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A Crash Course in Wedding Planning

Last updated February 14th, 2014

My Aunt Sarah got engaged over Christmas, but unlike most brides who spend a year or two planning their big day, Sarah has given herself a deadline of less than 6 months. It’s not that she’s in a manic rush to tie the knot – it’s the second time for both parties – but because my younger cousin, her daughter, is heading off to pastures new in Australia this coming July. So for my cousin to be a part of her Mum’s special day, Sarah – with help from my Mum, Nana and myself – is now in what the world would have you believe is a bride’s version of hell.
Despite being a far way off being totally ready – I think the five of us ladies can already debunk the myth that a perfect wedding takes years to plan! We’re in month 2 and we’ve booked the venue, plus guest rooms for the night before and on the day, got a short list of dresses, a photographer, videographer, catering… what else? Oh, I have a Pinterest board of Bridesmaid dresses I approve of, and another for the ones my cousin likes… Needless to say, they currently don’t correlate.
Whilst there are always going to be little bits and pieces that get left until the weeks before the big day no matter how long in advance you have, there’s a lot that you can do when you’re taking on the role of a wedding planner that can help make the process and event run smoothly. My experience producing the TEDxBrighton conference has helped me tremendous amounts here – not only in the confidence I now have in planning this small, intimate affair, but in understanding the best order to do things. That said, I’m probably going to tap into some of the other lecturers wealth of knowledge too (wedding planning advice from the Wedding Planner at one of London’s most famous venues? Yes please!!!).
My first top-tip: The Budget. The first thing that my aunt and I did was sit down on her sofa in between Christmas and New Year and open up a spreadsheet with a budget plan. This is absolutely crucial to planning your day and reducing any stress you might have – the last thing you want is to find that your favourite photographer is thousands of pounds out of your reach in the lead up to the event. If you get your budget right and tight early on, you’ll avoid any disappointment later on. We found that there are loads of great resources online that will help you with this if you really don’t know where to start. I loved this downloadable Excel from the folks over at Wedding Ideas Mag, who’ve cleverly spun together the budget, guest list and table planner so you can really get a feel of your day and how you’re spending your money.
Next up: Secure your Venue. Try to give yourself a couple of months window that you think you’d like to get hitched and then start approaching the venues you like for their availability – get a tour, it’s always fun to be nosey and it’ll give you a chance to meet their Event Manager, someone you’ll want to make sure you get along with. The venue’s Event Manager is going to make sure everything is perfect. If it starts raining, they’re going to get their staff to raise the parasols. If a guest is late, they’re going to sneak them in so they don’t disturb anyone. Seriously, this person is going to be important and if you can’t communicate well with them then chances are they’re not going to be able to share your aspirations for the day. A meet and greet is a must.
Venues that cater to wedding ceremonies frequently also typically offer a variety of package deals; these usually include the wedding breakfast, room hire, champagne, staff and discounts on their preferred suppliers (photographers, florists, patisserie chefs etc). My Aunt has booked one of these package deals, which has saved her a lot of time hunting around and even more savings in cost.
Pinterest is a god-send. After we nailed down the venue and budget, I asked my Aunt to start saving images and links to the kind of things she liked and wanted to be a part of her day. Everything from floral arrangements, colour palettes, dresses, the little extra touches, etc. By collecting these in this collaborative online pin-board, she can easily share her vision with the family (dotted around the UK and all busy working) so we can help source the suppliers and book everything remotely. If you’re in the UK, The Natural Wedding Company provides a great blog and Pinterest-based directory for creative and bespoke suppliers, definitely worth a look.
Next up for us is booking a time when my cousin and I are both free to try on cornflower blue, floor-length bridesmaid dresses (it all gets very specific very quickly) within the next month and my Mum, cousin and I need to have a chat about the Hen Do… But, for the most part, we’re on schedule for a glorious summer wedding.
Whilst we’re on the subject of weddings, I attended a lovely winter wedding in the New Forest over the holidays and the couple had booked this fantastic photo-booth concept company called The Photo Lounge (see leading image). This mini-studio was a blast, it had all of us pulling ridiculous poses and laughing from our guts all day. What a novel way to capture your friends on the day. Here’s their promo video so you can get a sense of what they’re about:

Don’t forget; our Diploma, Online Diploma and Postgraduate courses all have great modules on Wedding planning with access to some of the top Wedding Planners and Venues in the country. Why not begin your own wedding planning journey now as an accredited events manager?

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