This blog post describes our wedding planning journey and gives newly engaged couples some helpful tips on the steps to take once the question has been popped.
Getting engaged was such a magical point in my life. I’d known I’d wanted to marry George for a couple of years before he popped the question - so I’d already had wedding plans zooming around my head prior to our engagement. However, without that ring on my finger, I hadn’t allowed myself to Google, to make a Pinterest board or properly look into any of it - but now was my chance!
Soon after the proposal, Pinterest became my nightly ritual - I’d scroll through, pinning wedding dresses, groomsmen attire, flowers - you name it, I pinned it. It was such a fun process and by pinning all my favourite visuals to a Pinterest board, I soon realised there was a theme forming. If you’re recently engaged and don’t know where to start, I’d highly recommend doing this. It helps you understand what you’re into and the things that are important to you.
Over dinner one evening, George and I discussed potential wedding dates. I was quite surprised to find out that George wanted to get married within 2 years. It is always a good idea to have this conversation with your partner quite early on - it will really help make sure you’re both on the same page with regards to timings - and timings are important because wedding suppliers and venues get booked up years in advance.
Once we had established that it was June 2021 that we intended to tie the knot, we decided to look into some potential wedding venues. I began making a trusty spreadsheet and emailed a few venues that I liked the look of, asking for some price lists and information. A lot of the venues were very willing to send over their price list but some insisted on you arranging a viewing with them first. I found the latter quite frustrating because I didn’t want to waste their time if the venue was out of our budget. I started collating a list of potential venues and adding all of their information and rough price guides to a spreadsheet. This is a great way to gather all the information which will later allow you to compare costs.
I found it quite difficult to initially set a budget for our wedding because I had absolutely no idea how much each individual element cost. I, therefore, found starting with the wedding venue the most helpful because this involved the biggest outlay.
Bickley Mill, Devon
Hayne House, Kent
Rockbeare Manor, Devon
We visited a number of different venues, some close to us in Kent and some also in Devon, where my family are based. What stood out to us as we started visiting different places, was the varying levels of attention we were given on these tours. Some venues let us wander around with little guidance or discussion, others walked us around, talking us through the different areas of the buildings and what we could do with them on our wedding day. Some were very short and sweet whereas others involved a sit-down discussion over a cup of tea. It was always the ones that offered us food, little cakes or canapes and explained everything thoroughly that we enjoyed the most. We felt that the venues that took the time to interact and listen to your requirements were the ones we preferred because it gave us peace of mind that we would be well looked after.
When we viewed the venue we chose for our wedding, we both instantly loved it. The long driveway set amongst towering trees added a sense of grandeur even before we saw the manor house. As we got closer, the beautiful manor appeared between the trees and it truly blew us away. I loved how open and bright the venue was because natural lighting was a necessity for me as I prefer photography without the use of a flash. With George being a chef, the food was important to him.
When you view wedding venues, try and remember to think about the practical things. Is the venue big enough for your guest list? Is there nearby accommodation for your guests? Is the venue easily accessible? Take a look at my ‘20 questions to ask your potential wedding venue’ blog post, to make sure you’re prepared for your venue visits.
Once we had paid our deposit for our venue, we were kindly sent their recommended supplier list. This was hugely helpful because it gave us a list of suppliers we knew the venue had worked with before and vice versa. For example, choosing a photographer that has already photographed at the venue you’re using is massively helpful because they already know all the great photo locations. Hiring a DJ from the recommended supplier list is also a great shout because they will know where to set up on the day of the wedding, and the process should be smooth.
We then dove into contacting various suppliers from their list to find out their pricing and to see if they were available. This is where it can become a little hectic because each supplier likes to speak to you in order to be able to put a quote together. It is important to go through this process because you want to be sent an accurate quote which will later help you choose which supplier to go with. Speaking to someone over the phone also allows you to gain a better understanding of who you could potentially be working with.
We got engaged in June 2019 and had secured our venue and suppliers by the end of the year for our 2021 wedding - that’s 2 years in advance. It is important to book your suppliers well in advance to avoid being disappointed because they get booked up very quickly. You wouldn’t want to discover your dream florist to then find out that they have another booking on your wedding date. That also goes for wedding stationery - although your wedding stationery designer doesn’t need to be free on a specific date, they will have various booking slots available that do get filled up quickly. Check out my handy timeline for information on when to book your wedding stationery designer here.
Once the majority of our suppliers were booked there was a bit of a gap in our wedding plans. All the groundwork had been done and it was a case of waiting for months to fly by before the planning of the intricate details of the wedding began. What I did focus on during this time was the designs for my save the date cards and wedding stationery. This is an important step that needs time for planning and execution and is often left until the last minute. Make sure you give yourself and your stationery designer ample time to create your beautiful stationery. Save the date cards ideally should be sent out 6-12 months before the wedding. You therefore need to start thinking about the designs about 3 months before you plan to send them out.
The next big thing on the list was dress shopping. One Saturday I booked appointments at a number of dress shops and went to try on a variety of dresses with the help of my Mum, mother of the groom and future sister in law. We went for lunch at The Ivy and made a real day of it. Although I didn’t end up buying a dress straight away, I did find ‘the one’ on this trip and later bought it in a sample sale during the first covid lockdown - it was quite an impulsive buy but I am so glad I just went for it!
After the invites had been sent out, it really was a waiting game. Unfortunately, due to covid, our wedding plans were very up in the air, right to the last second. This made the final planning phase quite difficult but everyone involved was determined to remain positive. This did mean that a lot of the planning discussions happened quite late on and this is likely because we all didn’t know if the wedding was going to be able to go ahead.
We had to buy all of our suits online and this involved buying a variety of styles for George to try. The credit card took a big hit this month with buying and returning lots of suits. Once he had found the one he liked, we had to then order them for all the groomsmen. This was a bit of a nightmare because some of the sizes didn’t fit and it felt like we were buying hundreds of suits that all needed sending back. We got there in the end though!
It was quite a stressful period and nobody should have to experience what we, and all the other couples from 2020-2021, went through. That aside, with about 3 months to go before the wedding, I touched base with all of our suppliers. Mostly to check in on what the plan would be if covid ended up ruining things. Despite this, it is always good to keep an open conversation going with your suppliers, in the lead up to your big day, to check over details and requests.
It was at this point, that we then started planning our floral arrangements with our florist. We discussed colour, shape, size and other aspects in great detail. She sent me mood boards and we arranged a face to face meeting at her workshop in Devon. I really enjoyed seeing where ‘all the magic happens’ and loved the rustic barn that she worked from. It was great to finally be able to see other people and to start discussing all the finer details with our suppliers.
With about two months to go, we spoke to our wedding venue and finalised a lot of our plans such as food and drink choices, seating plans and the order of the day. We’d put together a thorough spreadsheet that included all of our dietary requirements and important information. I’d highly recommend creating a spreadsheet, to keep track of everything.
With a month to go, we spoke to our DJ and discussed the type of songs we liked and planned how we’d like our first dance to go. We spoke with our videographer and explained all of the key moments that we would like captured. With a week to go, we had a call with our photographer and he ran through the day with us from his perspective. He gave us key timings for specific photos he intended to take and we discussed the family and friends photos we’d like to have taken.
This is when everything starts to feel very real! However, due to covid, I found it difficult to allow myself to get fully excited, for fear that it all wouldn’t go ahead. Thankfully, the majority of our day was unspoilt and I do now regret not allowing myself to look forward to it without the fear. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, hey!
In my next post I will be sharing the process I went through when designing and printing my own wedding stationery.