When the lovely Dawn from Bliss Wedding Shows got engaged in Ibiza, we knew we had to ask her for her wedding planning tips – as a bride-to-be who also works in the wedding industry, Dawn has all the insider knowledge to plan the perfect day! Read her blog post here for a step-by-step guide to wedding planning…
“Following the announcement of my recent engagement, I met with a close friend who was just back from her honeymoon for a celebratory cocktail (and some much needed wedding planning advice). She handed me an engagement present, which not only was beautiful but the most helpful essential any bride-to-be can have – a 12-month Wedding Planner diary! The hazy starting point suddenly became crystal clear and it’s not left my handbag since. And so the wedding planning begins…
Choose your perfect venue
Firstly, decide on whether you’re planning on having a religious or a civil ceremony. Once that’s decided, you can have some fun researching and visiting a list of wedding venues and locations that look right for you.
Once you’ve fallen in love with the right place, don’t forget to check that the local Registrar is available on the date and time you’re planning on, otherwise you could lose your deposit if you book the venue first and the Registrar isn’t available.
It’s also worth asking about what accommodation is close by and assess the venue’s accessibility for guests who may be elderly or coming with small children.
Plan your budget
Sounds boring I know, but it can be fun – honest! Wedding Ideas have some fabulous free budget planners available to download so make the most of them. Work out what’s really important to you and write a list of needs and wants. Keep in mind that your biggest expense is usually feeding people, so cutting out a meal by getting married later in the day, trimming your guest list, or choosing an alternative to a three-course sit-down meal are all money-saving options.
Hire a wedding coordinator
Unless it’s included in your wedding package, it’s worth hiring an experienced wedding co-ordinator who can ensure that you getting hitched goes without a hitch! (Read our article from Jane Williams to find out exactly what a wedding co-ordinator does on a day-to-day basis.)
The guest list
This is always a tricky one. Who to invite to the ceremony versus the reception, who’s already assumed they’re invited, who your family wants you to invite – the guest list is more stressful than it sounds. The venue you’ve chosen will determine the number of guests you can invite, so if your list is growing, just bear in mind that you might face additional costs if you invite more than you’ve planned! Remember that your friends will understand your guest list pressures – especially those who are already married, as they’ve probably been there themselves!
Choose your wingmen and women…
…aka the bridesmaids, best man, page boys, maid of honour and ushers! It’s a tough choice for some, but choosing a calm and organised friend or family member is a good start. You’ll have a lot to think about on your big day whilst dealing with your nerves, so you’ll be glad there’s someone on hand who’s great with dealing with people or any mishaps!
Choose the dress
It’s really important to keep an open mind with this one. That to-die-for dress that you’ve found online, saved an image of and obsessed over may not actually be the dress for you, while a dress on a hanger you may not like the look of at first sight may be the perfect fit. Try lots of styles on during boutique sessions and you might be surprised!
Clothing, hair and beauty
Think of any extra bridal accessories and lingerie you may need, as well as bridesmaids’ dresses and accessories. Try out a few hair stylists, makeup artists and beauticians prior to booking them – that way you can be confident that your look is sorted for the day.
Photographer and videographer
Quotes can seem astronomical when choosing the right photographer to capture those romantic moments, but it’s important to choose wisely as you’ll be looking back on the photos for years to come! There are some great tips on how to choose your photographer on the Bliss Weddings Blog.
When you choose your flowers, you need to consider more than just the bouquet – you’ll also need to look for button holes, table decorations and bridesmaids’ bouquets. Why not also plan some flowers to give to mothers of the bride and groom to make them feel special on the day too?
Canapés, wedding breakfast and wine, reception drinks, evening nibbles, the cake – guests need a lot of feeding and watering, especially if it’s a long day. If you’re worried about forgetting the little touches, your chosen venue should be able to put together suitable package deals for you – just make sure you speak to them about your requirements in plenty of time.
Honeymoon and insurance
Jetting off to an exotic location for weeks to enjoy your new life together is a wonderful thing to be able to plan, but minimoons may be the right choice for those who have hectic work schedules, are keeping to a strict budget or would like to take children or pets with them. A long weekend in the Lake District, Cornwall or Wales is a perfect choice, and there are loads of stylish and luxurious spa hotels who do great offers.
Design and print costs can be an expensive business if you’re going bespoke – alternately, you can choose to order affordable and stylish pre-designed stationery online. Plan ahead and order all of your print items together, as the larger the quantity, the cheaper the print and delivery cost.
Remember you’ll need save the date cards, invitations, table place cards, order of service or ceremony programmes, menus, thank you cards and any items to add to favours or venue signage.
If you’re on a budget, you can often find jewellers who will do great deals like 2 for 1 bride and groom wedding bands. Read about how to avoid the most common ring pitfalls here!
Whether it be a classic Rolls Royce, a horse and carrriage or a retro camper van, you’ll want to arrive in style when choosing your transport – as with many elements of the wedding, try to book early to avoid disappointment. If you’re looking to push the boat out, why not be inspired by some of these unusual transportation options?
You may decide you’d rather not end up with 5 toasters, 3 kettles and a bunch of bed linen you’ll never use and decide to request something a little different. Why not guests who wish to give your a gift to contribute towards your honeymoon fund instead? This will definitely help to keep your budget in line! Alternatively, set up a gift list which could also help towards updating your home with lovely things to remind you of your guests.”
Thanks for your tips, Dawn! If you’re just starting your wedding planning, why not visit our Just Engaged section for more helpful advice, or take a look at our Pinterest boards for some gorgeous wedding day inspiration?