It’s probably no surprise, but two of the most popular times for couples to get engaged are over the Christmas period and New Year’s Eve. After all, you are likely to be surrounded by family and friends. So once everyone knows you are engaged, what next? How do you plan a wedding?
There are so many things to think about, the all-important wedding dress, bridesmaid dresses, wedding rings, wedding cake… the list grows rapidly!
Then there are the questions to ask: Who will be in the bridal party? Do you need a wedding planner? When should you send the wedding invitations?
First, an assumption that this is the first time you’re getting married. Chances are, after the initial euphoria of the engagement, you are feeling overwhelmed about how to start arranging something as big as a wedding, possibly the biggest event you will ever put on. The good thing is I can help on your wedding planning journey.
So how do you start? Well, first you need to sit down, talk and listen to your partner about what is important to each of you. You need to be clear in your own minds about what it is that you want before you start wedding planning. Discuss your ideas with your parents as it’s going to be a big day for them too. Start a wedding planning checklist. Becoming engaged is the first step.
Think about the What, the Where and the When!
What is important to you? What is your vision for your wedding day? What style best fits your personalities? What have you seen at weddings you have attended? What did you like? What would you do differently?
Prioritise what is important to you regarding your wedding day. This will help in finding the most important wedding suppliers first. Take advantage of no-obligation consultations, interview potential suppliers and make sure you are picking the right ones for you.
Here at Celebrations with Alan Marshall, everything starts with that initial consultation. Typically I meet my couples 12 to 18 months prior to the big day. Be aware that the very best wedding suppliers are usually booked well over a year in advance, so once you find a supplier you like, book them as soon as possible. Make sure everything is in writing.
When it comes to the wedding budget, understanding what’s important to you, prioritising the budget accordingly and making sure you have the right team, are key.
When will the wedding happen? Do you want a long or a short engagement? Time is another factor to consider. If you are planning a short engagement, it follows that finding the right suppliers will take on an extra level of urgency, though try not to compromise.
In the Spring of 2016, I met Devon and Dave at a spring wedding fair. Their wedding date was only six weeks away and that was the day they booked the wedding venue. Though we only had a short space of time, I was able to create a bespoke day for them.
His experience shows, and from the first meeting, he had us thinking about all the little details that are so important and yet we hadn’t even considered.
Another consideration is the time of the year would you both love to get married.
A Spring wedding with the winter chills fading away, the birds singing, lots of flowers starting to bloom and blossom in the trees… Springtime can be so romantic, everything starts to warm up with the full heat of summer to come. Spring can be a wonderful time to get married.
A Summer Wedding with the warmth of summer and the longer days, your options expand. Your reception can overflow, allowing the use of the grounds of your chosen wedding venue. Maybe an outdoor ceremony in a lovely garden? Always consider the potential heat of the day during your ceremony or drinks reception, will there be shade for guests?
When it comes to the evening if it’s still lovely outside, where will your guests be? Chances are, on a lovely summer’s evening, the guests will be scattered inside and out. Who will be in charge of organising, ensuring that when anything important is about to happen, all of the guests know about it? As a Master of Ceremonies and DJ, during summer weddings one of my responsibilities is communicating with the wedding photographer, the videographer and the reception venue coordinator to make sure they are prepared for the next activity, before it is announced, as well as making sure all the guests are aware of the what, where and when so that they don’t miss anything.
An Autumn Wedding, with the leaves falling from the trees, the temperature cooling down and the nights drawing in… The evening part of your wedding is more likely to happen indoors. The colour palette changes and maybe the warmer tones can be represented in the theming of your venue. Andy and Jenny Lee, for who I provided my popular all-day wedding DJ service, chose to reflect the autumnal colours. They included burnt orange in the colour of the flowers and the bridesmaid’s dresses and uplighting around the venue, setting a warm and cosy atmosphere for their guests.
A Winter Wedding, with the nights fully drawn in and the light disappearing late afternoon, is almost guaranteed to be totally inside. Depending on the time of your ceremony, there may be little time even for photographs outside. It’s important that the guests feel looked after and there is a great atmosphere. Typically, if the ceremony is in the same venue, guests could be there for over 12 hours. Attention to how they will be entertained during this time, with limited options to wander outside, is very important.
Winter weddings during December mean the venue is likely to be already decorated with Christmas trees and garlands aplenty. A very magical time of year to get married, with the possibility of snow, for the ultimate white wedding.
Another consideration may be when is best for your friends and family from abroad, with certain times like school holidays, being a more expensive time to fly.
Where is the wedding reception going to be? Over the years, I have worked at many venues, all over Hampshire and beyond, at a variety of wedding reception venues, from Tepee’s to Stately Homes, and pretty much everything in between. They are all very different. This all comes back to how you want your day to feel. For example, if you want informal, a Stately Home is possibly not the right choice. Though the day could be informal, working against the backdrop of the lovely house and opulent surroundings are likely to prevent that. Formal, however, does not mean it has to be stuffy and can always be fun!
Finally, if you still feel overwhelmed, remember the reason you got engaged – you are in love and want to spend the rest of your life with your partner, and then relax, it will all work out in the end. This time of year, there are lots of wedding venue open days you can visit to get ideas of what’s out there and what’s possible. Unlike general wedding fairs, exhibitors are selected by the venue for quality, service and reliability. These are the suppliers who work well in the venue and are therefore recommended. The trick here is to, as I mentioned right at the beginning, prioritise, take literature and arrange no-obligation consultations. Planning a wedding should be fun and with the right team on board, you can relax and enjoy planning one of the biggest days of your life.
I’d like to close by saying congratulations on your engagement and please don’t hesitate to contact me to find out more. Remember, being engaged is the prelude to the main event!