Plan your own wedding – yes, you’ve got this girl!
Naturally, you’ve been dreaming of your Big Day since forever and you’ve always known that it would be magical, with all the bells, whistles, fairy lights and fanfare that befits such a special occasion.
But now that you’ve met Mr/Ms Right and said yes, it turns out that the bells, whistles, fairy lights and fanfare cost actual money. And rather a lot of it.
So, what’s a bride-to-be to do? Take control and work magic, of course. Because you can… and doing it yourself means you get to have things your way (though we strongly advise you involve your partner because nobody needs relationship hassles on top of having to plan The Most Epic Wedding Ever!).
First things first
It’s time to put on your wedding planner hat. This means taking the time to plan and strategise before you get stuck in. You’ll need a weekend or a couple of evenings to get the plan in order.
The important things in the first phase of planning is deciding on the date and the budget (sensitive, but super important), as everything tends to work around these two main factors.
Budget is always key. Work out how much you are willing to spend and try to roughly allocate a portion of money to each section of the wedding and work within those parameters to avoid over spending on unnecessary items and going into your marriage debt-ridden. Note that it is always useful to allow for some contingency in the budget as unexpected expenses always creep up.
We’ve corroborated our best tips and advice below, neatly organised on a 12-month timeline.
T minus one year
The first step is to create a wedding scrapbook – naturally this could be an online scrapbook (Pinterest is great for this) or have a folder on your phone or computer where you can store images of all your ideas and inspiration. In this way you will more or less have an idea of the theme you are going for, the colours you prefer and the overall set up.
Hands up if one of the first things you thought after the proposal is “who will be my bridesmaids?” Yup, we thought so. It’s a tough decision – between sisters, cousins, friends and close colleagues – there sooo many to choose from, but only choose those whom you are closest to and have a good relationship with. Two or three is a good number – the more you have the more they start to cost. Once you’ve chosen, be prepared to get them all together and ask them in a special way.
Next, think about how many guests will you be having at the wedding? Sit down with your significant other and each jot down names of potential guests. Once you have finished, scrutinise the lists and eliminate as you go along. Also decide on whether or not you are allowing children to as this might influence the choice of a suitable venue.
The venue is the most significant element of all. When choosing the venue take into consideration whether you would like separate locations for the ceremony and the reception, or if you can find somewhere you can have both. Also look at travel time, travel arrangements and possible accommodation for guests and relatives who are coming from afar. Tip: book the venue as soon as you are able to.
This will also be a good time to start researching photographers, bands, florists, décor companies and caterers and save all relevant information and contact details in your scrapbook. Also try and get a few quotes in between so you know if it ties in with your budget.
T minus 8 months
Now that you have done all your research and have all necessary contact details, the eight months before the wedding should be spent meeting vendors, looking at samples, where relevant, and making the actual bookings for everything from the photographer to the accommodation for your guests, if required.
Once the bookings are done you can focus on the main thing – your wedding dress, darling! Set aside a few hours a week to go dress shopping and encourage your bridal party to join you. If you are having a dress made, ensure that you have already researched a dressmaker and have all images ready to present to him or her.
T minus 6 months
You are now halfway through your planning, congratulations! How are you feeling? It’s important to keep the momentum going. By the way, it’s normal to want to abandon the whole thing as this point because nobody told you planning a wedding is this much hard work. Remember, you’ve got this.
Back to business, next on the list is the bridesmaids dresses. Decide as a team on the style, colour, length, pattern etc. These days bridesmaids often offer to purchase their own outfit as their contribution. If so, all should agree on an acceptable amount to spend and then you can start shopping.
Do keep in mind that within this six months you should also be finalising things like who will be doing speeches and ceremony readings, your wedding vows, the menu, and the music selection.
T minus 3 months
As the time draws closer and the nerves start piling up, the last three months should be spent tying up loose ends and keeping in contact with all vendors to ensure everything is on track and in case of any minor changes.
You will now have time to purchase the rings with ample time for resizing if need be, send out the invitations, get your marriage licence and schedule hair and make-up trials.
The ideal here is to have everything sorted so you can take the last couple of weeks to just take it easy, spend time with your partner, and handle the minor things that come up and then to deal with wedding week fresh and relaxed.
Planning a wedding is hard work and requires one to properly prioritise, focus and delegate. But amidst all of that, make sure that you have fun whilst planning one of the biggest day of your life.
Stay relaxed, try a couple of yoga classes to loosen up and just enjoy the ride!