So… you’ve just got engaged but have no idea where to start? Or perhaps you’ve been engaged for a while, jumped into planning and you’re majorly overwhelmed. It’s a busy season for engagements, so felt like the right time to write down my first steps if you’ve just got engaged.
One: Do nothing.
Absolutely nothing. Except enjoy your engagement. Once it’s gone, it’s gone, so don’t wish it away. Sure, wedding planning is exciting, but don’t jump too quickly.
If you tell someone you’re engaged, they’re full of excitement for you; so they should be, its an exciting time! But if you tell someone you’re married, no one will bat an eyelid. Enjoy it while it lasts.
Perhaps start to have some casual conversations about what you like and don’t like, what time of year you think would be good, and a rough location. But beyond that, take some time to enjoy your engagement. See your family and friends, have a party, enjoy the celebrations.
Two: See what’s out there
Society has told us what a wedding should look like. For years we’ve been told women dream of their wedding since they’re 5, and want to wear big puffy princess dresses. That might be your reality, but for many people, it isn’t.
The kinds of weddings we see in films and on TV are all pretty similar. They mainly have chair bows/sashes, are green and white with maybe a hint of blush, and are relatively traditional.
There’s so much more to the modern wedding industry than this. Before you go full steam into planning:
- Have a look around at what exists now.
- Challenge your narrative on what a wedding should be and start to think about what you might like.
- Search on Pinterest and Instagram for inspo, and don’t think about the practicalities just yet.
Throughout your planning, be careful not to fall back into the narrative of what a wedding should look like.
Three: Decide if you want a planner.
Deciding if you want to have a planner doesn’t have to be at this stage, but it’s the first time you can consider the prospect. Planners will help guide you through the planning process, remove the tedious and confusing admin, and leave you with the fun and exciting stuff.
Planners can help you with everything from finding a venue and setting a budget, right through to being the one who turns off the lights at the end of your day. Of course, you can plan a wedding without one, but we add a special professional touch and assurance.
Four: Your venue and guest list
OK, now we’re starting to get practical. With this particular step, I generally recommend you start with one of two parts, either your venue or your guest list.
If it’s more important to have everyone you want at your wedding, start with your guest list first. Take a notepad and pen, or a spreadsheet if you’re more of a computer person like me and start writing names. Whatever total you come to, add 10%. I promise you they will crop up.
Now you’ve got your total, you can start looking for venues. I’d recommend looking for venues with a slightly higher max capacity than your numbers, so everyone is comfortable and not on top of one another. My favourite place to start looking for venues is Coco Wedding Collective, definitely check it out.
If you’ve been dreaming of getting married at a particular venue all your life, start by finding out their capacity and work out your guest list based on that. This way generally works better for destination weddings too as the guest lists tend to be smaller.
Five: Come up with a loose budget
Wedding budgets are tricky. I’m all for having a budget and sticking to it, but I also believe that it’s a day you only have once and can’t restage. So if you love the more expensive photographer, you should have grace and flex in your budget to be able to book them.
Start by working out how much you’d ideally like to spend. If you’re getting donations from your family, find out what expectation that comes with. Trust me, it will save some arguments further down the line.
It’s sort of impossible to make a first draft wedding budget. Venues alone can range from £500-£20,000, so how are you supposed to know what to write?! That’s why it’s essential to keep things flexible at this point.
You’ll find templates and calculators online, but to be honest, I think they’re mostly a load of crap. If you love flowers, you’ll probably end up spending more than 10% of your budget on them. If you don’t care about having a three-course meal, you’ll be able to get away with that being less than 40%. They’re an OK guide, but take it with a pinch of salt.
Six: Crack on!
The best way to start planning is by just jumping in and doing it. Once you begin to see venues, it will all fall into place. This is also the point where you can start to firm up your budget. As you begin gathering information and getting quotes, you’ll be able to paint a picture of how much money you’ll need overall, and what you may need to cut back on.
When you’re contacting suppliers, say a photographer, I recommend contacting at least three people, but no more than five in your first instance. This will allow you to make some cost and service comparisons without having so many options that it becomes overwhelming.
Sidenote: Not everyone gets “the feeling” with their venue/suppliers/dress (delete as appropriate). Generally speaking, more practically minded people let their brain do the decision making, so are less likely to get the feeling (I’m one of these people). Whereas more emotional people are more likely to think with the heart.
And you’re off! If you take anything from this article, let it be to challenge your vision of what a wedding should be. Take some time to think about what it is you want, not what you’ve seen at your friend’s wedding, or on sex and the city, or what your mum wants you to have. Take your time, enjoy it, and have fun.
If you are interested in working with me or would like any further advice, please give me a shout.