts, although it can be stressful if you have a lot of friends and family fighting for these honored roles. Think about who you really want by your side on the big day, who you trust to plan a brilliant hen party, who you know will get on with other guests, calm your nerves, and in general, go above and beyond!
9. Find ‘The Dress’
This is the fun part! Organise yourself and your maids (and Mother too!) to venture out on a dress-trying-on day, where you visit at least three different places to start exploring those dresses. Try to be quite open minded: you may have thought you wanted a sweetheart neckline and a huge flowing train, but in reality, you may find a classic fitted fishtail style with capped sleeves suits you a million times more. Get a range of peoples opinions, but remember – you need to love it, and you need to feel your best! And remember – a lot of the dress shops have a 9 month lead time from choosing the dress to it being delivered to the shop so you need to make sure you leave yourself enough time.
10. Find the entertainment
The next thing that gets booked up quickly is entertainment so remember to get in quickly! You don’t want to get disappointed that the band you fell in love with are now booked up because you dragged your feet.
The type of entertainment you choose can have a massive impact on the party aspect of the wedding. If you are choosing a band, 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, acts….anything goes! Find your entertainment artists and acts here.
11. Plan the catering and drinks
Catering is another thing that gets booked up way in advance, so don’t leave this too late. If you have chosen a venue that doesn’t have on sight catering then you will need to look into outside catering options. 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. Remember there are so many options these days, you don’t have to go for a 3 course sit down meal, consider something more relaxed like a BBQ, Hog Roast, afternoon tea, crepe van, ice cream trick, fish and chip van, and even the traditional buffet if you are on a budget. Start by having a look here for catering help and suggestions.
12. Plan the honeymoon
Have an idea about how you wish to celebrate this from an early stage, but don’t stress too much about the final details as this will get in the way of your big day planning! Discuss all options together and plan the right amount of time. Remember that it’s quite common for guests to give currency of your chosen location as a wedding gift, so this may save you having to worry about money.
13. Find your suppliers
Yep, this is all the exciting bits, like flowers, cake, decorations, table arrangements, name cards, favours, transport and stationary/designers. To succeed at keeping a dedicated theme and to chose the best, ho back to your original mood boards, inspiration tear outs and general ideas and theme plans. Make sure you really know what you want, as it’s hard to expect a florist or cake baker to deliver exactly what you want if your not even sure. Show your mood boards to all the suppliers and ask to see their ideas too. For an invite and stationary designer (why not combine the invite designer and get them to do the table plan and name cards too?) ask to see drafts, and show them snaps of the cake and room decorations you have in mind as you go along to help them out.
14. Enjoy it!
The most important thing overall is to enjoy everything, down to the very last detail. Wedding planning can bring out the worst in people: we’ve all heard about hen parties getting into fall outs, families trying to get too involves, a clash of opinions and all sorts. Try to step back, take control, and enjoy it as best you can. If it all goes right, you won’t be doing it a second time round!
I hope this post has gave you a little kick-start into your wedding planning, and perhaps sparked some inspiration for certain areas to look into. In general, I find Bark a really helpful website when you just don’t know where to start. Do let me know how you get on and if you have any recommendations yourselves…
*Note: All imagery is taken from my twin sisters wedding back in 2012, in which I was honored to have been Chief Bridesmaid. I’m sure everyone can vouch just how stunning she looked on her big day!