One of the best pieces of advice we can give is to make sure you get your planning done in order...
Finding your Big Day Venue is the first and most important step, it determines your Wedding date ( meaning you can book other services) and importantly, confirms the feel and vibe of your big day!
Booking your venue also usually helps confirm the general budget for your Wedding and your timescales for getting everything organised/ordered.
Plus your Big Day Vibe is not to be underestimated, we are spoilt for choice with wedding venues in the Southwest, there are a whole host of really different wedding venues across Devon, Cornwall, Somerset, and Dorset.
From cliff tops to barns, forests & beaches, moors to stately houses, plus so many gorgeous vineyards and hotels in between, there is a lot to choose from, and your venue choice does influence the rest of your wedding planning so very much :)
Booking your photographer... this is the second big step, once you have your wedding date you are empowered to find and book your wedding photographer.
Finding the right photographer is a big step forward. Your photographer is an integral part of your day, they will be with you (as unobtrusively as possible) right the way through from getting ready in the morning to the first dance and potentially beyond further into the evening.
So it's really important you get on with your photographer - you will be interacting with them a fair bit on the day, although admittedly usually in small doses, as their number one job is to not get in the way of your big day - just to record the moments for you!
Obviously, you also need to love their photography style. It's worth spending time talking to potential photographers and having a look through their website portfolios. Some wedding photographers are more casual and go for less "Wedding Party" traditional shots and focus more on relaxed shots where you and your guests don't usually know you are being photographed.
For others, it's all about the Bride and Groom and they take fewer shots of the Wedding Guests, but will take the happy couple off for as many scenes as they can - to really capture your Big Day through you guys!
Some wedding photographers also offer videography, which is another beautiful way to capture the moments of your big day. Others recommend videographers they have worked alongside before, which is great as often their work complements each other!
It's worth noting that most wedding photographers and videographers get booked up far in advance, which is why it's usually the next big job to tick off, once you have booked your wedding venue and have a firm wedding date to work to.
(Wedding Fairs can be a great place to meet both Venues and Photographers if you aren't sure where to start)
And then onto the Dress... Finding and booking your venue is an essential step before going Wedding Dress shopping...
For dresses that need to be ordered - a wedding date is an essential part of the order process. Having your wedding venue in mind also really helps with you envisaging your day and how you will look and feel in dresses you love...
Many of us have been thinking of what the dress would be like for years, it's hard not to. Now, this post isn't meant to be all about the dress, we are on general wedding planning advice for the moment! We will save dress-specific advice and info for another post, but in the meanwhile below there is a little peek at some of the options that are out there for you!
Now the one thing you will need to remember in terms of wedding dress shopping is the timescale, if you are shopping 12-14 months before your wedding, you have your pick of all the designers. If your dress is made to order, then no designer's lead times will be too long at this point - you have the full range of dresses to pick from - wherever you go!
Now we know that for some Brides, buying their dress 12-14 months before their wedding doesn't work - they perhaps have a shorter timescale from the get-go - we have met brides who have booked and planned their wedding within 2-4 weeks!
So we do have a very good & extensive collection of Off-the-Rail wedding dresses which are available to take away immediately - but remember those of you who come in closer to your wedding date will probably have fewer dresses to choose from or may have to pay more for their dress, as some designers will allow rush orders - but they do charge extra for this service. Our advice is to come in as soon as you are able to, as the more time means the more selection we can offer you!
Plus, as a little extra information - here is a little advice on things to think about planning-wise pre-wedding dress appointment:
Other bigger things to consider/get planned in...Now you have the big three planned in and ticked off ( or on the way to being organised) you may then be thinking of what's next. Now, this can be very dependent on your big day and the type of day you are choosing, however, the following are good things to consider, as again some of these services will get booked up into the future and you don't want to miss out!
With the venue comes some other considerations - if you are choosing to make your ceremony legal, then at the moment, you need to have either booked a licensed venue plus a registrar to come out and run your ceremony, be having a church ceremony, OR you need to book in legalising your wedding separately (often couples go to a registry office the day before if they are going for a venue in which they can't have their wedding legally officiated).
If you aren't getting married in a church or licensed venue then you need to consider who will be running your ceremony - you may have a friend or family member who would be perfect for such a role, if not a Wedding Celebrant is a great way to go. Again, this is a really important person on your big day, you need to get on and share the same vibe. Celebrants tend to really personalise their ceremonies, so having a good chat with them first about their services can be a really good place to start your journey to find the right one!
Caterers - if your venue doesn't provide food itself and you need to outsource this, you need to get your catering booked! Once you have the wedding date confirmed, getting the food side sorted is important. If your venue usually works with a set of trusted caterers, it can be really good to go for one of these vendors, they know the property and set-up, plus the venue already has a relationship with them which is hugely beneficial for you and you can be assured of quality, etc. But also make sure you go with your gut, if you really want wood-smoked pizza or a hog roast because that fits the day you are envisaging and none of the caterers can provide that - then widen the search!
Other things for the list:
Organise Wedding Insurance
Your Partner's outfit
Make a Guest List ( you may have already done this roughly to make sure your venue is the right size, but you will need to get this firmed up)
Wedding Invitations/ Save the Date's
Bridal Hair and Makeup
Band or DJ? (Or both!)
Transport (From Wedding Cars to moving your guests around, if needed)
The Honeymoon (You'll need a break after all this planning!)
Bridesmaids/ Wedding party outfits
Think about readings, songs, or hymns for the ceremony
Music selections for the ceremony and DJ/Band
Give notice/ have your Banns read
Think about the sentimental things you want there for your big day. (My something borrowed was my Grandma's ring for the day)
Entertainment - if you want some extras on your big day, it's important to get this booked up or organised if you are doing it yourself as quickly as possible. If you are stuck for inspiration - a wedding fair can be a really good place to find out what different options there are. If you are having a lot of children attend your big day, hiring in entertainment can be a really good way to keep all your little peeps happy and engaged, and take some pressure off their parents for everyone's enjoyment.
Table Plan/ Place-cards/ Favours
The Little Touches - whether it's personalised presents for your tribe or the parents of the couple or you want your soon-to-be hubby or wifey to have something special to open on the morning of the wedding... have a think about the little touches too. They usually need more organisation than you think, and they can be a really nice thing to either make or order when you have got some time earlier on in the planning phase!
Hopefully, this will have given you a lot to think about! Wedding planning may seem a bit daunting to start with, but there are so many wedding professionals out there ready to help with so many of these parts of your wedding, we are all experts in our corners of the industry, so finding and engaging with wedding suppliers is usually the best step forwards with organising your special day!