If you’re reading this, I’m assuming you’re recently engaged and thinking “where on earth do I start with planning a wedding?”. Well firstly, enormous congratulations! I hope you’re still in a bubble of pure happiness and extremely excited about what’s to come. Trust me, you should be! My initial advice is not to feel pressured into starting the organisation immediately. Take a couple of weeks to just enjoy being engaged. Soak up all the love and champagne which you’ll have undoubtedly received from friends and family. Float along in your bubble for a bit. Then, when you’re ready, get planning.
So, where to start? Below, I’ve outlined the very first steps you need to take when you begin your wedding journey. If you hire me as your planner, these areas will form a large part of our initial consultation.
Not always the friendliest of subjects and, trust me, as a planner this would never be my first question to you. However, the reality is that you do need to work out, early on, how much you want, and can afford, to spend on your big day. Having this figure in your head is going to help with the rest of your wedding planning, including how many people you are able to invite, which is your next step.
LBW Tip: As well as working out your overall budget, it is useful to think about where your priorities lie and therefore where you want to spend more money. This is one of the first things I will establish with you when we have our initial consultation. Are good food and drink the most important or is entertainment the highlight for you? Perhaps the florals must play a big part? Remember, the venue, food and drink will be your biggest expenditure.
Next draw up a provisional list of who you want to invite. If you’re keen to have a consultation with me, I’ll need a rough idea of numbers before we start. When spending in excess of £100 per person on food and drink, the difference in cost between 50 and 100 guests is huge. Be honest with yourselves and only invite who you want to invite, not who you feel you should invite. If you already have your heart set on a venue, check its maximum capacity as this may impact your guest list.
Now that you have your budget and your numbers, you need to think about where you want to get married. Are you steering towards a UK wedding, or a destination wedding? Then narrow it down to the area. Once you’ve done that (and you may have known this for a while already), start looking at possible venues in the area that are within your budget and that are suitable for your number of guests. Coco Wedding Venues has a great search option for finding the perfect place. Of course, if you hire me, I will do all of this for you and present you with a shortlist.
Have a think about whether you want a stately home, a barn, a hotel, a purpose-built wedding venue or a marquee in the middle of a garden or field. Knowing what style of venue you want will help you to narrow down your search and allow you to focus on places that you are really going to love. Don’t forget that if you want a civil wedding you’ll need to be sure the venue has a licence. Once you’ve found 5 or 6, pick a weekend and organise some viewings. Alternatively, let me help you narrow it down and we can visit a handful of venues together.
LBW Tip: If your ceremony is going to be in a different location to your reception, think about distance between the two. Maybe even the cost of transport.
LBW Tip: Before you pay a deposit to your venue, you need to make sure someone is available to marry you that day. This may mean checking availability at a church or ensuring you can book a registrar.
Save the Dates
Once you’ve found your dream setting, send out your Save the Dates so that your nearest and dearest are all able to attend. If your wedding is taking place quite soon or your guest list is small, you may prefer to start straight away on your invitations. You can just let the most important people know by word of mouth before they are sent out.
So, now you’ve got the budget and venue sorted and you know more or less who is attending. Now you can concentrate on your other wedding suppliers. My next three priorities would be your photographer, florist and band or DJ; these guys can get booked up well advance. You want to make sure you choose people who you not only get on with, but who match your style and budget. Do your research and get a few different quotes so you can compare. Or, let me do the hard work for you.
It’s important to meet your photographer in person as you’ll be working closely together on the day. You need to know that your personalities gel. I recommend meeting with your florist as well, if you can. With your band or DJ, find out if they are playing locally to you; go and see them live if possible.
The fourth supplier you may like to think about now is a stylist to dress up your venue on the day. If you’ve hired a blank canvas venue then your options are almost endless in terms of decor. I would be delighted to help you with this service, should you require a helping hand.
There are plenty of other things to think about when planning your wedding, (we haven’t even spoken about the all-important dress yet!*). You’ll need to think about your cake, transport, hair and make-up, accommodation and much, much more. Getting the above items booked in early will take some of the pressure off for a bit, allowing you to get back to sipping champagne and building that Pinterest board. And if sipping champagne is more appealing to you than planning the wedding at all, then do get in touch and I’ll take the reins for you.
*Remember that most wedding designers require approximately 6-8 months to make a wedding dress. Depending on your timeline, you may need to start the search early.