If you’re wedding planning and feel like you’re losing your mind, you’re not alone. I’m planning my wedding right now, without a wedding planner, and doing it 1000 miles away from where we’re based (and in a place where I don’t even speak the language) so obviously, I feel as though I’m losing my mind 99/100 times. But I’ve read almost every book there is to read, I’ve created and curated a Pinterest board, and I’m feeling pretty calm about the whole thing.
Attempting such a crazy feat, planning a wedding from scratch 1000 miles away (without a venue too, did I add that?) I feel like I’m kind of a wisened wedding planning guru right now, and can share my tips and tricks to help you cut through the crap and make planning your wedding easy.
Start with your budget
The wedding budget is the first thing the two of you need to finalize to get the wedding planning train going—and that can involve some real talk conversations with parents and family members who may be able to help cover costs, so don’t delay!
Have those conversations as soon as possible to determine a ballpark for your budget, be prepared for a reality check. There were things we wanted and had to abandon the idea of, for example a huge venue in Lisbon that ended up costing thousands, didn’t include food, and we had to leave by 11pm. Next, I had to get rid of the wedding planners, which was a difficult decision but ultimately saved us a tonne of money which freed up space for me to buy hundreds of artificial flowers and attempt to make this wedding as Instagram worthy as possible!
My tip, always intend to spend more. I budgeted so much for the marquee, dancefloor, shade, and lighting. But it ended up coming to less, which meant we could even throw in 80 pretty chairs and maybe even some lounge chairs to create a chill-out area. So even though it sounds horrendously expensive, swallow the pill and tell yourself it’s going to be more expensive, not less. Then you’ll end up with more money at the end to play with.
Make a mood board
The mood board is by far my favorite part.
Go to Pinterest and start pinning absolutely everything that takes your fancy. I pinned absolutely everything, even the unrealistic things, and then showed my other half, who told me what he did and didn’t like.
From Pinterest, I managed to source so many beautiful things, a giant neon mirror, pampas grass for the aisle, so many things I didn’t think were possible. And most big purchases have payment plans, so they’re easy to pay off. It’s important too to think about any weddings you’ve recently attended, what did you like? What would you do differently?
At this point your style will change. I started off wanting a festival wedding with wristband invitations and a food truck, and ended up wanting some bohemian/luxury destination wedding with a star theme. It’s possible! Even on a small budget, even if you’re having your ceremony at the local registry office (like we did before doing the ceremony abroad) you can have the day exactly how you want it.
Determine Your Bridal Style
Right, I’m here to tell you that all the dresses you’ve pinned or coveted are worth nothing. You will try that style on, and realize you don’t like it. I only know one person who liked a dress from a magazine, tried it on and loved it. Bridal style is different from the normal style. We don’t usually gallop around in dresses with veils, do we? And also, the dress will be completely tailored to you, a dress you buy on the high street will never fit as well as a wedding dress does.
To be honest, this will throw you. You’ll start off thinking you want your dress to look a certain way, and then you’ll try on the ‘wild card’ and fall in love with that. That’s happened almost every time I’ve ever been to a dress fitting. I tried on a dress I didn’t even want to try on and then when everyone started crying, I realized it was the one!
Stay focused, ladies. Keep everything in theme with your final vision. I find it helpful to refer to the wedding as a ‘brand’ and when people start giving me very helpful but very unnecessary suggestions, I usually just say, “But is it on brand?”
It’s weird, but it stops people from getting distracted. You will get all kinds of suggestions from well-meaning family and friends. Instead of saying “I don’t like that,” which can be a bit short, you can simply say, “I don’t think it’s on-brand for the vibe we’re going for.” They’ll get used to you using this term, I promise. And you and your partner are the founders and CEO’s of this brand, you know what you want.
You can use checklists, spreadsheets, Word/Excel/Google Docs—anything, really—as long as you can gather all your thoughts, budgets, numbers, etc., in one place. I have a spreadsheet called Budget, which I allocated numbers to, and then delegated up into what’s coming from my paycheck, my savings, my partners paycheck and my partners savings, so we can stay on track of what we’ve spent so far. You can use the Getting Stuff Done planner to plan your life around your wedding, I’ve actually found this super helpful in staying on track with my healthy eating and to make sure I’m doing at least one wedding thing a day.