Congratulations! They asked, and you said Yes! You’re now officially engaged, so what happens next?
If you’ve never planned a wedding before, it’d be understandable if you were feeling very giddy, and perhaps slightly overwhelmed with everything that happens next! Give yourself 10 points every time someone grabs your hand to see the ring, asks you for ‘the story’ or exclaims “I knew it!” even though you’d had no idea it was coming yourself.
There’s no right or wrong over how long you ‘should’ be engaged for. Some people like the idea of engagement as a happy period just being safe in the knowledge they are betrothed to someone, and there’s no rush. Others see the offer of marriage as the signal to get on and plan this wedding malarkey. If you’re ready to get on and give serious consideration to your wedding day, remember there’s no rules to this thing. But what happens now?
What type of wedding do you want?
A crucial question for you and your partner. Have you always longed for a traditional wedding in your home town, surrounded by friends and family, or does that idea fill you with dread and you’d much rather escape for a destination wedding? It’s important to discuss exactly what you and your partner feel comfortable doing, and this will shape the type of wedding that suits you both. Important considerations include religion, cultural expectations or, more likely, budget!
When you do want to get married?
Once you’ve decided what type of wedding you’d like, the single-most important next step is determining when. It’s well-known within the wedding industry that peak wedding season (i.e. the most popular and expensive time) for weddings is between May and September. This is purely because UK weather is slightly less terrible than during the rainy Autumn/Winter months of October – April. Established wedding venues do offer different packages for different times of year (June/July/August being the most expensive and Jan/Feb the least expensive) so that will be the biggest consideration and impact for your budget.
Similarly, when getting married abroad, you’ll need to consider the weather for your chosen destination. For example, will it be storm season in the Caribbean when you’re planning to go? If you’re planning on being joined by friends and family abroad, is it during school holidays so more people can attend? And if it is during the school holidays, will that be more expensive? Lots of things to consider.
Finally, you’ll already be aware that marrying on a weekend isn’t set in stone these days, as more and more people hold weekday weddings. Much like the months are cost dependant, the days of the week you marry are costed differently by venues too, for example a Saturday in July will be *the* most expensive time to book a wedding venue, as it is peak season. Venues have historically priced weekdays cheaper than weekends as they have previously been a less popular time to book, and venues want to maximise all the days of the week, but now they’ve cottoned on and are beginning to charge just as much for Thursdays, Fridays and Bank Holidays. A Friday wedding is fine, as guests only need to take one day of annual leave and the next day is the weekend. But when you’re thinking of saving money and booking a Monday or a Tuesday… be prepared for guests to either a) not attend as they can’t get the day off, or b) not drink or let their hair down as they have work the next day. When all you want is your friends and family to have an amazing time, sometimes saving a little money in this regard doesn’t give ideal results.
Sorting the ‘big items’
Big ticket items in wedding world are the ones that generally will eat up most of your budget. These tend to be your wedding venue, wedding dress and photographer. The next biggest items may be any wedding transportation (e.g. wedding cars), cake, suits and accessories, flowers, and then any add-ons such as hair/makeup artists, venue styling and all that kind of good stuff. You may already have an idea of who/what you want, which is great! But when do you need to book them?
You’ll need a set date and a venue first, as this determines everything. No matter who/how you enquire with at any stage of the wedding planning process, the first question you’ll be asked is, what date are you getting married?
Photographer – we do get booked up over a year in advance on key dates, i.e. weekends during the summer months, and this is true of makeup artists and florists too. Unfortunately this just seems to be the way of things; just be mindful that weekends between May-September are the number one most booked dates, so be quick to get in touch with your preferred suppliers. Once you’ve done that, you can be happy in the knowledge you’re all booked in for your big ticket items with the people you really want. And really good suppliers will advise you along the way as to what things you should be doing when, so nothing comes as a surprise.
Wedding dresses from most high street wedding shops advise you to buy them six months or more before your wedding. Wedding shops have dresses in sample sizes, so most will not have your chosen dress in your measurements (ie dress size, height, weight, bust etc). They need to order it, receive it into the shop, and call you in a couple of times to have it altered to perfection. Having an ill-fitting wedding dress is just….ugh. So do take the time to take care over your dress – trust me, it’ll be worth it.
Keep track of your budget
There are plenty of ways to track your budget throughout the rollercoaster of wedmin, so you can stay on top of your finances! Be sure to keep an eye on all the costs and when they’re due, so nothing comes as a nasty surprise. Spreadsheets and lists are your friend, so let your inner Monica Geller control-freak loose on jotting down all the things you’ll need to shell out for. Along with your big ticket items, this may include the usual forgotten costs like hen/stag parties, accessories for bridesmaids/ushers like jewellery or cufflinks/tie bars. Finally, we would always advise you to seriously consider wedding insurance, and keep a contingency fund. If COVID-19 has taught us anything, its that things can change at the drop of a hat without any warning whatsoever.