It’s quite possible that as soon as you hear the words ‘will you marry me’ that you’ll begin to get lots of ideas about your dream wedding day in your head. Actually, it wouldn’t be surprising if some of those images had been there for quite a few years and with the emergence of the engagement ring, they’ve started to run riot! But now is the moment to start to make those thoughts real, to look at your priorities and to gather inspiration and ideas. But most of all, now is the time to start to deal with everyone else’s expectations of your wedding as well. This probably doesn’t seem like the most enjoyable start to your wedding planning but it’s certainly easier to set these guidelines early on in the organisational process than it is to have to deal with them months down the line when people may have made their own minds up as to what you be including and who you’ll be inviting and where you’ll be celebrating.
Brainstorming Basics – One of the most important things to remember during the entire planning process is actually also one of the hardest to achieve. You have to keep in your mind that the wedding is about two people, it’s not just the result of one person’s work so, as difficult as it might be, your husband to be needs to have his input into the day as well. It’s true that the vast majority of men will not have any interest in the thickness of ribbon to be tied around favour boxes or the number of votives on each table at dinner but there are areas that he will want to contribute to. So, if you sit down together at a very early point and ask your man exactly what areas of the planning he does want to be involved in then you know where you stand over the coming months. And whilst it’s unlikely that he will have strong views on the size of the font in the orders of service or the pens you provide for the signing of the guest book, it is highly possible that he will have some thoughts on the ‘bigger’ parts of the day and all of those thoughts deserve to be heard.
At this point, you don’t need to be wading through endless stacks of wedding magazines and trying to decide on the minute things, however appealing they may seem. At this point, you do need to be discussing your overall thoughts for the occasion, things that you think are the most important and maybe even the people you want to be involved. You don’t even need to decide upon a budget at this point because until you’re certain of what you both want, what your priorities and your ‘optional extras’ are you can’t begin to apportion your funds accordingly anyway.
It’s always wise to take notes of some description when you’re brainstorming because you might well want to come back to a suggestion or idea at a later date and you probably will need these notes when you’re looking at venues or trying to set a date. So, with your notebook or laptop by your side, these are the areas that you need to discuss before you can really start planning your wedding :-
Type of Marriage Ceremony – This is something that you do need to talk about sooner rather than later. Of course you might already know whether you’ll be having a religious or civil wedding ceremony but if you don’t, you both need to come to a joint decision because it’s possibly this one decision that will have the biggest impact on the day you plan and rightly so because as lovely as the small details are to arrange, it’s the ceremony itself that is the focus of the day. If you’re unsure of the requirements and workings of each variety of ceremony, then flick to chapter five. Some things to get you thinking if you’re still unsure – Do you have an affiliation with any church? Are you looking to get married away from your home area? Does the prospect of a traditional day appeal to you or does the prospect of a country house, castle or another unusual venue seem more inviting? Don’t rush this discussion, listen to what you both want and try to reach a decision that you’re both happy with.
Intimate or Super-sized? – There’s no need to start writing your guest list at this stage but it’s helpful to come to an agreement regarding the rough size of the wedding quite early on because obviously the number of people that you’re intended to invite will have numerous knock-on effects. There’s no right or wrong size for a wedding because some people love the prospect of a gigantic celebration whilst others are drawn to a more intimate gathering. Although it’s true in some respects that each additional guest incurs additional costs, it’s certainly possible to provide for a large number of people on any budget but you may have to trade a stunning venue with higher usage fees against increased catering costs. Size of your respective families and numbers of friends will naturally play a part here too but remember you don’t need to invite everyone to the entire day, some people could simply be included on the guest list for the evening reception yet you still need to have a rough idea in your head because, as we’ll see in chapter four, venues have to place restrictions on numbers of people for health and safety reasons.
Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter – We’ve not got around to setting a firm date quite yet but is there a season that you’d particularly like to get married in? It’s always worth keeping in mind that summer dates are very popular, venues and suppliers get booked years in advance and lots of people take holidays at this time too. This means that you’ll either need slightly longer to plan a summer wedding or you’ll have to be a little more flexible on dates and location if you’re not prepared to wait a few years. Winter weddings are becoming increasingly popular with couples who are drawn to the prospect of mulled wine and roaring log fires but of course lots of venues are often well booked with Christmas parties and other seasonal celebrations at this time to so availability can often be as limited as in summer. Spring weddings, particularly those around Easter time can be brilliant but you do need to have contingency plans for those spring showers! Autumn is often the ‘quite’ time of the wedding season so if you don’t want to be planning for a long time, looking at an autumnal date is often a wise idea.
Priorities – It’s an undeniable fact that every couple will have different priorities for their wedding day and it’s crucial that you know what yours are before you start allocating your budget to various elements of the day. Do you want a really amazing venue? Are you not that bothered about spending a chuck of your cash on a live band but you know you really want plenty of good food? Have you always dreamt of a hand made wedding dress but have not once thought about vintage cars? Discussing and recording your thoughts on all of these things will help you decide on your priorities. If you list of things such as the venue, food, drink, flowers, entertainment, cars, clothing, cake, photos, video you can rate their importance to you both. I would suggest however that photography always be one of your priorities though as your wedding photos will be your permanent reminder of your wedding day and there’s more information in chapter fourteen about how to go about choosing the best photographer for you.
Your ideal day – This is the time to start allowing your creativity to go crazy and this in turn is where you start coming up with ideas and inspiration for your wedding. What would be your ideal wedding day? Start talking about everything you’d like, describe what you see in your mind when you think about your wedding and again, make as many notes as you can. Perhaps both write down the five words that you’d both use to describe your dream day and see what the similarities are. Have you both said ‘relaxed’, ‘elegant’, ‘fun’ or something else entirely? The words that you’ve used will give you a big clue to the style of day that will suit you both. For example, if you’ve said ‘relaxed’ then you won’t want to be working to rigid time scales throughout the day and a ‘fun’ wedding probably won’t involve hours spent having endless formal photographs taken so use these words to help define your wedding. Lots of the things that you talk about at this point might not be of use until you’re further down the planning path but it’s so helpful record everything now and being able to refer back to these things will help to keep you on track to get the wedding that you both want.
At these early brainstorming sessions, remember that there’s no correct answer, nothing has to be done or included simply because it’s been mentioned once and of course, you can change your mind on some things when you start investigating them more. However, these discussions are a great starting point and they allow to you get all of your ideas out into the open.