First of all, congratulations! Getting engaged really is one of the happiest and most memorable moments of your life, so enjoy it while it lasts! Two months on, I am still somewhat in the “newly-engaged bubble” where I notice the ring on my finger or spot photographs from the day and find myself standing there with a goofy smile on my face. I love that feeling that jolts my stomach when I remember that we are getting married and I never want it to go away! I imagine it will eventually, so my advice is to take the time to enjoy being a newly engaged couple as long as you can.
So you have a wedding to plan?
I’d always imagined what it would feel like to get engaged and even thought about what the wedding day might actually be like. What I had never considered was how that wedding would materialise and what it would take to make it happen. A day or two after the engagement I found myself thinking, how on earth do I actually plan a wedding?! I did some research and have managed to get together a to-do list of everything I think I need to get done which I will compile in a separate post some time in the future. For now, I’m going to focus on the first few steps; the most important things that need to be done and basically where I am up to in the process, 2 months after announcing our engagement.
Step 1: Find inspiration.
Get on Pinterest, find some wedding magazines, chat to other people about their own weddings, look on youtube and generally get into the wedding spirit. You will quickly realise what sort of things you do and don’t like. Decide on a general type of location where you would like your ceremony and reception to take place. And by that I mean very unspecific- do you fancy a wedding abroad? a church wedding in your home town? a barn / outdoor location? a stately home? Getting this pinned down early will help you decide a budget and a theme, but you don’t need an exact venue or style just yet. Then decide a time of year you would like to say “I do” and how long you want your engagement to be before tying the knot.
I’d also recommend buying a wedding journal/ planner at this point to gather all of your ideas and make notes. I’m going to write a post about my planner in the near future- so look out for that!
Step 2: Set a budget.
This is the one of the hardest things and takes some careful consideration. How much can you realistically put aside each month before the wedding? Guy and I initially budgeted £10,000 but this went up less than a week later after we had done some more research into the venues we wanted. Be prepared to reconsider your budget – the average couple spends around £24,000 on their big day – a price tag Guy and I cannot justify, but we also knew that to get the things we want, we needed to allocate a little more money.
It’s also important to set some money aside now because a venue will need a deposit, as will a registrar. If you are getting married at a popular time, for example during the summer, then you will need to send out save-the-dates as soon as your day is secured to avoid guests booking holidays so you will also need the funds for these!
Step 3: Find a venue.
I personally found the best way to do this was online. I decided on a general location and type of venue (I wanted somewhere quiet and private, where we could have the ceremony and reception in one place with room for family to stay over). It’s important to think about how far you will be asking guests to travel and whether you need accommodation on site or nearby. Venues generally do not offer prices on their website, so you need to email and ask for brochures and price lists. At this point I strongly suggest having a second email address just for the wedding or a least a separate folder in your current inbox because venues will persistently email you once they have your contact details. Look at the price and see if it will fit into your budget before going to visit a venue – the worst thing you can do is fall in love with one and then it be out of your price range! Create a list of possible sites and ring to arrange viewings!
Step 4: Ring the registrar office
Your venue should provide information on how to contact the local registry office and I’d recommend doing that sooner rather than later if you want to get married at a specific time – 2pm is the most popular as it gives guests time to check in and be ready for the ceremony, but isn’t too late in the day to eat afterwards. They will provisionally book your date and then offer advice on how and when to proceed with the legal details.
Step 5: Send Save-the dates!
Our wedding is a year and a half away and at first, this seemed a little premature but as we are having a summer wedding, I wanted to give people who may want to book a holiday plenty of notice to avoid them being unable to make it. Save the dates don’t have to be physical, they could be an email or text, but I suggest letting your definite guests know the date and location as soon as you can. Remember – you only send these to your day guests – not those only coming to the evening!
And there you have it! Those are the first major steps in booking your wedding day! I hope this post gave you a good idea of where to start and the first few things you need to think about. I’m anticipating a bit of a lull in buying and booking now I’ve got the major things sorted and I’m now concentrating on saving up and gathering inspiration for the finer details!
Feel free to get in touch with any questions! I hope you enjoyed reading this post and have fun planning the first stages of your big day.