How to Start the Wedding Planning Process

Have you just got engaged at Christmas or New Year? Here’s how to start the wedding planning process!

In a survey organised by Festive Lights, it was found that 33% of people get engaged between Christmas and New Year. I did! Which goes to show the stats must be true. This means that 33% of brides start planning their wedding during the first few months of the year. January, February, and March are then popular times to start viewing venues, looking at churches, and deciding on a date.

So, as a bride to be who is only two months from getting married, I have plenty of tips for you about how to start the wedding planning process. It’s baffling, it’s a bit of a minefield, and there are so many suppliers out there it can be confusing as to what you really want. Hopefully I’ll be able to spread some advice. Here’s what you need to do in the first few months of being engaged.

 

Start Saving

It kind of goes without saying that weddings are bloody expensive. So if your engagement was a complete surprise, you’ll most likely (like I did) have no savings or a wedding fund whatsoever. Don’t panic!

You need to discuss with your family members about budget. It’s important for you to know how much your parents and your partner’s parents will chip in. Then you can work out how much you and your partner need to save on top. You cannot start saving for a wedding if you don’t know what your estimated budget it. How can you book a £10,000 venue, if your total budget is £12,000? It’s unrealistic. I understand you might feel awkward about asking your parents if they’re planning on helping you out, but it’s normal nowadays.

 


Top Tip!

Set up a wedding account email, e.g. sarahandjaywedding@gmail.com. You can give this to all your suppliers, keeping all wedding emails in one place.

 


Book planner with highlighted dates

Sort your venue(s)

Choosing a venue sounds easy, but there are a lot of variables you have to consider:

  • How many guests you’re having (an estimate at this stage is fine)
  • Your budget
  • Your theme
  • Whether you want a church and a venue, or just a venue for the whole day
  • Location

You need to decide on all of these things before you can choose a venue. Try not to get all excited (LET’S GET MARRIED IN MARRAKESH IN THE DESERT) too quickly. What if your partner wants a family church local to where they grew up? Make decisions on all of the bullet points above, which will then narrow down the venues you can actually get married at. This will make deciding much easier.

Deciding on a venue should be done within the first couple of months of being engaged so you can book the date you want. You can have a date in mind, but don’t set your heart on it as the venue might not be able to accommodate. Especially if you’re booking with less than a year’s notice. If you’re not too fussed about a particular month, you can ask what the venue has available. This works well if you want to get married quickly.

 

Sort other important suppliers

Once you’ve booked your venue, you officially know the date of your wedding. This means it’s time to book important suppliers. The photographer and videographer are the most important. They’re usually one of the biggest expenses (after the venue and catering) and you want to spend money on them to get someone good. You don’t want to regret your wedding photos for 50 years after the day, and wish you’d paid more for better photos.

Other important suppliers include the florist, caterers, and live entertainment. You should plan to spend more on these than things like the makeup artist or cake. Though these things are equally important, they’re not where you should prioritise your money.

 

Once all of the above are clarified, confirmed and booked, you can relax for a little bit. My biggest tip is start the wedding planning process early. The time you’re engaged goes so quickly. Don’t let time run away with you. I’ve been engaged for 2 years and 2 months. I booked my venue nearly two years ago, in March 2016.

The first year of wedding planning was mainly booking suppliers and paying deposits, whereas the second year has been spent organising the smaller details: stationary, lawn games, cake design, etc. Remember to enjoy your wedding planning, no matter how long you’ve got left.

 

*Information provided in a press release from Festive Lights

5 Things to Consider When Planning a Wedding

Planning a wedding is one of the most fun, exhilarating and frustrating things I’ve ever done.

It’s both stressful and rewarding at the same time. When you think about it, planning a wedding is basically planning a party for over 100 people. Which is probably something you’ve never done before.

There’s so much to think about, but before you can start shopping for your dream dress on Pinterest, you need to think of the depressing stuff.

Budget

Everything about your big day comes down to the budget. But you need to know your budget before you can start looking at venues. You can’t have a wedding on a £10k budget if the wedding venue costs £8,000. It’s impossible to do the rest of the wedding on a £2k budget, unless you want one candle, a £20 cake from Tesco and some sausage rolls to feed your guests. If that’s what you want, then perfect! But make a realistic budget.

Some people think my wedding planning spreadsheet is a bit much, but not when there’s so much to organise!

It’s split into small sections. I’ve estimated the amount I will spend in the left column, and then tracked the actual amount I’ve spent on the right. The above example is the Decor section. I also have Apparel, Reception do, Photos/Videos, Ceremony, Stationary and Miscellaneous.

It then adds the whole spreadsheet  together to give an estimated vs. actual total.

Location

The location is the next most important thing to think about, because it sets the tone for the whole wedding. I’ve gone for a traditional manor house in Cheshire but this means I can’t really go for a beach theme as it won’t suit. Think about your style and whether you want classic or modern, traditional or not, formal or informal, etc.

planning a wedding advice

Thornton Manor, Cheshire

Guest List

Obviously, all of the three priorities above link together. If you have a very large family, and want a large, traditional location, you’ll need a very large budget to match. If you go for a grand manor house, but only invite 50 guests, the place will feel empty. Work out how many people will be attending before you start planning the wedding. And then work out the cost it will take to feed them. I was SHOCKED at my catering bill for 80 people in the daytime, and 130 at the evening do. If you can’t afford to feed them all, you can’t invite them all.

A smaller number of people works well in a hotel or barn. For lots of wedding guests, go for a manor house or a large marquee.

Food

And talking of feeding guests, it’s worthwhile thinking ahead to what you will feed them. Many people these days are choosing the informal buffet or hog roast option because it’s cheaper. However, I wanted a traditional 3-course, sit down meal. These sorts of choices all come back to budget, but also what you want.

P.S. Remember that children cost a LOT less.

planning a wedding - food

Photo courtesy of Barretts Caterers

 

Theme, Style or Colours

These three depend on your venue. As I said before, you can’t really go for a manor house wedding and then choose to have a beach theme. Well you could, technically you can do anything, but would it work?

You should choose these well in advance. Colour can affect the type of flowers you have, the bridesmaids dresses, the colours on the invites or on the cake. It’s also best to pick a style for this reason too. Otherwise the invites will go out in a lace style, and then you might end up with no lace on your wedding day. It’s a minor point, but one to think about.

So there’s my long list! Wow, that was a long post. I hope that helps anyone currently planning a wedding.

Is there another priority you would add to the list?