So you’re wondering how to start planning a wedding. The good news is you’ve just found my 7 tips on what to do before you do anything. Before we begin though, let me just say congratulations to you both! You’re about to embark on a wonderful journey towards ‘I do’ and becoming fully fledged members of the married club. It’s the best club in the world!
So what next? Whether you feel overwhelmed or cool as a cucumber, some early stage strategy will help you get your priorities straight. You’ll be wedding planning like a pro in no time.
1. Baby steps – take things slow
Ok, so don’t hate me. I know you want to dive into all things wedding right now but trust me. The worst thing you can do is rush into making decisions when you’re still dizzy from your engagement. Hastily made decisions really can cause you a headache later on, and dent your purse. My advice is to take baby steps. Enjoy your engagement – the proposal, the ring, the totally loved up moment you’ve waited for since forever. There’s plenty of time for running around like a crazy person when you come back down to earth. For now, gift yourself time and space to enjoy your engagement without the stress and strain of wedding planning.
2. Insure your engagement ring
It’s not a very romantic first step, but a wise step to take all the same. Check if your engagement ring is worth more than the single item insurance on your insurance policy. Even if it’s not, consider getting it valued by a reputable jeweller and insured. Speak to your home insurance company to find out whether it’s covered by your current policy and ask their advice. This is especially important if your ring is an heirloom and you don’t have the original receipt.
3. Nip the self-proclaimed wedding expert in the bud
Family and friends will help you with friendly, well-meaning advice. Occasionally though, sad but true, couples get saddled with the ‘I know what’s best for you’ self-proclaimed wedding expert. They come in many guises. Family. Friend. Even appearing out of nowhere at work. The woman you rarely speak to but now has all the answers to questions you didn’t even ask? That’s them. You’ll hear ‘what you should do is….’ and ‘well, what I did was…’ over and over again. Just remember, this is YOUR day. Not there’s. What they chose may not be your choice. What worked for them, may not work for you. They probably mean well but don’t be afraid to gently tell them you’re going your own way. Your engagement is not an open invitation for them to plan their own wedding all over again! Be strong. You’ve got this.
4. Calculate your guest numbers
Do you set your budget based on the number of people you’ll invite? Do you choose the number of people you’ll invite based on your budget?
That, my lovely, is up to you, but a rough idea of your guest numbers early on is really helpful.
People are the most important part of any wedding. The people you choose to have around you will make, or even break, your big day so choose your guest list wisely. Who do you want to invite… or not, as the case may be? You’ll soon discover working out your guest list and deciding on your budget is a bit ‘chicken or egg’.
TIP: Make a decision on +1s – these can make your guest list swell in no time so maybe set a ‘length of relationship’ benchmark to help make the cut – or at the very least invite casual +1s to the evening only.
Guest numbers will influence the type of venue you’ll require, which in turn dictates your food and drinks bill, and your venue will impact on your style. So starting with the guest list is a logical place to start. Planning a successful wedding whilst managing a budget is all about doing things in a logical order. Depending on your budget, you may have to decide what’s more important – quality or quantity.
5. Decide on the budget for your wedding
Your budget dictates every decision you’re going to make from now on. It’s time to put your sensible hats on and ask yourself two questions.
How much money can we afford?
How much money do we WANT to spend?
You might be able to afford a huge wedding but that doesn’t mean you want one. Instead decide how much you’re comfortable spending and set an absolute limit. Then add a 10%-20% contingency to that limit and you’re on your way towards your budget figure. Budget management is incredibly important to ensure you can have the wedding you want.
6. Gather and sort inspiration
When eventually your thoughts turn towards the big day itself it’s important to remember this is your day. Never think you have to compete with anyone else’s wedding. You have a blank canvas so identify what you like and ditch the things you don’t.
Use Pinterest of course to create your style boards and keep your ideas neatly categorised and on point. It’s a great way to stop things getting cluttered. Here’s the link to my Pinterest page if you want to follow me and get pinning right away! Many of the brides that follow us on instagram have created separate accounts to keep things away from prying eyes. If you’re a scrap-booker then you don’t need any help in this department. Mag cuttings kept in an old shoe box are just as good and often make a cool keepsake.
7. Create Your Wedding Must-Haves List
Get used to lists! They’re your new best friend. You’ve got a ball park guest list so now let’s create your ‘essentials’ list. You’ll each have ideas for your wedding day, hopefully agreeing on some. It’s important to discuss your essentials with each other to ensure balance in the decision making. Marriage is all about compromise so it’s time to practice.
Each write a list of the top 5 ‘most important’ things you want at your wedding. For instance is it all about the food, the music, the people, the vibe? Do this separately and don’t confer with your other half. When you’ve finished, compare notes. Combine the two lists into one by first adding any ‘essentials’ that match (hopefully there’ll be some!). Compare the lists. Add the ‘essentials’ you agree on. If you don’t agree on anything (heaven forbid) sit down and talk things through. Your budget should make it clear whether your essentials are truly doable or pipe dreams.
TIP: If an idea is beyond your reach right now, don’t ditch it completely. Instead create a ‘wish list’. It doesn’t hurt to have dreams to inspire you.
Once you’ve compared your lists you’ll have an idea of what you both consider essential for your day – the size of the wedding, at home or abroad, whether it’s formal or informal, casual or black tie etc. Setting off on your wedding planning journey with the same goals as your partner is a pretty good place to start!
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