Although I am a Wedding Planner and I love nothing more than helping couples with the planning of their wedding and taking away any stresses or strains, I also recognise that many couples enjoy the planning of the wedding themselves. So I’ve put together some hints and tips below which will hopefully help you on your way.
Budget: Before you do anything work out your budget – how much money have you realistically got to spend on your wedding. Always ensure that the budget includes a contingency amount as some things do cost more than you may well have anticipated. Be realistic. I remember once I had to speak to a Father of the Bride as he was having to remortgage his house to pay for his daughter’s wedding – their costs were spiralling out of control as the Bride just wanted the best of everything – I remember even having a conversation with him about champagne – and the fact that really not everyone likes champagne, and actually a cheaper glass of fizz will be enjoyed just as much if not moreso. I also remember the time a Bride came to see me about a venue and getting married, and she asked for my honest opinion – should she spend her hard earned savings on a deposit for a house or on her wedding. Whilst you would probably think as a Wedding Planner I would say the wedding, I didn’t – to me, it is so important to be secure, and much as a wedding binds a couple together and is the most special day of their lives, imagine getting married and then having nowhere to live. So my response was without hesitation to buy the house and save up for the wedding, or have a more low key wedding which can still be as romantic and special but will save the pennies.
Decide the type of wedding: So you know how much money you have to spend, but what type of wedding would you like? Do you want to get married in a church; in a venue; abroad? How elaborate or simple a wedding would you like? Would you like lots of guests to be there or very few? Do you want an intimate affair or more of a party type feel? Would you like it to be formal and traditional, or more informal and relaxed? Make sure you both agree so one of you doesn’t end up feeling resentful. So how do you decide? Talk to each other first and foremost. Then research – view blogs, websites, Pinterest. Talk to your friends especially married friends who may have an opinion on what worked for them and what didn’t.
Split the budget: once you’ve worked out how much in total you have to spend and the type of wedding you would like, consider each of the elements for instance: venue, church fees, registrar fees, photographer, videographer, venue stylist, caterer etc, and even in the early stages without much research, start to split the budget into categories.
Source suppliers: You may well have a good idea of how much you have to spend and what the percentage split of budget is by each element, however, without talking to suppliers and researching prices you won’t be able to know for sure. So start to look for suppliers and ask them for information about their services and pricing. You should get at least three supplier prices for each element of your wedding, so that you know you are getting a good deal. That said, don’t always go for the cheapest – they may well be cheap but there may well be a reason for this. Also, if a supplier is exorbitant in terms of pricing, ask yourself why – do they really offer something completely different or are they taking the proverbial. When you are looking for venues, remember that although these may seem expensive, there are lots of costs that they incur: the set-up and cleaning of the venue, the staff, toilet hire, set-up and take down of the marquee, electrician costs to perform PAT testing, and much more. Don’t always assume that a privately owned venue can match pricing of a village hall as this is most definitely not the case. That said, don’t right off village halls if your budget is lower as these can be made to look amazing. Make sure you ask people about the suppliers you may have chosen. Get recommendations from people. Look on their facebook pages and websites for reviews. Check out how many weddings they have done recently to ascertain their experience. Do negotiate with suppliers over services and pricing – but remember that some suppliers will just have a fixed price and actually they may already have a realistic price in place. If a supplier is good, is offering a lot and has a good price, then don’t try to win a battle over price negotiations as otherwise you may lose out on a great supplier who could really make your day perfect.
Write many a checklist: I write down everything and have schedules for everything, but if you’re doing your own wedding, you should have these too. Make a note of everything that has been agreed with a supplier and ask lots of questions. If something is not clear to you, then there’s a reason for that, so don’t feel silly asking questions. If you are organising your own marquee wedding, consider what each of the other suppliers will need in terms of facilities and make sure the marquee company can accommodate these requirements. Write yourself a schedule for the week before the wedding, day of the wedding and days following the wedding. This should be time slotted with clear tasks that need to be completed. Everyone needs to know how you want your day to run.
Meet deadlines: Don’t forget to provide suppliers with information when they need it – any delays could cause issues for your wedding. Suppliers do not like to leave things to the last minute and often do not like last minute changes. So make a note of all your deadlines and remember to gather all of the information ahead of these times. Deadlines also refer to money – make sure you pay suppliers when you have agreed to pay them – they are well within their rights to not provide any service to you if you do not pay them.
Involve people in your wedding: Planning a wedding can be the most enjoyable but also most stressful experience of your lives, so don’t be afraid to use people to help. Parents, Grandparents, Aunties, Uncles, Sisters, Brothers, Friends and paid professionals are all invariably there to help – so if they are offering their help, don’t be too proud to accept this. That said, if people become overbearing in their offer of help, take them to one side and explain how you would like their support – be kind to them as they have best intentions and want the best for you, but sometimes they just don’t see that they are interfering a little too much. On your day, give people responsibilities – ask people to do things for you, whether this be to look after your bouquet, seat people for the service, hand out orders of service, or simply take you to the toilet (I’m sorry but someone usually has to accompany the Bride).
Take time out to enjoy other things besides your wedding: Sometimes we get so focused on one thing we are doing, it becomes all encompassing and we forget about other things we enjoy to do, other people or even the relationship which has led to your wedding. Don’t forget to still spend time with other people and enjoy yourself outside of your wedding planning, and when you go out don’t always discuss your wedding – after all, if you forget everything or everyone else what will you feel like once your wedding is over.
On the day itself – Enjoy yourself. Don’t worry about things that might go wrong, and if things do go wrong, don’t let it bother you – at the end of the day you are having a wedding to get married, and really that’s all that matters – all the other things are just the icing on the cake. Take time with your partner to stand back and watch other people enjoying themselves on your day as this time is precious. Have a drink but please don’t drink so much that you don’t remember your day – if you’ve spent all that money, spent so many hours making sure everything is perfect, all to have too many drinks so that you become so drunk you don’t know what’s going on, that is a real crying shame.
After your day – remember to thank people – your guests, your suppliers. They have worked so hard to make your day perfect or they have bought you such lovely gifts and cards, or travelled a long way to spend your day with you, now all they really want is a ‘thank you’. Also, remember to take anything back that you have hired so you do not get charged, and if you haven’t already paid your suppliers (which really you should have done by now), then make sure they get paid.
Finally, remember that there are wedding planners out there that can help you with all of this. They are trained professionals who know all the questions to ask, they know when things need to be done, and they know how to co-ordinate suppliers. So even if you just ask them to be there on the day for you to manage your wedding and make sure it runs exactly as you have planned, it will be money well spent. For more information on my services, contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org.