You said yes! (What’s next…?) For any new bride-to-be, wedding planning can seem daunting, but never fear! Here’s where to start with our stress-free planning guide…
Congratulations! You’re engaged! Once you’ve recovered from the initial excitement, the first thing you should do is sit down with your new fiancé(!) and actually discuss what kind of wedding you both want. This is an absolute must and an essential first step on the road to stress-free planning. Will it be an intimate wedding with just your nearest and dearest, or a massive celebration with a huge guest list? Will it be formal or casual, traditional or quirky? Country manor venue or a cool urban rooftop location? Having this chat means that you’re likely to be on the same page for the rest of the wedding planning.
Set a budget
It’s the big one. Setting the budget is one of the most important steps of wedding planning because it will affect every decision about the occasion, including your timeline. You may decide to have a longer engagement to give you more time to save, or a wedding in six months to take advantage of late availability deals. You also need to discuss any financial contributions that your family may be willing to make – it’s important to have an idea of your finances pre-planning. Discuss how much you can reasonably save, and take into account the average wedding costs by researching online. Once you have a figure, enter your approximate costs into a spreadsheet and keep it up to date as you plan. Check out our handy hints for budgeting for accessories here!
Write your guest list
The guest list will make a real difference to your budget and venue search, so get it sorted early. Start by both writing a full list of everyone you might want to invite to your wedding. Speak to your family too, to ensure that you’re not leaving anyone off the list. If you crunch the numbers and can afford to invite everyone, great! However, it’s likely that you may have to keep your numbers within budget. Create a minimum number of everyone that you couldn’t imagine getting married without. Then you can either extend evening invitations to the rest of the list, or make cuts elsewhere to invite more.
Pick a venue
Your venue is likely to be your largest wedding expense. They also tend to get booked up early (especially if you’re looking to get married in the summer or on a Saturday). With this in mind, it’s a good place to start your planning! Finding your dream venue can help you decide on other elements of your wedding, such as season, theme, décor and even your wedding dress style.
Go dress shopping
We recommend giving yourself a year to shop for your wedding dress, if possible. Dress orders can take a minimum of six months to complete, and you want to give yourself plenty of time to shop around and fit in alterations once you’ve found your dream gown. If time is short, try to keep an eye out for sample sales where you can buy dresses off the peg and ready to take home.
What NOT to do…
Put off things that are important to you
With some couples planning their day two years in advance (and beyond!), it’s important to work out what your priorities are and to get those sorted early. If you’re dreaming about a certain photographer or band, then don’t feel silly for making enquiries early on. The same goes for your dream church ceremony or meaningful wedding date – you’ll rest easier knowing that the important things are sorted before moving on to details.
Pick your bridal party too early
It can be tempting to pop the question to your future bridesmaids the minute you get engaged, but it pays to delay choosing the bridal party a little. You should take your budget into account before asking your bridesmaids and groomsmen, because it’s likely you’ll have to foot the bill for dresses, suits, bouquets and gifts for both groups. You may also find that due to life circumstances, friendships can change a lot over a year or two, and you may end up regretting who you’ve asked, or wishing that you had included someone else! Waiting a little while and not being so quick to jump the gun can help save lots of hurt feelings and awkward conversations later on down the line.
Forget to buy insurance
It’s likely that your engagement ring is one of the most expensive pieces of jewellery you own, so make sure that it’s covered on your insurance (either personal or home) to avoid any heartbreak if it’s lost, damaged or stolen. Once you’ve started to plan, then wedding insurance is also a wise move – it’ll protect you from losing money
if, due to unforeseen circumstances, the venue cancels, suppliers go bust or if your photos or videos don’t turn up.
It’s reassurance as well as insurance!