Planning your wedding

Planning your wedding

sian hanlon photography

My husband, Dan and I on our wedding day.
Taken by Sian Hanlon Photography

As I started writing this blog post, it was my 2 year wedding anniversary! On my anniversary, I always think back to my wedding day and the process of the planning I went through. It seemed like it took over my life for 17 months! You're either thinking about something wedding related, whether it's your colour scheme or the right table decorations or conversations with everyone turn to "How is the wedding planning going?" Then before you know it the day arrives and its all over in a day. So enjoy the build up, enjoy the exciting conversations talking about your wedding plans and most importantly relax and enjoy your wedding day when it arrives. I quite often hear or read people saying how they don't know where to start so I thought I'd give a few tips and advice for how to plan your wedding ...

You're engaged!

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Hooray, congratulations!!! This is such an exciting time, and also pretty overwhelming. You realise that you're getting your own wedding day, woohoo! Then you realise that you've got to plan it all! Ah! Where to start? There's a lot to think about, but just take it a step at a time. ​ There are Facebook groups full of other people planning their weddings that you can join, for support and advice such as 'Wedding advice and chat UK', there are also apps such as Bridebook which can help with checklists and recommended suppliers etc. I would say the key to being organised is to write everything down. Write to do lists, create something to put your ideas into. I made a slideshow of everything I wanted for my wedding, from ideas for bridesmaid dresses and table decorations to the band we booked for the evening. Make sure to discuss everything with your partner and try and plan some things together.

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Budget

First of all you need to think about your budget. How much are you able to afford? Will you have any help from parents? How long will it take to save? This should then allow you to figure out a date in your mind. Once you have chosen a rough date, you can then think about booking your first weddingy thing.

Guestlist

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Before you do book a venue/church you need to write up a guest list to have an idea of how many people would be invited. Venues will charge per person for food and will have a room capacity and some churches are quite small and can only fit so many. When it comes to that dreaded guest list, you need to consider a few things. When was the last time you saw that person? If you can't remember, well that says it all! If you're thinking of inviting anyone's partners, people get offended if their partner isn't invited, so bear that in mind. Some people don't allow children to their wedding to cut down on numbers and also so the wedding is a bit quieter, I guess. If your parents are funding your wedding they sort of have some influence over some of the guest list. My Mum invited her cousins, who I barely even knew but they were paying so I couldn't really say no. Don't forget you will need a separate guest list for evening guests too!

Venue

Once you have decided on a rough estimate for your wedding guests, you can start looking around for venues. If you like the look of somewhere and think it's in your budget, book in a consultation to talk about your wedding and get a quote. Whilst you're there, think about the distance to travel for you and your guests, does it have accommodation or are there hotels nearby? How do you feel when you walk in there? Can you imagine your wedding being there?

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Other suppliers

Next, you can start looking at other suppliers. The first ones to look at would be any that are required to book out the whole day for you. This would be a photographer/videographer, florist, baker, DJ/entertainment, hair and make-up, registrar and any other extras like a candy cart, photo booth etc. The earlier the better, these people can be booked up fast, especially if your wedding is going to be at peak times (spring/summer).

Colour scheme

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Now you can start to think about all of your little details. Firstly, a colour scheme. Think about the time of year you're looking to get married in, different colour schemes suit different times of the year. Perhaps you could use your favourite colours together. Have a search around on Pinterest, it's great for getting ideas!

Dress shopping

Once you've decided on that colour scheme, you can start thinking about dresses. Make sure if you're looking to go to a bridal shop that you give plenty of time before your wedding day, several months in fact. When it comes to finding your wedding dress, don't be afraid to try a different style of dress you wouldn't normally pick. You'd be surprised by which dresses suit different body shapes and the people in these shops know their stuff. If you're on a tight budget, there are still many websites where you can find dresses online or try high street stores for bridesmaids dresses. There are numerous styles so have a look around and bear in mind how your bridesmaids might feel, make sure they are comfortable wearing them.

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Yummy and pretty...

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By now you should be able to decide on how you'd like your cake and flowers to look. Talk with a baker and florist to discuss what would work well with your ideas. Cakes can cost a few hundred pounds depending on how tall it is and flowers can become quite pricey depending on what types you want and the time of year, for example a single brides bouquet can be £60+ then there's smaller bouquets for bridesmaids and buttonholes for the men. You might also want to consider flowers for table centrepieces or for the church/ceremony. If you're on a tight budget, artificial flowers are great. They can still look lovely and realistic plus they will last as keepsake from your wedding day. There are plenty of other way to have centrepieces without using flowers, look for inspiration from other people planning weddings (such as on the Facebook group I mentioned earlier) or on Pinterest. Don't forget to buy confetti, bio-degradable is the best kind!

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Stationery

Once you're set on your guest list, it's time to think about save the dates which are usually sent out between a year to 6 months before or just go straight to the invitations which are usually sent out about 3 months before. Remember if you're having a destination wedding or if it's going to be in the summer time, the earlier the better, as people will need to know in advance.
You can either order some online (there are many websites to choose from) or make your own. Once again Pinterest is a great place to look for ideas. Before you send out the invitations, make sure you've decided on what to have for your wedding breakfast. If there will be options, it would be a good idea to include them in the invitations so that your guests can R.S.V.P with their meal choices.
Once you've recieved all of your R.S.V.Ps, you can think about making place names, a table plan display, table number cards and maybe favour tags. Don't forget about an order of service too!

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Hen night/stag do

When it gets a bit closer to the big day it will be time for your hen night/stag dos. This may seem like a daunting task to have to organise on top of organising a wedding day! Instead, why not ask your best man/maid of honour to organise it? It will take away the stress of planning something else. My sister was my maid of honour and she organised mine as a surprise. She sent me a long list of potential ways to celebrate my hen night and all I had to do was select the ones I'd be happy to do. I left her with a lot of options, so it was still a massive surprise and great fun! My husband's best man also did the same.

Double check everything

Around a week before the big day, it could be worth just calling all of your suppliers to make sure they've got all the details correct. Learn from my mistake! I did this exact thing, I rang my suppliers to make sure they had the right time and date but I missed one out. It was a company supplying tiers of different nibbles to keep everyone going until the wedding breakfast, there was no sign of them on the day. It didn't really bother either of us until the next day when we rang up to ask where it was as it cost us £250 and they said it's on its way! They had somehow written the following day down as our wedding day, fortunately we were given a full refund. Phew! (It was extra money for the honeymoon, anyway!)

My husband, Dan and I on our wedding day at St. Peter's Church, Newport.
Taken by Sian Hanlon Photography

sian hanlon photography

I hope that I may have helped you in some way with the process of planning your wedding. Good luck and have a wonderful day!

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