Picture this...you're engaged to the perfect person and you can't wait to take the next step and spend forever together...no need, I'm probably describing your life right now!
But then talk of venues, budgets, flowers, transport, honeymoon, favours (etc. etc.) kicks off and the overwhelm creeps in and you have everyone and their dog giving you their opinion - whether you want it or not.
I'm here to tell you that it doesn't have to be this way! I have a few tips to help you sleep at night and enjoy the whole process.
Let your imagination run wild
At the start of planning, it's all really exciting, there are literally a million options for everything and you have no idea where to start!
My advice, step one, buy a notebook and create a Pinterest board and step two, sit down with your partner and discuss what you don't want. Talking about what you don't want helps you work out what you do want easily by process of elimination. Once you've got some ideas of things you like, it's time to get creative. Use your notebook and Pinterest board to start adding ideas of colours, themes, influences etc to really get an idea of the overall look of the day (pro tip: use sections on your Pinterest board).
I believe the most important part of your day is that it represents you, your quirks, loves and personalities, so really think about what these are and how you can inject them into things. Also consider traditions and whether they represent you or not and ditch the ones that don't resonate with you!
Talk about money
Now comes the tricky part...how much is this all going to cost? It is kind of a weird thing in the wedding industry, everyone talks about how much wedding suppliers charge, but I believe in you get what you pay for. But you don't have to spend a fortune to create a celebration that people will be talking about at every get together for years to come.
It is important to think about how much you can realistically afford and if there is anyone else chipping in. Don't dream too big at this point, you're not going to have an OK magazine-esque celebration for a ton of people in a castle with a budget of £5k...no matter how much DIY you do, it just won't happen. So get yourself in check and understand what your budget will afford you.
Once you know how much you have to spend, write a list of priorities of the most important things that you absolutely have to have and allocate budget to them.
Build your dream team
No matter how super talented you are, you'll need help. Whether it's a whole entourage of suppliers or friends, family and a photographer. So work out who you need to ask/book and start looking around.
If you're asking friends and family for help, try play to their strengths and passions (eg make best friends with someone who loves a pivot table!). People usually want to help, so don't be scared to ask, but don't ask too much, because as much as people love you, your day will not be as important to them as it is to you so just be careful not to expect too much from them, this will avoid conflict down the line (trust me!).
If you're looking for suppliers to help you, do your research! I can't stress this point enough! Make sure you can imagine yourself as part of their portfolio pics on social media or their website and check out their reviews. Meet with them or Skype, ask questions and get as much information as possible. Then armed with all the different supplier types narrow what you do/don't like about each and see how it fits in with your budget. Don't rush into decisions, take your time until you feel 100% confident with your choices. Then you can relax! It's important that you trust your suppliers and let them help and guide you...they are experts and you hired them for a reason!
Once you've booked people, stop looking and be confident with your decisions, don't second guess them or you'll end up driving yourself crazy!
Plan for awesomeness
By now you have your end goal in sight. Your date and suppliers are booked and the overall day is planned...now you need to work backwards from the date. Organisation is king!
Depending on the amount of time you have will determine how you do this but I would make a list of all the main tasks to do and then work from your date backwards to today and plot all the tasks in a diary or in a spreadsheet. Also mark who is responsible for the action. It's worth having a spreadsheet with deadlines, financial info and a checklist. My spreadsheet during wedding planning was my world and it helped me keep on track with everything. There are also apps that you can use too, just find something that works for you.
Speak loudly so people hear you!
People management is the hardest part of planning a wedding, I know this from first hand experience and I see it every day. There's something about weddings that brings out the worst in people, but you can minimise this.
Don't worry about being selfish or let people push you into making decisions you don't want (I'm looking at you parents!). Stick to your guns, it's not anyone else's day but yours and your partners and if you don't like the suggestions...don't do it. This is one of the most common regrets amongst married couples. You are never going to please everyone and nor should you try to, it's your celebration of love...THE END! One way to avoid this is to not tell people details you think they won't like, might be easier said than done but it can make things so much easier!
You also need to make sure you communicate with each other over everything and also with your suppliers. You need to be on the same page at all times so that you know exactly what the plan is. Share your plan/schedule of events and plan so that it all just works on the day.
No matter what you plan, there will always be unexpected things that happen whether it's 3 months before, 3 days before or on the day itself...you just have to roll with it! If it's something you can deal with then adjust your plan and delegate if possible. Try your best to not let it stress you out and remember what's really important. As long as you have a certificate at the end of the day then that's all that matters...the rest is just detail.
I know it's easier said than done, but I speak from experience. My mum died 3 weeks before my wedding and being an only child I had to drop everything (including a job I had only been at for 3 weeks) to spend her lasts days in hospital with her, organise her funeral (which was 11 days before my wedding) whilst being 280 miles from home and 400 miles from my wedding venue. It was the hardest thing to deal with and looking back I honestly don't know how I got through it. Luckily I'd been very organised and so it was all in hand, I just had a few calls to finalise pick ups but that was it. I realise this is extreme, but it made me so relaxed come the day and when any small things happened I just brushed them off as being un-important. I married my perfect man with all our friends and family there...that was what was important.
If you've taken on too much DIY, get help or scrap it, don't let creating some decor stress you out, no-one will know the difference on the day it there isn't a handmade item on their table. It's not worth getting upset and overwhelmed about.
If you do find planning is stressing you out, exercise, get away/take a break, try re-gain perspective, have some me time and just focus on the big picture. It's about love and you, not all the other stuff so just keep telling yourself that and you will be OK.
Images courtesy of Jessica Hill Photography