First steps of Wedding Planning

First steps of Wedding Planning

So you’ve recently got engaged? Congratulations! How did your family react to the news? Are you on ‘cloud nine’?

Maybe you’ve kept your feet on the ground. You may feel ready to start planning your wedding. However, you may have no real idea where to begin.

So let’s look at how you might set off on your journey.

Initial Steps

Naturally, each couple will do things their own way, so I can’t be prescriptive. However, these are issues you’ll need to look at very early on:

  1. How are you going to arrange things? Will you hire a wedding planner, will a friend or relative take this over, or will it be down to you?
  2. Decide on your budget. Make a list of suppliers you may need and guests you are likely to invite.
  3. Choose a date. There’s lots to bear in mind. You may have a particular date in mind (a year on from your engagement; your late grandmother’s birthday, for example). But the date may be a Bank Holiday, so it can be more expensive to hire suppliers. It may be the wrong day of the week (some days are more expensive than others)

First suppliers

Assuming you know the month (if not, day) of the wedding, the most important people to contact next are:

  1. The Register Office
  2. The wedding venue
  3. Caterers

The Register Office will need at least a month’s notice (because of the banns) and you need to book the registrars. (You can either go into the Office with two witnesses or the registrars will come to your venue – subject to certain conditions.)

The wedding venue can be a religious building (Anglicans, Jews and Quakers can currently host the whole ceremony (without the need actively to involve the registrars). If your ceremony is in a secular building (a restaurant, hotel, castle etc.), the registrars may come out, or their officiant can be a civil celebrant.

You usually have to book popular venues at least a year in advance.

Likewise with some caterers. So do your homework, and don’t leave it too late to book these particular suppliers.

The second raft

You may need to book the entertainment quite early. The same may apply to other suppliers – you can be looking at photographers, florists, celebrants, as well as limousines, hair and make-up artists, dress and suit-makers, and the like.

So that should be enough to set you on your way.

A great guide (OK, I wrote it!) is “Your Wedding Guide”, available on Amazon. It takes you right through this process in much more detail – and  is very reasonably priced!

Image: Robin Higgins, Pixabay

Happy New(ish!) Year

Happy New(ish!) Year

Experience and conversations at Wedding Fairs have taught me that a lot of people get engaged over the Christmas/New Year break. For them, it’s a really happy time, and they tend to walk around on cloud nine, grinning ecstatically. (No idea what “cloud nine” actually refers to, but we all get the picture!)

Because most newly-engaged couples are in a state of unreality, it’s hard for them to be practical. However, assuming they’ve told parents etc. and are sure they’ve made the right decision after the initial euphoria wears off, there’s work to be done!


Your main tasks (to begin with!) are as follows:

  • Settle on a date for the wedding
  • Agree a budget (this may well involve parents etc.)
  • Choose a venue
  • Decide on the type of ceremony you’ll have

You may want to look at other things later, and such considerations will probably include booking registrars (if you won’t be marrying in a CE church), investigating a celebrant, arranging the entertainment, also the catering, flowers, photographers, and possibly, a wedding planner. (Apologies to suppliers I may have omitted!)

You’ll also have things like guest lists. invitations and, eventually, seating plans to look forward to!

The date

To secure the venue of your choice, you must expect to book at least a year in advance.

Bear in mind that a wedding will normally be cheaper if it is out of season. Winter is good (excluding Christmas, New Year’s Eve and St Valentine’s Day). Weekdays tend to be cheapest. Mornings or afternoons are normally more reasonable.

If you choose a Bank Holiday or holiday periods, people may be planning breaks, so get your invitations out early.

The budget

Clearly, this is down to you, but try and secure agreement for everything first and foremost. Negotiations may be tricky, and you don’t want rifts. So be clear in your mind what really matters to you, and insist (only) on this. (Preferably, in a rational and pleasant way!)

Once things have been agreed, don’t exceed limits!

The VenueAs soon as you have your budget, go along to venues that have been recommended or that you have researched. Take a pen and notebook with a list of questions, and find out exactly what the venue offers (and what is not included). But first and foremost, does the venue excite you? Do you really want to be married there?

The Ceremony

Obviously, there are different types of ceremony.

Full religious C of E ceremonies have their own rules and arrangements, and your Church can give you further information.

Otherwise, you will need to use registrars.

You have two choices:

  1. Go with two witnesses (by arrangement) to the Register Office in advance, and get legally married; then you can go to the venue of your choice and have the ceremony of your choice! Normally, this will be conducted by a civil celebrant (who helps you put together a personalised ceremony).
  2. Pay several hundred pounds extra to have the registrars come to your venue. Provided there are four solid walls, they will perform a 10-15-minute ceremony, which means you are legally married. This ceremony is totally non-religious and standard (ie one-size-fits-all). Following the legal bit, your civil celebrant can then conduct the personalised ceremony you have worked together to construct.

So have a chat with a civil celebrant and find out how it works. More importantly, together you can create a unique, tailor-made ceremony that will be memorable for you and your guests for a long time to come.

You could do worse than contact Michael (07931 538487 – and he will ensure you have a happy new(ish) year!

New beginnings and decisions

New beginnings and decisions

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!