Congratulations if you got engaged over the summer! Being newly engaged is a wonderful, once-in-a-lifetime feeling, so the best advice I can give you is to enjoy it and not to rush straight into planning your wedding. Take time to celebrate and don't feel under pressure to set a date (even though everyone will ask you when you're getting married!).
When you are ready to step off of Cloud 9 (and don't worry, you'll be back up there soon enough!) here are my 5 top tips for how to start planning your wedding.
1. Agree on your budget
I know, it's not very romantic, but trust me, you can't start planning without agreeing 1) how much you can afford and 2) how much you want to spend on your wedding. Have this conversation with your partner, and, if they've offered to contribute, talk to your parents about how much they'd like to give you and whether there are any conditions attached...!
2. Decide on what sort of wedding you want
Anything is possible nowadays, so talk about what sort of wedding you want to have. By this I mean the location, type of venue, time of year and, crucially, how many guests you'd like to invite and if that includes children.
3. Discuss your priorities
Once you've agreed your wedding budget, you need to break it down. Perhaps you love flowers and you want to wow everyone with a spectacular floral arch outside the church? Or did you bond over music and want to hire the same live band you saw on your first date? Maybe you're really generous and want to lay on a free bar? All couples have different priorities, so agree what yours are and allocate your budget accordingly. If you hire a wedding planner, they will help you do this.
As a rule of thumb, couples spend around half their total wedding budget on their venue and catering. That said, if throwing the biggest party ever is your priority, you may want to spend more on food and drink!
4. Get inspired
Let me guess, you've already started a Pinterest board and begun pinning wedding ideas?! Wedding blogs, Pinterest and Instagram are overflowing with great ideas. You can always delete things later, so it pays to keep an open mind early on.
Ask yourselves if there a particular 'style' of wedding that appeals to you and your partner. For example, rustic country or city chic. Ultimately there are no right or wrongs (it's your wedding and the style police won't come chasing!), but having a wedding style will help when you come to choose your dress and your suppliers.
5. Book your key suppliers
It may seem daunting, but by this point you'll be ready to start visiting venues and trying on wedding dresses. Caterers, photographers and florists get booked up quickly, so once you've confirmed your venue and set a date, you'll want to research these too.
A wedding planner will help you to find the best suppliers and can save you a lot of time and energy, but if you're doing it yourselves then I recommend shortlisting at least 3 suppliers for each category. Have a look at their portfolios and read reviews from their previous clients. Never feel pressurised to make a decision and be on the lookout for sneaky sales tactics!
For more advice on how to find your wedding venue, take a look at my journal post 'Top tips for choosing your wedding venue' here.
Wedding planning is great fun, but sometimes it will feel overwhelming. Believe me, there'll be times when you wish you'd eloped! One of the main advantages of hiring a wedding planner is that they take care of all the admin and deadlines for you. However, if you're planning everything yourself, make sure you take time out from wedding planning and relax!
Like some help? I plan heartfelt weddings in London and across the UK. I only take on a small number of clients each year, so I can give each wedding the focus it deserves. If you're busy and struggling to find the time to come up with ideas or liaise with suppliers, give me a call on +44 (0)7709 871999 or send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to help you plan your wedding.