Wedding Planning 101 – A Bride’s Guide to Getting Started
You may have seen a recent post of mine on my cousin, Alice’s wedding in the UK. Well she and her husband, Graham, have not let the excitement of getting married get in the way of professional endeavour!
They popped off to Barcelona for a week-long honeymoon (as you do!) and then they were back to Britain and back to work – this is not as horrible as it sounds, as they’ve just launched their own company helping brides to plan their own weddings – Picture My Day. Their business is an ingenious idea if I’ve ever seen one, brand new and very exciting! You should definitely check it out, even if you’re not getting married in the UK. I’ll say no more!
This is a post that I wrote for my Picture My Day’s website – it’s launching soon, but you can find their facebook page here! I was honoured to be asked to contribute, and I thought – what do I have to offer? I know I’ve got the experience of planning my own wedding – but just what, out of all the things to do, should I write about? I decided to write an article that would give a little advice to get a bride-to-be kick-started on the planning process.
I thought it would also be an excellent chance to include some of my own wedding photos on my blog – I can’t believe I haven’t done it before! They’re a bit bigger than my regular blog photos – I wanted to display them in all their glory (plus a professional took them, not a part-time blogger!). Not that I want to be narcissistic…but, I mean, it was the best day of my life. Of course I want to re-live it again and again! Here’s one just to get us started.
So whether you’re the new bride-to-be, or the long-happily-married, please read and enjoy.
So you’ve got the man, you’ve got the ring, and now you’re thinking…what next?
I was in this very same position when I got engaged nearly three years ago. Twelve months later, married to my best friend, I could look back with a wealth of experience that I would (hopefully) never need to use again. Or so I thought!
I recently had the honour of being asked to be a bridesmaid by one of my oldest friends. I was reminded all over again how exciting and daunting it is to begin planning the day of your dreams. I would now be doing what all good bridesmaids should do; helping make the planning and day of my friend’s wedding as stress-free as possible. Lucky I have all the tricks up my sleeve!
It is very easy for a newly engaged bride-to-be to feel at a loss as to the first steps to take when planning a wedding. There are so many questions to answer right from the get go. What exactly do I need to book and organise? How long should I wait before booking things? How much is this all going to cost? Being bombarded with so many ideas at once can be very intimidating. There are so many variable to take into account when thinking of the right way to go about it. These can be anything from how far away you are planning your wedding, how exclusive your dream venue is, and whether or not you wish to invite international guests. You need a plan, and you need it now!
But where to start?
My first piece of advice when it comes to getting serious about planning your nuptials is to head to Google. If, like millions of young women out there, you have been planning your wedding since before you met your future husband, you probably have some idea of what you’re looking for. The Internet has an endless plethora of information for planning a wedding (hello Pinterest!), and the first thing to do would be to find a checklist that suits you – there are so many out there, you’re sure to find one that meets your needs. Once you know WHAT you need to get organized, then you can start doing it! It’s easy to find hundreds of things that take your fancy when you start looking. Where to get those things, however, is another matter entirely. You see an absolutely fantastic venue on Pinterest – but wait! It’s on the other side of the world! While you might secretly do the numbers in your head, and think “Surely, SOME of the guests would make the effort to come”, your logic finally kicks in and you realise that you probably should find something closer to home.
Wedding expos are the place where all your local suppliers converge in a single, easy to navigate, location. Here you can find flowers, event organisers, ceremony and reception locations, make-up, dresses (and usually a fashion parade or two!), and even honeymoon options. If you’re lucky, they may even have a bag of goodies when you arrive, and more often-than-not, a prize raffle drawn on the day. I’m not going to lie, wedding expos can be a trial, especially if you have some very ‘helpful’ mothers, mother-in-laws, and bridesmaids in tow. Nobody likes being given the hard sell by vendors left, right and centre, however it is worth it to meet the people that you may be dealing with in the flesh, and seeing some samples of what they offer. Take samples from ANYONE and EVERYONE. You never know how handy those little business cards and flyers will be when, a few months later, you are thinking “hmm, possibly SHOULD have thought about bonbonnieres before now.” They also usually have ‘expo specials’ such as a free make-up and hair trial, and when you’re footing what is usually a multi-thousand dollar bill, every little bit counts! These are the people that you will eventually be relying on to make your day perfect, so seeing how they present themselves and their business is a very good indicator of how professional they will be in their dealings with you.
Once you have decided on your wedding venue, they will usually have a supply list of people they recommend. These people are good to go to if you are looking for companies that coordinate well together, however it does help to shop around just to make sure you aren’t paying more than you should. I ended up using a DJ that my venue recommended, but sourcing my own flowers and decorations. It really is down to personal preference, and don’t feel pressured to bring anyone on board unless you are 100% happy with what they are offering.
That being said, I would like to stress the importance of being flexible – and I don’t mean in an ‘Oh my goodness, do you do Yoga?’ kind of way. The likelihood of you being able to find every single thing you have your heart set on is very, very low. Of course, there are some things that you just CANNOT compromise on (the seating capacity is usually is one of these things), however try to keep an open mind when it comes to what you are wanting, and what is available. While it is important to make sure you are happy with everything you have, nobody likes a Bridezilla. And I speak from experience! My vintage, country themed wedding was a far cry from the elegant, red rose and gold themed wedding I initially set out to plan. That was mostly in part to my husband deciding he had an opinion on how the day went (how dare he!), but by the time we finished planning, I was 100% satisfied with the decisions we had made.
My final, and possibly most important piece of advice is this; have fun. Whichever flowers you choose to hold, whatever venue you choose to book, make sure that you are having fun. Remember the little things. Remember the excitement you feel when you finally book your venue, or the way your heart skips a beat when you finally find ‘the dress’. Because all the effort and planning will culminate itself in a truly amazing event, and one day you will look back and feel sad that you can’t re-live it all over again. Lastly, don’t panic. Don’t stress. Our wedding reception’s highlights included a massive electrical storm that blew the lights, twice, and my husband having to give his speech sans microphone, and then with a microphone, so also – twice! The DJ’s speakers blew when a bolt of lightning hit the power box of the building we were in. Luckily he had some backups! And it was still the best day of my life (so far!). The chances of something going wrong are very high. And that’s ok. As long as you are married to the love of your life at the end of the day, then everything went perfectly.
I thoroughly enjoyed writing this article, and I’m actually thinking of writing a few more wedding-inspired posts! So what do you think? Is there anything more you would like advice about?