Congratulations, you said yes!
Now all you’ve got to do is plan the best party of your lives to celebrate marrying your best friend…
1.First things first…do nothing!
It’s not every day you agree to marry your best friend so take some time out to enjoy it. Whether you’ve waited ten years or 12 months for this day, it’s kind of a big deal and you should just take some time to enjoy being engaged. Have some fun as a couple and spend lots of time admiring that new rock on your finger! It won’t be long before the only question you get asked is ‘how’s the wedding planning coming along” and you get stuck into endless hours of wedmin so bask in that newly engaged bubble for as long as possible. By all means have some conversations about the kind of wedding you’d like or what your hopes are for the day but don’t get too bogged down too early!
The biggie. Probably the worst part of wedding planning but the most important. It’s best just to sit down and get it out the way early on so you know what you’re working with. How much can you afford and how much are you willing to spend. There’s no right or wrong – don’t compare yourself to others but do what works for you. I’ve photographed £1000 weddings and £30,000 weddings and in all honesty, it’s the people that you share your day with that make it great, not the flowers or the cake. Money is always an awkward subject for us brits but just rip that plaster right off and be frank with each other as well as any family who might be contributing so you know exactly what you’re working with.
Don’t put pressure on yourself to get married within a certain timeframe. How much you can afford to save each month and how long it will take you to reach your target will determine a realistic date. A top tip here is to add some contingency as pretty much every couple I’ve spoken to went over their budget. I’m telling you now so you don’t give yourselves a hard time about it later on!
It helps to do some initial research at this stage so you know roughly what different suppliers charge. Decide on your priorities as once you have these sorted, you can allocate your budget accordingly.It’s only possible to see where you can save some money when you know which things aren’t top of your list
There’s tons of spreadsheets you can download for free that will help you keep track of your spending and although that all sounds very geeky, it will will help I promise!
Before you move onto the more exciting stuff, buy some wedding insurance.
3. Get Inspired!
Back to some fun stuff now you’ve got money matters sorted! Whet your appetite by hitting the wedding blogs and scrolling Pinterest. If you prefer flicking through something physical, buy some magazines or a book. Here’s a few of my favourites that you might enjoy
Rock My Wedding (also have a book – Your day your way)
Rock n Roll Bride (also has a book and magazine)
Talk with your partner about the kind of wedding you’d like and start an inspiration board on Pinterest. Tread carefully though – it’s easy to get so carried away with pinning picture perfect weddings that it is easy to lose sight of whats important. Have the wedding that you want and not what’s on trend. In my experience the best weddings I’ve photographed are always the ones where the couple have put their personalities into them. Wedding planning should be enjoyable – don’t get bogged down by tradition and don’t feel like you have to do anything you’re not keen on…these days anything goes!
4. Set a date and book a venue
Many wedding planning guides will advise you to set a date before you book your venue but I think the two go hand in hand. When me and my husband got engaged we knew we wanted to get married the following year. Within weeks of getting engaged we had found our dream venue but promptly told us they had no Saturdays and only 4 friday dates left. That’s right folks – don’t for one second think you can walk into a cool AF venue thinking you can get hitched on a Saturday in August this year. Or even the following year. Good venues get booked up a year or two in advance so with this in mind, I suggest being a little open minded – choose what year you’d like as well as your preferred season and go from thereYou probably have an idea of what venue you’d like but make a shortlist and take a look at a few. Your venue will take up a big chunk of your budget so it’s important to get breakdowns from each venue as to what the price includes so there’s no nasty surprises. Make sure you take photos and notes whilst you are there so you don’t forget the details.
It’s most likely that you will just get a gut feeling that a particular venue is the one – I liken it to buying a house. You don’t buy with your head but with your heart and there will be a venue that sweeps you off your feet and tugs on all your heart strings and then you know you’ve found it!
5. Give notice, book registrar
Once the date is set and the venue is booked, don’t forget to call the local council and book the registrar. Do this as soon as you’ve booked your venue as you don’t want to be left with the 9am or 5pm slot! Alternatively if you fancy something more personal, do the legal bit a few days before and book yourself an amazing humanist celebrant. I know some awesome people I can recommend!
With your date and venue nailed, you can move on to booking your VIP suppliers – those who can only work one wedding per day. The most important of these is your photographer. Like venues, good photographers book up early and so it makes sense to get it locked off the list as early as possible.
I may be biased but I can’t stress enough how important it is to allocate as much of your budget to photography as you can. Your wedding photos are somehthing you will keep forever – sure you’ll have your wedding rings and your dress in a box in the loft but neither of those can recreate your wedding over and over again for generations to come.
There’s so bloody many of us though, that how do you even go about choosing one?! Well, firstly it’s absolutely vital that you love the style of their work. Each photographer has their own style and approach whether it’s light and airy, dark and moody, natural or posed. It’s important that you can look at their photographs and picture yourself as the couple in them. Take a look at the blog section of their website and ask to see full galleries. You’ll see the range of shots to expect as well as knowing that they can deliver consistently throughout an entire day of different scenarios and lighting situations. Secondly, you need to enjoy being around them and like them as a person as they’re gonna spend a lot of time at your wedding!
Once you’ve done some research and decided on the style of photography you like, make a shortlist and talk to each of them. Book the one you love the most!
All this is of course just the tip of the iceberg – there’s a lot more to follow including stationery, flowers, cake, the dress, bridesmaids outfits, ties, entertainment, food, hair and make-up, accessories, transport. In fact the list is endless but hopefully this article has answered a few questions and given you a nudge in the right direction.
With these things done you can afford to take your foot off the pedal and relax a little….for now!