by Sophie, The Cheltenham Cakery
He’s proposed, it was the most surreal and beautiful moment of your life, you said yes (it was always going to be yes!) Life can’t get much better right now and the future is filled with exciting promise and limitless opportunities.
Then it begins…… where to have the ceremony, will it be church or civil? At the same venue as the reception or local registry office? Home or abroad? The start of a very long list of things to decide upon.
Many a consultation has seen me chatting to brides who have had to spend money rectifying earlier mistakes simply because the excitement of planning a wedding has completely run away with her (one client bought 4, yes 4 different wedding dresses!).
Don’t get me wrong – what bride to be isn’t excited? I would certainly be concerned if you weren’t – but with a few simple hacks, wedding planning can be an efficient and streamlined process (with minimal stress!) and a touch easier on the pocket.
The biggest mistake that I commonly see brides make is the same one I did. Newly engaged, I rushed out and cleaned the shelf of every wedding magazine known to man. I couldn’t wait to get home and within an hour had planned at least five different weddings.
If I were to do it again this is what I’d do and in this order:
1. Have a Wedding Planning Prenup
Sit down with each other and agree upon the length of your engagement, take a rough look at costings (easily found doing a Google search) and agree on your budget (then add on 10%). Write this down as an informal agreement between the pair of you – saves any arguments later.
2. Treat It As A Business
Your wedding planning will become a huge part of your life for a while… Don’t make it become your life.
Ensure you have set up a separate bank account for finances so you don’t lose track of what you’ve saved (direct debits into a designated account are great!)
Set up a separate email address and use this for everything from RSVPs to conversing with suppliers.
Set up a Instagram account with your own hashtag ie #mr&mrsliggat so any photos taken on the big day, respective stag and hen nights or for those times that you’re wedding planning ie dress and suit shopping, your friends can use the hashtag and you can save or print pics as necessary.
3. Checklist, Checklist, Checklist
Yes its uber boring but make a checklist for everything, and I mean everything.
Not just for the things you need to book (ie venue, get dress, order suits etc) but also for example a shot checklist for your photographer and a checklist of approximate timing on the day (make sure that you give this to a couple of people in the wedding party in case you need it for reference on the day.
It also means that when you suddenly can’t remember if you’ve booked or organised something you have a written copy to refer to and wont need to ring a supplier in a panic to check.
4. Be Tourists
Your venue is one of the biggest spends generally, so when researching potential venues it really is beneficial to visit as many as possible, stay the night if applicable, eat there, experience the venue – after all that is what you will be parting with your cash for: the vibe and experience of your chosen venue.
Don’t be afraid either to think a little outside the box: is there a restaurant, club or cinema that has special meaning to you both? We approached our local hillclimb racing track (hubby is an amateur car racer) and had our reception there, whilst friends of ours had their reception meal at the local Indian.
5. Pound The Streets
Every girl wants to sort THE dress. Before you do this you need to know what type of wedding you’re having: will it be a festival, traditional church, castle or beach wedding?
A classic designer wedding dress would be perfect for a castle wedding but may look a little out of place if you’re having a festival themed do. Try and hold off from dress shopping and save your feet until you’ve agreed on the venue and style of your big day.
The one piece of advice I can give you about wedding dress shopping is to block out time to spend pounding the streets for the ONE.
Wear a comfortable pair of shoes, take your trusted maids and plan which shops you’re going to hit and when (most will require you to book an appointment), with military precision.
Whilst you may have an idea of the style and type of dress you like, BE OPEN MINDED. The dress I ended up with was not what I thought I’d have – and this is something brides featured on the English Wedding Blog tell us again and again! Trust the stylists, they dress brides to be every day of the week!
6. Choose Your Entourage Wisely
Whilst we all have our besties in mind when picking bridesmaids and best men, be truthful – how are their organisational skills? Can you depend on them?
They need to be the people who will be honest with you that the puffball wedding dress you’ve got your heart set on actually makes you look like you’ve gained 10lbs, who pick you up when the alcohol hits on the hen night and you have a sudden drunken meltdown.
Should something happen on the day would you trust them to make the right decisions in your stead?
7. It’s OK to Social Media Stalk
When picking suppliers, research, research, research.
Social media is great for finding out which suppliers you like, monitoring their work, reading their reviews.
Once you’ve a shortlist of key suppliers (photographer, florist, cake designer etc.) arrange to meet with them – it’s vital that you have a great working relationship with your suppliers, especially those who will be there on your wedding day.
8. Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff
Wouldn’t it be dreamy to have real confetti petals, matching buttonholes for all the male guests and a rose wrist corsage for the ladies? Imagine, perhaps, a harpist playing while guests wait outside the church, an organist for the entrance, followed by junior and senior choirs for that ‘voice of an angel’ hymn singing.
But be realistic – what is important to you? Will real rose petal confetti mean the difference between a good and great best day of your life? Are multi pocket invitations in gold foil print really that important?
By all means if you’ve the budget and you want them, go ahead. If you haven’t… how important is it? Equally whilst it’s nice to have extras such as sweet charts, favours, table confetti, you don’t have to have them.
9. Don’t Underestimate the DIY
Many brides want to feel like they have made a personal touch to their day, some more than others. However do not, under any circumstances, underestimate the time factor in your planning if you are DIY’ing aspects of your day.
If you’re planning to DIY something you can only create near the day ensure you factor in lots of practice runs beforehand! I made my own invites – they were simple enough and I only needed 50 so a couple of hours work right? It actually took me 3 days and I eventually made double that number as I tweaked designs etc along the way.
10.Your Day, Your Way
You will have to learn to be diplomatically strong. Try not to take family comments too seriously when someone expresses a dislike to something you have planned.
Calmly state that this is what you and your other half have decided – once you enter into explanations of why you have picked that and not this you will inevitably start to doubt yourself. Remember this is YOUR day so it needs to be done YOUR way.
11. If It Goes Pete Tong………SMILE
Unless you have complete OCD or have employed the world’s best wedding planner, things will go slightly off plan. It’s unrealistic to think they won’t. But trust me: only you will know if things have gone awry.
At my own wedding I totally forgot to do a table plan – yes I know!!!
However it wasn’t an issue… people thought what a refreshing idea it was to allow people to sit where they liked! I just smiled and let them carry on thinking I’d planned it!
Sophie Liggat is the founder of The Cheltenham Cakery, and Creator of the Cotswold Wedding Club and A Cotswold Wedding
All images by our lovely friends at Amanda Karen Photography in Essex