Can you believe it – You’re engaged!! You’ve probably dreamt about finding that one right person to enjoy the rest of your life together with.

Now that’s it’s actually here, are you scared thinking: “This is real, I’m actually engaged, but what do I do now?” Apart from looking at your ring a hundred times [you’ve probably already looked at it since starting to read this!…if not, I’m sure you’ve just looked ! 🙂 ] when and how do you start planning a perfect wedding?

There’s no need to be fretful over what to do next, as you’ll probably have plenty of time to start planning before you get to walk down the aisle. This is because, according to Bridebook’s 2017 report mentioned in Harper’s Bazaar, the average engagement in the UK for 2017 lasts 20 months.

So start slow with these 15 essential wedding planning tips and enjoy the ride.

1. Tell Family and Friends First


Before you head on social media, tell our family and friends first! Naturally, your parents, grandparents, siblings, and best friends at the top of the pecking order, deserve a personal visit, or at the very least a phone call. But sending other friends or relatives a text with a photo of the picture is perfectly acceptable too.

You wouldn’t want your old school friend from years ago knowing about your engagement on social media before your mother, would you?

As soon as you’re ready to tell the world, change your Facebook status and feel free to post your ring selfies. It’s one thing saying you got a gorgeous ring, it’s another showing it. A picture does speak a thousand words.

Better yet, if the actual proposal was caught on camera, nothing beats the actual look of happy surprise.

2. Look After Your Hands


Consider get a manicure, as your ring finger will be the centre of attention, with friends no doubt wanting to take photos to share your good news with the world for you.

So make sure your hands and nails look their best. If you’re going natural, a simple nail regime works wonders when you keep your nails clean, trimmed and looking the part!

3. Get Your Ring Sized and Insured


Chances are your ring may not fit exactly, unless your partner is the super organised type. So, as soon as possible, take it back to the jewellers where it was bought, as they should be able to resize it to fit perfectly, for free. Yes it’s not ideal to be without your new ring so soon after getting it, but it’s better than it slipping off accidentally and you losing it!

Also, with the average cost of an engagement ring well into 4 figures, it makes sense to protect your asset by insuring it. You might be able to add it to your household insurance and it should prove relatively inexpensive.

4. Relax and Breath


The temptation is to start wedding planning straight away. Remember the average engagement is 20 months. So there’s plenty of time.

Take a couple of weeks to relax, get used to the idea that you’ve found the love of your life and then you’ll reduce the stress that comes with sorting out your wedding.

Spend time together, as you’ll find wedding planning will demand a lot of time that should be spent together to strengthening your bond as a soon-be-married-couple.

5. Involve Your Parents


Parents often get left out of wedding planning, but it’s a lovely touch when they’re actively involved in the planning. So consider sitting down early on to keep them in the wedding planning loop.

They can help with ideas of things like: Who could be on the guest list? What family traditions can be included? Are there any family dynamics to take into consideration to help your wedding day run as smoothly as possible? How much do your parents actually want to be involved? – They may only simply want to know how things are going on, and to know when to give you some emotional support when things get stressful.

This is vital as this is the top cause for wedding planning fights.

6. Arrange an Engagement Photo Session


Mark this important step in your lives together with a photo session, so you can get some professional images to frame and decorate your home, or for a memory wall at your venue on your wedding day.

But if like many, you hate having your photo taken and the idea fills you with dread, consider a photographer who specialises in relaxed, natural and unposed images, often label a documentary photographer. You’ll then find the session a great “practice run” to see how relaxing it can be on your wedding day.

When you feel comfortable in front of the camera, you shouldn’t even know your being photographed!

7. Find Your Inspiration


Gather as much info on the type and style of wedding you want so you’ll have a clear idea of what to look for.

You can gather ideas from wedding magazines and websites. Making a mood board on Pinterest will help keep you focused on your colour scheme and wedding ideas. That way you won’t get side-tracked by simply having what others had for their wedding.

In this early information gathering stages, pay particular attention to how much things cost. Many have an unrealistic budget when it comes to wedding planning, and they dream of a “Champagne lifestyle wedding”, on a “Prosecco” budget.

This will help you when you get to point 9 below.

8. Religious or Civil Ceremony?


Ask yourself if you want to have a traditional church wedding ceremony, or maybe you’d like to organise a modern wedding celebration with a civil ceremony in a licensed venue? Plus, where will you host our reception?

There are advantages if both events are in the same location, as you’ll only be liaising with one venue, meaning choosing a date will be easier. Plus, your guests don’t have worry about travelling between locations, with the potential to get lost along the way.

Once you’ve decided on a few dates and roughly how many you’ll be inviting to your wedding, then you’ll be ready to start selecting venues that suits you both. Your venue will literally set the scene and tone of the day for your wedding. So decide early what type you’re looking for eg. stately home, rustic barn, grand castle or an venue suitable for an intimate wedding ceremony with a few friends. Note that the popular venues get booked up over 2 years in advance, so this should be the first thing to decide on and secure.

Indoor venues will have a limit on the numbers allowed for the actual ceremony, but will allow many more for the evening reception. So consider making two lists of guests. The first you’ll invite to the ceremony and wedding breakfast. The second list will be for guests who’ll be coming to the evening party celebrations.

Here’s my recommended list of the best wedding venues in the West Midlands.

9. Decide on Your Budget


Once you’ve got your lists of how many are invited, you can then narrow down your list of suggested venues which can accommodate those numbers.

Then decide on a realistic budget for your whole wedding and how much you’re willing to spend on each supplier. List everything in order of priority. What are the top 3 most important things that you can’t do without, and what things are less important where corners can be cut if necessary?

Those at the top of the list will naturally get a larger slice of the budget, and will make the most impact for your wedding day memories.

This is where a wedding planner can prove invaluable in helping you knowing where and how to save money, keeping you on budget.

10. Set Up a Wedding Email Address


Set up an email address dedicated for your wedding planning. You’ll be doing a lot of emailing back and forth with suppliers. This will keep everything in one convenient place, so you both can access any communication and share in the decision making process.

This is excellent for after your wedding too. Here’s why: With all the emailing during your wedding planning, you’ll probably be added to quite a few wedding suppliers’ email list. But once the wedding planning is over, you can then choose to close the address down so you don’t get bombarded with wedding-planning related wedding messages you no longer wish to receive.

11. Choose Your Colour Scheme and Bridal Party


Don’t be shackled by the usual seasonal favourites eg pastel shades for the warmer weather or bold colours for winter. It’s your wedding day, so choose what suit you and fits in with your personality and wedding theme.

Then you can decide how many bridesmaids, ushers, pageboys, flower girls you’ll have, informing them of your chosen colour scheme for the wedding.

12. Consider Hiring a Wedding Planner


A wedding planner can be worth their weight in gold, so consider choosing someone who can take much of the strain off you.

They can share their experience to help you choose things like, decor, colour schemes, wedding day timelines that work etc.

13. Set Your Date


Don’t feel rushed to set the date because everyone keeps asking you “Have you set a date yet?” Sometimes people ask because of not knowing what else to say beyond “Congratulations!” Once you’re ready, both decide on a rough timeline, eg “having your wedding in x months time” or should we go for a summer or winter wedding?”

That way you can narrow down a rough time frame to work within. if you’re inviting a lot of people with children, consider dates that won’t clash with the school summer holidays, when plan to get away on holiday.

Plus, if there are a few sports fans, take note of dates for things like FA Cup /World Cup Finals etc. Otherwise you’ll risk having someone during the ceremony keeping up with the score with an ear piece. Then shouting out “Yes!!!” when their teams scores, at the same time the one conducting the ceremony asks “Is there anyone here who knows any just cause, or reason why these two should not joined in matrimony to each other, speak now or forever hold your peace?” !!

Once set, mark the date on every calendar you both own. If you use something like Google Calendar, it’ll update on every device you own.

You can even set up a calendar to share between you both, so you’ll both know about that important wedding planning meeting scheduled for Saturday afternoon, when his favourite team is playing!

14. Start Booking Your Main Suppliers


There’s no official timeline to say who should be booked, when and in what order.

But it’s logical to start with what should be at the top of your budget list ie first your wedding venue(s), followed by your wedding photographer (plus videographer if you’re having one).

Then others suppliers can be booked later eg. caterer, hair and make-up, entertainment, flowers, attire, cake, stationery, transportation, honeymoon destination, etc.

15. Schedule Dress Shopping


One of the most important parts of the wedding will undoubtedly be your wedding dress.

It’s not just about choosing from the many styles available: From a-line to ball gown. From boho to trump et wedding dresses. There’s also coloured, tinted or embroidered dresses. Then there’s column, tea-length to fishtail wedding dresses to name just a few.

Added to the mix, you may have your favourite designer’s collection to choose from. Plus, the style you choose needs to suit your body-shape.

So allow sufficient time to make it a relaxing and fun experience, and by starting early enough, you’ll have enough time for any alterations or additions you want to make it YOUR dress. Hitched.co.uk has an excellent resource to help you search for your ideal dress.

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