Article by Pam Black, owner of Celebration House. First appeared in Die Beeld/Die Burger newspaper.
Planning a wedding – feeling all at sea? You’re definitely not alone. I read recently that even singer, Kelly Clarkson who was originally planning a lavish Nashville style wedding to her fiancé Brandon Blackstock was quoted as saying: ‘We just got so overwhelmed by it – all the decisions!’ The couple then opted instead for a quiet intimate wedding.
I’m sure many newly-engaged couples will echo Kelly’s word as it can be overwhelming knowing where to start. And, let’s face it, if you have never planned an important function in your life, co-ordinating a wedding can be a very daunting task.
Don’t worry about the odd hiccup.
It is vital not to become too obsessed with details. I have witnessed brides who have become so fixated with the planning of their wedding day that I often feel that they have lost the plot!
Sure, you want everything to be perfect, but sometimes it is the little hiccups that occur that make the day more memorable.
Work out a budget
It is essential to sit down and work out a budget regarding what you can afford to spend on your wedding. Be realistic, you don’t want to have to start your married life paying off a wedding.
When considering cost, it is also a good idea to decide on the kind of wedding you would like to have. Would you prefer a morning brunch, a relaxed country luncheon or a formal evening affair? Bear in mind that an evening affair is of course the most costly, as you have to feed and entertain your guests for up to eight hours!
When you arrive at the total amount you think the wedding will cost you, it is wise to add on a further 10 percent to the budget to cover any unforeseen expenses that may arise.
The guest list
Once you have decided on your budget and style of wedding the next step is to meet with both sets of parents and to write out your guest list. Only after you have an idea of the number of guests you wish to invite can you rush out and start looking at venues. (An important point to bear in mind is that your photographer, videographer and musicians need to be given a meal as well as your guests, so they should be included in your final head count.)
Viewing the venue
It is a good idea to make an appointment before visiting a venue. Otherwise you risk being disappointed if you happen to arrive while there is a function on the go, which will prevent you from seeing all that the venue has to offer.
Who will marry us?
Couples sometimes tend to overlook the fact is that probably the most important person at any wedding (after the bridal couple) is the Marriage Officer. It is impossible to have a legal marriage in this country without one! And yet, I have witnessed couples frantically looking for a marriage officer at the eleventh hour! During the busy summer months Marriage Officers are often booked up months in advance so it is vital to check out their availability before you book your venue.
Organisation is key
While getting married is undoubtedly an expensive business today, the trick is to start planning and budgeting well in advance, so that your choices are not restricted and you have the time to research all the options.
From the start of your planning, make sure that you get everything in writing from the service providers that you choose. If you have written proof of what you have agreed upon, there is less chance of them failing to provide what you are expecting. If a deposit is required, ensure that this is paid promptly. (This is particularly important when booking a venue that is in demand, especially over the popular summer period.)
Remember to have a Plan B
The romance of an outdoor wedding in summer has great appeal – as long as you are prepared to take whatever the elements send your way. The recent unseasonal weather has shown the importance of having a back-up plan when planning an outdoor event. Far better to be prepared for any eventuality than to be running around at the last minute looking for marquees, umbrellas, etc.
It is wise to exercise restraint and to not rush out the minute you are engaged and ask all your best friends to be attendants at your wedding. It is better to let the excitement around the decision to marry sink in, before making these important choices. After all, let’s be honest, it’s almost impossible to change your mind once you have asked someone to be your bridesmaid or best man.
Time for each other
And finally, from the minute you are engaged it is a good idea to set aside at least one day during the week to spend time alone as a couple, during which you don’t talk about the wedding at all! Rather focus on your relationship and your life together after the big day. More importantly try not to lose sight of what the true meaning of the day is all about. As someone wise once said: ‘A wedding is one day, a marriage is a lifetime’.