January is always a good time for decisions. They don’t just have to be resolutions to lose weight, stop smoking, go dry, or the like. They can be very big ones, like getting engaged
I often exhibit at Wedding Fayres in January, where I have the pleasure of meeting doe-eyed, often rather bewildered couples, who are floating on air after a recent engagement.
What you probably should not do
Newly-engaged couples who attend a Fayre have not necessarily come to the right place (at least, not at the right time). Of course, a Fayre offers a wide range of ideas and suppliers, but it can all prove very overpowering.
How to get started
The first thing you must do, if newly-engaged, is to sit down and choose a date (preferably, at least a year ahead, if it’s in season). You must also decide on whether the ceremony will be religious, part-religious or secular.
Then the budget will have to be settled on and you must agree what part (if any) parents are to play in the planning.
The formal bits
Next, you will need to get the bureaucracy started. If it’s a church wedding, you will need to see your vicar to arrange the banns and the actual date of the service. For any other sort of service, you will need to contact the Register Office and also arrange a celebrant. If you are marrying in a licensed premises, the registrars will come to the venue (for a price); otherwise, you go to their office by appointment.
Venue and Suppliers
Obviously, the venue will have to be booked soon, as will some suppliers like photographers. What sort of entertainment are you going to lay on? A DJ? A live group? Catering will have to be considered. Guest lists can’t be started early enough! When will you contact the florist? Are you going to have a wedding planner, perhaps? What about the clothes for the day? Make-up?
Numerous questions. … and many lead on to others. (For example, catering: do you have a cash bar? Do you offer vegan (say) options ?
Clearly, you should start planning early on, so you have time to arrange things like these.
How do you choose your supplier and venue?
Your venue search may start with the internet, but nothing can replace an actual visit. You will normally be able to meet the wedding co-ordinator, and, if you come prepared, you can ask plenty of questions. Most importantly, you will get a feel for the atmosphere of the venue, and that is so important.
Suppliers (and possibly venues) are best chosen by word-of-mouth. If somebody has worked with them already, they will be able to vouch for the supplier’s professionalism, ability and pleasantness.
If you can’t find a recommendation, testimonials on the website will give a clue (though not much more than that, necessarily). It is best to have a chat on the phone or, better, face-to-face, and you may have a feel for whether they are going to be right for you.
Come what may, you have embarked on an incredibly exciting – though potentially challenging – journey. Buckle your seat-belt on and love the ride!