Congratulations, you're engaged! What now?

by Owen Relfe

Are you one of the lucky couples basking in the afterglow of a festive proposal? January tends to be a busy time for us. We hear from lots of excited couples who are just starting out on their wedding planning journey. If you’ve just got engaged and aren’t too sure what to do next, keep reading. Here are our top tips.

Decide on the ‘when’

Determining your preferred wedding date is key to the planning process. You’re unlikely to be able to fix an exact date straight away as it will depend upon availability, but deciding on the year (and season) will help. If you’re desperate to get married in 2022 then you’ll need to get going with making enquiries and checking supplier (and guest) availability as soon as you can. Many people are still on ‘catch up’ following so many postponements since the start of the pandemic, so 2022 is all ready looking pretty busy for the wedding and event industry. 2023 will give you a lot more choice. Deciding on a date will also help with the next major decision… setting your budget!

Agree on a budget

We often work with wedding planners, and the biggest piece of advice they always give to their couples is to decide on a budget at the start and stick to it. It’s important at this stage to consider ‘who’ is paying too. If you are financing it all yourselves then it will be quicker and easier to set your budget, but you may need to allow for time to chat to family who may wish to contribute.

Your budget may also be determined by your wedding date. If you decide to have a long engagement for example, you might find you are able to set a larger budget as it will give you more time to save.

Lauren Goodman, wedding planner and owner of Bluebird Creative, has created a fantastic video to help guide you through the process of setting a wedding budget. Here she explains how to break your budget down so you know roughly how much to allocate to each element.

Create a Pinterest board

Although it may sound a bit cliché, creating a Pinterest board is a really useful part of the planning process. As you start to pin and save ideas and images that you are drawn to, you will see a natural theme appear. Are all your images of boho-chic weddings or are they more traditional scenes? Are you veering towards a casual, relaxed vibe or elegant romance? As your wedding ‘theme’ emerges it will be easier to start considering venues you want to visit and in turn, decide on things like entertainment, catering and your wedding ‘look’.

Write a guest list This is another important one and very closely linked to budget and venue! Also, note the title – ‘write’ - don’t just chat this through or assume who your partner will want to invite. Sit down together and come up with a full list. Make sure you include evening guests too.

Location, location, location

Maybe you’ve been dreaming of your wedding day long before your engagement and have your venue and location fixed in your mind all ready. But if you’re not too sure where to start, the first real decision is whether you want to marry locally or elsewhere. Keep in mind that if your venue is a long way from where you live (or if you’re going for a destination wedding) then it won’t be quite as easy to visit your venue on the run up to the big day. If you have a list of people who you absolutely want to be part of the day, then keep that in mind too – if your wedding is at the other end of the country it might be tricky for some guests. You’ll also need to think ahead to where you and your bridal party will stay. Don’t let these things put you off, just keep them in mind when deciding on your ‘where’.

Think about your ceremony

For some couples this is by far the easiest decision. You may want follow in your parent’s footsteps and marry in the same church, or maybe you’ve always pictured yourselves marrying outside on the beach. Deciding on what kind of ceremony you want will help you choose a venue that is right for you. Remember to consider the legalities – to be legally married or to form a legal civil partnership, you will need to marry and sign the relevant paperwork somewhere that is licensed. Many of the couples that we work with are choosing to have celebrant-led ceremonies in locations of their choice and simply arranging to nip off to the registry office beforehand to legalise their marriage.
You can read more about this in one of our previous blog posts.

Chose a venue

When you start researching venues, always check capacity before you arrange a visit. You don’t want to fall in love with somewhere only to find you’d only be able to invite half of your guest list. Here is a useful list of things to consider when looking at venues: • Does it fit with your theme? • Will it work with your budget? • Does it reflect your personalities? • Is it in your preferred location? • Where will you get ready? • Is there accommodation nearby? • Do they have a recommended supplier policy? (This may limit your choice of caterers, entertainment etc). • What are the timings? If you want to do a DIY set-up then check what time (and day) you can be on-site from. If you want to party into the night then check what time their music/drinks licence ends. • Check the finer details. Heart set on a candle-lit wedding breakfast? Ask if they permit candles. All ready excited for your ‘confetti’ shot – enquire if it’s allowed?

Get wedding insurance

As soon as you start to pay for suppliers and sign contracts (your venue will probably be the first thing), you should purchase wedding insurance. It’s not a very exciting part of the planning process, but for peace of mind it’s best to be prepared.

Time to enjoy the planning

We hope this has helped to get you started with planning what is set to be the best day of your lives! It can be daunting at first, but there are loads of great planning tools and tips available online and once you get started things will naturally fall into place. Soon you can move onto all the really fun stuff like tasting menus, choosing your band and trying on wedding dresses! If you’re considering an outdoor wedding and would like to know more about our tipi and sailcloth marquees then please get in touch. We love talking all things ‘wedding’ and will be really happy to give you ideas on how to plan your perfect outdoor wedding in Dorset, Hampshire, Devon, Wiltshire and beyond!

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Take Care

The Coastal Tents Team xxxx