10 steps to planning your wedding

So, you've got that beautiful ring on your finger, but now what do you do?

After I had announced our engagement and celebrated the occasion with loved ones, I remember sitting down and thinking "Now what?!". Planning a wedding can seem like a huge and daunting task and despite witnessing many weddings before my own, I felt overwhelmed with where to start as I'd only ever seen the final result.

To help make your wedding planning seem less of a huge challenge, I've put together a list which will help you along with your wedding planning in just 10 steps!

Step 1 - Invest in a 'wedding folder' or journal.

I used this beautiful journal by illustries. It really helped me keep on track and doubled up as a keepsake to look back on after the big day too. It contained loads of prompts, plus had plenty of blank pages where I could stick in ideas, keep a note of the many to-dos and list the contact details of my suppliers. It genuinely soon became a lifesaver in terms of keeping all things wedding in one place. You can get your own from https://www.notonthehighstreet.com/illustries/product/the-wedding-planner-planning-notebook-by-illustries 

Step 2 - Set your budget

I found setting a budget really tricky. I mean, what's realistic? How much should I save for each element of my wedding day? What can we actually afford?
It's so important to sit down with your partner and work out how much you can afford to spend on your wedding day. Have a look at how much you could possibly put into a savings account for your wedding and work out a realistic timescale to be able to save for the things you want to create your dream day. If you're lucky enough to have parents who are willing to contribute to the costs of your wedding, speak to them early in the planning stages so that you have a good idea on how much you can factor into your budget, giving you a good idea on what you can afford.

Step 3 - Find your dream venue 

Now that you have set your budget, it's time to find the wedding venue of your dreams. Luckily Nottingham, Derby and the surround areas have plenty of beautiful venues to choose from, especially as we're lucky enough to be pretty much on the door of the peak district and have a beautiful city centre if you're not quite the country type! 

Choosing your venue should be one of the first things on your to-do list as this will determine your wedding date, maximum guest numbers and of course, location. 

Sit with your partner and discuss your vision, do you imagine yourself walking down the cobbled streets of Nottingham, a traditional church, a fairytale castle or perhaps a rustic barn is more your style? Don't forget to factor in the other elements that will make your day perfect for you - do you need the venue to offer accommodation, catering or does it need to be local so that your loved ones can be there? These are all questions to ask yourself before deciding on a final venue. Once you have a good idea, speak to the venue's wedding co-ordinator to visit and get a feel for the venue and what they can offer.

Extra tip: Hitched has a fantastic free resource for venue inspiration in the UK - https://www.hitched.co.uk/wedding-venues/

Step 4 - book your wedding suppliers

Once you have secured your venue and know your wedding date, you should start to begin researching and booking your suppliers. Most popular, reputable suppliers get booked around a year in advance, so once you've narrowed down a list of suppliers you feel are a good fit for your wedding, get in touch and arrange consultations (or pay deposits) to secure them for your date. 

The suppliers you need vary depending on what you require for your wedding. The most common suppliers in demand are; catering, photographer, videographer, wedding decor hire, evening entertainment, make-up artists, hair stylist, florists, transport, boutiques and cake makers. 

Step 5 - Wedding attire

Wedding dress detail

On average, the timeline between choosing and taking the wedding dress of your dreams home usually takes approximately 12 months. Therefore, it's important to ensure you have enough time to find and secure your dream dress - be sure to consider how many visits you may need to different bridal shops (on average, in 2017, 3 boutiques were visited before finding 'the one'). Don't forget you'll need time for your dress to be ordered and for the alterations. Alternatively, if you're pushed for time or like the idea of taking a dress home on the same day, there are stores who do not require appointments and allow you to take home off-the-peg dresses, such as Web2b (which is where I purchased my own dream dress and had a brilliant experience).

Step 6 - your Wedding party & guest list

Superhero wedding picture

For me, I instantly knew who I wanted to have as my maid of honour and bridesmaids. My husband also knew exactly who he wanted by his side as his best man which made this step pretty easy for us! However, don't feel obliged to have every female friend you know as a bridesmaid. Think about who will be a good source of support and help to keep your big day running without a hitch. Once you know who your squad members are - ask them the question! Don't be afraid to get creative here - there are so many cute ways to pop the question.

A bonus step for your bridesmaids and best man - time to plan the stag and hen nights! Make sure they keep you updated on what you'll need to pack and spend so that you can factor this into your budget.

Wedding group shot

After booking your venue and setting your budget, you'll have a good idea of how many guests you can invite. I found the guest list to be tricky as I didn't want to cause upset or offend people. It's important to remember that it's yours and your partner's day so don't be frightened that the guy who delivers your takeaway every Friday may be offended if he doesn't receive an invite! Discuss who is really important to you and who you'd love to allow to be part of your special day.  Start by listing everybody you and your partner would like to be present and then if the cost per head exceeds your budget or venue capacity, begin to make cuts to your list (ouch!). Once you're sure of your final list you can begin ordering your stationery and most importantly, deliver their invitations (Don't forget to give your guests a deadline to return their RSVP's).

Extra tip: Don't forget about the plus ones - One of the things I didn't really think about when originally looking at numbers was the number of plus ones I'd also have to factor into the final list.

Step 7 - The details 

Wedding bouquet rings
Something old, wedding
Wedding details - shoes flowers
Wedding Cake

Now that you have the big things out of the way, you can begin to think about the little things that make your wedding day unique. Start thinking about whether you want a theme, how you want your wedding to look and what little things are going to help you achieve your wedding goals? Some of the details you'll want to consider are decor, table plans, stationery, songs, readings for the ceremony, who is going to do speeches, favours for the guests and thank you gifts for anybody you feel has been a huge help to you during the planning process. The details are the perfect opportunity to get creative for you DIY'ers!

Step 8 - Book your honeymoon

Now we're talking! This has got to be the most exciting part of wedding planning, well - it was for me! The honeymoon! Let's face it, you're basically planning the best holiday of your lifetime. If your budget is already stretched by your wedding, don't sweat it - many couples are opting for a 'mini-moon' and let's face it, whether you opt to head for a mini break in the UK or jet to the Maldives, you're going to have an amazing, blissful getaway, surrounded by the blissful 'just married' emotions. Aghhh, this step really makes me want to book a holiday!

Step 9 - Tying it all together

Around a month before your wedding, with the help of your suppliers, you should have a good idea how your big day is going to pan out and how things are going to look. So, now it's time to arrange meetings with your suppliers, who will each play a big part in your wedding day, in order to get the final plans in place. This is your opportunity to ensure your suppliers have a clear itinerary of events, are on board with your ideas and have all the information they need to deliver to their maximum standard. This will also be your time to review any to-do lists you made, organise any last minute arrangements, have final fittings and pay off the outstanding balances. 

Step 10 - Relax!

bridal suite
Wedding stress

Perhaps the most important step... Relax! Don't forget about the other things you enjoy in life. Wedding planning can become consuming and stressful if you allow it. Don't forget to take time to look after your own wellbeing - go for a walk, read a book, pamper yourself. Remember why you're doing this - to marry the love of your life - the fancy stuff surrounding a wedding ultimately doesn't matter! The chances are you've researched your suppliers to ensure they're trusted professionals, have a great squad to help things run smoothly and if all else fails, there's always wedding insurance! (I joke - it's very unlikely something bad will happen - don't sweat it. If it does, it usually ends up just being a very funny story to tell in the following years (like where I got my heel stuck in a grate on the way down to my ceremony!).

Wedding sign

I hope this guide has given you a good idea of where to start with planning your wedding and simplified the process. 

Happy wedding planning!

- Nicole Eleanor Photography


P.S. If you have any tips for planning a wedding, please share them in the comments section!


Featured on the blog:

Venues:  Colwick Hall, Nottingham
                Shottle Hall, Derbyshire
               Peak Edge Hotel, Derbyshire's Peak District
              Alexandra Beach Resort, Tsilivi, Zakynthos


Stationery: Illustries  

Hair & Make-up specialist: Nicola Hodgkinson

Photography: Nicole Eleanor Photography