Now many of us know first-hand that planning a wedding is full of intricate details and some may say full of stress, while others may have heard that weddings are hard to plan. So, being that weddings is a big part of my job, and I have just finished planning my own wedding, I thought I would assist in trying to make things a little simpler for everyone.
My aim is to list these in order, but every plan is different and some things may naturally be done in a slightly different order. I quite enjoyed the process of planning my wedding and I believe it is part of the big day, so should be enjoyed just as much.
Here are 12 steps to planning your wedding;
1. Pick a date
Super important. Without a date, service providers often struggle to quote. If they are not available, they can’t do your wedding anyway. So, you may get your hopes up and chose them, only to find they are already booked. Information most service providers need are Date, Ceremony time, Location, and approximate Hours required. Even if these details are estimates initially.
2. Choose your style
Get on Pinterest and Google and find out what you like. Create boards, print pictures and put into folders etc. This will give you a clearer idea of what you really want and like, so you can tell the service providers and to get you a more accurate quote.
3. Create a Spreadsheet
Or list of the Services you will need. Include their prices and details of what is included. This way you can compare and chose the best deal for you. The services you may need on the spreadsheet are;
Ceremony and Reception location
These may be at the same place or different. My locations were different, despite my photographer saying it’s generally easier to have ceremony and reception at the same place. Many reception places offer free, or discounted ceremony options if you book your reception with them.
Celebrant or Priest
My Fiance` and I are not religious, so we chose the Celebrant option.
Not everyone needs a caterer. Our venue is fully catered and for us, this seemed much easier and stress free. But it can often work out a little cheaper to supply your own caterer. Some venues don’t cater, others offer the option of both and some do not allow external caterers at all.
Besides the actual getting married part, I believe this is one of the Most important providers. Do not skimp, or base your choice purely on price. Remember, you have these photos for the rest of your life. They will be passed down through the generations as a family history record. Using a friend with a good camera, has often ended up a big regret for many of my clients. My Aunty said this was the biggest regret she had.
Some prefer not to book one. But my parents regretted not having one, and I gotta say, I wish they had. Because I would have LOVED to see my parents wedding video. We definitely had one.
Hair and Makeup
I may sound a little biased here, as this is my field, but if you get this wrong….remember those photos last a lifetime. You want to look back at them and think “wow, what a great day. I looked amazing!” Not ‘What was I thinking? I look so 2018!” I’ve done way too many post wedding photoshoots because brides skimped on their makeup and hated it when they saw the photos.
Base your choice on the artist’s qualifications, experience and talent more than price. Trust me, it may just save you thousands of dollars and heaps of stress and disappointment. Just because you look good in person, does not necessarily mean you will look good in photos. A good artist will know this and the reasons why. And they will make sure you look good both ways. I have a blog on ‘How to chose your perfect artist’ and also what you NEED to know if you prefer to DIY this element.
So many options. Make sure you have a rough idea of what you like. If you are like me and have little clue about flowers, then at least have an idea of colours.
It’s best to have an idea of how many tiers, colours and style. If you are serving your cake as part of the dessert (I highly recommend this, as otherwise the cake often gets forgotten and wasted) then you need to make sure it is big enough to feed all your guests. If you want a bigger cake than needed, there is the option of fake tiers, this is also great if you don’t need your cake as dessert. Fake cakes and tiers tend to be cheaper options.
You’ll not only need the invites, but also the thank you cards, save the dates (we are not bothering with save the dates, but apparently it’s the thing to do) and menu place cards. Also don’t forget your little return envelopes and stamps for those who post their RSVPs.
This is a great chance for DIY if you are that way inclined, like me. But there are people out there who are happy to do this for you. Favours are little ‘Thankyou for being here gifts” for your guests and are generally one per couple.
Many venues can supply decorations, but if you are not a fan of what they offer, there are heaps of suppliers to choose from, or this is another area where many couples DIY. My venue has some great candelabras and décor, so we used theirs, because I couldn’t be bothered to be totally honest.
You will also need some sort of MC to guide the night’s proceedings smoothly. Some DJ’s and singers can include this in their packages, or if you have a fun friend who’s not scared of the stage, you can ask them. We booked our DJ to do both, as we figure they should be experienced enough in receptions to know what to do and when to do it, and they are in control of the music to get the crowd going when needed.
Whether it be a quick weekend away, or a big overseas getaway, you will need to sort the details out. Like date, location, accommodation and spending money. If it’s overseas, don’t forget to make sure you have a valid passport. Passports can take up to 3 months to sort out.
Not everyone chooses to have a hotel stay. But if it is a preference of yours, you’ll have to choose one suitable in location to the ceremony and/or reception. Hotels are often great for getting ready in. Especially if you want to avoid having friends/family who want to drop in spontaneously, or if your house is small or messy, or if you want photos in a gorgeous hotel. A hotel room for the wedding night is also a nice thing. Many reception venues add a night at a hotel complimentary as part of their package.
I left this up to my groom, as I’m not too fussed on cars. Whether you are planning to hire fancy cars, or whether you are getting some friends to drive you around. You will need to sort out how you, your bridal party and your parents are all getting to the ceremony, photo locations and reception.
Not everyone wants a photobooth and there are a few alternatives now too. Like open, or closed booths, mirror booth, polaroid or Instagram cameras, disposeables on tables and getting guests to hashtag every photo they take.
4. Research Suppliers
Very important to research suppliers before booking. There are some amazing people out there, but also many dodgy ones too. They may sound cheap initially, but cheap does not nessesarily mean a good deal, a bargain, or cheap in the long run. Trust me on this. I’ve heard the horror stories. Research around 3 providers for each service. Research their experience, qualifications and style, not to mention price and what is included in their packages. I have a blog on the average Adelaide wedding costs too, to give you a heads up on prices.
5. Set out a budget
Now that you have some quotes, you should have a reasonable idea on what budget you will need.
6. Guest List
Work out who you really want at your wedding, then calculate if those numbers will work with your budget. If not, you’ll have to compromise either on service providers, DIY, or culling your guest list.
7. Start Booking
Your favourite suppliers. Be prepared to pay a deposit to secure them. Some suppliers may require a meeting prior, such as DJ and Celebrants. You may also want a hair and makeup trial. This makes sure they are the right fit for you.
8. Choosing your party
Do you want bridesmaids and groomsmen? If you’re on a budget, the less attendants you have, the cheaper it will be. As you don’t have to worry about their dresses, shoes, jewellery, suits, bouquets etc. If you do, you gotta choose them, then ask them.
The fun part (for the ladies anyway) is to go dress and suit shopping. Both for the bride and groom, but also for any attendants you may have. You will also need rings.
10. Gift Registry
This is another fun part. But not everyone needs things to start their new life together. We already had all the housey stuff we needed. So, we chose to have a wishing well instead, so we can get money to pay our honeymoon and help us fix our house.
11. Guest Seating Arrangements
This can be stressful, especially if you have some family and friends who do not get along. But it must be done, unless you have a super chilled wedding and do the new trend of ‘Pick your own seat”.
12. Write a speech/vows
Some people prefer not to do a speech, or just follow the prompts from the celebrant/priest, but if you do want it more personal, keep it relatively short and sweet. You can get ideas and templates online if you are struggling.
Once you have booked all your services and done your attire shopping etc, the ball should be rolling and many of your service providers will guide you on time lines, what they need from you, extra meeting appointments etc and you can simply follow their lead for the most part. Things like food tastings are often initiated by the venue.
Once these 12 steps are sorted, the majority of work is done and you should relax and enjoy the ride.