Embrace the current influx of Christmas tree pictures and mulled wine boomerangs on your Instagram feed, because in just 13 days’ time it will be awash with engagement rings. Yes, it’s that time of year again: proposal season. With Christmas Day the most popular time of year for people to get engaged, it’s only right that we look to the future and help calm your nerves before you officially have to start planning one of the biggest events you’ll ever plan.
When it’s hard enough to get all of the girls together for a Christmas meal, planning a wedding can be a daunting thought. That’s why we’ve spoke to the experts, wedding planners Audrey Ametis – founder of Audrey Ametis Weddings – and the genius sisters Charlotte Ricard-Quesada and Emily Ricard at La Fete, to find out everything we should be asking ourselves before we embark on even thinking about what we want for the big day…
1. What is your comfortable budget?
‘I always advise my clients to include in their wedding budget everything and we mean everything,’ says Audrey, ‘Within a general category, for example, stationery, go in depth and include everything like stamps.
‘For instance, wedding favours. How cute it is to have a chocolate tablet with the bride and groom’s name on it? “It costs only £5” says the bride or groom. Fair enough but with 100 guests it is an extra £500 on your budget and with 200 guests you just “lost” a grand without realising it. Even couples with £150K or £250K for their wedding must stick to their budget. Splash for your big day, but be smart in splashing!’
‘Always purchase insurance and have a contingency fund for unplanned emergencies,’ she continued.
2. Are you willing to accept that your wedding day won’t be all about you?
‘The biggest thing that I had to accept when I got married was that the process and day wasn’t about my husband and I,’ says Charlotte, ‘Sure, we were the central figures, but it was almost less about the celebration of spending our lives together than it was about the politics and drama between guests.
‘From debating seating plans, making sure to politely greet the people you’ve barely met before and tending to your guests’ needs, your wedding could fly by in niceties. I’m not suggesting that you be an ungracious and rude bride – that’s never a good look - but make sure to enjoy the moment with your partner as it passes by so fast.’
3. How much does quality matter to you?
‘Budgets can be a pain, you absolutely need to have one, even if you have a significantly bigger budget. It’s a fantastic guide to track your spending, but also to fully understand how much certain suppliers charge and compare costs,’ says Emily, ‘As much as I know it can be tempting to always go for a more affordable option, do consider the quality of what you are paying for and the selected suppliers’ particular skills.’
4. Have you planned for resting time on the day?
‘It is so important to be a guest at your own wedding, so visualise the whole day, the flow,’ says Audrey, ‘For instance what is the logistic from church to the wedding venue? Cars, double decker’s, helicopters? How far have the guests got to walk from the cloakroom to the ballroom?
'What are you planning to do the day before and the day after the wedding? Have you allowed enough time for the guests to check into their hotel if they need to…and rest?! It is essential to add in your planning resting time as well. It is a party after all. Let them eat cake, have fun and relax!’
5. Who do you want there with you?
‘When putting together the guestlist, I’m a strong advocate of inviting exactly who you want and paying no mind to conventions,’ says Emily, ‘But at a wedding, there will inevitably be people that you will have to invite to be polite. Accept this from the start especially if you are having a larger wedding or if you or the person you’re marrying are from a culture where weddings are traditionally very big, such as Latin or Indian. Trust me, I married a Spaniard surrounded by 260 people!
6. Do your guests need a false deadline to RSVP?
‘If you need an RSVP by 15/07, you might decide to write 30/06 on the invite,’ says Audrey, ‘Some guests will be a bit late in responding but also remember, while your wedding is one of the most important days of your life, your guests may have urgent matters to deal with and yes, they have a life too, happy guests happy wedding.’
7. Can your friendships handle the bridal party responsibility?
‘Think very carefully about your bridal party and who you want by your side,’ says Emily, ‘Every bride I have worked with, including myself, has had to work through issues with one or more of their bridesmaids. You can obviously never predict if and when this will happen, but definitely bear it in mind during the planning process.’
8. What concessions are you ready to make?
‘They say marriage is all about concessions, but guess what? So is wedding planning with your significant other,’ says Charlotte, ‘It’s becoming more common for grooms-to-be to get involved in planning their wedding, or at least heavily contributing to their fiancée’s ideas. My advice is to always be kind, no matter what, as you don’t want to be arguing over centrepieces or candle choices. Listen, hear what they’re saying and do your best to find a happy medium
9. Do you just want to plan a wedding, or do you actually want to BE married?
'Getting married is described by many as the happiest day of their life. But before your trip down the aisle, it’s essential to think of why you’ve chosen to get married,' says Charlotte,'Beyond the love you have for your partner, what is your reasoning? Make sure that you have said yes to a marriage and not just a wedding.'
10. Do you want to have children at your wedding?
'There is no right or wrong answer here, but either way you will need to be prepared,' says Charlotte, 'If you do want a children-free wedding, make it clear from the start to your guests, leaving no room for ambiguity [and plenty of notice]. You can stipulate that the ceremony and reception will be adults only and maybe provide a list of babysitters to your guests that they can choose from.
'If you would like a select number of children who you are close to to attend your wedding, make the invitations to the parents and plan to have a kids area, with beds - mini inflatable mattresses are fantastic - toys, crayons and if possible a TV or projector. [Some will prefer] to have a babysitter to mind them during your reception, so that the parents can truly make the most of their evening.'