- Set a budget, and personally I would do this before anything else, so it is my official number one item. Mainly because it is pointless giving yourselves six months to plan a £20k wedding if you have no money. The budget will help you set a date, decide on the number of bridesmaids and has a huge effect on the venue and catering. So first off set a budget of what you feel is reasonable and that you can afford. Always save at least £1k more than your budget just in case you fall in love with a slightly more expensive venue, dress, cake etc.
- Set a date. Try to be mindful of any relatives coming from out of town if you can. Try to avoid big dates such as Valentines Day. It sounds sweet, romantic and lovely but these dates costs more: Valentines, Christmas, New Years etc. Unless the date is worth the extra money to you both then pick another day!! Sit down with your fiancé and discuss what season/month you prefer and any dates that are an absolute no no. Consider your budget once again at this point. Do not pick a date in 12 months if you will need 18 months to save. Write down two or three dates but do not announce any of these yet, you need to get this date locked down with your church/venue before you announce it. More things to consider: If you want a Church Wedding check with your chosen church what days their services are. We initially wanted a Sunday wedding but due to Sunday Service and Sunday school it would have been too rushed and chaotic. Registry Office, if you think this is the cheap option that is not always the case. You have to hire the room, pay for a wedding licence and pay for the registrar. Find out your local fees before you commit. Also for Registry Office or at venues where a registrar would be required please note you normally can not book until 12 months before. So if you get the date you want with cars, reception, caterers etc this does not guarantee you will get the Registrar for the date you want.
- Pick your wedding party. This can be a bit of a mine field but if you take your time and consult with your fiancé this should be painless. Posts to consider: Maid of Honour, Bridesmaids, Flower girl, Page boy, Ushers, Best Man, Ring Bearer. Girls chose your own bridesmaids/flower girls/maid of honour but do not forget any female relatives of his. Be mindful of your fiancés and his family's feelings and boys the best men and ushers are your choice but you must consider her family too. Sit down together and discuss your choices and make sure you are both on the same page before you announce your choices. What I didn't do but have since heard of people doing, and think its a lovely idea, is to formally ask my bridesmaids. There are plenty of websites where you can buy a novelty card or keepsake for the occasion. So long as you don't have 20 bridesmaids I would suggest a formal request. Check out www.etsy.com for some cute ideas.
- Colour and/or theme. This is really important to pick as early as possible to make sure everything you buy ties in with the theme/colour in one way or another. Discuss with your partner colours you both like or dislike, take in to consideration the time of year e.g. Yellow is a fabulous summer colour, but may be an odd choice for a winter wedding. It's your wedding and therefore your choice so try not to let anyone affect the choice you make. Themes - this can be tricky but here are some ideas of themes that tend to work well although some can be a bit cliché if not done right: Hearts, Doves, Vintage, Rustic, Butterflies, Tea Party, Shabby Chic, Victorian, Seaside/Beach. Make sure your theme goes with your colour choice, i.e. florescent pink will not work with Victorian... you get my drift. The world is your oyster when it comes to colours and themes, have fun looking at different stationary, table centre pieces etc. It will all come to you!
- Wedding Fayre - Attend at least one. The amount of bumph they give you, you may only need to attend one. What I did was pick one of the larger wedding fayres, with the majority of wedding companies from the area attending. It required a bit of patience visiting all the stalls but I didn't need to go to anymore after that one. There is nothing to stop you researching on line, but a fayre will definitely give you a good idea of what you do and what you definitely don't want. Plus you get to see a lot of products in the flesh so to say, which shows you the quality and can give you good ideas if you plan to DIY it.
- Write a list. I lovingly named mine "the dummies list to what I need". I literally wrote down everything I needed to buy. You don't need to do this all in one go, you can do it slowly as and when the ideas come to you. I chose to do mine about 3 months after we got engaged. I knew what I wanted and had a good idea of what I needed, I wrote everything from my dress to hair bobbles for my bridesmaids, from Card for making invitations to socks for the groom to wear. It was about 4 sides of A4 long but I didn't forget a single thing and felt pretty smug when I was able to tick the last item off the list about 2 weeks ago! It's a must. If you are lucky enough to have a wedding planner you can pass the list on to them knowing that they have a detailed list of what you want. If you are doing it yourself, and on a budget, it can be a very helpful tool to avoid panic buying and costs that could be avoided.
- Before you start booking or paying for cakes or photographers make sure you give family friends, distant relatives etc a chance to advise you of anyone who may be willing and able to do some of these jobs on the cheap or even as a wedding gift. I know it sounds cheeky but just mentioning that wedding cakes are expensive on your Facebook can lead to offers of friendly discounts. Your friends and family will suddenly have contacts you've never even heard of until now, but it is worth the wait. We managed to save on our wedding cake, our invites/stationary, photographer and cars in this way. DON'T BE AFRAID TO TAKE FREEBIES!! Every little helps... as Tesco as that sounds!
- Do your research. As simple as this sounds the best thing you can do is research every option you have. I've always wanted a church wedding and contacted my local church, but I also contacted the local registry office and various local venues for their price list/packages, which came in handy when picking the reception venue also. It helps to shop around, and to go and see venues. Don't limit yourself to venues just down the road, as sometimes the perfect venue is a little further a field. Also on the opposite side of the scale, unless you want a wedding abroad, don't go too far away as this will add on costs when it comes to cars/taxis etc.
- Start a guest list. Of course this will be subject to change, especially if you are planning a year or two in advance. People move away, grow apart etc. However it help to make a list of all the people you would like to invite as numbers will be needed when looking at venues. It is no good booking a room for 100 people if you only have 50 people coming as this will incur room charges at most venues, but also a 50 people room is too small for a larger wedding. Make a list, and be blunt with yourself. I wrote a list of everyone we would invite, put a "N" next to all the people we suspected would say no, and then worked out if we could afford the amount of people we had invited at any of the venues we wanted to go and see. Once you have your guest list and approximate numbers it is a lot easier to pick a venue.
- Decide on what to DIY, and what to let the professionals do. Once you have picked theme, colours, how many people and who can do a friendly favour now is the time to write down what you think you can do yourself and what you will hand over to the professionals. I am pretty much the DIY bride, and if you are organised there is no reason why it can't be done. However if you are a panicker or not very good at organising you may want to delegate some of your "jobs". Make a list. Just remember: DIY is cheaper, but time consuming and if you get it wrong you have no one to blame but your self. Professional is more expensive, but saves time, and there is someone accountable if it goes wrong.
- Pick a venue. You may only need one if you decide on a hotel or country home, but if you go for a church or registry office, you will also need to pick a venue for the wedding breakfast/evening reception. Shop around and visit the venues. Get an idea of how big the room is, what shape it is, how it can be set up. Once you find THE venue. Get your date booked and the deposit paid. Lock it down!
- Dress shopping. Anyone who knows me, will know I didn't buy my dress until 6 weeks before the wedding. I was living on the edge... or driving people crazy! However, I had picked my dress almost 12 months prior to buying it. Take your bridesmaids out for the day and get their dresses separately Make them feel special by giving them their very own dress shop day. Before you go shopping get a clear idea in your mind of what you do or don't want, how much you are willing to compromise with your bridesmaids if they dislike your choices and make sure you know what does or doesn't suit the body shape of all of your bridesmaids. I will do a separate blog on the wedding dress as this is a big choice to make and shouldn't really be stuffed in to the 20 things to do.
- Engagement Party/Family Meal - only for the long engagement. If you set a date almost immediately and are getting married in say 1-2 years, do not waste pennies on a party. A meal might be a nice idea for everyone to get to know each other if they don't already, but a party is too much cost. However if you are planning on a long engagement, why not have a party to celebrate the occasion. Just remember what ever you spend on the party should be no where near the price of a wedding... sounds obvious but you'd be surprised!
- Little details - Put thought in to the little details early on, as closer to the wedding you will be too involved with larger, more obvious projects and the little details will get forgotten. For example, start thinking of favours, it is easy to chuck some sweets in a box, but add something personal to thank your guests that shows you really thought about what you wanted. Can't reveal my little idea as my wedding day is next Saturday, but I will spill all after the big day! :) Think of things like table confetti, top table swags, cake table decorations, guest books etc. No one will let you forget the big things like the rings, the dress or the suits, but people rarely ask you if you have picked a guest book!
- Make it legal - This isn't as obvious as it should be. Every type of wedding has its hoops to jump through and things to consider to make it legal. If you are getting married in a church of England or Church of Wales then usually the Vicar/Priest will arrange all the legalities for you, and tell you if you need to attend any sermons or services for the calling of the Banns. However, baptist or community churches, and probably a lot of other churches will require you to obtain a marriage licence via the Registry Office. Make sure you do this or your wedding will not be legal. Other weddings that may need you to consider legalities are back garden weddings, you may need to have a legal service at a Registry Office, and then a blessing as opposed to a wedding in the garden/outdoor area you have chosen. Manor House/Hotels. Alot of these will have a licence to hold weddings but will not have a registrar. So you will need to get a registrar booked via your Registry Office and it will cost to have them attend your venue... Do your research. Make sure its legal.
- Gift List... I feel bad this has made my top 20 when so many things haven't. I'm not materialistic honestly but trust me this is the best thing ever! Not only is it fun to pick somewhere to register but you get to tell people what you would like as a gift! My fiancé and I have lived together for just over a year so we have most of what we need, the usual wedding gifts. So using a gift list we can pick the things we don't have or need to replace and have also opted for gift vouchers from our chosen store so people don't have to bring a gift with them. It also avoids duplication of gifts and ensures you get things you like. It feels cheeky at first, but as you realise it just avoids unwanted gifts and awkward "how lovely" moments you grow to love your list.
- Suits. This to me was a very painless experience as me and my fiancé both had a clear idea of what we wanted and where to get it from. But for those you have no idea then firstly decide on a suit colour (i.e. black or grey) then shirt colour (white/ivory, I went with the same colour as my dress if this helps) then waistcoat colour. This should be easy if you have picked your colours already. Cravat/Tie, colour should also be easy, but to decide between a cravat or tie try looking at photos or go to a suit hire place and get the groom to try on both. It really is more about what he is comfortable wearing. Then you have to decide whether to hire or buy. Personally I think hire is better for a wedding as they aren't likely to be worn again. But look around and decide what you'd prefer. At the wedding fayre I suggested at number 5 there is bound to be at least one suit hire company in attendance. Go along to their shop take a look and get the groom to try a suit on. If you don't like it don't be afraid to ask for other choices or options.
- Stationary. This is one of the things I would rank as quite important. Once your colour/theme is decided and you know how many people you are inviting it's time to pick a style of stationary. It all needs to tie in together so your save the dates, invites, RSVP's, Place Cards, Table Plan, Table number, order of services etc, should all look rather similar and incorporate the main themes and ideas for your day. At Wedding Fayres there are usually 3 or 4 stationary tables, take the opportunity to look at different styles, shapes, folds etc. Even if you make them your self or order from someone else, it helps to get ideas. Get all your stationary at the same time to make sure it all has a running theme. If you are inviting 50 people, order enough for 60 people in case of mistakes.
- Flowers. This was so easy for me, because I am not a flower person. I can't stand flowers everywhere which coincidentally saved me a fortune! Decide what flowers you do want and make sure they will be in season if you want fresh flowers. If you want silk then make sure you can find the type you want in the colour you want. If like me you only want button holes and bouquets then now is the time to consider alternative decorations. For example, instead of flowers you can have candles, or decorative bowls, or martini glasses etc as centre pieces. Balloon arches in stead of large flower arrangements near the cake or as an entrance to the room at the venue. Its all personal choice, but it helps to know well in advance what you want as decoration, and what is do-able.
- Last tip. Although not by any means the last thing to do when arranging a wedding. But start thinking early on about a gift for your loved one, and for the bridesmaids, best men, ushers etc. It gives you time to look around and set budgets. Put some thought in to how you want to thank your wedding party and fiancé.
Saturday, 20 October 2012
20 Things To Do Once You Say Yes
Ok, so this isn't necessarily in the correct order. But it's 20 things I think should help you get the ball rolling on your wedding planning and get you organised.