I was recently asked to give a conference to brides and grooms to be, giving them tips and advising them on how to successfully plan their wedding. I was never really at ease “selling” my services so that’s why I thought this conference where I just had to help out those couples was perfect for me! And since I saw how interested they were in what I had to say, I thought I’d write a blog post about it.
The basics of a perfectly planned wedding
Establishing a budget will be the first thing you will want to do when you start planning for the big day. Go around the financial resources you have at your disposition (whether it’s savings, family, loan, etc.) and determine what amount you will be comfortable with and that won’t put you in an uneasy financial state.
Once you have the maximum amount determined, you have to save a part for the contingency plan. You should never allow 100% of the budget on expenses. Save a good 10% for unexpected twists and turns as they will happen. According to the latest statistics in the industry, the average cost of a wedding in Quebec is $15,000, while the cost jumps to an average of $25,000 for the rest of Canada.
Pro tips: Once you’ve started planning, it will be important to include EVERYTHING in the budget, from the dress to the stamps you’ll use on your invitations. The government of Canada published a very ththorough wedding budget worksheet that will help you in that matter.
Once all of that is done, you will have to follow the budget you’ve established. That will be the hard part as your vendors will offer many different options to you and it will be easy to lose sight of things. A precise budget will help you keep control over expenses.
Thinking, research and discussion
The next important thing you will have to do is to sit down with your partner and talk about the event you want to hold. What decorating style do you like most? Do you want a themed wedding or not? Which formula do you prefer (ceremony/cocktail/dinner/evening, ceremony and cocktail/evening with no dinner, brunch and afternoon reception, etc.)? Where do you want to get married? What kind of venue are you most attracted to?
Pro tips: Pinterest is your best friend! Once you will have a very clear global vision of your perfect wedding, you will have to document it by doing some research. Find images that express what you have on your mind so that your vendors will know exactly what is expected of them and how they can create your dream wedding.
Ok. You have a solid budget and a good idea of what your wedding will be like. Now is time for setting priorities. Choose two (maximum three) aspects of the event that you want to put financial emphasis on. Will it be the dress? The photographer? The decor? The food? Unless you have an unlimited budget, it is highly impossible you will be able to concentrate on all those things.
Pro tips: Make sure you concentrate your priorities on those two aspects that will wow your guests and make your wedding unforgettable. You are active foodies? Offer a menu that people will remember for a long time! You are a wine afficionado? Offer you guests a wine list that will make them travel and experience. You are music lovers and attend pretty much every important concert in the area? Hire THE band that will make that evening unforgettable! All in all, pick the aspect tjat relates most to your tastes and personality to really make this event YOUR event.
Careful with DIY
Many brides will go towards DIY projects to try and save a few dollars here and there. If you already are a crafty person and are used to that kind of thing, I say go for it! It will only make your wedding even more personalized. But!!! If you are not used to working on crafts and haven’t really made anything like that before, take some time to try and evaluate the amount of time that you will have to take out of your precious evenings and weekends. It may look easy and fast on Pinterest, but trust me, this can become overwhelming very fast.
Pro tips: Ask yourself this question: Considering the cost of the material and the time it will take (time that you will not be able to allow to something else), is it really worth it or are you just saving a few hundred dollars and creating a new source of stress and anxiety?
It’s YOUR wedding
Once you get engaged, you will quickly realize that your loved ones become wedding experts! Your mother, mother in law, sister, cousin or friend… They will all provide you with countless advice. Although they may be given with good intention, they can become a source of conflict and create unwanted tension in the couple or the extended family.
Pro tips: Smile and thank the person for her good intention. Simply tell her that you already have a very clear idea of what your wedding will be like and closely calculated how much it will cost… and that you don’t want to discuss it too much in order to keep a few surprises even for the closest members of the family. This usually keeps the unwanted advice away while preserving the relationships and good humour.
Set a calendar
As soon as you begin planning your wedding, make sure to buy a calendar or set one online that will be solely dedicated to your wedding related tasks. It will allow you to see things coming and to remember everything.
Pro tips: Retroplanning! This means starting from the wedding day and working your back back in time to plan everything that needs to happen the day, week or months before. Retroplanning also works wonders for planning the wedding day itself, starting fronm the time of the ceremony and working your way back hour per hour.
Your vendors will be able to tell you the deadlines you will have to meet so they can offer you the best possible service. This way, you will know when to contact each of them and what information you will need to collect for that (addresses for the invitations, final count for the meals, etc.)
Coordinating the big day
This is the most important tip here. Make sure you will have someone who will take charge of your wedding day so you don’t have to fix last minute details. This person will have to answer vendor questions and address any pickle that may occur throughout the day. This way, you will be able to enjoy your wedding day to the fullest without worrying a bit about anything.
If you choose to ask a friend or a relative to accomplish this task, know that this person won’t be able to enjoy the day as much as any other guest and will miss most of the important moments of your wedding. Is that really what you want for that guest?
Most hotels offer the services or their wedding coordinator. This is a wonderful and very important person for us wedding planners. But don’t forget that this kind fo coordinators work for the venue first. Not for you. The venue is paying her so her priorities will be towards her employer.
You can also hire a professional wedding coordinator who will take control of the event 24 to 48 hours prior so you don’t have to worry about anything. Coordinating the wedding day constitutes about 50% of all the weddings we take part in in a year.
On the big day…
Relax! Let go and enjoy your day! Everything is ready. You have a great person in charge, you dreamed about this, you talked about it, you planned it and worked hard on it. Well here you are. It’s happening. Sit back and just have fun! I hope you have a fabulous wedding and I wish you many many years of happiness together. Congratulations!