Wedding planning can feel like a full-time job at times, can’t it?! Here business expert Erica Wolfe-Murray, shares her tips for planning your wedding to perfection…
“As I made my morning cup of tea before settling down to write this article, I was mulling over what aspects of wedding planning I should cover. The more I thought about it, the more I realised how many similarities there are between running a small company and planning your wedding. And with two of my immediate family members organising their own weddings within nine months of each other – I can see the parallels up close and personal.
So here are my top tips learned from years working with companies applied to the serious business of wedding planning!”
Have a Vision
Just as you have to set your commercial horizon and think through what you want your business to be – do the same for your wedding. What do you want it to look like, the feeling to be, the memories you will have? Write it down and then communicate your vision to your family and friends so that you are all on the same page. It is your wedding after all, not theirs.
Understand who is on your ‘Team’
In a small business, everyone has a role using their strengths to best advantage. Similarly lots of people will offer to help with your wedding, particularly if you are doing much of the planning yourself. Find out if they really mean it, then take time to understand what they are good at, skills they can offer.
Can they play an instrument or sing so could contribute to a service? Are they wonderful at hand-lettering so could help with the invitation, notices or place settings? Or could an organisational whizz help with the planning? Agree their contribution well in advance, confirm it and ensure they stick to it.
Set a Budget
Weddings cost money, no matter the size or the scope. Agree early on what your budget is, allow it a little ‘wiggle’ room and then keep to it. Irrespective of whether you are paying or your family are contributing – you need to be in control of the money at all times.
When I am working with companies and freelancers, one of their biggest concerns is feeling out of control of their finances… by setting yourself a known figure at the outset, you will know where you stand from day 1.
Run a Budget/Expenditure Spreadsheet
We all know that we should really do this with our own finances… don’t we? But for a wedding, just like a business, you need to ensure you run a budget/expenditure calendar, with money flow for each month mapped clearly into it. The last thing you want are to be hit with unexpected surprises that you hadn’t anticipated.
If you can afford to, allow yourself a small contingency fund for really left field, unexpected costs, but try hard not to dip into it. All companies try to have this sort of ‘cushion’ in place.
By planning ahead, you can often discover ways of buying ‘well’ or agreeing discounts with suppliers. These can cover both larger and small costs.
Seasonal flowers and food will be cheaper, venues that don’t market themselves as ‘wedding venues’ may be less expensive, paying fees in advance or buy return could allow you to negotiate a discount (but always ensure you/they are covered by insurance should anything go wrong!).
Shopping around for suppliers who don’t have the words ‘wedding’ appearing in their marketing can save pounds! Building your own list of small suppliers, rather than buying from one supplier can take more time, but can really help you stretch your budget.
In the same way as you will run a budget spreadsheet, create a time plan for the six weeks leading up to the wedding. No company would ever handle an important project on the fly. They ensure everyone in the team knows what they are doing, what is expected of them and when so that the delivery is seamless. This is just how you want your wedding to be. No worries, no last-minute panics.
There will be lots of these available online, or ask friends who have recently married if they had one you can borrow.
Ask for Advice
People are incredibly generous with advice. They want to help. I don’t mean the sort of family advice which may be more ‘do it my way or not at all’ advice, but friends or colleagues who have tied the knot recently. Take them out for a coffee, go for a walk together and ask to hear their story. You will identify all sorts of small tips and approaches you may not have thought of which could be invaluable – whether to save money, time, creatively or whatever.
Create an Archive
In the lead up to the wedding, whilst you are in the midst of the days around it, the day itself, have a little box and a book where you can tuck things away that you want to keep. Not just the wedding photos but a flower from your bouquet, a handful of confetti, the sticky handkerchief your mum used to wipe away your happy tears, the first champagne cork popped, a note of what your favourite aunt said, your playlist…
In years to come, when you talk about the wedding, when you reminisce, when you share it with your children – these tiny things will remind you of all the little details, different aspects beyond the memories that the photographs captured.
You see – there are so many similarities between business and the organisation of a wedding. Both should contribute in a really rich, wonderful way to the texture and colour of your life. Enjoy the planning, the day and your life together afterwards… it’s a fabulous adventure!
Erica Wolfe-Murray is the UK’s leading Business & Innovation expert. Her new book Simple Tips Smart Ideas is out now and she is the founder of Lola-Media.co.uk
Main image credit: Liza Edgington, lizaedgington.co.uk