There’s something about the early stages of wedding planning that seems to drive even the most organised of brides crazy. It’s an extremely stressful time for most brides, as every bride to be wants their big day to be perfect and go without a hitch. All the stresses that come with making the big decisions and then finding the right vendors etc that are free on your date AND fit your budget is enough to give even the most organised bride a headache, so as I’m just over 12 weeks into wedding planning, and I’ve now got a little bit of experience behind me… here are my top 10 tips to ensure that the first stages of your wedding planning are as stress-free as possible and won’t leave you feeling like throwing in the veil.
1. PLAN AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE
Okay, so if you’re anything like me and were dreaming about your wedding years before your partner popped the question, then you probably already have a head start. I’d recommend giving yourself a few weeks of enjoying just being newly engaged before you dive head first into planning, as for some it can be quite overwhelming, so just take some time together as a couple before succumbing to the pressure to start planning straight away. Some couples choose to get married within a year or two once they get engaged, and some choose to wait a while and have a longer engagement. Whatever suits you both, don’t be pressured into getting married quickly if it’s not what you wanna do. Sam and I had quite a few conversations over the years we’ve been together about things that we would want, things that we wouldn’t want, the style, colours, theme, etc of our wedding so we already kinda had a rough idea about the vibe we were gonna go for, which made the “big-decision making” a lot easier for us when it was actually time to think about everything. We kinda just went over all the ideas we had briefly discussed (well, all the ideas that we discussed and that I had already planned in full detail…) made double sure that it was still what we wanted, and went ahead with booking everything. I suggest that you plan as early as possible, as venues and vendors get booked up reeeeeaaaaallly quickly and so far in advance, so put a lot of research and thought into everything you want before you make your final decisions and leave yourself time to consider different options so you can change your mind if you want / need to.
2. SAVE SAVE SAVE!!!
Budget is key, and money matters, as much as I hate that it does.. unfortunately, with weddings, how big your wedding is will completely depend on how big your wallet is. Sam and I have been saving for our future for a long time, and we’ve worked really hard in order to have the day that we want. I’d say our wedding budget was average.. y’know if you can afford to spend tens of thousands of pounds on your wedding then I’d say crack on, you’ve earned it, go for it if that’s what you want.. but for us.. we do want a lovely day, but we want a life together more. We want a marriage. We wanna buy a house, have adorable children, get a puppy.. we want a family and a wonderful life together. We want more than just a wedding. So, when it comes to our wedding budget, we have been making sacrifices in order to save more, but we’ll have whatever we can afford. If we have nothing else, we have each other, and to us, that’s all that matters.
But whatever your budget, weddings are expensive, so you’ll need to save as much as possible! Set up a savings account, or get a moneybox. I love those smashable money boxes, however we’ve still dived into ours before now to get a Dominos before payday.. so, y’know, depends how determined you are, or how desperate you are for pizza, I guess… but yeah, SAVE SAVE SAVE!
If you’re on a tight, or a fairly average budget, chances are you’re gonna need to watch what you’re spending. Chances are you’re not gonna be able to have the best of every single thing you want, so something’s gotta give. You’ve gotta decide on the most important things to you both about your day. For some couples it’s food and drink, for others it’s entertainment, arriving in a nice car or a horse and carriage, or photography and videography, or flowers and for many brides, it’s the dress. When you’re like me, and everything’s just important to you as everything else, you’re gonna have a huge problem in cutting down, or you’re gonna have to work harder to increase your budget.. which in the end, is what we did, because there are certain things I don’t mind spending less on, but it’s the one day we’re gonna have and I want it to be the best it can be. For us, the main priorities are photography, videography and entertainment, because the memories after the day are all you’re gonna have left for the rest of your lives, and we really want our guests to have a lovely time at our wedding, sharing our special day with us. My dress was also really important to me, however because I already knew which dress I was gonna have, I had a head start in saving for it seperately, so it didn’t completely break the budget.
Things like food and drink aren’t too important to us – y’know there will be a nice buffet and a cash bar, but we didn’t see the point in doing the huge dinner thing as it makes the day go on too long, and if anyone thinks I’m paying for a bunch of people to come to my wedding and get totally smashed on a free bar, then they have another think coming. As for transport, I couldn’t give a flying frog how I got to my wedding. I’d get a bus if I needed to, y’know.. as long as I get there, I’m happy. Flowers are an insane expense to me.. yeah sure they’re beautiful etc but they only last for the one day before they start dying. All that being said, that doesn’t mean that we “cheaped-out” on everything else.. weddings are damn expensive, and if you want what you want, you’re gonna have to expect to be paying through the nose for everything, so spend the majority of your budget on the things that are the most important to you.
4. CALL IN FAVOURS WHERE POSSIBLE
Honestly, I don’t think we could have the day that we want without calling in a few favours from our family and closest friends. Obviously with something like this it’ll depend on who you know and what they can gift to you or offer to you at a discounted price, but if you know people that can do you a favour, then that will help out one hell of a lot, as long as you’re prepared to do the same for them one day. Families will often pull together, and if you’ve been living together for a long time like we have, quite often couples find they’re stuck with what to ask for when it comes to wedding presents. For instance, my parents are gifting us our wedding cake, DJ and photo booth, as they know that we have no use for new kettles, toasters or household appliances, as we’ve lived together for such a long time, we already have all that kinda stuff, and they wanted to contribute somehow to our day. It’s such a help if families can contribute to the day if they’re in a position to do so.
5. GET ORGANISED!
Okay, I’m a bit of a stationery addict anyway so planning a wedding has put me into overdrive when it comes to getting organised. I have my Ultimate Wedding Planner from The Knot as my main source of planning, but I also have so many notepads and scribble pads, binders, pictureboards and all other kinds of crap to help me plan.
I have phone numbers, e-mail addresses etc for all my chosen vendors in one place, I have a folder for receipts and payments, Sam’s made a budget spreadsheet, and we’ve made an overall wedding checklist that I’ve sorted into mini to-do lists for each month leading up to the day. Having good organisation skills will benefit you so much in the lead up to the wedding, as you’ll know who and what you’ve already paid, when your next payments are due, whether you need to attend appointments or fittings, etc. It does help if you’re already in that mindset anyway but if you’re not, it’s a really helpful habit to get into. Get your ducks in a row ladies and gentlemen, trust me, it’ll save you a whole bunch of headaches along the way.
6. BE PREPARED FOR HICCUPS
One of the reasons I started planning so far in advance was because I wanted to know for sure that everything was secured in place, deposits were paid, payment plans were drawn up, that I had left no stone unturned and that I had time to think about and consider EVERYTHING. …It also gives you time to go back to the drawing board if things do go wrong. What do you do if a band, DJ or photographer has to pull out? Do you have a plan B? Will your “plan B” be free on your date / fit into your budget? Will everything still be able to work and flow together the way you want it to? Things can go wrong, and emergencies can occur, so you need to go in with the mindset of “hope for the best, prepare for the worst.” Make sure that when you’re considering vendors, that you shortlist a couple that meet your needs, and I’d say keep their details even after you’ve chosen one and have paid a deposit, because you never know what’s gonna happen, and the last thing you want is to have no backup plan if you need one, so be as prepared as you can be, just incase.
7. MEET YOUR OWN EXPECTATIONS AND FORGET ABOUT EVERYONE ELSE’S
It’s really easy to get carried away with wedding planning. All of a sudden all of your friends become expert wedding planners, making suggestions, offering opinions, advice and tips everywhere you turn, which.. in a way is lovely. Most of them have the best of intentions and just wanna help, but, it adds to the stress if there’s too many people involved in the planning. My advice on how to deal with that one is to smile sweetly, thank them for their opinion and if it doesn’t fit with yours, totally forget about it and do whatever the hell YOU wanna do.
I’ve learnt that A LOT of people can be so judgemental when it comes to weddings. And the worst ones are the ones that gossip and bitch to each other about a wedding like “I’m not judging, but….” Actually, yeah y’are, and you KNOW you are, so button it. People forget that this is YOUR day. And, it may seem a little “Bridezilla” *ugh..* of me to have the whole “It’s YOUR day, it’s YOUR way” attitude.. but.. y’know, it is. Unless you’ve got parents paying for your wedding or anything like that, then it’s got absolutely jack all to do with anyone else what you choose to do on your wedding day. It’s about you and your fiancé. Don’t worry what anyone else is doing, don’t try to compete with anyone else or anything like that and remember that you can’t please everyone.. just do your thing and celebrate your wedding however the two of you want to, and if people don’t like it then they don’t have to be there. 🙂 It really is that simple. I’m a no-nonsense bride. Can’t be dealing with the drama. Too much to do. lol
8. DON’T BE AFRAID OF CUTTING THE GUEST LIST
This is where I’m gonna sound harsh as hell, but, as I said – no nonsense, no bullshit. You came here for honesty and you’re gonna get it. Haha.. the guest list was one of the hardest things to figure out during the first couple of months of wedding planning. We went backwards and forwards with it for quite a while. We decided early on that we wanted to keep our ceremony quite intimate, but the list of who *should* be there kept growing and growing.. and then I just thought.. “y’know what, no. Just… no.” Why do we have so many “plus one’s”? I hardly know these people. Of course they’re welcome at the reception, and I’ll welcome them with open arms, but.. I don’t really want people that I’ve met perhaps twice or three times at our ceremony, listening to us say our vows, witnessing the most intimate, emotional moment of our lives. …They don’t get to see that, y’know? That’s for our closest family and friends. I don’t wanna look through my wedding photos and feel like I don’t even know half of my guests. So.. we got ruthless and cut it down. It was horrible and I hated doing it, not gonna lie.. but, the way I see it, they’re not gonna miss out on a lot anyway. Our vows, the exchange of rings, some photos and speeches. That’s it. They get to miss all that and go straight to the party. Winning!
9. ACCEPT HELP
Wedding planning can be so stressful, and a lot of the time, many brides feel overwhelmed because there’s so much to do. The groom is often clueless, as all the little details that mean so much to the bride often don’t mean all that much to him, as men are usually really easy to please when it comes to weddings. Food, cake, booze, music.. as long as all the essentials are there, they’ll be happy enough, and it won’t make sense to him why you’re sitting there at 3am freaking out because the chair sashes are a slightly different shade of blue than the table runners.
So, quite often the wedding party are called in to help with the planning and decorating process, sometimes even to help with DIY projects.
DIY projects are becoming more and more popular within weddings. They can help to keep the costs low and can add such a lovely personal touch into a wedding, so I’d definitely recommend doing some DIY if possible, but don’t try and complete everything yourself, as it might look pretty easy on Pinterest, but take it from me, Pinterest projects aren’t always as easy as they look, and can be extremely fiddly and time consuming if you’re making hundreds of pretty little paper flowers or mason jar centerpieces or anything like that. I’d pin like there’s no tomorrow for the first few months to get loads of awesome ideas in, then cut your DIY projects down into things that you really want, and would be valuable to spend your time on. Call in your bridal team to help you complete DIY projects if they’re in a position to help with things like that. One of my bridesmaids is extremely good at art and craft stuff, so I’m gonna be throwing a few projects her way in the upcoming months, as I’m sure she’d love to help. My mum has been absolutely amazing with craft projects, and has made some beautiful decorations. It’s a lovely way to bond with your loved ones too. My mum and I spent the whole weekend in the garden doing wedding craft last weekend. It’s lovely to throw on some music, drink some cocktails and make a day of it with one, two, or all your bridal team.
Don’t be afraid to ask for or accept help from people if you’re struggling to find the time to do everything on your own. The reason you’ve asked your wedding party to be there for you while planning is so they can help you to prepare for the day however you need them to.
10. DON’T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF
Hypocritial I know, as I’m a self-confessed control freak, and I’ll be the first to start freaking out if something isn’t “perfect” but, in the grand scheme of things, your wedding day will be the most special day of your life, and it’s gonna be the most special day of your life no matter what happens. On the day, the only person that will notice any slight hiccup is you. No-one else will notice if the centrepieces aren’t 100% perfect, or if the flower arrangements aren’t 100% symmetrical, or anything else ridiculous. And if it rains, it rains – grab an umbrella, hold your dress up and shake it off because come rain or shine, you get to marry the love of your life that day, and it doesn’t matter if there’s hailstones or a damn thunderstorm outside, there’s gonna be so much sunshine and love in that room, you won’t care. A wedding isn’t a performance, or a competition. Every love story is beautiful, but yours will always be your favourite. Weddings are a celebration of love, and to me.. you’ll never get anything more perfect than that. So do whatever makes you happy and look forward to spending the rest of your lives together, because as long as you have each other, you have everything you’ll ever need.