So you’ve decided to get married. Congratulations! However, you may be wondering where to start. There is, after all, so much to be done. Before you can really start planning, you need to think about setting the wedding date and guest numbers.
Before you can do much else, you need to set your wedding date. The date of your wedding will affect a lot of things, including your budget. If, for example, you want to get married on a public holiday, it is likely that the wedding venue will be more expensive; that is even if you can reserve the venue of your choice.
If you do want to choose a date that is likely to be popular with other brides and grooms, consider how soon it is that you want to get married. Many people get engaged and then want to be married within a year. However, if you want something special, but don’t want to pay exorbitant fees, you may find you can get a better deal if you put the wedding back a bit. Think about how you will feel about waiting 18 months or two years before you finally tie the knot. That way, you will be able to save a bit more money and, if you are good at crafts, you’ll have more time to make your own wedding favors and wedding decorations.
Another thing that you need to consider is the season. If you dream of an outdoor wedding, for example, the climate in your location of choice will be a factor. There is not much point in organizing an elegant outdoor wedding if it is likely to be blowing up a gale, pouring with rain or in the middle of a blizzard. Be sensible and, if you aren’t familiar with the location, find out as much about it as you can.
At this stage, you may not have put too much thought into your wedding theme, but you should have an idea of your overall expectations. This may affect your wedding date. If you are the outdoorsy type, for example, a spring or summer wedding is going to be more sensible than a winter one. Then again, if you want an elegant indoor affair, the time of year isn’t quite so important and you can look at the cheapest times of the year.
Guests are another factor to consider. If you have guests coming a long way, they may get held up if you choose a winter wedding and there is substantial snowfall. You don’t want to spend your wedding day worrying about whether your aunt and cousins are going to be able to make it or not.
Talking about guests, it isn’t only your calendar that you need to consider when deciding on a wedding date. Ask your close relatives and friends to take a look at their calendars too. Most people will rearrange prior engagements for a wedding, but if it is something that they can’t rearrange, such as the wedding of another close friend or family member, or an operation, for example, you could end up getting married without one of the most important guests.
Finally, you should consider your own calendar and that of your future husband. If you both have hectic jobs, there are likely to be times of the year when your jobs are less stressful. Think about how much time you are going to need to take off in order to prepare for the wedding and then go on your honeymoon. It is likely to be at least a month and then only if you have plenty of people who can help you. This may be particularly important if you run your own business and don’t really have anyone you can rely on to hold the fort while you are away.
Although at this point you don’t need to work out the number of guests down to the last person, you do need to have an idea of how many people you will be inviting. This will affect a lot of things including, most importantly, the venues for the wedding ceremony and wedding reception. Sit down with your future spouse and close family members and start to draw up a basic list of who to invite.
The most important people to consider are your close family and friends – especially those who will play a vital role on the day. They will obviously be parents, siblings, best man, bridesmaids, flower girls, page boys and groomsmen. These are the people whose calendars you should check when it comes to setting a date. Think about the number of bridesmaids and groomsmen you want. Is it really necessary to have ten just because you have so many nieces and nephews? In that case, you may want to consider just one or two close friends.
When it comes to the more general wedding guests, consider the size of your families. If you both have a large family and a tight budget, you may want to just invite your most immediate family. After all, if you’ve never met the five second cousins on your mother’s side, does it really matter if they come to your wedding or not? However, if you are going to invite one set of relatives, but not another, you do need to consider whether you are going to cause offence or not.
One way of working out whether to invite more distant family members is to consider whether there have been any weddings in their families and whether or not you were invited. If you weren’t, then there’s no problem; if they are offended, then they probably aren’t worth worrying about.
When it comes to friends, you will need to be strict too. You might want all your work colleagues and everyone you have ever known since high school to attend your wedding, but you need to draw the line somewhere. If you know that a particular friend is likely to be offended because he/she is not invited, say that you are having an intimate wedding and you hope he/she understands. It is your wedding, after all, so don’t be ruled by what other people will think.
You may have single friends who you want to invite. Bear in mind, however, whether they will feel comfortable coming on their own. If they don’t know many of the other guests, you may want to suggest that they bring someone with them to keep them company. In any case, by the time of your wedding, they may have met someone and will feel awkward coming without him or her.
Venue is another factor to consider; the more expensive the venue, the more you will want to cut down on the number of guests. You may not have reserved the venue at this stage, but you should at least have an idea of where you want to get married. Think about whether you’d rather pay a lot for an exclusive wedding venue, but fewer guests, or have a cheaper venue with everyone you love around you on your big day.
One way of cutting costs is to draw up a list of intimate friends and family for the wedding ceremony itself and the meal at the reception, but then invite more distant friends and family to the post-meal event. Again, that could mean offending a few people who believe they deserve to come to both events, but if they are genuine friends of yours, they should understand that you are confined by a tight budget.
Finally, if you are worried about the number of people you feel you have to invite, you could always consider going away to get married. This could be a great option if you have always dreamed of a wedding in an exotic location. However, you’ll need to look into what you can afford and whether your key guests will be able to afford it. If those key guests involve anyone elderly, you’ll also need to consider whether they will be able to travel.
Once you have decided on your wedding date and approximately how many guests you want to invite, you can start making the major decision of where you are going to get married. By this stage, you may not have a very good idea of how much you are going to spend. However, unless you have a bottomless pit of money, you are probably going to have to work to a tight budget. As a rule of thumb, the wedding reception will usually take up 50% of your budget, so half the amount of money you have and try to keep to that figure when you are completing the next stage: Booking your wedding ceremony and the venue for your wedding reception. Read more in this wedding guide …