Planning your Wedding: Where to Start
Wedding Tips & Hints from Kookaburra Showboat Cruises professional Wedding Coordinator.
Congratulations, you’re engaged! Oooh exciting wedding plans! Except that after a few expos and reading a few bridal magazines (yes you just spend $15 to read a book of ads) you are so daunted by everything you need to do and everyone else who was going to help has suddenly crawled under a rock not to be found.
Now you are expected to become a wedding and stylist professional over night, lose half your body weight, learn how to make a burlap bunting and find more money than you normally earn in a year to pay for it all. Take a few breaths, calm down and I will take you step by step through planning your wedding.
Each week I will tackle a new topic, full of advice to help keep this process simple (and guess what, it is for free!) This week, let’s start with “Where to start”. The first thing you need to book is your venue/s. But before you jump in and get lost in a sea of barns, hotels, boats and parks you need to make some key decisions.
When do you want to get married? Is there a meaningful date for you? If so, this may limit your choice of venue and should be the first question you ask a venue you are considering. Some venues will have a 2 year wait list – are you willing to wait? If you are flexible, discuss which season you would like to get married in and when will you be able to afford it. Also, consider major sporting events, public holiday, school holidays, close family or friends birthdays or holidays. The last thing you want is your Uncle John sitting in the back row watching the footie on his phone whilst you’re saying your nuptials. Certain dates may be more expensive (eg Valentine’s Day) so you need to decide how important this is to you and the implications this may have on your budget. You should also discuss which day of the week you want to get married. Most venues will offer a significant discount to get married mid-week. Mid-week weddings are becoming very popular and it is not considered inconsiderate to your guests if enough notice is provided. A Friday is a good day as it is usually easier for people to take a Friday off work.
Where do you want to get married? Close to home or far away? On the beach or in the mountains? Do you want sole use of a venue or are you happy to share? Wherever you choose, you need to check out accommodation / transport options for your guests. Ensure you consider guests with mobility issues and any elderly guests when deciding this. For example, picking a ceremony location on the top of a mountain may sound beautiful but not so good for your 90 year old great grandmother who uses a walker.
Ahhh, the dreaded list! You have started it a hundred times but haven’t got to the end. Do you have to invite your cousin Tracey you haven’t seen in 20 years? The answer is, you invite who you want to invite. Sit down with your partner and work it out together. It is a good idea to write a two tier list. The first tier should include all those guests you couldn’t dream of getting married without. This should include your family and close friends. Do not forget to invite their partners if they have them. If your partner is not too clued up on his family, you may wish to involve his mother for advice, but do not get bullied into inviting obscure family members you do not want to invite. It is your day not hers! The second tier should include guests you would like to invite but it is not imperative they attend. There are different ways of using these two tiers. You could use your first tier as your guest number and then when your RSVP’s come back you can replace anyone from the first tier that couldn’t attend with guests from the second tier. Make sure you have extra invitations printed in anticipation of this. You may draw from the second tier if the venue you select has a higher minimum numbers than what you had on your first tier. Also, your budget may increase for a variety of reasons (including venue choice) which may mean you can invite more guests that what you had on your first tier.
Do you know what style wedding you want? Indoor or outdoor? Rustic or elegant? Colours? Lights? You may know exactly what you want and have done since you were 7 or you may be so lost and don’t know your Tiffany chair from your birdcage wishing well. If you know what you want, make sure you discuss this with your partner, to make sure you are on the same page. You may need to make some comprises before you start looking at venues. Take these ideas with you when you look around your shortlisted venues and see if you could make them work. Usually venues will not be set up when you look around, so you will need to use your imagination. Ask the venues wedding coordinator about the possibility of your ideas. If you have no idea, don’t stress, lots of couples have no idea what they want other than they want it to look good. A good wedding coordinator will show you examples of other weddings and will ask the right questions to find the style and design for you.
You need to work out your finances. Who is paying for the wedding? If parents are contributing you need some sort of idea on the budget they have in mind. If you are paying or contributing, you need to sit down and work out a realistic budget. You then need to write a list of what you need to spend money on and allocate it out. EG dress, bridesmaid dress, transport, flowers, photography, beauty, celebrant, etc
What is important?
Work out what the key requirements of your venue are. What can you not compromise on and what would you be willing to be flexible on. Food options and food quality, beverage options, styling options, capacity, mobility access, layout of venue, location, accommodation options, budget, etc. You then need to use this as your check list when shortlisting venues. Do not get lost in all the fancy galleries and web of words. Look to see if that venue meets all your must have requirements (don’t be surprised if your must have requirements change, especially if something you wanted is hard to come by) and then see how many of your other flexible requirements it meets. Request the brochure for each venue that meets your requirements and sit down with your partner to create a shortlist. I would recommend narrowing this down to approx. 3 venues. Write a list of questions for the venue and then call the venue’s wedding coordinator and discuss your requirements. It is important to have a good rapport with your venue wedding coordinator as you must feel comfortable with them as you are going to be relying on them for guidance. The coordinator is more important than the venue as they are the face of the company and will really set the precedence for the whole day. You need a coordinator that is experienced, friendly, creative and willing to work with your requirements. No venue should be too important for its clients; you should not feel intimated on your big day.
Visit your shortlisted venues
You should both attend the site inspections and take your list of questions. You need to make sure the venue meets your discussed requirements, and if not, you will need to work out if you are willing to compromise. Take notes and take photos. Ask the coordinator to give you an estimation based on your requirements. Get the coordinator to talk you through a “typical wedding”. Hopefully, during your inspections, one of these venues will stand out and you will be able to make your decision easily. If not, it is back to the drawing board. You should take time out after the inspections to discuss what was missing and to look back at your requirements and make sure they are realistic and consider if they may need adjusting. You may find you might have to compromise in order to find the right venue. Finding a venue is like house hunting, it may seem like you will never find the right one, but when you find it, you will just know.
Once you find your perfect venue – BOOK IT! Do not lose your date; let them know you wish to proceed as soon as you decide so they can hold the date. Then pat yourself on the back – this is the biggest part of your wedding organised!