Before you get started, there are things you should clarify with your partner to ensure you are both on the same page. Though you might want to go full steam ahead the second that ring hits the finger, it's important to talk things through such as priorites and preferences. So, what needs to be considered and how do you settle on decisions?
The most important thing you need to decide on before you can start planning your wedding, is what your overall budget is going to be. How much money are you both willing to put in? If you don't have a joint account, are you paying half and half? Have one or both of your parents offered to pay, in which case, are you happy to accept and would you still like to contribute?
Arguing over money and costs is the last thing you want to do when planning the most significant day of your lives, so having an open and honest conversation about it from the get go is crucial. Once you're of the same mind set about the total budget, you can then discuss how you want to split it between the different categories (venue, photographer, florist, attire etc.) To do this, you should probably do a bit of research first, and then you need to work out what your priorities are as a couple. If there are some conflicting opinions, this is where the art of compromise will need to come in.
Now that you have your budget set up, you can both move forwards with a good idea of price brakets when looking for suppliers, and neither of you should have any nasty surpises.
Remember, every guest you invite has a price tag above their head. The more guests, the more money everything is going to cost. You need to decide how many people you can realistically afford to invite. This goes back to budget, so if you've got a maximum of £20,000 to spend, don't be inviting 300 guests, unless you want them eating beans on toast for the wedding breakfast. Of course you want all of your favourite people there, but you're actually going to be able to afford higher quality food with less mouths to feed. This again comes down to what is important to you. Quality or quanitity? And for some, having more friends and family there is a priority, and that's totally fine!
Don't forget...children! You need to make a blanket rule on this to avoid the least friction. I have actually written a previous blog post on this if you're stuck here, but in a nutshell, you need to agree together on a rule that suits you, stay united, and don't feel guilty if you want a child-free zone.
Now you have to figure out WHO is going to make the cut. Naturally, this can become tricky for couples, particularly if one side has a straightforward family situation, and the other is slightly less conventional. When it comes to who, I firmly believe in inviting the people who's faces will make you smile when you walk down the aisle. Anyone who brings you some form of anxiety, perhaps shouldn't have a role in this particular day. Unfortunately, it's not always quite this simple, so you need to support each other and be sensitive through these difficult decisions.
Date and Location
When and where you have your wedding will effect everything that follows, so you really need to decide on this before you start searching for your venue, unless you are completely flexible with both. Having a specific date is perhaps a little too picky and will largely narrow down your choice of venue, however, deciding on a time of year will be helpful. Bear in mind that summer is of course peak season and will be most expensive. The same goes for days of the week, with Saturdays being on top.
Where is equally as relevant in the decision-making process. How far from your hometown are you willing to go? Are you happy to travel? Will the majority of your guests be able to travel far? Maybe you actually want a destiation wedding in which case you'll need to start researching venues and suppliers abroad! On the other hand, if you want a venue less than 30 minutes from your house, you will have much less choice, but you may find this simpler and less stressful.
Your theme will effect your venue choice and all suppliers thereafter. It's a good idea to start looking at images of weddings on Pinterest and Instagram together, to see what you're both drawn to. You might find you both naturally drift towards rustic barn weddings, in which case you'll know what kind of venue and look you need to be aiming for. On the flip side, you might have very conflicting taste, which will require a lot more compromise.
Bear in mind, there are very different levels of theme. From full blown film themes, to simply having a set colour scheme. If you find that you have real specifics on theme, then it will be good to know all of this before you start your venue and supplier searches. On the other hand, you might just want to go with the flow, and work a theme around a venue. There's no right or wrong, just talk about it first.
So now you know your budget, guest numbers, timeframe, location and possibly a theme, it's nearly time to start booking in some venue visits, but before you do this, you might just want to ensure you're on the same page about a few things first.
What are your priorites? They're not likely to all be the same as each other, but create a list that includes both. For example, for one of you, finding a venue that permits pets might be a must. The other might be set on having live candles as opposed to LED and require a venue that allows this. Or perhaps you're a pair of party animals and want your evening reception to continue on to the early hours of the morning!
Whatever your non-negotiables are, make sure they're discussed between you and written down, so you can now start seeking venues and suppliers both knowing exactly what you ARE and AREN'T looking for.
If you are struggling with any part of the wedding planning process, please feel free to reach out at any time for help with venue/supplier sourcing, budget management, planning logistics or anything else that may be worrying you. I offer a range of services to suit every couple, and would be thrilled to take off the load.