How to Start Planning a Wedding
I love me a good blog post about a wedding.
You know the ones, the ones after the act. The day is over, the dress is slightly ripped in the best way possible and boxed away, the cake is in the freezer, the photos are back from the photographer, everyone looks beaming and angelic and soft focused, and there’s a fitting video to go with the day, where everything is beautiful and lyrical and everyone, just everyone, was dancing. And no one got blisters.
It’s really misleading isn’t it?
A wedding day is a beautiful, wonderful, hopefully once in a lifetime event. And a lot of what you see in the pictures on the mantelpiece and the front table, are telling the truth. Or at least the truth of that moment.
What they gloss over, is the months that went into building that moment. Let’s be honest, that part’s not always that pretty.
Wedding planning is hugely stressful, something of a logistical nightmare, and also likely fraught with emotion, which doesn’t exactly make it easy to stay on top of a 100+ point to do list.
If you’re recently engaged or not so recently, but just about thinking maybe it’s time to start to kick this into gear, hopefully this post can help you sort out the frenetic buzz that is starting to plan your wedding.
I will say that when it’s all said and done, you will miss this phase tremendously. The planning is stressful sure, but it’s also exciting. Try to focus on the fun of it more than the pressure, one day you’re going to look back and wish you could be picking up another copy of The Knot, unsure of what treasures you’ll find inside.
Get Inspired First
A lot of magazines, and wedding websites, will advocate beginning the wedding planning process with the more practical aspects like setting your budget or picking a venue. Those are really, really important factors, but I personally think that before any of that, it’s important to get inspired. Your wedding vision, as cringe as that may sound, is what will guide and inform every single aspect of every single decision you make as you continue down the line.
For a lot of us, we already have a wedding vision, and if you do, that’s amazing. But I still urge you to go back and revisit that concept and expose yourself to as many different points of inspiration as possible.
The best way to get inspired is to look at other people’s weddings.
You don’t need to spend a ton of money on glossy wedding magazines in order to get some truly amazing ideas, although its fair to say they do often showcase some truly unique and beautiful events, but go through blogs, Pinterest, Instagram, flip through those magazines in the magazine aisle, and try to do so with a totally open mind, that isn’t already attached to one particular look or feel.
I found myself personally honing in on the details far too early. Instead of drawing inspiration from weddings that had come together as the final result of a massive amount of thought and planning, I was pinning endless pictures of table arrangements and floral staircases (definitely didn’t get the floral staircase in the end, you would not believe how expensive that stuff is!). I was making a massive but easy to make mistake.
Individual elements are well and good, but they’re not the right way to expand your horizon of what’s possible and cohesive, and what makes for an overall mood and statement on the day. Start with the big picture, and then go back and pin your heart out over napkins and place holders.
There’s so much variety out there when it comes to weddings, whether they’re massive spectacles (not a fan of that variety) or really simple, really intimate evenings, The more you expose yourself to, the more likely you’re going to have no regrets, and find something that truly encapsulates every thing you love and every thing that truly brings your own touch to your big day.
Think Outside the Box…
I’m constantly surprised by the endless amazing ways people manage to bring totally new themes and concepts into their big day. I recently watched Casey Ho (of Blogilates fame) do the first of a two part recap of her wedding (she got married in October 2018, and you can see the videos up on her YouTube channel), and I was completely swept up by some of the really novel ideas she has worked into her day (including a fully dissembled and reassembled on site, carousel ride for all the adults). Within budget, there is literally no limit to what you can conceive, but…
But Don’t Get Intimidated By What’s Out There
Just because another bride has a hot air balloon or a cake that she and her husband quite literally emerge out of (I’ve seen it and it was shocking), that doesn’t mean you need to go all out and drive yourself mad with logistics. A simple stripped back dinner and dance can be every bit as enjoyable as a night full of surprises and statements.
Whilst gathering inspiration is not only really fun and can lead to little details that everyone remembers long after the day is done, it can also be shockingly easy to go from chilled out bride to someone who feels like nothing they will arrange will ever be good enough, and that’s a terrible shame to put yourself through.
As much as you can, catch yourself if you find yourself spiraling down that route and remind yourself of the fact that no matter what your nerves say, you’re going to love every minute of the day because its yours.
Create a Master List
Wedding master to do lists literally abound out there! Pinterest one or pick up any wedding related magazine and you’ll find about 120 tasks already laid out for you, and slotted conveniently into a monthly countdown (something along the lines of when to book your venue to when to get your manicure done).
I didn’t personally use a template provided by any of these sources because at the end of the day, everyone’s timeline is different (we had only 9 months and most of these master lists assume more than a year of planning time), and I didn’t find that everything worked for me, considering some unique factors, like my wedding was not in the city I lived in and I would only be visiting 3 times in the 9 months.
But the lists are a really good brain dump and template for sorting through your own to do and for getting it all down on paper and feeling like it’s achievable. Tasks on paper are far less daunting and far more managing, than tasks floating around in your head.
And since most elements of a wedding truly are highly time sensitive (one cannot stress enough how tricky bookings can be, and how far in advance you need to get the sorted if you really want the right venue, entertainment and photographer etc.), you don’t want to have something forgotten or over looked, and find yourself in a place where you have no time to book in what you would really ideally want to have.
Go to Events
If you’re lucky to live in a city with a wedding week, or a wedding fair, please do yourself a favor and attend. Not every city has something of the sort of course, but most major cities do, and if you’re within committing distance, do yourself a favor and make a weekend away out of it.
Events like Brides, The Show in London or Bride Dubai in Dubai, are amazing hubs of wedding information and inspiration, and a great place to meet potential vendors you may never have heard of otherwise. Good wedding fairs also usually feature some kind of fashion show which is a great way to get a head start on dress ideas, and panels with chats are also a really great way to educate yourself on what’s out there.
And plus its fun. And you’ll never quite get the chance to go again and not feel awkward, so do it!
Get Your Helpers On Board
Planning a wedding all on your own is just not a great idea.
Everything comes to a head on one day, the one day you’ll want the least stress and most ease possible. It’s almost impossible to enjoy the day and also be secretly orchestrating every thing, preferably with out having a mobile phone hiding in the folds of your dress.
Not everyone has the luxury of hiring a wedding planner and I certainly don’t think you need one unless you really are going all out. There are so many tools that bring wedding planning firmly into the hands of the regular girl (a blog post on all the apps, websites, services and more is coming up very soon!), that wedding planning has been seriously demystified. And the planning is fun honestly. But you simply can’t go it alone.
My Mr. and I were incredibly lucky to have wonderful family members who dedicated hours and hours of hard work towards helping us, doing the footwork and taking on the stress, and I am so aware that not everyone has family members or friends who are willing to do that much for them.
But most people will have some kind souls in their life who are willing to help out as much as they can, so don’t feel guilty about it and accept the help. It’s a great way to bond, have fun together, and also, it’s a favor you can repay when it’s their turn. So don’t be afraid to ask for help and please, please don’t try to brave it and go it totally alone.
Give Yourself Plenty of Time
You can never start planning a wedding too early.
It can, admittedly, seem just a little crazy to be pinning, booking and mood boarding more than a year in advance, because a year really sounds so long. But you’d be surprised by how often the refrain is, I wish I had a little more time or I wish I had done this a little bit earlier.
The wonderful thing about the world of weddings nowadays is there are just so many vendors catering to creating your dream look, but with that plethora of vendors come long wait times, over booked services, and a lot of to-ing and fro-ing on emails and negotiations over price.
You will change your mind about the maddest, tiniest things, and you will find more and more ideas to tweak and redesign as you work your way through the planning phase, so leave plenty of time for these new discoveries and plenty of time to ensure you can actually get what you want.
And be left with no regrets. Win win.
And finally, remember that this is a really special time in your life, and apart from the fact that it’s mean to be fun, it’s also a great time to make memories. Don’t let the stress of budgets and dates and guest lists take away from the fact that this is a major life milestone and one that you’ll always look back on with rose tinted glasses.
You’ll (even if it’s hard to believe right now) miss it when it’s over so enjoy it whilst it’s here.