The Ultimate Guide to Planning a Perfect Wedding
This must be the most exciting time for you but it can be quite daunting too, where do I start, what time scale am I looking at, how do I organise all of this and still stay sane? Not everyone has £20K – £40K to spend on a wedding. If you do, then you are blessed, have a ball and go mad, however if you are like the majority of us especially if this is second time round you may be looking for a little help.
This article combines articles, tips and advice on planning a wedding on a budget. Hopefully you may find something here that can save some money on your special day without making it seem too squeaky if you know what I mean.
I got married quite some time ago and it was one of the best days of my life. The other 2 days were having my 2 lovely daughters. I don’t know whether it is my age, but it feels as though couples who are getting married nowadays seem to be trying to do something out of the ordinary rather than concentrating on what marriage is all about. Have you watched those Bridezilla programmes?
To me marriage is planning to live with someone you adore for the rest of your life. Also that it is a really special day filled with love, laughter, families and friends who want share this day with you; rather than jumping out of an airplane in your wedding dress. Then again if that floats your boat have a fabulous time.
When we got married, we didn’t have the luxury of rich parents who could spend £40k on a wedding. It didn’t matter either. We simply managed to plan our wedding on the budget we had available, and I don’t feel we missed out. Budget weddings still involve planning a wedding with arranging wedding venues, wedding dresses, the wedding cake, choosing a good wedding photographer, organising the marriage license and of course working out who was going to get invited on the guest list. Now to be honest that can be a nightmare in itself.
So how do you plan a wedding on a budget?
The following advice is based on what we did and what I have seen and been involved with over the years with my friends and family weddings.
So where do you start? Well call me old fashioned, but the first thing, was to get parental consent. My husband went to ask my father for my hand in marriage. He was a lovely Scots man (that is my father not my husband) and very traditional in his ways.
Fortunately, he was fond of my husband and so the first step went without a hitch. We were blessed from the start, along with a few whiskies’ thrown in for good measure.
Next, how well do you know each other? I think we have all watched those T.V programmes in horror as the groom organises the wedding whilst the bride has no knowledge of what happens. It amazes me just how little the future husband and wife actually know about each other, well sometimes the poor bride does have an idea of what she thinks her future husband will do. Happily, it all works out on the day which is all everyone watching wants, mind you it is fascinating to look at what the groom has as ideas about for their special day.
I know typically the bride takes care of many of the details but I think it is just as important for the groom to have some serious input too. You can start by asking each other some questions about your ideal day and write your answers down separately. Then exchange your answers, this could give you great insight into the hopes and expectations for both of you. Your ideas can then form the basis of your approach and help narrow down the search for the perfect venue, dress, flowers, food, ambience and theme if you want one. I think it is at this point you can start to talk about compromises.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Do you want your wedding ceremony to be modern or traditional?
- A big wedding with all the fluff with a bridal party or small close family only?
- Do you want it themed?
- Do you want a church wedding?
- Do you want the wedding reception to be formal or relaxed?
- Have you a special place that you would like to return to, where you first met, or had a romantic meal.
- Where do you want the wedding venue to be – At home, in your local town, somewhere by the sea or countryside or even somewhere like the Bahamas?
- What time of year do you want to get married – do you want a summer or winter wedding.
- Will the wedding dress be lace or silk (careful with this one girls as your groom might not know the difference – might be a good idea to bring in the maid of honour or best friend)? Or do you want a wedding dress at all?
Once you have some idea you can start planning.
Wedding Venue and Date:
These suggestions are not necessarily in the right order but a good place to start is to set your wedding date and then start to look at venues. This can be a wonderful time and very exciting too as venues realise that this can be an additional income for them so often will offer amazing deals.
Ideally give yourself 9-12 months. The most popular wedding venues might even go before that and the idea of getting married in that idyllic little country church or stately home will have to be dropped for something you might not be a hundred percent happy with. Also, consider what day you want to get married on.
Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays are not only popular but are more expensive so it might be worth considering a weekday. Most friends of relatives can organise a little break mid-week especially if you give them plenty of time.
Go and have a look at your venue at different times of the year as well. We made the mistake of not checking what the local council did and assumed the lovely flowers in the beds would still be around for our romantic walk from the church to the wedding venue only to find that they had lifted them the week before. It didn’t ruin the day but it just wasn’t quite the same walking along from the church to the venue with muddy flower beds as the back drop.
So visiting your venue and making sure that it is going to be warm enough if you are planning an out of season event, or a marquee, you know what British weather is like always keep heaters on hand. Check it has easy parking, and easy access, some members in the group may not be as young as they feel. Those fifty odd steps might make the entrance look very grand but it could be a long time before aunt Edna gets to the top.
If you are working to a tight budget, you might find that you can do a deal or look for a venue that doesn’t need decorating so you don’t have to dress the space. Blank canvases are great but can end up being really expensive; just think how much flowers cost as you have to decorate the complete venue. Table decorations of flowers can look stunning but think about balloons or rose petals crystals and a simple ornament can look equally impressive. The most recent wedding I attended had twinkling lights hung everywhere and in the evening they looked magical, wedding bunting is a good option too for that more rustic look.
We chose a hotel which had a great stairway as a centre piece where we could have photographs taken. The hotel also offered a first drink in with the package (drinks for your guests can rocket the budget if you are not careful), included a suite for us to stay in on our wedding night, and substantially reduced the price of rooms for our guests who were travelling long distances and would not be able to get home after the event. So it was good for us and for them win, win.
5 Wedding Budget saving tips:
- Peak wedding season tends to be around April to September, so try and avoid your wedding day around these months if possible, you will find that the cost of your wedding will be less.
- Beware of hidden extras such as corkage, cloakroom usage, cake stand hire, cake cutting; that way you won’t have a nasty shock at the end of your special day.
- Use a friend’s car for the occasion instead of paying for a limousine. You can normally find someone with a decent motor for the event.
- You might find that holding your wedding reception at a fabulous restaurant will work out a lot cheaper than at a stately home or other wedding venue, so check them out and compare prices.
- Consider a buffet instead of a full sit down meal. Often you hear how guests didn’t appreciate the food choices that you made, or worse still we went to a wedding where they had not catered for the right amount of people and there wasn’t enough food, you had the choice of having the main course or the desert just not both! With buffets some places allow you to source and supply your own food. Just check with the venue first, there may be a small cost but substantially less than having the venue cater.