IN our day-dreams, the romantic proposal of marriage is effortlessly followed by a Cinderella-style wedding day, and the planning process is carefully edited out. As lovely as these fantasies are, they’re hardly a blueprint for organising the big day.
Whether you’re planning a modest yet elegant affair or a week’s worth of wild hedonism, every dream wedding needs a strong plan to transform it from an idea into reality. Don’t panic, just make sure you’re asking the right questions at the right time, says wedding planner and author of Wedding Bible Sarah Haywood. There’s no point in worrying about the details of the day until you’ve made five key decisions, according to Haywood.
“Your big five are... how, where, when, who and budget. Do you want a religious or civil ceremony, in which geographic location, at what time of year, who will you invite and how much can you spend?
“People rush out and buy magazines and make decisions about having peonies before they know what month the ceremony’s going to be in. You wouldn’t think about furnishing your home, until you’d found the house, would you!” she points out wisely. “The Big Five, as I call them in my book, are your road map and until they’ve been agreed upon you can’t get down to the details.”
Follow Haywood’s tips to make sure your wedding day is a success...
When do you want your ideal wedding to be? Bear in mind that off-season weddings in January and February can be more affordable.
The ‘Just Got Engaged’ period is also for thinking about the tone and style of your wedding and Haywood suggests starting a mood board. “This will get you on the right road and mean everything starts to fall into place,” she says. “Cut out pictures from magazines, from the internet and stick them on a piece of card. As you stick pictures in, you’ll see themes appear. It’s very helpful for key suppliers. Take it with you, and that’ll inspire the people you’re hiring. It’s like furniture shopping.”
This is definitely the time to go and look at a variety of wedding venues for inspiration, to try on dresses on a whim and have fun looking at different ideas. But also remember that if you’ve decided to have a religious ceremony, your church ideally shouldn’t be more than 30 minutes from the venue.
Having enjoyed the luxury of travelling to venues, perhaps trying on a few gowns and looking at pretty pictures in magazines, now’s the time to firm up those plans.
Imagine that this phase is called ‘Ideas and Decisions’ and that now you’ve got a sense of the key elements which will define the look and style of day, it’s important to hire suppliers who can make sure those are all in place.
“It’s important for all the elements to be coordinated,” says Haywood, “otherwise you’ll end up with something random, like a cake that doesn’t work with the venue.
“You need a design overview.” Imagine that you’ve renovated your house and now you’re dressing it with delightful ornaments, curtains and pictures which reflect your own fabulous taste.
“It’s very easy to get it wrong. Princess Diana’s wedding gown just didn’t work because she was actually a classy lady with good design sense - and the dress didn’t reflect that. It wasn’t her. A wedding should say something about you and your partner’s shared values.
“You want people to think, ‘This is really them’, not, ‘What’s going on?’” laughs Haywood.
At this point, you’ll hopefully be tying everything together, confirming all your plans and adding those final details. “Planning a wedding isn’t hard - but there is a lot to do,” says Haywood.