Wedding Planning Advice
Ultimate Guide to Planning Your Wedding
Welcome to my ultimate guide to planning your wedding day. Weddings are wonderful, and planning a wedding is an exciting and happy time. It can also be utterly terrifying, stressful and challenging. Without a doubt, I want you to have as much of the excitement and happiness as possible, so I’ve put together my ultimate guide to planning your wedding. I’ll look at everything from budget to caterers to things that’ll help the memories of your hard work last, like how to find a really good wedding videographer. Whether you’ve got two months or two years to make your plans, my ultimate wedding planning guide gives you all you need to smooth the path to the aisle.
1. Work out your budget
This is the most important place to start. Sit down with your partner and work out how much you can afford to spend on your big day and how much you need to save over the next few months. It’s so important to be realistic about this. In the first flurry of excitement, you might imagine that living on baked beans for eight months so you can afford all those amazing things you saw on Pinterest is romantic. The novelty will soon wear off, and you need to be sure that your savings schedule isn’t so punishing it stops you enjoying your day to day life.
If you’re lucky enough to have other people contributing to your wedding, then have a chat with them too. You may find people offer to pay for a specific thing – which is wonderful- but be sure you’re on the same wavelength. Being open and honest about your expectations, and what is affordable is the key.
2. Decide who you’ll invite
Next up on my ultimate guide to planning your wedding day. It’s another tricky one. Who gets to go on the guest list. The number of people sharing your special day affects the venue choice, and the whole feel of the wedding, so be cautious and thoughtful about your decisions. It’s an incredibly personal thing, which makes it hard to draw up a definitive template, but here’s a rough guide.
3. Choose your theme
Hooray! We get to do some of the fun stuff! Once you’ve got your budget sorted, and you know who you’re inviting, it’s time to get down to the part that makes your wedding a true celebration of you and your relationship. It’s a good idea to start a Pinterest board (or a folder of cuttings if you’re pleasingly retro) where you’ll gather all your ideas. For some couples, the theme is as simple as having all the napkins the same colour, where others may have been dreaming of their Star Wars-themed day since the first moment they met. When you’re talking to suppliers like wedding photographer and florists, let them know your theme, to give a good feel for what’s important. The most crucial thing is to have fun and stick to your budget.
4. Choose your venue
Once you’ve got your money, guest numbers and theme sorted, choosing your venue becomes simpler. As part of my ultimate guide to planning is how you find your wedding venue. Key things to think about are location, capacity and budget as well as how the venue fits with your theme – if you’ve set your heart on a forties style tea dance, for example, then a modern hotel set up will seem a little incongruous. Think about if you want the venue to have accommodation, and how much more capacity you’ll need for the evening, as well as licensing restrictions around music and alcohol sales. many wedding planning websites have sections for venue choice where you can filter your requirements.
When it comes to visiting prospective venues, go armed with a list and a clear head. It’s easy to be drawn in by clever websites and marketing patter, but the most important thing is how the place and the events organiser make you feel. Trust your instincts.
5. Think about insurance
A sensible one to talk about on my ultimate guide to planning your wedding. It’s not the most romantic notion. Things can go wrong, and with many weddings costing tens of thousands of pounds taking out an insurance package will give you peace of mind.
Do a quick check to see what documents you need to be legally wed and sort out things like your marriage licence and any church announcements in good time. If you’re getting married abroad, you’ll find some countries have strict rules on second marriages or same sex marriages, so be sure to explore the situation before you make any firm decisions.
7. Choose your bridesmaids and groomsmen
When it comes to choosing your bridesmaids, best man and ushers there may be a natural candidate, or you may have to make some tough decisions. Think about who will best support you in all your preparation, and who will be best on the day. You may be put under pressure to little ones as bridesmaids and page boys (and they do look super-cute) but be sure that you’re honouring what’s important to you and your partner. Complete transparency is the key.
8. Choose your suppliers
Now it’s the real exciting part of my ultimate guide to planning your wedding day. The time to start thinking about how to bring your day to life, and how to preserve all those memories. Most weddings will need a florist, wedding photographer, wedding videographer and some kind of music. If you’re having an evening bash as well as the wedding breakfast you may want to think about hiring a band or DJ or both to keep the party going until the early hours.
Your venue is likely to have a list of recommended suppliers and it’s always worth considering these, but don’t be afraid to have something a little different so you keep the feeling of this being your day, rather than an identikit wedding.
This might be the point where you’re tempted to save some cash by going down the d.i.y. route. It’s a great idea in some ways but needs a bit of canny thought to avoid piling on the stress. As a rule of thumb, if something can be done well before the day (invitations, wedding favours) then it’s worth doing a bit of d.i.y., Anything that will happen on the day itself (photographs, flowers etc.) is best done by the professionals. If you can, resist roping in family and friends for tasks like this too – there’s a world of difference between a professional florist and Aunty Sue who does the church flowers once a month, however beautiful they look.
9. Decide on your style
This is often one of the best bits of wedding planning, and a real chance to express yourselves. If you’re having a traditional dress, it’s crucial to allow enough time for it to be made and for any alterations, so if this is something that’s really important to you, put it high on your wedding checklist. If you’re considering couture, six months is the absolute minimum and for a designer dress order allow around four to six months. Off the peg is a speedier option, but it’s still worth allowing four to six weeks for any alterations.
Once you’ve got the outfits sorted for you and your partner, think about how you want the rest of the party to look. Budget is a consideration here too, and you might want to have chat about how much your bridesmaids and groomsmen can contribute to the cost if you need them to.
Once you’ve got your outfits organised, pick your shoes and accessories, so you’ve got them for the final fittings, and explore your hair and makeup options.
10. Plan your gift list
The days of receiving multiple toasters are over, thanks to excellent gift registry services online and in stores. Putting a list together feels like an odd process, and a bit grabby, but most guests will breathe a sigh of relief at having a clear idea of what to give you, whether it’s something for your home together, or a contribution to your honeymoon fund.
11. Hone the schedule
A really important part of my ultimate guide to planning your wedding is getting your timings right. Without a doubt setting the schedule will help you and your suppliers make everything run smoothly. Writing it down will help you keep a clear head when things get fraught. It can feel like an overwhelming task. One of the best methods is to write down everything that needs to happen, from decorating the space to doing up your shoes before you leave, before sorting it into some sort of order. This is the time to draw on the expertise of your suppliers too, people like your wedding photographer are experts at making weddings wonderful, and will be able to give you plenty of good advice.
12. Organise your invitations and your wedding website
Choosing the design, exploring the option of d.i.y. and deciding how your invitations will complement the theme of your day can be done early on in the planning process. The actual sending needs to happen at least three months before the day, especially if you’re having a formal affair. As a rough guide your invitations need to include
• Times of the wedding and reception
• Venue details and directions
• What time the wedding finishes
• Details of nearby accommodation
• Whether children are included in the invitation
Your R.S.V.P. card should include space for any dietary requirements.
If you’re not sure on all the details yet, but you want to make sure guests keep the day free then a Save the Date card is handy.
A wedding website can be invaluable, especially if it’s a big do or you’re getting married abroad. Your guests will be able to find out all the details they need, saving you from endless texts or What’s app messages, all asking the same questions.
Gathering responses can be frustrating, and some people will be slower than you’d like to reply. It’s a good job to share with a trusted friend or family member.
13. Organise your stag and hen nights
Generally, this job is taken by the people in the bridal party, but you may want to give some guidance about how far in advance of the wedding you want your stag and hen celebrations to be.
14. Finishing touches
These are things that may not need much organising but do need a lot of thought. Any special readings or music will be the elements that work alongside your photos to create lasting memories for you and your guests. Think about who you’d like to do the speeches, any thank you gifts you want to buy and any little details that mean a lot to the two of you.
Whether you’re going for a big wedding with hundreds of guests, an intimate affair for ten or something in between, I hope you enjoy your wedding planning almost as much as the day itself. Thank you for taking the time to read my ultimate guide for planning your wedding day.
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About The Author
Mike Savory is an award-winning Wedding Videographer from the UK.