Five top tips for newly-engaged couples

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Did you find that special ring underneath the Christmas tree this year? Did your partner propose to you at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve? If so, congratulations! After telling all your nearest and dearest, you’re probably wondering what to do next, right?

I’m getting married in two months – it’s crazy to think I started planning my own wedding just over a year ago! Getting engaged can seem a bit daunting; you’ll suddenly be hit with loads of people asking you when the big day is, if you’ve thought of a wedding theme, where you’re getting married, if they can they come, etc. It can get a little too much! When it comes to planning a wedding, where do you start?

Here are my five top tips.

Get advice from any newly-married couples you know

When we first got engaged, my partner and I paid our recently-married friends a visit to ask them a few (lot) of questions. Before speaking to them, I had no idea how much things cost, what I needed to include in my budget or what I had to book first. They mentioned things I had not even considered, and gave me some really practical advice. Their best tip was to create a spreadsheet which keeps track of the estimated cost of your flowers, cake, outfits, food, venue, etc. and what it actually cost you later down the line. This was ESSENTIAL to our wedding planning, as I knew approximately how much we needed to save and if we were over or under budget. Luckily it has mostly been the latter!

Visit wedding fairs

Wedding fairs are great for several reasons: they give you ideas for your big day, allow you to meet and find the very best vendors (who will likely be running a ‘special offer’ if you book with them that day) and you’ll pick up some awesome free goodie bags! Not only that, but they’ll help get you and your partner really excited for the wedding.

Don’t feel pressured to stick to tradition

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Tradition is an odd concept to me. Just because we’ve been doing things a certain way for so long doesn’t mean it’s the best way, or your way. Of course, if the whole ‘something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue’ means a whole lot to you, then knock yourself out, but don’t be afraid to ignore any traditions you don’t want to follow.

Think about who (and how many) you want to invite early on

There are thousands of amazing wedding venues across the country and whilst you may be itching to visit them all right away, it’s wise to think about how many guests you want to invite before you do. Indeed, this is one of the first things my partner and I did – we always knew we wanted a fairly small, intimate wedding, so that helped narrow down our choice of venue. You may be surprised by how many people you actually want to invite, too, which is why it’s best to write a rough list as early into the planning process as possible.

Don’t rush yourselves

Hopefully, everyone is going to be really excited for you, and whilst that’s great, the big question: ‘When are you going to get married?’, might start to really piss you off.

Just because someone else you know got married within the year, don’t feel as if you have to race to the finish line. Planning a wedding, although sometimes stressful, is a wonderful thing to do as a couple – you don’t want to rush that experience. Take as long as you both need and try to ignore anyone who tells you to hurry up. You’re planning the damn thing, not them!

I hope my advice proves to be useful to you – if you have any questions feel free to leave them in the comments section. I’m no expert, but I’ll try to help as best I can.

You may also wish to read ‘5 things I’ve learned from planning my own wedding’.

5 things I’ve learned from planning my own wedding

My wedding isn’t until next year, but I’ve already learnt so much about the planning process. I was never one of those girls who’s been planning her wedding since she was five. I had never picked up a wedding magazine. I was going in blind. If you have just got engaged and want to know what to expect next, read on.

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Get things done early

If you were as excited as I was when I first got engaged, you’ll find the idea of planning stuff as early as possible pretty easy. All the best venues book up quickly – some even have a waiting list! Typically, it’s best to book your venue at least a year in advance, especially if you want a summer wedding. Plus, you’ll need to make sure that all-important registrar is free. If they’re booked up for that day, you’re screwed.

I was surprised to hear how far in advance you have to buy your wedding dress too – a friend told me that even though she left a good half a year for her dress to be altered, it was only just finished in time! To avoid disappointment, this is one job you should get done early on. Of course, it is possible to plan a last minute wedding if you’re desperate, but who wants all that stress?

Your friends will be keen to help!

People love weddings, so it seems, and you’ll probably find your closest friends and family members will be happy to help you out with things. Let them; you’ll save a ton of money in the process, not to mention some of the stress will be lifted off your heavy shoulders. Just make sure you reward them later down the line, especially if they’re doing something big, like taking your wedding photos for you.

Picking a wedding dress is harder than you think

When I started looking for a wedding dress I didn’t know where to begin. Luckily, wedding dress stores are full of helpful staff members who will dedicate their time to finding something you love. The key thing is to keep an open mind – you may think you hate or love a particular style, but your opinion will soon change once you’ve tried on a few dresses! Try on as many styles as possible, then you can narrow down your search. I started off thinking I knew the type of style I wanted, but since trying on many more my opinion has completely changed! You’ll find yourself thinking ‘they’re all lovely’, so don’t rush the process. You will know when you’ve found ‘the one’.

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You’ll need to compromise 

I was told numerous times: “Remember, it’s your wedding. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.” Whilst that’s true, you don’t want to upset people at the same time. After all, they are your friends and family. You don’t have to pander to everyone’s demands, just meet them half way. You might be paying a lot for the big day, but the journey isn’t cheap for them either. Travel, hotel rooms, fancy clothing and wedding gifts are just some of the costs they’ll most likely have to endure if they want to come. Try to keep this in mind the next time you’re getting stressed out at your bridesmaids.

Budgeting is vital

Before planning anything about our big day, my fiancé and I sat down and worked out how much we could afford to save inbetween now and when we thought our wedding day might be. This helped us draw up a budget and decide what we could afford to spend on each aspect of the day. I created a Google Docs spreadsheet and started to estimate how much everything would cost, including the honeymoon. Whenever we book or buy something, I write in the actual cost in the next column along, so I can keep track of how much we actually spend. This is a very good way to keep an eye on your budget and make sure you’re not overspending on anything. Plus, it makes you feel super good when you spend way under your initial budget!

I still have a long way to go until my big day, but I have already learned how stressful the process can be. If you know any brides or grooms-to-be, go easy on them! Planning is hard; you’re juggling the needs of so many people! Try to relax and enjoy the process; that’s want I’m attempting to do and so far, it seems to be working.