Cody proposed to me on 4 November 2017 and like many other eager brides to be I immediately got cracking and put the wheels in motion for our big day. I’d always known that there was a lot to do when planning a wedding and that it was pretty expensive, but nothing prepared me for just how much exploitation there is of the wedding industry and how quickly things can spiral if you don’t keep focussed. I’ve decided to blog my wedding journey, to help keep me focussed and to share any tips and tricks along the way to (hopefully!) make it less problematic for other bride and grooms to be. So lets start with what I did when I got engaged and some general tips and advice on planning a wedding based upon my experience so far…
Insure your ring
This is such an easy thing to forget to do when you’re caught up in the shock and excitement of being newly engaged, but it is SO important. It goes without saying that you’d be devastated if your ring was lost, stolen or damaged but imagine how much worse you’d feel if you didn’t have any insurance cover for it so you couldn’t even get it replaced. *Cue absolute heartbreak.*
You don’t necessarily need to get separate specialist jewellery insurance for your ring, I just telephoned our existing home insurance provider and added it to our existing policy. You will however need to know all of the details for your ring (including its style, stone characteristics and classification and value) so you may want to ask your other half to take care of this if he or she hasn’t already and you don’t want to know how much they parted with for your sparkler. Be very careful however when taking out cover and ensure that you understand the exact conditions and level of cover you have. Some policies don’t cover theft or anything that happens to the ring if it is not within arms reach of you. So please make sure you have a level of cover that you are happy with and that suits your personal circumstances.
Avoid buying lots of wedding magazines….
Most newly engaged couples have never planned a wedding before so knowing where to start can be a bit of a minefield. After we got engaged I went out – I suspect like many other brides to be – and bought every single bridal magazine on the shelf. I wanted to get an idea of what types of things I needed to think about and where I may need to start, but to be honest I didn’t really get any of that information from what I bought. I got the same standard budgeting and timeline charts in every magazine, which to be honest are pretty useless unless you are in fact planning a wedding on the budget of the UK average of £27,000 and within 18 – 24 months. Yeah of course we ALL are.
If someone had told me then that I’d probably be better taking to pinterest, instagram and twitter instead I’d have probably still have gone and bought the magazines anyway as I am stubborn like that, but my advice to you if you can resist is to save your cash. Most of the magazines are full of adverts, contain the same content and are very cliche. Your questions (in my opinion) are much better answered by immersing yourself in the world of social media, reading content and tips on planning a wedding from previous brides or brides to be and just generally getting a feel for what you like from there. I certainly wouldn’t be rushing to pay for lots of magazine subscriptions, save your cash to put towards something else….
Follow lots of wedding companies
Inspiration is key when it comes to planning a wedding and it’s great to absorb ideas from lots of different places. There are providers for literally EVERYTHING. Venues, planners, co-ordinators, cakes, catering, decorations, transport, stationary, honeymoons, clothing, flowers, entertainment… you name it there’s a wedding provider for it. Regardless of whether you intend to book a wedding planner, venue decorator or entertainer (I have booked zero of these) I’d definitely recommend following these people for inspiration alone.
Most of the ideas I have got for my own wedding have come from following lots of different people and thinking about how I can recreate something similar to what others have done at a much lower cost or by picking up recommendations for other providers I do actually need. What I’m saying here is don’t rule out following or speaking to certain people just because you’re not sure if you want to book them for your big day. Prime example here is that I have no intention of booking a make up artist for my big day, however a make up artist I follow (who you can find here and is fabulous by the way) recommended three florists to me. You just never know where you will find those hidden gems…
Don’t talk to people about your plans
It sounds bizarre, but remember that we are all different. We all like different things. AND THAT IS OK. It is your wedding. It is your big day. YOU PICK WHAT YOU WANT.
Don’t feel obliged to tell anyone what your thoughts are for your big day. Select the feedback you want to receive (and from whom) by being very careful about who you speak to and what you tell them about your big day, because believe me everyone has an opinion and they are quite happy to share it. Who should be invited, who should sit where, who has what room, what should be on the menu, where you should get married…. you name it they know it. Whilst of course it can be difficult (families always are) just do what you want, invite who you want and be confident in the fact that someone will always be pissed off no matter what you choose to do.
SO DO IT ALL EXACTLY HOW YOU WANT TO.
When you start planning a wedding the real key is to work out what your priorities are
You and your partner need to decide what is important for you both, and you two alone.
Cody and I were both adamant that we did not want to get married abroad as our main priority was having our families and friends all there to share the day, so that one was easy. What was a little more difficult was deciding where in the UK we would get married as Cody is from Bristol and I’m from Hull. With a 3.5 hour drive between our home towns venue selection was obviously key as we knew either way a lot of our guests would have to travel. We therefore agreed on somewhere close to our current home (so it is easier for us to arrange and co-ordinate) but with accommodation for guests available at the venue so that they can travel up the day before and stay over if they want to.
Similarly we have compromised on not having a church wedding as we cannot commit to attending church every Sunday for a minimum of 6 months before the wedding (Cody works shifts) and in honesty, neither of us are particularly religious. The venue we have picked has a beautiful converted barn which means that we can do everything in one place, our guests don’t have to travel between venues and we save on wedding transport. Win/ Win.
The point that I’m making here is that the key to wedding planning is knowing what your priorities are and what things you may be prepared to compromise on. Once you have decided on those then the rest will flow naturally.
Set a realistic budget and timescale…. [ONLY IF THIS WORKS FOR YOU]
Every step of the way I have been met with “what’s your budget?” and this may cause astonishment here but Cody and I do not have a budget. Yep you heard me, WE DO NOT HAVE A BUDGET.
No that does not mean that money is not an object or that we don’t care what we are spending. What that does mean is that we are weighing up each individual component, its importance on the big day and then deciding what we want to spend. Before I face the “Woah that’s a bit risky, how do you know what it’s costing?” Cody and I are very aware of what money we have coming in each month and have a spreadsheet detailing all of our outgoings. Similarly we have the same for the wedding. We know what disposable income we have, what things we can afford to splurge on and what we can’t. We can comfortably decide between the two of us what is ridiculous and what is affordable and adjust accordingly, but if having a pre-planned budget works for you, then please do make one. There’s no hard and fast rule, if you cope better with a budget then you go for it. It’s not wrong not to have one.
We personally didn’t set one as we had absolutely no idea what things cost and what we wanted until we started looking around and weighing things up. To go with a preconceived budget would have been pointless for us. Instead we picked the things that were most important to us, looked at those first and have adjusted our spending accordingly. As long as you are in control of your finances when you are planning a wedding that is all that matters, whether you have a formal wedding budget or an ongoing budgeting process please just do what works for you.
Talk about proposed dates and the time of the year
Some people have a special day that they want to get married on, others don’t. Picking a date is all about your priorities. If you want the date you met, got engaged, had your first date or officially “got together” that’s cool. If you’re not too fussed and want to try and save a bit of cash, go for a week day or a winter wedding as its a great way of keeping your costs down. One thing I would say however, is make your decision fairly quickly as weddings tend to get booked 18 – 36 months in advance. We booked ours in January 2018 and get married in July 2020, so we booked 30 months ahead.
Are you bothered about the weather? (Guessing not if it’s a UK wedding….)
Are you bothered about the specific day?
Are you bothered about the time of day?
You may say no, but these things can have a knock on impact so do think carefully. You obviously get the light for longer in the summer months so it doesn’t matter if you have a mid to late afternoon wedding in the summer, however if you do this in the winter you may compromise what photographs can be achieved.
Book your venue and photographer
To me these are the two single most important things to book. The day itself (which lets face it is max 24 hours) and the photographs and memories you have of it (i.e. forever).
You only get married once so when you are planning a wedding please don’t leave your photographer until last. Your photographs are likely to be the only thing you’ll have left from the big day (aside from your rings and your husband or wife) so don’t leave it until last. They too get booked up years in advance, so once you’ve found a venue you like make sure you find a photographer you love too. Liaise with both to book a date that works and form the rest of your day from there.
And when booking a photographer make sure you book someone you get on with as well as whose work you like. They are going to be with you within every intimate moment of your big day, if they annoy you it’ll come across in your photographs….
Shop around and be savvy
Even though you think you know what you want, try not to get your heart set on one thing. There are so many wedding suppliers out there and unfortunately there are a lot who are willing to rip you off. For example, I got quoted £6,000 for flowers and room decoration by a supplier who I got on really well with and whose work I loved. I genuinely thought we would book her, but as soon as she said £6,000 my guard went straight up. I asked whether she could provide a detailed breakdown so I could weigh up
where we needed to cut back and she refused instead asking me to confirm my budget. Alarm bells immediately started ringing for me and I chose to walk away without engaging with her any further.
Just remember that it is your wedding, you are the customer. If someone will not tell you what something costs to try and help you better understand what you are paying for, do you really trust them and do you want it that badly? I still haven’t booked my florist, but I have set up a number of meetings with some lovely suppliers who I cannot wait to meet. I am not in the habit of wasting people’s time and would never see someone who I genuinely wasn’t considering booking, but there has to be a mutual respect and no one likes being ripped off.
AND ABOVE ALL…. Don’t be afraid to say no!
If it’s not working for you, say no. Don’t feel pressured to book something or someone you are unsure of. I follow a bakery instagram (I won’t name names) and their work is simply stunning. I knew that they would create a beautifully delicate wedding cake and be able to deliver exactly what I wanted. However, cake is all about the taste right? Even more so as we’re using our cake as our dessert, so clearly flavour and the quality of the bake are key (OK Mary Berry). I contacted this particular provider in January 2018, eager arrange a meeting and they said that they had no availability until April 2019, but that I could pay a non refundable £300 deposit to secure my date if I wanted. APRIL 2019. 15 MONTHS AWAY?! AND pay you a deposit BEFORE I meet you and see your work? I don’t think so. If you cannot be bothered to meet with me or even schedule a telephone call then I am sorry but it’s a no from me. As a cake supplier I want to know what your cakes taste like. I am not going to pay £300 to someone I have never met for a product I have never tasted and don’t even know I like. Call me a diva, but I think that’s pretty damn poor customer service.
So as you can see, I’ve had some pretty interesting experiences so far… I do think that it’s sad that there is such ridiculous cost associated with weddings and that some suppliers are getting it (in my humble opinion) all wrong. I appreciate that people have businesses to run and that it is a competitive industry, but accessibility, honesty and integrity will always win in my book. It simply isn’t acceptable to offer sub standard customer service for financial gain or to expect people to pay a deposit simply to make an enquiry.
If you are a bride or groom to be I do hope that your wedding plans are coming along really well and that this post has been helpful to you. If you have had similar experiences or have any other wedding planning tips please do feel free to share them below.
Alternatively if you are a wedding supplier, please feel free to comment your details below so I can check out your work.
Jessica KG ♡