Congratulations, you’re engaged! But what happens next?! Planning a wedding is incredibly exciting, and addictive (you’ve been warned) but it can also be daunting. Your wedding is probably the largest event you’ll ever plan and obviously you want it to be absolutely perfect.
Where on earth do you start with planning a wedding? Here’s my guide on planning your perfect day.
Everyone hates talking about money, but your budget is the most important aspect of your day. Your budget dictates everything from whether you can have the dress of your dreams to when and where you get married. Sit down together and work it all out: how much you may have saved towards your wedding already, how much you can save on your ideal time scale and whether anyone will be contributing towards your wedding. It’s also a good idea to have those conversations early on, speak to your families and ask how much they will be willing to contribute if they’re going to do so. And of course, get it all on a spreadsheet! Another good idea at this point is to start thinking of a rough guest list so you know how many people to cater for and what size venues to look at.
Here’s a rough breakdown of a wedding budget:
- Venue and catering 40%
- Photography and videography 15%
- Wedding attire and beauty 5%
- Music and entertainment 10%
- Flowers 10%
- Favours and gifts 2%
- Officiant 3%
- Stationery 3%
- Cake 2%
- Décor 10%
2. Get inspired
Once you know what you can afford you can start hunting around for ideas, have a look at real weddings, sites like Bridebook and Hitched are great. Also look at the weddings you’ve been to – was there something you really loved? Or maybe something you hated! Of course, the holy grail of moodboarding is Pinterest…you can have boards for every detail of your wedding, a whole board of cakes…shoes…venue décor.
3. Theming your wedding
You’ve got all your Pinterest boards, maybe a few old-fashioned physical scrapbooks, you’ll see your theme emerging. A theme can be something as simple as just a colour scheme or it could be an all-out theme based on your favourite films or maybe even a time period.
The important thing to remember is once you’ve started booking and buying based on your theme make sure you stick to it: an ultra-modern gown at a medieval themed wedding wouldn’t sit quite right!
Whatever your theme is once you’ve settled on it you’ll be able to find suppliers and venues that suit that theme.
4. Booking your dream venue
Your budget, guest numbers and theme are the foundations of your wedding venue. These aren’t the only things to consider though. Sit down together and establish what you want from a wedding venue. Do you want accommodation for guests onsite? If so, how much? Is a few rooms just for the bridal party what you’ve after, or maybe you’d like to make it easy for everyone in a hotel? Consider your catering options, a growing number of venues these days have inhouse caterers and will not allow you to use outside catering or self-catering and think about things like corkage if applicable. Do you want everything in the same place? Or are you having two separate venues? Is one of you planning to get ready at your venue and is this possible?
Don’t forget to include your evening guest list in any guest numbers when you’re venue hunting.
Again, sites like Bridebook and Hitched are great for looking for the venue you’ve always dreamed of – we seem particularly spoiled with beautiful venues in England. Keep an eye out for our future blog on our favourite local venues.
Depending on how far away the big day is you might want to send out your Save the Dates if you’re doing them as soon as you’ve booked your wedding. It’s probably not worth sending save the dates more than a year in advance.
Now you can begin your countdown!
5. Wedding insurance
It’s never nice to think about something going wrong with your wedding, but especially in a time dictated by COVID-19 it’s really not worth taking the risk. Get wedding insurance in place as soon as you start booking and buying for your wedding.
Hitched have a great guide to buying wedding insurance during COVID-19.
6. The wedding party
Although this is number six on the guide, let’s be honest you already knew who your wedding party would be the moment you got in engaged and if you’re anything like me you have known for years.
But if you’re not sure don’t worry! And don’t feel pressured into decisions either; there are probably people in your life that are expecting to be in your wedding party, but it’s all about who you and your OH in the build up to and on your big day.
Don’t forget to include everything your wedding party will need in your budget, outfits, flowers, and even your proposals. No doubt you have a Pinterest board full of wedding party proposal ideas!
7. Be our guest
You no doubt have an idea of who you want to invite as this has had an impact on your budget and your venue. But there still might be some things you’re stuck on…inviting colleagues for example or you’re not sure if you want some people during the day or just in the evening.
Firstly, remember the people coming during the day will be eating at your wedding breakfast which is probably the most expensive of your food related outgoings, so just consider whether you’d buy that person dinner normally! And secondly, there’s no shame in inviting someone to the evening and then ‘upgrading’ them to a day guest if someone RSVPs no. These people are your best people and if they don’t understand that you’re working to a budget, then they’re not your best people.
A guest list also calls for another spreadsheet! You can keep track of invites that have been sent out and RSVPs that have been received back very easily.
8. Choosing and booking suppliers
Finding and booking your wedding suppliers is one of the most difficult and yet exciting parts of planning a wedding. You might pull your hair out finding the perfect florist, but as you book, you’ll be able to see your vision of your day coming together.
Research is key. You need someone that fits with your budget and your theme, so don’t just book the first suppliers you come across. You can research online, have a look at the recommended suppliers suggested by your venue and even go to a few wedding fairs is you like to meet some people in person.
These are the bog standard suppliers you’ll be looking for:
- Caterer (if not using inhouse)
- Cake maker
- Hair and makeup
- Celebrant (wink, wink)
Other than that, you may be after some more unusual suppliers such as food/drink trucks. Get in contact with suppliers that match your theme and venue and have a chat together before paying any deposits or making any bookings.
9. Buy your attire
Let’s start with the wedding dress. If you are after a wedding dress it is important that you give yourself plenty of time to get one. Though it is possible to get dresses off the peg these days at shops like Wed2b – who have beautiful, quality dresses for most budgets – it can still take months to have adjustments made.
Get your girls together, or go alone, it’s entirely up to you. But my advice would be go in with an idea of what you like but do try things out of your comfort zone. I went into dress shopping thinking I wanted a classic A-line dress with lots of lace, something a bit vintage looking. And the dress I ended up wearing was a more modern ballgown with a waterfall skirt and no lace! You’ll also need to consider your accessories, like veils, shoes and jewellery.
Once you have your wedding dress, you can start looking at bridesmaid dresses. You may want everyone in the same colour but allow them to choose different styles or you may want everyone the same. Either way, their dresses will need to complement your theme and your own dress.
As for suits, they’re a lot more complex than you think! The suits will also need to complement your theme and venue, for example I personally think that tails look a bit dated in more modern venues, but still look lovely in churches. So, will you have top hat and tails? Just tails? A plain morning suit, a tuxedo or maybe your theme calls for something a little out of the ordinary!
10. Gift list
Now is the time to start thinking about your gift list if you want one. There are gifting sites like Prezola, or you can do an Amazon gift list. Don’t be afraid to ask for donations towards things like honeymoons and new kitchens, its much more common for couples to live together before getting married these days so gifts to stock a home tend to be surplus.
Don’t be disappointed if you notice your gift list doesn’t appear to be being bought from, your guests may be buying the same or similar products from elsewhere so be prepared to get duplicates!
And be prepared to get a fair few bottles of bubbly.
11. Plan the day itself
Your wedding day is creeping up! At this point you may want to have a meeting with your wedding planner from your venue or sit down together if you are the wedding planners and map how your day will look.
Your venue may dictate the earlier that yourselves or suppliers can arrive, so be sure to let the suppliers know. The actual wedding day will run smoothly the more detail you have in your timings. The obvious are arrivals of vendors, arrival of one or both of you, the ceremony, the photos, sitting down to eat, cake cutting and first dance. But you can pinpoint the finer things too, such as ‘bride dressed by 11’.
Its useful for important people such as your maid of honour and best man, the photographer and others to know how the day will run. You can also now order your invites if you were waiting to include a timeline, and you can order anything for on the day that has a time on it.
A tip for picking the time of your ceremony is to consider the time of year. The time of year will obviously have a say in light for photos, if you want outside photos at a mid-winter wedding you may have to consider starting everything a bit earlier than if your wedding was at the height of summer.
12. Sending out your invites
It’s 6 months to go! Your wedding day is in sight and now things get really exciting. You can invite your guests! You’ve probably had your invites a few weeks now and been dying to send them out – by all means, send them earlier but keep in mind the longer between RSVP and the wedding date, the more chance people have of having to change their plans.
You’ll want to have your RSVP date two weeks before your venue want to know final numbers so you have plenty of time to chase people that haven’t RSVP’d – you may be surprised at how many don’t, and who those people are!
Now you can (im)patiently await your RSVPs and once you have your RSVPs you can start thinking about the all-important seating plan!
13. Spend some time together
Planning a wedding can be a little full on, especially if you’re planning it in a shorter period of time. It can also involve difficult conversations mostly surrounding money. Take the time to get away together, before or after any stag and hen parties, even if it’s just a day out to one of your favourite haunts and lunch. Just forget about wedding planning for a little while and remember what it’s actually about: spending the rest of your life with the person you love.
14. Enjoy your wedding day!
Have the best day! Take everything in, drink the drinks, eat the food, revel in every moment. It’s your day and it’s all about you! You may spend the whole planning process trying to balance your expectations and your families expectations but remember…it’s your day! There’s no reason for you to have your sister-in-law as a bridesmaid if you only ever dreamt of your best friends, there’s no need to cut a cake or have a first dance just because it’s the ‘done thing’ your wedding can be exactly what you want it to be.
I hope this little guide has helped you find some direction with planning your wedding! Here at Magical Moments Ceremonies we are passionate about weddings and passionate about giving people the wedding of their dreams, which is why when you book with us you have unlimited support. Whilst our job predominantly is centred around your ceremony, we are more than happy to help talk through – or just listen to a good old rant – about any aspect of your big day.
Your ceremony, your way