January 18th, 2018 | Laura McDonagh
As we touched on briefly in yesterday’s post, the festive season was a peak time for couples to put on a ring on it with a strong stream of just-engaged selfies filling up our social media feeds through late December and early January.
Firstly, if that was you – congratulations! Secondly, if you’ve wound up on these pink pages thinking ‘what next?’, you’re in the right place! For we’re here to hold your hand and guide you through the first steps on your wedding planning journey. So, open up the first page of that wedding planning journal, and let’s begin…
Chances are, questions about the date will start flooding in seconds after you’ve uploaded your first ‘Does this ring make me look engaged?’ photo. Cast your mind forward – are there any big family birthdays, anniversaries or events coming up that you don’t want to clash with – or alternatively, you’d like to honour? How long do you think you’ll need to plan – and save? Trying to predict the British weather is a bit like trying to guess what Britney was going to do next in 2007, but the season or month you choose may have significant impact on the finer details such as colour theme, flowers and dress style, so it’s worth bearing it in mind. Try to come up with a broad range (ish) of dates that would suit, and then it’s onto the venue.
It might be tradition for the bride to be married in her hometown, but who says it has to be your tradition? Often couples have moved away from their respective homes, or might have a special relationship with another place – a university town, the city where they met or first lived together – and can’t imagine getting hitched anywhere else. Sometimes logistics have to rule – couples often consider venues that are close to or between their respective families or a venue that can cater to particular requirements – offering total exclusivity if that’s a deal-breaker, is licensed for weddings if you’re not having a religious ceremony elsewhere, has disabled access or can manage a rowdy rabble of nephews and nieces.
But before you get too weighed down by shoulds and musts, close your eyes and imagine the day you’ve dreamed of. What do you see? A remote countryside retreat, a candle-lit manor house, an edgy urban rooftop bar? What feels most ‘you’ as a couple? There. That’s your starting point. Get online and get searching in your chosen area. Even better, get yourself to a wedding fair (‘tis the season!) at one or two of your potential venues, get your wedding party on board and get scouting. And speaking of the wedding party…
Our advice with this one is to start big. Ignore budgets and venue capacities – you’ll be forced to do some trimming shortly. Who would you have if you could have everyone you wanted, from your long-lost best friend from reception class to that lovely bloke from IT at your last job?
You‘ll also need to consider how much financial help you’re going to accept from parents and in-laws-to-be. If they’ve offered, you’ll need to be sensitive – mum and dad may want (and be entitled?) to ask a few friends, but it’s best to have that conversation and set some boundaries before you start cashing cheques.
Then – and this sounds harsh – start culling. We suggest you get yourself some golden rules – have you actually met cousin Phil’s new girlfriend? No? Then it’s not a ‘plus one’. Have you spoken to Lucy from uni – actually talked to her – in the last two years? Then ask yourself whether you need her there on your big day. It works the other way, too, though – you might not have seen aunty Margie and uncle Derek in the best part of a decade, but is the inevitably nuclear family fallout from not inviting them really worth it?
Get it down to a ballpark figure, and be conservative – 60? 100? 120? Now you need to ask venues about their capacity.
This really goes hand in hand with the above, but it’s time to talk budget – sadly, wedding planning involves a fair bit of spreadsheet tedium as well as the occasional sprinkling of glamour. Based on potential guest numbers and average venue charges per head (choose a venue that’s currently middle-of-the-range on your list), do your figures. How much have you already got saved/can you get saved by your earliest possible wedding date? How much are family able and willing to contribute, if anything? Stack this against your guest list and bear in mind other big ‘wants’ – is it achievable? If not, you need to trim your list further or reorder your priorities – where can you make some cuts?
Warning: time, patience and compromise required. Think of it as good practice for your marriage!
The final biggy on your list has to be a photographer – good ones are booked up literally years in advance and if you’re having a weekend wedding and you want to get wed in 2019, chances are they’ve only got a handful of dates left. Here once again, the internet is your friend. Make trawling through some wedding blogs and Instagram your priority (this post from Brides Up North being the perfect place to start your search, obvs) and make notes on the kind of style and shots that make your head spin and your heart sing. Don’t listen to friends and relatives who say, ‘Oo, such-and-such was great at x’s wedding’ – ‘great’ photography is so subjective, this really has to be a decision for you and your other half alone. Scour their portfolios, get in touch and – eventually – go with your gut.
February 2nd, 2015 | Rachel Parry
Christmas and New Year are peak times for proposals meaning we’ve had an influx of new brides-to-be to our pretty pages *waves*.
Setting out on the wedding panning road is both an exciting and daunting experience – but don’t panic as we will be with you every step of the way, offering fabulous inspiration, insider info on top trends and, of course, some useful advice.
One of my best friends is just starting the journey having had a ring romantically slipped onto her finger on Christmas Eve. At the moment she’s wondering in which order she should build up her blank canvas into her dream day. And so to help her, as well as our other new readers, take their first steps towards the big day, I thought now was a good time to cover the early planning stages.
Not to put a dampener on your just-engaged mood but as with most things in life a wedding starts with money – in particular how much you would like to spend and on which areas you will save and splurge.
If it’s just yourself and your partner footing the bill you can keep the conversation to yourselves but if parents plan to contribute you will need to discuss a rough sum and if there is anything in particular that they would like to cover the cost of, for example the reception, transportation or the bar bill.
Once you have a budget in mind try to stick to it. Write down what elements of a wedding day you will need to finance out of your pot from the venue to the attire, food and entertainment. As a couple discuss which are the most important areas to you and so where you will spend the most money and areas in which you can cut back. It might be that you wanting lasting memories of your big day so want to allocate a chunk to a photographer and videographer, or perhaps you’re huge music fans and want to blow out on a rocking band to keep the party going into the small hours. Try to think about you as a couple, your personalities and what you enjoy and aim to reflect this in your planning choices to make your celebration your own.
it’s a date
Money sorted, it’s time to set a date. For many this will come down to the season in which they want to tie the knot; so is it to be a Spring, Summer, Autumn or Winter affair? Other elements could sway your decision though, such as your budget. Wedding venues can be more expensive at peak times of the year, such as high summer, and weekends are often more pricey than week days. It may also be that your jobs govern the time of year you can get married, or if you are planning a destination wedding you will need to think about when the weather will be best and when will be most convenient for your friends and family to travel.
be our guest
Another stress-inducing area of planning – the dreaded guest list. Here lies a whole minefield of extended families, plus ones and what to do about children.
Initially couples should think about the type of ceremony they want; while some will prefer to keep things simple with a small and intimate affair, others will want to make the most of their moment in the limelight by filling the church to the rafters.
Your budget will also go some way to determining at what point you have to draw the line.
In the first instance as a couple both write down the names of the people you would like there and see how the numbers work out. If the final figure is coming out too high, look at where you can make cut backs without causing a friend or family rift. For example if neither of you are close to your cousins can you just invite them to the evening do? Or perhaps you could cut back on plus ones or omit children and just have an adult-only celebration.
set the scene
Now the numbers are in place you can search for a venue to accommodate your clan.
The venue is often the biggest expense and one of the most important factors of a wedding as it sets the scene for the big day. Therefore it’s well worth researching all the fantastic venues available to ensure you find one that ticks all the boxes.
Beyond the traditional church wedding ceremony, hotels remain a top choice, often favoured for their package deals and on site facilities. But changes in the law and the amazing creativity of suppliers have made the previously impossible, possible when it comes to dream wedding venues so don’t be afraid to push the boundaries.
For something old there are castles, country houses, listed halls and stately homes, or for a blank canvas to make your own, tepees and marquees. Meanwhile others might want a quirky outdoor wedding in gardens, woodland or on a beach. Or for something totally out of the ordinary, possibilities even stretch to museums, theatres, restaurants, sporting venues and art galleries.
Whatever you consider be sure to think about logistics, extra costs and find out exactly what’s included.
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