Hello, I am Katie Slater, founder of Songbird Weddings. I am a wedding planner and event planner based in Cambridge but I plan weddings across the UK. I am writing 1 blog per month for 12 months so that we can effectively plan a wedding together! Each month, I will advise what you should be ticking off of the wedding planning to do list that month. I will also give you my top hints and tips.
Let me know how you are getting on by commenting or #letsplansongbird in your Instagram posts and facebook posts! Please also send me any questions or topics you would like me to cover.
So, lets begin! A huge congratulations to all of you who have just got engaged. Once the sheer excitement has worn off and you have celebrated it is time to start wedding planning. So where do we begin?
1. WEDDING BUDGET
SET A BUDGET
Before you do anything you need to set a wedding budget. I have written a full article on how to set your wedding budget on Festival Brides this month. So, if you want more details, pop on over and check that out. To summarise however, the key points are below:
Firstly, everyone has a budget. Do not live in denial by not working out what yours is. Because that is one way to guarantee you will go over it. It is not just about what you can afford it is about what you are comfortable spending on your wedding. This is it …. first partnership decision – you both have to be on board from the start.
COMPARTMENTALISE YOUR BUDGET
WHAT CAN YOU SPEND IN EACH AREA
Split your budget into categories so you know what you can afford to spend in each area. If you overspend in one area you need to decide what you are sacrificing from the budget. This will help you stay on budget.
MAKE BUDGET BASED DECISIONS
It will also help you make those decisions because you understand that having one thing, costs another. Sometimes, you may decide to go over budget and that is fine. In that case, it is your choice and you realise you are doing it.
DON’T LET THE BUDGET RUN AWAY FROM YOU
So many times I have seen couples rush out and book a venue and a photographer because that is what they think they should do. Then they discover that they have signed up (and paid deposits for) things they cannot afford. That is quite a stressful way to start what should be a fun and exciting process.
APPROACH THE RIGHT SUPPLIERS
By having a wedding budget which is broken down it also allows you to approach suppliers at the right budget level. It also enables you to give them a realistic brief. It is no use asking a creative (lets say a stationer for arguments sake) to design a beautiful set of stationary without outlining a budget.
Of course, having a passion for her craft she will design you something bespoke with all of the best materials. As creatives, we dream of these kind of clients. But if she shows you this creation and you love it but you cannot afford it then you are going to immediately feel disappointed with what she then shows you within budget.
What I am saying is, do not set yourself up to be disappointed. If you give a supplier your budget they will pitch you an idea which works within that budget. Yes, they probably could do something better if you gave them more but quite frankly, if you cannot afford it – its best not to know!
WHERE IS THE MONEY COMING FROM?
Finally and possibly the worst bit is to work out how it is all being paid for. If your parents are chipping in make sure you understand how that is going to work. In a dream world they give you a set amount and let you run off into the wind to spend it. More likely, they say they will pay the bills that you assign to them. It is important for you to understand whether they want to pay for specific things. Imagine if you agree to an open bar with the £5,000 your mother in law promised you, when actually all she wanted to pay for is the flowers and you have only chosen a bouquet – suddenly you have a pretty serious shortfall in your budget.
The other thing to understand is the timings of when they will have the money available. Most wedding bills will need to be paid beforehand in the months and weeks leading up to your wedding. If they are going to give you money make sure they can give it at the time you need it.
2. PICK A STYLE
Before any men reading this click away (horrible stereotype, so I am sorry to all of you style savvy grooms) BUT I am not talking here about colour schemes and floristry. Here, what I am talking about is how you want your wedding day to feel. What kind of atmosphere do you want to create. This is going to play into all of your top level decisions.
For example, those of you who want a fun, fast paced wedding may decide to have a later ceremony time. The shorter the gaps between the phases of the wedding the easier it is to keep up the momentum. For my couples who are really, in their words “party and entertainment focussed”, I always recommend a 2 or 3 o’clock wedding.
In contrast, if you went an elegant and more formal affair you may need more time and so an earlier wedding is obviously more suited.
Furthermore, the atmosphere that you want to create is really important when it comes to looking for that venue. You need to have a vision in mind throughout your venue search.
3. WHAT ARE YOUR PRIORITIES?
Make sure you work out what your priorities are and weight your budget accordingly to give those elements more budget. For example, a lot of my clients want a festival wedding. However, a festival wedding means different things to different people. For some, it is entertainment so I need to make sure they have a healthy entertainment budget. They also will most likely want a venue which does not cut live music at 11pm. For others, it is all about the setting. The want to be outside and they want everyone to be able to glamp with them. For them, my venue search needs to focus on venues with glamping accommodation and no neighbours to annoy. Also, when looking for their structure supplier their may be savings to be had by finding a supplier who also hires bell tents.
4. WRITE YOUR GUEST LIST
The next thing to do is write your guest list. You need to do this now because you need to know your required venue capacity. Now, I am warning you, prepare yourself for this to be contentious. Decide now how you are dealing with parents and their friends. Is now the time to show them the list and see who they want to invite? Alternatively, do you want to bide your time and see if it affects your venue choice. I cannot tell you which to do because that really depends on your relationship with your parents. All I can say is that it is normally always an issue that really boils down to everyone just wanting to celebrate with the people they care about most. Unfortunately, it just may be that your people and your parents people are different.
APPORTIONING WEDDING BUDGET
Apologies, I digress – your guest list hugely plays into your budget and how far each category has to stretch. If you have say £10,000 to spend on catering for 150 guests you will be looking at a significantly different standard to if you had 100 guests. The more guests, the more all of your price per head elements will cost. By that I do not just mean catering, bar, on the day stationary and cake. It also includes items like floristry (you may need an extra table and so an extra arrangement), furniture hire etc etc. Whenever people ask me how to cut the cost of their wedding, I always say, cut your guest list.
5. WEDDING VENUE SEARCH
The next thing to do is to start looking at wedding venues. Do most of the ground work on the internet first. You know your numbers. You know your priorities so you can do so much work without even stepping into a venue.
Write a list of all of the ones you like the look of. Cross out any that do not have your must have items. There is no point going to see and falling in love with a venue which does not have one of your must have criteria. Save yourself the heartache. You will notice I mention heartache a lot, but wedding planning is an emotive thing. Similar in a way to house hunting. We have all done it – gone and seen a house outside of our maximum commute area. Funnily enough, it has an extra bedroom and a garden to die for. Our heart wants it but our head tells us no. Better to never see that house in the first place. The same goes with your wedding venue search.
Another important part of the wedding venue search is the ceremony option. I have written an entire blog about this here so do have a read of that. Essentially, you need know what kind of ceremony you are having and whether you need your venue to be licensed.
If you do not know where to look for venues, I would recommend CoCo venues blog, hitched and of course good old google.
6. WEDDING CEREMONY
Book your wedding ceremony. Whether that is a church or a registry office or a humanist celebrant. Make sure that your ceremony option and your chosen venue are free on the same day. When you find a date that matches it is now time to book. That is it – YOU HAVE A WEDDING DATE. Now pour yourself a large glass of wine or champagne because you are getting married!
Photo Becky Harley
I hope you have found this useful! Please do message me with any questions or thoughts. Do not forget to follow us on Instagram @songbird_weddings or Facebook @SongbirdWeddingsUK and tag us in your planning! #letsplansongbird Read more of our articles http://songbirdweddings.co.uk/blog/
Find out about our wedding planning services here
Want to see the next months’. Click here for month two.