You and your other half have decided to get hitched. You're in a whirlwind of happiness and all loved up in a bubble of excitement about being engaged! You've probably started thinking about venues, seasons, honeymoons, clothes and all the bits in between...
But now the reality...you have no idea how to plan a celebration of love!!! Unless you've done it before or helped someone else with their planning...you will be thinking where do I start. Being engaged and planning a wedding/civil partnership is such an amazing time and with good organisation and careful planning, it doesn't need to be stressful.
Don't worry...we've got this!
Communication is key:
The first thing I would suggest is sitting down just the two of you with some paper and a pen and jot down all your thoughts about what kind of day you'd like, how many people you want to invite, where it might be, when it might be and how much you can afford to spend.
It's important that you do this alone and without friends and family. Why? Because you need to be honest about what YOU want and what you BOTH want. It's YOUR day and you need to remind yourself of this repeatedly.
It's inevitable that your parents or friends might sway you or try and push you in a direction, especially if they are paying any money towards the day, but you need to stay true and firm to that initial discussion. Sure, there may need to be compromise and discussions along the way, but if you know what you both want and communicate, then this will avoid major drama between the two of you. There may be dramas with others, but that's a different kettle of fish and probably something that can't be avoided...just hit it head on with your collective stance...after all you're a team!
Get a planner and make a spreadsheet:
Rather than being overwhelmed by everything, make a plan! It's the key to success. Whether you have 3 months or 3 years, being organised is essential to a stress free engagement.
I used a spreadsheet which had everything on it. It evolved massively over time (I had 2 1/2 years of planning), but as a starting point I'd suggest the following:
>Budget - Including a list of items (Venue, Cake etc), amount budgeted, actual spend and/or spend so far and if under or over budget. Make sure you include totals so you can see where you are with things.
>Saving - Include a plan of where your money is coming from (if needed) and when, it helps when coming up to payment due dates.
>Payments made - Keep a list of everything that you have spent and allocate it to an item (eg Decor) so you can keep track of what you're spent against your budget. It also helps you keep a track of deposits paid and when.
>Task list and due dates/calendar - This will change all the time, but when you start making appointments and having payment dates, this will help. It also helps cut the overwhelm if you break tasks down. You can put the smaller tasks on so that you can see things progressing. Eg Get wedding invites could be broken down into Research ideas for invites, choose an invite design, book a stationer or buy paper, print invites, buy stamps, post invites.
>Ideas/notes - Links to things you like or create a Pinterest board with the various ideas and themes split by boards. The good thing with Pinterest is you can share the board with family, friends and suppliers so if you have ideas of things you need to share (eg bridesmaid dresses) you can do it easily. In mine, I made a list of things that I needed to take, so later this became my checklist when packing the car. I also included things like song choices and readings.
Further down the line you may want to add People Invited (with name, address, invite sent? RSVP'd?, accepted?, food requirements), Table Plan and Gift List. Basically, anything that you need to record or think about should be included.
Of course, if you can get a good planner, then this should include all of the above. The main issue with a planner is that if you need to write stuff down it can become messy when you start to change and amend things (which you'll do a lot)! It's useful to start with and jot things down so it definitely has it's place, but a spreadsheet for day to day is worth it's weight in gold!
Speak to friends and family:
You may have friends and family who can help with creative or practical elements of your day and it's good to get this organised as early as possible. If DIY is part of your plan, then this is definitely the time to think about things to ensure you have enough time and can draft the resources needed. It's a cliche, but there is so much truth in 'time flies' when it comes to wedding planning.
Another reason is to seek guidance or advice from people who have recently married and could give you some nuggets of information about local suppliers etc.
Go to Wedding Fairs:
There are so many fairs these days, look up ones in your local area and make sure that their overall brand fits with the style and vision you have, there's no point going to a country wedding fair if your wedding is going to be an urban warehouse themed bash, the chances of you finding suppliers who fit 'you' are going to be slim.
See my blog on getting the most out of wedding fairs here.
Hopefully, that will get you started on a stress free road to successful wedding planning.
NOW GO GET STUFF DONE!
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