1. Everything is more expensive than you'll anticipate.
They tell you weddings are a costly affair and that the average one will set you back in the region of £20k, but what they don't tell you is how much you'll be forking out on flowers and a photographic memory of the day. I thought I had a pretty good steer on the cost of most things, but as soon as the word 'wedding' is involved it seems to rapidly double. Having budgeted a hefty amount towards the event I was confident we'd come in well under what I'd put aside, but in fact I'm currently about fifty quid shy of the full figure. Eeek!
2. The perfect venue will help everything fall into place.
I researched to my heart's content when we first got engaged, but without knowing what your venue will look like it's practically pointless to set your expectations on something that might be completely wrong for you in reality. We're getting married in an old manor house and barn, so everything is very Tudor-esque and rustic; as a result we need less polished decorations and are avoiding a colour scheme altogether. Deciding upon the location makes everything else fall into place behind it, so I'm glad we didn't consider invitations and attire until we'd booked it.
3. You'll question your friendships and realise who's really that important to you.
One of the biggest things I've experienced (which wasn't anticipated) is reflecting upon my friendships and deciding who the most important people in my life are. Some of those I deemed to be of utmost importance have actually transpired to be not as close as I thought; friends I rarely see or don't often talk to have however become a really important part of my day - I can't imagine it without them. When you're spending over £100 to feed and water each guest it makes you pinpoint who is worth the expense and who you could do without. Harsh but true!
4. When you find the dress, you'll know.
As someone who's always loved fashion and dressing up in general, I was surprisingly blase about the whole dress shopping thing. I wasn't that fussed and knew I didn't want the whole princess look, so it became something to tick off rather than enjoy. However, all that changed when I tried on my chosen dress and cried my eyes out! I approached the process practically and logically, but as soon as I stepped out in the dress I would become a Mrs in I was overcome with emotion; eye rolling my way through conversations where I was told 'when you know, you know' certainly backfired!
5. Pinterest is an incredible inspiration resource.
I can't tell you how many evenings I've wasted flicking through Pinterest and creating endless boards of inspiration. If you're not sure what style you like, what will work with your venue or what can make the whole day a little bit more unique, then Pinterest is the ultimate place to start. I've created boards which showcase exactly what I'm after and have shared them with everyone from my florist and cake maker, to venue stylist and hairdresser. It's so much easier to explain what you're looking for by showing them.
6. Magazines are pretty useless (and expensive.)
One of the first things both my mum and I did upon getting engaged was rush out to stock up on some bridal magazines. Not only are they eye wateringly expensive at around a fiver a pop, but they're full of the same relatively useless information and recommendations that will set you back a crazy amount of money. My favourite was the piece on statement cakes, which started at £3000, and which designer shoes you should be wearing underneath your dress. Unless you're a millionaire, magazines provide a great way to dream but provide very little practical advice; I've found far more inspiration, contacts and information on bridal blogs than in any of the magazines.
7. You don't need everything you think you do.
It's easy to get carried away thinking you need everything on your Pinterest inspo board and more, but in reality it's often best to keep it simple - and it saves you some much needed cash too. We've cut out many things from our big day (including hay bales and an ice cream van) because it started to feel like overkill; the most important thing is to have some cute decorations and plenty of drink, because people are there to share in your happy day and not feel like they're at a fairground.
8. Get the big (and legal) bits out of the way first.
Sure, the most excting bit it deciding what you're going to do with your hair or what you can source on eBay to decorate the tables, but the most important parts of planning a wedding are the stuff you need to book with the longest notice. I had no clue that people will literally ring up the registrar exactly a year to the day of their wedding, just so they can book their desired slot, or that suppliers can get busy up to two years ahead. Luckily our wedding is slightly out of season and on a Thursday so we haven't had many issues, but I'm super glad we booked the big things (photographer, florist, registrar) first so we didn't have to worry.
9. It's important to put your own twist on everything.
Our day won't be glossy magazine ready, but it will be a reflection of who we are as a couple and include lots of little twists that we love. From a Back To The Future quote on our wedding invites, to our unusual entertainment and non-traditional favours, everything will have our own fun little twist. I've been to so many weddings and you never remember all the fine details; what you do remember is the things that are unique (Sylvanian Families on the wedding cake) and the moments that make you smile (dancing to Gangnam Style on repeat.)
10. Stressing about it doesn't make it better.
So many people have asked me whether I'm getting stressed about the planning, and the answer is 'not yet'. Right now I'm planning the whole thing logically and with perspective, because I know getting stressed or in a flap about it won't make it any easier. There's a lot to do, but having endless spreadsheets makes it easier to manage. It's also important to understand it's just one day and it doesn't have to be perfect: you simply need two rings, all your loved ones and a tonne of champagne to drink afterwards. All the rest is supplementary.
What are the biggest pieces of advice you can give me during this planning process? What were the tidbits that you learned during the planning of your own wedding, or that of a loved one?
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