Wondering how to plan the perfect wedding? We asked an expert…
We asked professional wedding planner and blogger Emma Louise Longden from Even Angels Fall to share her tips on how to plan the perfect wedding. Here are her 7 easy steps to the day of your dreams…
Shop everything from wedding makeup to scent and bridesmaid gifts online at allbeauty.
1. Decide On A Budget (& Aim To Stick To It)
The very first thing I always suggest couples do once the initial excitement of the engagement has subsided is to sit down and discuss what it is they both want from their wedding day. Perhaps you want a big elaborate fairytale day in a castle, or maybe a more intimate registry office affair is more to your taste.
Think about what is most important to you both and then discuss a realistic budget for your day. Want the fairytale but on a tight budget? It’s still possible but you may need to settle for a long engagement whilst you save up, or it may be worth compromising on some areas to ensure you still get the day you want without breaking the bank.
Look into rough costs and write down estimates for everything you want. Don’t forget to add in the little things, which all add up, like favours for your wedding guests, gifts for your bridal party and thank you cards for after the day itself. Remember to add on the costs for your honeymoon, if you are wanting to go away following the wedding.
Once you’ve decided on a budget, try to stick to it. It can feel a bit deflating looking at the costs racking up, but it’s never advisable to start married life in debt – I’ve known couples who set a budget of £5,000 but then spent £10,000. Hopefully, by having it all down in black and white, you can keep your spending on track during the planning stage.
2. Pick A Date
This is fairly important. Once you have decided on a budget, look realistically at how long it will take you to come up with the money you need for your wedding.
Think of the time of year you would like to get married – do you picture yourselves saying your vows on a frosty winter’s day or are you hoping for an outdoor summer’s wedding? Be aware of any local events going on, for example, in Bournemouth where I live the air show is usually on the last weekend of August so it is very loud and congested in the town and many venues avoid booking weddings in at this time.
It is also worth remembering that some dates are more popular than others and can get booked up in advance. If you aren’t that bothered about a specific date, have a look at off-peak prices and you may be surprised by the discounts that are available. Remember that the day of the week also has an impact on price, although Fridays are no longer considered off-peak and are often just as popular as Saturday dates.
Think about whether your guests will need to take time off work if you go for a midweek wedding, and remember to have a backup plan if you have your heart set on an outdoor wedding as the UK is known for its unpredictable weather.
If you are planning a wedding abroad, do your research on your destination and remember that flight prices tend to increase dramatically in the school holidays.
3. Look Around Venues
Once you have decided on your date, start booking in viewings at local venues. More often than not these will be available on a Saturday, but as this is the most popular day to go, they will likely get booked up quickly so call ahead rather than simply turning up to ensure you will be able to speak with their wedding team.
Have a think before you go about what you want from your wedding day, the approximate number of guests you anticipate coming, the kind of food you would like (a sit down meal, buffet or something a little different like a barbecue, hog roast or afternoon tea) and whether you are looking at having a civil ceremony on site or if you are going to have a religious ceremony elsewhere beforehand. It is also a good idea to write down a list of any questions you might have for your venue – whether they allow fireworks and/or sparklers, whether you can have any outside catering on site, whether they have limitations on numbers and, if they are a hotel, whether they offer a discount on accommodation for you and your guests. The more prepared you are, the more you will get from the meeting. It is advisable to visit as many venues as possible so you can be sure you find the right one for you both.
Once you’ve visited several and have information for them, whittle your list down to your top two or three venues and arrange a second visit to ask further questions and ensure it is the right fit for your day. Some venues will offer to place your date on hold for a week or two. Take them up on this offer whilst you make your final decision, but make sure you let the venues you don’t choose know once you’ve made up your minds so they can release the date.
If you are having a religious ceremony or a civil ceremony elsewhere, make sure you also check the date and book this venue at the same time! For civil ceremonies onsite you will more often than not still need to contact your local registry office to book your ceremony so make sure this is done before signing on the dotted line.
4. Book Your Suppliers
There’s a lot of mixed advice out there on whether you should book your suppliers early on or wait and see whether you can get a better deal. I would always recommend looking as soon as possible once you’ve decided on a venue.
Local wedding fairs are brilliant for finding and talking to a range of suppliers all in one go. Some are free, and some involve an entry charge. Chargeable events usually have a goody bag, although it is worth noting that more often than not this is mainly made up of flyers from those exhibiting so make sure the event is worth the cost.
Wedding venues will also often host smaller showcase events with their own recommended suppliers. I would suggest attending a showcase at your chosen venue as they might be able to offer a discount for their couples. Unsure whether you should book a supplier or not? From my experience, you’ll know when you’ve found the perfect one, they’ll just feel right for you.
It is worth remembering that some suppliers, such as hair & makeup artists, photographers, florists and bands tend to book up far in advance, so if you find somebody you love make sure you book as soon as possible to avoid disappointment. There is usually the option to pay a deposit at the time of booking and the remaining balance a month before the wedding. If you have the money upfront, find out whether they offer any incentives or discounts to pay in full when booking but make sure you’ve taken out suitable wedding insurance just in case!
5. Hold Off Choosing Your Bridal Party
It may be tempting to ask those close to you to be in your bridal party straight away, but if you are planning a lengthy engagement, hold off for a bit. Believe me, I have spoken to so many brides (and grooms for that matter) who have rushed this decision and later regretted it when friendships have fallen apart or other relationships have strengthened over time. Planning a wedding tends to bring out the best, and worst, in friends and family so it is a good idea to wait a little while and ask once you are certain you’ve made the right choice.
Having said this, it is worth having an idea of how many people you want up there with you on your day when looking into details for the wedding such as transport to the venue and bouquets and buttonholes.
6. Choose A Colour Scheme And/Or Theme
Although it isn’t necessary to have a theme for your wedding, it may be something you would like to think about. Perhaps you and your partner have a favourite television programme or a hobby you both really love and you’d like to incorporate this into your special day?
You don’t have to overdo it, subtle touches here and there can help make your wedding more personal and unique. Some of the best weddings I’ve worked on have had a theme personal to the couple – my favourite was the Game of Thrones wedding with each table named after a house and an iron throne wedding cake.
If you’d rather not have a theme, a colour scheme helps to bring everything together and can look fantastic in your wedding photos. Some people like to have their bridal party in matching colours, but in recent years couples have opted for a mixture of shades and rainbow-hued weddings have grown in popularity.
7. Send Out ‘Save The Dates’ Or Invites
Depending on how far in advance you’ve booked your wedding, it’s a good idea to let guests know the date you have booked to ensure they are available on the day. Some people may need to book time off work, or arrange childcare around your big day so it’s always a good idea to send your invites out in plenty of time.
I always advise couples that if your wedding is over a year away, save the dates are a quick and simple way of earmarking the date. There are some brilliant options out there including fridge magnets, which work well as a visual reminder of your wedding date or if you’d rather keep costs down e-cards are a quick and free way to let guests know when your wedding will be ahead of time.
And one last thing, don’t forget to book the DJ (trust me)!
Thanks so much to Emma Louise for her fantastic advice – here’s how you can follow her online: