Planning Your Wedding – Getting Started

Written by    Last updated: March 12, 2010

Your wedding is the biggest event you’re likely to ever organise but it doesn’t have to be a daunting prospect. With a little help it can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience – a rite of passage and fun to be shared with your nearest and dearest too. So how do you know where to start when you’ve never planned a wedding before? Traditionally the bride’s parents planned, paid for and hosted their daughter’s wedding, but these days it’s mainly the couples who do all the oganising. So where do you start?

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Professional wedding planners

An experienced professional wedding planner is worth their weight in gold. A wedding planner will have all the knowledge, ideas and local supplier contacts to ensure you get the wedding of your dreams, within budget and without any stress whatsoever. The most you’d have to do is meet with the wedding planner to decide on what you want, visit a couple of venues the planner recommends and attend a food and wine tasting – easy!

This option is good for those brides who: have little time or inclination to plan the wedding, those who want everything to be absolutely perfect and professionally organised, and those who would rather do it with the help of someone who has a huge wealth of information at their disposal and can suggest everything from best venues to top quality hair stylists.

Venue wedding coordinators

Many venues have a dedicated wedding coordinator who will be your first point of contact for anything related to your wedding. While they won’t help you find the best deals from a range of suppliers like a professional independent wedding planner would, they usually have their own trusted affiliates such as photographers, cake makers, transport companies, caterers, etc, who have worked with that venue in the past and are trustworthy. When booking your venue, be sure to ask them if you will have a wedding coordinator working with you, and how many other weddings they are handling at the same time. It’s also a good idea to know exactly what is the range of planning they can assist you with, as it will likely include only the part of your wedding day related to that venue.

Do it yourself – here’s how

If you don’t have the budget to hire a wedding planner then you can do it yourself with a little assistance from those in-the-know, like the experts here at Confetti, and the range of national and local bridal magazines.

1. Get a big notebook. This is the time to get super organised! If you don’t write everything down, you will forget. Spreadsheets will also become your best friends, for everything from budget, to lists of all kinds, to keeping track of the guests’ addresses and notes on who has and hasn’t RSVPd yet, and a million other things.

2. Set a date. Think of when you’d like to get married, and keep in mind the more time you  have to plan your wedding, the better. Decide on a month and year – for example, August 2014. Consider having a wedding out-of-season, which will allow you to save thousands of pounds in your budget. Your exact wedding date will be dependent on venue’s availability too, so you may have to be a bit flexible if your dream venue is booked already.

3. Set the numbers. Think of the size of wedding you’d like to have – an intimate gathering for 50 of your nearest and dearest, or a full-on 300+ guest extravaganza, or somewhere in between? This is important both your budget and your choice of venue.

4. Set a realistic budget – and stick to it. Your budget is one of the most important aspects of your wedding planning. The amount of money you can spend will dictate the size and style of your wedding. It’s not worth running up debts as a small budget wedding can be every bit as wonderful as a more lavish and extravagant do. You’ll need to shop around and be clever with how you allocate your money.

5. Find a venue. Think of your preferences – do you want to get married in a castle like a real princess, or do you want a country manor set in rolling landscape? A city wedding at a boutique hotel, or a stylish celebration at a fab restaurant? Then check the area of your choice for venues that suit your style, budget, and number of guests you have decided upon. Call the venues and ask if they are available on your chosen date, what is their capacity, packages, and book a viewing.

6. Delegate jobs. Think of everyone you know who can help with your wedding – making a cake, hairstyling and makeup, crafty help with DIY favours and stationery, custom making the bridesmaids’ dresses, and anything else you can think of. Friends and families are usually very happy to help you celebrate your special day, but keep one thing in mind – they must be reliable and dependable so you can rest assured they will come through on their commitment, and not leave you without a cake or a limo two weeks before the wedding. Ask your groom-to-be to take charge of hiring the groomsmen’ suits and booking the entertainment and transport, ask your mum and future mum-in-law to help with invitations and RSVPs, and your chief bridesmaid to plan the hen night.

7. Stay in control of your decisions. Accept offers of financial assistance from family, but do tread carefully if they expect this to give them control over the decisions to be made. It’s your wedding after all, not theirs. It could be in your better interests to accept only a small contribution and then ask your parents to be in charge of one or two aspects (under your direction).

Once you have decided all of the above, you can start looking for invitations, wedding dress, themes, colours, and choosing your bridesmaids. And always remember – it is your and your future husband’s day, and while you can take suggestions and requests under consideration, make sure to do what’s right for both of you. Happy planning!

You can find out  helpful inspiration and advice from our wedding planner articles!

This article was written by

Kate Thompson
Kate Thompson is Confetti's features editor and wedding expert, and has worked in the wedding industry for 15 years. A widely published lifestyle writer, she has made BBC television and radio appearances discussing wedding trends in the UK.

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