While reading everyone’s engagement posts on social media, we got to thinking about all the wedding planning advice we’ve shared over the years. There are easily 3,000 tips scattered around the site, covering everything from working out your budget to giving a killer wedding speech, but we wanted to challenge ourselves to narrow it town to the essentials, the words of wisdom you really need to hear when you first get engaged. You won’t find tips on how to set up your cake table here, this is the big-picture stuff that often gets forgotten in the haze of bridesmaids dress shopping and table planning. Keep these nuggets of wisdom in mind, and wedding planning will be infinitely less stressful and more enjoyable. Without further ado, here’s the very best wedding planning advice we’ve ever shared!
1. Exercise Caution when Discussing the Wedding with Friends & Family
It’s natural to divulge the finer details of your wedding to your favourite people, but, as far as we’re concerned, the less guests know in advance of the big day, the better. You may not realise it, but by offering up information on your first dance song, or how much you’re spending on flowers, you’re putting your choices up for debate. Keeping quiet about the details of the day helps avoid conflict and upset, especially where the more opinionated people in your circle are concerned, as well as those prone to fretting. Just remember to have a handy one-liner prepared, in case somebody presses you for info. Something like, “We want to keep it a surprise”, or “You’ll just have to wait and see on the day!” works a treat. Oh, and we should point out, that exceptions should, of course, be made for essential information that impacts your guests’ safety or enjoyment of the day!
2. Identify your Priorities Early On
Before you get started with wedding planning, sit down with your partner to discuss the kind of wedding you’d like to have. Think about the feel and vibe you want to create, and try to visualise the perfect celebration. You should soon be able to identify what’s most important to you. Between you and your partner, try to settle on three or four priorities. Many couples choose showing their guests a good time, minimising stress so they can relax and enjoy the day, and throwing a party that reflects their personalities, but, of course, if having a pair of designer shoes is high on your list, that’s perfectly acceptable, too! Identifying a handful of priorities at the beginning helps you to get started on your budget, and gives you something to refer back to when making tough decisions.
3. Don’t Get Stuck in a Research Rut
Research is crucial when planning a wedding, as, chances are, you haven’t planned one before! That said, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information available. You want to be well informed, but not so much that you feel crippled by choice. You also don’t want to waste time researching areas of the wedding that aren’t hugely important to you (time to reference those priorities!) We recommend researching how much weddings cost in your country (we have handy guides for Ireland and the UK, and you’ll find our other popular wedding cost features here!), using our directory to find the best suppliers, and setting yourself decision-making deadlines along the way. If you’ve spent three weeks researching manicure inspiration, for example, it might be time to pick your favourite and move on!
4. Master the Art of Budgeting
Without a detailed wedding budget, the cost of your big day can very quickly get out of hand, so this is a vital step, regardless of whether you’ve got €2,000, €20,000 or €200,000 to spend! We’ve broken down how to work out your wedding budget here (a contingency is a must, as far as we’re concerned – we recommend 12.5%) so that’s a perfect place to start. From there, figure out a way of keeping track of your spending – spreadsheets are probably the most popular. We’re going to level with you, very few couples stay on budget for their wedding, but if you’re diligent about logging your expenses, you stand a much better chance!
5. Give Potential Guests the A, B, C, and D List Treatment
It sounds cut-throat, but the quickest and easiest method for making your wedding guest list involves splitting your nearest and dearest into groups, based on how much their attendance means to you – an A list, B list, C list and D list. Okay, so maybe it is a little cut-throat, but the other option – making a list of everyone you know and taking a red pen to it! – is no kinder, and takes twice as long! This feature shows you how to use the A to D List method, and includes handy guidelines for which friends and family members typically fall on which list.
6. Ditch Anything that Doesn’t Resonate With You
Like any kind of party, weddings tend to follow a formula, and, impersonal as it may sound, that formula will be extremely helpful during the planning process. That said, there’s no point in including a hand-fasting ritual because all your friends had one, or giving a speech when you despise public speaking. If you feel strongly that you want to ditch the bridesmaids dresses, the photo booth, the bouquet toss and the colour white, do so! Nobody will be disappointed that your day is unconventional. In fact, they’ll enjoy the wedding even more because it feels authentic to you and your partner. Elements that hugely affect your guests’ experience should be approached with caution, however. You can be as creative as you like with the food offering, for example, but it’s still important that everyone will have enough to eat!
7. Trust your Suppliers
Assembling a dream team of wedding suppliers is no small task, but the good news is that, once you’ve done it, you can breathe a heavy sigh of relief! When it comes to suppliers, our preferred approach is as follows: find the right people, communicate your vision, and then leave them to do what they do best! When you’re happy with the vendors you’ve booked, wedding planning becomes infinitely simpler. A good supplier will be able to improvise within your brief, suggest alternatives and problem solve when issues arise. If you feel yourself sliding into micro management mode, remind yourself that they’re the experts!
8. Work to a Fake Deadline
Organisation is key when it comes to wedding planning – throwing an effortless party actually demands a lot of effort, and it’s all too easy to run out of time towards the end. That’s why we advise planning your wedding as if the big day is happening a month earlier than it really is. You’ll probably find that, by the time your fake wedding date rolls around, you’ll have a few things left to do, but you’ll still be way ahead of schedule. This means that you can really kick back and enjoy the lead up to the big day!
9. Delegate your Heart Out
It takes a village to plan a wedding – trying to do everything yourself generally results in unnecessary stress. For a lot of people, calling in favours and asking for help is really difficult, but just remember that your guests will be more than happy to lend a hand. In fact, your wedding party members, parents, siblings and closest friends will probably be expecting a job or two! As long as you choose your happy helpers wisely, delegation is your best friend in wedding planning. Some friends and relatives will be up for taking on big projects, for the others, you can assign them one of the menial tasks mentioned in this feature! Just make sure to keep a running tally of who is doing what, so you don’t lose track, and remember to thank them in the speeches.
10. Don’t Stress over the Small Details
Even if you’ve got a watertight list of priorities for the big day, it’s easy to get caught up in the additional extras, and find yourself fretting about things like chair decorations, cake toppers and the dinner music playlist. While these little details may have some impact on the atmosphere on the day, they won’t make or break a wedding, and guests rarely notice them. If you’re not sure about something, ask yourself, “Will I care about this the week after the wedding? What about the month after, or the year after?” If the answer is “probably not”, give yourself permission to ditch it from your to-do list. This goes for minor family dramas, too. Panic around the mother-of-the-bride’s outfit and upset over the guest list will likely be forgotten by the time the big day rolls around.
Looking for more wedding planning tips and tricks? You’ll find tonnes of helpful features here.