While planning a wedding is a fun task, it's also hard work. So, before friends and family start asking you how you envision your day (trust us, they might even ask before you've clinked those celebratory glasses), check out what wedding-industry experts advise you to do in order to get your dream day off the ground, in eight simple steps.
Announce the news
Whether you called your parents moments after you said yes or chose to enjoy the newly engaged bubble alone for a while, letting everyone know you’re engaged is an important next step. “Many couples send out an engagement announcement,” explains Vaishali Shah from Ananya Cards. “I think it’s especially lovely when they include a photo of the proposal!” You might prefer to bypass the cards and just post an engagement selfie on Facebook and Instagram - just be weary that not everyone is on social media so you may want to let close relatives and friends know privately before you go public.
Host a party
Traditionally, engagement parties were hosted by the bride’s parents to celebrate news of the happy couple’s forthcoming wedding. Today, many couples choose to host their own, giving them free rein on how, where and when they celebrate. It could be as simple as a barbecue, as elegant as a garden party or as glam as an evening of dinner and dancing in a country house – the choice is yours. It’s also a great way to practise the art of party planning on a smaller scale, before the infamous wedmin begins...
Choose a date and book your venue
Booking your venue is typically the first planning step couples take – this gives you a time, date and location to make all your plans around. But there’s a lot to consider to find the perfect setting for you. “Think about the number of guests you’ll have, your budget and what time of year you’d like to get married,” suggests Wedding & Events Manager at The Bingham, Amy Braund. “There is no point looking at a venue that can only hold 60 guests if you’ve got 100 to invite.”
Send out your Save the Dates
“Send out Save the Date cards once you've booked your venue and know the date of the wedding – especially if you're getting married in the summer or at Christmas,” advises Vaishali. “You can give as much or little information as you like. Date and location are key, but if you already know it will be a certain type of celebration, a destination wedding, for example, let your guests know now.”
Choose your bridesmaids
Wedding planning is a bit like a rollercoaster ride. There’ll be highs when you find your dream dress, lows when you discover a supplier is fully booked and, in the end, you’ll probably wish you could relive the whole process again (even if you don't think that at the time)! Who better to ride those emotions with you than your best friends? Choosing your bridesmaids early on means you'll have their support throughout. “You could ask your best girls to be your bridesmaids with a scented candle featuring an engraved cover that says ‘will you be my bridesmaid?’, gifted to them as a surprise,” suggests Champagne and Flamingos' Jane Helliwell.
Start thinking about your wedding styling and themes
Weddings are at their most joyous and beautiful when they are a perfect reflection of the two of you. Everything from the the flowers to your wedding cake can reflect this. You might find it useful to start creating different boards on Pinterest so when you begin speaking to suppliers, they have a visual point of reference. You'll soon start to see your favourite trends emerging - even if you hadn't realised. "A great cake designer will pull out little bits of this and design you a beautiful wedding cake that tells a story of you both and your special day", says cake designer Suzanne Thorp from The Frostery.
Book a wedding dress appointment
You may already know exactly what you want or have absolutely no idea. Fear not, the earlier you start, the less stressful wedding dress shopping will be. Maria Yiannikaris from Mirror Mirror wishes everyone would plan ahead as much as possible. "We're living in an Amazon world, where we all think we can just click 'buy' and it'll be delivered the next day by drone! But gowns, whether they're bespoke or made-to-measure take a lot of care and time to create. We think purchasing a dress eight months in advance is ideal – to allow fittings and alterations to take place without a lot of last-minute stress". Once you've booked your first appointment, you'll hopefully have a better idea of what you like and don't like. Remember, it's true what everyone says about keeping an open-mind. "Listen to the advice of the person that's leading the appointment; they know what they're doing and, quite often, you'll be surprised by what you end up with", advises Katherine Radford at Suzanne Neville.
Step up a gift list
One of the great perks of throwing a wedding is all the presents you'll receive. If you want to give your guests a helping hand, it's a good idea to set up a gift list. "It’s great to start thinking about your gift list nice and early. Start thinking about the items you have always wished for, and items you already own that you might like to replace as you wedding list is the perfect time to upgrade your home”, says Georgie Evans from The Wedding Present Co. You'll want to ensure the details of any gift lists are set up before you design your wedding invitations so all the info can be included.