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:
- Do your research and don’t rely on just one resource; there’s some inspiration to be found everywhere
- List those resources you find useful and which mirror your style
- Note any items you may need to hire as you go along – don’t leave it to the end!
- Set a realistic budget
- 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
- Start planning your wedding!
- Calculate your budget and establish the top priorities—where you can save/where you’d like to splurge.
- Get creative by browsing the sites and mags to identify the wedding style and colour palette for you.
- Compile a preliminary guest list (the numbers are key to other aspects of the planning – not least the venue and the budget!).
- Choose the wedding party—who are the key people you want with you at the altar – as well as the other half?
- 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.
- Consider wedding insurance. Does your chosen venue have liability Insurance and do you need a cancellation policy?
- 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.
- Create your own wedding website, and let everyone know about it.
- 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.
- If you are feeling overwhelmed, consider hiring a Wedding Planner.
- 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!
- Start dreaming of your honeymoon.
6–9 Months to Go
- Continue your research. Carry on with interviewing and booking the vendors
- Decide on Floral Design arrangements.
- Do tastings of food and drinks, and choose a wedding cake, if necessary with a Cake Designer.
- Hire the DJ and/or other Entertainment for the ceremony, cocktail hour and reception.
- Organise your wedding invitations and discuss style and wording with a Stationer.
- Assemble a gift registry (and make sure this is updated on your wedding website!)
- Book your suite for the wedding night
- Arrange hotel rooms/accommodation, especially for any out-of-town guests.
- Shop for your bridesmaid and flower girl dresses and make sure your attendants have clear instructions on placing their orders.
- Book any associated transportation.
- Finalise bridal shower, bachelorette details and the guest list with whoever is hosting your party.
3–5 Months to Go
- Compile a guest list for your rehearsal dinner.
- Book the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner locations.
- If entertainment or other specialty details, like a groom’s cake, are included lock in these elements.
- Make any necessary childcare arrangements for guests’ kids.
- Reserve party rentals and linens.
- Order wedding favours for the guests.
- Choose and reserve the men’s formalwear.
- Finalize the Guestlist and ensure you have everyone’s mailing address.
- 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.
- Schedule the date to collect your invites.
- Finalize the ceremony’s readings and the vows.
- Sign off on the menu, beverage and other catering details.
- Have a trial for the bride’s Makeup and Hair trial and book the stylists.
- Choose and buy wedding rings.
- Finalize honeymoon plans and ensure all necessary documents are in hand and up to date.
6–8 Weeks to Go
- Mail the invitations!
- Plan how you are going to record RSVPs and meal choices.
- Contact all vendors to confirm dates, details and deposits.
- Research marriage license requirements and set name-change paperwork in motion
- Begin dress fittings – and don’t forget to wear appropriate undergarments.
- Break-in bridal shoes with some dance practice!
- Nudge the wedding party to ensure they’ve ordered all the attire.
- Write thank-you cards for any shower gifts and early wedding gifts.
3–5 Weeks to Go
- Send rehearsal dinner invitations.
- Finalize and confirm the readings and wedding vows with the Officiant.
- Sort out the shoot list with your Photographer and Videographer.
- Prepare the list of songs and music for the ceremony, the cocktail hour and the reception in discussion with the DJ or musicians.
- Order the timeline for the reception including who is giving each of the toasts.
- Finalize the accommodation for the wedding night and honeymoon.
- Get hold of the marriage license and complete all the appropriate name-change documents.
- Pick up the wedding rings!
- Gather together something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue?
- Buy last-minute items including toasting flutes, guest book, cake servers, and unity candle.
- Purchase the gifts you’ll be presenting to the wedding party members, and parents of the couple.
- Have a final dress fitting.
- Chase any guests who haven’t responded to your invitation.
1–2 Weeks to Go
- Give the caterer and the venue the final guest count.
- Plan the seating arrangement and create a seating chart and organise the place cards.
- Pick up The Dress.
- Finalize the wedding timeline and confirm arrival times with vendors and the wedding party.
- Put together a Bridal Emergency Kit.
- Check the weather report, and if necessary contact the venue to see what contingency plans are in place.
- Start the honeymoon packing.
- Last-minute facials and massages should take place now.
The Day Before
- Check all wedding-day items are packed or laid out and ready!
- Don’t forget rings and marriage license!
- Sort tips and final payments for your vendors and give them to the Best Man.
- Assign whoever to pack your gifts and belongings after the reception.
- Arrange the return of the groom’s outfit and any other rental items after the wedding.
- Have a manicure and pedicure.
- Attend the rehearsal and dinner.
- Give out any gifts to the wedding party.
- Go to bed early.
On The Big Day
- Give yourself lots of time to get ready.
- Greet everyone, thanking them for coming.
- Take a moment to appreciate your new spouse and enjoy the day you spent so long planning!
After the Honeymoon
- Prepare to get back to reality.
- Send thank-you cards.
- Complete the registry process
- Exchange any unwanted gifts.
- Have the wedding dress cleaned and preserved.
- Contact the Photographer and Videographer about albums and DVDs.
- 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.
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.
· 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.
· 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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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!
When booking the venue ask about vendors. Many venues have preferred vendors that have to be engaged.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
A WEDDING CEREMONY USUALLY HAS FIVE MAIN PIECES OF MUSIC:
- The Prelude, which is played as your guests take their seats before the ceremony
- 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
- The Ceremony, where there may be a string quartet, a choir or a soloist to play at selected points of the nuptials
- The Recession, which is joyful music played at the end of the ceremony
- 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
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.
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.
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?
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
- 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?
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!
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.
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.
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
- 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
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
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
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
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
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