Wedding planning guide | What to do now you’re engaged
So you’ve just got engaged, now what to do… Plan your wedding obviously!
You’ve said yes and you’re about to plan the beginning of the future of your lives together – Exciting times! Save this wedding planning post so you can come back to it again and again as this engagement guide is going to be your new best friend!
You’re there, you’re finally wedding planning woo! You’ve thought about this moment for some time, it’s finally arrived and damn what a feeling; you’ve finally got a ring on your finger, Eeek! You’re probably feeling a little overwhelmed about what to do next, it’s one of the best parts of your lives.
Your love for one another has skyrocketed and you’re about to plan the party of your lifetime. Some people may feel they can give you advice from their own experience and ideal situation but the best thing to do is stop, compose and take in all of the good vibes… Before you fall into any wedding planning traps.
The first things you need to do now you’re engaged…
Tell EVERYONE, but first your family
Yeah, it’s time to get mega excited and share out the good news that you’re engaged. Before you tell your amazing Instagram and social media followers, you should pay respect to your family including and especially your grandparents and let them in on the news before you get your wedding ring selfie up. It’ll make them super excited and be incredibly happy!
They’ve likely thought of this moment since you were born, they’ll be as excited as you for sure! You’ll want to let them know the great news in person or via video call if you’re too far away. Pay them the respect of finding out in person first. Then you can go and tell everyone and pull out your wedding planning diary and start to plan a wicked engagement party.
Share on your socials
You’re now free to post to social media, let all of your friends know, including your extended family and those you might want to invite to the wedding that it all just got a little real. So get practicing taking engaged and ring selfies, you’ll find you won’t be able to stop.
One of the first things you’ll also end up doing is practically plan your entire day on Instagram in one session – The excitement is real. But you’ll want to compose yourself and take it all in that you’re engaged first before you go crazy on the following of new wedding related hashtags and following of new channels. Plus you want to read all of this wedding planning guide too!
Get the ring insured
Boring! I know but you’d be surprised how easily the ring can get knocked or slips off without realising. You’ll want to protect that ring with everything. You wouldn’t want to regret not protecting it in the right way and live with the doubt for the rest of your married life. Insurance for engagement rings and wedding rings are very reasonable so you shouldn’t really go without – Get insurance on the list of to do’s as part of your wedding planning too.
Sometimes the ring is handed down by generations and so the sentimental value is priceless. Don’t burden yourself with the guilt should something go wrong. Often, Insurance companies can have an identical replacement returned to you within a couple of weeks relieving you of any worry and you can keep showing off your newly engaged status!
Arrange an engagement party
Get the real celebrations underway once you’re home at a local favourite restaurant or party space to share the excitement with those around you. You should consider inviting those who would likely be at the wedding and on the guest list.
Engagement parties have become a little bigger of recent years; I’ve been asked to photograph a few of them too which is exciting, but a sign they are becoming a more standard feature of the whole wedding celebrations.
Usually a band is hired to front up the entertainment and of course, what party is good without a buffet or food of some kind – Honey to the Brie do a fantastic grazing platter to cater for most occasions which is ideal for the party, you could opt for street food or have the boys in from Ffwrnes Pizza create and deliver the most amazing tasting pizzas before your very eyes.
Certainly lots to think about there but tread carefully around the guest list as to not offend anyone.
Start to work out your wedding day
In the rush of it all, don’t be eager to say yes to your parents friends from yesteryear or those you may resent asking later on. The etiquette is that if you’ve been invited to their wedding it’s courteous to invite them to yours.
Guest numbers is the biggest thing to eat at your budget so be mindful of how much you’re looking to spend, the sort of venue you want and how busy / intimate you’d want it to all be. You wouldn’t want to awkwardly say no to people you’ve initially invited as a passing comment or forgot about and may need to retract that verbal invitation; More on this later…
How to pick a wedding venue
One of the hardest decisions surely has to be location. Even harder if family and friends are all spread out around the world. You should pick somewhere that best represents and fits in with your plans and your style. Is there enough accommodation at the venue or within a short taxi drive for your guests that are perhaps traveling from afar?
You’ll also want to consider the time of year, planning an outdoor wedding in winter isn’t a good start nor is a beach ceremony in 40* heat – your guests fully suited won’t enjoy that. It’s best to visit your venue on an open day to really get to know the place and see which one fills your hearts with joy.
Ultimately, find somewhere that best fits with who you both are. Be it a more ‘outdoorsy’ venue, somewhere a little sophisticated or even something more relaxed and informal.
Choosing the date
You’ve likely planned an idea of a time of year in your secret planning diary already. But as tempting as it maybe initially, Wedding venues often give large discounts to out of season and weekday bookings – why? Because they have staff to pay for and a venue to run, it’s commercially beneficial for them to book up as much as they can, by giving a discount this helps generate the business is the out of peak terms.
The delicate part, what day of the week, this can cause a bit of a fuss with guests due to work commitments and childcare. Traditionally a Saturday is the most popular date to book a wedding including being the most premium too. Friday’s have become very popular lately. But, planning a mid-week wedding will ruffle some feathers, you benefit from the discount but it means many will have to book 2 days off work for your enjoyment (As I once heard it referred to before). Bank Holiday long weekends are a good option too should you wish to plan a Monday wedding.
Planning your wedding vibe and … the budget!
So you’re at the point where the venue is booked or provisionally booked on your preferred date. You now want to get a better idea of what it could look like, the energy you expect and the experience of it all on your wedding day.
As you’re still only engaged at this point, there’s so much freedom to save so many ideas and influences that you could get carried away and arrange a £100k wedding in your planner. Stop! Realistically you want to book what’s most important first – The photographer is #2 after the wedding venue, #3 is the florist and #4th The Band or DJ etc to set the atmosphere.
But what about the budget?! Boo! You need to be realistic and sensible here and not get carried away with any emotionally driven impulsive bookings or quick buys. Setting the budget is a task that isn’t the nicest conversation but you should write out what’s most important to you and whether you can afford the wedding in the first place. The average cost of a wedding in the UK in 2019 was £31,974. With the pressures of adding novelties such as favours, sparklers and a Photo Booth it really adds up quickly; You should plan for an additional 10% of the budget to cover for costs for small gifts and any unforeseen needs should they arise.
As suggested above you really should prioritise your budget, photography has to be one of the most thought over which you can read more about next…
Book the Photographer asap
Your photographer is arguably the most important supplier to your wedding day, No matter how expensive your dress is, a good photographer will make it look its worth and more! Within your wedding planning, you should set aside £1500-£2500 budget for a full-time professional wedding photographer. A good photographer will be booked for dates 2 years in advance and will be happy to answer any questions you may have and support you through the whole process.
You should be looking at full galleries in person, seeing sample albums and ask all necessary questions to put you at ease. You should also make sure to see their full insurance (have a second to think about it, plus most venues now ask for it as a compulsory messure). You should never hire any supplier without the correct insurance and cover should anything go wrong.
Your wedding photographer will document your moments for you to look back on for as long as you live. Any compromises should not be made here. It’s one of the only things to last beyond the day (except for dress and ring). If you value yourself and your relationship you should print your images in an album which your photographer will help design and order. You should find a photographer you connect with in person As you’ll instantly feel at ease.
Photographers aren’t truly comparable, if you find a photographer offering too good to be true discounts, you should question why. The #1 thing I hear the most at weddings when talking to guests is that they “regret not booking a better photographer”. Don’t let that be you.
Get those tunes and vibe set
You want a great evening party and a band can certainly bring some excitement. The calibre of bands at the moment is insane, all types of genres and styles for you.
You’ll want to take the time to see your band or DJ in person to see how they ‘work a dance floor’ Do they create a buzz? This will set the tone (pun intended) of your wedding evening party. A band such as Fonz and the Poet or The Session who I’ve had the pleasure of listening to several times at weddings are a must book for any wedding – These bands know how to keep the dance floor going!
Most Bands and DJ’s have promotional clips of them playing on social media and YouTube so there’s a great place to start. Bonus if you get to see them play live at a small gig or as a guest at another wedding.
Floral arrangements and other suppliers
So next up is your floral arrangements, a staple of any wedding, and of recent floral room decorations are becoming a big thing. Roof to floor decorations that make the room smell amazing and look just as so. You should consider booking your florist soon after your wedding photographer and band.
Florists are often so in demand that they are booked out a year in advance. All florists I’ve worked with are amazing and it seems to be that countless happy amazing people who deliver the most incredibly stunning setting and bouquets. They will help you to realise your vision and even support you in designing your own unique style.
Now it’s time to go dress and suit shopping
Ready, set, go! It’s one of those moments as a bride and now as an engaged bride to be, you’ve dreamed about since you could watch Disney movies. It’s such a beautiful and somewhat poetic moment, a sign of maturity and adulthood, it can also be very emotional for your mum to see you all grown-up so do include her and your bridesmaids in the hunt for THE dress.
There are some absolutely gorgeous dresses and incredibly helpful bridal wear shops, with lots of different styles and shapes to chose from. I have seen dresses from EW Couture at several weddings and they are totally stunning, Rachel Burgess’s Bridal Boutique is a great place to start your search. Stocking up on many unique dresses including EW Couture’s boho dresses, of course, it helps that they are so wonderfully helpful too!
The excitement is a buzz for a same sex couple looking for their suit too! Some guys decide to shop together ensuring they both match for the wedding, but some also prefer to keep it a total secret from each other, waiting until the ceremony to make their reveal. Once your dress / suit is ready to collect, you’ll want to store it somewhere safe and with a lot of privacy from any prying eyes. Some dress shops will hold onto your dress / suit until a few weeks before which is incredibly helpful.
Time to get your creative juices flowing…
The stationary and decorative bits are up next. Now that you’ve booked all the major things, tap yourself on the back you’ve done a great job! The stationary and small decorative parts in thanks to Etsy and Youtube, a lot of couples prefer to go it alone and do it themselves… Sometimes with huge success and some not so much. Wedding Stationary companies are incredibly helpful to have on board to create a lot of the bits that you could assume and take for granted.
They can help with the holy grail of wedding receptions, the table plan! The cause of some anxiety for guests to know where exactly in the pecking order they sit amongst their friends. I’ve seen some incredible designs and very unique styles around travel, favourite alcohol, Jockey and horses and so many more. You’ll also want your place names and invites matching too which Paper Date Stationary can do for you! If you do go it alone, just think about the effort, time and energy you’ll need to find, somethings are best left to the pro’s!
Possibly the hardest task of them all – Finalising the guest list, it’s understandable that some people feel they should be invited and perhaps there’ll be those you’ve been told to invite by your parents (you have no say if they are contributing financially), you’ll really want to think of plus ones and evening guests too… Inevitably, some will politely decline your RSVP’s due to planned holidays, child care cover which is to be expected. These newly available spaces could save any awkward conversations of not inviting someone then a few weeks later realising your short on numbers and then having to invite them again.
Ultimately, invite who you really want to surround yourself with on the best day of your lives. The general etiquette now you’re engaged is to return the gesture of invitation to your wedding should you have been invited to theirs.
So that’s pretty much it, I’m sure I’ll add to it over time. If you have anything to suggest to couples wedding planning, feel free to let me know or add it to the comments!
While you’re here, why don’t you enquire about your wedding photography?
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Having photographed many weddings already over the last few years including several un-plugged wedding. I was once asked by a wedding guest, who may I add, firmly grasping her iPad with the camera app...