Once the big question has been popped it leads to a whole series of other questions, and by answering these, you’re on your way to planning your wedding. So during the initial stages you should discuss the following:
This may seem obvious, but knowing how much time you have to work with could make all the difference to the way you plan your wedding. The time of year you choose to marry will impact on your budget and the availability of reception venues and other services. You may like your wedding to coincide with a visit from overseas family members or to fit in with your hectic work schedule, so be sure to talk this over.
the size of the wedding
Do you see it as an intimate affair with just close friends and family, or had you envisaged a large wedding with 150 guests or more? Do a quick headcount – it might surprise you.
This is directly related to the size of the wedding. At this early stage, it’s hard to know how much you might have to spend, but by throwing around some figures you will soon realise if your expectations match those of your partner. Weddings can cost anywhere from $2000 to in excess of $80,000, so establish a ballpark figure now. (You can always revise it once you’ve done a bit more research.) The areas where your budget will be spent are fashion, rings, stationery, ceremony, flowers, transport, photography, video, music, reception venue, cake, catering, alcohol, wedding-night accommodation and the honeymoon.
If you are paying for the wedding yourselves, then it really is your wedding and you can call the shots. Things get slightly trickier when parents chip in or pay for the entire thing, as this will obviously entitle them to a say in how the money is spent. Another option is for the parents to pay for one element of the wedding, such as photography or the band. This way, you can make the major decisions for your wedding, while accepting some financial assistance.
Weddings are as individual as the couples who plan them. The venue, attire, entertainment and menu will all hinge on the style you choose, so keep this in mind. You may already have a clear view of how you see the day unfolding. Describe it and see if it matches your partner’s ideas. Discuss what you liked and disliked about friends’ weddings to see if you’re both on the same wavelength. Look through past issues of Bride & Groom (available online) and search the internet for inspiration.
religious or civil ceremony
You probably know where you stand on this question. Also discuss your parents’ expectations and whether or not they will impact on your decision.
the wedding party
Six bridesmaids may not be his idea of the ultimate wedding party, yet she may have secretly selected them years ago. Likewise, his pick for bestman might leave her gasping, so it’s important to discuss this now. If you disagree, try to talk it through calmly, expressing why you think they might not be suitable. But remember that these are your partner’s friends and they may have a history that pre-dates your relationship by many years. This could be one area where compromise is the only way.
Once you’ve established these key factors, it’s time to get organised. Start a wedding-planning file in which you keep all correspondence, ideas, quotes, contact details, samples etc. If everything is in one place, it’s less likely to get lost.
Based on your respective skills and interests, decide who should take care of planning the various aspects. It will be much easier if you share the tasks. Before booking anything, get written quotes and then discuss which options suit you best. See our Wedding Countdown on page 160 or online, as a guide and timeline to help you stay on track.
It’s a good idea to open a special bank account for wedding expenses into which you (and your parents, if they’re involved) can deposit money and pay bills from. This will help you keep tabs on what you are spending, as will setting up a spreadsheet.
Work out your priorities. Start early. You can never be too organised. Learn to compromise. Have fun. It’s not supposed to be a chore. Delegate tasks to people you can trust. Accept help when it’s offered. Planning the wedding involves you both. You don’t have to spend a fortune to have a great day. Stick to your budget – if you overspend on one area, cut back on another. Don’t take too long to make major decisions. Once you have set a date, book all your suppliers. Do your research. Get all your quotations in writing. Subscribe to Bride & Groom magazine. Use our online checklists.