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1. Spread the jobs between people and months.
Tip one and I would say the most important in keeping the stress to a minimum. Make a list about a year before the big day, but up to six months would be fine. I had eleven months to plan our wedding. After the big important reservations, I had nothing on the list until six months before.
2. Be aware that Notice will need to be given either Banns (for church wedding) or through the Registrars displaying your names (for Registry weddings).
Yes. Very important and not something I knew about before becoming engaged and being given an invaluable wedding planning book and buying a couple of wedding magazines for ideas (see my other reviews on For the Bride and Collins Plan you Wedding). As we were the first of a large group of school-friends to become engaged and we are that magic age of 30 (growing up!), since our engagement in Rome on my 30th another couple of 30th birthday proposals have arisen in Paris and Vienna (the romantics!). This has meant I am asked for advice and neither couple realised they had to give notice. This costs £30 each at Manchester Registry Office. I am not sure if this is a national price or is set by the local council. Once your names have been displayed for two weeks you will receive certificates for marriage through the post. These last twelve months, so do not give your notice too early, but over summer months the office can be very busy, so it is recommended to give your notice six to nine months before the date your wedding is booked for.
3. When booking your venue make sure the local registrars are also available.
We rang our venue and asked about availability eleven months before our wedding day. Three Saturdays in the month we wanted were available. I then called the registrar and even eleven months in advance the time slots were mostly filled. We booked both the venue and the registrars there and then (Chester registrars require £270 at least a month in advance of the wedding at a place registered for marriage. Not sure about registry office costs and these costs may once again differ by council).
4. Request extra copies of your wedding certificate.
This may sound like it will dilute the importance of the official one. If you want to keep the original, it is a very good idea to request extra copies (if you are changing your surname) because everyone will require a copy of this to change your details and I don’t trust my bank, credit card people, driving licence people, passport, etc. not to lose something this important to me.
5. Keep the cost down – ask friends to help out.
The average cost of a wedding in the UK has tipped the £20000 mark and this is insane. Who wants to start life together in debt because of this important day? Surely it is much more important not to worry about debt (and whether you have to have No frills beans on No frills toast for tea again) as soon as you are a married couple. This is the time where you should enjoy each other and the luxury you can have sharing your salaries. We kept the cost of our wedding down by asking friends and family to loan us items or give us their services, which they are more than happy to do and to feel that they are big part of your day. Don’t be shy to ask people. Most people are bound to know someone who will:
a. Be good with computers – can help design and produce Invites, order of the day and place-cards (although the personal touches are another thing that makes it your day – we have had help with the invites and though it does make it personal this still costs a similar amount to buying bulk from suppliers – ours worked out about £50 for 70 invites that were just what we wanted and quite luxurious)
b. Be a hairdresser/ make-up friend - lucky I suppose. My Mum’s best mate owns a salon and is delighted to do my hair and make-up for me (saving me around £100 I reckon).
c. be able to point a camera and fit the feet and arms of people into the frame. I have a few friends who do photography semi-professionally so have asked them, but anyone who c an point a camera and get a great photo would be fine – we are more concerned that we get natural photos, rather than hundreds of posed ones (this will save us up to £2,000).
d. Let you use their beautiful/unusual car for your day. We have a friend with a cream Morris Minor and they have offered to drive us to the venue (saving not sure how much cars would cost). Do you have a friend with a nice (ish) car to arrive in?
6. Keep numbers to a minimum of who you really want.
We decided on seventy people for our wedding, which is much smaller than most of the ones I have been to. This did cause a falling out with the new mother-in-law as we decided we were unable to invite children as this would increase the number to nearly 100 and none of our close friends have children of the age that could come to a wedding (two have new babies). Neither of us invited any workmates. We have friends who are struggling to get a venue for 130 people (they are looking for somewhere quite secluded and country based many if these only cater for about 100). Make a list early on, especially before choosing a venue.
7. Hen and stag nights local and cheap.
We both booked our last weekends of freedom in the UK. Girls went to Knaresborough for a day out and York (in a Premier lodge) for drunkenness and a Pizza Express meal. Blokes are off to Edinburgh by train (cheap tickets booked in advance) to stay in a Youth hostel for two nights.
8. Ask for money/cheques for honeymoon instead of toasters
Either ask guests to pay towards a holiday you already have in mind (many holiday companies offer this service) or ask for cash or cheques to pay for your luxury time in the UK. Having already bought our own house we have had to buy most of the bits and pieces we need for this.
9. Consider making your own music (especially if you friends are quite music savvy).
We are making our own CDs for the night because we know a DJ would not cater for our tastes. The rental of PA system costs £175 – this includes delivery, setting up and picking it back up the next day (if you are prepared to pick up and drop off the system, this may be cheaper – but is one less thing to organise).
10. Keep the number in the bridal party low.
We are having one maid of honour, a best man and two ushers. As we want other people included brothers, sister, we have asked them to do readings or speeches.
11. Make this a day to remember
We are getting married at the zoo. So we have bought plastic animals, chocolate animals and place-cards with peoples favourite animals drawn in the them by my talented fiancé. We are having a walking safari and then a barbecue with Pimm’s. This is an unusual wedding and some people have turned their noses up at the idea of getting married at the zoo, but thankfully most of these people aren’t invited. We are getting married with the animals because they are one of the things that make both of us excited and childlike. We have written a few lines of our own vows and I am placing laminated pieces of writing connected to the wedding that I have written over the last year.
12. Buy flowers and rent suits locally. Buy a second hand wedding dress.
Flowers and suit are cheaper if bought by local businesses, they seem to know what they are doing because they have been working in this area for decades, unlike chains who probably have quite a high turnover of staff. I bought my wedding dress from a charity shop. They have a whole floor of dresses, mostly about £100. I found a second hand bridesmaid dress (ivory and gold) – simple and pretty – fits perfectly without any alterations – it was meant to be.
13. Gifts for helpers and groom/bride
I have bought fountain pens for the maid of honour and my mum and wine for owners of car, ushers, make-up/hairdresser and best man is getting a strange instrument. I am making the groom a framed vows with pictures of the thing we encourage each other to do (he also taught me to draw). I have asked him to buy me a beautiful book to write our honeymoon adventures in and write and inscription in the front of it.
Keep to three or less and short. If people are shy about standing up in front of people, you could have two readers at the front together. This is what we are doing for our ceremony.
Having spread most of the stuff out I am just beginning to feel a little stressed now we are in weeks, rather than months. As long as we are there and the registrar and the venue all should be fine, anything else we can sort. This is my secret to lack of stress, so far.
I will write a post in late October with photos to show you all how it went.
Ahh wish i was getting married... it all sounds great! Good luck for the big day! Janie x
Suzela 29.08.2007 11:47
I work in the wedding industry and I really wish that some of my customers were as organised and level headed as you! Nice review
jackyann53 29.08.2007 01:41
What an excellent review, full of good common sense suggestions. This would be invaluable to anyone who was planning a wedding. I agree, paying huge amounts of money for one day in your lives is ridiculous and unnecessary. Well done. Jacky x