Did you find a ring under the Christmas tree this year? Or perhaps the festive spirit found you a little earlier? If you’re now about to start planning a wedding we’ve got five things you really need to do before you start booking anything.
Firstly the budget. How much are you going to spend on the big day? This is a tricky and complicated one. My first advice is to work out financially how much you can afford and who’s paying for it? You, your parents? If it’s you - how much can you realistically save each month - can you make some small sacrifices to help with the budget such as making lunch at home instead to £10 on a salad and snacks every day. Set yourself a reasonable target - of course you want to have as much money as you can for your wedding but you also need to be realistic about what you’re going to give up. Most people plan a wedding for one to two years - you’re not going to have absolutely no expenses during that time. Other friends will get married or you’ll want to go to friends’ birthday dinners! If you end up saving more then your initial budget, amazing, but being short can leave you feeling stressed out right before your wedding.
Next, it’s time to allocate that budget - I find this is often where brides go wrong. Firstly your biggest expense will most likely be your venue and food so it helps to draft a guest list at this point. Be strict on yourself too - who’s important who’s not. Once you have a fairly good idea of the number of guests you wish to invite you can start looking at venues. The only challenge here is finding the one you love, that caters to your number of guests and you can afford. You should expect to spend around 50-60% on your venue (including food and some alcohol), marriage licence and officiant or registrar.
Once you’ve got a good idea of how much your venue and food will cost you can start allocating the rest of the budget. Your venue will also define a lot of where the money needs to be spent - some venues have wonderful onsite accommodation for the night before and to get ready in whereas others don’t. Do you need a wedding car? A hotel the night before? These are all costs you need to factor into the budget. As a hair and makeup artist I get people who write to me saying I’ve got £20 per person for the bridesmaids’ hair and I just wonder - why? It’s not a realistic price. So make sure you do plenty of research on suppliers in your area - get some quotes and factor in real prices. Saying you have £200 to spend on flowers because that’s a number that seemed nice when you picked it from the air but then finding out down the line this isn’t realistic only leads to disappointment, so try work out the actual cost of all the big things early on.
Cut what’s not important. So you realised you might need to factor in a little more cash for the bridesmaids’ dresses then you initially thought so cut what don’t you need. Does everyone need to have a favour on the table or can you choose a cheaper alcohol package? Often when you’re planning a wedding things do cost more then you expect them to - you can read my previous post on that here. So list things that are key - the photographer, the band etc.
Book in order of importance to you. Not everyone values each part of their wedding equally - for example, some couples may want to spend thousands on flowers to have a eye catching display; others may opt for just a simple bouquet. If having your hair and makeup done by a celebrity makeup artist whose brushes have touched famous faces before yours is a once in a lifetime dream for you, then accept you may need to save on something else such as affordable bridesmaids dresses. If you’re booking a service such as hair and makeup or photography, you’re looking for that one person to have availability on your date, therefore if you find a supplier you love make sure you put that deposit down. You can leave products, which you purchase until later on - such as gifts etc.
Tori has worked in the wedding industry for 7 years. She runs London wedding hair and makeup agency - The Tori Harris Pro Team which works both with celebrities in TV and fashion and on weddings. She also co-owns London bridal and bridesmaid shop - The Boutique in Fulham , a bridal shop which caters to every part of the bridal party from wedding, flower girl and bridesmaids dresses to shoes and wedding hair accessories from The Boutique co-owner Victoria Millésime.