Congratulations, you’re engaged! You’ve popped the champagne and now reality has hit – you need to start planning an actual wedding. Whether you’re looking to hire a wedding planner or go it alone, here are our top 10 tips to getting started.
1. Celebrate, celebrate, and celebrate some more! Getting engaged is a pretty big deal, and there’s no better excuse than an engagement to throw some celebrations!
Many couples are tempted to start rushing into wedding planning. However, before you start cracking on with that, it’s important that you enjoy the happy post-engagement bubble for a while. On announcing your engagement you’ll be surrounded by so much love and happiness – soak it up and enjoy! You only have this special time once – and let’s face it, there’s no such thing as too much champagne!
2. Set a budget – and stick to it
When kicking off your wedding planning journey, setting a budget is the key starting point. Not the most glamorous or exciting part of planning, we know, however it will allow you to ensure you stay on track and avoid you from getting swept up in the Pinterest and Instagram frenzy.
Be realistic. Sit down and go through your finances. Whether you’re using your savings or getting help from family, work out how much you have to spend, as well as any additional funds you might be able to save before the wedding. It’s always worth building in a buffer, as it’s almost inevitable that you will find some last minute things you want to splurge on…
Once you’ve set up your budget, create a tracker. If you have a wedding planner, they should provide one for you and help you keep on top of this. If you’re going it alone, create a spreadsheet and input your budget allocation per supplier, then update with a running total of your costs to ensure you stay on track.
3. Know your priorities
Once your overall budget is set, it’s important to work out how you’re going to spend it. Sit down together and talk through your priorities for the day (we find this always far more enjoyable over a glass of wine… any excuse!). For some, it’s all about the dress. For others, it’s flowers and decoration. For some, it was all about having good food, good wine, and a good party – so set more of your budget aside for these elements. By setting your priorities, you can ensure you have a sufficient budget set aside for the things that matter most.
4. Create a guestlist
Ah, the joys of creating the guest list! This process invariably brings some kind of disagreement, so it’s important to stay strong and decisive!
Start off with the most obvious immediate family and your closest friends, before your working your way through the remainder. Try to set ‘rules’ where you can to avoid getting too carried away – for example, no colleagues.
The guest list doesn’t need to be set in stone and will likely evolve over time once you have secured your venue and have a better idea of cost-per-head – often the realization of having monetary amounts against people can make some of the decision making rather more clear cut..!
5. Choose your bridal party
Choosing your bridal party can be tricky. Sometimes there are family obligations to overcome or potential politics amongst friends.
It’s important that you have your favorites with you on that day – but that they are also aware of the responsibilities that they need to assist with. Once your bridal party is chosen, celebrate! You can now also start sharing your Pinterest ideas and getting their input. While ‘too many cooks’in the kitchen can be an issue, it’s also important that you get their input to make them feel involved.
Where you can’t fit someone in as one of the key bridal party, consider other roles to ensure they play a part in your day – for example, doing a reading.
6. Set a date
With many venues booked months and years in advance, a degree of flexibility is often required in choosing the date if you have a specific venue in mind. Try and narrow down your preference though – does it need to be a weekend, or in the school holidays? Are you after a winter or summer wedding? Once your date is sorted – send out your save the dates and let the countdown begin!
7. Location, location, location
When choosing whether to have a U.S. or destination wedding, you need to consider your guests. If you have elderly relatives for example, they may struggle to travel far distances, and others may struggle with finding the time or money to go abroad. Yes, your dream day may be in the Italian vineyards, but is it really your dream day if your favorite people can’t be there? While many guests love the idea of an excuse of a trip away, it’s won’t necessarily work for everyone, so it’s important to weigh this up and get a estimate of numbers.
Another important factor when choosing location is considering the weather. While we all love the idea of a bright, sunny day for our wedding, bear in mind that the August heat abroad can sometimes get unbearable, so if you have a specific date planned for your wedding, bear this in mind.
8. The search for the ideal venue
Once you’ve settled on your ideal location, you can start to narrow down the potential venues. While style is of course important, there are also a number of other key considerations, such as size, cost and exclusivity. Create a shortlist and try to visit several so you can get a sense of what you do and don’t like. Make sure you prepare beforehand – we’re able to help advise on all of the key questions to ask when visiting a venue – and check out their reviews from real couples and their guests.
9. Get inspired
Social media can be one of the best and worst things about planning a wedding. By setting up Pinterest boards and sharing with your bridal party, you can start collecting ideas and inspiration for your day. Similarly, check out photos that users have tagged at your chosen venue to see what works best in that space.
However, be careful not to become overwhelmed! It’s all too easy to lose track of what you really want – there are lots of beautiful things on Pinterest and Instagram, but which of them are really ‘you’? Try and be clear on your own individual style to avoid a cookie cutter wedding.
Planning a wedding is no quick or easy process, and on average takes well over 300 hours of preparation. With many hours required, and most engagements being well over 12 months, it can get all too much. Many of us simply don’t have that time available, or if we do, we risk compromising on the things that really matter (like actual jobs or seeing friends and family).
Planning a wedding should be a fun experience, and not one that becomes overwhelming or tiresome. Whether you’re yet to start or halfway through the process, think about what you can outsource – whether to talented friends and family, or to a specialist wedding planner. It’s important that you enjoy the process, and sometimes handing over the reins is the easiest way of doing that! Even for those who want to plan their own wedding, no bride wants to be running round on their actual wedding day ensuring everything is going to plan, so ensuring you have organized support on the day is a must.
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