If you are recently engaged and have found this post, firstly congratulations! We hope you are enjoying all the love and excitement surrounding you and your new fiancé.
Ash recently got engaged and Lauren got married earlier this year, so we thought what better time to release this blog to assist you with all things wedding planning.
From the moment you get engaged you are probably finding you are getting bombarded with questions such as, “Have you set a date?”, “How many people will you have at your wedding?”, “Have you started dress shopping?” and the list goes on. Our first tip is to just enjoy being engaged for a moment! There should be no pressure to set a date or look at venues straight away (unless of course you want to!). Stay in your love bubble and enjoy the time as a newly engaged couple.
Once you feel ready to think about planning we recommend visualising what you want for your wedding day. Do you see an intimate style wedding with just you, your partner, celebrant and your two witnesses? Or do you have a bigger celebration in mind with all your family and friends? You may feel slightly overwhelmed as there are so many options, however the best advice we have is to do what is right for you as a couple. At the end of the day this is just the start of many decisions you will make together, so make sure you are making yourselves happy first!
The next step once you think you know what type of wedding you want is to write down your proposed guest list, discuss your budget and decide on a wedding date. Once you have an idea of these three elements you can now start your planning. Don’t stress too much if your guest list changes slightly or you move your date further into the future, but getting clear on these three areas first will help you when you start inquiring with your wedding suppliers as they will be able to provide you with the most accurate information.
If you are anything like us you probably have been secretly saving wedding images on your phone or on secret boards on Pinterest so now is the time to look at those images as you are finally allowed to start planning your dream day! If you didn’t have anything in mind, we suggest creating a Pinterest account to help you get a feel for what you like and don’t like. It is amazing how quickly you will start to see your vibe come to life and having pictures will help you when you start making enquiries with your wedding suppliers to show them what you are thinking and to avoid any confusion.
Understand your non-negotiables
Everyone’s priorities for their wedding will be different. Some couples value the food, entertainment or wedding gown as a top priority, so deep dive into what is most important to you. Setting your non negotiables alongside your vision will help you stay on budget and understand where the focus of your wedding day will be. Let’s face it, an unlimited budget is not available to everyone, however you can still make your dream come to life by being strategic. If you are not sure what your non-negotiables should be, think about what is most important to you and if you didn’t have it “that way” would it bother you? For example, if you love music making sure you book your preferred band or DJ would be one of your non-negotiables. Another would be food – if you love exotic options you might source a caterer that makes your favourite cuisine. Once you set your non-negotiables this will help you make decisions easily as in most cases you won’t mind what you spend here (within reason!). Generally your non-negotiables will take the larger part of your budget as they are of higher importance to you and your dream day.
The Wedding Planning Timeline
Everyone’s time frame for planning a wedding will vary, however once you set your wedding date we suggest working backwards and scheduling in your proposed dates for when you want to celebrate your hens and/or kitchen tea and then booking a date for your engagement party date should you wish to go ahead with one (generally 3 months from when you get engaged). If you are not prepared to move your wedding date based on its meaning to you, then feel free to send out save the date invites 12 months in advance or even consider doing a wedding website if it may change. The more notice you give to guests the better especially if they have already been invited to other weddings or are planning to travel overseas! Final invitations should be sent at least a couple of months before the big day, however if you have any guests that are coming from interstate or overseas and need to book accommodation you can always let them know the venue once you book it so that they have ample time to secure where they will stay.
Weddings have been around for centuries and like everything they have evolved to what they are today. Different cultures will also have their own traditions that a couple or couple’s family may hold of high importance and need to be integrated into the wedding in some way. Today, many couples are choosing to break out of traditions and are finding creative ways to integrate the part they relate to and not worrying about what doesn’t work for them. In Lauren’s case, she never saw herself having a bridal party or having just her Dad walk her down the aisle, so instead she walked herself down the aisle and both of her parents walked in front of her.
Traditions can also refer to the type of wedding you decide to have, so don’t feel the pressure to have a large wedding if you prefer a smaller intimate cocktail style wedding or if you don’t want to have a massive hens night out you don’t have to! Make choices that will allow you to look back and say “we did it our way!”.
Whilst there is no set order when it comes to planning your dream day, deciding on your venue early on can help bring your vision to life and understand what other suppliers you will need to book. In saying this, if you have a dream dress in mind or even a band you can certainly look into booking these first if that excites you most and let that set the vibe for everything else.
We recommend enquiring with 3-5 venues at the start of your planning so that you don’t feel overwhelmed with all the different packages and inclusions. Try to think of a location that you love either in your state, interstate or perhaps overseas and then see what venues are available on your preferred date. Try and make time to physically go see the venue (if distance allows) or do a video call to help you get a better feel for the space. There is only so much you can get from an image, so see how you feel when you arrive, understand the space and chat to the coordinators. How you are treated can be a good indication of how easy or difficult the wedding planning experience will be with them. Remember first impressions are everything!
Choosing your suppliers
Once you have decided on a date and have a venue locked in you can start your search for all your other suppliers. Limit your number of enquiries to about 3 per supplier as this will give you a good idea of what packages are available and what each supplier charges. Starting a spreadsheet that lists each business name and what you are being quoted is also recommended so you can compare your options easily. Go with the suppliers that make things easy for you, respond to all your questions and genuinely want to bring your dream day to life. You have never done this before, so don’t feel bad for asking anything and remember you are paying them to be there for you!
When you are ready to lock in a supplier you will find that each business has different deposit terms and in the majority of cases they will require the final payment at different stages of your wedding planning journey. As most couples generally plan a wedding 12-18 months in advance we recommend keeping track of the total amount payable, deposit you have paid and total amount outstanding. This way you will not exceed your budget as you are tracking every detail from the beginning. We have created our go-to spreadsheet which you can download and edit for free as part of our lifestyle collection.
The Wedding Day
You have completed all your planning, suppliers have all been paid and now all you need to do is go get married! This is the time to enjoy everything you have been planning for and let go of controlling every detail and simply enjoy. We recommend having a timeline that outlines important details, such as addresses, phone numbers of suppliers and overall timings of the day so that suppliers know when to arrive, when to set up and exactly where you and your partner will be. Sending this master timeline to all your suppliers for added feedback is also a good idea so you can adjust any timings prior to the day and avoid unwanted surprises. Remember your suppliers are experienced in all things weddings so let them guide you. We have also included a suggested timeline example that we used for Lauren’s wedding which is also available in our lifestyle collection for you to download.
Whilst planning a wedding can be overwhelming, remember you are marrying the one you want to spend the rest of your life with. Choose to make the planning process enjoyable, by making time to visualise, plan and book your suppliers early on. We promise the list of things to do will get smaller and you will be living the best day of your life before you know it!
Ready to take action? We suggest these next steps:
- Establish your vision for your wedding day
- Write down your ideal guest list, discuss your wedding budget and decide on a wedding date
- Enquire and secure your date with your preferred suppliers and track everything in your wedding spreadsheet which you can download here!
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Ash + Lauren