As a wedding photographer, I attend a few weddings a year, and I have built up a rapport with wedding couples and wedding suppliers, so I decided to put this together as I think this can help so many newly engaged couples.
First thing’s first: planning a wedding can be overwhelming for everyone at some point. This could be for many reasons, like maybe you’re working to a tight budget, you love the idea of doing it all yourself. Trying to please so many very close people that are special to you that will be coming to your big day, this can be one of the big ones especially when you are doing your seating plan for your wedding breakfast.
Weddings can take a bit of organization to keep everything on track when you’re faced with endless decisions, payments are due, lists, deadlines and, you still have your day to day life to deal with.
The trick is taking things one step at a time and not to be afraid to ask friends and family (including that future spouse of yours!) to help where possible. And give yourself plenty of time to plan and enjoy it too. You’ll make things so much harder on yourself if you try to plan and oversee every detail and try to do it all at the last minute. A longer timeline is always going to be best, aim for around a year if possible for most things.
Organization is key when planning your wedding, you’ll need a way to keep track of everything. You can use spreadsheets or one of the many wedding planning management apps or programs out there. Just find what works best for you and stick with it.
Ok, let's get straight into this, on where to begin.
01 Set Your budget
Once you’ve told the great news of your engagement to your loved ones and friends and allow it all to sink in, then the budget will need to be the very first thing you set to get the wedding planning to start. This can involve some uncomfortable conversations if you have any family members who are planning to help out for your big day. Have those conversations early and determine the amount everyone is comfortable spending and stick to it, and then allow 5/10% for any unexpected costs. You really can have your ideal wedding on almost any budget if you iron out what exactly is important to you and focus on those few things.
02 Its YOUR Wedding
It's your wedding day you are planning, so plan the day around you as much as possible what do you want, when do you want it for, do you like that... after all it is your special day and no one else's.
There are many sources of inspiration out there and this is where the fun can start, like Pinterest, Instagram, trusty bridal magazines, blogs. Think about weddings you recently attended and visit your local wedding fairs, there's plenty out there, these are great ways to visualise your wedding, to get a sense of the style of wedding you want.
03 Create And Book Your Priorities
Most things can be booked and planned within a year however if you have a "must-have" supplier then book as soon as possible make this the first thing you do after your budget is done, if this is in within your budget, remember to be realistic with your expectations, for example, the dream wedding venue you always wanted, well book that first to guarantee that beautiful location before it goes. Photographers are normally second for most couples not all so if this is the case book as soon as you have a date confirmed. As a wedding photographer, I do get bookings within a year of there date but most couples book me 18-24 months in advance, I turn away 20-40 weddings every year as I am already booked up.
06 Limit Yor Options
Don’t be overwhelmed with all the options out there. Once you decide on your wedding style, try to stick to it.
07 Get Organised
When you don’t have a wedding planner, a wedding planning book is the next best thing. They can often include tons of expert advice, tips and tricks. Checklists, spreadsheets, Word/Google Docs. Anything, really as long as you have all your thoughts, budgets, numbers, etc. in one place. There are also some great programs and apps out there to help with all of this.
08 Pick A Theme
Troubling to keep your wedding looking like is miss match, then pick a theme this can help narrowing your choices down.
For example, an Autumn Theme Wedding- think of your colours scheme, orange, reds, yellow... table pieces pumpkins, autumn flowers, wood slices, tea light holders made from logs.
09 Save The Date
This can be a pretty harrowing process and one that will depend largely on your venue and budget. Sit down with your fiancé and family and create a wish list of guests. Chances are you’ll need to make some cuts.
Don't forget the children, when making your list, be very clear if you intend this to be childfree or not. Once you have received all your reply thing on doing a table plan sooner rather than later it can take longer than you think on where to have everyone seated.
10 Your Wedding Party
Your bridesmaids and groomsmen are there for support through your wedding day and planning process. Choose friends and family you can trust with the responsibilities you are willing to give to them and who you truly want standing next to you during your wedding day.
Be sure to check prices from vendors before you sign on the dotted line. If there's a vendor and a package price that you like, always look for a second opinion. Ask around and see what over vendors are charging before agreeing on a price. So many of us now turn to social media platforms such as Facebook and we are asking for "Recommendations for..." please do your research to, look for reviews see sample of there works be 100% sure before paying your deposit.
12 Know What Expect
When booking a supplier please make sure you are both clear on the details so you know what to expect from them and vice versa ie.
-Wedding Cars, what time are the cars coming to you double-check the address how long do you have them too do you want pictures with the cars before they go...
-Flowers, will your supplier dress the hall and the church what time so they have access? Will they dress your tables or is that the wedding venue?
These a few examples, don't be scared to ask your suppliers, what they will do for you to make your life a bit easier.
Don't be afraid to do a bit of DIY, this can be cost-effective and can add some nice personal touches to your big day. Just don’t go overboard or you’ll end up with more work than you know what to do with. Good DIY examples like favours, table numbers, photobook for your signing book, signs etc.
99% of weddings have professional wedding photographers like my self, and to decide if you want your guest to sit back and relax the ceremony without the phones, Ipads... this also can help avoid a guest popping out of the crowd to capture a picture which can spoil the paid photographers picture.
When your guest do take pictures are you happy for them to share their pictures on social media straight away or would you prefer it for the next day. Or do you have a hashtag you want them to use (#mr&mrssmith)?
Whatever your request make sure they know them.
15 Make It Legal
In the midst of all the crazy planning and small details, don’t forget to plan time to get your marriage license! Start researching and gathering the necessary documents early on.
16 Schedule Of Events
Create a schedule for your day, which has been communicated with your wedding venues, wedding coordinator. Include things like, when the ceremony will be, the first dance time, cake cutting, etc. Be sure to give a copy to your, photographer, maid of honour and anyone else that should be in the know.
17 Thank You
'Thank You' goes a long way. If possible and in budget, you should try to arrange for small gifts for your wedding party and anyone else who played a big role in your planning process. Don’t forget mum and dad!
18 Have Fun
Now time to enjoy all your hard work, and planning, so be sure to have fun on your wedding day and truly enjoy all the moments.
There are so many things, that make up your wedding day, and I'm sure this won't be the only thing you will read as part of your preparations.
There's still plenty of things to look into and checklist to have, for example, table planning, invitations, rings, your dress, bridal party, grooms outfit, flowers, DJ, Decorations, hair, makeup, cake so keep an eye out on my future blog on this.