Wedding planning, a guide. By yours truly

Weddings, they can be extremely stressful. When I think back to mine, I will be honest I think I have blocked most of it out haha. Planning my wedding was so stressful, it made me ill and made my mental health worse.

However would I do it again yes? why… because I know I can do it 10 x better based on my previous experience.

I think as brides, we have a vision of what our wedding is to be. We strive for it to be close to perfection, we endeavour for it to match the image in our mind, we fight for it to be what we have dreamt about for so long AND FOR THAT the pressure is on and boy is it intense. Because you know it is all on you, only you can create this kind of thing.

Hold on a second… isn’t your soon to be forever meant to be on hand for support?

yessss and well they aren’t though? haha I mean this based on my own experience. I practically did it all by myself in terms of the researching, calling/emailing etc etc. One thing my husband was good as was a being a sponge so all my rants, moans, worries he got them and that did help I guess. BUT truthfully speaking I would not have let him have that kind of responsibility really for anything I mean I was there when he picked his grooms outfit as I had to make sure it matched with my outfit LOL

Now lets be real, to take the stress and pressure away, naturally one would hire a wedding planner HOWEVER for that, one needs a ton of money and one is not always loaded so I hope the below proves helpful to those of us who just cannot afford a wedding planner. 🙂

I honestly wish I had a wedding planner would have taken the weight off the whole organising, researching and decision making.

All I really needed was something to find the companies, contact them and narrow it down to like a top 5 and all I had to do was make the final choice or even better if they just knew what I liked and practically did it all for me.

1. Dates

Super super super important. Oh my god.
Whether you plan to get married in a year or 2 or in a couple of months look at dates. I would recommend to have a couple jotted down.

When looking at dates think of the following:
a) What time of year you want to get married i.e do you want a spring, summer, autumn of winter wedding. Once you know which season then you can look at months then days.
b) Pick your dates in that month. If you want for example a weekend wedding be good to discuss with your partner which weekends in that month would work for you
c) When picking dates, be sure to ensure they do not clash with anything such a future family weddings or key events. If you will be inviting families to your wedding I would advise that you think about children and schools so dates during half term or long breaks i.e. Easter or Christmas are good.
d) Optional – now this all depend how involved your parents and your fiance’s parents and well the family are. If they and you are happy about it then definitely talk about dates with them also so that they have input and help you with picking the ideal date.

2. Venue

This is so bloody important – O M G.
In fact this is perhaps a nightmare. Finding the ideal or perfect venue is not easy so start early as early as you can especially if your date or Dates are confirmed. The important thing is having an idea as to where you want to get married.

NB: Have a couple of dates is good because availability is always an issue so with more then one date the venue can confirm availability.

I would work your finances around your venue first and foremost. You will obviously have an initial budget and you also will have space to go up and down based on what you both want.

Venue Types

When it comes to venues there are so many such as:
a) Religious places of worship – in most cases couples have their marriage ceremony held in one and also have another separate venue hired for their reception or coordinating function due to lack of space. However some couples may be able to host their guests within a religious place of worship if they have space on offer.
Upside: With most weddings there is a religious significance to it so getting married on a place of worship can and will hold a deeper meaning. A bonus is being able to host your guests that way way there is no need to make their way to another venue.
Downside: Space is limited and most couple tend to only use a place of worship for their big day as a means to share their vows and say ‘I do’ in God/Allah SWT’s supervision. Always a separate venue is booked.

b) Banquet Halls/Suites – I personally got married in one and most couples tend to. They are everywhere, they come in many sizes, particularly great for very big weddings and most of all are convenient. You can get married in one anytime of year, everything is available: kitchen, toilet, bridal room. The key is parking though. Some of these halls/suites come with great parking spaces where as some don’t so based on how big your wedding is, really look into this.
Upside: See above and some of these places also have a sister company or provide in-house services such as food, decor and entertainment.
Downside: Exterior can look really ugly for some and that can go for the interior also.

c) Hotels – People have been getting married in swanky hotel’s for years because they have large reception/dining/banqueting rooms for large events which include weddings. These can be expensive but also they can be affordable in many ways. It all depends on which hotel you use. Something swanky like a 5* hotel will obviously cost you money but then again isn’t that the dream? Most of these hotels offer wedding package deals also so everything can be catered for in house such as food, decor and entertainment.
Upside: Accommodation. You and your guests can arrive the night or 2 nights or how ever many nights before enjoy the luxurious hotel life i.e. fine dining, relaxing, the scenery and spa services (if available). This means you spend more time with your family enjoying it all leading up to the wedding and also on the day of the wedding, no-one is late and the show is good to go.
Downside: Not all hotels are affordable and deciding on certain hotels and location can leave you feeling conflicted.

d) Country clubs – Their popularity is on the up and I am not surprised they are gorgeous! What makes country clubs stand out is the greenery that comes with them i.e. the golf course. Country clubs however are based in areas that are not within the city these locations have lots of forest and woodland.
Upside: the greenery, the grounds – perfect for picture taking, the interior and exterior in most country clubs are beautiful.
Downside: Location. As said these are based in areas wit a lot of greenery and these clubs are situated in isolation. One other thing not all offer in-house services which means you will need to look for your food, decor and entertainment externally.

e) Park/Garden – Summer weddings held in a large park/garden is lovely. You have options you can either: (i) have your wedding/reception open, with your chairs/tables out (ii) have a marquee up, which most tend to go for. There are marquee venues that also have a separate building in close proximity which will have toilets and kitchen. So
Upside: the location of these are always beautiful
Downside: weather permitting. With rain comes muddy puddles which do not go well with high heels and gorgeous outfits

f) Restaurants – I have attended many weddings held in restaurants. With this one thing for certain is the food sorted. That is something you do not need to worry about. This is perhaps on the more affordable side I guess but having your wedding in a restaurant you will need to take into consideration on the number of guests who will be attending.
Upside: Did I mention your food is sorted? A lot of restraints are large with lots of space and some are designed to be able to host events and functions like weddings.
Downside: Space. It is what it is space will be an issue so you will need to really decide on number of guests based on which restaurant you choose.

g) Historic homes/mansions/castles – This is more on the super duper expensive side and if you can afford it why not? After all it is every girls dream (well most) certainly mine. Your wedding will have a stunning vintage feel and your guests will be blown away by the exterior of the building and the vibe it gives off.
Upside: erm hello! Now should you get married here for sure you know your wedding will scream ‘vintage stunning gorgeous wedding’ so perfect for pictures. These venues also have stunning luscious grounds some with lakes, with private parks and ponds with their won wildlife.
Downside: the cost, the location blah blah. I hate to break it to you and state the obvious. Castles are far away, historic homes tend to be listed buildings so will come with a lot of rules which you will need to abide by, mansions again are based far away. AND to top it off these are few in numbers.

h) Museums, Sports Ground i.e. stadiums, arena’s, theatres – These venues are different and great for those who want to have a wedding that stands out and goes along with their theme. I know tonsof people of who have gotten married at the Natural History Museum and at Twickenham Rugby Stadium.
Upside: Who gets married in these venues all the time? Hardly anymore so without a doubt your wedding will be talked about.
Downside: Cost. They are expensive which is why many don’t get married. Nothing is in house so everything needs to sourced externally and many of these venue’s will have certain rules which you will need to abide by.

3. Finances

Once you have worked around the venue cost now its time to map out how much you would like to spend on the other things (which I will list below).
I had an overall budget which in the end I maxed out and over spent but I knew I did and I was aware how what and where.

Download the exact same wedding finance spreadsheet I made and created for my wedding

The formula’s are in working order, I did have to delete all the data on here for data privacy reasons but the main function is all there so please do use. I hope you find it useful

Using a spreadsheet

Is a wonderful thing and without mine I would have been lost. I kept track of the following:

  • All the companies I contacted and their quotes to help me compare and choose.
  • How much I had already spent on something and how much I had left (using formulas – which btw are a godsend)
  • What is left to do/buy/chase
  • Things things that my family were helping me with

    I was as organised as I could be and my spreadsheet really helped me make sense of it all.

4. Colours/Themes

This is number 4 and with good reason. For all weddings colours are stupidly important. For me and for my wedding I had to confirm this very early on to get my family moving.

  • What colour/style/design they were wearing at my 2 functions a) the mendhi ( a pre-wedding function held within the the South Asian culture where family and friends gather, dance eat, enjoy time with bride/groom before they are married and have henna put on their hands) b) the wedding
  • What colour/design/style I would wear for both my functions

    This is the part where you Pintrest, Google and Instagram away. I loved my ‘Wedding Inspo’ board I made on my Pintrest account, my board was so wedding-esque I remember at the time I would receive email notifications letting me other people were pinning to their boards from this very board haha.

You will need to think about:

  • How many functions you will have leading up and after your wedding depending on your culture and religious customs. Based on that think about colours/styles/designs for each.
  • If certain individuals will wear one colour/design and others another i.e. bridesmaids, groomsmen, brides sisters, brides brothers, brides friends. Putting them into categories helps narrow down what you want to do.
  • Which shop/boutique you will go to to get your outfits made for you. Will you got o one or many? will you order online or go in store?

Once decided, the sooner you pre-order your bespoke and custom colour/design the better as these things take time to be made. Giving yourself enough time for this is so important as should the final piece arrive and it is not how to hoped that way you have time to look for an alternative.

5. Your wedding dress

Nothing else matters now. You have looked at designs, examples, you have pinned to to your hearts content, you have attended many wedding expos and finally you have an idea as to what you want your wedding dress to be… then go on hop to it!

Now from my experience even having an idea does not mean you will be wearing that because it might change after you go to the bridal shop/boutique and look at their designs. Some of the designs you see might change what you wanted in mind completely and that is what they call love at first sight.

For some brides it is a long process… go into many boutiques, ask for quotes, compare, feel it out, take your friend, your sister, your mum, your aunty etc then decide and buy. For other brides… it is just one shop in mind, go in, find the dress and boom – your order.

Order your wedding outfit sooner rather then later

What ever you go for decide soon and order as the sooner the better. This allows lots of extra time. I have heard many horror stories about brides who have been cutting it close to their big day and their outfit had arrived before with a week or 2 to spare and the outfit has come looking nothing like how they ordered it. That is your worst nightmare and then having only a week or two to find an alternative wedding dress? Now that is stress on a whole other level and no one needs that.

Be sure the boutique/company/store you order form is one you ABSOLUTELY trust

I mean come one, they will be making the most important dress of your life so that is obvious. During your consultation it is important you feel like the place you are ordering from. Another thing to point out id their customer service, they work within this sector, this industry so they should play that to their strengths and do/say all the things they need to to show that they care, they are interested and make you feel like you are super important because you ordering your wedding dress from them is important.

Order placed… but remember communication is key

Once you have placed the order the boutique/company/store will be in contact to let you know what is happening with your order. Sometimes due to how busy they are this may not always be the case but if that does happen you will need to do also do some chasing and that is okay. However if you are doing all the chasing and when you do speak with them they do not seem all that interested or bothered then that may pose a problem. None the less thisdoes not happen because companies who specialise in this industry are not like that but it is just something to think about.

6. Food

This is so important. Like I cannot explain. Choosing the right caterer is key because lets face it if your food is shit on your wedding, your wedding guests will not let you forget it and also they will not enjoy your wedding.

There are so many caterers out there and as mentioned above many of the venues offer in house catering to so it is so important you look into all your options.
Cost is something to also factor in however the cheapest is not always the idea because the way I see it food needs to be of quality and sometimes price does show that being said it is all based on what you can afford.

Package deals

Some caterers calculate per head while others they take into consideration the total number of guests and give you a figure.

Package deals are good because what this means is many caterers have offers and deals which means they provide starters, mains, dessert plus canapes, welcome drinks and tea and coffee. Some offer extra’s such as other dessert options like a dessert/candy table, candyfloss etc.

Attend taster sessions

If the caterer company do not offer this then in my opinion do not go with them unless you are using a caterer who has catered a wedding you attended and you loved the food. You need to be confident and happy with the food that is served as your wedding.

Taster sessions are great because a) you taste the food – so you know before hand how the food will taste at your wedding thus leaving you feeling good and confident that your guests will enjoy the food b) you can ask questions about the food items as well as enquire and see what can be changed/added from their set menu options which they will have for you to taste and choose from.

7. Wedding invitations

Once your date is confirmed and your venue details, get to designing your wedding invitation.

You can opt to get them made or you can design yourself

There are many companies available that have pre-made templates so it is a matter of you picking which one you like and they take your information and create them.

If you are like me and extra and want to design them yourself… you can LOL. I used Adobe Illustrator and it was so much fun and still to this day think my invites were stunning.
If you do design them the next thing you need to find are quality printers who can print them on quality card and then post the invites to you.

8. Cinematography, Videography & Photography

Picking the right company to capture your wedding and other functions is so important. and also ensuring that they deliver and amaze you with their skills is so so significant. – my experience was awful. I am still affected by the whole process I had to endure and will never ever recommend the company I used. EVER.

Always shop around before you choose and decide

Since 2016 (which is the year I got married FYI hehe) the number of wedding film/photography companies out there has increased significantly which is lovely as it means there is a lot of choice so you do not feel limited. It also means more room for negotiation on price as the competition is fierce and they all want to film/photograph your wedding.

Personal recommendations are a great help so do ask family and friends if there are companies they can recommend. This just means that you are trusting a review on a company which can help you in your search.

Websites and social media platforms i.e. Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook etc are also a great way to checkout a company’s online portfolio as they use them to showcase their work to entice more clients.

In my opinion having Instagram and Facebook is all fine and dandy but having a website is also professional because I feel company websites are created and formed to target their visitors in a different way so if a company does not have their own company website, it is something to think about to – and trust me a lot of companies have Instagram and Facebook and definitely show off their work on there but have no website.

Ultimately you need like what they do

So it doesn’t matter if you know you have paid an extra £1000 compared to what someone else has paid because if you are happy and feel confident about the company you have chosen that is what counts. What matters is them delivering on what they are meant to to do which is…
sending you top quality pictures and editing your special day in a magical way for you to cherish forever.

9. Decor

… is everything. There are so many gorgeous decor companies out their that have their own unique sense of style when it comes to turning a venue into your ideal vision for your special day.

For me I enjoyed this part of the wedding research. I was pinning away on Pintrest to my hearts content. The inspiration that is out there is limitless and only adds to the excitement to allowing you to see your dream wedding because it is the overall look your wedding has that creates the vibe that you want.

The wedding expo’s will showcase companies for you to approach and ask questions but also places like Facebook/Instagram have tons of businesses waiting for you to contact them for a quote.

Look at their portfolio pictures to see their work

Wedding decor companies will post pictures they have taken of their work at other weddings and functions and it is these pictures which help you to work out who to contact.

Just like wedding photographer and videography companies, the decor companies will have their own website and use social media to get their stuff out there for their future clients to view.

Package deals food + decor are available

This is what I had opted for as the wedding planning company I used had package deals and offered me a pretty good deal which I would have at the time been very silly not to go for. Now looking back… not going to lie I do regret it because decor companies has a key vision for all things decor. You tell them your specification and they will match it and create what you want. But doesn’t mean these companies that offer food and decor cannot deliver because looking back at mine my decor was not ugly, it was elegant and simple and very pretty.

10. Cake

I love loved my wedding cake. I always wanted to design my wedding cake so again there is Pintrest so as one future bride does, I had pinned so many cakes to my wedding board to get inspiration which allows me to create my own design.
The end result for my wedding cake was beautiful and first and foremost the lovely cake maker who made it is talented so she was able to execute it down perfectly. I would recommend my cake maker a thousand times.

There are so many wedding cake companies out there who make exceptional and beautiful wedding cakes. Again it is all about research and contacting to make sure you feel that you are getting the best deal.

Consultations are lovely

If your cake maker does not offer you one then do not go with them in my opinion. By attending these consultations it means that a) you meet your cake maker face to face b) eat and try yummy flavours for you to pick from for your wedding cake c) personally talk about your design and ask questions.

I dragged my husband with me who was no help so the design of the cake was down to me (not that I minded).

Cake makers especially those who specialise in wedding cakes are aware of how stressful and important the wedding cake is so their level of customer service is different then a normal cake maker. My lovely Cake maker was always available if I had a question or wanted to change a design and she was always messaging me if she had any questions or was unsure of something. For me contact is so important and the fact that we had that I felt so comfortable and confident my cake was going to turn out amazing and it did!

11. Transportation – Car

With this it is all about availability. The bride and groom want to enter in style so what you decide needs to not only look good on camera but also look good for your entrance.

Again do your research and find the better deal.
Quotes should be based on 3 things
1) how long you need the car for
2) where it will pick you up from to take you to your wedding venue
3) if it is meant to drop you back somewhere

Now, you don’t just have to make your entrance via car

There are the following which I have seen and heard of so take your pick but again do your research, shop around so you knwo you are getting your money’s worth. BUT if money is not the option then splash that cash my freind.

  • Horse drawn carriage
  • Helicopter
  • Elephant- Please note Animal Rights are extremely important so before you consider this the animals safety comes first and foremost.
  • Motorcycle
  • Rickshaw

12. Groom’s outfit

This is a little lower down in the list because in my opinion the brides dress holds more significance as it needs much more time to be made.

That being said it all depends on what the groom is wearing. The sooner the grooms outfit is ordered the better. You may decide to order both brides and grooms outfit from the same place. It is up to you how you go about this.

Giving enough time means that the final product arrives with enough time left in case in changes/further alterations or an alternative needs to be made/looked for.

13. Wedding favours

I do not know what it is with me but things like decor, wedding favours and all the extra finer details are what I really enjoyed researching and Pintrest is the place for that. I could easily spend hours and hours just pinning away.

Wedding favours are limitless meaning you can have practically anything and everything as one. So as a soon to be bride looking at all the ideas of what could possibly be used as a wedding favour the pressure was on.

In the end I kept my wedding favours simple –they were a simple personalised wedding chocolate favour in a small organza bag. This was due to budget reasons however if I had the budget my wedding favours would have more detailed and well more of.

You can choose DIY or ready made

Making your own favours is a lot of fun but not really ideal if you have say 500 plus guests so finding companies that specialise in wedding favours is great. There are many wedding favour specialist companies out there so the choices are endless.

It is all about what you want to give away as your wedding favour. The below is just some examples:

  • Little Chocolates/sweets
  • Little Candles
  • Little jars with whatever you want in them
  • Zam Zam Water (holy water)
  • Little trincket boxes with whatever you want in them
  • Little cakes
  • Little nutella jars
  • Charity donation
  • Little jar of cookie/cake mix
  • Hand creams

The sooner you place your order the better as depending on how many guests you have it will allow the company to have enough time to complete your order properly.

14. Entertainment and extras

This means things like DJ’s, photo booths, candy carts, mocktail/cocktail stands, dessert tables, entrance displays, open bars, waffle/crepe makers, popcorn machines and whatever else is out there because there are loads of these things out there.

At my wedding I had an entrance display, candy floss machine and a photo booth as an extra and for my brother’s Walima we had a photo booth and a candy table.

These things are really nice to have for your guests to really enjoy. There is an extra cost but that is why if you do want this you will need to budget ahead of this so you are not disappointed.

and there you have it

It is a lot of information but honest to God it is all relevant and does make sense.

Remember your mental and physical health comes first

I say this because wedding planning is extremely stressful and hands on and talking from my experience it can effect your mental and physical state,

For me, more my mental state I cannot tall you how many panic attacks I had and just how alone I felt but it is worth it I assure you. Because on the day your wedding will look stunning and at the end of the day it will just be you are your partner for the rest of your life.

If you have any questions please feel free to get in touch.

Happy Wedding Planning!


The Soul Tamer x