You just got engaged? Congrats! This is very exciting. However, if you’re anything like I was, you may be finding the task of actually planning the wedding a bit overwhelming. You’re probably already getting 20 questions from family and friends about what ‘theme’ you’re having, what colour your bridesmaids are wearing, what canapes you’re serving at the reception… It’s crazy, right?
To cut through the crazy, here’s my guide to wedding planning for the bewildered! These are some tips that I wish someone had given me when I was neck-deep in wedding planning :
You do you
Firstly, sit down together and talk about what sort of wedding the two of you actually want. It’s so easy to get bogged down in what sort of wedding other people expect you to have, but it’s your wedding, so you do you! If you’re having trouble coming up with ideas, try this creative exercise to get things going.
Don’t bankrupt yourselves with a wedding you can’t afford. A small, intimate wedding can be just as beautiful, if not more so, than a massive production. Once you’ve worked out what sort of wedding you want, set yourselves a budget and do your best to stick with it. Check out this post on wedding budgets for more help.
This is a tricky one. If you and your partner have different ideas about what the ideal wedding looks like, try to find middle ground – running roughshod over your partner’s ideas is not a great way to start to your marriage! If your budget won’t stretch to fit your original vision, look for alternative ways to make it special, or find creative ways to raise some extra funds.
If other family members are helping you financially, they’re also probably going to want some input. That’s not to say that you should let them run the show, but if their requests are reasonable (e.g. inviting one or two of their friends to the evening do), be considerate of them. It may save you from some super-awkward Christmases later on.
The Big Stuff – Who, What, Where?
Before you get sucked into a Pinterest vortex of embroidered favours, silk table runners and sparkled champagne glasses, sort out the big things first.
Who are you inviting? Write out your guest list. The number of people will help you narrow down your choice of venue.
What type of ceremony are you having (i.e. religious, civil ceremony, humanist, pagan handfasting)? This will also help with the next question.
Where do you want to get married? Do your research, visit some venues to get a feel for them, check out reviews. Once you’ve found somewhere you really like, compare diaries and get yourselves booked in. Bear in mind that some popular venues can be booked up a year or more in advance. If your budget is on the small side, it’s also worth asking if they do any deals for weekdays or less popular times of the year.
Doing Your Homework
Do plenty of research on suppliers, both online and IRL. If they’re going to be with you on the day (e.g. the photographer) try to chat to them beforehand to see if you get on. Personality can be a really important factor here. Go to the big wedding shows if you want to cover a lot of ground in one day, but personally I enjoyed the smaller, indie ones more. I particularly recommend the Chosen Wedding Fairs for their friendly atmosphere and good range of more unusual suppliers.
Don’t Forget the Why
There may be times during the planning process that you’ll get frustrated and upset. If you find yourselves getting overwhelmed or fighting about wedding stuff, take a break. Go do something fun together to remind yourselves why you’re doing this in the first place.
More helpful resources
A Practical Wedding have a great set of spreadsheet templates to help you get organized with your planning.
Coco Wedding Venues have a very handy list of wedding planning resources.
Last but not least, I have created a fabulous ebook Guide to Extraordinary Weddings, which you can get for free by joining Madame B’s VIP list (the ebook is yours to keep, and you can unsubscribe at any time).