Okay now it’s time to put more thought into the specifics for planning your wedding day. If you are still onboard the Wedding Train, you will have confirmed that you are legally able to marry in Australia and talked about what is important to each of you in the way your special day progresses.
I’ve said it before and I will say it again here – planning is super important because it confirms that you are both agreed on what you want to happen on your wedding day and it makes sure everything happens in the right way. Most important of all it relieves a big part of the stress that inevitably accompanies getting married. If you know what you want , how you will get it and what you can do if something unexpected occurs, then you can relax and start really looking forward to your day – which is exactly how it should be on one of the happiest occasions of your life. You can never mitigate every single risk but if you have plans to deal with the big ones, the little ones just become part of the wedding ceremony.
So what are the most important steps?
Establish a budget
I cannot stress this enough – no matter how big or small your wedding will be, you need to set a realistic budget range. There is nothing worse than planning and ordering a whole heap of things – your dress, your venue, your cake, your limo etc and finding that you can’t afford flowers or worse that you can’t afford to cater for your guests. Most important of all – you can’t afford a celebrant – because you can still get married without all the other items but you definitely cannot marry without a celebrant to officiate! So while the process is a bit chicken and egg because you need to determine costs for the bigger items like venues first, you must have an idea of your limitations.
So establish the maximum figure you are willing to spend, allocate funds to specific categories and then start the search for components that fit into your budget. There is no point in looking at the Ritz Carlton when you can only afford your local hotel because that just breeds disappointment. Always remember the most important part of your wedding day is the two of you getting married. Everything else is there to celebrate that one moment.
We will talk more about controlling costs while still having a beautiful and memorable wedding in a future chapter of the Wedding Train.
Planning the sort of wedding you will have
This is completely your decision. It is your day and you should do it your way. Don’t let anyone push you into having a full blown extravaganza with 200 guests if all you really want is a small intimate ceremony with just the two of you and your witnesses. This is a day you will want to remember for the rest of your life so don’t have regrets.
A lot of the questions will have been answered by your brainstorming about the wedding but the key points to consider at this point are:
Inside or outside?
Large or small?
Religious or not?
Traditional or theme style?
Celebrant or priest? This will mostly be answered by the religion question.
Planning your Guest List
The number of guests at your wedding is directly a result of the type of wedding you want. Regardless of how many or how few you have, there will be an impact on the budget and on the size and type of venue you will need. Remember for every guest there is a cost for food and beverages and possible a per capita cost for the venue facilities as well, so being selective when making the guest list is an excellent way to control costs.
The best way to determine your guest list is to base it on the sort of wedding you have chosen, then discuss and agree who you feel you must invite and work from there. It is not always necessary to invite Great Aunt Mary and Cousin Freddie who you haven’t seen for 20 years and the current climate of Covid and potential restrictions is a perfect reason to use for any omissions. Invite the people you want to be there not those you think you have to have there even if you don’t like them. We will talk further about guest lists in a future chapter of the Wedding Train but some things to consider are whether you will invite children, whether you will invite “plus one” guests for those not in long term or permanent relationships and whether you will invite everyone to both the wedding and the reception.
Scheduling and Organisation
These are two key elements of a successful day no matter what the occasion is and having them in place will help reduce stress. There are simple ways to ensure that nothing is forgotten:
Get a calendar or scheduler and write every step down so you can make sure you don’t miss anything or leave it too late to get your choice – whether it is a person, venue or item.
Do things one at a time in the most important order to eliminate conflicts in scheduling and availability – select the date first, book the venue, book your celebrant and then organise all the other components.
Have a specific checklist/ schedule for your actual wedding day and the period leading up to it and make sure you check, check and check again.
Ask your suppliers how much advance access they will need at the venue to set up and make sure you provide them with details of the contact at the venue.
Keep everything together in a binder, electronic file, notebook, box or drawer – whatever works for you – and keep it in a convenient location where you can access it easily to make decisions.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
This is so important because sometimes everything becomes so complicated that it seems like you will never get it all done. This is the time to ask for help.
Depending on the degree of help you need it can come from many places.
Family and friends may be able to help with smaller decisions about whether to invite certain individuals but remember the final decision is yours so don’t be persuaded to invite more people than you want to attend.
The other end of the continuum is to hire a wedding planner who can plan everything for you. They are a great asset if you are having a large event and they can help to minimise the stress, workload and pressure associated with planning a wedding and can help with every detail from vendor selection to wedding favours to make sure your day is perfect. But the truth is that there is a cost involved and depending on the size of the project it can be quite significant. So you need to make the decision on whether you can afford it and also whether you want someone else to take over the planning. Personally I think that part of the wedding experience is in planning but it is your choice.
The middle ground is to use the services of your celebrant. At Life Celebrations with Joy I will provide you with suggestions, ideas and advice to help you through the maze of planning, but I won’t take over the reins. Talk to me about that option. The Wedding Train is part of the process of helping you move towards your big day. I work in collaboration with a group of professional local suppliers who will help to make your day special without costing the earth.
Well, that’s it for this chapter of the Wedding Train. Over the next few chapters we will talk about some of the choices you will need to make and explore options such as budget weddings, choosing your date, your guests, your theme and most importantly your celebrant. You don’t want to miss those chapters so join me for the next part of the journey soon. The easiest way is to subscribe to the Wedding Train – it is free!