Digital Mortgages target Buy-To-Let market

Atom

AtomDigital Mortgages by Atom Bank, which has been offering residential deals for nearly two years, has now expanded in to the buy-to-let (BTL) mortgage market through an exclusive, pilot scheme.

Atom bank is regarded as the first in the UK to have been built exclusively for smartphones and tablets.

It began offering its two-year, fixed-rate residential mortgages through independent advisers in December 2016, shortly after the bank launched with two Fixed Saver accounts and an SME business lending product.

Residential mortgage customers are able to track changes in the progress of their mortgage when they have received a decision in principle (DIP) through the Atom app.

In the latest move, the initial product offering consists of two- and five-year BTL remortgages for landlords who have anything from four to 25 properties in their portfolios.

The two-year product is available at up to 75% Loan-To-Value (LTV) at 3.70% (2.95% above the base rate), while the five-year product is also available at 75% LTV, at 3.80% (3.05% above the base rate).

Both products command a 1% product fee and feature a maximum loan period of 25 years. Maria Harris, Atom’s intermediary lending director explains that as the bank’s mortgage proposition expands, the aim is to make mortgages both easy and transparent to buy while offering landlords a “great all-round deal”.

Harris believes this will transform the market, adding that this initial pilot with selected intermediaries will enable the bank to make improvements before rolling out the product to a bigger audience. Atom is also already working on increasing its range to include fixed-rate products.

Selected brokers will not be able to access early repayment charges and Atom says automated valuations may be used in certain cases to speed the process and keep the costs low.

In a separate development Atom and Newcastle University have announced they are conducting research into both how trust works in financial services and to look into developing ways for businesses to design better digital banking services.

The two institutions have set aside three years for the million-pound project, which has been dubbed “FinTrust”. It will involve experts in the fields of computer science, banking and psychology in order to understand why customers are reluctant to trust technology.

Atom and Newcastle are also trying to find parallels between digital design and behavioural science to bring the scope of Open Banking into focus. Atom’s officer in charge of innovation, Edward Twiddy, says that the research will inform Atom and help the bank enhance the design of future innovative products and services. An early application will be in developing the bank’s blockchain to build better mortgages.

Buy-to-let mortgages are specific types of mortgage for people who need financial assistance when they wish to buy and rent out properties. You can find out more with our Buy to Let Mortgage Guide

New lifetime mortgage to pay monthly income

lifetime mortgage

lifetime mortgageLegal & General’s new Income Lifetime Mortgage aims to give customers more flexibility when accessing the value of their property in later life

By paying customers a fixed monthly income the mortgage is aimed at people who want to supplement their income.

The new product aims to offer a mortgage solution for those people who would rather have a monthly income instead of a lump sum, or who have not been able to save the amount into their pension as they had hoped.

The lender believes this makes it compelling for those people who want to bridge a gap in their retirement income in order to be able to benefit from a standard of living in later life that is more comfortable.

The mortgage is designed so that the interest will roll up through the life of the loan. Then both the loan and the interest will be recouped by the lender when the property is sold after the last surviving borrower’s death or move into long-term care.

With Income Lifetime Mortgages compound interest’s effect is reduced because funds are released on a monthly basis, rather than as lump sums.

People aged 55 and over who own a property with a minimum value of £100,000 are eligible for Legal & General’s new Income Lifetime Mortgage. Those that take it up will be offered an interest rate that is fixed for life at the outset. Then the monthly income generated by the mortgage will run for a term of 10, 15, 20 or 25 years that is agreed and then cannot be extended.

When the fixed term ends so will the monthly income but interest will continue to roll up until when the mortgage has been repaid. Mortgagees can choose to end the income at any point, but when it is stopped it can’t be restarted.

Steve Ellis, L & G’s Home Finance CEO says that the mortgage will provide that little bit of extra income to pay for things like a day out with the grandchildren or weekends away in the country. Ellis adds that he and his colleagues know how useful this could be for keeping people “doing the things they love”.

He believes it’s a new option giving consumers a chance to enjoy the benefit of their housing wealth with a fixed interest rate for life, along with the security of a regular monthly income for as many as 25 years.

Ellis says that retirement lending  has “a bright future ahead for” and L&G is intent on seeing more people enjoying the positive role the value of their homes can play when they get older.

Finder UK offers a comparison of the UK’s mortgage providers so you can find the mortgage that would suit you. We have a simple guide to remortgaging and to help you de-code the jargon we have put together a handy A-Z glossary.

 

‘Green mortgages’ aimed at enhancing property energy efficiency

Green mortgages

Green mortgagesEnergy provider E.ON teams up with banking giant BNP Paribas to pilot ‘green mortgages’ that could save homeowners £380 a year.

The aim is to offer homeowners finance via their mortgage of their property. This innovative approach to financing property purchase will mean people who are moving, buying for the first time, or remortgaging their homes will be able borrow more through an ‘energy efficiency home improvement loan’ linked to their mortgage.

It is one of the many arrangements that are on offer for home buyers.  To navigate the maze finder UK has a guide to help you better understand how mortgages work and how you should compare the different deals that are out there.

Under the E.ON and BNP Paribas green scheme, the improvement loan financing would come from BNP Paribas Personal Finance and the managed services that install the appropriate energy efficiency solutions would come from E.ON.

According to the innovators, any improvements paid for by the loan could lead to a discounted mortgage rate when the property’s Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) is updated and the energy efficiency measures verified.

The new move comes after Bank of England researchers discovered that people who live in more energy efficient homes pose a lower credit risk.

Their data indicates that about 1.14% of people living in homes that are energy inefficient are in mortgage payment arrears, whereas only 0.93% of people in energy-efficient properties were behind on their payments.

The research concluded that a home’s energy efficiency is “a relevant predictor of mortgage risk”.

According to E.ON and BNP Paribas about 19 million households in Britain fall below the EPC Band C rating and by putting basic measures in place could save up to £380 a year.

E.ON UK CEO Michael Lewis says green mortgages could a “game changer in the delivery of affordable finance”. He is keen for home-owners to step into “energy efficient living”.

Claire Perry, the Minister at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy who looks after the clean growth brief, says she is delighted to see businesses like E.ON and BNP Paribas Personal Finance seizing the multi-billion pound opportunity that exists to energise communities into tackling “the very serious threat of climate change”.

The finder UK mortgage pages can put you in touch with a mortgage adviser, give you access to online mortgage comparison, and allow you to browse the various rates available.

Lack of Testing Leaves Us In The Dark with Covid-19

Covid-19

Covid-19The UK’s blind, blanket ban on movement during this coronavirus crisis is akin to trying to fly a plane, navigate a ship or drive a car wearing a blindfold and ear plugs!

Compare us to Germany, which is currently testing as many as 500,000 people each week for Covid-19. Britain, on the other hand, is badly lagging behind. In the UK just 104,800 tests have been conducted in the entire period since the end of January.

When we compare the proportion of people infected who go on to die the lowest rates of all are in Germany and Austria. Only around 0.7% of people infected go on to die in these countries.

Indeed, according to researchers at the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Centre, of the 53,340 Germans infected just 395 have died. In Austria the figures are 7,712 infections have led to just 58 fatalities.

There is no real difference between the way that Germany tests people and the way we do it in the UK. Where the difference is stark is in the volume of the testing.

Germany now tests as many as 500,000 people a week for coronavirus, while Britain has conducted a measly 104,800 tests in the whole period since January’s end.

Austria is also testing heavily. Its plan is to hit 15,000 tests a day while Britain, with nearly eight times the size of population, says it aims for just 10,000 a day by the end of this month.

In Germany, the Robert Koch Institute, that has the responsibility for officially recording deaths in that country, says it treats “someone to be a corona death” in all cases where some sort of corona infection is proven. This effectively means those deaths counted as corona deaths include ALL deaths that can be associated with Covid-19.

So the German testers include all who have died from Covid-19, including all people who have underlying health problems and are infected even where it’s not even possible to say what actually killed them.

Those who are not tested before they die but are suspected of Covid-19 are tested post-mortem and if there are signs of coronavirus infection, they are listed as Covid-19 deaths.

So the German method counts anyone infected with Covid-19 who goes on to die as a Covid-19 victim regardless of whether it’s proven the virus killed them directly.

That is pretty much how deaths are also counted in the UK. So we are comparing like with like. The reasons for Germany’s lower death toll, are largely down to this extensive testing. The fact is that high testing rates not only assist authorities monitor and understand coronavirus’s spread but also it helps the medics fight Covid-19’s lethality.

With clear knowledge of what is going on and where enables the selective quarantining of those people who have or may have the virus so that the most vulnerable can be better shielded. It means medical attention can be targeted at the vulnerable at an early stage so their chances of survival are increased.

Meanwhile we in the UK are still in the dark!

Choosing the online casino for you

Online casinos

Online casinosWhen you’ve played online casino games for a while, you have probably built up a bank of stories about the best and worst experiences. Here are some important things to look out for.

It’s not uncommon for things to start well in an online casino. You receive a welcome bonus and organize funding for your account.

After that, you played a few slots and a variety of table games. But with many online casinos and online football operations it’s when you’ve won some money and asked to cash out that problems can arise. Beware the rogue casinos that ask for loads of documents for verification. They are prolonging the withdrawal process, and you could well get fed up and give up on receiving your money.

When you are looking for a genuine online casino like LSM99 you should expect reliable services and equally reliable customer support.

  1. The License

Never join any unlicensed casinos however attractive and lucrative the bonuses they appear to be offering.

The way to verify that a casino actually holds a genuine license, check for licensing information at the bottom of the website.

  1. User-friendly

Casinos like LSM99 have intuitive, mobile-responsive websites. This is not always the case. Prior to creating your account and depositing money, navigate through the website. If you don’t love the site and find it loads slowly, change the platform. Check out the user-friendliness by clicking through the game categories and playing a few games in demo mode.

Good gambling sites should be as easy to use on your smartphone as on a larger screen.

  1. The Games

Before you commit to using a casino, confirm it offers a range of games you like. When playing online slots is what appeals, check the software providers who are supplying the online casino’s games. Nowadays it’s possible to find gambling sites specializing in specific casino games.

  1. Bonus Offers

Bonuses aren’t the only reason for selecting a casino, but they should be considered. All online casino players deserve good rewards. No deposit offers, for example, may help you test a website’s user-friendliness without the need to spend any money.

Good deposit bonuses can help increase your bankroll. And when they also come with limited wagering requirements, you can fulfil them and cash out your winnings conveniently.

  1. Reliable Customer Support

Customer support is essential when say you forget your password and get stuck recovering your account. An error may erase your account balance, or the withdrawal process could take too long.

In a lot of cases, these issues need to be handled immediately. With a good casino, you should be able to reach out to the support team for help in real-time.

In Conclusion

When you choose an online casino don’t rush to make your decision and don’t be distracted by any of the bonuses.

 

Is Slow-balization substituting for Globalization

Slobalisation
Slowbalisation
Slowing down: Scissors can be exported in 20ft-containers, hair stylists cannot

Globalization has dominated the world economy for years. But recent trends are indicating that many major economies are turning their backs on being drawn deeper together. The signs are that there’s a growing desire to be less inter-connected through global networks of capital flows, trade, and technology.

Global trade is becoming less advantageous. There are even cases where it is also on the way to being less feasible.

This is a major turnaround for what in the last half a century had been seen as the prevailing trend that would inexorably move in the same direction.

What is conspiring to slow globalization? The combination of geopolitical shifts, secular trends and trade tensions are just aspects of this story.

Tariffs are a very visible barrier to global trade, but other hurdles, including the US’s foreign investment review, are also diluting any business incentive to globalize, according to senior bankers.

In addition, changes in consumer preferences along with greater purchasing power in emerging markets are boosting regional trade over global trade. Technology is exacerbating these trends by enabling leaner manufacturing methods. The highly acclaimed Dutch trend watcher Adjiedj Bakas calls it “slow-balization”.

When it comes to investment, there are advantages and disadvantages. Barriers to global trade threaten to disrupt major businesses that rely on smooth flows including capital goods, semiconductors, telecoms, and automobiles – indeed any industries where technologies are sensitive and whose supply chains are globally diffuse.

However, increased localization may turn out to be a bonus for those businesses that don’t rely so heavily on foreign markets, and whose products have a critical economic or national security interest. Good examples of these “emerging regional champions” are China’s internet firms, and local payment processors as well as some smaller US internet operators.

SlobalisationGlobalization Goes Into Reverse

Even before trade tensions began to reassert themselves, secular winds of change were already blowing.

About 20 years ago, transportation and communication costs were decreasing and long-haul trade across the world’s oceans became prevalent. McKinsey Global Institute research shows that between 2000 and 2012 the share of goods traded between the same region’s countries dropped from 51% to 45%. This trend is now reversing and regional trade is again gaining traction.

Underpinning this are two things. Goods trade is now growing less fast than service trade. And the success of globalization has led to emerging market countries growing rich enough to be consuming more of the very goods that they have been selling.

In hindsight, it’s a natural evolution of globalization, and, according to McKinsey, the consequence is that between 2007 and 2017 the share of output moving across the world’s borders has dropped from 28.1% to 22.5%.

Trade Patterns Change Shape

Trade patterns are also being encouraged to change. McKinsey reports that the old lean manufacturing approach emphasizing low inventory levels -“just-in-time” logistics – is no longer as popular as it once was.

Now just 18% of the world’s goods trade is founded on labor-cost arbitrage. Indeed, McKinsey expects this share to shrink further as companies streamline their supply chains and adopt more automation.

This is very different from the turn of the century when a large number of businesses based decisions about supply-chains on the ability to source low-cost labor, even when it meant shipping supplies, components and finished goods all over the world.

A final aspect that is also making globalization less attractive is technology. Countries are now thinking differently about the link between economic interests and their national security. The US, for example, is now defining its sensitivity in a much broader manner.

So, taking automobiles as an example, the technology on which driverless cars depend is highly likely to have military applications, and the US doesn’t want foreign powers – least of all China – having any knowledge or influence in this field.

Taking Advantage of Slow-balization

Shifting tides create complex dynamics, but investors can still start thinking about the broad implications by seeking answers to a couple of key questions:

  • How sensitive is a business’s product to a particular country’s economic or national security?
  • What is the reliance on global supply chains, and does this make sense anymore?

Those businesses that are most vulnerable to the effects of “slow-balization” are the ones dealing in economic and security sensitive technologies and still depending on a supply chain that is globally diffuse. Think European capital goods, autos, telecoms, IT hardware, and semiconductors.

It’s less easy to assess internet companies. While the biggest consumer internet businesses are facing higher costs of doing business because platform health and data security are playing bigger roles, smaller rivals could find they benefit for similar reasons.

It’s highly likely companies dealing in sensitive areas, but not closely entwined with the rest of the world, will be better placed. China’s internet firms, for example, are vital for that country’s economic security and outlook but their business has been focused almost exclusively on China itself.

Another area that is worth considering from an investment perspective is payments. Payment firms could be net beneficiaries because they are tuned into issues of tax collection and banking functions as well as national security, while digital payments is unstoppable irrespective of global trade. As a result, payment schemes that are domestically developed could get the edge.

Factory image by kerttu from Pixabay

Salon image by bk_numberone from Pixabay

The Solar Surge: Whither the Sun’s Power?

Solar power

Solar powerSolar power is now cheaper than it ever has been. Costs of the technology have been declining for a decade. The building blocks of solar panels, the photovoltaic (PV) modules, are now not only less expensive to produce but they are also more efficient.

In some places around the world generating solar power is now cheaper than producing equivalent amounts of energy with fossil fuels. Solar projects, as they become cheaper, are better able to thrive with fewer subsidies from government. As a consequence, companies are being encouraged to sign long-term agreements with renewable energy developers.

This boost in the share that renewables hold in the energy market is being played out globally, but Europe is at the forefront of progress.

Forecasters are trying to keep up with solar’s surging success. Indeed, the International Energy Agency’s prediction of global solar capacity has had to be increased 15-fold on what it thought would happen back in 2006.

Researchers now estimate that the share of renewables in the European power system will be more than 70% in the next 10 years. And Asia is likely to be hosting over half of the world’s solar installations in the same period.

Future technological advances are bound to enable solar power to generate even more energy. This in turn will cut utility bills and further boost renewables’ share of the global power mix. There are already significant signs of progress all over Europe.

In the first six months of last year France’s solar market increased by 59% driven in the main by large-scale solar installations. Cumulatively the country’s installed PV power generation surpassed a notable 8.5 GW, with newly installed PV capacity achieving 479 MW. France is steadily growing in stature as a generator of solar energy, backed by political will, a well-developed energy industry as well as a robust economy.

Another example is Germany, which has been taking a key lead in the PV power production for many years, and in 2018 achieved the accolade of being the highest ranking country for solar PV per capita. The German government has made renewable energy a high priority, and the aim is to source 80% of electricity from renewable sources by 2050.

Even though historically Italy has relied on foreign imports to supply a significant amount of its energy, as of last year the country has become another major leader in solar power generation and development with solar PV accounting for 7.9% of electricity demand. When the EU set the target of generating 20% of the continent’s energy from renewable sources by 2020, Italy was among 11 nations that were able to reach this objective ahead of the deadline.

Because the UK has so little sun all year around, it’s nowhere near the top of the tables for PV solar power use.  However, government initiatives are encouraging businesses, homes and schools to introduce solar panels. This plus the decrease in cost of PV technology has helped the UK become a leader in solar power production. Solar has definitely been increasing in popularity accounting for 3.4% of Britain’s total electricity generation in 2017, and increase from 3.1% the year before. By next Worldwide there are more people now working in solar than on oil rigs and in gas fields. The number of people employed is solar is also three times the size of the coal mining workforce.

The factors that might have contributed to solar’s notable growth not only relate to enhanced awareness of the need for environmental sustainability but also to numerous other initiatives. These include tax credits implemented by the US federal government for people who develop or invest in solar energy.

The residential and commercial solar ITC implemented in 2006 was extended through to 2023. With its compound annual growth of 76%, the ITC has boosted annual solar installation growth in the US by more than 1,600% in the past 10 years.

There is no doubt that the Climate Change Agreement in Paris, even though it’s been snubbed by President Trump, along with other initiatives to reduce global warming, has contributed to solar’s boom. The Paris agreement not only addresses issues including food security, deforestation, and poverty, but it also gives guidelines for what can be done to lower carbon dioxide emissions.

A major soft factor is solar growth is its rising popularity. An increasing number of people now see having solar panels on their properties as a symbol of status. This has been exacerbated by the advances in technology and particularly battery storage. The kit is no longer made up of huge, lead-plate batteries loaded with sulphuric acid and expensive to manufacture. The most modern batteries now use saltwater as the electrolyte. Nowadays they are made out of lithium iron and any risks of thermal and fire hazards have been eliminated.

The future of solar can increasingly be seen in the world’s emerging markets. Africa is a good example. Expanding the existing African power grid is essential, but it’s only part of the continent’s power solution. There is a new breed of African entrepreneurs and innovators who are harnessing mobile money, coupled with advances in solar power to leapfrog Africa’s gaps in power generation.

Take Kenya-based M-Kopa. It generates solar-powered electricity and offers storage solutions to households without access to the conventional grid. It then finances payments over a 12-month period through mobile money accounts. Since it was founded in 2011, M-Kopa has not only sold over 600,000 household kits but it has garnered multinational investments from outfits like Japan’s Mitsui.

Uganda-based Fenix is yet another example. It has sold 140,000 solar power kits, also with the help of mobile money. Fenix has now been acquired by France-based major global energy company Engenie, which is using digital technologies to give 20 million people around the world, decarbonised, decentralized energy by 2020. UK-based BBOXX is another business that is distributing solar kits through its agents in 10 African countries.

With companies like these using business models that enable even the poorest households to get electricity for the first time means that solar’s recent significant growth looks set to get an even more powerful shot in the arm – especially when it is considered that in Africa alone about 70% of households earn less than $5,000 each year.

Image by schropferoval from Pixabay

Electric vehicles: the prognosis

Electric cars

Electric carsThe global auto business is undergoing profound change on all fronts from the cars being built, through the companies that are building them to the consumers who are buying them.

There is no doubt that things are beginning to look significantly different from how they were just 10 years ago.

However, while expectations for electric vehicles are being scaled back – a process that began back in 2017 – there is one market that is showing signs of roaring ahead: hybrids.

These vehicles that combine a traditional internal combustion engine, along with an electric motor, are in growing demand. Indeed, one recent research report projected the global revenues from hybrid vehicle sales to soar at an exponential compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 20.4% between now and 2026.

With a backdrop that involves increasingly stringent environmental policy worldwide, some analysts are even expecting hybrid or electrified vehicles to be accounting for 35% of global auto sales by 2030.

The fact is that hybrids are bridging the alternative auto power gap while the innovations in battery technology continue to be developed and will eventually make completely electric vehicles much more affordable and convenient.

In the meantime, though, this detour away from electric vehicles (EVs) to hybrids is hardly unexpected. Currently, EVs are considered costly, by no means as easy to use, and much less profitable for the automakers than the more conventional gasoline-powered alternatives they continue to construct.

The engineers accept that the biggest hurdle for EVs is the cost of batteries but innovations have yet to tackle this issue and it is thought that battery deterioration will continue to hold back EV development even after the cost issue is overcome.

As a result, in an era where people are increasingly concerned about climate change and damage to the environment, electrified hybrids are being seen as more practical – and from an investment point of view, more profitable, at least for the next 10 years.

Automotive industry forecasters estimate that it could take that long before the necessary innovations enabling the mass-market construction of lighter, smaller and faster charging solid-state batteries are developed.

It’s noticeable that as a result of these impediments governments around the world have retreated from their previous EV policies in favor of electrified vehicle solutions.

The area where hybrids are expected to be being adopted faster than just about anywhere else is currently in Europe because that continent is ahead on tightening its environmental regulations.  Simultaneously, Japan’s plan is to aim for a gradual shift in the direction of electrification by adopting a balanced range of vehicle types including hybrids, plug-in hybrids and vehicles that are capable of running on fuel cells.

The world’s largest EV market is in China and there the Government’s effort is being channelled into a New Energy Vehicle policy, redirecting subsidies to charging infrastructure. China’s move is aimed at closing a $6 trillion cost barrier that is standing in the way of the widespread adopting of electric cars throughout the world.

TeslaAs an element of its new energy policy, China has rolled back its subsidies and imposed tougher requirements on the performance of electric vehicles. Beijing is switching provincial funding in the direction of charging stations and related infrastructure projects. China is playing a hardball game and local governments have been told in no uncertain terms that if they don’t comply their fiscal subsidies will be cut by the central government.

While complete adoption of electric vehicles globally is forecast to need an investment of almost $6 trillion, setting up the infrastructure is being seen by many as the highest cost barrier to electric cars.

Indeed, chargers are estimated to account for around $2.6 trillion of the investment needed, while the expenditure on grids is budgeted at $2.8 trillion. To implement advancements like these is expected to take a few decades.

Auto manufacturers, in the meantime, are no doubt boosting their development and the production of EVs, but in the US, under the Trump administration, environmental regulations and efficiency standards are being rolled back so the electrification of vehicles has been slowed.

However, there is little doubt that the transition to electric vehicles is going to happen but nobody really knows exactly when and, at present, plug-in, electric cars represent less than 2% of the US market and only 2.2% globally.

Even with exponential growth and a record two million EVs sold throughout the world last year, just one in 250 cars currently on the roads is electric. Only in Norway, where subsidies and perks have been lavished on EVs, has the EV share of new car sales risen to about 30%.

All in all, it is hybrids that are benefitting from the EV setbacks, and where they used to be seen as just a fad on the road to fully electric cars and trucks, they now look set to make a big difference as the manufacturers use them as test beds to develop the technology for future motors and inverters that will prove useful in the EVs that are to come.

Hybrid electrified vehicles now look to be on target to account for 35% of worldwide auto sales within the next 10 to 15 years. They ease the transition from solely gas-powered cars by offering the dual technologies of electric and gas power for drivers. Even though EV ranges are improving rapidly, hybrids have an advantage over them because of the longer driving distances they are able to cover.

First image by Paul Brennan from Pixabay
Second image by Blomst from Pixabay
 

THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO PLANNING A WEDDING

Weddings content

Weddings content

INTRODUCTION

So it’s finally happening. You’re getting married! After you’ve been overcome by all the congratulations, where to start? Wedding planning is a huge task and is not to be taken lightly or it threatens to become daunting, especially when you have no idea where to start and what needs to be prioritised if it’s all going to run smoothly. This is why we’ve prepared this guide. It covers everything you will need to know, from budgeting to those intricate last-minute details. We’ll guide you through dealing with vendors and tackling the fine detail. Our aim is to inspire and inform.

USING THIS GUIDE

This guide is designed to help you prioritise the tasks that need planning and know which ones need to be organised earlier than some others. We recommend looking over the sections of this guide before you hone in on any individual tasks. We’ve included a useful checklist to help you plan the big event from beginning to end – however short or long it’s going to take!

LET’S BEGIN AT THE BEGINNING

To keep the wedding planning simple and stress-free here are the preliminary steps:

  1. Do your research and don’t rely on just one resource; there’s some inspiration to be found everywhere
  2. List those resources you find useful and which mirror your style
  3. Note any items you may need to hire as you go along – don’t leave it to the end!
  4. Set a realistic budget
  5. Ask for help if you think you need it – it’s what family and friends are for!

THE WEDDING PLANNING CHECKLIST

Determine which tasks are urgent and need to be booked in advance – like the venue and the celebrant – and separate out the tasks that can comfortably be left to complete closer to the Big Day.

This sample checklist is based on an engagement lasting 12 months. If yours is shorter or longer, you may find you need to adjust your priorities.

Let the Adventure Begin

10–12 Months to Go
  1. Start planning your wedding!
  2. Calculate your budget and establish the top priorities—where you can save/where you’d like to splurge.
  3. Get creative by browsing the sites and mags to identify the wedding style and colour palette for you.
  4. Compile a preliminary guest list (the numbers are key to other aspects of the planning – not least the venue and the budget!).
  5. Choose the wedding party—who are the key people you want with you at the altar – as well as the other half?
  6. Choose the venue(s) for both your ceremony and reception, and get the date reserved as soon as possible. It’s important to know what to ask when weighing up the pros and cons of a wedding venue.
  7. Consider wedding insurance. Does your chosen venue have liability Insurance and do you need a cancellation policy?
  8. When you have the date, tell everyone to save it! If you are planning a destination wedding or are designing your big day around a holiday, think about sending out save-the-date cards and emails.
  9. Create your own wedding website, and let everyone know about it.
  10. Choose the wedding attire – dress and suit, outfit and tux – and start to build the ideal accessories. If you need inspiration, attend a bridal fair or trunk show.
  11. If you are feeling overwhelmed, consider hiring a Wedding Planner.
  12. Choose your Vendors. The team you are going to need will include the Caterer and a Photographer and/ or Videographer Officiant. Get all the details in writing!
  13. Start dreaming of your honeymoon.
6–9 Months to Go
  1. Continue your research. Carry on with interviewing and booking the vendors
  2. Decide on Floral Design arrangements.
  3. Do tastings of food and drinks, and choose a wedding cake, if necessary with a Cake Designer.
  4. Hire the DJ and/or other Entertainment for the ceremony, cocktail hour and reception.
  5. Organise your wedding invitations and discuss style and wording with a Stationer.
  6. Assemble a gift registry (and make sure this is updated on your wedding website!)
  7. Book your suite for the wedding night
  8. Arrange hotel rooms/accommodation, especially for any out-of-town guests.
  9. Shop for your bridesmaid and flower girl dresses and make sure your attendants have clear instructions on placing their orders.
  10. Book any associated transportation.
  11. Finalise bridal shower, bachelorette details and the guest list with whoever is hosting your party.
3–5 Months to Go
  1. Compile a guest list for your rehearsal dinner.
  2. Book the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner locations.
  3. If entertainment or other specialty details, like a groom’s cake, are included lock in these elements.
  4. Make any necessary childcare arrangements for guests’ kids.
  5. Reserve party rentals and linens.
  6. Order wedding favours for the guests.
  7. Choose and reserve the men’s formalwear.
  8. Finalize the Guestlist and ensure you have everyone’s mailing address.
  9. Confirm the invitation text and consider if any additional stationery may be required. These could include menu cards, place cards, thank-you cards and programs.
  10. Schedule the date to collect your invites.
  11. Finalize the ceremony’s readings and the vows.
  12. Sign off on the menu, beverage and other catering details.
  13. Have a trial for the bride’s Makeup and Hair trial and book the stylists.
  14. Choose and buy wedding rings.
  15. Finalize honeymoon plans and ensure all necessary documents are in hand and up to date.
6–8 Weeks to Go
  1. Mail the invitations!
  2. Plan how you are going to record RSVPs and meal choices.
  3. Contact all vendors to confirm dates, details and deposits.
  4. Research marriage license requirements and set name-change paperwork in motion
  5. Begin dress fittings – and don’t forget to wear appropriate undergarments.
  6. Break-in bridal shoes with some dance practice!
  7. Nudge the wedding party to ensure they’ve ordered all the attire.
  8. Write thank-you cards for any shower gifts and early wedding gifts.
3–5 Weeks to Go
  1. Send rehearsal dinner invitations.
  2. Finalize and confirm the readings and wedding vows with the Officiant.
  3. Sort out the shoot list with your Photographer and Videographer.
  4. Prepare the list of songs and music for the ceremony, the cocktail hour and the reception in discussion with the DJ or musicians.
  5. Order the timeline for the reception including who is giving each of the toasts.
  6. Finalize the accommodation for the wedding night and honeymoon.
  7. Get hold of the marriage license and complete all the appropriate name-change documents.
  8. Pick up the wedding rings!
  9. Gather together something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue?
  10. Buy last-minute items including toasting flutes, guest book, cake servers, and unity candle.
  11. Purchase the gifts you’ll be presenting to the wedding party members, and parents of the couple.
  12. Have a final dress fitting.
  13. Chase any guests who haven’t responded to your invitation.
1–2 Weeks to Go
  1. Give the caterer and the venue the final guest count.
  2. Plan the seating arrangement and create a seating chart and organise the place cards.
  3. Pick up The Dress.
  4. Finalize the wedding timeline and confirm arrival times with vendors and the wedding party.
  5. Put together a Bridal Emergency Kit.
  6. Check the weather report, and if necessary contact the venue to see what contingency plans are in place.
  7. Start the honeymoon packing.
  8. Last-minute facials and massages should take place now.
The Day Before
  1. Check all wedding-day items are packed or laid out and ready!
  2. Don’t forget rings and marriage license!
  3. Sort tips and final payments for your vendors and give them to the Best Man.
  4. Assign whoever to pack your gifts and belongings after the reception.
  5. Arrange the return of the groom’s outfit and any other rental items after the wedding.
  6. Have a manicure and pedicure.
  7. Attend the rehearsal and dinner.
  8. Give out any gifts to the wedding party.
  9. Go to bed early.
 On The Big Day
  1. Give yourself lots of time to get ready.
  2. Greet everyone, thanking them for coming.
  3. Take a moment to appreciate your new spouse and enjoy the day you spent so long planning!
After the Honeymoon
  1. Prepare to get back to reality.
  2. Send thank-you cards.
  3. Complete the registry process
  4. Exchange any unwanted gifts.
  5. Have the wedding dress cleaned and preserved.
  6. Contact the Photographer and Videographer about albums and DVDs.
  7. Embark on wedded bliss.

SETTING THE BUDGET

Weddings can turn out to be very expensive.

So, before jumping headlong into the planning for your Big Day – committing to venues and vendors for example – it’s advisable to decide the size of your budget. What can you afford? And who will pay for what?

THE AVERAGE AUSTRALIAN WEDDING COSTS $36,000

In the past, the tradition has been for the bride’s parents to foot the bill for most of a wedding’s costs. But today, more and more couples are choosing to pay themselves or to share the cost with both sets of parents – those of the bride and the groom.

There are also some effective and simple things you can do to help trim costs from the wedding without needing to overly compromise on the style of the day about which you’ve no doubt been dreaming.

DON’T TIE THE KNOT ON A SATURDAY

When it comes to weddings, Saturdays are the most expensive days because they are the most sought after, Expect costs to rise for every aspect from venues, through wedding planners, to photographers, transport and even makeup and hair appointments.

It’s so much cheaper to have your wedding during the week. Even opting for a Sunday can seriously slim down the costs. With enough notice guests are invariably happy to take time off to be at your Big Day.

BORROW WHAT YOU CAN

Before you consider buying anything new for your wedding, consider all those weddings you’ve attended and who may have items you could reuse. There could be a family ring to pass down, a veil, suitcases, or a great vintage car someone owns that could be your wedding transport.

ASK FOR FAVOURS

Before you book a vendor, think about how your friends and family may be able to lend a hand. Friends can help make decorations or assist by designing the invitations.

Big-ticket items like entertainment or photography could be delivered at a discount if you use your friends and contacts.

GET RECOMMENDATIONS

Before you book any vendors, ask friends and family who they could recommend. Many vendors have partnerships or work closely with others they can recommend too.

Booking both a venue and using their preferred vendors as a package price can often save money.

DO THE RESEARCH

Get a range of quotes for the same thing to get an idea of who is offering the best deals and prices.

SHOP AT THE SALES!

The earlier you decide the items you want, the better chance you will have of buying them on the sales. Waiting to buy items on sale not only saves you money, but it will give you time to make decisions and choose gifts and accessories.

DO IT YOURSELF

There are so many things that can be done yourself for your wedding. Look around for the websites that enable you to create your own invitations. And hunt out the blogs that detail DIY activities to help you make your decorations and wedding favours.

BEFORE ALLOCATING ANY BUDGET TO BIG TICKET ITEMS, REMEMBER THERE ARE SOME OFTEN FORGOTTEN WEDDING COSTS TO BEAR IN MIND.
These include:
·         The marriage license
·         Beauty treatments including hair and makeup, manicures, pedicures, tanning.
·         Hen party – bridesmaids should cover the bride’s cost but if a weekend getaway is planned you may need to stump up for your own airfare and accommodation.
·         Place cards, menus, and programs etc.
·         Postage costs.
·         Hotel room for the night prior to the wedding
·         Big Day food to stop you and the bridesmaids going hungry.
·         Lingerie.
·         Party dresses – for the hen night, rehearsal dinner and day-after brunch.
·         Welcome packs for any out-of-town guests.
·         Wedding favours and presents for parents and helpers.
·         Meals for all including the wedding couple and possibly key vendors.
Remember a buffer of cash for unexpected items like last-minute decorations and when the wedding runs on overtime and you need to cover the extra cost of vendors.

THE ENGAGEMENT PARTY

When the excitement of the engagement eases and all your family and friends have been notified, it’s time to plan a party. It’s not necessary but having a party is a fun way to celebrate as well as an opportunity for introducing families and friends to each other before the Big Day.

THE ANNOUNCEMENT

It’s common courtesy to contact your close family and best friends before blasting the announcement to all and sundry on social media.

To surprise your close family and best friends, you could share the news with them by throwing a small, spontaneous party

GUEST LISTS

It’s an important rule to only invite people to any engagement bash if they’ll be invited to the big event as well.

This is an ideal opportunity to consider how large you want the eventual wedding to be, and use the engagement party as a testbed.

THE HOST

It is a tradition for the bride’s parents to host the engagement party, but these lines are much more blurred today. It’s a good idea to discuss how you want to celebrate if at all with close family and good friends.

If the bride and groom come from far apart it may be beneficial to have two parties.

THE STYLE

As engagement parties kick start the eventual wedding celebrations, it’s sensible for the tone to be set at this stage for both the style and the theme.

If the plan is to have a low-key wedding, for example, throwing a sparkling and glamorous cocktail party for the engagement may be a tad confusing.

THE GIFTS

It is not typically for couples to specify gifts to receive to mark their engagement.

TO PLAN YOUR ENGAGEMENT PARTY:
·         Select the host and venue
·         Decide the date
·         Build a guest list
·         Send invitations
·         Plan decorations
·         Chose the menu and drinks
·         Prepare activities to break the ice for friends and families
·         Choose the outfits

DATE AND VENUE FOR THE BIG DAY

What sort of wedding do you fancy? A destination event? One that’s closer to home? Will it be in a church? Would you prefer an informal gathering in your own backyard?

Wherever you opt to have your wedding, you need to secure the venue and the time of year as early as possible.

When it comes to the time of year when will you choose: a summer evening wedding or a cosy winter’s day?

What you need to consider are the dress, the food, the flowers, the photos and the time of day. These will all change depending on the season you select.

CHOOSING AND SECURING A VENUE

GUEST NUMBERS
The venue you select depends on the size of the wedding you are planning. If it’s an intimate gathering numbering around 50 guests, it would not be wise to look for places able to cater for
300.

The guest list does not have to be set in stone. But it should give you an idea of the
guest numbers you’d like.

If you’re struggling to determine numbers, choosing a smaller venue would be a good way of limiting your options for a guest list.

TIME OF DAY
It’s common for the venue to ask you to book a specific time. Before setting this in stone take into consideration the season and the actual timing of the day. It is bound to affect your photos and your guests’ travel arrangements.

The best time for photos tends to be an hour or two before sunset. It’s not surprising that it’s called The Golden Hour.

Morning ceremonies are a good idea as you can add brunch or a lunchtime reception, which can both save money and give more time for your Big Day!

OTHER VENDORS
When booking the venue ask about vendors. Many venues have preferred vendors that have to be engaged.

CATERING OPTIONS
Many venues offer in-house catering services. Make sure these can cater for your preferred options and any dietary requirements.

It could well be possible to bring in an external catering company.

WEDDING PLANNER
IS A WEDDING PLANNER NECESSARY?
Many don’t bother with a wedding planner and don’t want the extra cost. However, wedding planners can save time, stress, and sometimes money.

Those couples that have a clear vision of what they want, could be organised enough to make their dreams come true. But there are others who may know what they want, but
have no idea about making it happen. A wedding planner can help.

THE DOP (DAY-OF-PLANNER)
Even the most organised couples really don’t want to be running around finishing last minute touches either the night before, or, God forbid, even on the day of the wedding.

This is why the majority of wedding planners offer a DOP service, which takes over the
controls from the bride and her family in the week before the wedding.

The Day-Of-Planner takes care of:
•             Confirming all the bookings and vendor payments
•             Organising or helping organise the venue being set up the night before, including confirming matters like catering numbers and place settings
•             Confirming  times and locations for delivers including the cake and the flowers along with just about everything else
•             Ensuring all vendors are where they should be at the correct time
•             Helping organise guests for the ceremony, the photos, and the reception
•             Dealing with any disasters and hiccups.

BRIDAL PARTY
Who do you want at the alter? Perhaps you don’t want any bridesmaids or groomsmen; or can you think of nothing more fulfilling than a long line of close friends?

HOW TO ASK THE BRIDESMAIDS:
•             Host a ‘bridesmaids’ high tea’
•             Slip a handwritten note into their handbags explaining your desire to have their company on the Big Day
•             Give your chosen maids rings or bracelets for wearing on the Big Day
HOW TO ASK THE GROOMSMEN:
•             Send them customised alcohol bottles or beer glasses or just a personal message
•             Plan an event to ask your best man the question
•             Give them a bowtie and or colourful socks to wear on the Big Day.

Choose friends who are organised and will take the initiative to release pressure on you.

GUESTLIST
The hardest part of planning a wedding for a lot of couples is the guest list.

Some may have a shortlist of closest friends, but your parents, the new in-laws and even extended family members are bound to have more to add to your list.

The simplest way to get a handle on your guest list is by prioritising.
People you only know through friends can be written off. If in doubt, leave people out. If there are any that would be awkward not to invite, it’s probably wise to include them.

  • How many does the venue accommodate? This will likely dictate numbers
  • What are the seating arrangements?
  • Do you want your friends’ children?
  • Spouses-to-be have absolute power of veto over exes
  • Whoever is paying for the wedding should have at least have some say on invites

SAVE THE DATES & INVITATIONS

When the time comes to save the date there are many different ways this can be done.

When designing and posting invites consider:

  • The theme of your Big Day so your invites become a sneak preview into what guests can look forward to
  • Saving time and money by sending out your save-the-date cards with the engagement party invites by email and together

You can save cost on postage, paper, time  and be environmentally friendly by emailing your invites to your friends and family

GETTING IDEAL STATIONERY

There are numerous routes to sourcing the perfect stationery. You can seek out talented designers who can create the themed and custom stationery sets you require within your budget.

You could ask friends you believe have the ability to create what you want and of course, you could do it all yourself

There are many websites that enable you to select a design and input the appropriate details.  Some of these also offer printing services, and others make it possible to save a PDF and have your nearest printing store put the invites on craft card.

THE CELEBRANT

There are a few people more important than the person chosen to officiate the ceremony, so researching and choosing someone with shared ideas and an understanding of who the couple is and how they want the Big Day to go is important. It could be a civil celebrant or a priest.

When making a selection some questions that are worth asking include

  • What does marriage mean to them?
  • What qualifications do they have?
  • How do they plan to run the ceremony?
  • Does their personality, confidence and attitude match up with what you are wanting?

THE PHOTOGRAPHER & VIDEOGRAPHER

The key is to select a photographer and videographer who understands and can deliver your vision for the Big Day.

The photographer will be with you for the whole day, so the importance of feeling comfortable with them can’t be overstated.

Remember the pictures taken will be your memories for many years to come.

To find the right photographic and video graphic support look at the bridal blogs and magazines and ask friends for recommendations.

CHOOSE THE PHOTOGRAPHER WHOSE PHOTOS YOU LOVE!

When you choose your vendors, discuss what images you want to remember your Big Day

Are there any special locations you’d like captured in the photos?

What sort of coverage will you want on the day? Getting ready shots? The farewells? Or do you want just the ceremony and some newlywed photos?

Photographers are professionals,  so ask them for some ideas!

QUESTIONS FOR PHOTOGRAPHERS

  • What style do you shoot?
  • Do you set up photos or capture them as they naturally unfold?
  • Could you do an engagement shoot or a shoot of the couple before the Big Day?
  • Do you charge a flat rate or have different packages?
  • Can you show your portfolio?

ENTERTAINMENT, MUSIC & PLAYLIST

You can set the mood you want for your wedding with your choice of entertainment. You can make it relaxed with soft acoustic music in the background, or you can ramp it up to a big, happy occasion with a live rock band. If you want a bit of both, the world is your oyster.

WHEN CHOOSING THE STYLE OF MUSIC CONSIDER:

  • The venue
  • The size of the wedding
  • The mood
  • How you want it to vary from ceremony to reception
  • Budget

Many couples choose live music and opt for string quartets or acoustic duets for the ceremony, and then a funky DJ or an eclectic playlist for the reception.

Alternatively, you could choose to have particular songs played with a recording at your ceremony and then have a full live band at the reception.

CHOOSING THE ACTUAL SONGS

CEREMONY SONGS:

A WEDDING CEREMONY USUALLY HAS FIVE MAIN PIECES OF MUSIC:

  1. The Prelude, which is played as your guests take their seats before the ceremony
  2. The Procession, which is played when the bride and her bridesmaids come in. You can select one piece of music for the bridesmaids with a pause before another piece for the bride’s entrance
  3. The Ceremony, where there may be a string quartet, a choir or a soloist to play at selected points of the nuptials
  4. The Recession, which is joyful music played at the end of the ceremony
  5. The Postlude, which is invariably upbeat music that plays as the guests all leave the ceremony after the newlyweds.

SOME THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN CHOOSING MUSIC FOR THE CEREMONY:

  • The style of ceremony you want – religious, outdoors, formal
  • The setting of your ceremony
  • How many songs you need to cover the ceremony – this will include the number of guests to be seated, how long the ceremony will last, any special cultural inclusions
  • Will you have a main instrument for your ceremony music?
  • Run through your music run a few weeks or a month before the ceremony to give yourselves  time to add or remove any songs as needed

FINALLY, WHEN SELECTING SONGS TO PLAY THROUGHOUT THE DAY AND THE RECEPTION, HERE ARE A FEW THINGS TO CONSIDER:

  • Talk to one another about what makes a song meaningful to you – is it the lyrics, or association with a memory that makes a song important to you?
  • Give yourselves plenty of time to choose music – about 6 months is a good place to start, giving you time to revisit the playlist before your Big Day
  • Begin with your existing music collection – a perfect song is a very personal decision
  • Break up the playlist into the different sections of the day to make it a little less daunting – ceremony, cocktail hour, dinner, dancing   If you’re feeling totally trumped for where to start, this helpful article on Beaucoup gives some good  examples of songs for traditional, most popular and modern song choices

CATERING AND ALCOHOL

The food and drink you serve at your weddings will be determined in the main by the venue you choose, the wedding’s style and any particular cultural traditions associated with the families of the bride and groom.

It’s likely when choosing your wedding venue the menus on offer will sway your choice.

When you select a venue offering catering, not only study their menu options but arrange to have a tasting of each menu that appeals. If instead, you opt for an external catering company, consider what is important to you in a vendor:

  • Quality of food
  • Origin of produce
  • Range of menu selections
  • Dietary considerations
  • Choosing a local business or bringing them in from interstate
  • Your budget
  • Recommendations from friends or family
  • What will happen to any leftover food?

HOT TIP!   Before doing a generic Google search for wedding catering, think about the food you want – do you want Mexican street food, a BBQ, a cold buffet, or a gourmet vegan feast?

WHAT ABOUT ALCOHOL?

One of the biggest expenses at a wedding can be alcohol

Many venues include an alcohol  package with their catering, offering a choice of wine, beer and even spirits

When engaging an  external catering company, you can often have the alcohol included or opt to supply your own

It really  is a matter of taste and style

If your reception is at a winery, you’re most likely limited to their wines,  but you get the venue, catering and servers all included

If your wedding is at a private venue, you can  choose to purchase as much or as little of each tipple you like, however, you may need to organise  cool boxes, ice and a drinks area yourselves

HANDY HINTS FOR SAVING MONEY ON YOUR WEDDING MEAL:

  • Don’t have servers – let your guests serve themselves
  • Opt for simple over fancy when it comes to starters and appetisers
  • Supply your own alcohol to avoid overhead prices a venue charges
  • Serve only wine and beer – skip the spirits
  • Serve non-alcoholic beverages
  • Serve one signature cocktail – gin and tonic, whisky and lime, or your favourite drink to have with your better half
  • Have a family-style meal where dishes are brought to the table and passed around to share •   Or don’t have a sit-down dinner at all – instead have tapas-style appetisers throughout the  evening
  • Serve smaller slices – instead of an extravagant 5 tiered cake, have a smaller cake, cupcakes as a cake, or a sweets bar for dessert – your guests will be none the wiser
  • Have a daytime wedding – brunch and lunchtime meals are often significantly cheaper than evening meals   For some more tips to save money on your wedding meal, take a look at this Money Crashers guide

THE DRESS

For the majority, if not all, brides, The Dress is a fundamental aspect of the Big Day.

HOT TIP!    Buy the dress size that fits now, not the size you want to be on your  Big Day

Whatever type of wedding you are going to have and whatever style of bride you are, and whether you are planning to wear an extravagant gown or your mum’s recycled wedding dress, there are some things you need to consider:

  • Dresses are much easier, and cheaper to take in than to let out!
  • Book an early appointment: Try to get the first appointment of the day and only visit two boutiques in a day. The sales assistants will be fresh and focused and you won’t be overwhelmed from seeing too many dresses.
  • Keep in mind that a wedding dress can take between six and eight months to make and up to two months to alter.

DOCUMENT YOUR FAVOURITE DRESSES

If you can, take a photo of a dress when you try it on. Mirrors are designed to sell dresses, photos don’t lie

Unfortunately, most bridal boutiques don’t allow you to take photos of dresses you try on –  only the one you purchase

If this is the case take a notebook and get your bridesmaid or mum to  write notes describing each so you can remember them later

Don’t go with a trend

Your wedding dress will be present in your wedding photos for a lifetime, so think about whether you’d be happy to wear the same dress in 10 years time.

GIVE THE DRESS A CHANCE

Dresses look different on hangers to on a body – so even if you don’t think it looks fantastic on the  hanger, try on a few different dresses

You never know the one that looked unimpressive on the rack  might transform into the one when you slip it on

Wedding dress sizes aren’t always the same as high street clothing  sizes

Some designers sizes are tiny, others large. Don’t focus on the size of the dress, focus on the fit.

Again, don’t buy a smaller size  because you plan to lose weight, buy the one that fits now

   DON’T TAKE TOO MANY PEOPLE

Don’t bring too many people along when you go dress shopping – it can make it more stressful than it  needs to be

Choose a couple of friends, mum or your sister whose judgement you can trust and who  know your taste well

WEAR YOUR BEST LINGERIE   Before you go dress shopping, head to a department store or lingerie store and have a proper bra  fitting

When trying on dresses, you’ll spend a fair amount of time in your underwear.

So wearing a  nice underwear set will make you feel beautiful, putting you in the right mindset to try on dresses

FOCUS ON FINDING THE BEST SILHOUETTE FOR YOUR BODY

As you probably already know, there are certain dress shapes that do and don’t suit your body type.

Finding a dress that fits your body shape will not only make you look a million dollars, chances are it’ll  be more comfortable so you’ll also feel like a princess

DON’T JUST STAND THERE, MOVE AROUND

You want your dress to look spectacular, but even more importantly, you want to be able to move in it. Your wedding dress needs to be comfortable enough for you to take part in any activities you have planned on the Big Day.

If you can’t eat or dance, let alone sit in it, is it really your dream gown?

When considering the budget for your dress, don’t forget to include any accessories (veil, headpiece etc.),  alterations, steaming and even shoes to be included in this total.

ACCESSORIZE

If you have a special necklace or earrings that you know you want to wear, be sure to take these along to your dress fittings – to make sure they match the dress you choose.

GET A GUARANTEE

Prior to paying your deposit, ensure all of the details are correct and in writing. Double-check the designer, manufacturer, style number, colour and size.

Also, double-check the estimated time the dress will take to make, and an approximate cost for any alterations.

HOW MANY FITTINGS DO YOU NEED?

Once your dress has been made you’ll need a couple of fittings to ensure it fits like a glove.  The first fitting is usually about two months before your Big Day.

Make sure you wear your undergarments and perhaps do your hair similar to how you will have it on the day.

This fitting exists to  make sure you can move freely (lift your arms, sit down) and to plan any alterations if necessary

The final fitting, usually a week or two out, is when you should take one of your bridesmaids, your mother,  or someone who will be helping you into your dress on the Big Day, so they can learn how to tie it up.

Many brides find the idea of spending money on a dress you’ll wear once a little daunting

There are many websites dedicated to wedding gown hire and second-hand dresses.

RINGS

Just as your photos will be the lasting memories of your day, your engagement and wedding ring will  be with you for the rest of your life

Some couples choose matching wedding bands, while others like  to make each other’s ring themselves for a more personal touch

But the world of engagement and  wedding rings can be a complicated place

THE ENGAGEMENT RING

It’s important to understand what the jeweller is talking about when he runs you through a princess or cushion cut ring, whoever is choosing the ring – your beau or you as a couple.

WEDDING RING MATCHES

How your wedding and engagement ring fit together is important, seeing you’ll be wearing them  together

This will also depend on the size and shape of your engagement ring

Some engagement and wedding rings can be bought as a set and as a result fit together perfectly.

Others, you will need to try a  couple of different style wedding bands to find the one that fits with your engagement ring best

THINGS TO THINK ABOUT WHEN DECIDING ON THE RIGHT WEDDING RINGS FOR YOU:

  • Add a personal touch by making your own or each other’s rings
  • What material do you wear most? Silver, white gold, rose gold or yellow gold – select the one  that matches most of your existing jewellery
  • Ensure to choose a ring that matches your lifestyle – if you’re not comfortable walking around with a $16k ring on your finger then don’t choose that one
  • Can you wear your wedding ring at work? Would different styles be more suitable?
  • Will you wear your rings all day, every day?

WEDDING REGISTER

You don’t have to have a wedding register. It used to be used to kit out a couple’s new home but these days couples might have been living together a while and have all they need.

Alternatives include having a wishing well, asking guests for money rather than gifts. If this would be your choice then:

  • Tell the guests how you would use the cash to give them an incentive
  • Explain it by telling the guests on a card what are your wishes.

YOU SHOULD CONSIDER HAVING A REGISTER IF:

  • It makes it easier on the guests because they know exactly what you require
  • It makes it easier on you because you get what you need

HOT TIP!        If you don’t need or want anything, you can register with a charity and ask your guests to donate on your behalf

FLORIST

When choosing the perfect bridal bouquet there are many things considerations – the dress, the venue, the decorations, the groom’s outfit.

Luckily, florists are professionals who do this every day and usually have an excellent eye for selecting  a bunch that perfectly suits you

THINGS TO REMEMBER WHEN CHOOSING YOUR FLOWERS:

THE DRESS   Make sure you’ve picked your dress before your bouquet

Take a picture of your dress to show the  florist so they can design a bouquet that fits in

The bouquet shouldn’t clash with the dress shape,  frame or colour

The most important thing is that your bouquet works with your dress

IN SEASON

Always choose flowers that are in season

This ensures you’ll have fresh, vibrant flowers, and you’ll  likely save money as there is an abundance available

SHAPE AND SIZE OF THE BOUQUET

It’s important to consider that the size and shape of your bouquet suits your body shape and size

As  a rule of thumb, make sure your bouquet is at least an inch narrower than your hips

If it’s too small it  will make your hips look bigger, but if too large, it will drown you out

Also, consider the height of your  husband – if he’s shorter or the same height as you, ensure your bouquet doesn’t elongate you in  any way

COMFORTABLE

When choosing the size and shape of your bouquet, make sure you’ll be comfortable – you will be  carrying it around all day after all

Make sure it’s fairly easy to hold and isn’t too heavy

Talk to your florist about using flowers to decorate your venues, accents for the groomsmen and any other special guests like the mothers of the bride and groom

Often if you choose a package deal your florist can give you a better price.

CEREMONY & RECEPTION DECORATIONS

When the venue’s been booked, and your dress and bouquet design have been chosen, it’s time to think about the decorations.

Whether you choose to do the decorations yourself or engage a vendor, developing a vision for your setting is key.

If your ceremony and reception are to be at different locations or all in the same place, it will influence your decorating style.   Opting for one location over two, not only eliminates travel time and a lot of expense but also it may need you to consider using decorations that separate the ceremony and reception areas.

Consider colours, lighting and strategic pieces of furniture to set the two scenes apart.

Selecting the venue will, of course, have a big influence over your style of decorating.

If the venue is established, with its own distinct charm, you may not need to do that much to bring it alive for your Big Day.

However, if your wedding is going to be an outdoor on, for example in a marquee, you will have great scope to bring your wedding vision to life.

To have the best of both worlds think about opting for a marquee.

To make the most of being outdoors while remaining protected from the elements you can select a full or partial clear ceiling and walls.

Remember you are able to bring space to life with decorations like ceiling drapes, fairy lights and even coloured accents.

MOVING AROUND

The seating plan is an important consideration. You need to think about who knows whom, and who may get along together.

Also, make sure you will have the room to move around and greet everyone at your wedding. As the newly married couple, people will expect you to at least say hello to them.

Bear in mind elderly guests and young children

Elderly guests are best seated close to the door so it’s easy for them to get in and out. Try to position children where there’s extra space for them to play if necessary. Consider adding a small activities box to keep young people happy.

TRANSPORT

BRIDAL PARTY/GUESTS

Where you decide to have your ceremony and reception determines the transport arrangements that will be required.

If the wedding ceremony and reception areas are in the centre of the city, you only need to think about the bridal party’s cars. A country wedding will need more planning.

It’s not always the responsibility of the bride and groom to organise transport for everyone but with a country wedding, a number of couples organise a bus from some central rendezvous place and time to bring guests to the wedding location and take them back again later.

Check with local bus hire companies and ask around for recommendations.

Having the ceremony and reception in the one location saves on transport costs, makes logistics easier and reduces the time required to travel between the two events.

CONSIDERATIONS INCLUDE:

  • How far is the wedding from the nearest town?
  • Do the majority of guests live locally, or will they be travelling to the wedding?
  • The distance between the ceremony and the reception?
  • How will the bridal party get around?

TIMELINE

The time the wedding should start depends on different factors: time of year, budget, and the style of the celebration.

But there are a few things you might not have considered including:

SPEAKING TO VENDORS

To determine how much time each associated activity is likely to take have a chat with your vendors, like the hair and makeup artists, the photographer, your celebrant and wedding planner. As professionals who have done weddings many times before they will have a good idea of how long things take.

BUILDING IN TIME BUFFERS

If driving from where the photos are being taken to the reception takes time, build in this to the daytime plan. You don’t want to be late at your reception!

THE PHOTOGRAPHER

As these photos will be your memories for many years to come, think about how you want them to look. Talk to the photographer about the style you’re after and the best time to capture them.

Remember to send the day’s timeline to the vendors, so everyone is able to plan.

WEDDING REHEARSAL & REHEARSAL DINNER?

The rehearsal dinner’s purpose is to provide an opportunity to run through the wedding before it happens. It’s also a chance for everyone in the bridal party to meet each other if they don’t already.

The bride and groom can also to thank the people who have helped them plan the wedding.

Traditionally, this dinner is a formal, sit-down dinner and is typically paid for by the groom’s parents.

Today, however, a lot of couples split the cost with the parents or pay it entirely themselves.

THE ALTERNATIVES?

If you choose to have a rehearsal the day before the Big Day, it can be a quick 10-minute affair before the bride, her bridesmaids and the groomsmen go off to enjoy time together.

If you opt not to have any rehearsal, you don’t need to do anything at all. An alternative is to have a casual dinner or some kind of party the evening before the wedding with close family and friends to make the most of the wedding celebrations and to be able to spend time with your guests who might have travelled a long way.

It enables you to spend some quality time with the people you want to thank for helping you bring your wedding plan to life.

Whether or not you have a rehearsal, the couple should do a quick run-through of the ceremony a couple of weeks before the big day! It will give you the chance to ensure the music fits, and throw up any questions you may have for the celebrant.

CAKE

Do you have a cake or do you not have a cake? The tradition of cutting the wedding cake has been a staple of weddings for many centuries. It began in Roman times when a groom would break the cake over his bride’s head to bring good luck.

These days, the couple tends to cut through to the bottom of the cake as a symbol of the ongoing nature of their relationship

Despite all this the history and tradition, some couples opt not to have a cake at all. Modern alternatives have included desserts or the drinking of a signature dessert cocktail.

When you start looking for a cake bear in mind that if a bakery’s photos are out of date, their cakes probably are too.

Ask friends and family for any cake bakery recommendations. You may find some excellent bakers locally.

When choosing the taste, bear in mind that simple flavours like chocolate and vanilla can taste very different from one baker to the next. Always do a taste test!

Then when you meet your cake designer, take along photos of your dress and any theme ideas you already have so they can come up with a design that suits.

When it comes to, topping off this confection, there are many modern trends to compete with the age-old marzipan couple on top of the cake.

Some people choose cupcakes over a traditional tiered cake, a sweets bar and many other interesting cake toppers.

OTHER OUTFITS – GROOM, BRIDESMAIDS, SHOES ETC

     The most important person on the Big Day, aside from the bride, is, of course, the groom.

You spend months looking for the perfect dress, so why not spend as much time focused on what the groom is going to wear? If the wedding is to have a vintage theme, make sure he is dressed in a smart, well-cut suit with a bowtie that matches.

If you’re having a beach wedding theme and the bride is wearing sandals, don’t make the groom wear black lace-ups!

TIPS FOR STYLING THE GROOM:

  • Match the style of the wedding theme
  • Buying is better than renting because a badly fitting suit is not a good look. Have the groom properly measured whatever he’s wearing
  • Have the suit tailored to fit. It should last a lifetime
  • Stay true to his style
  • Add stylish cuff links

The next most important people are the bridesmaids and the groomsmen.

When searching for inspiration and styling your groom, make sure you consider how his groomsmen will look. Dress them the same as the groom, or add a slight variation with different ties, shirts or vests.  And consider the groomsmen’s outfits when you turn to search for the ideal bridesmaids’ dresses. They are going to be at the same event!

TIPS FOR FINDING THE IDEAL BRIDESMAIDS’ DRESSES:

  • Decide the look you’re going for before you go shopping, or it can become overwhelming
  • Begin shopping early to make the most of sales
  • Share the budget with the bridesmaids so they are on the same page
  • Start the search with your maid of honour and mother only before bringing the whole party along to try any chosen dresses
  • Take skin tones of the bridesmaids into consideration when selecting colours
  • Be flexible by allowing the bridesmaids to have an input into the styles that suit them, but it’s your day, so you always have the final say
  • Remember your undergarments! Wearing a white dress, especially strapless or open-backed, means you can’t just pull on any old underwear. Make sure to have a proper bra fitting at a department store and purchase comfortable underwear.

HAIR & MAKEUP

Wedding makeup should be in keeping with how you normally look, only better

Some brides believe they should wear a huge amount of makeup on their Big Day, even if they wear minimal makeup usually

The danger is you may end up looking too different, rather than just an enhanced version

Whoever does your makeup remember to stay true to your personal style

Consider:

  • If a lot of makeup day-to-day is not your style, don’t change just for your Big Day
  • Bridal makeup needs to use enough colour to compensate for the whiteness of the Dress
  • Your makeup should fit in with your flowers – especially if you’ve chosen a bright  bouquet with big colours
  • Having a practice run to make sure whoever is doing the makeup knows how to get the look you’re after
  • Focussing on either your eyes or your mouth – not both
  • Being wary of fake tan – you don’t want to look orange rather than golden brown

MARRIAGE LICENSE

In all of the excitement of a wedding, be sure not to forget the legal side of the ceremony.

If  you’re getting married in Australia, the priest or celebrant can help arrange the paperwork for you to  sign on the day of your ceremony

If you’re getting married abroad, be sure to know what exactly you  need to do in order to make the ceremony official and recognised in Australia

In Australia, a marriage falls under state and territory legislation, so you will need to look at each state’s  individual rules and requirements

If tying the knot overseas, be sure to take a look at the Australian government information on what is  required, as marrying in different countries may require different paperwork and authorisation

VOWS

The Wedding vows you say are what make the marriage official

The ones you say to each other when you tie the knot could be chosen from a traditional verse,  a religious script, or they may be words you have written yourselves.

The type of ceremony you choose to have (religious or not) will play a big part in the vows you say

Be sure to talk to your celebrant about the vows and your options for making them unique to you (see section 9 for more on the celebrant)

IF YOU DO WANT TO WRITE YOUR OWN VOWS, HERE IS SOME FOOD FOR THOUGHT TO GET YOU STARTED:

  • Decide together if it’s really what you want to do or not
  • Discuss it with your celebrant – they may have some resources to help you find the right words  for you
  • Set a date to have them written by – you don’t need the stress of writing them the night before the wedding!  •                Stick to a structure – whether you’re going to show each other your vows before the wedding  or not, it’s best to keep them in a similar format
  • Do your research – look at traditional religious vows from different faiths, and read poems and  books to find something that suits you
  • Remember that your vows don’t need to be complicated, they just need to show what you  mean to each other

SPEECHES & READINGS

Do you have a favourite poem you’d like to be read at your wedding? Or perhaps a friend you’d love to have spoken? Wedding speeches aren’t just about the father of the bride and the best man’s speech

In  both religious and civil ceremonies today, couples are increasingly including meaningful readings and  speeches from their loved ones

WHAT YOU NEED TO THINK ABOUT

  • Will you have an MC? If so, who?
  • Who you might like to do a reading or make a speech, and why
  • Any important, meaningful readings you’d like included
  • Perhaps you’d like your siblings or good friends to give some advice on marriage
  • Do you want specifically religious or non-religious readings?     In the search for wedding readings, it is easy to get lost in the similarity of the most popular chosen  readings

If traditional isn’t necessarily your style, try starting your search with this Buzzfeed article of  unique wedding readings from books

GIFTS

When planning a wedding, there seem to be an endless list of things to organise, do and purchase

One of the final, but not unimportant things to think about are gifts.

There are a few people that you  should send a thank you gift to, as well as those wedding favours

GIFT IDEAS THE BRIDE AND GROOM USUALLY GIVE AT THEIR WEDDING:

  • A gift from the groom to his bride on the morning of the wedding. This is usually accompanied  by a note, champagne, flowers or a simple piece of jewellery
  • A gift to the groom from his bride to be – this could be anything from unique cufflinks to a box  with 10 notes of why you love him inside
  • Gifts to the bridesmaids and groomsmen to say thankyou
  • Small gifts to show appreciation of anyone who has helped make the wedding happen
  • Wedding favours

LAST MINUTE

By now you’re probably well aware that planning a wedding can be stressful

The last thing you want  to be doing is organising payments to vendors and chasing up confirmations or details

HERE IS A GUIDE FOR WHAT TO CONFIRM OR FOLLOW UP IN THE WEEKS LEADING UP TO THE WEDDING

  • Send the timeline of the day to all of your vendors who need it (wedding planner, hair and  makeup, photographers, celebrant, venue etc)
  • Make and confirm final payments to vendors
  • Confirm bookings for the venue, catering, cake, flowers, celebrant, transport etc
  • Final dress fitting and collection
  • Collect the rings
  • Hair and makeup trial
  • Finish all DIY projects
  • Confirm who is in charge of organising what – DIY decorations, set up, collecting the cake etc
  • Ask your bridesmaids or your mum to organise food and refreshments for before the ceremony
  • Book and confirm all beauty appointments such as manicure, pedicure, hair cut, waxing, tanning etc

RESOURCES

The style of wedding you want and the things that are important to you and your partner will be  different from the next couple

Luckily, there are a host of unique and focused resources available at  your disposal

Image by Olessya from Pixabay