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I am only 11 months away from marriage, and thought I would so far share my wedding planning with you. Of course, there is plenty more left for me to do, and therefore I will update when I feel I have more to add.
Arranging a wedding is supposed to be very stressful, so far I have not had an ounce of stress on my plate. This may be because I have already had 12 months of planning, and as said above, I have another 11 months left to go. I think that giving yourself plenty of time is a saviour. It allows you to research and find the perfect things at the perfect price. I will talk you through my plans starting from scratch.
Discussing when you would like to get married ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Do you want a summer wedding? A winter wedding? Do you want to marry around a particular anniversary? Decide between you when is best. If you are going to worry yourself sick over the weather, perhaps a summer wedding is best. I am going to be a spring bride, and although this might bring rain, I know I wont upset myself too much - and it will be the best day of my life. Don't finalize a date until you have spoken to potential venues, as they may be fully booked up on the day you had in mind. It is unlikely, but it is possible.
Work out your budget ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Work out how much money you will be able to put towards your wedding. You may need to save up, take out a loan, or you may have money set aside. Regardless of this, work out a budget of how much you estimate your wedding will cost you. When I first started this, I had no idea how much things were going to cost. So I invested in plenty of wedding magazines to give me a rough idea. Then, as I looked at things I personally wanted for my wedding, I was able to get quotes and therefore make my own budget price list.
Regardless of how much or how little you spend on your wedding date, it will be a day to remember. Don't think that money alone makes the day perfect. A lot of helpful websites can also give you idea's on how to cut corners etc if you feel you need to cut down etc.
Wedding costs can spiral out of control. Ours has, but luckily we have had plenty of time to put money together, and, most things Don't need to be paid off until at least 21 days prior to our wedding, so we have plenty more time to save up our pennies.
Church or Civil wedding ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ What kind of wedding do want? I wanted a church wedding, but, having a church wedding is more difficult for us than what we thought, because we are not residents of the parish. This didn't banish me to tears. Don't worry if you cant have things exactly how you dreamed. We have a very romantic and personal civil ceremony booked and now I wouldn't swap it for a church wedding even if I had the chance to.
Intentions to marry ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ You need to ensure that you make the right steps to ensure your marriage does actually take place. The venue where you are marrying will point you in the right direction with regards to contacting your registrar etc or whatever route you need to take if you are having a church wedding. We are seeing our local registrar this Friday to give our intentions to marry. This usually needs to be done about 1 year before you marry, or ASAP if you are marrying within the year.
Venues ~~~~~~ If you are having a church wedding, you will need to contact your local parish. They will talk you through requirements needed from you. If you want to marry in a church outside of your local parish, you may find you have difficulties like I did. But, there are always ways around this. We could have managed a church wedding, but it would have cost us a lot of time and input. Time I would have been willing to give, but was unfair on my partner as he is not a religious person.
Some venues actually will perform the ceremony and also have the wedding breakfast and evening reception held there too. This is an ideal opportunity, as it cuts out pricing on transport.
We looked at many many different venues to before deciding. Ideally we wanted everything
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to take place in a castle. However, it was difficult finding exactly where we wanted, as we had to find a good location for both families. We finally found our dream locations - Washington Old Hall for our ceremony, and Lumley Castle for our reception & evening. It took us many many visits back and forth before we finally decided. Please remember that you will be asked for a deposit upon booking.
Some reception venues will organize your catering for you. I found this perfect in order that it is one less thing to organise. We have been given lots of 3 course menus to choose from, but the food does not need to be confirmed until 21 days before the wedding. Which is great as it allows us to find out if anyone has any vegetarian/ gluten-free food requirements.
Theme ~~~~~~ If you are the bride to be, this will be a wonderful experience for you. Deciding on the theme of your wedding. Some couples Don't do this, and that is fine, but for my wedding, a typical fairytale wedding with beautiful colours and candles is exactly what I wanted. The internet should be your focal point of information. Of course, wedding magazines, there are plenty, but at nearly £5 per magazine, think of what you could be saving.
(I am hypocritical here as I keep buying magazines over and over! Much to my partners dismay)
Bridal Party ~~~~~~~~~ You will need to decide if you would like bridesmaids, pageboys, flower girls etc. The sky is your limit if you really want to involve many people. However, remember, the more bridesmaids you have etc, the more money it will cost you. I am having 3 bridesmaids and 1 Usher. We are keeping all of our bridal party family members. This wasn't my original plan, but it worked out nicely this way. I remember a friend of mine telling me she no longer see's any of her bridal party. That must be slightly disappointing.
Guest list ~~~~~~~~ You will need to draw up a guest list quite soon on, because this is actually a large chunk of your budget. Sit down with your partner, and together discuss people who you would like to share your daytime celebrations with. You Don't need to invite a distant relative who you have never met before, so Don't worry about that. But, do what you feel is best and what you can afford. The ceremony I feel is quite personal. I am having 56 people to share the day with us which I think is ample. (Plus, our ceremony venue only allows for 60 so we had to keep numbers below that regardless) Once you have finalised daytime guests you can then make a list of evening guests. We have to pay per head for evening guests too, so check this out before you invite your whole street :o)
The guest list also is great because it tells you exactly how many Invites need to be arranged, and also button holes etc. My guest list is my bible at the moment. LOL.
Photographer & Videographer ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Do you want to book a professional? Or do you know a family friend who you trust to do the job?
We have booked professionals. The only person I trust enough to do our photos would be my Dad, but he will be busy all day with me! So that rules him out.
Don't just book the first person you see. Also, it is very important that you Don't just see snippets of their work. If you are seeing a photographer, ask to see all the photos from one particular wedding. And again, with a videographer, ask to see a full video of one wedding. If not, they will only provide you with their best work and therefore not giving you a true feel of their work. Make sure you get quotes from each person you see, as prices can vary dramatically.
The photographer will work around you, and talk you through different packages that they have.
Cake ~~~~ The cake should ideally be big enough only to feed your guests with. But, if you see a dream cake which is far too big for your requirements, this is okay as you can have false tiers as to not spoil the style. Look at many many cakes, and Don't decide straight way. It is never to early to start booking. The reason I say Don't decide straight away, is because I literally changed my mind all of 10 times. There are many professional cake makers around, and honestly, some are greedy and charge ridiculous amounts of money. Mind, this is the wedding industry. You can have your cake personalised to suit you. Don't be afraid to ask! Work out if you want sponge cake, fruit cake or abit of both. We are having 2 fruit and 2 sponge (all covered in belgian chocolate.. drool!) - my poor Dad may have to pick off the chocolate though, as I know he isn't the biggest fan. Ask for a taster too. We tasted the most beautiful fruit cake ever by the lady who is making our cake. This is coming from a girl who usually has a dislike for fruit cake.
Transport ~~~~~~~ Do you need professional transport? Do you want professional transport? If you are marrying in the same venue of which you are having your reception, it isn't as important that you have transport I feel. Unless you want transport to take you and your father (or person giving you away) to escort you from your home to your venue.
If you are having transport, you will need to decide who else you will need to provide transport for. This is usually for the bridesmaids etc. But if your budget permits this, ask a family member or friend with a nice car if he/ she will escort them.
I originally planned on having a vintage car, and I am pleased we didn't book this immediately. A few weeks ago, at a wedding fayre, I fell head over heels for a beautiful horse & carriage. Amazingly, it doesn't cost as much as I had imagined.
If you are having a vintage car, I have been told that you should go for a 4 door if you dress is exceptionally big, as you might have trouble getting into the back.
We have booked a Mercedes E Class for the bridal party, as a vintage car would have been pushing the boat abit too far. Book with a reputable company, as you do want everyone to get there on time. Check if the company will have the car kitted out with flowers and ribbons, and if so, do they charge. Ours Don't, so there isn't a decision as regards to should we or shouldn't we.
Florist ~~~~~ What kind of flowers you want will come naturally to you with time. At first, the floral side of things didn't much interest me. But now, I am having a bridezilla academic. Luckily I now know exactly what I want. I do however need to make an appointment with a few florists to have a look at their work, and also have a chat about costs etc. Also, I want to book a florist who can drop off the bouquets at my home before I leave.
Luckily I do not need our florist to decorate our reception venue, as this is done for us, by the venue in with the price. I just need to tell them what flowers I want and what colours.
Do take along cuttings when you visit your florist so she is able to work with you in what you want.
You will also need to decide on flowers for your bridesmaids and also button holes. I will update and let you know how I got on in this area.
Rings ~~~~ Take plenty of time in choosing your wedding rings. Unfortunately for me, the rings that particularly caught my eye just looked wrong with my engagement ring. Pop into a few jewellers and have a few trying on sessions. You Don't need to order straight away. I ordered mine straight away, however my fiancé took a while longer.
Wedding Dress ~~~~~~~~~~~~ I have scoured every magazine, looked at every dress ever made.. and I think I have found my dream dress! However, I am not setting my heart on anything until I have tried it on first.
I have my first trying on session this Saturday. I booked this appointment a few weeks ago. This bridal store comes with many recommendations. Do try and go somewhere which has been recommended if possible. I have heard some horror stories that some staff at bridal stores can be quite unhelpful. This should be one of the most exciting parts of your wedding planning, and it would be awful if someone with a bad day ruined it for you.
Take your mum along with you if possible, I am taking my mum and my sisters. I wonder if my mum will cry! Mmmm! She cries at Corrie so she could well do! Wink, wink. I know my mum will give me her honest opinion - I Don't want a dress too fluffy or revealing at all. If too much flesh is on show my mum will let me know.
Wear comfortable underwear for trying on your dresses, preferably white too. Don't wear something you will feel awkward in, as you will be getting changed in front of the bridal staff.
I will update more on this section once I have more to report on.
Bridesmaid dress & Men's suits ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Look around and get idea's. Do consult your brides for their opinions on styles of dresses etc. It would be awful if they were to feel uncomfortable or self conscious in something you didn't consult them with. Also, discuss with your husband-to-be what he would like to wear. I am going to go along with my fiancé and pick out colours that I like etc, but overall, it is all up to him what he and the men wear. Of course with input from the rest of the bridal party too. We do want everyone involved in this aspect.
I am going to focus on this area once I have chosen my wedding dress however.
Invitations ~~~~~~~ I feel that the invitations should follow the theme of your wedding, as to give your guests a taster of what is in store.
There are many many companies out there who have a vast range of handmade cards, and printed cards etc. You may even want to try making your own if you are into crafts. I would love to make my own, and I am sure I would do a good job, I just Don't want to risk it.
Many companies can make up exactly what you want. Ask for many samples etc. One company I looked at sent me 1 sample card in my colour theme. I felt it could be a very slow process so looked elsewhere.
I am now having my friends mum make my invitations - I have given her exactly my requirements and I am currently awaiting samples from her. In the meantime I am working on the wording of my cards, and also working on seating plans and order of service etc. I found working out seating plans quite easy, although you may need to get some advise if you are unsure with regards to divorced or re-married parents.
You may want to have reply cards also made up and sent out with your official invitations, as this is a quicker way to get replies from people. I myself will be doing this.
Also you may want to have Save the Date cards sent out to your guests approximately 1 year before your wedding. I have had some made and they really are so much fun and a great way to let people know the date MUST be saved and kept free :o)
Wedding Fayres ~~~~~~~~~~~~ I think wedding Fayres are great! They give you a first hand taster of things, and also, you get to meet many people in the industry. I find the people very nice and it is not like being attacked by a sales person. Mind, sometimes you can get the odd person who talks you halfway to boredom. You will get to meet people from practically every side of the industry. Take away plenty of leaflets and enjoy yourself most of all.
Honeymoon ~~~~~~~~~ I am leaving this area up to my fiancé to arrange, so I cant give advise in this area yet. Although, we are looking at what kind of honeymoon we would like, and I will certainly update once we are able to offer some tips and advise to you.
The list goes on ~~~~~~~~~~~~ I have many more things yet to organise, i.e wedding make-up, hair, favours, music, gifts for bridal party, gift list, readings etc. However, I promise I will come back and update once my wedding is near and I am ready and prepared for the big day.
My advice ~~~~~~~~~ My best advice to anyone who is about to plan a wedding would be to join an internet wedding group/ forum where you can speak to other brides and brides-to-be. Honestly, this kind of help is immeasurable. Not only do you get help and advice when you need it, but you are also able to pick up may great idea's from others.
Talk to your partner and try and get him involved as much as you can. Planning a wedding should be fun, and for me it is an amazing experience. Jonathan and I have done practically everything together to do with this wedding so far. Also, I find that I discuss anything with him before I book it, after all it is his big day too.
Try not to get too obsessional. Try and not talk about the wedding too much! Otherwise your partner could get abit fed up. Remember, confetti and dresses wont be your husband-to-be's favourite talking point!
Have fun though and I look forward to updating this review in forthcoming months.
This review was great. I didn't realise you didn't have to review something and could give member advice alone. We are planning a wedding in six months. we booked it five months ago. Stress hasn't started yet and my plan of what to do when is drawn up from magazines. I may write a budget but tasteful wedding advice piece
sharkel 04.02.2007 22:54
really enjoyed reading this - I have my first trying-on session in a couple of weeks - with my mum of course! Im quite nervous!
Claire_DC 21.11.2005 12:14
Fantastic, hopefully i will be needing this info very soon haha.. if you update then please let me know as i would love to read more (well you never know, my fella could pop the question haha) and would probably also rerate from VH to Exceptional too for the extra info. xxxx