Engaged? Advice on what to do next! You’re engaged! Congratulations! It’s exciting, it’s overwhelming and its life changing . So, what do you and the love of your life do next? What is in store for you and what will the planning of your wedding be like?
I asked some of my own lovely Camellia brides a little bit about their wedding planning, to share with you. Who better than local ladies who have just been in the exact place that you are now!
Newly wed Claire said “We attended wedding fairs to figure out what type of wedding we wanted and to work out the type of budget we would be required to save up for. Shortly after that we decided on who would be involved in the wedding, i.e. bridesmaids, ushers, because you will quickly find people want to know!”
Joanne and her partner started out first with writing their wedding guest list. For Joanne, the people that attended the wedding were the most important part, so she needed to know how many people she wanted to be there before she could even think about venues and dates.
Our bride Jane said ”Make sure your ring is insured, get it sized if it’s not quite perfect and get your nails are done! Your hand is going to be on show A LOT and you’re going to love sharing your good news! If you are anything like me your ring will be in every photo you take for the next few weeks!”
Choosing the date was the very first thing that Laura and her partner did – after all, that is the first thing people will ask you! Setting the date roughly, i.e. Spring 2019, also means you can be slightly flexible when you find your venue if they only have limited dates available.
Our brides all said they started with the venue as the first big commitment. A rough idea of guests is needed for this – you don’t want to pick a venue that holds 80 in the evening only to find you want 120 guests to celebrate with you! Claire said “Venue, very important to get this booked up first as they get booked months/years in advance, shortly followed by a photographer as they get booked up so early too.” At Camellia Bridal we have known ladies come and buy a dress before finalising their venue, but it is usually second on their list. If you know a florist or photographer, makeup artist or hairdresser that you know immediately you want at your wedding… get a deposit down on them as soon as you can. Great people often book up early!
Our bride Rachel said “For us we already knew our dream location for our wedding, so the main thing was getting that booked and the date fixed! It was the same for bride Sarah “Covent Garden is our favourite place in London and we’d stayed at the hotel before, so it was an easy choice. The reception venue was a little tougher but just through research, reviews and visits, we found the perfect second venue, which easily carried the atmosphere and feel we had at the hotel”
It is important to sit with your partner and share your visions for the wedding. If he likes a barn conversion and you are after a castle then some compromising needs to be done! Agree on the basics, do you want your service and party in the same place? Do you want a seated wedding breakfast? Are scenic views for photographs important to you? Do you want overnight accommodation? Can your guests travel?
Wedding fairs and wedding venue open days are a great chance to look around wedding venues from hotels to marquees to farms… and talk to the onsite wedding planners. Our bride Laura looked at a few venues, and eventually “We both literally fell in love with our venue, the views were lovely, and the wedding planner was really helpful.” It’s definitely worth while finding a venue where you establish a good rapport with the event organizer… after all, they will be having a big impact on your day going smoothly!
Claire said, “Google all types of different venues to rule out what you don’t like and then start viewing the ones you do like, you will get a feel for what feels right. With our suppliers, every venue has a recommended supplier list, and to be honest I HIGHLY recommend all brides start there first, it can be so overwhelming what to organise, and what to look for in a florist, photographer, dress etc, so for your booked venue to give you a recommended supplier list it was like my bible. I practically picked everything off my recommended supplier list as my thoughts were they have worked at my venue before and know how it works and looks and therefore eases a lot of stress off of you.“
Our bride Joanne hit Pinterest first “to check out wedding styles and themes” She said, “Decide first what style you want for your wedding. You can’t really do this without booking the venue. For example. hiring a rugby club hall doesn’t exactly go with a rustic woodland theme!” Once you have decided on a theme (if you want one) then you can look for suppliers that have a similar style. For example, if your wedding is a relaxed, outdoorsy, bride-in-wellies in a field type wedding, you are going to want a reportage photographer to catch the natural moments, a florist using fresh, wild and seasonal blooms and a caterer that provides amazing food but not a formal 3 course meal. Meet them at fairs, or phone for a chat to see if your needs and something which they can provide.
Laura chose her suppliers through personally meeting them and seeing them in action. She said, “We attended a couple of weddings this year, and have met suppliers through those, so we have seen them at work with our own eyes!” Laura knew they could rely on those suppliers, as they came recommended and they loved what they did.
Rachel said, “We wanted to get everything booked asap so we could just take our time and not have to get too stressed leading up to the day”. Rachel looked carefully at the recommended suppliers from her venue, selecting some, but said “We went to lots of wedding fairs and looked all around the Midlands at suppliers to make sure we got the best for us and our wedding.”
Gemma said, “Wedding fairs were great for us. You can meet the owner of the business face to face, look at their work, ask questions and see what is possible in your budget. I found google confused me – so many suppliers seemed to be offering the same thing, and prices were difficult to find.”
Rachel agrees, saying “For me it was also important to find suppliers what I really liked and wanted to give our money to. I think for something like your wedding, you also must build up trust between yourself and the people who are making your day special!!
The best time to start dress shopping is a year before the wedding. That way you can take your time and enjoy it, without the pressure of delivery dates being too close to your wedding! Browse wedding magazines, follow your local bridal shops on Instagram and Facebook. See which shops you are drawn towards, and read the reviews.
If you are not an average dress size, or you have a budget, or you know you like a specific kind of dress, find a boutique that suits you. Don’t be afraid to phone shops and ask them how much their dresses are, what size range they hold, if they have boho/vintage/princess etc styles (whatever you are hoping for). Talking to the shop on the phone is also a great way of getting a feel for their service. And if you haven’t got a clue what you want to wear… that’s OK too! A great shop will help you figure it out!
Rachel said “I started dress shopping quite early and picked a number of dress suppliers to visit, based on recommendations from friends. I had no idea at all what I wanted so kept an open mind. I had a healthy budget of approx. £5000 but ended up spending not even half of that because, thanks to Camellia Bridal, I found the right dress without too much stress”. Rachel visited about three times before she was certain – don’t ever be afraid to do this – don’t feel pressured, and sleep on your dress choice if you need too!
Laura visited a couple of shops, and felt it was important to go with the shop where she felt she got the warmest welcome, felt comfortable and liked the service (luckily, that was us!). For her she needed to put this very important purchase in the hands of somewhere local and who understood her needs. Laura paid a few visits, bringing her special people with her to help her make her final choice, preferring to shop on her own at the start.
Our bride Joanne just popped in to the shop on her own, on the off chance, as she was passing. She tried on three or four dresses and boom…. found ‘the one’. With no hesitation Joanne paid her deposit and her wedding dress was on its way. For some brides this is how it happens, it’s a wonderful moment and it happens and ‘they know’. Don’t worry if this doesn’t happen to you… wedding dress shopping is different for everybody.
Claire said it was the BEST part of wedding planning, “It was SO much fun and definitely an experience you will NEVER EVER forget. When you put these gorgeous dresses on, you will literally feel the best you have ever felt, and so you should, it’s your big day!!”
Sarah, bought her girlfriends for a day of wedding dress shopping, and found her dress in her second shop, again, luckily this was ours! We had tears and laughter. Sarah made sure she had the people she needed and trusted with her to make her decision, and ordered her stunning dress there and then. We later went on to customise it for her, so it was truly bespoke and perfect! See here to find out more about appointments at Camellia Bridal.
Our brides all felt differently on this question. For most, they felt that keeping relaxed and not letting it stress you was the most important part! For Joanne, it was being organised, getting things done early. There are lots of online wedding planners to help you with this. Set a timeline and a to do list so you can tick off the important stuff. Joanne said if you sort the key suppliers early, then “The rest falls into place”.
Sarah added that “Not over complicating anything” was crucial, and discovered that “Less is so much more!”.
For Rachel. A very important aspect of her wedding was her photographer, “One thing I would stress is pick an amazing photographer, as a good one will record your day just fine, but a great one will capture the emotion. And flowers really set the theme and tone of your day.” Another supplier key for Rachel and her husband was the evening entertainment “We had a live band, and we literally spent the whole night dancing with our nearest and dearest and simply had the best time!!”
Jane had been online and read a couple of horror stories, so for her wedding insurance was a key purchase… especially your engagement ring! The average wedding costs £27000 now, “You wouldn’t spend that much money on anything else without insuring it!”
Sarah and her partner very much enjoyed the food and wine tasting (that would be my favourite part too!). Their wedding was small and intimate, and the dining aspect of the wedding was very important to her and her husband.
Laura felt the venue was the most important choice they made, somewhere where all her family and friends would feel comfortable in a beautiful setting.
For Claire, “It was about me and my future hubby doing it together, and making sure it was everything we wanted. Also regular contact with our venue to make sure we was booking and doing everything right.”
Rachel and Sarah agreed that wedding guest lists is the hardest part! Rachel said “The hardest thing for us was the actual wedding invitations and who was actually coming and where to sit them. All I can say is take a deep breath and if you need to remind people that it’s your big day and not theirs…….Then that’s what you have to do!!
Jane said that “Staying within budget and not adding more and more” was a challenge. “Be open with each other about money, and what there is and what you can save. Weddings can happen on every budget, and with children and a house already, we really had to work hard to not overspend”.
“Trying to please everyone” was hardest for Claire. She adds, “The sooner you realise you won’t please everyone and that it is you and your future husband’s day the better you will feel about the whole process. I let the stress of other people’s opinions ruin a lot of the fun of planning the wedding. It’s hard because you want everyone to feel part of it, but don’t let them take over, your decision is the right one, always”.
Laura said, “The whole thing is fun, from picking ‘save the dates’, to the theme, dress shopping, wedding fairs, meeting suppliers… we loved it all!”
“I always felt quite alone in planning it all, so let people help, don’t be scared to delegate” is Claire’s advice. I took WAY too much on and should have delegated more but I didn’t want to come across as a Bridezilla I do think I would have enjoyed my engagement more if I had delegated help more. Also, trust your suppliers, don’t get caught up on details, let the professionals do their job!”
Rachel said “Our day was magic, and I think it helped because we were just calm and relaxed because we knew we had taken our time and booked everything nice and early. We hope that everyone can have a day as special and as fun as ours xxx”
Finally, from Sarah, “The only advice I would give, and it really is the reason our wedding was so perfect, is don’t do too much! The more you do and add, the more you worry, and it’s always over things no one even notices! It’s about the love, atmosphere, food, drink and dancing”.