Congratulations! You are about to embark on one of the most amazing times of your life. Planning a wedding doesn’t have to be stressful, and Wedding Ideas will be with you every step of the way with our fab wedding checklist.
So you’re just engaged, there’s a while year or more to go until the big day so you can take things slowly right? Wrong! The more things you get organised now, the better! Remember every wedding is different and the tips below should be taken as a guide only, and adapted to your day.
Set a budget
First things first. You and your h2b need to sit down and work out what type of wedding you really want and set a realistic bridal budget. Work out how long you have to go before the wedding; what contributions you’ll get from family and what you have already saved. We wouldn’t recommend getting a loan to pay for the wedding. There are many ways in which you can save money and cut back in less important areas without having to start married life in debt.
This is also a good time to decide on who is paying for what. Traditionally the bride’s parents will foot the majority of the bill but times have changed, and it’s now more common for the couple themselves to cover the majority of the costs while parents contribute to particular elements of the day – the dress or the drinks reception, for example.
Now you’ve worked out a rough budget, you’ll need to find a venue. According to research carried out by Wedding Ideas in 2011, couples would spend £5,000 of a £10,000 budget on the venue and reception. This is where the majority of the money will be spent, so make sure it’s what you really want. Of course, there are cheaper ways of feeding guests, but this will be the norm for the average couple. There are hundreds of licensed wedding venues all around the country. From churches and country houses to barns, museums and even zoos, there is a location for every couple.
Many venues will offer all inclusive wedding packages. These represent good value for money and, in most cases, include everything you need for the day, from welcome drinks and a three-course wedding breakfast, to evening buffets and DJs. Decide on a location and then look at venues within a five or ten mile radius of that. (Remember, if you get married and hold your reception at the same venue you will save on transport costs). Just you and your h2b should choose a wedding venue that’s right for you – this is your decision, no one else’s.
Once you have a venue in mind and provisionally book a date, you need to check with the local registrar or minister that they can marry you on that date. If so, you can confirm your booking. If not, you will have to rearrange a date or find another venue.
The big suppliers
Okay, so you’ve set your budget, booked the venue and secured the registrar. Now the real fun starts, as you have to book your three other main suppliers – dress designer, photographer and florist. Let’s take wedding dresses first, as we’re sure you’ll have lots of questions to ask when buying your wedding dress. For a made-to-measure designer gown you need to allow at least 8-10 months for designing, making, fittings and so on. However, the majority of b2bs will buy their gowns from bridal boutiques who carry a number of designer and manufacturer’s dresses. This is the time to think about choosing a wedding dress to suit your body shape.
When you buy a gown from your bridal boutique you will try on a sample of a gown first of all. Once you have chosen your favourite a brand new one in your size will be ordered from the maker. Then, when it arrives, the in-store seamstress may have to alter it to fit you exactly. You need to allow at least 6 to 8 months for this whole process although the quicker you can decide on a dress the better. Your gown will lead your future decisions about accessories, reception details, maybe even colour schemes, so it’s best to get this sorted early on. Read more handy dress shopping tips in our planning section.
Another major supplier to get secured now is your wedding photographer. Good wedding photographers get booked up a year in advance so it’s essential that you start working on this now. Look in magazines and wedding blogs to find out about the latest wedding photography trends and styles of photography you like. Ask friends and family for recommendations. Also, your venue may be able to help – they usually offer a list of preferred suppliers who have worked in that property before.
We would suggest budgeting around £800 for a photographer. These pictures will provide the only tangible memory of the day so there’s no point taking chances here. Similarly, good florists will get booked up quickly so if flowers are important to you, make finding a florist one of your priorities. They will be able to guide you in terms of colour scheme and what’s available at the time you’re getting married. For example, September may be too late for peonies!
Once you have these key suppliers in place, you can take relax and turn your attention to your wedding guests. Average all-inclusive day packages cater for 50 to 70 people and you can add more in the evening at an extra cost. 50 people doesn’t sound like a lot but if you don’t have a large family you’ll be surprised how difficult it is to fill those spaces. You can also start sending out save the date cards and start looking at evening entertainment options. Your venue’s co-ordinator will be able to suggest bands that have played at the property before.
One last thing…
As you start putting down deposits on the larger wedding items, it’s essential that you buy some wedding insurance. In these tough financial times, no one can predict the future and you don’t want to be left out of pocket if a venue or manufacturer goes bust. E&L offer a great package especially for Wedding Ideas readers. See http://www.eandl.co.uk/wedding for more details.
Wedding Checklist – What to do next…
On 15th June we’ll be releasing part two of our fab wedding checklist. In the countdown from 9 to 6 months you’ll be finding outfits for the bridal party, researching honeymoon destinations, starting your beauty regime and more.