Updated: Jun 5, 2020
So you have just got engaged. Congratulations!!
The following few months will be a very exciting time for you, not to mention busy, busy, busy as you go about planning your big day. There is so much to think about when planning a wedding that brides can sometimes feel a little stressed and overwhelmed. Understandably, you want the day to be perfect and to go off without a hitch. After all, it will be one of the most important days of your life and you want to be creating super happy memories. One of the best ways to ensure there are no hiccups on the day is to start planning well in advance and at Julia's Cake & Eat It! I like to be as helpful as possible so here are my top tips for planning the perfect wedding.
SET A BUDGET
Weddings can be VERY expensive, but they don't have to be, so the first thing you should do is sit down together and think about how much you can both afford. Talk about your finances openly and honestly and think about how much you might be able to save towards it in the coming months. If you think your parents might be able to put something towards it then it would be helpful to have a chat with them too so you know how much they might be able to contribute.
In the past it has been traditional for the bride's family to foot the bill for the wedding but that is not so much the case these days as many couples prefer to pay for their own wedding. Perhaps this has got something to do with overbearing parents wanting to take control! Parents may still want to make a contribution though so it's a good idea to find out how much this might be and it would be courteous to ask if they would like the money to cover any specific aspect of your big day, e.g., the bride's parents may want to pay for the wedding dress or the cars and the groom's parents may want to pay for the wedding rings.
If you come from a family that is very traditional then you may find that your parents are prepared to cover most or all of the costs involved so it's a good idea to be aware of who traditionally pays for what. Basically these boil down to the following areas:
The bride's family customarily pay for the ceremony and reception, flowers, decorations, dress, photography, stationery and wedding cars.
The groom's family generally pay for wedding rings, bouquet, marriage licence (if required), honeymoon, suit hire and rehearsal dinner.
You can find out more about wedding traditions and why we do them here.
CREATE INSPIRATION BOARDS ON PINTEREST
Pinterest is great for gathering ideas and choosing a theme for your wedding. It's free to use and you can create as many boards as you want with different themes and ideas. You could have separate boards for each element of your wedding or one main board covering everything. A good idea is to start off with several different themes and then pin everything you like onto one board to come up with the perfect theme for your perfect day.
Attending wedding fairs is also a great way to gather inspiration and information on potential suppliers and the costs involved. There are websites on the internet that list hundreds of them so there is bound to be a wedding fair near to you.
CHOOSE YOUR CAKE DESIGNER
A wedding isn't a wedding without a stunning wedding cake and this is one part of your day that your guest will really enjoy. Your cake will probably be on display for a good while during your reception and guests love to walk up to it, admire it and take photos of it. Later, after the cutting ceremony, they will all want a piece of it so you not only want something with that 'WOW' factor but also something that tastes absolutely delicious and I can help you with that. Contact me here to discuss your requirements and for a free, no obligation quote. Don't forget that I also offer free consultations for wedding cakes. If you are trying to save money, why not serve the cake instead of desert? And if you have a fruit cake you can also save the top tier to use later as a christening cake 😉😉
Recent wedding cake designs from Julia's Cake & Eat It!
CHOOSE YOUR VENUE
These days venues get booked up months in advance so once you have chosen your theme it's a good idea to look around for a suitable venue. You may find at this stage that your chosen theme changes as the venue you like may have some ideas that you haven't thought about so look around with an open mind. Lots of venues offer wedding packages these days including things such as accommodation, catering, wedding cake, etc., and also packages based on guest numbers so do ask them what is included in the price but remember to keep your budget in mind. Your wedding date and maximum number of guests is likely to be dictated by the venue you have chosen so you will want to get your venue reserved early on in the planning process.
CHOOSE YOUR BEST MAN AND BRIDESMAIDS
Don't get stressed over this one. You may immediately know who you want to help you out on the day but if you've got lots of friends, chances are that someone might be disappointed. Don't forget that you will need ushers too so why not ask some of your friends if they will do this for you. And remember that this will also have an impact on your budget as bridesmaids will need dresses and any male attendants will need buttonholes.
PLAN THE GUEST LIST
This is often one of the hardest things to do as you will probably be limited to the number of guests dictated by your venue and this usually means choosing between who gets invited to the wedding breakfast and who only gets to come along to the evening celebration.
It's a good idea to start by writing down the names of everyone you would like to invite, including partners and plus one's and then try and whittle down the numbers. Have an A list and a B list and put everyone who really should be there, such as parents, brothers and sisters, bridal party, favourite aunts and uncles, etc., on the A list and everyone else on the B list, then see how your numbers are stacking up and adjust accordingly.
CREATE A WEDDING GIFT LIST
Your guests will want to buy you wedding gifts so it is helpful to have a list of things that you would like. If you are just starting out and setting up home together for the first time then you can list everything that you may need in your new home. Try to include a variety of things to suit different budgets. Very often, couples will ask a department store to keep the list and your guests can go along and tick off the item(s) that they wish to purchase. Stores will often put your list onto their website too so your guests can choose in the comfort of their own home. This is a very handy service as it will avoid the possibility of duplication. After all, who needs ten casserole dishes!!
If you have been living together for some time and already have most of the things that you need for the home then you may want to think about setting up a honeymoon fund.
SEND OUT YOUR WEDDING INVITATIONS
When you have decided on your guest list it is time to send out the wedding invitations. I recommend that these are sent out about 6 months in advance but it is never too early really as you will need to get your RSVPs in good time. If you get people who can't make the date this also allows you time to invite someone else.
CONSIDER SETTING UP A WEDDING WEBSITE OF FACEBOOK PAGE
No matter how organised you are, some of your guest are bound to have questions and a wedding website with all the details will make things so much easier for everybody, especially you, as you won't have to answer endless questions all the time! You can also add a link to your gift list to make it easier for your guests.
CHOOSE YOUR WEDDING SUPPLIERS
You will want to spend some time researching this as, depending on what is included in the wedding package supplied by your venue, you may need to book several different suppliers such as caterers, florist, photographer, wedding cars, DJ and, of course, the wedding cake designer. Always check with your venue as certain things such as catering may already be included and they may have a list of preferred suppliers for the other things you will need so this would be a good place to start. Ask your friends and family for recommendations too and book appointments to go and see the various suppliers to discuss your requirements. Most suppliers will want you to pay a deposit to reserve your date and booking, either at the meeting or within a few days, so make sure you have funds available for this.
Make sure you read all contracts carefully before signing and check cancellation policies and payment methods.
CHOOSE YOUR WEDDING DRESS
This will be one of the most exciting days for the bride. Research your local bridal shops in advance and take along a trusted friend or parent to help you choose the perfect wedding gown. You may need to visit several shops before you find the dress of your dreams and you may need to put aside several days and make several trips. Bear in mind that your wedding gown may need to be made to order so make sure you allow plenty of time for this before your wedding . You will probably also have to go back for a final fitting a few weeks before the wedding so, if possible, choose a bridal boutique that is not a hundred miles from your home.
Once you have got your wedding gown sorted you can start to think about the bridesmaids dresses. You will want to choose something that will compliment your gown and fit in with the theme of your day. Don't forget your veil, shoes and any other accessories.
BUY THE WEDDING RINGS
Not much to say about this one really but you will need to consider what style of ring you would both like and visit several jewellers before you make your final decision. Whatever rings you choose, they may need to be altered to fit properly so bear this in mind and allow time for this.
PLAN THE DAY
It's a good idea to create a schedule as this will help things to run smoothly on the day. You can discuss this with your various suppliers and give them all a copy so that everyone knows who is doing what and when. The caterers may need to come in early to get things ready and your cake designer will need to know when it will be possible to have access to set up your wedding cake. This can take a little while, depending on your cake design so try not to leave the timings too tight. Include things in the schedule like the contact details for all suppliers so they can liaise with each other. Don't forget to give a copy to your event organiser at the venue, the DJ, ushers and anyone else who may need to know!
BOOK YOUR HONEYMOON
This is one of the really fun things that you will do together. If you or your parents are paying for the honeymoon yourselves then you can go ahead and book this more or less straight away. On the other hand, if you have chosen to ask for donations to a honeymoon fund instead of a wedding gift list then you will probably want to wait until after the wedding before you book this. You could always book a short break that is within your budget for immediately after the wedding and wait until later in the year for your 'proper' honeymoon.
GATHER TOGETHER YOUR RSVPs AND CREATE A TABLE PLAN
Although you probably sent out an RSVP deadline with your wedding invitations, there will be some guests that you will need to chase up. When you have got all the replies you will need to create a table plan for the big day. Consider who you think might or might not get along with each other and arrange table groups of family and friends. You will probably want to play around with this for some time until you are happy.
When the table plan is complete give some thought to how you are going to display this at the reception, whether you are going to give the tables names (useful if you are going to hold a table quiz) and whether you are going to have anything specific on each table, for example, disposable cameras so guests can take more relaxed photos of the big day for you.
BUY THANK YOU GIFTS
You may want to buy small thank you gifts for your parents, bridesmaids and best man, plus any friends who are acting as ushers or helping out in other ways on the day. Consider each individual and what you think they would like. You don't have to spend a lot of money but something that shows you have thought about them and their likes/dislikes is bound to be appreciated. If you have several bridesmaids you may want to give them all a similar gift so make sure it is something that everyone will like.
ARRANGE YOUR STAG AND HEN NIGHTS
This is something that is often organised by your friends but you will want to be sure that the dates are suitable, you don't want to be out on the lash the night before your wedding! You will also need to know if there is anything you will need to prepare for, eg., do you need your passport for a trip abroad or is there anything big that you will need to pay for as you will need to include this in your budget.
TAKE TIME OFF
Consider taking a few days off work before your wedding as well as any time you will need afterwards for your honeymoon. This should give you plenty of time to sort out any last minute details. Maybe also treat yourself to a spa day or a massage to ensure that you are relaxed when the big day arrives.
LAST BUT NOT LEAST... MAKE THE DAY YOUR OWN!
These days you don't have to stick rigidly to every wedding tradition and it's quite alright to inject some of your personality into the proceedings so don't let people pressurise you into having or doing anything that you are not happy with. It's YOUR day so relax, have fun and enjoy every minute of it!
If you would like a free, no obligation quote for your perfect wedding cake, or if you have another celebration coming up then contact me here, email email@example.com or private message the Facebook page.
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