WHAT TO DO AND WHERE TO START WHEN YOU'RE NEWLY ENGAGED
Christmas is just around the corner, and with that always comes a flurry of festive, New Year and Valentines Day proposals and engagements!
So what to do after he/she pops the question and you say yes? Read on....
1. Make the Announcement
I always love receiving a personal call from friends who get engaged before I see a generic post on social media. It's a lovely way to build excitement and hear the joy in your loved ones voices when you tell them the happy news. Many will advise you to inform family first though in truth, as long as you time it right, then the order isn't so important anymore. You may wish to also place a formal announcement in a newspaper.
2. Get the Ring Re-sized
I know, I know - you don't want to part with the sparkly diamond quite so soon. However, losing it after a few too many glasses of champagne would be devastating. So go ahead and get it booked in! You should think about insurance too, on that note.
3. Don't Set the Date
It's tempting to look at the diary and pick a date that looks suitable as soon as possible, but try not to! When it comes to picking a venue you'll need to have a little flexibility in order to get the right one - many in the UK get booked up years in advance, or have limited availability.
4. Draw up a Guest List
One of the first things you'll need to do is work out your budget - this is hugely impacted by your numbers. Quite simply, the more people attending, the easier it is for costs to increase. Start writing down the VIP list and build from there. Do bear in mind that some amazing venues do have restrictions on numbers too, and don't forget that many couples find a huge guest list a little overwhelming on the day itself.
5. Set a Budget
I know, how long is a piece of string, right? It is so hard to know how much money to set aside for a large scale event like this if you have never done so before. Please don't just rely on breakdowns you see in magazine and blogs - they are often unrealistic and don't take your personal requirements into consideration. Each and every couple will have different priorities, and your budget breakdown should reflect that. It is useful to consider the total sum you want/can afford to spend though
4. Hire a Planner
If you know upfront that you are time short or lacking skills in the planning/co-ordination department, it's time to start looking at wedding planners. Somewhat of a new profession in the UK, with increasing costs and ever growing work commitments, now hiring a planner has become much more mainstream. I spend 150-250 hours planning each wedding over a full year, so that's what you need to factor in to your monthly downtime.
If you do decide to hire a wedding planner, my advice is to set aside at least 10% of your budget to work out what level of experience and support you can afford. Whilst "on the day" services are still popular, I can't reiterate enough how much more efficient, coherent and enjoyable planning a wedding is if you book a full service planner from the start vs more ad hoc or last minute support. What you need to look for:
- whether they also offer design/styling services
- location (local or destination)
- connections with vendors and artists
- negotiating skills
- management skills
Think of them like a wedding PA - they should not be there to take away control or impact your planning experience, but to enhance it and make all the tough jobs that much easier. Interview a few and pick the one you best connect with!
5. Consider Your Budget
No matter how much you end up spending, everyone has an idea of how much money they'd prefer to start with in the budget for their wedding day. It's good to consider this early, as will help you establish where your priorities are and guide the vendor selection and design plan. You may also be asking parents to help fund the celebration, and I find it's also best to have that conversation early if possible.
6. Enjoy Pinterest, Blogs & Magazines
Arguably one of the most fun parts of being engaged is all the purveying of pretty- but don't get sidetracked! I often have clients come to me for design support as they end up with too many ideas and no coherent plan, or no idea how they will style it all with the right vendors without going into DIY meltdown. I love that my clients often share Pinterest boards with me as it helps guide me on their style preferences, but nothing beats the full design booklet I put together with a plan of action for the day. One of my bride's this year created a "things I hate about weddings" board on Pinterest, that was hilarious but also very useful!
7. Enjoy Your Engagement
Although I take the biggest stress factors out of wedding planning, there are still some things my couples will need to do themselves - from guest lists (see above) to choosing songs and readings, writing vows and selecting suppliers from shortlists. They are all relatively small jobs, but can build up when you are also factoring in work, family and other social activities. I always recommend to my couples that they set aside one night a week for the wedmin, ring their parents with a catch up (although sometimes I'm asked to do this for them!) - turn off the TV, and open a bottle of wine together. It should be enjoyable from proposal to ceremony, especially if you have a great planner keeping you on track!
The day after a wedding I'd planned and designed this year, I went to say goodbye to the bride and groom before they left for the honeymoon. The bride embraced me and with tears in her eyes told me how grateful she was for this advice, as she'd truly enjoyed and cherished every moment of the entire wedding experience, not just the day itself.
It doesn't have to be stressful, I promise.