Just Got Engaged? Here’s Where to Start With Planning A Wedding
Where To Start Planning Your Big Day
First of all, congratulations! If you haven’t started basking in the glow of being engaged yet, we highly recommend it. And while friends and family members will definitely want to know all the details and plans (you know, the ones you haven’t made yet), don’t be afraid to tell them you’re just enjoying this special time together for now. Things may seem overwhelming at first because there are lots of things to consider. Like; how long to be engaged before getting married, and how long does it take to plan a wedding. However, when you feel like your ready to start making wedding plans, allow us to help you figure things out! Now the question is, where to start?
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1. Start With a Wedding Checklist
When it comes to planning a wedding, there are some things that have to be planned before others. The best way to stop yourself from feeling overwhelmed is to take the whole and break it down into smaller parts. Having a checklist is a must! And you don’t need to stress, because we have created a FREE downloadable Pink Book Wedding Checklist for you.
This checklist breaks things down prioritized sections sorted by months – to help give you an idea of when to start with what.
Generally, the first thing to consider is figuring out where you want to get married. Your wedding venue is the first step. Once you book the venue, you’ll see the other aspects start falling into place. Remember to start looking at least one year before the time. The weddings industry in South Africa can get very busy in high season and vendors get booked out quickly.
Some questions to consider before starting:
- How many guests are you planning on having?
- Do you want a chapel at the venue?
- Would your guests require transport or accommodation in the area?
- Do you have a theme in mind?
We know that it may seem a little scary to try and get as much done as possible in the first few months, but that way, the last few months won’t be as hectic. You’ll thank yourselves later – promise. If you prefer, you can work with a professional wedding planner and leave all the stressful details to them.
2. Decide What is Most Important to You
Although our checklist is a rough guide of the most important elements of planning a wedding, each couple has different priorities. This is why it’s important to figure out what is important to YOU, and what you’re willing to be more flexible about. Some couples may have their heart set on a particular venue, whereas others are open to different venues depending on budget and availability.
The reality is that you are going to have to be flexible with at least some elements of your planning. Some things won’t exactly fit the picture you had in your mind. Sit down with your significant other and discuss which points you are willing to compromise on. Are you willing to change the location? Can you cut back on the guest list? Do you need to have a big bridal party? Decide what is most important to you, and work from there.
3. Create your Budget Beforehand
This one’s pretty obvious and VERY important. Your wedding budget will determine almost every other aspect of our big day, so getting this sorted early on is important. Create a budget sheet beforehand and decide how much you are willing to spend on each item. It is a good idea to budget in a little bit extra because there might be some costs you don’t think of when you get started.
Creating a budget might not be so easy, because you don’t always know what the average cost of everything will be! If you haven’t planned events before, it stands to reason that you wouldn’t know the price of things like decor hire and flowers. If you need a guideline, check out our blog filled with amazing tips and advice. We have teamed up with SA’s top wedding planners to create an awesome budget guideline based on the average cost of all the different elements of a wedding in South Africa. This should give you a good idea of how much to set aside for things like photographers, flowers, etc.
Get quotes from different vendors and suppliers to get an idea of how much they charge for their services. By comparing prices you’ll be able to see where you can compromise and save a buck or two. But remember, you pay for what you get, so the cheapest might not always be the greatest. It is very important to always get reviews and feedback from prior clients before booking your vendors!
A wedding is not cheap, so rather err on the side of caution and make sure you are dealing with professionals. Often your wedding venue or planner will be able to give you a list of trusted vendors to use. Alternatively, we have some of the best wedding professionals right here on our Pink Book website! Simply browse through the directory and contact any vendors near you.
And check out our blog on who pays for what, for a guideline on wedding traditions and what you can expect family to contribute towards.
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4. Set Aside Time to Plan
Choose a day or two during the week when you’ll focus on wedding planning. If you’re pressed for time, you can set an allocated time each day. It’s also good to sit down together and plan. Even though you have your checklist, it’s good to over-communicate. If you’re sharing duties, you should also be sharing the details. It’s okay to take care of certain things by yourself, but don’t neglect to tell each other about it so the caterer isn’t contacted twice.
One of the biggest mistakes made when planning a wedding is leaving things too late. If ever there was something you should not procrastinate on, this is it! Rather be sure that you have everything sorted far in advance. So time management is a must.
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5. Divide & Conquer
You don’t need to do everything yourself. Feel free to delegate and ask your partner, parents or close friends to assist you with planning. This is the best way to get things done. Sometimes a different opinion can really help and your friends might even have some helpful recommendations.
You and your fiancé should both be involved in every step of the way. Make a list of details to be taken care of, then divide the list in half and choose what you each want to do. You can be in charge of decor and your partner can choose the cake – share the responsibilities! Have a look at some of the wedding planning tasks that you can share as a couple.
And when the planning gets tough, take a break from contracts and seating charts to focus on something else. Mix it up, plan some of the fun things in between the boring details, so that you don’t get bored. Sometimes you’ll feel like you just can’t look the same guest list anymore! Take a breather and do something more fun, like dress shopping, for the rest of the day.
6. Focus on the Bigger Picture & Try not to stress (too much)
The best way to avoid any additional stress is not to worry about the tiny details. Keep in mind what the big picture is when planning your wedding. It is the love between you and your fiancé that you are celebrating. Don’t sweat the small stuff!
So, you really didn’t want the ushers in top hats. And maybe your partner doesn’t want the wedding cake to be red velvet. Each of you is going to want things that the other doesn’t really care for, but it is important to be flexible and learn how to compromise. If there is something which you really object to, make sure that you give a fair reason.
Try not to be a “bridezilla” and micromanage everything. Sometimes you can just sit back and relax. If you hire talented and reliable vendors, they will take care of it all. These professionals plan weddings for a living, so trust them to get the job done.
7. Stay Organized
Staying organized is going to help you a lot when planning your wedding. There are so many small details that it might become overwhelming and if you aren’t careful some things can slip through the cracks. That is why it is important to keep all your wedding-related things together. Keep all your quotes, receipts, ideas, contracts and any information in one place.
Here are a few tips to help you stay organized:
- Make a note of all the venues you have considered
- Write done what you liked/didn’t like about them
- Create a Pinterest board to get inspired
- Divide the responsibilities between you and your fiancé
- Remember to communicate – keeping each other in the loop is important and will avoid confusion
- Create and stick to your budget
- Break down all of the planning into smaller segments
- Allocate time for planning each week
- Make a timeline
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8. Vendor Contracts & Negotiations
When dealing with wedding vendors, be sure to clarify all the details and your expectations during the initial discussions. Make sure you always get a contract specifically stating dates, times and locations – get everything on paper! At the end of the day, you want to pay for and receive exactly what you want to make your day spectacular. If you have a telephonic conversation with one of your vendors, it’s as easy as sending a follow-up email, asking them to email everything which you discussed over the phone.
Most importantly, be sure to read the fine print on every contract before you sign it, and make sure you’re aware of cancellation policies and fees. Also, ask if there’s a grace period to cancel just in case you change your mind about the service or vendor, or something happens and you need to postpone the wedding. Better safe than sorry, right?
Aleit gives us advice on what you need to look out for in your wedding venue contract:
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9. Get Excited!
We know that planning a wedding can get tricky, but we promise if you stay on top of things it will be a breeze. The good news is that we’re always here to help. Pink Book Weddings has absolutely all of the information that you’re going to want to know, from useful tips and advice to venues and trusty suppliers!
Get excited – it’s your wedding day. You are marrying the one you love. When it comes figuring out where to start with planning a wedding, just remember to take it one step at a time and to enjoy the process!
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