If you’ve recently got engaged, then huge congrats – what an exciting time! You’ve probably been dreaming of this day for a long time, you’re marrying the love of your life and looking forward to the future together. It can be so easy to launch yourself into the planning almost before the engagement ring is on your finger, but before you do, make sure you enjoy that warm fuzzy feeling of just being engaged first!
Getting married is a once in a lifetime experience so you really should relish each and every moment of the journey. To help you with the first steps, here are our top tips for what to do next…
1. HOST AN ENGAGEMENT PARTY
Traditionally, engagement parties were hosted by the bride’s parents to celebrate your exciting news, however most couples typically now choose to organise these themselves and it’s a great opportunity to get your nearest and dearest together to share your excitement. You may decide to throw an all-singing, all-dancing party, or alternatively something much simpler such as a drink’s reception or summer garden party. Either is absolutely fine but it’s a great way to plan something together which reflects you both as a couple before the wedding itself.
2. TALK ABOUT YOUR PRIORITIES
This may sound obvious but make time to sit down together as a couple to talk about your vision of the day – what’s most important to you and equally what’s least important. What aspects are you not willing to budge on and which areas would you be happy to be flexible about? By having a clear vision of the day as a couple, it makes it easier to not get distracted by friends and family chipping in with their opinions (trust me they will – it’s lovely that they’re interested but you need to remember it’s your day not theirs).
3. CREATE A BUDGET PLAN
I know this isn’t very exciting and I can hear you say ‘yes, yes but I want to get on and look at our wedding venues’ etc., however it’s incredibly important to have a clear idea of what you’re able to/feel happy spending on your celebration to help you stay on the right track, along with knowing who will be paying for the day. Make sure you do your research as to what each aspect costs as it’s likely to be more than you think – especially when it comes to décor and flowers (yes, you know I’m talking about those jaw-dropping floral installations you’ve seen on Pinterest).
List everything that is required for the day and allocate a realistic cost next to it and always allow a contingency fund for those unexpected or you simply can’t live without items.
4. CHOOSE A WEDDING PLANNER
So, I might be bias of course, however the importance of hiring a Wedding Planner, Wedding designer or even Wedding Stylist can’t be emphasised enough. Most couples have demanding jobs and hectic social lives and the reality is that very few have the required free time to successfully plan, manage, and execute a wedding effectively. Sadly, many people don’t realise this until it is too late and may regret their choice of suppliers, feel they’ve wasted money unnecessarily and be stressed throughout the whole process.
5. THINK ABOUT YOUR GUEST LIST
This is always a tricky one, as the first list is usually pretty extensive once you’ve included the required family members, friends, colleagues and then those ‘friends’ on social media. It’s important though to keep cost and also preferred venue in mind, for example there’s no point looking at a venue that can only hold 80 guests if you’ve got 150 must have guests.
Your wedding day is a snapshot in your lifetime and while you may want everyone to be there to share the celebration with you, consider how often you see that person, are they a lifelong friend or more of any acquaintance etc.? You could think about inviting some guests for the evening. Although I’m not particularly keen on this, it can be a good option for a group of work colleagues who may actually prefer to be there for the party only anyway.
6. SELECT AN IDEAL DATE
You may have one specific date in mind, however it’s a good idea to have a few other options earmarked to give you flexibility when selecting your perfect wedding venues. A lot of venues get booked up over a year in advance, so you don’t want to narrow down your options too soon. Keep in mind the style of wedding you’d like to have and how the time of year might affect this, in addition to considering work schedules, school holidays, big sporting events etc., all of which may have an impact on you and your guests.
7. CREATE A TIMELINE
It’s a good idea to put together a personalised timeline to work from at this stage, as this will help you to visualise what needs to be done and when. You’ll find that friends and family members will all have their opinion on this so by having a clear structure of tasks it will help to reduce the stress levels and make you to feel in control.
8. CONSIDER THE LOOK OF YOUR DAY
It’s important to consider the style of wedding that you want before looking at venues. Start a Pinterest board and flick through wedding magazines and wedding blogs to get inspiration. Also ensure you and your fiancé are on the same page as the day is of course about you as a couple. If you’re set on having pink for example as one of the key colours, then I’d suggest steering away from a venue that has a predominantly red colour scheme for example. While it’s possible to completely change and alter a space, this comes at a cost of course and to me, it makes sense to choose a wedding venue that you like stylistically, then you can add to it and enhance it.
9. CHOOSE YOUR WEDDING VENUE/S
At this point you should start working on the fun part of researching venues and considering ceremony options. What overall feel would you like for your big day? Are you looking for a formal or more casual affair? Consider your ideal location and then how far you are willing to travel; keeping your guests and elderly relatives in mind, this will help narrow down the area you are looking in.
Before arranging viewings, ask for an initial quote and bear in mind that venues charge in different ways so it can be hard to compare like-for-like. If your preferred dates are available then I would suggest starting with around 3 venues to view initially, going up to 5 as any more than this can be confusing. Always go back for a second viewing and you see things differently and can be more critical. Also be armed with key questions to ask your venue to ensure your clear on everything. Once you have your venue secured then this will provide the foundation and backdrop to your day and to the rest of the planning.
10. SEND A SAVE THE DATE
Although you don’t need to send formal invitations until much closer to the date, we always advise send a save the date notification in some form as soon as possible, so your key guests have the date saved. This is especially important if you have lots of guests travelling from abroad and also if you’re at the age where lots of your friends are getting married too.
So, to close, my biggest word of advice is to simply enjoy the planning and the journey! Whether you decide to enlist the help of a professional planner or stylist, or go it alone then try not to get bogged down by the ‘wed-min’ and other people’s opinions and don’t; sweat the small stuff! Remember why you’re planning a wedding and the day will be here and gone in a flash so have fun.
If you are interested in some professional planning expertise, then we can assist you with as much or as little as you like and we tailor out service to suit. Please do get in touch for informal chat about how we might be able to help, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling +44 (0)207 4119 819.
Image credits: Engagement party – Shutterstock; Wedding Planner – Gemma Watts; Look of Your Day & Wedding Venue – Roberta Facchini