Getting married should be one of the most enjoyable experiences of your life, but for many planning an event of this size (not to mention this cost!) can prove daunting.
Let our guide to some of the key decisions, our at-a-glance timetable and our brief guide to wedding etiquette help make planning your wedding day an experience to savour.
Guide to Key Decisions
Once you've finished basking in the glow of engagement, you'll find it very hard to get anything accomplished without a detailed wedding budget. This will give you an outline of what you should spend on each item, so as to ensure you don't spend more than you intend to overall. Here's how to create a wedding budget that you can afford.
Although tradition says that the bride's parents pay for the whole thing, this is frequently untrue for today's couples. If you can pay for the whole event yourselves, then that’s great . If you want your families to help you out, or pay for it all, you should have a frank discussion with them about it. You might say something like "we’re starting to plan our wedding, and we wanted to ask you if you might want to contribute." You should be prepared for questions, such as "How much do you think the whole thing will cost".
The average wedding cost now is between £15,000 - £20,000 (this figure includes the average cost of the honeymoon and first night’s hotel), but it’s best to base your wedding budget on the funds available to you.
There are several options:
- Parents can say that they are contributing a specific amount, you then decide your budget and make up the difference yourselves.
- Parents can say that they want to pay for specific items such as the wedding dress, catering or flowers. .
- You can set a budget and then ask to split it evenly. This is particularly a good solution for divided families. For example, the couple, the mother of the bride, the father of the bride, and the groom's parents will each contribute the same amount into the pot.
Working Out a Basic Wedding Budget
Start off by thinking about how many guests you would like to invite – this figure will be affected by several factors – the size of each family, numbers of parental friends/friends, even the capacity of the venue can all have an impact on your total number of guests. Look at the list below and remove anything that you know you definitely won’t need/want.
Then put in as many of the figures that you know, as accurately as you can, and you should start to build up a clearer picture of where the budget could end up.
- Wedding Ring
- Wedding Outfit
- Wedding Ring
Bridesmaids and Attendance Budget
- Bridesmaid Dresses
- Bridesmaid Accessories
- Bridesmaid/Best Man, Ushers Gifts
- Best Man Outfit
- Page Boy Outfits
- Bridal Bouquet
- Bridesmaids Flowers
- Grooms/Ushers Buttonholes
- Church/Service Flowers
- Venue Flowers
- Mother of the Bride/Groom/Thank You Flowers
- Civil / Church Fees
- Ceremony Music
- Venue Hire
- Marriage License
Honeymoon Expenses Budget
- First Night Hotel
- Honeymoon Spending
- Hen Night
- Stag Party
- Wedding Insurance
Wedding Reception Expenses
- Wedding Favours/Stationery
- Wedding Transport
- Reception Drinks
- Wedding Breakfast
- Wedding Cake
Once you've set a budget, and you’re confident it’s realistic then stick to it!
Choosing Your Venue
Of course, we believe that Inglewood Manor really is the ultimate romantic wedding venue, but it’s really important that it’s the perfect fit for your big day.
Once you have decided to get married, choosing the venue and booking your Church or Registrars should be one of the first items on your to-do list. This is because many people choose to book the venue early (sometimes years in advance), and so securing your preferred date can be quite a challenge. Once the venue and the Church or Registrars are booked, many of the other items on the to-do list can wait a while.
Your Guest List
Now the fun really begins! Where do you start with your guest list? The truth is you have probably already thought about it. Have you always dreamt of a huge fairytale wedding or a smaller, more intimate affair? Both budget and venue can be deciding factors in the final guest list, but quite often the best way to work is from the inside out. Start with the people closest to you, the key players (family members, best man or men, bridesmaids, etc) and then work outwards. Imagine you are designing your 'family and friends tree'. Get a large piece of paper and at the very top write your names. Then work downwards in rows starting with the most important people and working to the end until you have encompassed everyone you can think of. At this point, do not worry about the actual number of people you have written down but think more about not overlooking anyone. Once you are convinced you have everyone included, you can start crossing people off or at least categorising people into daytime and evening guests. Be prepared to give and take a little when discussing people with your partner and try to be as accommodating as possible. That being said, remember that it is your day and if there is somebody there that will really make your day, stand firm!
Choosing The Dress
This can be one of the most fun and exciting parts of the whole wedding preparation process. No matter what shape or size you are, there are a multitude of dresses to be found, not to mention all the accessories you will need to make yourself look like a fairy princess.
Take some time to try on a variety of shapes and styles to find the one that makes you feel magical, and for brides on a budget, don’t discount pre-loved wedding dresses, as you can pick up some absolutely fabulous designer bargains!
Grooms wear, ushers, bridesmaids, pageboys and every other member of the wedding party also need to be considered so be prepared to spend some time making sure the complete wedding party is co-ordinated.
Order the Stationery
Whilst you have probably already told everyone you know about your up and coming big day, now is the time to make it official. Your invitations need to be sent out well in advance so whilst this may be a little early to send them, you should at least begin looking at colours and designs.
If you want to be really well prepared, why not send out some 'save the date' cards out now just to say that your big day is on the XXX and the official invitations will be sent out closer to the time? People love to receive mail, especially when it is covered with feathers and pretty bows. Your stationery order can be themed by the colours in the rest of your day, and is traditionally sent on behalf of the brides parents. The stationery order can include everything from a save the date card, to your place cards, and even your order of service card. It is always handy to get your order done with one supplier to avoid confusion.
This is one area where thrifty brides and grooms can really save some money by creating their own wedding stationary. There are loads of options available from hobby shops and a vast array of design ideas available on the internet, so if you enjoy a bit of cut and paste – here’s your chance.
Having dealt with 101 suppliers, bridesmaid issues, months of stress and trying to make the biggest day of your life perfect you will need a holiday. Your honeymoon is normally your first few weeks alone with your new partner, so it will be very exciting. Going down to your local travel agent early will avoid disappointment and help to make sure that you have the most relaxing holiday of your life. Changing your name on the passport is best left until after you return from the holiday, but if you don't own a passport with a least 6 months validity left on it, it would be advisable to get one sooner rather than later. If you are travelling to a distant destination that’s off the beaten track, you may also want to check out the visa and inoculation requirements.
Arranging Your Suppliers
Through out your wedding day you will experience so many wonderful moments that you will want to remember. By booking a good photographer/videographer you create a treasure to keep forever. Your wedding car will also need to be booked at this stage, along with choosing the right colour coordinated and meaningful flowers to complement your day . The cake and music also need to be thought about now. It’s worth asking your venue if they have any suggestions for suppliers, and remember that there is nothing wrong in asking for references or perhaps to talk to recent customer. Do keep a weather eye on the budget and remember that using family and friends for even some of the services you require (e.g. driving the bridesmaids to church, or baking the cake) ,will definitely help keep the costs down.
Look out for wedding fairs as a good source of plenty of suppliers in the same place to save you a lot of leg-work. We have a Spring Fair, usually towards the end of February/beginning of March and an Autumn fair, normally towards the end of September. Check out the weddings page of the website for details.
Your Wedding Gift List
A lovely ‘side effect’ of getting married is all those lovely presents you are going to receive.
Whilst no-one wishes to appear greedy, a gift list is a good idea for couples who live together and already have all the essentials. Setting up and in-store or online wedding list can be a great idea as it avoids the chance of receiving 3 toasters or a random piece of china.
It is always lovely to receive a few unexpected gifts, however, so why not ask selected guests whose taste you admire to go ahead and surprise you. These will often become some of your most treasured items.
The Stag and Hen Nights
It is the duty of the best man and bridesmaids to organize these events. These days, they are usually done in style with ‘painting the town red’ being the order of the day. This will be a very exciting evening, because you will be amongst your closest friends, and the people who know you best. Stag and Hen nights are now often turning into weekends and even weeks. If you've budgeted well these events can be spent in far-away lands topping up tans and relaxing before the day itself. However, don’t be tempted to blow the budget for the big day on pre-wedding events, especially if the budget is tight to start with.
The Finishing Touches
Everyone's wedding is unique to them so it is difficult to put into words exactly what final touches you will need to take care of. Things to think about are seating plans, order of service, rehearsals, speeches, readings, poems, thank you gifts, first dances, music, timings, transport, children, favours, first night accommodation, return of hired outfits, thank you cards, etc…
There is world of helpful experience out there on the internet, though, so however trivial or extreme your wedding question might be, post it on one of the forums or boards, and you can bet that someone out there will be able to help