How to plan a wedding
How to plan a wedding – A few helpful hints and tips on things to think about for getting married!
BIG TIP – work out a budget that you want to pay and stick to it! (The average cost of a UK wedding is in the region of £25,000, info from Money Saving Expert)
You need to book three things quite early on:
- Arrange the wedding venue
- Arrange the venue for the reception or wedding breakfast if different from point 1
- Arrange your photographer
- Arrange the wedding cars
Depending on where you go and whom you choose these can be quite costly to book as many will require large deposits up front with the rest payable 2-4 weeks before the wedding itself.
There, that is the hard part over with!
Actually, only kidding! The first three bits on How to Plan A Wedding are the ones you need to get sorted and in the dairy first.
The Planning Bit
Planning a wedding is like running a project. It has a defined start, a defined end, a defined quality and a defined cost. My advice would be to set your budget first and then STICK to it.
The Cost – Wedding Budget
My advice would be to set your budget first and then STICK to it. You can find my Wedding Budget Planner here.
Think seriously about the quality of your wedding – i.e. what do you want to be included, what can you buy at what price, what can you make (and how long will that take etc). It’s not important to have all the bells and whistles. You are NOT keeping up with the Joneses, the Smiths or your best mate from school who is getting married 2 weeks before you.
If memories are important to you then, yes, get a great photographer and or videographer. If they are not, then you can save some money on that area. If you love cake – splash out on the cake. Same for flowers, ice sculptures, photo booths, games, magicians etc. Remember though in weddings, as with life, you get what you pay for. If it seems too good to be true it is.
Sure if you have plenty of time you can have a great wedding and save costs by doing it all yourself. If not, you pay for someone to do it all for you. Or you have a smaller and more intimate wedding.
It’s possible to get married within 28 days and for only £80 if you want a civil service with no frills and it’s done mid-week. If you are madly in love – why not!!??
How to plan a wedding – The Big Bits
Do you want a church wedding or a civil service? If the answer is a church wedding then slightly different rules may apply depending on where it is you are getting married, and which faith you are getting married in.
For example, Church in Wales will only marry couples that live in the parish of the church. Church of England will marry people outside the parish. Or they did at the last time of asking). Also be aware that if you are marrying in a church then a blessing is must, don’t moan to the vicar or priest! If you decide to get married in a different church you will need to pay two sets of fees for the “Bans” to be read out, and more than likely attend church for 6 months leading up to your wedding date at least twice per month.
It is also best to check with the vicar where the photographers are allowed to be. Some do not mind them being at the front of the church whilst others will want the photographers at the back of the church. This will have an impact on the photographs you will receive.
I have had one vicar, Julian from Mathern who was superb and was more than happy for me to use flash, move about etc. As he put it “ After the day is over the only memories the couple will have will be the photographs.” On the other hand, another vicar in Hereford refused me permission to come to the front of the church and didn’t allow flash at any time until the service was over. Apparently, no rules or guidelines exist for vicars – it is all down to them! Wedding Breakfast – if this is a different venue than the ceremony itself then you should be asking yourself what kind of wedding breakfast do you want, how many guests will be coming, is there accommodation available, does the venue include things like a disco as part of the price. More on the details of this later, but it pays to get the best place that you can afford.
My favourite wedding venue is St Pierre Marriott Hotel & Country Club. I am a preferred wedding photographer there so offer some great prices. Additionally, it is one of the best venues for wedding photography – you are allowed all over the hotel and onto the two golf courses!
As a Bristol wedding photographer, I’m occasionally asked to help plan the venue with the wedding couple, and it’s a great honour to be asked to help in this.
Let’s look at the wedding venue in more detail…
If your venue provides accommodation – can you do a deal for cheaper rooms if you block book?
What does the bridal suite look like? Can you stay the night before if it is the civil service?
Does the venue have great grounds for photos or will you have to ask the photographer to recce a suitable location close by?
Are the tables going to be round or oblong? From my experience, they are usually round, but you never know.
You will probably want to dress the chairs. The venue will do this for you, or you can get a company to do it for you. Be aware that some venues may charge you extra if you do not use them – ask when you book!!
You can get the chairs dressed to suit your colour scheme also.
Most venues will be able to provide drinks and canapés for after the service for your guests whilst the photographer is taking some outstanding simple intimate images of you and the new Mr in your life. Orange, white wine or champagne is usually the order of the day.
After that it’s down to the bar – and I’m not being stingy here but let the guest pay for extra drinks themselves!
White and Red wine on the table for the reception along with mineral and sparkling water also.
How to plan your wedding when choosing a wedding photographer
I am a Cardiff and Bristol Wedding Photographer – Have a good look through the magazines and websites at the styles of photographers out there. Check out Google and search for photographers. Don’t limit yourself to local photographers either – the one you want may just be in the next county! Drop them an e-mail or give them a call and ask them to come and visit especially the more local ones. They should be more than happy to come along with sample albums etc for you to look at
Photographers pricing comes in a wide variety of sizes, from cheap and cheerful £199 to over £5000. As a rough estimate, you should be looking at spending approximately 10% of your budget on the photographer. Click here for Bristol & Cardiff Wedding Prices.
Remember – once the day is over you only have the photographs to look back on. It pays not to scrimp in this area so go with a professional.
Choosing a wedding photographer to go with is difficult – best option is to visit the wedding fayres and speak to them in person. Check out their albums, personalities, any deals they have on offer and how willing they are to accommodate your wishes, will they hold the price if you book a year or more in advance?
For me the personality for your wedding photographer is important. Yo need to be able to trust them. What is their personality like? Are they willing to step in offer an extra pair of hands when you need them? Can they stay calm and collected when things are not going as they should? Then look at the quality of work, price and check out the online reviews! Andrew Miller Photography Reviews.
How to plan a wedding – Details details, its all in the details!!
Next up is the colour scheme. What are you going to choose? Your bridesmaids, groom, best man, ushers etc should all have some of that colour picked out to help them go together.
The colour scheme should also move into the flowers you want to have so think carefully about the date of your wedding as you may be paying for flowers that are out of season!
Will you choose a colour that can match the seats at the venue?
The Dress or should that be THE DRESS!!!
The dress is one of the most important parts of your outfit. Actually – it is the most important part of your outfit! Choose your dress carefully and think about the time of day and year you will be getting married. Think about how the dress will look from the back (especially important if your photographer isn’t allowed at the front for photographs!). Will you be wearing a short bolero jacket or similar?
Get out with your girlfriends and get the mam’s involved (keeps them busy!) and try on as many dresses as possible to get the feel of what is out there and what you like. Take your camera phone with you and snap away so you can remember what they look like on. (Remember to take shots from the back as well!!)
A really good point is to think about YOU. What is your body shape, body size etc? If you think you need to lose a few pounds – make sure you can and the weight loss is sensible. Does the wedding dress suit your body height? Can you move in the wedding dress?
So, we have the ceremony venue, the reception venue, the photographer and the dress. This How to Plan A Wedding lark is getting easier!
The Men in your life…(the means the Groom, Bestman and Ushers)
Next up is the groom’s outfit. Most blokes (take this the right way guys!) are not that bothered by details such as this and leave it to the brides! Good job as the brides can then make sure that the details on the grooms, best man, ushers suits etc all match the colour scheme!
Gents normally wear one of two outfits. An evening suit or a morning coat. Both look great, though a morning coat is very formal! The cravat is worn the bride gets to add the colour scheme, and possibly with the waistcoats as well. Grooms usually wear a different colour waistcoat to the best man or ushers, or possibly a different shade of cravat.
Dinner jackets are also popular, though these tend to be very USA style.
Wedding Cars – Hot to Plan a Wedding
Many people are now opting for a civil ceremony and thus can stay at the wedding venue the night before the wedding. This more than likely saves on wedding cars for the day. If however, you are going to get ready for another location then you need to think about wedding cars.
Vintage, modern, classic? The colour of the car (vintage tends to be a bit limited in this respect!).
The one thing I’ve noticed is that where people want to save a few £££ they are hiring a modern Mercedes or BMW, putting the ribbon around it themselves and asking a friend to drive. Considerably cheaper that a vintage wedding car.
How to plan a wedding – The Littler bits!
When you are thinking about how to plan a wedding the invitations are pretty important. How else are you going to let people know your getting married!
Two ways of doing this. Do it yourself or pay for it to be done for you.
You need to work out the time it would take you to do it yourself and whether the time is worth paying someone else! I personally think making them yourself is great as you can call in the mums, friends etc to help and this make them feel part of your big day. (Also keeps them out of the way of the bigger things!!)
Get down to Hobby Craft for some fantastic ideas, look on Google and get typing then printing then cutting then folding the tying! This can be a really good way to get more people involved in the wedding and takes the pressure off you having to do everything. (Also helps to keep the costs down!)
How to Plan A Wedding and get a great looking cake?
So do you like traditional or sponge? How about cupcakes as well or one big cupcake? Arrrgghhhh so many different things to think about. Many people ask Why are wedding cakes so expensive – well, they aren’t really. This blog post by Wedding Cakes Bedfordshire explains it all.
The thing here is to get a cake that YOU like and then think about your guests. Most cakes have at least two tiers – so you can easily have a traditional and a sponge version
If you go for three tiers remember the old tradition of keeping the top tier for the christening of the first baby…
The decorations on the cake are down to you and can be fancy, simple, coloured or whatever. I have seen some great cakes with little icing models of the bride and groom – really cute.
Once again, get the magazines out and start looking. Get out to the fayres and start talking. Do you know a friend who can make one for you?
The cake should be ready at least 2 days before the wedding – just to be sure.
Flowers are next on the list of things to arrange. By now you will have the colour scheme sorted out with your dress, the ladies, the groom and guys all done. All florists will be able to match the colour scheme to a suitable selection of flowers for you.
What you do need to think about is the following…
How to plan a wedding and get the perfect wedding bouquet – do you want to hold it or go for something smaller and have it on your wrist? You are going to be holding this for what could be a long time so make sure it is not too heavy!
- Bride’s mums, Grooms mum
- Dads on both sides
- Best man
- Bridesmaid’s corsages
Table decorations – you don’t want too much in the way of table decorations really, they tend to get in the way of conversation and eye contact! Keep them simple.
Church flowers – remember the church seasons and you may get lucky and get flowers in the church already… though they may not match your colour scheme!
Etiquette is important here. Ladies go on the right-hand breast side flower down and gents go on the left-hand breast side flower up.