wedding invitations

Preparing to get married once you are engagedThis entry is from our Expert Guest series where wedding and honeymoon professionals share their best tips on creating memories that last a lifetime.

You are officially engaged and undoubtedly glowing with excitement, congrats! You’ll be full of love and optimism, and it’s the perfect time to put that positive energy into organising your big day. But where to start? Is it the venue? Or should you choose your dress first and coordinate everything with the style you decide on? There will be many questions on your mind, and to take the stress out of an otherwise extremely enjoyable chapter of your life, here is a step by step guide of how to plan your special day.

The Blissful Engagement

Enjoy your engagement then plan your wedding

In this phase, you will be so elated and fuzzy that it will be hard to sit back and relax into being engaged; you will naturally want to start planning. It is important to remember though, that your partner has just spent a long time getting ready to propose, saving for the ring, and working out the best away to pop the question. So, before you jump straight in with your Pinterest board and list of venues, give your partner a little space to breathe.  If you are itching to get started, this is the perfect time to think about the guest list, your wedding party, and of course your bridesmaids and best men.

Starting To Plan

Get your wedding planning on track

Once you have relished being engaged and cannot contain your excitement any further, it is time to get stuck into the primary stages of arranging your wedding. The first thing to do is to set the date, after you ask yourself whether you want a winter wedding, a summer one, or perhaps one in spring with all the gorgeous flowers. When deciding, keep in mind what day of the week it will be and where the week is falling. Weekday weddings are usually more affordable, for example, and bank holiday weekends are often in high demand. This is also the time to set your budget for the wedding as it will dictate many aspects of your next stages.

To Party Or Not To Party

Should you plan an engagement party

Being engaged is a huge deal, and your nearest and dearest will be so excited for you. So, when you have got a date and budget in place, it is time to think about whether you want to throw an engagement party to celebrate with everyone. If you have finished allocating all your wedding finances and have some leftover that you can use to host a party, it is a really lovely opportunity to share the news. It doesn’t have to be a big affair, you can have an intimate dinner for under 20 people at your house if you have the space, or you could hire a venue if your budget is more accommodating to a larger event.

Finding A Picture-Perfect Venue

Choose your wedding venue

The next step in your wedding planning adventure is choosing the ideal venue. Although you are most likely dying to find your dress, it is best to settle on where you are holding your wedding first as it may inform the style. Do in-depth research of each venue and see all possibilities in person before making any selections. If you have decided on an area, make a list of possibilities and their open days in the vicinity and try to hit a few in one go. You could do an exciting tour of wedding venues in Kent for example. Make sure to check their availability for your selected date, whether it is convenient for your families to get to, and whether there is accommodation nearby if required.

Now For The Dress

Find a wedding dress with great top detail

Having picked your venue, the time has finally come for the incredibly exciting task of finding your perfect dress. The first thing to do is to determine which silhouette is best for you and then think about the details, as opting for a style that suits you is the difference between a good dress and a great one. The next aspect you need to focus on, even if all you can think of is the princess skirt, is the top of your dress as this is the area that your guests and the camera will focus on. Once you have made your mind up, plan in time for any alterations, and if you are intending to buy a custom-made dress, remember that these can take up to six months before they are ready to wear.

Choosing Your Flavour

Choose your wedding menu

The next stop on your wedding organizing venture is to find and book your caterers if they aren’t already included within your venue package. Your first and most exciting decision is what style of cuisine you want. Does your dream wedding involve canapes with high-class glamour from luxury wedding caterers? Or are you after a more rustic, homely feel with food trucks or finger food stations? When you have what you want in mind, it is time to start researching providers. Before you decide on your final one, make sure your potential choices have availability for your chosen date as this is an easy way to narrow down the shortlist.

Sharing The Love

Planning your guest list

Now that you have the essentials in place, you can work on your invite and gift list. Your wedding invites will ideally match the theme of your special day and let people know what to expect. For example, if you are planning a festival wedding, lanyards with printed wedding ˜line-ups’ would be a wonderful way to set the mood. This is also the perfect opportunity to decide on what to ask from your family and friends in terms of a wedding wish-list. This can be a little daunting as many people these days have everything they need at home. Yet, you needn’t worry about awkwardly asking for money, as sites like Honeyfund give you the option of simply sending a link to the goal you are saving for and your guests can feel comfortable gifting what they can.

Selecting Flowers and Favours

Selecting your wedding flowers & favors

Flowers are said to make a room smile and that is true of weddings too! Before getting carried away designing lavish spreads layered with symbolism, set your budget, and find a florist to work with. For a more affordable service, look for an up and coming florist rather than somewhere already well established. They will be happy to work with you to expand their portfolio and are more likely to be flexible to your needs. A good florist may also be able to help you with your table spreads and tying in your choice of favours to the overall design. Have a look here for some gorgeous and unique favours ideas that your guests will be happy to take home.

These are the initial stages of wedding planning and they are so exciting and enjoyable, you’ll have an amazing time shaping your big day. Keep a look at for How To Make Your Dream Wedding A Reality, Part Two, which covers everything from bridesmaids dresses to writing vows and everything in-between. Let me know if there’s anything you have done differently or other tips in the comments.

Bio: Help! I’m Getting Married is blog by Nat, a twenty-something blogger living in Brighton, UK. who set up a blog a few years ago when she was engaged to be married as a resource to help women in similar situations, covering everything from venue and food to photographers and dresses. 

After being married almost four years, she learned that life certainly doesn’t end at marriage; she encountered so much during the first two years of marriage that she made the decision to change the focus of her blog from just weddings to a variety of lifestyle topics. She wanted to convey the message that life goes on after your happily ever after, and that the journey has been just as exciting as the wedding.

 You’ll find a bit of everything on Help! I’m Getting Married; along with the regular wedding articles, there’s also plenty to read on fashion, beauty, family, travel, lifestyle, culture, food, and much more. Nat’s work appears around the internet, and she’s currently a certified Mumsnet Blogger and a Miss Millennia Magazine contributor.

Twitter: @martinnathalie9

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Can you ask wedding guests for money?

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This entry is from our Expert Guest series where wedding and honeymoon professionals share their best tips on creating memories that last a lifetime.

Sometimes it’s difficult to work out the accepted wedding etiquette. After all, you’ve most likely never had to plan a wedding before! There are so many things you are expected to know: When should you send out a save the date? Who can you leave off the guest list? Can you tell people not to bring their kids? One of the most touchy areas, in etiquette as in life, involves money and how people are asked to spend it. Specifically, can you ask people for money in lieu of gifts? Can you ask them to spend their money on certain gifts instead of others? The answer is, it’s complicated.

Tactfully circulate your gift preferences

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The reason this is such a touchy issue is that making any statement about gifts can seem presumptuous. After all, your guests aren’t obligated to bring a gift. It’s supposed to be a nice extra. A bonus, not something you can count on ahead of time. Asking people to select a gift from a registry can sound like asking for loot, and even worse, asking for money or something else instead of gifts can sound ungrateful for anything else your guests may have planned to give you.

On the other hand, of course, many guests appreciate having some guidance on what they can spend money on. They don’t want to waste money buying a gift you don’t need or don’t like, so some indication can be helpful. They may prefer to give cash, but worry about seeming rude by failing to pick out a thoughtful gift. This has become especially pertinent in a time when many couples live together for years prior to marriage, or at least live independent of their parents beforehand. People usually have the kitchenware and towels sorted years before the wedding. But of course, lots of couples would love fancy new things for starting their married life, so expectations can get pretty complicated!

Know when to tell guests about gift preferences

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Asking Guests For Wedding Gifts Of Money Or Specific Items

So what’s a bride to do? Can you help your guests out, or is it rude to do so? The answer is yes, help them out! But do it in an appropriate way. What is appropriate? Glad you asked! You have three main options:

Include a separate gift card

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1. Add a card to your wedding invitation suite

First things first, you should never include information about gifts, cash or registries on a save the date or on the wedding invitation itself. What you can do, however, is to include a separate card that gives your guests information about your preference for gifts. Word it tastefully. Something like “We have already been blessed with everything we need for our home! If you wish to bring a gift, a contribution to our wishing well would be greatly appreciated.” Make sure it is clear that the gift is optional, that you sound thankful, and that you use tactful euphemisms. “A contribution to our wishing well” will always sound better than ˜cash’.

Add details to a wedding website

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2. Add the information to your wedding website

Got a wedding website to share information with your guests? This is the perfect setting for information about gifts! This can work in tandem with an information card in your wedding invitation suite, but it is also considered more acceptable to include the details of your wedding website on the invitation itself rather than specifics about gifts if you would prefer to keep it to one card.

Set up a section on your website marked something like “registry,” “˜wishing well,” or “a note on gifts.”  Use the same tips on wording as above: be thankful, keep things optional, and be careful about your choice of terminology.

Rely on word of mouth

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3. Rely on word of mouth

This is a good option if you are worried about offending certain guests or if your preference on gifts is not as firm. All you have to do here is let your parents, siblings, and bridal party know where you have registered or what your arrangements are. People who are stuck for ideas on gifts are likely to ask them (or you!) for ideas, and they can spread the word. Those who have their own thing in mind are unlikely to ask and will get you whatever they had planned on anyway. This is obviously less efficient, but is a good option if you’re not certain about how to handle it.

So that’s how to handle it. Let people know your preferences in a tactful way that is focused on helping make their lives easier rather than on making demands based solely on what you want, and people will be appreciative. Whether you’re registered somewhere, hoping for cash to put towards a house or paying off the wedding, or looking for donations to charity in lieu of presents, it’s just a matter of keeping it off the invitation and being polite.

Your Honeyfund honeymoon registry offers a tasteful way to ask for money!

Bio: This post was written by Maddison Wallace from Paperlust, Australia, where print design lovers and independent creatives unite.

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