Just Got Engaged?
Congratulations if you are newly engaged! But where do you start with planning your wedding? What are the important things you need to decide before you get into the more exciting tasks of dress shopping, menu tasting and decor designing? This quick guide lists out those important decisions you need to make before you start paying any deposits and securing the services of your wedding suppliers.
- What time of year would you like to get married in?
Each season has it’s own positives and negatives which you will need to consider when planning your wedding. For example a winter wedding can be beautifully romantic but you will need to pick a venue that can be cosy and reachable in any weather conditions or, if you love the idea of a marquee in a garden, then avoid winter, autumn and early spring.
- Wedding date.
Once you know roughly when you want to get married set a date. Bear in mind the season, as I mention above, but also what is achievable from a financial perspective. If you are going to have to save each month consider how long this may take to get a pot of money big enough to fund your big day, don’t put yourself under unnecessary stress with this, your wedding should be memorable for all the right reasons, not for making you prematurely grey! If you have your heart set on a specific date then bear in mind the popularity of your chosen venue, for example if it is a very popular venue you may find your chosen date is not available for a couple of years.
Deciding between you both what you feel comfortable spending on your wedding is a good starting point to drawing up a budget. It is really important that you set yourself a budget at the start of the planning process so you can try and manage your finances. There are two ways of doing this, you can either start with a total amount you wish to spend, and then divide it up into categories, or, you can start by deciding what you want to spend by category and seeing how it totals up. The second option is likely to be a bigger budget than the first way!! At this stage it is also important to roughly work out where you priorities lie, for example, if you are both foodies then you may decide it would be a wiser move for you to save money on flowers for example to allow you to apportion more money to your catering. There is no right or wrong here but you have to feel comfortable with the total amount you want to spend, be realistic (and make sure you have a contingency fund for miscellaneous items!), don’t start your married life with a huge debt just from one day!!
- Guest List.
This is bound to be a contentious area, especially if you have kind parents giving you money to pay for your special day!! It is worth thinking about how many people you want to be there to celebrate with you because this will help narrow down your venue search. Also bear in mind who is on your guest list, try asking yourself some simple questions like; who has supported you both in your lives up to this point, who would you not miss being there (sometimes this is a hard call but when you are paying per head for each guest costs quickly mount up), who would you still be friends with in five/twenty years time, are work colleagues classed as your nearest and dearest? Drawing up a guest list may also highlight other issues you will need to consider in the later stages of your planning such as travel arrangements, accommodation arrangements or disabled access. Another massive issue with guest lists can be children – do you invite them or not? Primarily this question can be answered by a) do you have any of your own children who will be there and b) do any of your close family/wedding party have any children you wish to attend? If the answer to both these questions is a ‘no’ then my advice would be don’t invite children, just make it very clear on the invites and perhaps have a chat with your guests before you even send out the invites to gauge their reactions, after all you don’t want this to upset people but it is your wedding day.
Religious or not? That is going to a big factor in the rest of your planning. If you are not having a religious ceremony then you will need to think about whether you want to get married in a registry office or at a licensed venue. If you choose a licensed venue then you now have the option of saying your vows outside or inside. The alternative is to have a celebrant take your service which gives you complete flexibility over location, timing and what vows you say to each other, just make sure you do the legal bit at a registry office too!
Do you want to elope and get married abroad? Or do you want to get married in the UK? Whichever option you pick will impact your guest list, ceremony and budget. If you wish to get married abroad make sure you check out all the legal bits, there are certain travel companies that specialise in weddings abroad and their advice and planning help can be invaluable.
- Best men and women.
It is certainly worth asking your groomsmen and bridesmaids as soon as you have decided some of the details listed above to make sure they are prepared to be intrinsically involved in your big day. Your bridesmaids and groomsmen need to be people who are prepared to assist you in your planning and to help make your day run smoothly. So often I hear sad stories about the bride’s friends, who she has asked to be her bridesmaids, turn into complete prima donnas, demanding certain types of dresses, shoes, make up etc making the bride’s life a mission, fraught with emotional dilemmas. The people you ask should appreciate that it is your wedding day and be honoured that you have selected them to take these important roles.
Last, but certainly, not least, is your venue. It is wise to have an idea of the sort of style of venue you want to hold your wedding at before you go headlong into planning. Most of the points above will play a part in your venue decision. Once you have picked your venue a lot of the remaining things you need to plan will naturally fall into place such as flowers, decor, catering, music.
Don’t forget that it is so important to also celebrate this important milestone and enjoy the time as a newly engaged couple!