After a good number of years of being in the wedding photography business we’ve come to witness the triumphs and pitfalls of personal wedding planning and how to organise a wedding day that will be the envy of your sisters and yet please your mother! Here’s a small guide on how to start planning your wedding now that you’ve just got engaged. Congratulations!
The Guardian said in 2010 that the average wedding cost was £21,000 with that figure only set to soar over coming years. However, other sources now are stating that the 2013 figure is now at an average of around £16,000. More manageable you’d say? Gone are the times when parents used to foot the bill (as much), which leaves you with the financial responsibility of your big day. So, your first step is to work out how much is in your total wedding pot of cash and then begin dividing it into key areas listed below.
Find a Venue
Your venue choice will set your date so this is the most important step. Unless you’re booking two years in advance, your choices will be limited and severely limited if you’re booking just six months down the line. So preparation is the key here. If you know you want a hotel wedding where everything is taken care of for you, then you need to get in early. However, if you want a bit more freedom with a bit more relaxed vibe, we’d suggest somewhere like Priory Cottages but you’ll still need to get you’re booking in quickly. Or, you can do it more DIY and have a teepee style wedding and rent a PapaKata and not have to be tied in to any dates, just find a field and a caterer – whilst we’re on caterer’s we recommend Dine.
Book Your Photographer
Photographers, like most venues can only take one wedding a day. It’s important to book your photographer early. Making your photographer choice is a tough one as aside from your memories of the day and the rings, they are the lasting moment when all the details and bouquets have gone. Making sure your photographer has the skills, training and artistic flare but also the understanding of what you want is important. Have an idea of the type of photography you like. If your wedding is going to be quite glitzy, perhaps a photographer who works a lot with flash and fashion photography would be suited. If you’re wedding is going to be relaxed, then our style of softly lit, fun photography is more suited.
Colin Buck, chief executive of the Master Photographers Association suggests: “As a rough outline, I’d suggest putting aside approximately 10% of your budget for photographs”. Choosing a photographer based on price alone can be a recipe for disaster (although we’ve all got to start out somewhere), and it’s best to invest and not to scrimp and regret. If you’ve had your heart set on a photographer who turns out to be already booked, go back to your venue and ask for alternative dates to see if there is a gap in the calendar that your photographer is free – this has worked out well in the past for couples who have really wanted us.
If you really hate your photo being taken, a good photographer will offer an engagement shoot to help you get used to the camera – we do! There’s also a posing guide to offer those that feel the most awkward in front of the lens a bit of pre-preparation too.
Book Your One-Dayers
Like the photographer, you’ll need to book anyone else who’s only available because they can be in one place at one time – band, DJ, caterer, videographer, transport, perhaps florists – whilst we’re on florists: Leafy Couture make dreams come true.
The Guest List
Depending on the room/venue you booked you’ll know how many you can seat and the budget will dictate how many you can afford to feed. But do you want your 3rd cousin twice removed who you’ve never met at your wedding to fill out the numbers or do you want it to be a smaller affair with people who you know and love – which will bring the price down and meaning you can spend more per head giving each person a better time? We’d recommend the latter – making up the numbers just for the sake of numbers can give you a real headache and surely you’d rather reduce your stress on the day, right? If there are people you’re culling from the day who you think should be coming, then invite them to the evening so they at least feel part of the wedding.
Don’t wait too long to start on this, as you don’t want to be left two weeks before the big day and still not have found one! Great places to look for dresses are at Vintage Emporium or get one made at Glory Days. You may find that once you’ve got your dress, it’ll help you choose your bridesmaids dresses and the grooms suit.
Send Out Invitations
By now, you’ve got all the main details like the date, the ‘look’ or ‘feel’ of your wedding and you can get some beautiful invitations sent out. Either get a stationery designer to do them for you or go DIY if that’s the feel of your day. There are many ways you could invite your guests – perhaps try a creative YouTube invite?
These are the fun bits – designing the final flourishes to your table centres, and decorations for the rooms. This is where you can inject more of your own personalities if it is a hotel wedding to take out a bit of the hotel and bring in a bit of you. Likewise, if you’re in a teepee, it’s where you can turn a blank canvas into something truly magical. Prepare all your nicknacks and fun things a few weeks in advance so you’re not having a panic a few days before.
We’ve skipped over a huge chunk of things here but there’s a good start here on the main things you need to think about and how to get started on planning this daunting task. Remember it’s a celebration, not a nightmare and it’s all about you two, not about everyone else.
To book us for your wedding contact us using the form above and see if we’re still available for your date.