So, apparently November and December are the most popular time of year to get engaged, did you know that? Me neither until I read it on Stylist the other day, but it got me thinking that there may be an influx of brides to be who got engaged over the festive period and are wondering where on earth to start with the whole planning a wedding jazz.
I wrote about my own wedding last year, but I realised that I never actually wrote about the ins and outs of planning it and what I learnt along the way. So that’s what today’s post is, a summary of the practical tips that helped us plan our wedding.
Enjoy! And if you are recently engaged, make sure you have a little nosey at all of my other wedding posts here.
1) Embrace the spreadsheet
I’m going to start with my very best wedding planning tip for any brides to be – embrace the spreadsheet!
Pretty much the first thing I did after Sam had popped the question was treat myself to a fancy hardback wedding planner. Very quickly I realised that while it absolutely looked the part, it wasn’t going to cut the mustard when it came to storing all of the info that we needed.
Instead, I embraced the spreadsheet. I used one workbook for everything, and set up different tabs for the most important info, including our budget, our payment schedules, the guest list, supplier contact details and a running order of the day (including when suppliers would be arriving to set up).
Having everything in one place helped to keep me sane and saved me loads of time rooting through emails trying to find out certain bits of information.
Top tip: Create your spreadsheet in a Google Doc, that way you can access it wherever you are and easily share it with the wedding party nearer the time so they all know what’s going on.
It’s tempting when you first get engaged to jump straight into researching venues and dreaming about flowers, but before you can really crack on with anything else, you need to have an idea of your guest list in mind.
Knowing roughly how many people you want to share your day with will narrow down your choice of venues and will help you understand what you can afford within your budget. The cost of a wedding can vary massively based on how many guests you have, so it really is important to get this one nailed down ASAP.
Sit down with your other half, pour a glass of vino and try not to argue too much as you make a list of the people you both want there.
Top tip: Sam and I had a blanket rule that for any guests that weren’t family, we both had to have met them. This rule not only helped us to keep the guest list sensible, but it also meant that we both felt totally comfortable around everyone on the day, which I think is pretty important on your wedding day.
3) Get the most important things booked in first
If you’re anything like me, as soon as that initial engagement buzz has died down, you’ll be dying to get stuck into all of the exciting bits of wedding planning – trying on dresses, pinning décor ideas and choosing shoes!
However, I quickly realised that it’s super important to have all of the big things booked in first. Venues can be booked up years in advance, as can caterers, photographers and florists, so if you have any particular suppliers in mind, work quickly to get them locked down.
Also, don’t forget some of the less, ahem, glamorous aspects too. If you need to hire stuff like furniture, loos, crockery or a generator, get this booked in pronto, as they’re often reserved well in advance for corporate functions.
Top tip: Once you’ve chosen your venue, ask them for a full list of anything else you need to book to bring your wedding dream to life. It’s much better to know in advance if you need to hire your own glassware, or if you need to source an extra height ladder to string up fairy lights.
I think this tip is particularly important if you’re having a bit of a DIY wedding or working with a lot of suppliers – make sure you communicate with them thoroughly!
We met with each and every one of our suppliers and ran through every little detail – from making a list of shots we wanted with our photographer to deciding exactly which beers and cocktails we wanted our bar team to supply.
Not only did this mean that our suppliers executed everything just as we wanted it on the day, but it also highlighted any misunderstandings ahead of time. For example – we had assumed that our caterers would pour the table wine for us, but they thought the bar team were going to do it. Ironing out any little things like that will ensure that your wedding day runs without a hitch.
Top tip: Make sure you have contracts drawn up with each of your suppliers – not only will this cover you if anybody pulls out or lets you down, but it’s also a good opportunity to have both yours and your supplier’s expectations in writing.
5) Turn planning into a celebration
My final tip is perhaps my favourite one of all – make sure you turn all of those little planning milestones into celebrations of their own!
There’s no denying that wedding planning can be stressful and a lot of hard work (so much more than I could have comprehended pre-engagement), so it’s super important that you make time in the process to enjoy it too.
We made a real effort to celebrate every big decision – whether it was going out for dinner with both of our parents after booking our venue, turning wedding dress shopping into a full on girly weekend with my Mum and sister, or popping open a bottle of champagne while we did our table plan.
We have lots of lovely memories from those times now that we cherish almost as much as our wedding weekend itself, so I really would recommend that you leave time in the planning process to enjoy plenty of celebrations too.
Top tip: One of the loveliest “wedding planning” days was going for my bridal consultation at Jo Malone with my Mum and sister. The whole experience was so lovely and I’d recommend it to any bride to be! We tagged on an afternoon tea afterwards and really was such a nice day out.
Phew, that ended up being quite a bit longer than I first planned! Hopefully some of you will find these practical wedding planning tips handy…