Recently Engaged? Get your priorities organised first

January can only mean one thing, “engagement season” is here. If you got engaged over the christmas period do read our recent article on what do to in that first week. Todays post is to get you started on your wedding planning journey. It can be tempting to start calling venues, dress designers and hiring suppliers before February is even with us. But I want you to take a step back and slow down. Its really important you get the groundwork sorted first to ensure your wedding planning is a success.

What are your priorities

What kind of wedding do you desire?  This is the time to discuss your likes and dislikes in terms of weddings . One of you might want a fantasy destination wedding with 20 guests on a gorgeous sandy beach (this was my wedding) while the other might want a classical, countryside wedding of 200. You want to make sure your ideas are in sync right from the start, and if they aren’t, find room for compromise where you need to.

Talk about what the most important aspects of the wedding day are to both of you – perhaps it’s food, headcount, location or entertainment. By knowing your priorities it helps you spend your money in the right areas.

Lets talk money

One classic mistake people make when planning their wedding is not to have a) a wedding budget and b) never breaking that budget down into priorities. I’ve presented on the topic of wedding budgets many times, do read this blog post where I talk budgets in more detail and how to create yours. If you pop onto my Facebook page I have also produced videos on budgets. No one enjoys talking about money, but you need to set the goal posts right from the start to avoid problems down the line. How much have you got put aside, how much can you save, and who else might be able to contribute. Knowing how much you’re working with will help you set your priorities for spending. Don’t forget to factor in that extra 5% for contingencies or surprises over the next few months!

Narrow your preferred date

How long do you want to be able to plan your big day – speedy planning in two months or take your time for two years? Are you dreaming of a summer marquee celebration or perhaps a cosy winter wedding? Make sure you always check with your most important friends and family members to make sure you’re not looking at dates when they know they aren’t available. Talk through your preferences of season but also day of the week, must it be a Saturday for example?

Marquee wedding organised in 5 months for 200 guests


Start compiling your guest list of “must come” and “would be nice if they did”. That way, you know you have a little flexibility when it comes to venue hunting for capacity and budget for food and drink. Some venues have minimum and maximum numbers. Again read the article I have written on wedding budgets (or watch the video above) as they go hand and hand. When you realise every guest has a cost not only for food, drink but also decor it can be easy to work out if they must be invited to the wedding after all!

Get Inspired

Pinterest, blogs, instagram and magazines are your best friends when it comes to the style and design of your wedding. Get crystal clear on what you like and don’t like and be ruthless, otherwise you will find yourself swapping and changing concepts throughout the planning! Read this article on using pinterest for your celebration. Also look through our gallery and blog if you think you’d like a marquee wedding.

Get the biggies done first

Sounds obvious but choose your venue before your band! If you are planning on having a venue based wedding then this is what can take the most time, unless of course you have a venue in mind already? Read this guide on choosing your venue and what questions to ask.

And if you are having a marquee in your garden then decide what type of structure you’re most drawn to, in this blog post I go through the different types available. Curious about what I do when organising a marquee wedding? Look at this blog post with some surprising statistics! If you’re planning a marquee wedding then do consider hiring a planner to assist you, don’t underestimate the work that goes into having a wedding at home.

Next on your priority is organising your ceremony, if you’re having a civil ceremony that literally cannot be done until you have confirmed your venue. I will be covering this in a future blog post for you. In the meantime you might wish to buy “Wedding Planning for Dummies” which I co-authored a couple of years ago. This goes into great detail the legalities of planning a ceremony.

Once this is done work down your list of priorities, so was this the band, superb food, your dress, photos? My advice is don’t just stick to one method when researching for suppliers. The days of booking all your supplier by visiting a wedding fair are long gone, yes you might book some, but all of them? Try the following places:

  • Recommended list via your venue
  • Local wedding magazines – especially great for local suppliers
  • Real weddings via wedding magazines
  • National and local wedding fairs
  • Wedding blogs
  • See this post for list of recommended ones
  • Word of mouth
  • Social media
  • Or hire a wedding planner who has her little black book 😉

In this blog post I cover how to shortlist suppliers and what questions to ask

Select Your bridal party

Chat about who you think is the right fit for your bridal party on both sides. How many close friends and family could make the cut? Remember to consider the budget in this decision – will you be paying for their outfits and accessories, flowers and transport?

Make sure you choose bridesmaids and groomsmen who are a great mix of supportive, helpful, fun and honest. Guys and girls you know will get stuck in when they need to. Choose groups you think will get along together, even if they don’t know each other yet – bridal party tension is the last thing you want on your big day!

And if you have to make some tough decisions not to include some people who might be expecting you to, remember there are other ways to keep them involved. Good speaker? Let them give a reading at the wedding. Loves to bake? Ask them to whip up something tasty for the favours.

choosing your bridal party

Get some support

Don’t try and do everything yourself, delegate some tasks to family members or friends who would love to be involved leaving you the fun tasks, you can then act as ‘project manager’ for all delegated menial tasks! Consider hiring a planner to assist with your planning. With over a 15 years of producing timeless, elegant events and 13 years training new wedding planners, I am perfectly positioned to make your wedding relaxed, fun and effortless. I love my job, it’s not work to me, its passion and love. Read more about our wedding services here

Clearly I couldn’t cover everything in this blog post but I hope it has helped get you started! There are of course lots more involved in your wedding especially in terms of design and logistics closer to the wedding date, but one step at a time! If you have any questions, please do let me know via our contact form or you can ask in the comments!

If you would like help with your wedding planning then please do get in touch, I specialise in classical, timeless weddings in Essex and Suffolk. My speciality is luxury marquee weddings at clients homes. View our gallery to get a sense of my style and understand more about my services here.

Further reading

Creating and maintaining your wedding budget

Creating your style using pinterest

Surprising statistics with my role in marquee weddings

Choosing your wedding suppliers

How to get married in the UK


Photo Credits

Tracey Hosey + Tim Bowden + Contrejour





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