Over the years as wedding planners, we have noticed a few problematic areas for most clients. Below are some simple guidelines for couples planning a wedding:
Making a wedding budget
This can be a very tricky exercise if you are not honest with yourself. The first step is always to ask yourself how much you are willing to set aside for your special day. This refers to the actual amount readily available on your bank account. Next step is to make a listing of potential contributors and what you think their average contribution will be. You can now think about the guest count. How many guests would you like to invite? This should then be followed by the non-negotiables. What are those things that must be present on your wedding day? Is it a band, artist or menu item? Go out and do some research about the cost of these non-negotiables. Now sum up everything and you have a tentative budget for your wedding.
Pay for your honeymoon first.
This is critical. Once the wedding date has been confirmed, decide on your honeymoon destination and pay up. We encourage couples to always pay for this before any other expense. This is because it is the only expense that will be exclusively enjoyed by just the married couple. For most couples, this may never happen again. It is therefore important that it is well planned and paid for before the craziness of other expenses sets in. At least, after the “wedding madness”, you will have a lovely honeymoon to look forward to!
Have a Fundraising Plan
This is a must especially if you do not expect to fund the entire cost of the wedding yourselves. Write down the full list of those you expect to contribute towards your wedding. How will you reach out to them? Is it through personal visits? telephone calls? Meeting invites? Wedding launch? Third party requests? The choice of method to be used can be determined by the proximity of the intended funder as well as the nature of your relationship with him/her. Now go back to the list and attach the most relevant choice to the intended funder. You can now group your funders by fundraising method and plan when to approach each. Our simple advice is that the earlier you reach out to intended funders, the better. You don’t want to miss out on potential funders because your request was received late!
Compiling your wedding guest list:
Sit down with your spouse-to-be and make a list of potential invitees, have your parents make a list, have your spouse-to-be parents also make a list. Now combine all these lists into one master list. Look at your master list and divide it into the “must invites”, “should invites” and the “could invites”. Does your budget cover the “must invites”? If yes, move on to the “should invites” and to the “could invites” depending on your budget limitations. Where your budget stops is the number of guests you should invite to your wedding.
Writing Wedding Invitations
Traditionally, the wording of invitations includes parents inviting guests to the wedding of their children. It is common practice to word the invitation in 2 languages i.e. the official language and a vernacular language. Avoid using nicknames or short forms on the formal wedding invitations. Include a map on the last page of your invitation to provide directions to the venue. RSVPs may sometimes not be responded to, so it is important to follow up with calls and text messages to your invited guests. Be careful with block invitations where one card is used to invite multiple people especially if budget is an issue. Always encourage your invited guests to carry their invitation cards to the reception.
When inviting the married couples or any couple you know who have been in a longtime relationship ensure you invite both. For the singles or those who are casually dating, one person invitations are encouraged. Determining whether to invite children can be tough but 2 factors are key here: i.e. the timing of your event – if your wedding is likely to go into the night, then it is best not to invite children as they easily get tired of long functions. It is also important to remember that children also contribute to the final head count. If a married couple with 4 children come to your reception, those are not 2 plates of food but rather 6 plates!
Choose your outfits early.
As the center of attention on your big day, it is inevitable that all eyes will be on you so guests will take note of every detail of your dressing. It is therefore advisable that you pay extra attention to the dress code choices you make. Learn about the latest fashion trends. Visit numerous shops and get a feel for prices. We advise early planning for your outfits. Try out that outfit. You may need to gain a few kilograms or lose a few pounds to fit in your dream outfit. So, the earlier the better. We also advise that if you plan to wear new shoes, you try them out a month too and wear them for at least a week prior to your special day.
Draw out the wedding day program
This is important. All activities going to happen on the day should be drawn up. Even seemingly miniature activities like breakfast, bathroom breaks etc. should all be included, given their due duration and activity leads appointed. A clear Gantt chart showing what happens when and led by who should be circulated so that each activity lead knows where their activity falls in the larger scheme of things. This will be very helpful in ensuring a successful day. Your wedding planner can lead this.
Have a timekeeper for your wedding day.
One of the number one factors that destroys a wedding is poor time management. Imagine if you delayed arriving at the saloon and left late and by the time you got to the church your service had been moved to the end? This would disorganize the entire wedding day program not to mention the additional costs that may have to be incurred. Furthermore, even the couple are likely to be mentally disorganized by this. It is therefore critical that you designate a strict timekeeper whose primary role will be to ensure that activities don’t overrun. Your wedding planner can always help co-ordinate this.
It is important to show gratitude to all those who supported you along the wedding journey. This includes those who offered financial contributions, prayers, advice or any other form of emotional support. This can be done in various ways. You may leave thank-you notes on the tables for all your wedding guests. You could also give wedding cakes to those who went the extra mile or organise a small celebration with your core team after the honeymoon. It is also advisable to send thank you cards to all those who gave you wedding gifts.
The marriage starts after the wedding.
It is important to remember that while the wedding is just an event, marriage is a lifetime. Do not spend every coin on the wedding. After your friends and family have eaten and drunk and gone on their way, the reality sets in for the couple. It is important therefore that you plan for life after the wedding. Set aside some funds to ensure that you can settle into a comfortable married life. This means all your basic needs of food, shelter, security and clothing must be already met. There is nothing sadder than a couple that throws a huge wedding bash and are unable to afford basics just a few days later!
Planning a wedding can seem like a humongous task but we hope that these few tips coupled with more advice from your wedding planner will get you started on your journey. Till next time, stay home, stay safe!
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