So you’re engaged… congratulations!
If the initial celebrations have died down and your thoughts have turned to planning, you might be thinking ‘where do we start’?
The road to planning a wedding can be a long and winding one: venues, photographers, florists, suppliers, dresses, catering, entertainment and much more need to be considered, booked, deposits paid and final payments made.
But where do you begin?
If you feel a little daunted, fear not! In this three-part series, I have created my ultimate countdown planner to help kick-start your wedding planning and to keep you on track in the months leading to your special day. Enjoy the first instalment of my ultimate countdown planner!
18-12 months to go
Things to get you started
First things first, work out your BUDGET (check out my first tip on this previous blog to help you). Undoubtedly, this is one of the most important tasks you need to get you started as everything else is dependent on this.
There are some really useful spreadsheets to help you plan the budget – including how much to put towards venue, catering, flowers and so forth. This can be really helpful as you progress and to keep a track of the pennies!
Have fun and enjoy compiling your ideas and inspiration in one place! Include anything which captures your heart: from colours to themes, flowers to favours. It’ll really help to create a vision and a water-tight brief for your suppliers further down the line. You can create this on Pinterest, Inspiration or get crafty with a good-old-fashioned mood board!
These should be people you feel confident will step up to help ensure your day runs smoothly and perfectly. In the bridal party, you may want a Maid of Honour – the chief if you will – a team of maids and any sweet flower girls or page boys. For the Groom’s party, it’s a best man and ushers.
Whether you’re looking for help with planning the whole wedding, or a partial service to help on the day, now is the ideal time to book before diaries become full!
This can be tough when there’s a trade-off between cost per head and having all the friends and family you’d like there. I recommend making a list of people you cannot imagine getting married without and that’s your minimum number.
Working with a minimum number can help you keep an open mind to find a venue you fall in love with it – for example, 60 people at the most perfect exclusive hire venue may be your dream setting, rather than a larger converted barn. Therefore, this determines how big the wider guest list is.
As soon as you’ve decided the guest list number, start the search for your perfect venue and BOOK as soon as you can. The earlier the better! In my experience, venues are getting booked earlier and earlier so make sure you don’t miss out on your dream venue.
Start to research suppliers and create a shortlist of your favourites. Include photographers, florists, videographers, cake makers, stationers, hair & make-up artists, entertainment, and any other components of the day that are important to you.
Now you’ve made a start, look to buy wedding insurance! It’s always best to plan for unforeseeable circumstances, so this is super important.
11-9 months to go
It’s time to get booking
It’s best to meet your photographer and see if you click, at a minimum, you should at least have a Facetime or Skype call. This person is going to be spending the whole day with you and your guests, so make sure it’s someone you feel a rapport with.
Photographers and videographers have different styles as well. Some are purist-documentary-style photographers who will only do natural photos. Others will accommodate as many group shoots and staged scenes as you desire. Both have pros and cons so you need to be sure you’re getting exactly what you wish for, as these will be the mementos to remember your special day by.
If you adore flowers, make this a priority as you don’t want your dream florist getting booked! There are different styles to choose from: contemporary to rustic to bohemian and even more! Arrange a meeting with one or two that suit your style and take your Pinterest board or other mood board for a creative mind-mapping session. One extra tip here, don’t forget to discuss your budget from the get-go so that everything discussed is realistic and avoids any disappointment.
Stage one of something yummy: go cake tasting and book your cake maker! This is always enjoyable… who doesn’t like cake?
Will you go for traditional flavours or for a twist? Will you go for a semi-naked cake adorned with fresh fruit or opt for the on-trend contemporary marble icing? Will you go for a pièce de résistance cake, or choose an array of sweets and pastries?
Have fun and let your personalities shine through!
It’s time to start hunting for your dream dress! I recommend having fun and try as many styles and shapes as you can. Firstly, because this is the prime opportunity to try on the most elaborate princess gown ever in your life. Secondly, because you might just surprise yourself.
It’s easy to get caught up with only wanting a particular type of dress, such as a lacey A-Line or a strapless fit and flare. It may be because of body image hang up or because you’ve fallen in love with something you’ve seen online or in a magazine.
By putting any preconceptions aside and trying on all kinds of dresses, you may find a gem you would never have considered otherwise. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain… and everyone else can enjoy a glass of bubbly while you give them a go!
When you know, you know - your whole party will know! (Tissues, anyone?) Wait until you get the ‘this is the one’ feeling… trust me, it’ll happen!
While other components are taking place, it’s time to book a stationer and send your Save the Dates. By now, you’ll have an idea of your wedding theme. Share the little details of your day that get you excited and let the stationers’ creativity show. They are likely to offer a suite that will enable your theme to flow throughout the invitations and your on-the-day stationery.
Research hair stylists and make up artists and book your trials for around three months before the big day. Anything sooner and you run the risk of changing your mind. You may want to consider any hair treatments or skin regimes you’d like to follow before the wedding – factoring in time for any skin breakouts – to ensure your hair and skin is in top condition for your special day.
Guests remember the dress, the food and the party, so it’s time to book your entertainment! Check with your venue for any sound restrictions and make the supplier aware when booking.
I hope you’ve enjoyed part one of my ultimate countdown planner. In my next instalment, I'll be covering up to 3 months before your special day!
If you feel like you could benefit from help planning your wedding – from styling to wedmin, a full planning service to pay-as-you-go consultancy – why not get in touch? I offer bespoke packages to suit you. Visit Our Services for more information or email me if you have a wedding you’d like to discuss.