Congratulations – exciting times lie ahead as you plan and have the biggest day of your life : Your wedding day! As I reach my 1st year of being married, I often become envious of those just getting engaged. Whilst it can get stressy ( no denying it here ), there is so much to be excited for.
But where should you start?
There are so many things to get your head around when you first get engaged. For you to take full advantage of the first couple of months, and steady the stress, here’s a bunch of things to do, as soon as you’re engaged. Remember, these may take a couple of months but it will certainly make you feel on top of the post engagement buzz.
Whilst it’s real easy to get straight to it ( boy I was checking my wedding pinterest board within hours of putting the ring on ), its important to celebrate it too. Whether you both head out for a posh dinner, gather friends for a party or even head away to truly enjoy each other, celebrate one way or another. You may regret it otherwise.
Some quick engagement celebration ideas :
Host a party – Whether it be in your garden, at you local pub or even as a gorgeous venue. Gather the girls and hit the town. Weekend away – It can be a whirlwind with family and friends. Seek some refuge away, together. Meal out – sometimes intimate is better. A local meal is always a lovely way to get everyone together.
Yes, don’t panic. Right about here, after toasting our happiness, I started to panic about budget, cost, where, when and more. This is not the time to panic. Everything is just at the start and you have plenty of time to work out all those other things. There really is no rush.
Identify your wishes
It’s real important to know what you want early. Whilst you won’t necessarily be able to have it all, its good to know the key aspects : Church or venue for the ceremony? Intimate or the more the merrier? Local or abroad? These key indicators will help early on establishing what wedding you are looking to have, and must have pointers for food, venue ect.
Key questions to ask yourself here :
In the UK or abroad? ( Do you want certain guests there that may not be able to travel? ) Ceremony venue ? Church, venue, registry office. Small or large attendance ? Venue type ( Marquee, house, rustic, barn? ) Accommodation ( Do you want guests to stay over after? ) Certain time of the year you want to marry? Weekend or weekday ( Some venues are cheaper on a weekday! )
Jot down a rough guest list
Now is the right time to sit down and create a rough guest list. I say rough because there will no doubt be adds and minus’ as you further progress through the planning stages. Creating this rough number of guests is real important when searching for potential venues. Without knowing this number, you may risk falling in love with somewhere too big, or even small!
Research & Enquire
Okay, so you have a rough idea of what venue you want and the number of guests. Now’s the time to research and enquire. When I was at this stage, I spoke to and acquired every brochure for venues in a 25mile radius.Yes, honestly.
My biggest advice is get info from every venue that ticks some of the boxes, even if it’s just one box it ticks. Some venues have shoddy websites, not many pictures and can look pretty nasty, but appearances can be deceiving.
Here’s some ways to really research a venue :
Use Instagram – Instagram geo-location and check our the latest snaps. It’s real interesting to see guest snaps and can give you a real insight to the venue. Check Facebook – As many venues tend to update and use their Facebook pages more than their own website.
Establish a budget
After all these steps, you’ll be at a great stage to establish a budget. You may be lucky enough to get some help from family, or you may have decided you want a rather long-ish engagement ( togive you enough time to save, or there’s a special year you want to marry ). Having made these decisions, you now have all the pieces you need to realistically conjure a viable budget.
I would highly advise creating or using a budget list. This is a great way to manage your wedding budget. View the FREE one I created here.
As with anything, you really shouldn’t tease yourself with things that are out of reach. Wedding’s really are as expensive as you make them. There are factors within a wedding that you can save money, and other areas you just can’t help but spend on ( venue costs and legal fees aren’t things to negotiate ).
Create a viewing list
You are now aware of local venues and their prices. This of course has a huge impact on what you can actually book and what is viable for you. Knock out those venues that are unrealistic and create a pile of want to view. Remember, whilst on paper they may not look like the perfect place, viewing a venue is a fantastic way to truly feel and explore a venue. You will be surprised and some of those ‘compromises’ may not be when you actually see and view a venue.
When I was looking for a venue, we had a set of key aspects to consider ( one venue for ceremony and wedding breakfast, ability to stay on site, marquee for the reception, outside ceremony area ). One venue kept arising on research and their website was shocking. We booked a viewing anyway and instantly fell in love. We didn’t see a single other venue and booked that day.
The whole post engagement period can feel daunting, partly because it can feel like you don’t have a grip on the start of the wedding planning process. Whether you start to view venues within a couple of weeks or within a couple of months, it can ease the anxiety of wondering where and when your wedding could be.
The key to viewing venues is to have pre-arranged questions to ask, and take pictures. When viewing venues it can be easy to forget aspects so jotting down notes and taking pictures can help jig your memory later.
Once you’ve viewed the venues you shortlisted, create a pro and con list if you’re struggling to decide. Revert back to that wishlist too. If a venue limits some of those wishes being a reality, consider this a compromise and whether it’s one you can bear to make.
Remember : Every venue won’t be perfect. But, when it comes to decorations and smaller details, remember that lots can be done cosmetically to change the look and feel for a venue. Every bride has a different vision and yours can truly change the look of your venue from that stark first impression you get when viewing on a Sunday afternoon.
Chances are you’ve made your shortlist and chosen a venue – wahoo. You may want to re-visit or bring some extra eyes to make the final decision. But you’ve got the venue sorted. Now it’s time to book. Securing that date is the last in this post-engagement planning. Once that date is secured you can breathe knowing you have a date to work towards. If you are needing to book a Church / Ceremony venue and reception venue, be sure to liaise with both to establish a date that will work.
You’ve now reached a time in wedding planning where you can actually relax a little. The date is booked, and you know how much money you have to save and spend and you roughly know who you are inviting. The next stages are pretty straight forward and need be stressful or rushed ( unless you’ve decided to get married in like 9 months which means go and read my next post pronto – you have planning to crack on with ).