The question has been popped, the yes has been said, the pretty rings have been shared all over instagram and the pinterest boards are almost full of the most random cute things you really like, but ahhhhhhh sh*t where do you really start? How do you turn all these beautiful ideas into the day of your dreams? How do they become one vision and not just a screen of random ideas?
I am currently in the unique position that although I am writing this as a supplier, I am also planning our "wedding" for 2024. Yes I am already married but we had the smallest wedding known to man for a lot of reasons and always promised ourselves we would have our full wedding celebration on our tenth wedding anniversary! So to add a twist I am going to put some of my own answers in so you can get to know me too.
This is a controversial one, as technically you can have whatever day you want on whatever budget by getting creative - but lets be honest and real you can't really have those fire eating circus performers that cost £1k if your total budget is only £2k! Well you can if you are prepared to sacrifice everything else (see the next header below!). So my biggest budget tip is set a rough budget, then round it down. I know that sounds strange, but trust me, when you find that one supplier you really really want that is over your budget you will know there is a little wiggle room without getting yourselves into trouble.
Another trick is to set a monthly budget, a lot of suppliers will allow you to pay in instalments and this can be a really useful way to get the suppliers you really want without having to be self disciplined enough to save!
Me! - Our first wedding our budget was £500 (yes its possible!). Our planned wedding celebration doesn't have a budget yet, we just about had it nailed down and then 2020 happened, and obviously I am self employed..........so yeahhh say no more!
This is equally as important as your budget, whether you have £10k or £100k you will have bits that are most important to you. Having to write these things down before you even start really helps you put everything in perspective. Do you really want that £4.5k dress if it only leaves you £500 for an inexperienced photographer to capture it, or would you rather spend £2k on the dress and have £2k to spend on a sh*t hot photographer who knows what they are doing and will give you the most amazing memories? After all once everything else is worn, eaten and drunk, the pictures are all that is left! If you are a foodie, would you rather have amazing Michelin star food for a handful of very close friends and family - or is it more important for you to have a bigger group of friends with you to celebrate and actually you really like Greek street food as much as those fancy canapes anyway? Literally list the things that are most important to you so you know where to allocate your budget. Unless you are a Kardashian you are going to have to compromise along the way, so work out where that can happen before you book something that isn't a priority and spend those hard earned pennies in the wrong place.
Me! - For us food, photographer and music are the most important (and gin! but thats just me not 'im indoors!)
Now the fun stuff begins! Who are you? What do you like? Where is your happy place? If you are at your happiest in the middle of nature consider having a celebrant led ceremony in the woods. If the idea of getting any mud or dirt on your clothes fills you with horror, don't choose that barn on a working farm! Would you enjoy making the experience personal by decorating yourself? There are some amazing venues that dry hire for three days to allow this - or is the idea of a relaxing time sitting in the nearest spa with your friends and a bottle of bubbly whilst someone does the hard work for you? Then I suggest you find a beautiful elegant hotel where you can rest assured that your every wish will be adhered to.
Me! - We want uber relaxed, chilled summer festival vibe. Everyone sitting round watching an amazing sunset (yes I do plan on booking the weather in advance!) listening to awesome live music eating amazing street food and grazing tables is our vibe. Not only because we have feral children who would hate any formality, but also for me the more festival and less hotel we are the less it will feel like work.
4) WHAT'S A WEDDING?
Continuing on from your vibes, but have a good think about what a wedding means to you. For you does it need to be in church? If it doesn't need to be in church do you have to do the legal bit in front of your guests? Registrars these days do have a lot more flexibility with what they can offer in order to personalise your ceremony, but if you want the ultimate in ceremonies tailored to you then consider having a celebrant.
Celebrants are fab and will work with you on a really personal level to tailor your service to be really unique, from sand ceremonies to hand fasting or candles they can include so many meaningful elements to make your day special.
Me! - Well obviously ours is a renewal, but having now seen celebrants in action I would definitely go down that route for a wedding too, but then I am a sentimental old sop!
5) YOUR TRIBE
Whether you want just your bestie by your side or you want a full football team there are a couple of tips I have. Firstly, do not expect anything from them! Gone are the days where people have the time in their lives to be at your beck and call. That doesn't mean they don't care. I see and hear of so many stories of good friends that have fallen out because as a bridesmaid they aren't doing anything or don't care about the wedding. This is very rarely the case, but if you are going to expect poor Becky to cancel her afternoon of work meetings to come and see you at the tablecloth suppliers because that one shade of dusky pink you have chosen is no longer available then you are expecting too much!! It is your wedding, it is your priority but it is not theirs! Ask them considerately if they have time to help with this or that given enough notice and I am sure they will. Expect them to be available every weekend for 6 months and they are going to disappoint you!
Secondly, whoever you choose make sure you are happy with how naturally honest they are - if you want someone to tell you all your ideas are amazing and not be 100% honest do not choose the crazily blunt friend who will criticise most decisions purely out of love, but will still cause offence! This is only going to cause upset - as the old saying goes don't ask the question if you aren't prepared for the answer.
Me! - For me my bridal party would be my two daughters and my two besties, I don't like enough people that closely to have any more views involved!!
As with most things in life, on the whole you get what you pay for, yes there are always exceptions to the rule but using your prioritising list discussed above make sure you invest in the suppliers that are most important to you. Good suppliers get booked up two sometimes three years in advance so once you have that venue chosen and confirmed for a date get booking!
Concentrate initially on those suppliers that can only do one wedding a day, they tend to be the ones that get booked up first. So photographers, videographer if you want one, your evening band or DJ, caterer if you need a separate one to venue. Then work your way through to your florists, hair and make up, cake makers etc.
Most suppliers will take a relatively small deposit and the balance closer to the wedding and a lot of suppliers will let you pay a small amount a month towards the balance if you aren't someone that is particularly good at budgeting and saving! By making these arrangements you will be surprised at the suppliers you can afford even if you see yourself to be on a small budget.
Me! - Naturally I already have my favourite suppliers that I would have to have - in fact because of us wanting a tipi and we can situate that in a lot of different places, my favourite suppliers being available would dictate our date, not our venue!
7) NO BRIDEZILLAS
Don't stress! Don't end up hating your partner because they aren't interested in the details - they are only interested in marrying you! That's a good thing!
When its all over you will have be married, you will have had a celebration of some description - it really won't matter if that one type of rose had to be substituted for a different one or the cake is one shade darker than you expected! No one else will even notice that those favours that need to be 5 cms to the left of that candle were actually 7 cms away! OK these are slight exaggerations (maybe! ;-)) but you get the point. Enjoy the planning, enjoying making those pinterest boards come to life but don't let it take over your life and become the only thing you live, eat and breathe.
Me! - Yeah there's no chance of that! I am very chilled and am used to working under extreme wedding pressure ( I hope!)
8) PLENTY OF NOTICE
Send out save the dates,no matter how far in advance you start planning! This may be a slightly personal one for me as my husband is military and we have to book his leave over a year in advance so if an invite for a wedding in July arrives in January not only will he not be able to book leave but chances are I will already have a booking in too! So please be aware of your gusts circumstances and give them loads of notice.
Me! - Yeahhhhhh we must do that!
9) LET IT GO
Make a promise to yourself right from the start that in the words of Elsa, when it comes to your big day you will let it all go! No matter what happens on the day embrace it, laugh at it and enjoy it. If it rains get out there and capture some awesome rainy images. Accept that your dress IS going to get dirty - and embrace every mark as a memory of an amazing day.
Me! - I literally can't wait to eat, drink and celebrate with my nearest and dearest, I won't give a monkeys about the dress, its not like I am ever going to wear it again! Getting those epic pictures for the memory book is a million times more important than a bit of rain or dirt.
10) YOU'RE ENGAGED
Enjoy it! Have fun with your engagement, find some parts of the wedding that interest both of you and have some fun planning.
But first, you have your engagement shoot to plan! Make sure you have an engagement photoshoot (as I was once kindly told, don't shy away from the camera, you will never look this good again!) not only will it give you wonderful memories of a timebefore you were married, but it will also help you know your photographer so you are much more relaxed on big day.
Just like your wedding, your engagement shoot can be whatever you want it to be! Whether you just want to throw some jeans on and go to the woods, get dressed up and have a date night in your nearest city or put on full black tie and go and dance on a rocky shore!
Like all wedding plans, there is no right or wrong.................. you do you, and let me tell your story.