A Guide to Planning a Wedding
What You Need to Know
- Don’t forget to take out wedding insurance before you spend even a penny on your big day.
- Working backwards from the big day, draw up a plan of action, highlighting key deadlines and priorities.
- Draw up a budget as well and do everything you can to stick to this.
- Book a venue as far in advance as is possible and be willing to be flexible with your dates.
- Similarly, try and book dress fittings, photographers and caterers as soon as possible as the best ones are often in very high demand.
- Recognise you may have to make some compromises when drawing up your wedding guest list.
- Consider getting expert help to ease the stress in the run-up to your special day.
Plan Your Budget
Whether you dream of an over-the-top fairytale ceremony or just a small and intimate affair, having to worry about money can take the shine off your big day.
So, as unromantic as it sounds, the first thing you should do when planning a wedding is to draw up a budget.
To do this properly, you should factor in every little part of the occasion, including rings, drinks, flowers, dresses and the venue.
Then, with the amount of money you can feasibly afford to spend on the occasion in mind, start drawing up individual budgets for these constituent parts, prioritising some areas over others and identifying where you would be OK doing things a little cheaper and where you don’t want to cut back. Some specialist websites, including TheKnot.com and Hitched.co.uk offer free-to-use budgeting tools to help keep your spending in check.
It pays to create a buffer zone of around ten per cent as even the most careful of couples tend to overspend.
Draw Up a Checklist
Before you get started, you need to draw up a plan of action. Take the approximate date you wish to get wed and work backwards from there, working out when you need to do what by when, though remembering to make allowances for unforeseen problems and delays.
Find a Venue
Given that the most-popular wedding venues tend to get booked many months in advance, once you have set a budget, this is the first thing you should look into booking.
Even now, though you should be willing to change your ideal date cording to availability.
So, draw up a list of possible venues. If it’s a church or other religious building you have your eye on, arrange a meeting with the priest or rabbi as soon as is possible.
Visit the venues and see what they have to offer, discuss prices and packages, compare all these and then choose the one that appeals the most.
Try and confirm your booking as far in advance as possible.
As well as religious and civil venues – such as town halls – many hotels also have licences for wedding ceremonies and offer packages that include accommodation and catering, potentially saving a lot of hassle.
Fairy tale castles cost a lot of money where as the local registry office doesn’t.
Choose Dresses, Suits and Rings
Cosmopolitan advises that you start looking into wedding dresses around nine months prior to the big day, while men’s suits should be considered around six months in advance.
Similarly, rings should be looked into well in advance, even a year before the day.
Brides-to-be should book a hair and beauty consultation around five months in advance and choose their lingerie and bridesmaids’ dresses at around the same time.
In the final couple of weeks before the wedding, it’s a good idea to break-in the shoes you wish to wear on the big day and have final fittings for all suits and dresses.
Draw up the Guest List
You’ll probably have a good idea whether you want to share your big day with dozens of guests or just have an intimate ceremony with immediate family members and friends.
However, you’ll still need to sit down and draw up a guest list.
Start with the most essential people, namely closest family and friends and then work outwards from there.
Once you have listed everyone you may wish to have along for the special day, then you can start cutting from the bottom if there are too many names.
It may be that you have to be extra-ruthless in order to stick to your budget or for other practical reasons, either by cutting people out completely or just inviting them to just the reception or the ceremony.
For example how many people do you want to feed and at what price? How many people can the venue hold? These factors will influence the size of your guest list.
Brides and grooms should be willing to negotiate with one another over the guest list and, if necessary, give ground to keep the other one happy.
Catering, Photography and Other Tasks
As with popular venues, the best photographers and catering specialists tend to be booked up several months in advance, so it pays to make booking these among your top priorities.
In terms of photographers, shop around, look at their portfolio of work, meet up with their to discuss their rates and what shots you would like them to get on the day itself or get personal recommendations.
Similarly, it’s a good idea to compare different catering firms, both in terms of prices as well as for reliability, reputation and flexibility when it comes to meeting guests’ dietary habits.
For all of the above it’s a good idea to try and get personal recommendations.
Planning a wedding is often a complex and expensive procedure. Bearing this in mind it can be a wise move to take out wedding insurance.
You can cover many different aspects of the event, from your wedding garments, cancellations and failure of suppliers and even valuable items such as ceremonial swords they may be part of the nuptials.
Normally, you can get all the cover you need in a single package at a relatively low cost. For example a policy costing £40 with a £25 excess can cover costs up to £10,000 of costs. Policies tend not to cover any issue arising from a problem that was known about before hand and cancellations due to cold feet!
Consider Getting Expert Help
Planning a wedding can be one of the most stressful experiences a person can go through.
While some people may enjoy overseeing every last detail themselves, if you would prefer to take a step back, then specialist wedding planners can be employed to take the strain.
Though they will be an extra cost, such specialists should have the experience and contacts necessary to plan your perfect day according to your wishes and within the budget you set them.
Alternatively, consider making use of your family and friends to help you plan your wedding. For instance, you can delegate some of the least important jobs to a best man or maid of honour, or other trusted family members or friends.
- Get budget advice for your wedding here.
- Does it seem a bit much? Break the planning into steps.
- If you fancy getting hitched overseas, read our guide to planning a wedding abroad.