How long have you got?

So, he’s still dusting off his knee and you’re walking down the aisle (well, in your imagination anyway)!  You’ve been planning this moment since you were 17  and you’ve got everything sorted – where it will be, what you’ll be wearing, how you’ll have your hair and maybe even what colour scheme your wedding will have.  It all seems so easy when you are daydreaming but it’s now that the hard work begins….

There’s so much to think about, decide on, find, source, organise, book and of course pay for.

It is true to say that a wedding can be as small or as large as you want it to be – it is your day and, as a couple, you should not be swayed into doing things you don’t want to do and certainly not things you can’t afford.  Starting married life with thousands of pounds of debt is not the best plan anyone ever had.  But, however big or small your wedding, there is one thing for certain, you will have the biggest to-do list you’ve ever had before in your life.

You will need to be super organised and very disciplined when planning your wedding.  I won’t just list the many things you need to consider as that wouldn’t be very interesting reading.  But I will say that the first thing you need to do is decide on a month during which you would like to get married and, of course, which year (as that will determine how quickly you need to get started!)

You will need to set a realistic budget and then you need to source things that fit within that budget and into your overall wedding theme.  What feel do you envisage for your wedding?  country? vintage? chic? traditional? modern? sparkly? or romantic?  Anything goes – it’s all about you and your style.

However, your theme could sway your preference of a venue – or vice versa.  All the most reputable wedding venues get booked up months (even years) in advance, but if you don’t want to compromise on your dream venue then you could perhaps get married on a weekday instead of the weekend.  BEFORE you make a firm booking and pay a deposit – you MUST ensure that both venues for the ceremony and the reception are available.  In some counties, registrars cannot be booked until 12 months before the wedding (but I need to book my venue before then – I hear you cry!) well in this instance you must be the most organised you have ever been in your life and go ahead and book the reception venue, but 12 months before your wedding, as soon as the registry office opens, you should telephone and book your day in.  There are only so many celebrants and they can’t be in two places at once.

The next big decision you need to make is whether you want a professional photographer at the wedding?  They are expensive but good ones are worth their weight in gold and again, for this reason, the best ones get booked up a long time in advance.  They create the memories you will have of your day and, no doubt about it, you WILL miss most of your day!  They will capture the essence of the day, and all of this rolled together will help you remember lots of special moments as your memories begin to fade.

At this stage you will need to start thinking about your dress.  The accessories can wait a while but you should start to think about the style of dress you would like and you should certainly make appointments with at least 3 different bridal shops.  Making your decision can take a few weeks or it can take a few months but the reason you need to consider this early is, even though you are browsing dresses in shops in towns and cities near you, it is very rare for a wedding dress to be bought ‘off the peg’ (although they are becoming much more widely available in department stores in recent years).  It is highly likely that your dress will actually be ordered from, and made in, China, India or other far-flung countries.  It is usually necessary to allow 6 months from ordering a dress to allow time for it to be ordered, made and delivered.  It must then be tried on, altered if necessary and then pressed or steamed ready for your big day.

Finally, although it is an added cost, if you are getting married around any holiday time (either summer or winter) or it is very important to you that all the most important people in your life are there to share your special day, then you should consider sending out ‘save the date’ cards to all the guests you plan to invite.  Unfortunately, this then brings another to-do item to the forefront and you will need to consider your guest list and this can be a very tricky area.  In any case, if you can decide on who you want to share your big day with you then sending these cards can just inform people to keep the date free if they are planning a trip around that time.

Similarly, you will need to inform the special people in your life of the date and ask them to be bridesmaids/Groomsmen/Flower Girls/Best Men or women – wouldn’t it be devastating if you didn’t get round for a few months to telling your best friend from university that you wanted her as a bridesmaid only to find she had booked the holiday of a lifetime and wouldn’t be able to be there to share your day?!

Most other things can wait a little while and so maybe, just maybe, you can have a few weeks rest before you have to start sourcing the rest of your wedding suppliers (more on that next week). Phew!

It really is a big task – needing many hours to spend on research, checking availability, comparing price lists, getting and checking recommendations/reviews, viewing venues, making bookings, paying deposits and so the list goes on.  Some people revel in it and some people want to crawl under a stone and hope that someone else will do it for them.  This can happen and it is usually a family member that takes the reins and leads the way.  Unfortunately, your ideas can then get lost in the midst of someone else’s.  Someone who is not impartial enough.  Someone who will have too much influence over you!

So don’t be panicking about all those things.  Just start to enjoy the beginning of your new life together.  You want to carry on going on date nights and have romantic nights in – not be hunched over a phone or computer wondering how to get it to all come together.  If you want impartial advice and assistance leaving you free to spend time together but don;t want somebody to ‘take over’ then a wedding PA might just be what you need.

Be sure to watch out next week for some tips on what else you need to concentrate on in the run up to your wedding!