Planning a wedding in 2024 is an exciting journey filled with choices that will shape your special day. From setting a date to sending out invitations, each step brings you closer to realising your dream wedding. To help you along the way, here is our ultimate guide to planning a wedding based on research, our experience as a vendor for many weddings and personal wedding planning experience.
Deciding Whether to Hire a Wedding Planner
When it comes to wedding planning, one of the first decisions you'll face is whether to hire a professional planner. This choice can significantly influence your wedding planning experience. Here are some key factors to consider:
Budget Considerations: Reflect on whether your budget can accommodate a wedding planner. While they can be a significant investment, planners often bring cost-saving expertise through vendor connections.
Scale of Wedding: The complexity and size of your wedding play a crucial role. Large-scale weddings with elaborate details might benefit more from a planner's experience.
Time and Stress Management: If you have limited time or prefer not to handle the stress of detailed planning, a wedding planner can be invaluable.
Vision Realisation: Assess how specific your wedding vision is and whether a planner can help bring it to life while respecting your preferences.
Event Planning Experience: If you or your close ones lack event planning experience, a planner's expertise can fill this gap, ensuring a smoothly run event.
Location Considerations: For destination weddings, a planner familiar with the locale can navigate challenges you might not foresee.
If you do decide to hire a wedding planner, consider consulting a professional from the UK Alliance of Wedding Planners (www.ukawp.com), where you can find experienced planners to help navigate the details of your big day.
Step-by-Step Wedding Planning Guide
Setting the Date and Budget
Date: Consider season, work schedules, and holidays. Popular dates may require booking venues and vendors well in advance. The date of your wedding, including season, day of the week, and proximity to holidays, can significantly impact its cost due to factors like seasonal pricing, weekend premiums, holiday rates, and demand for popular dates. So keep this in mind when picking a date.
Budget: Use tools like Bridebook or The Knot's Wedding Budget Planner to allocate funds for different aspects of your wedding. Bridebook offers personalised budget allocation, real-time tracking, vendor management, and cost-saving tips, while The Knot's tool focuses on customised budget creation, detailed expense tracking, payment scheduling, and vendor payment management, ensuring a clear overview and control over wedding finances.
Creating the Guest List: When creating your guest list, prioritise close family and friends while considering your venue's capacity and budget, and use digital tools for organisation and tracking. Websites like Brides offer resources and advice for effectively managing your guest list and ensuring a well-balanced, enjoyable event for all.
Selecting a Venue: When choosing a venue, consider not only the style of your wedding and guest capacity but also factors like accessibility for guests, available amenities (like catering options, audio-visual equipment, and seating arrangements), and the level of flexibility the venue offers in terms of vendors and decoration policies. Websites such as Hitched and Bridebook provide extensive listings of venues, complete with reviews, photos, and detailed information to help you find a location that aligns with your vision and logistical needs.
Hiring Key Vendors: When selecting key vendors for your wedding, it's important to consider their expertise, compatibility with your wedding style, and reliability. Here are some tips for choosing the main vendors.
Photographers: Assess portfolios and reviews on platforms like Hitched to ensure their style matches your vision.
Caterers: Conduct taste tests and confirm they can accommodate any specific dietary needs.
Florists: Choose a florist whose design aesthetic aligns with your wedding theme and can provide a range of floral arrangements.
Cake Bakers: Taste samples and discuss design options that reflect your wedding style.
Transportation Services: Ensure reliability and punctuality, and confirm the types of vehicles available.
Rental Companies: Check the quality of their offerings, such as chairs, tables, and other decor items.
Hair and Makeup Artists: Review their portfolio and conduct a trial session to ensure their style matches your expectations.
Officiants: Choose someone who resonates with your personal values and understands the type of ceremony you desire.
Stationery Suppliers: Ensure they offer designs that align with your wedding theme and can provide all necessary items. Etsy offers a range of options for unique wedding stationery. They offer ready made print options as well as DIY templates that allow you to add your own customisations.
Choosing Wedding Attire: Begin your wedding attire selection early. For inspiration, visit Brides UK and You & Your Wedding. Explore bridal boutiques and shops like Wed2bE who have a wide range of dresses and styles at affordable prices. You can also try on as many dresses as you like which goes a long way in helping you find the perfect dress. For groom and bridal party attire, browse Moss Bros and ASOS. Ensure fittings are scheduled well in advance for a perfect fit on your wedding day.
Sending Save-the-Dates and Invitations: As previously mentioned for creative and unique stationery, platforms like Etsy offer a wide range of customisable options. Check out these "Save The Date" digital templates from Innovia Art. They are easily customisable to match your wedding theme.
Planning the Ceremony and Reception: When planning your ceremony and reception, consider key elements such as the venue layout, the sequence of events during the ceremony, reception activities (like speeches and dances), catering options, and overall decor and theme. For the ceremony, think about the order of processions, music choices, and any readings or personal vows. For the reception, plan the seating arrangement, menu, entertainment, and how you want to integrate traditional elements like the first dance and cake cutting. For guidance, there are resources like Guides for Brides which offers comprehensive planning checklists and advice. For inspiration and ideas, platforms like Pinterest are excellent for visual themes and decor, while Confetti provides helpful tips and trends for both the ceremony and reception planning.
Menu and Cake:
Caterer: When selecting a caterer for your wedding, it's essential to find one that not only aligns with your taste preferences but also offers a variety of menu options to cater to different dietary needs. Look for caterers who have experience in weddings and can provide a comprehensive tasting session. Additionally, consider their flexibility in customising the menu and their ability to handle the scale of your wedding. Websites like The Wedding Secret can be excellent resources for finding reputable caterers with reviews and ratings.
Baker: For the wedding cake, start by scheduling tastings with local bakers. This will give you a chance to sample flavors and explore design options. When selecting a cake maker, consider their portfolio of previous works to ensure their style matches your vision. Look for bakers who are open to collaboration and can bring your ideas to life.
Finalising the Details: About a month before, make sure you confirm details with all vendors.
UK Weddings: In the UK, the process for obtaining a marriage license involves giving notice of your intention to marry at your local register office. This should be done at least 29 days before the wedding. You'll need to provide personal details and documents such as proof of identity and address. It's important to check if there are any additional requirements specific to your area, as these can vary. The UK government's website (www.gov.uk) offers comprehensive guidance on the process.
For Couples Getting Married Abroad: If you're a UK citizen planning to marry abroad, it’s essential to research the legal requirements of the country where the wedding will take place. Contact the local authorities in that country or the embassy to understand what documentation is needed. Additionally, you may require your documents to be legally recognized in the UK. The process often involves obtaining a ‘Certificate of No Impediment’ (CNI) from your local register office in the UK. After the wedding, make sure to get your marriage.
The Rehearsal: When planning your wedding rehearsal in the UK, coordinate with the venue and officiant to set a convenient date, usually a day or two before the wedding. Use this opportunity to walk through the entire ceremony, including the processional and recessional, and confirm everyone's roles and positions. Communication with all participants is key to ensure clarity. Consider concluding the rehearsal with a dinner for the bridal party and families to socialise and relax.
Enjoy Your Special Day: You’ve gone to great lengths to make sure your special day happens. Remember to take moments throughout the day to enjoy your celebration with your partner, family, and friends.
As we wrap up this guide to planning your wedding in 2024, remember that each step, from deciding on a wedding planner to tasting cakes, contributes to bringing your vision to life. However, most importantly don't forget to enjoy the process. This is a unique and special time in your life, leading up to a day filled with love, celebration, and joy. So, take a moment to step back, breathe, and cherish each step on this incredible journey to your wedding day.
Have you recently got married or been part of wedding planning? Leave your top tip in the comments below, it may make all the difference to someone's wedding planning journey.