Tying the knot is supposed to be one of the most memorable days of your life and, as much as it’s likely to be a delightful experience, there’s an awful lot of pressure put on your wedding day to be perfect.
The best way to take some of that pressure off is to plan ahead, so to help you out, we’ve got together 11 wedding experts and faced them with the question ‘what are the best ways to organise and plan a wedding?’. Here’s what they had to say…
Julianna Oates, The Newport Bride
“Start with a vision of the wedding you want and pick the three most important features. When creating a budget keep those three elements in mind. If you care most about the dress, food, and flowers, focus your efforts and paycheck on those pieces. Once you have those in place, work backwards from the end vision to create a master list of all the things you’ll need, when you need them, and how much you can spend.”
Carla, Purple Swan Hire
“By hiring a local venue dresser you can get just the look and feel you’re after for your wedding without the hassle of organising it yourself. You can then fully enjoy your wedding day (and the days before and after!) stress-free, knowing that the venue décor is taken care of.”
Colette Lopez & Kaitlin Kolvet, La Fete Weddings
“1) We like to use visuals for our brides & grooms during the planning process. Starting with a Design Inspiration Board, then a full table design and floral mock up which allows the clients to see all the details in person & really get involved in selecting their perfect table design. Followed by menu tasting with the catering team & detailed diagrams and renderings to give our clients the full visual of their wedding day.
2) We pride ourselves on our extremely detailed timelines which break down exactly when the professional team is scheduled to arrive. Often our timelines are 8-10 pages long ensuring that the whole team is on the same page. We also make sure that the schedule is realistic. Often times hair and makeup run late, and guests don’t exactly rush cocktail hour to the reception so we allow plenty time for movement in our timelines which allow the bride to relax & enjoy her day with her family and friends without feeling rushed.
3) As detail oriented planners, we make sure that we are on site during all installations. From experience, we find that there are so many details that change while we are on site: for example the height of a chandelier being hung, or a napkin fold, the placement of a bar, fabric draping styles, additional lighting needed somewhere – all of this may change based on the visuals of being onsite.
4) We also text or email our brides on the morning of the wedding to congratulate & remind them to relax and enjoy each moment of their day, it all goes by so quickly & we them to take it all in!”
Pippa Binham, Managing Director, Nova Wedding Planning
“For couples who are starting to plan their wedding and don’t have the luxury or expertise of a wedding planner, it can be difficult to see the wood for the trees and all be a little overwhelming.
I would recommend splitting wedding planning into thirds! Take the amount of time you have until the wedding and split it into three. In the first third, you need to book the venue and all the suppliers and find your dress. In the second third, you need to invite all guests and book your accommodation and in the final third you need to concentrate on the details – getting in your R.S.V.Ps, the look of the décor, and booking your honeymoon.
I recommend on booking the venue and suppliers as your first point of call though, as you can ensure that they are available for your preferred date and, if it is some time away, you may also be able to get them to hold this year’s prices rather than paying the prices for the subsequent year.
Despite the association wedding planners have with the luxury end of the market, hiring a wedding planner can actually help to save you money, as they may be able to negotiate discounts or deals on your behalf with suppliers, whilst imparting invaluable assistance for your day so we can be a very worthwhile addition for any wedding no matter what size or budget.”
“Make sure you have a clear theme. It doesn’t have to be something specific like a ‘beach theme’, but at the very least you should have a colour theme consisting of a 2-3 colours. This helps structure decisions about your wedding, from the stationery to the cake and everything in between. It also helps to direct your suppliers when they are creating elements for your wedding.
Set aside a specific period of time a week with your partner to discuss wedding planning. This ensures that plans actually do get made as you are committing to a planning session every single week. This also avoids random conversations about wedding plans at different times which can become repetitive and stressful. Pick an evening in the week, or a couple of hours at the weekend, and make some concrete decisions. It will ensure everything that needs to be planned gets done, and a lot quicker too.
Delegate jobs to other people if they are happy to be involved. You don’t have to do everything yourself, as this is one of the ways that you can end up overly-stressed about the wedding. If your mum or best friend is desperate to lend a hand, then find them jobs that they are happy to do. Maybe they can organise the favours, or help you pick out wedding dresses? This gives you one less job on your to-do list and keeps wedding planning a social event, which allows things to be fun.”
Emily Andrew Wedding Planner, Your Norfolk Wedding
“Firstly, you have to think about your budget. You have to be completely comfortable with what you are planning on spending and there is no point starting your new married life in debt, struggling to pay off massive credit card bills!
If you are a lover of spreadsheets, they come in very handy here; it needn’t be complex just straight forward with what you plan to spend and what you actually spend so you can keep a running total. Break your budget up into smaller chunks such as outfits (bride, groom, bridesmaids, ushers), flowers, the ceremony, transport, catering, the venue, decor, the honeymoon, etc. so it is more manageable.
You then need to think about your guests. What sort of day do you want them to experience? Is it going to be a really casual day or something more lavish and formal? Thinking about the number of guests you want to invite at this point is also key and the more you have the more expensive it becomes!
Drawing up a preliminary guest list will help and think about sending out save the date cards early on if you’re planning to gauge how many guests would be attending your special day (even before you have a venue this can help you).
Wedding planning is all in the preparation so spend some time thinking about what is important to you both and where your priorities are for the day, such as what time of year you want to get married and what sort of venues appeal to you both. It is so easy to get carried away with Pinterest boards, wedding fairs, and bridal magazines once you are newly engaged. These are great but you will get the most out of them when you have some clear ideas that you need to research.
Researching options is vital, don’t book with the first supplier you see. Weddings are stressful, expensive, and emotional so pick suppliers that you really click with and that will offer you the best service for your budget.
Finding the perfect venue will be key and the venue will help you with the rest of your planning. For example, the decor and style of the venue will lead you naturally to design your day in sync with it. For example, if you pick a chic hotel for your wedding there is then no point designing your day around a rustic theme it will look poorly executed and conflict with the surroundings. The venue you pick may have some preferred suppliers so some of the planning may be done for you such as finding a florist, caterer, or photographer.
It can take an average of 250 hours to plan a wedding so being organised is key and not leaving things to the last minute. If you are struggling at any point during your planning I would highly recommend speaking to a professional, freelance wedding planner.”
Christina Pendl, Wedding planner, By Christina-Marie
“The best way to organise and plan a wedding is to start with the basics.
First figure out your priorities and who you want to invite. This will give you vital information that you need for the next step: researching and booking a venue and picking a wedding date that suits you.
If you are desperate for a live band, make sure you can have a stage area and are allowed to dance, perhaps even play music a little longer. Likewise, if you really have your heart set on having a firework check that your venue allows that or, if you want an outdoor ceremony, that the space is available.
After that, go through any other suppliers one step at a time using your priorities list as guidelines for what to check next. If you are looking to save yourself a lot of time and stress and money, I recommend hiring a planner who knows the industry and will make only personalised recommendations suitable for you.
Sophie Jackson, Director, Wedding Planner, Stylist & Designer, Weddings With Ease UK
“All our brides and grooms are given a wedding planning spreadsheet which we collectively keep up-to-date. So when new suppliers are booked and different aspects of the wedding are paid for we track everything on there.
They are also sent our bespoke wedding planning timeline. This allows them to see where we are at in the planning process and what needs booking and when. These two things have helped all of our couples enjoy a more stress-free run up to the wedding.
We would also recommend hiring a planner as this allows some of the stress of a wedding be taken off a couple’s shoulders. For example, if you can’t attend an appointment with the florist, or need someone to liaise with all of the suppliers beforehand, we assist with this.
All of our couples have said what a blessing it has been to have someone there in the background helping on every aspect and keeping everyone organised.”
Kate Appleby, Bridal Expert Alterkate
“The planning process can seem overwhelming but it’s important to work with key people. This can be your planner who takes the stress away from you and sourcing suppliers. If you don’t have a planner then ensure your service providers are able to work within your requirements. Keep an open mind and listen to the experts; they know what they are doing!
Cheapest isn’t always the best! Best friends and mums or sisters aren’t wedding planners but use them for moral support and to help you choose when the other half can’t make decisions!”
Michelle Healey, Wedding Planner, Ladybelle Weddings
“There really is no long or short answer to this, as everybody’s wedding is different. Of course, it’s easier to plan a wedding for 50 people than it is for 500, but if you have a wedding planner on board it’s even easier!!
Remember it’s not about how much you spend, it’s about the two of you celebrating your love for each other with your family and friends. So make sure you both have a clear idea of a budget, this is so important as I know how out of control a wedding budget can get. Be mindful, especially when you go to wedding fayres and see all those cute little ‘extras’ which, when you do a final count, have taken your budget to well over what you wanted to pay for a wedding. So be realistic about what you can afford to have, I have done a wedding on a budget of £3000 and well over £30,000 – both were just as beautiful.
Shop around for quotes, I always get at least three quotes for each supplier for my clients so we can compare and get the best deal, whether it’s catering, photography, or flowers. Meet with them and ask for proof of their work. Also, ask to speak to previous brides and grooms about how they did for their wedding. If you found them via social media, read the reviews and check them out thoroughly. I’ve seen too many couples duped recently by bogus wedding suppliers and it absolutely breaks my heart to hear this. If you don’t feel they are right for you just politely say you found someone else and move on to another supplier.
Remember this your wedding day, so enjoy the planning of it. Relax and if you find it gets too much look to hiring an independent wedding planner. If this is not something you can do then ask people closest to you to help out, it can be very overwhelming and time-consuming, especially if you work full-time and have a family.
When it comes to the wedding day itself, just relax and enjoy every moment as it happens, after all this is one of the most special days of your life!”
Monette, Chairperson & Managing Director, Inspiring Celebrations Ltd
“Planning and organising a wedding can take as much as 9 to 12 months to plan for most brides and can take a great number of hours depending on the complexity of your preparation. For most brides, wedding planning and organising is a very exciting and enjoyable project but it can be very stressful and strenuous.
So you are asking what are the best ways to organise and plan a wedding. Like any other project, one has to take on, you have to do it carefully, thoroughly, and wisely. You have to keep a checklist, budget spreadsheet, and most of all a diary to record tasks, activities, and appointments and monitor your budget and payments and keep track of your tasks and schedule.
You have to do a lot of research on venues and suppliers. You can also register in bridal networking sites as sometimes they have special offers and discounts from suppliers or provide templates for monitoring your wedding activities. Being organised is the number one requirement plus knowing how to plan, manage, and coordinate your activities and schedule.
Read the suppliers’ contracts and protect your finances by getting wedding insurance. Identify your budget and the three most important aspects of the wedding you want to highlight. Then you can allocate budget by prioritising the three aspects identified before assigning budgets to the other items you will spend on.
Consider hiring a professional wedding planner. In my view, a wedding planner is not a luxury, it is a necessity to help you save money, relieve stress, and enjoy your wedding. If you have a reasonable budget, hire a wedding planner to help you out with your full wedding planning.
However, even if you have a limited budget, you can still hire a wedding planner to help you in specific aspects of your wedding. Wedding planners have a lot of relationships with other suppliers who can give you discounts if referred by them.
With a limited budget, the most beneficial investment is to hire a wedding planner for “on the day coordination service”. This will ensure that your plan will be implemented smoothly on the day according to how you envisioned it. All you and your family need to do is enjoy every minute of the wedding as it unfolds.”