Newly Engaged… Where to Start?!

So today marks two years since my better half finally got down on one knee and proposed! I say finally because it took five years, which for any woman seems like a lifetime. Only joking! Obviously I was the happiest lady alive and instantly wanted to get planning and tick all those jobs of the list but I had this sudden overwhelming feeling of “what the hell do I do first?!” HELP! I was quite surprised at this feeling as I always thought I could tackle any event that came my way but with it being MY wedding (I should really say OUR but I think every bride is guilty of saying this!) I felt a sudden rush of responsibility and panic.

If you’re recently engaged then CONGRATULATIONS, how amazing do you feel right now?! I remember the engaged feeling and it was fantastic. Make sure you give yourself time to enjoy the moment and make the most of it before you start planning. Drink glass after glass of fizz, buy a magazine and sit back for at least a week or so and enjoy the congrats cards flying through your letterbox.

Your wedding quote

A few weeks have now passed and you’re mostly feeling like you are ready to crack on with the planning! The first stage is to think about the main items and start to get them booked in. It’s very easy to get carried away with colour themes, dress ideas and decorations. All of those fun aspects can be done at a later date once you have the main decisions out of the way. Once you have those sorted you will feel so much more relaxed, leaving you to enjoy the finer planning moments.

So, what to organise first? I have detailed the main aspects below in order of importance to help you out. Hopefully this will help you to get those items ticked off that long list of yours and put your mind at ease! You can then focus on the more fun parts like choosing your bridal party, wedding cake, dress, flowers etc. Obviously if you need any help with sourcing the perfect people to bring your vision to life then get in touch!

Set your budget

I know most people hate to talk about money when it comes to a wedding but you need to have at least an idea on your budget from the word go, this is number one on my list for a reason. Weddings can get very expensive so having a budget to refer to is essential. Decide what you can afford as a couple then find out if parents are going to be contributing too. That way you will know what money you do have which will help massively when it comes to deciding on the length of your engagement, venue and overall decision making. Create a spreadsheet and or a list so that you can keep track each time you book a supplier or buy something that relates to your wedding. This might sound slightly tiresome but it really is the only way to make sure you stick to budget. It is also a fabulous excuse to start purchasing all the stationery in the world, I’m talking about notebooks, to do lists, sticky notes, paperclips – everything! Go crazy.

Create a guest list

Having an idea of who you would like to invite will make it so much easier when sourcing a venue and also your budget. 60 guests for the day sounds like quite a few but it’s amazing how quickly that number appears on a piece of paper once you have added your immediate family and close friends. This doesn’t have to be a concrete list but a guide ready for when you start searching for that perfect venue.

The best advice I can give it to invite only the people you want to see in your wedding photos for the rest of your life, don’t feel like you have to invite a family member who you haven’t seen for years and years. This is your day and any aggravation that you receive won’t matter when the day comes. Spend time making individual lists of who you both want there for both the day and evening. In my opinion, the evening guests are just as important. Once you have the lists complete, combine the two and see what numbers are looking like. Concentrate on the day guests first as this is where the most expense comes from. If the list of names is too long then work together (try not to argue!) and happily come to an agreement. Why not make it more enjoyable and discuss it over brunch at your favourite coffee shop? Decision making is always just that little bit easier when you have nice surroundings.

Note down your ideal date 

Is there a particular date that is special to you both? Maybe your first date, the birth of your first child etc. If so then make a note of these before you contact your ideal venue. If you aren’t fussed on the date but love the idea of a wedding in December or a spring wedding in April then note this down too.

Venue

Most definitely the main supplier you will book and probably the most expensive! The venue decision really sets the tone of the whole wedding. From experience, most couples have a rough idea on the type of venue that they would like e.g. castle, barn, tipi, woodland – try and stick with this theme so as to not confuse the decision making process. Even with a planning time of 18 months, venues get booked up so quickly, especially in high season. I would say viewing roughly four venues is more than enough. This will give you plenty of background knowledge to compare costs, location, overall appearance, catering costs etc. Spend time making the decision with your partner as you will most likely need to put a deposit down in order to secure the venue and date. Remember to ask lots of questions! Read the small print of the contract and know exactly what is included in the price. You don’t want any nasty surprises when it comes to paying the remaining amount.

Chapelgarth Estate Great Broughton, North Yorkshire

Book the registrar

By now you should have an idea on your wedding venue. Before you make any decisions and sign on that dotted line it might be worth calling the local council and finding out whether the date and time is available. Depending on which council your venue falls under they might only have a few registrars available which could mean that the time and date you are after might be booked. When I got married I tried to book our ceremony for 3pm, 15 months before our wedding only to be told that they didn’t have that time available. We had an autumn wedding too so I was quite surprised! Even if you aren’t set on a venue but have a few in mind it is still worth a phone call so that you aren’t disappointed once you have booked the venue. I spoke to Leeds City Council on numerous occasions and they were always really helpful and accommodating.

Once the registrar is booked make sure you let the venue know so that they are aware of the timings.

Book a photographer

There are lots of suppliers to research and get booked in but I would say the main one to arrange after your venue is most definitely your photographer. The photos will be yours to treasure forever so make sure you take the time to find the right one that fits in with your style and budget. Do some research online, go to wedding fairs and get recommendations from friends and family. Don’t be afraid to ask them to meet you both before you decide. It is important to make sure that you get on and that they recce your wedding venue. They will be with you every step of the way on your big day so choose wisely!

Wedding photographer image

Insurance!

Lastly, for peace of mind please make sure you get wedding insurance. No one likes to think negatively but by paying a small amount each month or a lump sum you are putting your mind at ease in case of any mishaps or major changes. Do some research and make sure you check exactly what is included. Money Super Market is a good website to look at to compare prices.

So once you have all of that booked in you are free to go crazy and start pinning away on Pinterest (if you haven’t already!), choose your bridesmaids, colour theme, florist, cake etc. Enjoy the planning and try not to stress. Once the wedding is over you really will miss the organising so make the most of it.

If at any point you feel like you would benefit from support then please do get in touch and drop me a message. Planning a wedding takes up a lot of your time so be prepared for lots of decision making and potential family politics….

Every bride (and groom!) deserves to have the best day of their life and I would love to help in making that happen.

Siân xx

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