Let’s set the scene: you’re engaged. The proposal has taken your breath away and sent you on an emotional roller coaster that you’ll never forget. Now you look ahead at the horizon and all the exciting possibilities for your wedding, and you can’t wait to get there – but you also know that, once you start planning, you’re both going to be immersed in decisions, both practical and conceptual, and there is a distinct possibility that things might get a little stressful at times. You will grow together by having fun, but also by having to face some delicate issues while planning this awesome day for yourselves and your loved ones. Thinking back on my own engagement journey with my husband, which lasted two and half years from proposal to wedding day, there are a few things that I know helped us through – and a few others that I think could have. So here is my list of eight ‘wedding hacks’ to ponder on (or, as I like to think of them, hugs for your wedding planning brain). It’s not comprehensive, and not for everyone, but I hope that in some way it helps in making your wedding journey as mindful and light as it could be ♡
- Slow down. You don’t have to start planning the day after the proposal – or even the month after. If you want to, great! But it really is fine if you don’t. There is no set rule, and you should both take your time to enjoy the feeling of having levelled up together in this new way. You’ve never been a fiancée before, and certainly not to your partner in this moment, so savour it and cherish the memories it will bring. There is also no set length that the engagement needs to be – and in fact giving yourselves longer than the one year that you think you’re meant to stick to can be a great advantage when pacing yourselves (hello, decision fatigue…) and when making bookings further in advance. The average engagement length in the UK now is 20 months (according to Bridebook’s latest 2017 survey), and that extra time can be the difference between planning taking over every weekend, and having time to pause for a few weeks when you need it.
- Be admin-ready. Once you do start planning, I’d recommend setting up an email address that you will both use for wedding purposes only (and if you don’t put the word wedding in it, you can use it later for shared bills, house admin, etc – win!). No matter how imaginative you are, there will be more emails than you think 🙂 You can set up folders within that dedicated inbox for each supplier type or admin category, making it much easier to find correspondence when you need it at a later date. Similarly, I’d recommend setting up a shared folder on one of the cloud services available to you (we used Dropbox for ours), where you can both save and access photos, documents, notes, contracts, and so on. This way, if urgent decisions need to be made while you’re not sitting on the sofa together, you can share files and discuss options more readily. It also keeps everything transparent, and if one of you feels out of the loop at any moment, there’s somewhere to look for the latest development. Finally, start working on a checklist of your to-do’s: put everything on there, even really trivial things, as soon as you think of them (I used a notepad on my phone so I had it with me all the time). By spilling your thoughts onto a physical object you can clear your head of everything you’re worried about, knowing they are safely stowed in a list that you are going to tick the hell out of – all in good time.
- Be flexible and take things lightly. Not many of us arrive at our proposal date with set-in-stone ideas about what our wedding will look and feel like – which makes this a little easier. But even for those of us that do, bear with me. The only things you absolutely need for your wedding day is each other, someone to legally marry you, and the company of the loved ones with whom you want to start your life as a family. This is a fairly obvious fact, but it’s REALLY easy to forget while you get caught up in the flurry of possibilities and decisions. If you treat every decision as something peripheral, a nice-to-have, and a little bit of a game, I promise that the whole process will be much more fun. It will also allow you to feel easily flexible when choosing options that might otherwise seem like compromises – for example, when you discover that getting married on a Thursday in February is much cheaper than a weekend in Summer (and that’s ok – 46% of weddings are now held on a day other than Saturday, also according to Bridebook’s latest 2017 report).
- Communicate gently, all the time. This one seems easy, right? But it’s so important that I wanted to mention it anyway… Try to make sure that you run decisions by each other as transparently, honestly, and open-mindedly as you possibly can. If you find yourselves disagreeing, be gentler than you think you need to be when dismissing your partner’s opinion – it might be something more important to him/her than you realised. Emotions tend to run a little higher than normal when talking about weddingstuff, and sometimes you find yourself having a much stronger opinion about something than you thought you did (“I’d rather not get married at all than have chair covers at my wedding…” – guilty…). So just talk. You’re REALLY good at it normally, and chances are you’ve been acing it for years as a couple, so don’t let this be any different. If you’re that kind of couple, laugh at yourselves and at how difficult or surreal some decisions are. And if you’re not, don’t – but either way don’t forget to tread gracefully and talk, like, all the time.
- Be generous with your guest list. This may be controversial, as I’ve seen a lot of advice that recommends being strict and rule-heavy when it comes to who you invite to your wedding. But as someone who has travelled a lot in her life, with friends and family scattered around the world, and some relationships delicately hanging on thanks to occasional Facebook interactions, I would say: if you can, be generous. Your wedding is an unusual opportunity to get people together from every part of your life and history, mixing and mingling in ways you couldn’t possibly predict. And these days, meeting new people is hard – particularly awesome people that have been pre-vetted! If new relationships or friendships bloomed at your wedding, wouldn’t that be awesome? And I would also say that ‘the more’ definitely is ‘the merrier’ when it comes to celebrations. More people means more party, more opportunities for hugs, and a rare chance to create a shared memory with people you don’t see nearly as much as you wish you could. Finally, if you can give people plus-1s, do. Think back to those days before you were engaged; everything is more fun and more special when experienced with partners, even if that girlfriend/boyfriend hasn’t passed the is-it-definitely-serious-yet time threshold. They’ll be so grateful, and you’ll get a chance to get to know them better, even if briefly.
- Give yourselves tangible memories. As a bride-to-be, I didn’t truly understand what people meant when they warned, “the day goes by in a blur”. If you’re like me, you imagine you’re going to live it fully – and mostly you can, particularly if you prepare, approach it with a calm frame of mind, and, even better, if you’ve invested in a wedding planner (that’s what we’re there for, after all!). But either way, it’ll be an amazing day so full of excitement and adrenaline that it likely will go by quicker than you think. Depending on the structure of your wedding, and how much ‘free’ time you had in the day, you may not have taken in all the details or stopped to enjoy how much fun everyone was having. And even if you feel that you did, you’re likely going to return home after the wedding and honeymoon and wish you could relive all that awesomeness over and over again. Particularly if the wedding has turned out to have been more tiring/expensive to organise than you thought, or you’re just having some post-wedding blues, having the positive feedback of reliving it is really key to continuing to enjoy the memory and, more importantly, to do that experience justice. You worked really hard for it. This is why one of the pieces of advice I give to everyone and anyone who will listen is: get a photographer AND a videographer that you love (ideally a pair that works together, or has before, so you know they won’t get in each other’s way). Figure out what your maximum expenditure is for this part of the wedding, and use all of that allocated budget to hire the best set of photo/video professionals within that limit. I know it may seem self-indulgent at the time, but ultimately it’s the part of the day that lives on most tangibly (besides the wonderful hubby/wifey by your side) and that you can most freely and widely share with everyone you care about. Once you have the photos and videos, there’s lots of beautiful, creative ways of preserving, combining, and enjoying them – be it in physical or digital format (for example, alongside bespoke illustrations – check out the stunning bouquets by Charlotte Argyrou). You and your loved ones will relish the fruits of that hard work and that expense for decades to come, and they will forever be little pieces of world that make you smile whenever you look at them – no matter what is going on around you.
- Be safe. Don’t get me wrong, it’s very very very unlikely that you will need it – but, absolutely, get wedding insurance. It’s a one off expense that is lower than you think (around the £200-£300 mark, unless your wedding includes SUPER DANGEROUS activities) and much lower than the risk you’re taking by not having it. It’s a little hug for your brain, both emotionally and in practice, and will keep all that hard-spent money safe in case anything out of your control does happen to go wrong. It’s nobody’s fault, sometimes things just happen. My husband and I found ourselves confronted with the heart-wrenching (and highly improbable) scenario that our chosen wedding venue went bankrupt 9 months after we booked it, when most of everything else was already paid for and in place. Could you afford to pay for a second wedding if you’d already paid for 75 percent of your first? The answer for us was no – and had we not had wedding insurance, we would have had to make the awful decision of cancelling the wedding and putting it off until who knows when. Organising a wedding is one of the best feelings ever, but it is expensive – no matter what your budget is, it’s a lot to lose.
- Consider hiring some help. Ok, so, I’m definitely biased on this one – but mostly because, having worked alongside a planner for my own wedding, I know first-hand the wonders that she did for us. I heard our married family members and friends telling us how fabulous she was on the day, and how they’d have definitely hired one in hindsight. I know exactly what the wedding planner job entails, how hard myself and my colleagues work, and how much it can give you as a couple. This isn’t a sales pitch for me, I promise – it’s a recommendation that you consider the option, and if you decide to go for it, that you take your time to choose the perfect planner for you. Wedding planners are not just for celebrities; they’re for everyone who wants to make that investment in the value of their time. There are planners for every style, every budget, every geographical region, and every personality, and I’m a very strong believer in being really picky until you’ve found exactly the combination of all those factors that fits you. Depending on size and complexity, a wedding can take anywhere between 200 and 400+ hours to organise (!). If you were involved in ANY other task that time-consuming, you wouldn’t hesitate considering asking for help. By hiring a planner you’re enlisting your very own expert whose sole purpose in life is to make your day awesome, save you time, and make the journey the most smooth, stress-free fun it can be. Our interests are entirely aligned with yours. We do this job because we love weddings, people, and their stories, and our most genuine reward for the hard work we do is seeing you smile, laugh, and enjoy the ride. So let us help ♡
- Take time off. If you take anything away from reading this article, let it be this. Remember to be yourselves, and catch up on exciting news, hobbies, and passions that have nothing to with the wedding. That’s totally allowed, so don’t feel guilty when you need a break from wedmin. When myself and my husband were planning our wedding, he was a patent attorney and I was working in an investment bank, both of us with 14+ hour working days, and our time off together was little, tired, and very precious. As much fun and exciting as daydreaming about your wedding is, it does burn energy, both physically and mentally. Listen to your body and mind, and take breaks when you need them. Go for a drink, binge-watch Netflix, go for a run, make out, and just generally remind yourselves of how and why you love spending time together. The wedding is just the pretty wrapping – it’s the marriage that you end up with that needs your full attention.
You got this ♡ And if you want some help through your wedding journey, for anything, just get in touch.