Once you've had at least five prosecco engagement celebrations and you've received too many cards to fit in your ridiculously over-priced studio flat in the outskirts of London, it's time to get serious and get a plan together. So here's seven points to help you out.
Sit down with your fiancé and think about when and where you want to get married. Summer, winter, this year, next year, UK or abroad or maybe you just want to hop on the nearest flight to Vegas and get married in a Vegas chapel or the romantic side of you fancies eloping to Gretna Green?
2.) BUDGET, RESEARCH, NEGOTIATE
Once the date (ish) is decided, do your research on budgeting. Sites like Cosmo, Conde Nast Brides and Harper's Bazaar can offer guidelines on how much you might spend. Then you can figure out whether you are able to save enough in time for your ideal date. You may even be lucky enough that your family would like to help you out and want to pay for certain things.
Once you have a total actual and REALISTIC budget, it's time to do actual research. This takes time, so make sure you don't rush, making any rash decisions, remember this is a day you will remember for the rest of your life. Contact at least three people/companies per thing e.g. dress, cake, venue etc. This is where the master spreadsheet comes in - document everything. This spreadsheet will be your baby, it should outline a breakdown of all the expected costs and then you can start to fill in your own costs once you get quotes and the price you eventually pay. You could also have a tab per item, highlighting costs, comments, whether you've managed to negotiate etc. Also ask around, recommendations are a no brainer, you're not trusting a webpage and 'so-called' reviews, you're trusting people you know, so why wouldn't you.
Think about whether you actually need everything that Cosmo has on their essential list, do you need a string quartet or to have Cinderella's horse and carriage? Final point on this is NEGOTIATE. Never ever settle for the first price that's offered to you. Push, push and push some more and when you're happy, you can accept it but if you aren't happy, move on and continue to research. Also, remember, the more you can get below your budgeted cost, the better - more dollar for splashing out on honeymoon.
3.) BE CREATIVE
A sure fire way to save your precious pennies is to get as creative as possible; this doesn't mean you need to have an A in GCSE in Art, just think outside the box. This is where Pinterest comes in - PINTEREST IS GOD. Five minutes of a quick browse for a couple of ideas for groomsmen buttonhole flowers, can very quickly turn into a two hour sesh where you've planned your whole wedding, right down to cool things you can put in the bathroom for guests (dry hair shampoo, deodorant, make-up remover you name it). It gives you cost effective ways to do things that look great and it's also a great way of getting your wedding party involved e.g. collecting jars and buying some glow-in-the-dark paint, painting the jar, filling with water and putting outside - great for a summer wedding!
Utilise what you already have - your brother's girlfriend's cousin is a mobile hairdresser, hell yes! Your mate makes a cracking birthday cake, get them on your wedding cake, plenty of time for practice and not to mention all that tasting. Amateur florist in the family could offer you those insider tips that will cut costs down to the minimal! Seriously though, take advantage, people more often than not will be keen to help - people love love.
4.) DON'T COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHERS
The worst thing you can do is compare your wedding to other ones. No one has the same budget, the same amount of contacts, or even the same ideas so why would you bother trying? You'll just end up disappointed. Your wedding will be AMAZING; you'll be surrounded by all your favourite people celebrating life, so just try to remember that. This brings me onto my next point.
5.) DON'T BE A PUPPET
It is your day! Sometimes this can be forgotten when lots of people are offering to help you out and you want to try and please everyone (friends, family etc) but it's just not possible, there will always be someone disappointed, but they will need to understand it's your day. Always have in your mind what kind of wedding you want, do what you want and remember (hopefully) it only happens once!
6.) DARE TO BE DIFFERENT
Don't be afraid to step away from the norm and ignore some traditions. We're in the 21st century, so it's kind of expected! If you want your husband-to-be to see your dress, then why not? They are probably the person that knows you better than anyone, so it makes sense. Don't want to cut the cake or even have a cake? So what! By the time the cake comes out, everyone is way more interested in shots anyway! Your mum is a feminist and wants to be in on the walking you down the aisle shenanigans, why not have both your parents? It doesn't matter what you do, it's your choice and whatever makes you feel comfortable on your day is the best choice.
7.) ENJOY IT
Final point is ENJOY IT! Don't allow it to become a chore, get your bridesmaids, groomsmen, family and others involved in as many things as possible, that's what they are there for anyway! Also to look fabulous in all their wedding attire on the day. You only get this day once, go embrace everything, take pictures of everything and take it all and saviour all the memories!