So you’re engaged! Congratulations – isn’t it exciting? I bet you are still on cloud nine. When you have come down from the initial sweet hit of overwhelming emotions, telling everyone you possibly know (even the security guard at work – no? just me?) and spending a little too much time getting distracted by the new sparkly rock on your finger, you will find yourself in the madness that is wedding planning.
Having got engaged five months ago and being an events manager in my day job, I thought it was about time I shared some top tips for getting started with your wedding planning.
1. Work out your budget.
I know, I know, money is not a fun topic to discuss but I promise that if you chat through your numbers before you fall in love with any venues or wedding Pinterest boards then it will make your whole process easier. You won’t risk over-committing or feeling like you are disappointed with having to compromise. Have a candid discussion with your Fiancé about how much you can afford to spend on the wedding and come to an agreement on what your budget will be. If you have savings, agree how much of your wedding will be paid for from your rainy day fun and what other big expenditure you expect to need to fork out for. If you don’t have any savings to dip into, then work out when you want to get married and how much you can save monthly. You might be lucky enough to have families that are able to financially support your wedding. It may be an uncomfortable topic to bring up but speak to them about how much they might be able to contribute so you have a clear idea of what you can spend. It might be that you already have your heart set on a certain type of wedding, find out how much it is going to cost and think seriously about whether this is realistic – if it is that important to you then you might need a longer engagement to allow time to save. Revisit your own monthly budget and see if there are other savings you can make to squirrel away a little extra for that big day.
2. List your priorities.
Once you know what your budget is you’ll need to think about which elements of your wedding are the most important to you as a couple. Unless you have a bottomless budget (rare!) then you are inevitably going to have to make compromises in some areas. For example, we know that having lots of our friends and family at our wedding is really important to us so we are willing to compromise on other elements. To reduce our catering costs, we have opted for a two course ‘posh BBQ’ which will be served to our guests at their tables with a ‘family feast’ vibe. This will work out more cost-effective than having a three or four course silver service dinner as not only is the amount of food reduced but the amount of serving staff we require is less too. For us, this was a reasonable compromise – the food will still be incredible (we are real foodies so have selected our caterer carefully) but we are able to afford to feed far more people!
3. Get organised.
So this is where I reveal a dark secret…I’m an utter spreadsheet addict. I love lists, I love notebooks but I think a neatly arranged spreadsheet beats both. I’m not even an accountant – honest! Being an events manager meant that I had an event budget spreadsheet on hand to copy across and hack into a wedding budget manager. We sat down and made a list of everything that we would need to pull off the day of our dreams then, taking into account our earlier conversation of how much we could afford to spend on the whole day, set about splitting our budget down line by line. Be realistic, a quick Google can give you a rough idea of what things might cost you. Have a column which lists your best guess of what things will cost and then as you get real quotes in, add another column in to track the updated expenditure. Try to think of everything including the hidden costs – linen hire, waiting staff and glass hire are commonly forgotten. As you go through your list work out what you will be willing to DIY or where you know you can make savings – maintain a notes column to capture your good ideas. With a few simple formulas, you can keep an eye on your working total and play around with the numbers to see how adding or subtracting elements will affect your total spend. This document will become your wedding best friend so keep it somewhere easily accessible like on Google Drive – you will even be able to share a copy with your fiance so there are no excuses for it being out of date! I’ve decided to share our budget spreadsheet, you can find a download link at the end of this post.
4. Gather your gang.
You’re going to need some solid support over this wedding planning period. It is a fun job selecting your bridesmaids and ushers, you might be tempted to leave it a while but you will really benefit from making your decisions quickly and roping the help in early. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, set up a group Whatsapp and delegate jobs where you feel able. It will really help take some of the pressure off. I have a little group Whatsapp with bridesmaids and our Mums, they’re all busy drying rose petals at the moment and I’m about to set them off with a job to save their clear glass jars for the next few months. This has the added benefit of helping to keep everyone feeling involved too.
5. Keep having fun.
This can all feel quite overwhelming at times. Right at the beginning of our engagement when we had a busy fortnight trying to find a venue and set a date before Phil went back to work with the Royal Navy, we promised each other that we would have fun during the wedding planning process, that if we found ourselves getting stressed that we would take ourselves off for a walk or a date night and gain a little perspective. This promise has been really important. Sometimes it can be as simple as allowing yourself a bit of time browsing Pinterest to reignite your excitement about styling your wedding or it might be finding a fun job when you’re fed up of crunching the numbers like going wedding dress shopping for the first time. This is a really special time and ultimately your wedding is about making an incredible set of promises to one another. All you need to do that is each other. When it all gets a bit too much, remember why you are marrying one other and take time out to enjoy spending time together.
As it is nice to find some freebies on the internet and because I wanted to share some of the experience I have, I decided to create a free editable wedding budget planner that you can download and use for your own big day. I have saved it on Google Drive – just click to download and save to your own Drive. I’ve removed all of our numbers for obvious reasons but have left a few comments with rough guidelines on costings that you can expect to incur. I hope it is useful!
I’m going to be sharing some more wedding planning tips and advice over the next few months. If you’re already married then please do stop by and share your favourite pieces of advice either by leaving a comment or finding me on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.