So you said ‘yes’- congratulations! If you recently got engaged and are flying high in a bubble of love and well wishes, welcome to a period of your life you’ll treasure forever. Amongst the excitement and anticipation there will likely be some anxiety too, as you wonder where the f*ck to begin and how to make your Pinterest vision board a reality- if that’s the case, you’re not alone.
If you’ve recently got engaged and are in need of some hand-holding at the beginning of your wedding planning journey, look no further. With advice from professional wedding planners, florists and party experts, consider this your one-stop-shop for all things getting started in saying ‘I do’!
Firstly, the key thing to remember is to enjoy this stage – there are so many exciting aspects of a wedding to get prepped and ready for! This is your special day and no one else’s, so take opinions with a pinch of salt and remember what you’re aiming for. Deep breaths!
Now down to business.
Type of wedding & budget
“Firstly, you need to decide what type of wedding you want i.e. church, registrar or a celebrant-led one, as this will determine your venue,” says Kate Beavis, Founder of the contemporary wedding blog Magpie Wedding and The ECO Wedding Shows.
“The venue is the largest part of your budget (about 48% including food) and needs to be booked first. It is also a good idea as a couple to consider how you are going to plan it – what the budget is, and who will be doing what in the process, ensuring you plan it as a team.
“Before the pandemic, the average wedding cost was over 30K, but since Covid hit it’s anticipated that 2022’s average will be way lower. This is partly due to money being tighter for many, but also many are choosing to have smaller weddings or choosing less “stuff” for the day. Food and venue is the largest part at about 48%. Then the next biggest spend is your photography and your dress (about 8% each). You can actually get married for £35 each if you choose to have a registry office wedding and nothing else!
The venue is the big one, so what do you need to know before deciding on yours?
- What dates are available?
- What do you get for your budget – some have their own caterers, some don’t.
- Are you able to bring in your own suppliers as some prefer to use their own?
- How many guests can it cater for?
- How accessible is it in case any of your guests need better accessibility?
- Also, don’t forget to try the food!
Speaking of budget, when is the most expensive time to tie the knot? “Traditionally summer was classed as peak season and therefore more expensive but this really is a thing of the past,” says Kate. “What you do need to consider is the weather (do you want a larger risk of snow, heatwaves etc) and what will be in season especially if you want to choose local suppliers to make a more sustainable day. For example, peonies are in bloom in late spring, so if your heart is set on them, bear this in mind Blair Waldorf’s of the world! Christmas, New Year’s Eve and bank holidays are not necessarily more money but more sought after so get booked fast if a winter wonderland is on your vision board.
One thing you won’t regret splurging on? Photography!
“It’s so easy to think your friend can do it, but the photos are with you forever. Choose a photographer you get on with and create images that you love rather than simply choosing the cheapest one. Also do think about hair and makeup – you may think you can do it yourself but you want to look amazing all day, in all lights, so I would suggest using a pro,” says Kate.
“Wedding flowers are usually created completely bespoke to the couple, you’re not just buying a standard pre-made bouquet from a shop, and so it takes a lot of time to design, hold consultations, do site visits, create proposals, source flowers, organise logistics for the day. As well as the time and creative expertise required, weddings require a lot of actual flowers to create the designs. Even bridal bouquets have a multitude of individual different types of flowers to make them as varied and beautiful as possible, when you’re getting onto installations such as an arch that could use over 300+ stems of flowers.
“Weddings usually take up a whole weekend, even weeks with preparations (and the months before that designing and organising), as well as coming back and taking it all down the next day and so the cost of time for all of that has to be taken into consideration too. I would say most florists have at least a £500 minimum spend for weekend weddings, as it takes up so much time creating something so bespoke. This would get you a bridal bouquet, a couple of bridesmaid bouquets, a few buttonholes, some minimal table décor for the reception venue. I would advise saving between £1000-2000 minimum if you’re looking for installations too such as urns, a flower cloud or arch.
“Ideally having a venue sorted is great if you want a lot of reception flowers, as your florist can then design/quote the florals bespoke to the venue. The main thing I would suggest is contacting your florist as early as possible as they do get booked up! Having a Pinterest board or something similar is a lifesaver for florists to get an idea of exactly what you are after. Also ensure you have looked at their website/Instagram so you know their style and ensure it aligns with what you want before you contact them. Florists don’t tend to deviate from their style, so don’t go to a sustainable wild, garden style florist if you want a bouquet of dyed blue roses and orchids!
Finally, and most importantly when at the start of your planning process- timings. In terms of a schedule, set yourself a realistic time frame, say Fizzbox– the Brighton based online marketplace for group experiences from bottomless brunch to Cabaret- perfect for hen and stag dos! There will be lots of weddings scheduled for the following year, so don’t rush the process and add unnecessary stress if you don’t have to. It’s a good idea to start planning about 18 months beforehand if you want a big wedding, especially as wedding venues are booked up for two years ahead and wedding dresses can take 6-8 months to make! Smaller and simpler days can be turned around far quicker, but to avoid disappointment it’s best to allow more time than less.
The Quick Fire Round!
What is the etiquette on the bride buying the bridesmaids dresses?
No rules, it is your wedding! Many couples now ask the bridesmaids to buy their dresses but this really is up to you. What is more important is to communicate with them to see what they want to wear, what they would wear again (more eco!) and also what suits their shapes.
…. and plus ones!
Plus ones – again this is down to the couple and the budget. You may feel that a certain guest that you really want to be there will only come if they can bring someone and therefore choose to let them. As long as you have the budget.
How do you cut the guest list if needed?
Start with you HAS to come and work from there. Maybe reduce plus ones and children if needed
Advice on making the table plans!
Many couples now don’t have a top table or indeed seating plans. My advice is if people don’t get on, let people sit where they want. Think about who knows each other and who will get on – and put couples together. I hate it when I am split up from my husband and left with people I don’t know!
Kids or no kids? What should be considered…
Totally up to you! If you have kids there, think about how to entertain them as it can get boring for them. How about hiring someone to look after them or creating a kids zone with activities for them to enjoy. Remember also many parents would love a day child free and it may be more relaxing for them!
What’s the typical running order of the day?
Ceremony, then drinks reception. Photos then food, then more photos, then party! Really there should be no rules for this – do what you want!
Post-pandemic, is it still possible to get wedding insurance?
Yes and you should! You won’t get one that covers Covid but you still need insurance in case any supplier goes out of business or lets you down.
How to avoid planning burnout?
Work together – you are a team! Delegate things to close family too. Remember you are getting married and this is what is important – so focus on the two of you. Plan dates and breaks from planning.
Is it okay to ask family members to help with costs?
This totally depends on your family and affluence. Some parents still pay for weddings, but many cannot afford to so it shouldn’t be expected.
Are wedding hashtags still a thing?
They are a great way for finding images on Instagram after the event – so yes they are! But many couples are trying to have unplugged weddings with no phones making the wedding # a thing of the past!
And enjoy! “It’s so important to make sure you soak up every single moment of your big day” says the Fizzbox team. “Make sure you’re surrounded by all your favourite people, particularly in the run-up to the ceremony. They’ll be the ones to calm your last-minute nerves, hand you a glass of something crisp and bubbly and to iron out any last-minute wrinkles (be they in your outfit or solely metaphorical!)
“Don’t be afraid to give people jobs to do on the day to minimise your stress as much as possible – it’s what your bridesmaids and groomsmen are there for! As we mentioned earlier, the most important two people throughout the day are you and your partner. Everyone else is going to want to help you both have the best and smoothest running day as possible.
“Last of all – take a breath! You’re finally there. Amongst all the hustle and bustle of choosing flowers and dresses, deciding on menu options and what the song you should have your first dance to should be, it can be easy to lose sight of the whole reason why everyone has congregated together today: to celebrate love.”