When I started planning our wedding I received so much advice by brides on organising our big day. I am forever grateful to them. Some recounted their own mishaps in order to demonstrate what to avoid and why. With such vivid and colourful descriptions I made sure to follow it all! I’ve compiled the list of advice below, but I’ve also added my own few pearls of wisdom to the list.
1) Budget: I was recently asked how much a London wedding costs. I found the order of this question rather bizarre, as London is not what dictates a couple’s wedding budget. The couple does. As far as I am concerned our civil service reception in London cost £700, and I am sure you could do it for less too.
Our main wedding took place in Tuscany in September. We hosted 120 people at the hotel, where we got engaged. The first thing to do when you start considering a wedding is to set out your budget. What can you, the couple, your parents, or your whole family afford for a wedding? Everything else falls into place once you’ve settled that.
2) Venue: Budget will help you to find a venue, which in return will dictate your wedding date. In fact the first three steps to planning a wedding are budget, venue, date and don’t muddle that up as you risk disappointment early on.
3) Prioritise: Once the budget has been decided on then you can list what your wedding priorities are. Firstly, how large or small your wedding might be. Décor? Orchids? Flowers can add up so do consider candles. They are atmospheric and much cheaper and can equally add glamour to your wedding. Music? A three-member brass band or a dj, your friend’s playlist?
I learned that what you want on the day is very different to what you need on the day. The two are very different questions but will shape the allocation of your budget. Two separate columns in your spreadsheet will help demonstrate what to prioritise.
4) Details: These are so often the reason for added expense or the cause of unnecessary stress. My personal experience taught me there was no reason to fuss over these, as on the actual day I didn’t even notice the finer details as I was so engulfed in the moment.
Favours were a detail that got me worked up. I had left them for last and I could not find anything that would not affect our budget. My husband knocked sense into me when he demonstrated that I’d barely ever kept any of the favours of the weddings I had been to in the past. In the end I gathered some of my bridesmaids over and together we made lavender bags for our guests. I bought the bags and lavender on Amazon and the total cost came to 120 Euros for 120 guests, as opposed to £600, which was the market price for favours.
5) Don’t micromanage: I felt alone at times in the planning of our wedding. But, I know the reason for this is that I refused to get any help. Allocate tasks and trust me when I tell you that you won’t be burdening anyone if you do ask. In fact quite the opposite as people always want to feel involved and are happy to help.
6) Photography: Make sure you tell your photographer exactly what type of pictures you are after. This will spare you the disappointment when they are delivered 6 months later. This may sound silly but a list of photos you definitely want him/ her to capture will help direct the photographer and his edit.
7) The Dress: Avoid wedding dress shops that charge £30 a visit. If you can’t help it then make sure you get your champagne’s worth.
8) The Dress (part 2):Don’t omit dressmakers as an option for your wedding attire. A bespoke dress will fit like a glove and the making process is a fun one too. Without a doubt the dress itself will be of better quality than a ready to wear dress, and it will reflect you 100%.
9) Art Direction: The couple’s own story should be the theme of the wedding and no other. So don’t bother looking up on Pinterest rustic Tuscan wedding- they all look the same.
10) Reflection: On the day pick a spot with your husband to escape to even if it is for just 5 minutes. Take that time to ground yourselves but to also take in the fact that all these people and this happiness is expressing itself for you. It goes by like a flash.
As far as planning the event goes these tips, as obvious as they may appear, were my guiding light. Unless one has experience in organising an evening for 120 people, most can get overwhelmed by the task.
It is important to remember that your wedding day is not as important as the commitment you are about to make. A wedding is a day in the life of a married couple; marriage is a lifetime. Here I was standing at the alter (or a make shift one in our case) with a man I had chosen to grow old with but no-one had told me that this entailed a process of growing up too. Growing up with someone. You learn along the way that space as well as a lot of team work is needed in order for this to happen, and that is probably the most valuable lesson I’ve learned.