Now, I am by no means a wedding planner, nor really am I qualified to give advice, but here we go anyway!
M and I got engaged in March 2012, so we had plenty of time to plan our November 2013 wedding. We got a lot of the big stuff done and out of the way quite early on. On the plus side of starting early, I’d say that you have the bonus of choice, as most places and people weren’t booking up that early. We got the church, reception venue and photographer booked up early. On the bad side, we found that people just weren’t that interested (though admittedly, no one is as interested in your wedding as you are), as it was so far away. It also, for me, meant that I lost a lot of my wedding mojo in the massive gap between booking things and actually being able to “do” stuff.
Anyway, in bullet point fashion, here are Tub’s Top Wedding Planning Tips:
- Spreadsheets. These are your friends. I set up two sheets – one budget and one guests. The budget one was never that interesting. The guest one was very important. It tracked our guest list, their RSVP responses, the bump ups, their meal choices and dietary requirements, and the gift. I am still using this list now at the time of typing as we’re in the process of sorting out our thank you cards.
- Budget. Unless you’re really good with money, be prepared to blow it. It is hard to stick to the budget, especially when you go to wedding fairs and get tempted by all manner of other things. Just make sure that you have enough to cover the important things (the marriage and the venue at least!). Do plenty of research. Some things are harder to get approximate costs for, but try. We shopped around as much as we could.
- Sweating the small stuff. Don’t sweat it. My mum thought it was essential that we had a cake topper. I didn’t. We had little ceramic marshals that M had handpainted, but they were too heavy to sit on top of the cake. In the end, after looking around Exeter for a cake topper that didn’t resemble a Fimo disaster, we settled on flowers. Another one was favours. I got fairly pragmatic about this, in so far as I don’t recall having favours at any weddings I’ve been to, and it seems like tradition for tradition’s sake. My bridesmaid, N, felt that I was being cheap (she didn’t say that, but I can’t think of a better word) for not doing favours. If the budget wasn’t there, it wasn’t there (and by that point, it wasn’t). I wasn’t going to be made to feel bad about it. At the end of the day, no one noticed, and if they did, no one has said anything.
- Weigh up what’s important to you. For us, the right photographer was high on the list. For the important things, start booking them early. A nice car was important to us, until we realised just how expensive wedding cars are. I think M would have probably gone with whatever, but I refused to pay £300 for two 5 minute journeys. Yes, I know vintage cars have a lot of upkeep required, but the importance of having a vintage Bentley (or whatever) diminished when we found out the cost.
- Overnight bags. I didn’t have my brain in gear at all when I was packing my overnight bag. I had packed the essentials like clean underwear, but forgot make up remover, a hair brush, socks… It was not my most glamorous start to the day!
- Before the wedding – take a good multivitamin if you tend to crash after big events. I tend to, and I suspect if I had thought to take a good multivitamin I probably wouldn’t have felt so bad. Also, try to take a day out to relax. We had a relaxing(ish) day on the Friday, and it was nice time out.
- Children at weddings. Originally, we had planned not to have children at our wedding, but we softened on it. We provided packs for the children which were really well received. In the packs, we put crayons, colouring in sheets (free from Colouring Books), disposable cameras with an I Spy sheet, and bubbles to keep them entertained. They were cheap but effective. One of them was too young for that, so we got him a little rattle.
They are just a couple of things that we found helpful during our planning.
And, at the end of the day, the most important part is the marriage!