Planning a wedding is a journey. Rather like an epic sea adventure with you standing at the helm, the captain of your ship. One day it may be plain sailing over smooth, tranquil waters but the next you could find yourself amidst a tumultuous thunderstorm wanting to jump into a lifeboat and scream “abandon ship!” to the crew who seem intent on making your epic voyage so difficult.
However, you know where your ultimate dream destination is and how you weather those storms en route will be the difference between a smooth or rocky crossing. Even the worst storms, if navigated and prepared for in advance can be avoided. So it’s time to turn on the radar, delegate to your crew, draw up a clear and concise map route and wake up your second in command (husband-to-be) if he’s snoozing in the cabin. It’s time to set sail.
Together with your second in command, clarify your requirements. Do you both want a church wedding followed by a reception in a hotel? Or would you rather a marquee, a civil service venue or actually prefer to just jet off to Vegas? Talk through the style you’d both like and once you’re in agreement, and ONLY once you’re in agreement, start planning the rest of your wedding.
If you’re both singing from the same hymn sheet now, it will make things considerably easier on the voyage ahead.
Draw up a list of ‘must have’ and ‘wish list’ guests (to determine how large a wedding you’re going to be holding). This doesn’t need to be exact names at the moment, but a good ‘guestimate’ will help with planning costs.
Take a look at your finances and talk to your parents (they may just want to chip in a bit!) to determine your budget.
Pick out a few convenient dates.
Churches, reception venues and civil service locations can be booked up months in advance. So have a look around, sample some menus, get some quotes and then make a decision. This is often the stumbling block for most couples but if the date’s free, the venue can accommodate your number of guests, you both like it and it suits your budget, put your names down and pay the holding deposit as soon as you can. Once you’ve got this date set, rev up the engines… you’re really on your way!
Draw up a route map / calendar. Under each month write down all the tasks that need to be completed in that period. This is your log book and needs to be carried with you everywhere. Use it to jot down ideas, ports of call and all your missions.
Promote your best friends and loved ones to their new important positions: Maid of Honour, Best Man, bridesmaid, usher, reader in the church… These are your crew and deck-hands. Delegate their responsibilities as early as possible and give them a copy of your route map.
Start looking for your dress, shoes and accessories. If you’ve having your dress made this needs to be ordered at least six months before the wedding. Don’t worry too much about sizes (if you’re planning to lose weight etc.) as you will have measurements taken and fittings closer to the time. Your dress maker will make sure it fits perfectly on the day.
Many brides find it useful choosing their dress really early as it sets the theme / style for the rest of their wedding. For example a sparkly number may inspire a sparkly cake, table decorations and invitations etc. Or a 1950s type of dress may enthuse hiring a Rat Pack band and incorporating a touch of old Hollywood glamour throughout your wedding. Once you’ve got your dress, you can also start finalising your colour scheme by looking at bridesmaid dresses and your husband-to-be / the ushers’ outfits. If you’re going to be hiring morning suits, book these with the hire company now and take your Maid of Honour shopping for the bridesmaid dresses and accessories.
Book your entertainment. You may wish to consider:
• Singer / Musician for the church (when you’re signing the register).
• Harpist, jazz, steel or brass band etc. (when your guests arrive).
• Music during the wedding breakfast.
• Band after the meal.
• Jugglers, clowns, caricaturists, magicians, human sculptures… anything goes!
Choose your First Dance music and check that the band / disco can play it. If you’re no Fred or Ginger, start practising now. It’s also time to start hunting out the Big Five (cake, transport, flowers, photographer and perfecting your menu).
Book a hotel for your wedding night and also your honeymoon. Remember to check your passport validity and ask if you need any vaccines or visas. If you want to change your name before your wedding (for your passport etc.) send it off now.
Then it’s time for the ultimate shopping spree – your gift list. Don’t try and register in your lunch hour (too little time) or on a Saturday (too crowded). Weekday afternoons or early evenings are often the best time to get the time and individual attention you’ll need. Remember you can always register with more than one place, including your favourite local, independent shops and boutiques. If you really can’t decide or you’d rather save up for one large item, ask for vouchers.
Talk over the details of your actual ceremony and decide on hymns (or songs) to be sung, the order of service and possible readings. If you want to make up your own vows, start getting creative. Also, bear in mind you can’t have anything religious in a civil ceremony.
There are so many fantastic invitations available nowadays, many with matching save-the-date cards, reply cards, order of services / order of the day cards, menus, place setting cards, thank you cards and envelopes.
If you want a speedy response, include a reply card with a stamped addressed envelope in with your invites but you can also have a ‘reply by date’ printed on them. Many couples also include a ‘wedding information sheet’ with directions, local hotels / B&Bs, gift list details and taxi contact numbers.
Don’t forget to ask guests to indicate if they have any vegetarian or special meal requirements. Your caterers won’t mind as long as they have plenty of warning.
Flowers, transport, catering, cake and photographer now need to be finalised.
Also book your hair, nail, make-up, tanning and beauty appointments for the next five months. Remember to also book in your bridesmaids if they are having their hair put up on the morning of your wedding. If you haven’t got your wedding bands already, start looking.
This will be a busy time so make sure you use your crew effectively. Stay strong Captain!
The tradition of giving your guests something to remember your wedding day, known as favours, has been around for hundreds of years. Five sugared almonds used to be popular, symbolizing health, wealth, long-life, fertility and happiness. But nowadays couples are a lot more creative. Your Wedding’s favourite favours are: fortune cookies, lottery tickets, lucky sixpences, cocktail shakers, candles, Love Hearts, chocolates and picture frames. You could even produce your own wedding music CD.
Send out those invites. You’ll suddenly find yourself getting to know the postman very well as you greet him at the door each morning. This is when it starts to get really exciting!
You should now know who’s coming to the wedding. If they haven’t responded yet, get your second in command or Maid of Honour to ring them.
So onto the tricky bit… the table plan. Yes, this can be a headache but to make it easier, write each name on a piece of card and then start placing them around imaginary tables putting people together who you know will get along.
Once you’re done, have it checked by your husband-to-be and both sets of parents. Keep in mind that if you’re having a professional table plan made or designed – they will need at least a month to produce it.
Confirm numbers with your caterers and ring your priest / minister to book your wedding rehearsal.
Okay, this is when you are most at risk of metamorphosing into Captain Bridezilla. But before you threaten anyone with walking the plank, just relax and remind yourself that you’ve already done most of the hard work. It’s just the last few fiddly bits and pieces to deal with now.
Ring each supplier and confirm their schedules and all deliveries. Go for your final dress fitting and check that all your accessories are in order. If you’re going to be making a speech, start practising.
Once you’re satisfied everyone knows what they’re doing and on track, have fun with all the finishing touches. For example you might make up some vanity baskets to put in the toilets or get some fresh rose petals to sprinkle over the tables. Also don’t forget to get a guest book for everyone to sign at your reception and buy your bridesmaids some thank you presents. You can really put your own stamp on your wedding by being creative during these last few weeks with small finishing touches.
Then on the day itself when you’re walking towards that dashing man of yours at the altar, feel proud of the fact that you’ve earned your three stripes sailor. May you both have a wonderful day and sail off into a glorious sunset!
Brides! – Thirty years of experience can be at your fingertips when buying a dress for you big day at the Wedding Centre in Studley.
And with beautiful dresses at warehouse prices you’ll not only look a million dollars but you won’t break the bank either.
Proprietor Annette Hogg has been in the business so long she’s marrying the children of her first brides – and the reason they keep coming back is because of sound advice, a quality product and prices to make you smile.
The High Street business can also cater for bridesmaids, flower girls, outfits for mums and smart outfits for the men too.
Dresses can be cleaned and alterations made – Annette’s even got her own balloon company to make the big day go with a pop.
To make an appointment of for more information call 01527 854790 / 07833 697551 or visit weddingcentrelimited on Facebook.