Yippee, you’re engaged! Once the initial shock has worn off, the excitement and wedding planning can begin. There are so many things to think about when planning a wedding. The average engagement is around 14 to 16 months so we have broken it down to help you create your perfect day.
14 – 9 Months
Discuss and work out what your budget will be including any family contributions.
Decide on the type of ceremony you and your partner would like. Would you like a traditional church wedding or a civil ceremony. Do you have your own land that you can put a marquee on or would you like to hire a venue?
Set a Date and Book
Go to look at a few different venues to give yourself a comparison. This may also help you to set a date as some venues have discounted rates during different months. If you are having a marquee then start looking at the styles you would like.
Book your ceremony with the Registry Office or Church. Dates and times get reserved quickly so it is good to provisionally book something. You can then give your notice at a later date.
Choose your Wedding Party and Guest List
Think about your numbers and draw up a guest list. Decide whether you will be having extra evening guests, this is also something that you will need to think about when it comes to your food and drink.
Decide on who you and your partner would like to be your bridesmaids, Best Men, Ushers and Page Boys.
If you wanted to be a little different there are some lovely personal ways of asking your friends to be your bridesmaids with either cards or gifts.
Book Your Reception Venue/ Marquee
If you have chosen a venue then now is the time to book and pay a deposit to secure your date.
If you have decided on a marquee then start enquiring about structures.
There are many different styles to choose from depending on the theme and look that you would like. For example, a traditional pole marquee with swooping roofs can work really well for a vintage, rustic theme. A clear span frame marquee is very chic for a modern feel and can even have clear roof panels. There are also tipis which have become a very popular alternative space for weddings, they work well for a beach or festival theme.
Arrange to have a site meeting to check the area is suitable and to go over all of your options.
If you are undecided on the type of reception or would like some more inspiration, read our previous blog “10 Reasons to say yes to a marquee wedding”.
Dedicated Wedding Planner
A lot of brides choose to do the planning themselves or have help from particular family members.
A wedding planner will have contacts and experience in planning a wedding to suit you. They will be there from the start to help you with decisions, give advise and make sure everything is booked on time.
If you decide you would like a dedicated wedding planner, now would be the time to pick one.
We have worked with many great planners including;
Choose and Book Caterers
If you have booked a venue then the catering may be included or they may have preferred caterers that they would like you to use.
If you are choosing your own then you need to think about the type of food that you would like. Do you want a help-yourself buffet, a sit-down meal, afternoon tea or maybe even street food? You also need to consider numbers and if you are going to provide extra food in the evening.
Many caterers will also do canapes and will serve your welcome drinks for you.
Sharing Platters and miniature puddings are a really popular choice and is a great way to get people that don’t know each other talking. Bear in mind if you are offering meal choices that you will need to include this on your invitations so people can decide what they would like.
Many caterers will work with you to create your perfect menu, don’t be put off if you can’t see something that you want on a sample menu.
Some of our favourite caterers that we have worked with before are;
Send “Save the Dates”
These aren’t always needed but they can be a good idea to give your guests notice especially if you have picked a date during the summer holiday months. If you are going to send them, around 11 months before the wedding is a good time.
Research and Book Photographer and/or Videographer
Start having a look at different wedding photographers. They all have different styles and techniques so it depends on the result that you want.
Have a look through their galleries of real wedding’s that they have previously photographed.
Many photographers offer different packages so it is a good idea to get a few different quotes to have a comparison of what is included for your money.
A few of our favourite photographers that we have worked with are;
Boy Called Ben
Choose and Book a Florist
Do some research and save pictures of flowers that you like the look of. Most people try to match the colours with their own colour scheme.
If you are having a church wedding, find out if they either provide flowers or if they are happy for you to supply your own. Many venues include some flower arrangements as part of the package.
The main things you need to think about are;
Bridal Bouquet / Head Bands
Bridesmaid’s Bouquets/ Flower Girls
Buttonholes for the men
Centre pieces for your dining tables
If you are having a marquee for your reception then you may want to include extra display flowers. Flower rings that are fitted around poles and chandeliers can work really well to create a statement piece.
There are many florists that will advise you and work with you and your budget to create the perfect arrangement.
Some florists that we love are;
8 – 6 Months
Choose and Book Bands, DJ or any Entertainment
Decide whether you would like any entertainment whilst you are having your wedding breakfast, some gentle background piano or strings playing can be a nice touch. Singing waiters are also a great surprise addition especially if no one is expecting it.
For your evening think about whether you would like a live band, a DJ or both. Many bands offer to play music in between their sets so both may not be necessary.
Try to attend gigs of potential acts to see how they perform with a live audience then reserve and book your favourite.
“Hire a Band” is also a great online agency to find people in your area.
Some of our favourite DJ’s and Bands are;
Try on and Purchase a Wedding Dress
Do some research, look at pictures and have a think about the style of dress you would like. Many bridal shops require you to book an appointment to visit and try on dresses. Try to book with a couple of different boutiques to give yourself a comparison.
There are many materials to choose from including satin, chiffon and lace. The shapes of dresses also vary a lot from ball gown, fishtail and A-line. Once you have booked an appointment you will have a dedicated personal shopper who will help and advise on the styling to suit you.
Bear in mind with some designer dresses there may be a waiting period of a few months if a specific dress has to be ordered in.
Arrange a Tasting Meeting With Caterers
Book a meeting with your caterers to try a sample of the canapes and any food that you will be having on the day. This is a good time to finalise your menu especially if food choices need to be included on your invitations.
This is our guide to help you plan your big day.
Part 2 coming soon with the countdown from 6 months until the big day.