With four months to go until I get married, I thought my first blog post should be focused on something that is part of my daily life at the moment. As all brides know, planning a wedding can be hard work and stressful at times, but it can also be amazing and fun!
I have worked in the events industry for over 10 years now so when my partner popped the question I felt confident that planning a wedding would be a fairly straight forward process. I soon realised that when it comes to planning your own event, perhaps the biggest day of your life, it has a lot of twists and turns along the way. If I had one piece of advice it would be to stay calm and remember that this day is about the two of you and what makes you both happy.
So with that in mind, I thought giving some simple advice on planning a wedding might be quite useful… I am a huge lover of obtaining advice from friends, family, blogs, forums etc. so here’s hoping that you, the reader’s do too!
A bit of background information before I get started, I got engaged on 10 May 2015 and have had 18 months to plan the wedding. I get married on 1 October 2016 at the Chilli Barn in Otley, West Yorkshire. I have been with Jamie for over six years now so as you can imagine I was absolutely delighted when he proposed; finally my Pinterest boards could be put to good use (we all have wedding boards before the proposal don’t we?!). We both had the same thoughts on our wedding day, a relaxed feel that felt more like a party… let the planning commence! So as to not make this post too long, I have listed five tips that I feel are most helpful for a new bride-to-be.
Enjoy the moment
So you are engaged! Amazing, you can start to plan one of the best days of your life. But first… enjoy the moment, drink lots of champagne and look forward to telling your loved ones the exciting news. When I first got engaged, I had so many thoughts running around my head, I wanted to get planning straight away! This is fine but just make sure you take at least a week to enjoy the flurry of cards coming through your letterbox and spend some quality time with your partner. Continue to enjoy the engagement moment throughout the whole planning process, from what my friends have told me, you really miss it once it has passed.
One of the hardest things I have found when it comes to planning the wedding is knowing where to start. There is so much to consider and knowing where to start will really help you to focus and keep calm. I would highly recommend downloading a wedding timeline checklist or buying copious amounts of wedding magazines, ripping one out and sticking it on your fridge or an ideal location for regular perusal. These checklists are so handy and include everything from sourcing venues to when to start shopping for rings.
Finalise the big things first
Now this item may seem obvious but it is very easy to get carried away with colour themes, dress ideas and decorations. All of those fun things can be done at a later date once you have the main decisions out of the way.
- Venue – Once you have made a decision on the time of year and budget for your wedding, start looking at venues. Even with a planning time of 18 months, venues get booked up so quickly, especially in high season. From experience, most couples have a rough idea on the type of venue that they would like e.g. castle, barn, hotel. Try and stick with this theme so as to not confuse the decision making process. We knew from the beginning that we wanted a barn wedding, a venue that was flexible with our requirements so that we could put our own stamp on it. I would say viewing roughly four venues is more than enough. This will give you plenty of background knowledge to compare costs, location, overall appearance, catering costs etc. Spend time making the decision with your partner as you will most likely need to put a deposit down in order to secure the venue and date.
- Book the registrar – Now that you have a date and a venue, phone your local council of where the venue is located and book a registrar for your specified time. It is surprising how quickly they get booked up, given that ceremonies generally only last 30 minutes. I phoned 15 months in advance and still couldn’t get my ideal ceremony time of 3.00pm.
- Research and book a photographer – Choosing a photographer is a really important decision. Your wedding photos will be forever memories of this amazing day so spend time looking online, going to fairs and even asking friends and family who they would recommend. I found out about my photographer through a friend at work, get talking to people, you will be surprised who people know that can help.
- Guestlist – I really think this needs to be higher up in all honesty. Nailing the guestlist is one of the hardest things to decide on but once you have achieved it a huge weight will be lifted from your shoulders. The best advice I can give it to invite only the people you want to see in your wedding photos for the rest of your life, don’t feel like you have to invite a family member who you haven’t seen for years and years. This is your day and any aggrevation that you receive won’t matter when the day comes. Spend time making individual lists of who the bride and groom wants there for both the day and evening. In my opinion, the evening guests are just as important. Once you have the lists complete, combine the two and see what numbers are looking like. Concentrate on the day guests first as this is where the most expense comes from. If the list of names is too long then work together (try not to argue!) and happily come to an agreement.
- Entertainment – This is another aspect of the wedding where booking in advance is worthwhile, especially if you have your eye on a particular band. If you have seen a band online that you like the sound of, get in contact with them and arrange to see them at a gig or private event. I always think seeing the band live before you book them is really good advice. Don’t be shy, ask for their playlist and discuss any particular songs that you would like them to play before confirming the booking. if you prefer to have a DJ for the night then get on Google and/or ask the venue if they have a DJ on the books or any recommendations.
Choose your bridal party
So you have the wedding date, venue and entertainment sorted. You might have already had an idea on who you wanted to pick to be your bridesmaids from the get go but now you can really have a think and ask them in a lovely way. I knew who I wanted to ask before I got engaged, I chose my beautiful baby sister as maid of honour, my wonderful cousin and my two beautiful bestfriends. I really wanted to make my other really close friends feel a part of it too so I asked one to plan my friends hen do and another to be my witness. Having my close friends by me for the journey is really important, choose carefully as these people have a big part in the planning process!
Find the perfect dress
So my fifth and final piece of advice is to find the perfect wedding dress. Possibly the most important item of clothing that you will ever wear. Begin by checking out Pinterest, going to fairs and looking at magazines. Once you have an idea on the type of fit e.g. princess, fishtail, mermaid – book yourself in at a local bridal boutique or even make an appointment at a boutique who you know stocks a dress that you have in mind.
Go in with an open mind. It is absolutely fine to have a style in mind but be open to try on a style that you didn’t originally like the look of, it will either finalise your decision or open up the door to new dresses that you can enjoy trying on. Remember, dresses look different on the hanger and on a model on a catwalk or in a magazine. At my first appointment I tried on every style you can think of, I knew by the end of the appointment that the original style I had in mind was the perfect choice for me, something I might not have known if I wasn’t so open minded.
A lot of helpful boutique owners will recommend that you visit roughly two or three shops before making a decision. Any more and you forget what dresses you have tried on and how you felt at the time, thus making the decision even harder. The ladies at Harrogate Wedding Lounge were so friendly and helpful, I didn’t feel pressured to make a decision that day which was really appreciated.
Whatever decision you make, feeling your best when you try it on for the first time is key. I know it is very common for a bride to want to change her shape, maybe lose a bit of weight before the wedding but try not to put too much added pressure on yourself. Just make sure that you feel comfortable and amazing when you make the purchase, any adjustments to your personal appearence will just be an added bonus!
So I think I will end the post there. There is so much more to talk about when it comes to planning a wedding but I thought highlighting the main decisions would be of particular use to the recently engaged. Feel free to comment on this post if you would like further advice on any aspect of wedding planning, I am by no means an expert but I can offer friendly advice which can hopefully ease the stress of planning a wedding.
Until next time, Sian x
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