Your loved one has popped the question, you have a shiny new ring on your finger, the magazines are already beginning to overflow and you have become addicted to Pinterest in a matter of minutes. But there’s another big question on the horizon. Just how do you start planning your wedding?
A day which is often the most memorable and special in people’s lives is approaching but where do you begin? In my experience, I found when I got engaged a common theme was the feeling that I was expected to have become a wedding expert over night. Do not fear. I’m going to be sharing some tips with you to help the run up to your big day be as stress-free as possible.
When I got engaged in 2015 (wow, it doesn’t feel like it was that long ago!) my aim was to enjoy the whole process of wedding planning. Besides the rare blip I can honestly say I loved every second. For me, it wasn’t just about the wedding day, it was about the whole experience of being engaged too.
I couldn’t wait to get stuck in and start organising our wedding but it’s key to think things through first. I’d met my Fiancee, 11 years earlier and we had spoken about getting married so we did have a bit of a head start on that front but all the details were new and had to arranged.
Your head is filled with questions, emotions, excitement and nerves but don’t panic. Whether you are planning a small intimate wedding or a large gathering these words of advice may help you.
There’s too much to think about
Firstly, you aren’t on your own. It can be easy to be overcome with pressure about organising this big occasion but you don’t have to do it alone. Your Fiancee, friends and family can help if you want them to. This is great as not only is it fun to share ideas but it also brings everyone closer together. You can make amazing memories in the lead up to your wedding as well as on the big day itself.
You need to pick who you want to be closely involved wisely and what you want to share with them. Too many people will result in lots of differing opinions so be wary of including everyone you love. Keep it to a small group and be sure on what you want help with. And remember. It is your big day so no matter what other opinions people have, you ultimately need to be happy with the final decision.
Maybe do some brainstorming together with cute coloured post it notes or surf Pinterest. Alternatively, have a girls night in to read through wedding magazines with a glass of wine and pizza. Instead of it feeling like a chore, turn it into a fun get together.
If you’re like me and want to keep some surprises you can do that too. My parents and mother in-law were the only people who saw my dress before our wedding day whereas for the bridesmaid dresses and accessories different options were considered with my friends. Our favours were chosen by my husband and I but we got together with my mum and bridesmaids to construct them. My husband even planned our honeymoon as a surprise and I didn’t find out anything about it until his speech!
Key memories for me were visiting possible venues with my parents. It was so lovely to view them together and get caught up in the excitement of different layouts and talk about the decorations we could have. It really added to the excitement and build up.
On another occasion, at my best friends wedding her closest friends and mum helped make her wedding favours. We gathered one evening after work, slaved late into the night to get them finished but it’s a night I’ll never forget. The feeling of community and love was very special. The hard work was worth it too. In case you were wondering, the favours also looked great. They were handmade sweet treats packaged in pretty bags with ribbon.
Where Do I Start?
In order to know what wedding items need to be arranged you need to be clear on your budget, timeline and ‘theme’ for your wedding. This is key when planning your wedding.
Be prepared. Most wedding related purchases/bookings are likely to be more expensive than you think so either you’ll need to stretch your budget or possibly compromise. I’ve been shocked in the past by just how expensive certain aspects of weddings are. It’s crazy but don’t panic. There are plenty of alternatives out there so you will definitely find something to make your wedding day perfect. It just may not be exactly what you first had in mind.
To help manage your budget consider putting together a simple spreadsheet. This is a great way to track estimated vs actual costs and also doubles up as a useful check list so you don’t forget to book anything. I combined this with contact information and last payment date information too. This meant everything was combined in one place and at a glance I could see the status of anything I needed.
The question on everyone’s lips is when is the big day. It’s best to be flexible when it comes to dates. Due to the venues potentially getting booked up it’s great to have an idea of the year and season you want to get married but if you have a very specific date in mind it may be hard to find a venue that is available then.
We originally thought we wanted a Summer wedding but the only dates our venue (Leeds Castle) could offer us was the August bank holiday or 19th September. We opted for the September date as we thought more people would be available and potentially we could avoid the typical rainy bank holiday weather!
I’m not necessarily talking a full on theme but some kind of guage of big or small, away or home, shabby chic or formal etc. This will help you understand the scope of your wedding and the type of venues etc you want to consider.
We wanted to invite our closest friends and family to our wedding and considering the size of our families that meant a big wedding. We also knew from the start we wanted to stay close to home so that rules out any venues beyond a certain distance or abroad. I also chose the colour theme early on too which was pink as it’s my favourite colour. Luckily my husband agreed to this without any objections. This soon evolved into a ‘fairytale’ theme over time.
What Do I Need to Arrange
Creating lists is something that really appeals to me as I like to be organised. This paid dividends when it came to wedding planning as it gave me a sense of control. It also allowed me to see what progress I was making.
I’ve been asked the question before ‘How would you eat an elephant?’ The answer is piece by piece. In reality that’s not something I would ever dream of doing but the idea behind it is important. Due to the size of the elephant you have no choice but to take smaller pieces. You couldn’t possibly eat it in one gigantic bite and wedding planning is the same. Break it down into manageable chunks.
If you are trying to juggle friends, family, work, illness and blogging like I was then adding wedding planning into the mix can be tricky. The way I coped was to break down what I needed to do, prioritise it and set realistic mini goals. This all sounds very formal but It doesn’t have to be like that and I certainly didn’t work it in that way. If I couldn’t do something one weekend then I didn’t do it unless of course it was urgent. Wedding plan around your life not vice versa. Try not too be too hard on yourself if you wasn’t able to get something done on a certain day but at the same time make sure you don’t put it off for too long.
The idea behind breaking down the tasks not only makes them more managable but it gives you a sense of progression and achievement. Imagine you have 5 big tasks on your list that are time consuming. It will take you a while to feel like you’ve got anywhere right? Break those down into smaller tasks and you’ll start seeing that you are chipping away at the tasks that need to be completed. For example, instead of ‘book wedding venue’, break it down into:
- Create check list for must have features for wedding venue
- Create a list of questions to ask wedding venue
- This weekend we are viewing venues XXXX and XXX
- Next weekend we are visiting venues XXX and XXX
Then see where you are and if you can make a decision.
What is important to you?
An important discussion to have with your Fiancee is around what is important to you when it comes to your wedding day. Are you certain you want a photographer? Would you regret not having the number of bridesmaids you truly want? Would you rather have a lower budget wedding but a big honeymoon? There are lots of aspects to think about here but this will help you compromise when necessary and ensure you keep within your wedding budget. A good way to manage this is to create a list of ‘Musts’ and ‘Wants’. This will make planning your wedding far simpler. Some examples are below
- The church and reception venues must be close together to keep travel to a minimum. No further than 30 minutes drive between the two.
- Vintage car to take us from the church to the reception venue
- Sit down three course wedding breakfast
- Evening entertainment – live band
- Chocolate fountain for the evening reception
- Designer wedding shoes
- String quartet
If you follow these basic guidelines by this point you will feel more positive about planning your wedding. You will find that you have a great idea of the kind of things you want to consider for your wedding day (from wedding magazines, mood boards, Pinterest etc). You’ll have an idea of timelines, budget and what in your heart you really must have for your big day. You’ll have a strong support network around you and you will have a check list of wedding items you can run through step by step to get everything arranged.
My last piece of advise? Don’t be afraid to ask questions and change your mind on the details if you can.
Watch this space for more wedding related posts where I will be going into more details about how to plan your magical day. If you have any requests please leave a comment below.
Our wedding photographs were taken by Peter Prior. His work is incredible and I would definitely recommend booking him for your wedding day or other special occasions.
What wedding related posts would you like to see?
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