A Handful of Wedding Planning Tips [Part 1]

A brief introduction

You may know me as Just Tom, Amanda’s Husband, Amanda’s Assistant, or just ‘that random wedding guest [which no-one remembers inviting]’. Or even more likely, you may not know me at all.

Over the years, we [Amanda and I] have both heard a similar sentiment resonating from her clients, which is that the initial ‘Yes’ was, with hindsight the easy part, and all the subsequent wedding planning was far harder than ever expected.

Now, as some of you know. I [Tom] tend to buck the trend in most instances either intentionally or not and our own wedding was no exception. Because I pretty much planned the entire day [with the exception of dress and photographer]. And before someone tries to interject; no, the day was not a complete disaster.

Because of this, Amanda asked me, begged me, or maybe bribed me with chocolate to note down my thoughts / experiences about that time long ago, when I was ‘elbow deep in wedding planning shenanigans’.

The Big Take Away [to save you reading the rest]. There are very few things that are really worth losing sleep over. No, seriously. At the end of the day; you; your partner and some witnesses are all that is needed! The rest is just matrimonial fluff [well, with the exception of a photographer obvs].

I for example should have never invested two weeks of my free time looking for that perfect ‘laser cut, tiffany blue cupcake case’. Neither should I have lost sleep over initially only being able to find ‘warm duck egg’ cupcake cases. Nor should I have found myself arguing with people that had the audacity to suggest ‘just using teal’. AND finally, once I had found said perfect light medium robin egg blue laser cut, lace cupcake case should have even considered £7 per case would a ‘reasonable expense’. And that is what started Amanda calling me ‘Mr Groomzilla’.

But lets move on with what I found to be important items, and relatively ‘quick wins’* when planning a wedding.

The Important Items

  • A Budget
  • Set a Date
  • Book a Venue & Registrar
  • Create a Guest List
  • Consider Save the Dates [useful for wedding date over a year away

A heads up: I like playing a little management BS bingo with blogging. So be warned.

A Budget

I am writing this based upon the assumption that you [the reader] fall inline with vast majority of wedding couples’ i.e.  you will have to have, or need a budget. If you do not, then please contact Amanda for some special photography rates; or contact me and I will plan your entire wedding.

Budgeting for a wedding, is very much like building a house it appears; although to clarify I have never built a house. BUT I have watched far too much Grand Designs for my own sanity. Based upon our wedding planning, I would suggest that you have a crack at some hard math; and answer the following:

  • Question 1: Write down the figure to answer: how much money do we want to spend on our wedding day?
  • Question 2: Write down the figure to answer: how much money can we spend on wedding day without having to honeymoon in the back-garden [not a euphemism]?

Now, unless you are ‘in the know’ or retrospectively making a budget to fulfil what you have already spent (which is cheating). Then you will likely spend a figure in between Figure 1 & 2. Amanda and I never really considered how much we wanted to spend; I recommend you have a think about it.

But anyway, I digress. For those of you who thought tl;dr: Just consider the following

  • Talk about the budget with each other, it shouldn’t be a secret.
  • Know how much you are planning to spend AND
  • Make a proper effort to break it down by item,
  • Do NOT just look at the big item spends, a few smaller items can quickly dent the budget.

FYI: TL;DR; – “Too long; didn’t read”.

Setting The Date

When it comes to wedding planning, ‘setting the date’ is a very important milestone, and to be honest everything flows a little easier when the date is secured pretty early on.

  • Primarily as it is pretty difficult to book anything if you do not know when you require it.
  • Secondly as your guests will likely prefer knowing an actual date to save, rather than an entire month or nonchalant ‘season & year’ combo.

Securing a date will also assist with focusing your venue options. For example, Amanda and I were wed in a January and I can assure you that at no point did we consider a festival themed wedding.

Should you be wondering, what we tend to see is couples taking around 12-18 months to plan their wedding, thus:

  • Allowing them to save / fund their shindig
  • To give them enough time to organise the particulars
  • To increase the odds on their guests being available

 

The ‘Takeaway Points’

  • Most newly engaged couples we talk to expect to take between 12-18 months planning their wedding
  • Some popular venues combined with a bank holiday weekend may be secured further than 18 months into the future!
    • We tend to see a dwell in the planning between the initial date and venue being secured and the remaining items
  • Without a date, its hard to book anything else for your wedding..
  • Setting the date early increases the odds of guests not already having plans / holidays booked etc
  • Save The Dates are a great way to indicate to guests they will receive an invite at a later date; and that they should keep the date ‘free’. Without having to rush and send your invites out 12 months prior to the wedding.
    • Our Save The Dates went out once we had a guest list and a date.
    • Our Invites were posted 6 months before the ‘date of impending nuptials’
Amanda Forman Photography - Wedding Planning - Save The Dates
The Guest List

Realistically you can do one of two things when it comes to the Guest List

  1. Elope; only invite a handful of people; annoy a lot of close friends and family; BUT save having to feed people; listen to people; and manoeuvre around the minefield that is the ‘family dynamic’.
  2. Dont.

Presuming that Option 1 is only called an ‘option’ for the sake of irony; then I will let you into a little secret that I discovered when writing our list of free loaders [or close-friends and family as my wife calls it].

Writing a guest list does not have to be a stressful nightmare with heated arguments with your loved one; about if ‘that always overly inebriated friend’ should be invited or not [its ok, we all have one]. A good starting point would be:

  1. Initially write down everyone who, in an ideal world, you would want at your wedding.
  2. Now work out which of these potential guests require a ‘plus one’
  3. Find out how many your venue can sit for your Wedding Breakfast [also known as dinner on your wedding day].

If the total of Question 1 & 2 is larger than your answer for Question 3, then this leads you nicely onto the notion of wedding and evening quests. If however your venue can feed all of your guests; it may be worth finding out the answer to ‘what is the price per head for your wedding breakfast’.

Our Wedding Breakfast for reference was £60 per person; thus a guest plus their ‘random’ equated to 120 quid of food; plus drinks which we provided ourselves [Thanks Mum!]. 

One Guest List or a Day List and Evening Only list

There are pros and cons either way, however your hand may be forced if you are a popular person, know lot of people or have a large family; but have chosen a small cosy wedding venue.

The benefits include:

  • It gives guests who have day commitments the chance to be a part of your evening celebrations.
  • It allows you to invite everyone whilst keeping the Wedding Breakfast costs down
  • Allows you to invite all the people you want at your day; whilst keeping that cosy wedding venue

However!

  • Be mindful not to alienate your evening guests. No one likes feeling unloved or second rate.
  • Consider segregating entire social groups to either the entire day or the evening; as that will limit the potential for squabbling.

Remember, contrary to what some people may tell you. Your wedding day is all about you, and people being their celebrating your love for each other [eurgh, I made myself feel sick then]. So if you close your eyes and imagine that in 10 years time you are looking through your wedding album; the people who you imagine are in there are those who you should consider inviting..

 

Amanda Forman Photography - Wedding Planning - Guests Partying
The Table Plan

A lot of couples dread the process of table plan, a family dynamic can be lots of things, but sometimes not conducive to prolonged close proximity to each other.

The dynamic of inter-friend relationships can also be a tricky path to tread; because after-all they are all there to see you, which doesn’t mean they like each other. And realistically, they’ll see a lot more of each other than you both on your wedding day.

I planned our table plan for all 98 guests in under 15 minutes, and although I approached it methodically, gave consideration to certain personality types and also tried to ensure no one was stranded on a table, solo.

My mindset was simple [one could say synergistic]; be considerate and relatively flexible, but at the end of the day. They are only there to see you, so If they are going to cause issues, they aren’t your friend and maybe not worth an invite.

Also remember that the majority of the costs you incur are to keep these guests happy; YES that is correct you are basically paying your guests to be there. After all, if we hadn’t have invited our guests, we wouldn’t have hired a Magician [Will Gray], a Band [BreakThrough], a Caricaturist [Tonys Toons]; or even the epic venue [Berkeley Castle].

Instead Amanda and I would have headed straight to the Maldives and got hitched in the sun.

Tabling Planning in a Nutshell

  • Do not spend days stressing about who can’t sit near who; remember they are only sitting there for a posh dinner! Not for the rest of their lives [all being well].
  • People deserving of being a guest will sit where they are told
Amanda Forman Photography - Wedding Planning - The Table Plan
To Summarise!

Planning a wedding is a massive task, the pressure to get it right is undeniably high. After all you don’t want to be the couple that hosted a crap wedding right?

Well, here is some truth for you reader. The people that would bitch and moan about your day do not deserve a place on your guest list.; and most certainly do not deserve the additional cost to feed them. #truth

Finally; after reading this epic post you may have saved enough money to book an awesome wedding photographer! But failing that, I would recommend you look at Amanda’s Portfolio. She is annoyingly talented [for the record]. And If you read that, then it proves Amanda doesn’t proof my posts! #mwahaha

Potential Future Topics

If I am ever allowed to blog on here again, then the next instalment of ‘A Handful of Wedding Planning Tips’ will hopefully include the topics:

  1. A Photographer – A Guide to Looking Pensive.
  2. The Wedding Breakfast – To Give Guests a Choice OR to Force Feed Them Chicken [Vegetarians Beware]
  3. Etiquette / ‘Schzmequette’ -Breaking From Tradition & Having Some Fun!
  4. Groomsmen – The Suits, The Responsibilities & The Faux Pas

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