Category Archives: Wedding Planning Advice

How to Plan a Wedding: The Guest List and Invitations

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Choosing the guest list for your wedding can be a task fraught with stress and drama. Who gets final say on numbers? Do you have to invite children? What about long lost relatives we never see? Will my tattooed, punk rock friends get on with my much more conservative family? How about just inviting some people for the evening? Will people be offended if they’re not included in the whole day? Are we allowing +1s?

There are so many questions and many, many concerns surrounding who to have (and not have) at your wedding. In fact I’m sure a lot of you are now starting to see the benefits of eloping!

The short answer to all those questions is that you should invite who you want to, but unfortunately weddings are never as simple as that. It may well be ‘your big day’ but there are other people’s feelings to consider too, like your parents. As I mentioned when we discussed the budget, they have probably been looking forward to this day since you were born and will want to be involved in the plans.

You have to remember that not too long ago a wedding was pretty much the parents’ party that they threw to celebrate their daughter getting married. A lot of the major decisions (such as the guest list) for their own weddings would have been made by their parents, so don’t seem too surprised if they want some input.

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The way we got around this for our wedding was that we actually had two celebrations. The first was the main wedding where we invited our closest family and friends (which was still about 120 people!) and when we returned from our honeymoon my parent’s threw a second wedding party for all their friends in their back garden. It was actually a great idea. I got to wear my dress again, my dad did his speech for a second time and we cut another cake. In many ways we all enjoyed it a lot more than our actual wedding day because it was so much more laid back.

So just how do you start to compile a list of wedding guests? Well, my advice would be to sit down and write down everyone you’d like to invite – friends, family, co-workers, everyone. Get your fiancé and both sets of parents to do the same. Then split the master list into two – an A-list and a back up B-list for if you have any extra space or someone can’t make it. The final number will usually be down to how many you can afford to feed and how many your venue actually holds.

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How to Plan a Wedding: The Venue

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Unusual venues such as museums will make a really fun and different wedding!

When it comes to planning your wedding, the venue is usually the first major decision you need to make. Not only is it often the biggest expense, but it is difficult to plan anything else until this is sorted out.

The first thing you need to determine is where in the world you want to get married. If you are both from, and still live in, the same town as all your friends and family then this is a pretty easy task, but if your family and friends are more spread out it can be a harder choice.

It is my personal opinion that you should make things as easy as possible for your guests. A destination wedding may sound wonderful and romantic (throwing the honeymoon in with the wedding, yes please!) but they can often be very stressful and expensive for guests. If you want all your friends and family to be able to attend, then jetting off to the Bahamas might not be your best option.

There are a myriad of things to consider when it comes to picking your wedding venue. Do you want to have your ceremony and reception in the same place? What style of wedding are you having and what kind of venue would be suitable? How much can you afford? Do you want to invite children? Do you want a place that offers packages or one that it a lot more flexible? Do you want to bring in your own caterers and supply your own booze? What’s the weather going to be like? Is an outdoor ceremony possible?

It’s easier said than done but try not to get stressed out. Yes, it can all feel very overwhelming but you can do it. My first recommendation would be to look on a venue listings website. There are lots of them around but I recently used Coco Wedding Venues to search for a venue for an event and it was great. They had some really cool and quirky places listed and you can search by style of wedding or location. Another good one is Funky Weddings.

Also have a search through the real weddings on this blog! You can use the search bar at the top of the site to search things like ‘urban’, ‘pub’, ‘farm’, ‘festival’ (or whatever you like) and see what comes up. Each venue is listed and linked to in the Supporting Cast section at the bottom of the wedding gallery.

Finding the right venue is often really tricky, and for me was the least fun part of planning our wedding. In fact our original venue cancelled on us three months beforehand! PANIC STATIONS!  It actually worked out fine, and we managed to find a much nicer place in the end although I wouldn’t recommend it!

It’s worth noting though that if you do book somewhere last minute you’re in a much better position to negotiate on the price. The manager may well be more flexible because it’s unlikely that they’re going to get another enquiry at such short notice, and they’d probably rather have slightly cheaper booking than no booking at all.

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How to Plan a Wedding: The Budget

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Toni & Colin spent just £3000 and their wedding was flipping amazing!

Regardless of how much you have to spend, planning an amazing wedding is completely possible. If you’re cleaver with your choices and make smart decisions, you’ll be surprised how far you can make even the most meagre of budgets go.

While crunching numbers may be way less fun than, say, dress shopping, having a hold on your wedding finances will make things much less stressful overall and will help you to keep things in perspective. Yes, that Vera Wang one of a kind gown is incredible but do you really want to spend 90% of your entire wedding fund on it?

Most importantly though, having a budget protects your future. After all, you’re planning for a marriage here, not just a wedding, and you really don’t want to start married life under the shadow of a massive post-wedding debt.

First things first, sit down with your fiancé and discuss what you can afford and how you’re going to pay for the wedding. If your parents are helping you out then you should include them in this too.

Although you might see this as ‘your big day’, your parents have probably been dreaming about this since you were born. Especially if they’re paying for or contributing in any way, you should include them in any major decisions. It’s unlikely that they’re going to write you a blank cheque and not see you until the day.

Ask your parents which parts of the wedding they’d like to be involved in. My mum really wanted to be included in the picking of my dress for example but wasn’t really bothered about the stationery. To make it easier and to avoid the ‘too many cooks’ syndrome, do the research yourself and then present them some options when it comes to selecting things (“We’re thinking about these three photographers at these prices. What do you think?”)

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How to Plan a Wedding: The Timeline

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Sophie & Tom planned their wedding in just four months!

As the weddings showcased on this blog show, there are a million different ways to say “I do”. A large family gathering, a small DIY affair, or a budget friendly backyard bash – the possibilities are endless. While wedding blogs are great for showing you style inspiration when planning your own big (or small!) day, I’m yet to see one actually publish a really comprehensive guide on how to physically plan a wedding.

So I thought I should be the first! Over the next ten weeks I’ll be covering ten of the most important things for you to consider when planning your wedding. It will be a practical and step by step guide that I hope will help you whatever style of wedding you choose to have.

However long you have to plan your wedding it’s important to have an idea of when you need to do certain things. While I’m not going to list exactly what I think you should do and when (the back of pretty much every wedding magazine includes these, although be sure to take them with a pinch of salt and edit them to suit your own needs) there are a few key elements that you need to sort out sooner rather than later.

Your engagement will likely be split into two main bursts of activity – the initial research and booking of your most important contributors near the start, and the coordinating of everything right near the end. The middle is usually full of DIY projects (if you’re that way inclined) and making decisions on the pretty things like your dress, reception décor, cakes and flowers. If you’re having a short engagement then these will probably all be smooshed together but that’s perfectly fine!

It is really important to book your suppliers as early on in your engagement as possible, especially if you have people you really want to work with. Many of the most popular vendors (particularly photographers and venues) will get booked up months, or sometimes even years, in advance! So if you have your heart set on something, don’t delay in sending that enquiry.

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Wedding Perfection is a Goddamn Lie

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You’ve been lied to. The wedding magazines, the TV shows, even the wedding blogs… scrap that, especially the wedding blogs… have been deceiving you since day one. (Wedding) perfection does not exist. There are too many variables, too many things that can go ‘wrong’. But you know what? That’s OK.

Sure, the DIY projects you’ve been slaving over may not be as perfect looking as the ones on Pinterest.

Yeah, maybe your groom doesn’t want to wear that ever so cute patterned bow tie you saw some other dude rocking on his wedding day.

Maybe it’ll rain, maybe your dress will get a little muddy, maybe your divorced parents will have a fight…

SO WHAT?

A wedding is not supposed to be Pinterest-perfect. Your wedding is not a photo shoot. Your wedding doesn’t have to get featured on a blog or published in a magazine.

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Marriage Mantras: 50 Pieces of Advice for a Happy Marriage

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As this Marriage Mantras series comes to a close, I thought I’d conclude with 50 bite-sized pieces of advice that you can implement today, tomorrow and forever.

1. Say “I love you” multiple times a day.
2. Spend as much time together as you can…
3. … but don’t be afraid of time apart.
4. Buy small gifts for each other. A bunch of flowers or a Mars Bar can go a long way.
5. Take baths together.
6. Eat dinner together.
7. Volunteer to do the crappy jobs.
8. Sex is important but snuggling afterwards is imperative.
9. Touch often (research consistently shows that touching more creates a stronger bond by releasing oxytocin).
10. Learn how to argue productively and without hurting each other.

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11. Write love letters.
12. Say thank you.
13. Realise that romance isn’t all flowers and chocolates. Bring a take-away home now and again… take-aways can be totally romantic.
14. Accept each other 100%.
15. Realise when it’s better to just let things go.
16. You can never kiss too often.
17. Sometimes going to bed angry is better than arguing when you’re tired.
18. Be kind, gentle and patient with each other.
19. Have a regular date night.
20. Put down your mobile phone.

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