wedding planning



Whether you’re actively planning or only dreaming, here is your invaluable wedding planning guide in 10 simple steps!

Image: Phillipa Lepley

1 Set your budget

…and stick to it. Whether you are planning a grand ceremony for a couple of hundred people, or an intimate celebration, your budget will be the driving force behind many decisions you will make later, from date and venue to food and drink. Remember that you can’t predict everything, so leave yourself a cushion of at least 10% to cover any unexpected expenses.

2 Speak to your families

It is your special day so how much sway should your families have on your decisions? Clearly the budget, if they are contributing, but more likely than not they will also have opinions on who should be on the guest list and even when and where it is held. Tread carefully – look to accommodate their wishes where you think it is appropriate without compromising your own happiness, culture, or faith. Hence…

3 Get your priorities straight

…determine what the most important aspects of your wedding are. Is it a particular venue? A date? A religious ceremony? White dress? Number of guests? Even though some of these you may find obvious, your partner or their family may not. Make sure you know what you won’t budge on. Prioritise these aspects and be open to compromise on others.

4 Choose dates

Choose dates as early as you can as popular venues sell out well in advance. Consider a weekday wedding – availability is generally greater, and prices lower. Consider the weather – you may be dreaming of a frosty Christmas wedding but it could well rain, likewise drinks on a terrace in July sounds idyllic but you’ll need a back-up plan in case of a heatwave.

5 Pick a venue

Research your options carefully. Would you like to hold the ceremony and the party in the same place? How accessible it is for your guests? Does it accommodate children? Is it easily accessible by public transport or does it require driving or walking? Are there parking options available? Can the venue accommodate guests overnight? If you dream about a destination wedding, do your guests need visas? Is the flight affordable? Is there an easy way to the venue from the airport? Consider alternative options, such as a wedding at a racecourse, in an industrial space, or even in your garden. Says Sue Barnes, founder of Lavender Green Flowers: “We are finding that more and more of our couples are really placing the focus on the sentiment, as opposed to the desire to simply create an impressive party.” Lastly, always keep in mind that you can hire a different venue for your photo shoot.

6 Select a style

Think about the overall look you want – traditional, vintage, modern or even a particular theme. The 2023 Hitched Wedding Trends Report predicts that an 80s theme will increase in popularity – Princess Diana’s dress, anyone? Making supplier decisions is easier when you know what the look is you are going for at the outset.

7 Pick your suppliers

Consult with your venue first – most of them have a preferred supplier list, and choosing someone from outside may incur additional costs. Decide on the type of food and enquire about any dietary restrictions. Think out of the box – one of my friends had a wedding cake made of croissants!
“We are seeing a focus on grazing tables at weddings along with experiences – tasting tables and adventurous flavours,” comments Holly Congdon, director at Lettice Events. “We are also seeing less canapés and more filling little plates.” Flowers are of course important, too – again, enquire about any allergies, and make sure they match the theme.

8 The dress

Allow plenty of time to find the style you love as well as for any alterations you will need. Try on as many as possible as you might be surprised by what suits you. So, the top styles right now? “We are seeing a shift in more brides opting for elegant shades of pink and coloured floral embroidery in soft tulle overlays,” says couture wedding dress designer Phillipa Lepley. “There will be a return to a more classic look – full skirts, cathedral length veils and timeless silhouettes. Personalised elements are increasingly popular – monogrammed initials, hidden sewn-in dates and even paw prints. We are also seeing more brides have multiple dresses.”
Says Sue Barnes: “We are seeing a focus on seasonal and British-grown flowers, in line with the growing concern around sustainability and choosing local suppliers. Hand in hand with this, an English country garden feel has been a very popular choice for a lot of our couples, keeping everything naturally beautiful and effortless. In another trend, we are seeing a move away from more classic flower choices and a willingness to include more unconventional florals such as Anthurium, Protea and Poppy Seed Heads. Reflexed Roses as a simple, statement floral either by themselves in bud vases or en masse in varying colour palettes are also having a big moment!”
Consider what will happen to the flowers afterwards – some couples are donating them to charity. Think through the details – this may include wedding favours for guests, venue decorations, entertainment, photo booth, live music, hair and make up, and transport. There are many greener alternatives you can consider too for all aspects of your wedding such as wildflower seed packets for favours.

9 Make it legal

Sort out the practicalities early. In short, typically you can only get legally married in a Register Office, CofE church, religious building specifically registered for the solemnisation of marriage, or premises approved by a local authority (you can find a comprehensive and regularly updated list here) and only by a person authorised to do so. Make sure to give enough time to sort out the documents you will need and also the notice of marriage you must give in advance.

10 Relax

At the end of the day, it is supposed to be yours and your partner’s special day – so breathe in, stop worrying about details that no one else will notice and enjoy your happy ever after!