For most people, planning a wedding is something they have never done before. With all the information available, some of it conflicting, it’s very easy to get confused. Knowing where to start is key to an amazing wedding. Along with organisation.
My starter points below give you the best possible start to planning your own wedding. Starting off right means you are more likely to remain stress-free and on budget.
If you struggle with remaining calm, managing several suppliers at one time or just don’t have the time, I would recommend a wedding planner. You can read my article on ‘Why Hire a Wedding Planner’ to understand the benefits. Most wedding planners offer a variety of services to suit the needs of clients. My services are all tailored around the client – There is no ‘One Package Fits All’.
Where to Start
To get your wedding planning off to the best start, it’s important to understand the correct order to start things in. Based on my experience, this is way I work with all my clients (although most have already discussed a date):
- Maximum number of guests.
You cannot book anything until you know how much you have to spend. You cannot book a venue without knowing the maximum number of guests or style you want. There is no point booking a rustic barn for 120 guests if you want an ultra-modern wedding with 300 guests. Good photographers get booked up very quick, especially in peak season.
For some reason, people still feel uneasy talking about money. Sit down together one evening and discuss what you can afford to spend. Be realistic so you don’t get disappointed later. Deciding on a budget that’s not realistic can cause more stress and pressure on the relationship so make sure you spend time thinking about it. The same goes for getting into debt for the wedding.
Things to think about:
- Are you funding the wedding yourself?
- Do you have the money now or will you accumulate it over time?
- Are any family members happy to help? If so,
- How much can they provide?
- Are there any restrictions (i.e. must use towards the cake, they want a say in the wedding)?
When you have decided on your budget, split it down by category and/or supplier so you know how you have for each area. For a sample budget split, you can join my free private Facebook and download one. This group has over useful downloads, information and tips. More importantly, there are no suppliers, so you can read and post without losing sight of things.
Maximum Number of Guests
This plays a big part on the venue you decide to use. There is no point hiring a ceremony room that holds 200 if you want an intimate ceremony. Same goes for the wedding reception.
- A room too large looks empty and incomplete. You could find yourself trying to find things to fill gaps instead of thinking of the overall look and feel.
- A room too small looks cramped. No one likes to sit at a table with no elbow room. Waiting staff need room to move around the tables and chairs with ease.
By knowing your maximum numbers, you can choose a venue that fits. A religious venue, a hotel, a castle, a stately home, a marquee or anything your heart desires.
When considering a date, think about not only when you would like it but who you want to be at your wedding. As an example, if your family is close and there are a lot of school aged children, you may consider having a wedding on any weekend or a weekday in school holidays.
The date will also play a part in the cost. A mid-week wedding in November will be cheaper than a Saturday in July. Special days and bank holidays (like Valentines Day) will also be more expensive.
Ok, you may not know exactly what you want right now, but you will know the styles you like or dislike. Your venue is the first thing they will see when they arrive for your wedding day. If you want a luxurious, modern, formal event then a castle is probably not the best choice. Same goes if you want a navy blue and scarlet wedding but the venue has bright yellow walls.
You can still go for venues that don’t match your style but be open to making changes to the style and/or colours or spend more on décor to get the look you want.
You know your budget. The maximum number of guests has been agreed. You know you preferred style/colours. Time to find the perfect venue.
Do your research first. No one likes to visit venue after venue without making progress. It can be tiring and stressful, leaving you feel like you have to settle.
- Make sure they tick the boxes.
- See if they are having an open day or attending a major fair.
- Book an appointment to meet them and discuss what you are looking for.
- Ensure you understand what is included and what’s extra.
- When visiting venues, take pictures and notes. It can be hard to remember everything when visiting several venues, especially if they are similar.
- When looking around, if there is something you really like, double check it’ll be there on the day (sometimes items are removed for weddings to prevent damage).
- On the other hand, if there is something you don’t like, ask if it could be removed
Never book on your first visit. If you really like somewhere, book a second visit (and book then if you wish). So many people have booked one of the first places they have seen on the day. I’m not suggesting you look at a load of venues. It can be one or two but make sure you have a second look. In these situations, sometimes our hearts take over and we regret it later.
When you sign up for weekly newsletters, as well as useful advice and exclusive offers, there is a venue checklist about four newsletters in, which you can download and take with you. This includes questions like ‘can I use real candles’, ‘do you have any noise restrictions’, ‘what time is the alcohol licence available until’.
Good photographers get booked up quick, especially during wedding season. If you are keen to get the best for your budget and style, start researching what choices you have.
- Check with the venue you have chosen to if they have any recommendations.
- Search on the internet.
- Visit a wedding fair/show.
- Ask friends and family for recommendations.
- Ask a wedding planner (this is classed as supplier sourcing and will come with a cost). If you do this, make sure you know what you are getting as all planners offer something different. From providing links to suppliers you could consider to reports featuring suppliers with their details, specialities, costs, etc.
As with all suppliers you consider, check their reviews, meet them in person (wherever possible) or Skype. Discuss with them what you are trying to achieve in terms of the style and look and let them know the venue.
Supplier Sourcing in General
When looking for suppliers, prioritise the ones that are important to you. If you want flowers to be the feature and show-stopper of the day, contact the florist early. If stationery is key, search for the perfect designer to design your collection (read my blog on stationery here).
Checklists are great and there are hundreds on the internet. Find the perfect one for you and tweak it based on your priorities and what suppliers you are having/considering. Normally the date in the checklist is the latest to get things done by. If you do sign up for my newsletters, there is a timeline available for you to download in the first one.
Once you know where to start, you will have a better understanding of what you want to achieve and how to go about it.
If you find this all a bit overwhelming or feel you need a bit of help or guidance, why not take a look at my services to see how I could help you. From inspiration sessions to full planning, I tailor all my services to your exact needs.
You can contact me here.
Photography by Raymond Lin Photography