You’re Engaged… Now What?

You’re engaged and have enjoyed endless glasses of champagne with your nearest and dearest… but now what? When it comes to planning a wedding there’s a lot to think about. To help you kickstart the process, we spoke to two wedding planners to find out what they would prioritise.

Set The Budget

Kristina Kempton, creative director and owner of Kristina Kempton says: “First and foremost you need a realistic and honest idea of budget. The entire wedding will be shaped around this number, so it’s important you talk about the parts of the wedding that are of most importance to you and the amount you are willing to spend. If you are getting help financially from family members, then it’s time to have a frank conversation so you know exactly where you stand.”

Bruce Russell, managing director at wedding and events company Bruce Russell Events adds: “It's a big mistake is leaving this important discussion until later in the planning process, when it’s too late to turn back. You can’t book a venue, agree on a guest list or book suppliers before you know exactly what you are comfortable spending, and you both agree where the money is coming from. Next, make a list of the most important elements of the day. Is it the food/band/dress? Often, couples  don’t discuss this and then discover that they are far from being on the same page.”

Nail The Guest List  

“Sit down and make sure you have a very clear picture of how your guest list looks”, says Kristina. “If you aren’t the ones fully paying, then speak to family members so you have a pretty accurate list. Late surprises for added guests will only add to your stress levels. It’s best to be clear from the outset who has or hasn’t made the cut, plus you need to decide if you are having both day and evening guests.” Without a realistic number of guests, you can’t book a venue, adds Bruce. “The last thing you want to do is pay a deposit on your dream venue and capacity won’t allow for all your guests.”

Set The Date

“An ideal date or at least the month is needed before you even start looking at venues,” says Kristina. “If you love the idea of having a certain flower or dream of a summer wedding, you need to have this in mind when selecting your wedding date.” The date might be one of the first things you consider, agrees Bruce. “That said, given everything we’ve been through in the past year, the date has to be somewhat flexible. You’ll want to discuss this with key family members and friends to ensure they have that date, abnd maybe a couple of others, free.”

Choose The Venue

“Whether it’s a palace, castle or private estate, there’s an endless choice out there and starting with an idea of where you want to marry will help to narrow the search. With the pandemic forcing a lot of couples to move their weddings, and with dates already limited, try get your venue booked as soon as you can to give you peace of mind,” says Kristina. Bruce adds: “Remember that if the venue is the most important detail for you, you might need to accept you may have to adapt your guest list to space.” Don’t forget that marquees, tipis, and pretty outdoor spaces are all options and may be a more flexible choice if you’re worried about last-minute changes. 

Book The Caterer

“Catering, and things like technical production (lighting, staging, sound, etc) can take up a large part of your budget. Get some initial quotes in order to see where your budget stands. Once you have a venue and an idea of the style you want to create, then book these suppliers… they can assist in shaping the whole look and feel for a perfect day,” says Bruce. 

“Catering can make or break a wedding, as can bad service, so as soon as you have the venue booked and an idea on design, reach out to some caterers. You don’t need to have a menu confirmed but see what they offer and the service they can provide. Think about whether they go that extra mile for their clients and want to create an amazing guest experience. Plus, it might be worth finding out if they have bespoke uniforms that are smart and show off their level of expertise,” says Kristina. 

Get Wedding Insurance 

“This is a must have for any wedding – regardless of budget – so you know you are covered should anything happen,” advises Kristina. With ever-changing lockdown rules during 2020, and possibly into 2021, wedding insurance is an absolute necessity. 

You can’t book a venue, agree on a guest list or book suppliers before you know exactly what you are comfortable spending, and you both agree where the money is coming from.

Order The Dress 

“Consider how much time there is between your engagement and your wedding date, as this will determine what you focus on next,” advises Bruce. “For the dress purchase, to be safe, give yourself at least six to ten months. You may have a clear idea of what you want, and the process will be a simple and quick one, or it may take you some time to find something perfect for you. Either way, you don’t want to be rushed or stressed.”

Kristina concurs: “The crown jewel for any wedding is a dreamy gown (or even gowns, plural). Wedding dresses can take anywhere up to six months or longer to produce, so give yourself plenty of time, and still allow for alterations if it’s not a custom-made piece. Feel out your style and try on different gowns to see what suits you best.”

Decide On The Wedding Party 

“If there is a family member or a best friend you want in your party, then make sure you give them as much notice as possible as regards a date. Also, remember there are no rules… you don’t have to have the same number of bridesmaids as groomsmen,” advises Bruce. 

Choose Your Floral Design & Décor 

“A show-stopping wedding demands impactful flowers and design,” says Kristina. “Create different key moments. Start with the ceremony, leading through to your drinks reception. A wow moment is always when guests enter to take their seats for dinner, so redirect your focus here if you are on a limited budget. Staging bars, sound, and lighting are all part of the experience – they will elevate any day and take it to the next level.”

“Think about what you don’t want as well as what you do want – it’s sometimes easier to narrow things down that way. Chair linens and table accents should all be cohesive with the final wedding design. And have fun – show your personality. The most successful weddings are where the couple express something about themselves rather than trying to be something they’re not.”

Think About Photography & Videography

“Often, couples might have a clear idea of the photographer they want, so if you are getting married at a popular time of year, you may want to check the date with them as soon as you have it confirmed,” advises Bruce. “Video tends to come later, but this is just as important and well worth the investment. Consider their style, ask to see any work they may have done at your venue or destination, as this will give you a good idea of what they can produce. As with all vendors, try to meet them in person.”

“The one thing you will have long after the wedding are your photographs. These will be cherished memories of your special day, so choose wisely. Pick your photographer based on their talent and level of acclaim – this is not an area couples should ever scrimp on. Instagram is a good way to see their work and how they interact with clients,” says Kristina. “A wedding video also helps to capture a moment in time. You will be able to re-watch your vows and speeches and share it with those who may have been unable to attend.”

Order Your Cake

“In my view, bigger is better when it comes to wedding cakes,” says Kristina. “Guests will gather to see you cut your cake, so give them something worth looking at. Consider confetti cannons, fireworks or maybe even a hidden pudding room hosting your show-stopping cake. Gone are the days of traditional cakes – anything goes these days. Different tiers of flavour to appeal to all of your guests will make a wedding cake a success.”

Book A Planner 

“I saved this tip for last as I am biased,” says Bruce. “But if you have the budget for a planner, then I highly recommend you hire one from the very start. It’s important to do your research and understand the services they provide and their fee structure… they’re not all the same. Meet the planner in person, as you want to be able to trust they are going to be able to design and coordinate things expertly for you. It’s a very personal relationship, but first and foremost remember this is a business contract. A planner can really take away a lot of pressure from you, keep you on track, and help you spend your budget wisely. If you are considering a destination wedding, then I absolutely recommend you hire one. It will be well worth the investment." "If a pandemic has taught us anything this year, it is how much life can change in the blink of an eye," says Kristina. "Wedding planners are worth their weight in gold – not only from a logistical and style point of view, but with so much uncertainty around weddings, having a planner on your side to guide you and possibly help you move dates, means they really are worth every penny. They will also have long-standing relationships with suppliers they trust. No one needs to take risks with one of their most important days."

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