Planning a wedding can be an enormous project. When was the last time you planned a party for tens – if not hundreds – of your closest friends and relatives, where everyone involved has a different opinion, and which has a huge personal significance for you as well?
Though there are many things to think about, and 101 things to do before the big day, these initial questions should give you a starting point and a framework to make planning your special day as simple (and enjoyable!) as possible.
Ask yourself these questions and be critical and honest about how you respond. Doing this upfront will make all the decisions to follow so much easier, and will make sure you don’t end up in the dreaded position of being stressed or over-budget. Let’s dive in…
What can you afford?
The number one question, and a potentially awkward one. Before you start setting your plans in motion, choosing dresses, food, flowers, locations, you must know how much you can afford to spend on the wedding, and set yourself limits. The last thing you want to do is set your heart on the perfect venue, only to discover that it is out of your budget.
Some couples will be adamant that they pay for their own wedding, whereas others will have the whole thing taken care of by family. Whoever is footing the bill, it’s absolutely vital that everyone knows how much it is going to end up being, and how much is getting spent on what. Once these difficult questions have been taken care of, you can begin the fun part – spending the money!
Are you planning a huge extravaganza, the wedding party of the millenium, one where even your second cousin’s friend you once met on a night out gets an invite? Are you more a private, intimate event with close family-only kind of couple? Or are you even just planning to elope?
Whatever the answer, you’ll need to make a call fairly early on numbers, and then make some hard decisions about guests who have to be there, and those who are going to have to be disappointed. Remember, planning a wedding without your embarrassing uncle might seem like a great idea, but there will be difficult conversations to be had if that’s the way you choose to go.
Where and when?
This is when you need to start tailoring your wedding to your needs and desires. Do you want to get married in your hometown, where you live now, or somewhere special to both of you? Do you want to stay at home or go abroad? Do you want to be in a beautiful building, or outside surrounded by nature? These sorts of decisions will have knock-on effects on a whole host of other issues, like dress code, schedule, and look and feel.
You’ll also need to decide when you want to get married, both how long you want to be engaged for, and whether you picture yourself bathed in the glow of the summer sun, or lit by candlelight as a light snow falls outside the window.
Traditional or alternative?
For some couples, tradition is everything. A religious ceremony, where the bride is given away by her father, with speeches before dinner, a maid of honor, best man, and something old, new, borrowed and blue. Other couples tend towards the more alternative options, planning a ‘love ceremony’ by firelight in a clearing in the woods, or a humanist wedding in a pop-up pagoda on the beach.
Whatever your personal preferences are, the type of wedding you want will bring more decisions about rings, roles for family and friends, speeches, and a whole lot more.
How do you want it to look?
Think about the atmosphere that you want to create. Do you prefer something a bit more far-out, with candles, flower crowns, and a rustic theme. Or do you want to go for something more classic and classy, with a white dress, buttonholes, and floral centerpieces. You will have to think about what you need to tell your guests – will they be in morning dress, top hats and tails? Or do you want a riot of colour, with everyone looking as fabulous as they can?
You’ll need to give some thought to an overall colour scheme, for wedding favours, flowers, bridesmaids’ dresses, and groom’s tie/pocket squares, just to name a few things. When creating a look and feel for your wedding, the little details tend to make the biggest difference, and are therefore worth spending some time on.
Once you have the answers to these questions, you’ll be ready for anything the planning process has to throw at you. Enjoy!