Before I say anything else lets get the formalities out of the way: CONGRATULATIONS! Getting engaged changed my life. Not only did a gain a husband and a new surname, but a brand new career as well! I’m Kat by the way, and I started Rock n Roll Bride in 2007 (yes, I’m a dinosaur) just after we got engaged. I was 24.
Over a decade later and this blog has not only become a full time passion for myself and my husband, Gareth, but it sporned a print magazine, which we launched in 2015. If you haven’t already, the first thing you should do is go ahead and subscribe to that baby. It’ll be your bible, I promise.
But enough about me, this time is all about YOU! Everyone you speak to over the next few months will probably have a lot of unsolicited advice about how you should spend your engagement and exactly what you should, and should not, do for your wedding. You’ll also likely start feeling that inevitable wave of panic too. It’s perfectly normal to be a little bit scared and overwhelmed at this stage. I mean, how the hell do you even start to plan a wedding!? This is where Rock n Roll Bride comes in! We’re here to help you, every step of the way.
Remember that it’s just one day
The most important thing to remember is that this is just one day and, in essence, you’re really just planning a party. The best, most exciting, important party of your life – but a party none-the-less. If you boil things down and take the drama out of it, the whole thing will feel a lot less stressful.
Your wedding will also not define the rest of your life. It will be a lovely celebration and a jumping off point for your marriage, it will not impact anything about your life afterwards. But I know how it feels, and once the happy glow of getting engaged starts to wear off, it’s all too easy to fall into the trap of hyperventilating over seating arrangements and finding that one perfect dress (the pressure!)
So relax. Try not to think about everything you have to do right away, instead break your tasks up into manageable chunks and tackle them one at a time. The wedding industry is notorious for scaring you about time frames and budgets etc. But often they’re more worried about their own bottom line than actually helping brides and grooms navigate the muddy waters of planning ‘the biggest day of their lives’ (cynical but true).
On this blog we’ve featured weddings that were planned in a matter of weeks and weddings that cost under £500. So whatever your time frame and budget, it can be done.
However what you do have to do, is get yourself organised. I’d highly recommend grabbing yourself a Rock n Roll Bride Wedding Planner too – it’s like a modern day FiloFax for alternative brides! Not only will it be the perfect place for you to keep all your ideas, notes and inspiration but it’s packed full of useful advice and tips (written by yours truly) as well as a year’s worth of week-to-view calendar pages, a budget calculator, time frames to follow and oodles of different sections to keep you on top of things. There’s even fun distractions like stickers and postcards to play with.
I’m a huge fan of lists and breaking things down so they’re less intimidating. My only advice other than that would be to make sure you have your priorities in mind and try to book the big things first. These are the things that either take the longest, get booked up the soonest or set the tone for the rest of the wedding. They are usually the venue, your photographer and your outfit. Get those three sorted first and everything else will fall into place around them.
However, before you can start any of that you need to make some decisions. Set some time aside, just the two of you, to sit down and have ‘the talk’. You need to decide what kind of day you want, when and where you’re going to hold it and how you’re going to make it all happen.
What kind of wedding do you want?
Think about what kind of wedding you both really want. Will it be big or small? Religious or civil? On a beach, in a marquee, a manor house or a pub? Would you like to get married close to home or abroad? Do you want to hand make everything or pay someone to make the space look pretty? Do you want a big bridal party or do you want it to be just the two of you up there? What is most important to you both? What are your biggest priorities and what is completely non-negotiable?
Secondly, it’s time to think about the theme. Recently this has become a bit of a dirty word, but this doesn’t have to mean you picking out Pantone swatches of accent colours or choosing an arbitrary theme out of thin air. In fact I’ve lost count of the number of weddings I’ve seen recently where the couple say “Oh we didn’t really have a theme; we just had stuff we liked”. Perfect, great – that’s your theme then!
This is the fun bit. It’s time to write down anything, and everything, that makes the two of you tick. What is it that makes you both the unique snowflakes that you are? Are you really into sci-fi, or gaming, or food? Have you always dreamt about getting married outside, or by the ocean, or in a cave? Is music your biggest passion? Are your pets the light of your life? At this stage, write down whatever you want on this list and don’t restrict yourselves. I always think that the most successful weddings are those that are really unique to the couple and a share a mash up of how they are in everyday life.
Of course when it comes down to actually putting things in the wedding, you don’t have to include everything, but making a list like this is a really good way to get those ideas flowing before you really decide what’s going to work for you both.
When and where will you get married?
So you’ve got the bare bones of the ideas for your wedding, now it’s time to think about the logistics – basically when and where the day is going to take place. If you don’t have an obvious date in mind already, refer back the above as one may affect the other. If, for example, your dream is an outdoor woodland ceremony surrounded by wildflowers and with your pooch as your ring bearer, you’re unlikely to want to have a church ceremony in Milton Keynes in November. Also do you want a long engagement or a short one? Both have their up and downsides, but it really all comes down to how quickly you want to get married, and in a lot of cases, budget.
How will you pull it off?
This is the boring, but vitally important, bit…. the budget (groan!)
As much as you might not want to think about just how much you’re going to spend on this one day, having some sort of idea of a budget is crucial. Sure, you may well blow it, but you do need to have one. You can find a basic guide of the average cost of each element of the wedding in the Rock n Roll Bride Wedding Planner by the way!
There are entire reality shows that revolve around the pain and horror of the wedding budget, but yours needs to become your best friend. It will keep you in perspective and make you pay attention to what you actually really want. Most importantly, your 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 crippling debt.
Finally, don’t forget your why…
Look, wedding planning can be tough. It can be stressful and expensive and put unexpected strain on a relationship. You not only have to deal with trying to pull off the coolest party of your life, you have other people’s feelings and opinions to contend with too (and if you’re having an alternative wedding, even more so!) Wedding planning can also take over your life if you let it, and after a while apathy, or even resentment, can start to creep in. The DIY projects mount up, the bills keep coming in, and you can begin to lose sight of why you even started to do all this in the first place.
So listen up babe, because if you forget your why it can all start to feel pointless. I guarantee you’ll want to throw your hands up in the air and yell “FUCK IT, LET’S JUST ELOPE!” at least once.
If you’re struggling, allow yourself to take a break from the planning. Spend some time together as a couple. Rediscover your passion and nurture the love that makes you want to go on this journey in the first place. At the end of the day the cake will be eaten, the flowers will wilt and the dress will be relegated to the back of your wardrobe. When you’re old and grey the kind of wedding you had won’t matter anymore, but the person you married will still be there by your side. Forever.