6 things I've learnt about...wedding planning

Tuesday 28 October 2014

Just under 2 months ago, Rich asked me to be his wife. The very next day, we jumped on a plane back to the UK to celebrate with family and toast the occasion with friends. Everyone we met kept advising us to, "forget about the wedding planning for now - just enjoy being engaged!", but we didn't listen to a single one of them.

Within a week, we'd planned out every minute detail of the day, booked the wedding and reception venues and met with the vicar. Within two weeks we'd booked the band and the photographer. Now all that is left is to send out the save the dates we've chosen, finalise arrangements for the flowers and the dress, and then I think we deserve to take a break for a little bit!

Yes, all of this is super speedy. Call it having a good understanding of what we like and don't like, being marvellously efficient, or simply OCD...but (without wanting to blow our own trumpets too much), I think the two of us have got this whole 'wedmin' thing nailed.

That doesn't mean, of course, that we haven't experienced a fair share of mishaps along the way. Here are 6 things we've learned (more often than not the hard way) about planning a wedding.

1. You are going to blow your budget

Everyone starts off with a figure in mind for the big day, and I hate to be the one to break it to you but unless you are the most frugal, organised and downright stubborn person in the world, that figure is going to end up being inflated somewhat. Maybe you forgot that your second cousin once removed now has four children rather than three; maybe you didn't realise that most wedding suppliers commit daylight robbery on a daily basis, or maybe you fell in love with a few extra bits 'that will just make the day' along the way, but one way or another, it's gonna happen. The key is to let yourself have one or two splurges on important things, and then try to make it up by cutting back elsewhere. 

For us, music and memories mean a lot, so we've ended up going for a high end photographer...

Image courtesy of Brett Harkness wedding photography

And an amazing band, whose lead singer just happens to be the lead vocals on Artful Dodger's 'Please Don't Turn Me On'.

Image courtesy of Live It Live Music Ltd.

We might have to end up making our own table plan, and having a few less flower arrangements than we originally intended, but it will be worth it.

2. This is a two person job

I am constantly surprised when women say, "I did it all by myself. He was just there to give me the nod when I'd made the decisions", or even worse "He was just there with the cheque book at the end...". I am so pleased that Rich is really hands on, and wants to play a part in every decision that's made. There's so much to do that I wouldn't know where to start otherwise!

When it's the most important day of your life, everything has got to be perfect for both of you. I'm also a big believer in starting as you mean to go on, so that means joint responsibilities, a lot of compromise, and working together to make a huge task seem lots more fun than it would have been if you were doing it on your own.

A two person job also means that you shouldn't forget that it's a wedding for you two, and you two only, and nobody else should take over decision making. We are very lucky because both our families have been very supportive of the decisions we've made so far, bar some very subtle, very amusing, very slight emotional blackmail from someone who shall remain nameless (MB!) over the guest list. 

3. But you might need to enlist a few more to help you along the way

Planning a UK wedding from the Middle East would be a huge hassle if we didn't have the help of some super wedding planning gurus, in the form of our mums.

Of course, there's so much that you can do online these days. My current favourite sites for wedding inspiration are EtsyThe Wedding Party and Not On The High Street but I'm discovering more every day.

However, there are some things you just have to do face to face and that's where the mums come in. Mummy Bags is meeting with the village vicar this week to finalise some arrangements for us. 

She's also been sending us links to some beautiful flowers...

Image courtesy of David Austen Roses

While Christine has been whetting our appetites with pictures of stunning cakes.

Photo: courtesy of local Norfolk magazine

Thanks for being superstars already mums - we couldn't do this without you!

4. Location is everything

On my wedding morning, it's so important for me to wake up having had a long, comfortable sleep in my own bed. Knowing that I can trot through to the kitchen, hug my mum and eat my favourite cereal while looking out over my favourite view is kind of a big deal to me.

Hathersage Church where we are getting married is 5 minutes down the road.

And then we're heading on to somewhere that means an awful lot to both of us.

(Apologies for the PDA).

Chatsworth House in the heart of the Peak District is where my favourite book, Pride and Prejudice was made into a film; where my relatives have come for walks and afternoon tea for decades and where one of my flower girls once dropped her knickers and went to the toilet in the middle of the lawn (I kid you not!).

Pick somewhere that means something to you, and not somewhere that will just look good in the pictures. If you're lucky like us, sometimes you can get both!

5. Lists will suddenly become important

I have always been a list-maker. There's nothing more satisfying than a To Do list covered in ticks and red lines. My wedding has made me take this obsession to a new level.

In order to be super-organised, it's worth investing in one book to keep your endless To Do Lists, Guest Lists, and Idea Lists all in one place - and so that you can organise all of the best of this:

Into one, secure, easy to access place.

Even better, buy yourself a wedding guide which sets out exactly what you should do in which period in the lead up to your wedding. We have the Debretts Wedding Guide, which has not only encouraged me in my list-ticking obsession, but which has some really handy chapters on all of the traditions you should stick to pre, during and post-wedding.

I've also been making sure I stick to the lists in the Guide For Brides from my beautiful bridesmaid Romana.

6. Pinterest will become your best friend

Anybody who knows me well will know that I have developed a bit of an unhealthy obsession with Pinterest recently. It's an endless source of ideas and inspiration, and I just can't seem to tear myself away from it.

For those of you that are new to Pinterest, I urge you to set up an account, and have a play around. It doesn't matter who you are or what you're interested in, you can search for literally anything from the millions of the 'pinned' photos on the site, and start to make your own interest boards. Or just use it to nosey around other people's!

I use it for all kinds of things, from quotes to pictures that remind me of England, to fashion ideas, to travel inspiration, to things to inspire me in my work (take a look here). But my wedding board will always be my favourite.

If I keep sticking to rules 1-5, then I think it just might be.