Cоngrаtulаtіоnѕ on your engagement! You’re going to be busy over the coming months, and by now you may have started stockpiling bridal magazines, have your wedding Pinterest board set up, downloaded several wedding apps, spent your lunchtimes glued to your phone researching pretty much ANYTHING wedding related and already discussed details of your dream wedding with your best friends over a glass of wine (or two)...several times!
It’s so easy to get carried away, without really even knowing where to start…especially in the initial stages of planning. So take a breath, grab yourself a cuppa or a glass of wine (we won’t judge!) and check out our Top 10 tips to guide уоu thrоugh the рlаnnіng рrосеѕѕ so that it becomes a breeze!
1. ANNOUNCING YOUR ENGAGEMENT
The very first task is to share your exciting news with the world! But before you update your status on Facebook, or select the perfect ‘ring’ photo for Instagram, your parents and immediate family should be the first to learn of your engagement. If you’re not able to tell them in person, schedule phone calls so that they all hear about it on the same day. Once the VIPs have been told, then you can go about sharing the happy news with friends and colleagues.
2. KNOW YOUR BUDGET
This is really a 2-step process and comes hand-in-hand with finding the venue (point 3). Once you’ve both decided on the where and when, it’s time to have the conversation about the budget. Whether your budget is $5,000 or $25,000, it’s important that you’re honest with yourselves and know what you have to play with so that you and your planner can determine services to suit. It’s also the time to discuss whether parents, grandparents etc will be contributing, and if so, who’s paying for what. You should also consider setting up a wedding savings account and allocate a part of your salaries each month to pay for larger expenses, such as your honeymoon.
Throughout the booking process, always ask WHEN you’re expected to pay for goods and services so that you can manage your cash flow. Most services ask for a deposit upfront, so be sure to have the cash available to secure your dream vendors. Final payments are usually paid a month or two before your wedding, so plan for some larger outlays in the latter stages as your big day is drawing closer.
3. FIND YOUR VENUE AND SET THE DATE
The first major planning decision for you both as a couple is finding and securing your dream venue. You’ll need to have an approximate idea of the size of your wedding party so you can filter down the venues to those that will be suitable for your needs. You won’t be able to plan anything (including the actual date!) until you’ve found your ideal venue, and if you’re having a religious ceremony then make sure you check any requirements well ahead of time. If you’re hankering for a destination wedding, you should start looking into where you’d like to marry and search for suitable wedding planners in the area. For maximum turnout, avoid popular times of the year including school holidays, which are normally chaotic for your friends who have children. You don’t want to end up with half a guest list if your friends and family have already booked their summer trips abroad, or are booked up with kids camps and the like.
4. WORK WITH A PLANNER
A trusted wedding planner has one priority: YOU! They’ll guide you through the whole process and can really help to pull your vision together, which saves you stress and legwork, and allows you to relax (well, at least a bit!) and really enjoy your engagement and the planning process. They’re there to help you with some of the trickier aspects of planning, to negotiate with vendors on your behalf, to help design the look and feel of your wedding as well as being a general sounding board for any of your questions or concerns. They’ll know every last detail of your day and how to implement it (which is handy, as you’ll be too busy getting married!). They’ll be there from early morning until the last supplier has dismantled and left the venue. All the details will be triple checked and any hiccups which may occur are handled on the day without you even knowing about it. Once you know where you’ll be getting married, scope out the wedding planners in the area and work with one that you feel comfortable with. Trust yourself and the connection you feel with those you shortlist; meet and pick the one who you feel will be able to deliver YOUR vision…exactly the way you want it!
If you’re marrying in a venue, you will more than likely have the venue co-ordinator to help you as part of your package. It’s important to understand the difference between this and a wedding planner. A venue co-ordinator is mainly concerned with details which specifically relate to the venue itself, such as organising the menu, seating, arranging your accommodation, informing you of the hire rules and scheduling payments. Their responsibility on the wedding day is to ensure that the venue is set up as per your agreement and that the food and beverages are served correctly and on time. The finer details of wedding planning are not usually covered in this type of arrangement.
5. DRAW UP YOUR GUEST LIST & SAVE THE DATE!
Your venue and budget are dependent on your guest list, so it’s important to be realistic in terms of numbers. Each guest invited needs a place at one of your tables, which means linens, plates, cutlery, glassware and chair hire, as well as food, cake, alcohol and favours. Costs for all of this can quickly mount up, so you’ll only want to cater for those who mean something to you. Agreeing on your guest list can be stressful – especially if parents have set ideas on who should and shouldn’t be invited. Remember that, ultimately, the day is about the two of you…and the final decision should always be yours. As soon as you have a confirmed guest list, then send out your ‘Save the Date’ cards. This becomes even more pertinent if you’re holding a destination wedding, as guests will need to book time off work, save for flights and accommodation etc.
6. SET UP A PLANNING BINDER
There are TONS of free binders/inserts available online; set up your own planning folder so that everything is organised and in one place.
If you want to make your own, then here are the main categories you’ll want to cover:
- BRIDAL PARTY & PARENTS
- FOOD AND BEVERAGE
- DÉCOR (incl. flowers and lighting)
- GIFT REGISTRY
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Allocate yourself time to complete all of your planning tasks by creating a schedule, and prioritise your time by what needs to be completed first. You can even create a monthly checklist for everything you need to so that you can save stress by being on, or hopefully even ahead of, schedule. Planning tasks should be shared between you and your partner, and you can also enlist the help of your Maid of Honour/Best Man to help. Trust me, far from being a hardship, they’ll most likely relish the chance to help by playing a more active role in your planning. However, you’ll still need to follow up with аll thоѕе whо hаvе responsibilities dеlеgаtеd tо thеm, to see how they’re progressing and if they need any further information, help or guidance. Each month, you’ll need to check up on actions still реndіng, and be sure to keep an eye on any outstanding or overdue balance payments too…this is where Excel becomes your best friend!
7. RESEARCH AND BOOK PRIORITY VENDORS
Once you’ve secured your date and venue, then it’s time to find your top vendors. Be aware that the most popular are very much in demand and can sometimes be booked more than a year in advance! This is especially true of Saturday weddings, so once you’ve found the people you want to work with, don’t hang about…book them fast!
You’ll want to look at:
Local wedding photographers/videographers
Spend as much as your budget allows – this is not the area to skimp on as any images or videos you make will be some of the only tangible things from your wedding day that will be a lasting keepsake. I strongly advise that you hire a professional rather than enlisting the help of family or friends… as generous as that is, it’s likely that you’ll be disappointed in the finished results. They can be ‘Photographer No.2’ and capture any additional candid shots, but remember that they are a guest too and you want them to really enjoy and be part your celebrations (this is also a great way to deflect a firm ‘no thank you’ without causing any offence!).
Local wedding entertainment
Same as photographers, in that top bands will get booked up fast. Entertainment is key to any wedding receiption, so book early to avoid disappointment.
If you’re dead set on transporting your guests and/or have something very specific in mind for your wedding transport, then now is the time to look!
8. GETTING IN THE FIELD
This is whеrе thе nitty-gritty ѕtuff kicks in! By now you’ll have no doubt spent countless hours reading blogs, saving checklists, creating your binder and pinning online; but now is the time to transition from research into action and to start making decisions to book your other vendors. This is the time when you’ll be finalising your décor/theme/colour scheme, having your first dress fitting, choosing your Bridesmaids’ dresses, ordering your wedding cake, selecting your gift registry, purchasing your wedding rings, arranging the purchase or hire of the Groomsmens’ outfits, ordering flowers, purchasing favours, arranging a guest book, having hair and make-up trials and booking your honeymoon. This is also the time to send out your wedding invitations and start gathering your RSVPs. So not much to do at all really…gulp! But hence the benefits of being organised, so that you don’t miss a step!
9. THE FINAL COUNTDOWN
By nоw, as you’re reaching the month before your wedding, you ѕhоuld be ready with a final guest list so уоu can order уоur tаblе plan and place name саrdѕ. This is the time to confirm numbers with your venue, pay all final balances, keep up with your beauty regieme, wear in your bridal shoes and collect your wedding dress and grooms outfits. How exciting!
Your planner will have created a detailed timeline, complete with emergency contact details and will be on hand to completely manage the whole day for you. If you’ve decided to plan the wedding yourself, make sure that the key people people in your wedding party (your Maid of Honour and Best Man) have ALL the details required for the smooth running of the day. This document should include all supplier phone numbers and have a blow-by-blow run sheet of what is planned to happen and when. This checklist should also be given to the venue, to your photographer and to any other key vendors that are involved in the whole day.
10. YOUR BIG DAY
After all those months of planning, your BIG day is finally here! With all the details planned to perfection, all that’s left to do is to relax and enjoy your day.
Just a few final things to remember:
• Ensure you arrange a sandwich platter or simple brunch for you and your bridal party whilst you’re getting ready – the last thing you want is for your stomach to grumble as you’re walking down the aisle. Or to start drinking without having eaten!
• Savour each moment! From getting ready with the girls, to saying your “I Do’s”, to seeing your vision come to life at your evening reception. It’s so special and it really does go by quickly; take the time to step back, breathe, and take in every second!
• Take some private time together away from the wedding party to reflect on the day and what you have created – an awesome wedding and wedding party that your guests will be talking about for years to come! The memories you make today will be with you for a lifetime, so drink it all in!
Congratulations again and happy planning!
Ann Sophie Maestracci