There are so many ways to get married – just have a quick look at pinterest, google images or the giant selection of online wedding publications available.
If you have a fixed idea already, deciding where and when your wedding should take place and designing how it should look like could be as easy as 123, but if you find yourself overwhelmed by the amount of inspiration and realize that there is a vast ocean out there, perhaps you suddenly feel totally confused of what your wedding dream is – not to mention how to even get there.
On the contrary, once we have shaped our wedding vision it is easy to become rigid and fixed in our ideas… Of course everyone deserves the “perfect” day – but spending an engagement having to fight to make it come true exactly the way we thought is usually not worth it. Having an open mind is something that will save you a lot of stress. Adapt a flexible mindset early on, if at all possible.
Most of us have never planned a party of this proportion before, so chances are that it soon starts to seem like a huge mountain to climb. It could become complicated if it turns out you are not sure what you want, or that you decide something which later proves not to be possible.
We have outlined the process in easy steps for you. Knowing the practicalities and following a structure will simply decision making and make you more efficient when planning.
We want you to enjoy your engagement having as much time as possible other than measuring up portable toilet rental costs to see what is left over for your wedding perfume, or whether you can afford your bridesmaids to bring a guest. Because in the end of the day, this is an event not only full of love and laughter – a whole lot of practical thinking lays behind those sweetly fragranced bouquets and moist wedding cake.
HOW TO: Get started
All the decisions that you and your fiancé are going to make over the next few months are crucial in the outcome of the wedding day. It is not only about how to make it look good, but also how to make it come together practically. The success of your wedding day is determined by the work you do over the next year or so. We at Sheer recommend taking your time and enjoying your engagement as long as it lasts – no need to rush!
- Don’t start by announcing your date – there is some research to do before!
- What is going to structure the next few months the most, is how much you decide to spend on the wedding. Please note: this has nothing to do with how much you can afford, simply with how much you want to spend. Perhaps you could in theory afford a R200.000 wedding. But is that really necessary? We don’t recommend to max out for a one day event, even though it is a special one. Life carries on afterwards, you know.
- Sit down and discuss how much you are going to spend on getting married. Check with any family you think might want to contribute. Remember that you have a long life together after the wedding so don’t splurge unnecessarily. A wedding doesn’t have to be expensive in order to be amazing.
- Avoid taking a loan.
Once you have a number of how much funds are available, you can begin the next step…
The following areas work in correlation and are co-dependent of each other:
VENUE – DATE – BUDGET – VISION. There is no specific order of working in these areas, as you will probably have start them more or less simultaneously.
HOW TO: Create a budget
- You need a spreadsheet to record all wedding related costs and payments. Download our Budget Tool here – it will make sense of it all. The budget tool will automatically calculate a suggested amount to spend for each category. Let’s say your budget is R100.000 – your suggested budget for flowers is going to be R5000 (5%)
- Fill in the left row with your estimated costs to see how it fits in your budget. In the right row you enter your actual costs.
- If you prefer to do your own spread sheet, the allocating percentages we recommend are as follows:
45% venue total (25% venue fee, 20% venue extras), 6% ceremony, 5% floral decor, 10% Attire, 10% Photography, 4% Entertainment, 4% Rings, 4% paper goods, 4% Transport, 2% Gifts, 10% Other.
- You can change amount in these percentages, of course, so it suits your priorities. For example, you want to decrease how much to spend on gifts in favour of more expensive wedding attire.
- We highly recommend that you look at our budget tool to get a better grasp and to be in control of your budget. It is free of charge and easy to use.
The VVs : Your Vision and Venue.
Having a vision is a great idea when you look for your venue. Ideally you can get the venue of your dreams – the date will depend on this. How much to spend on the venue and vision is determined first of all in the budget.
HOW TO: Find a venue
- You and your fiancé should first of all sit down (or go on a road trip) and come up with a few ideas towards your VISION. For example: a traditional ceremony in your favorite church, then a reception at a glam hotel. Or a farm style wedding in a barn, then reception under the stars. Perhaps you want to elope and get married on a glacier.
- Once the initial vision is there, you have a better idea of what venue you would like. Start doing research and book times for a visit. Ask lots of questions. Which ones to ask? Find here
- The venue who speaks to you the most should obviously be the one. Think in a mixture of practically, aesthetically and emotionally. Maybe one overrides the other. Is it easy for guests to find accommodation in the area? Does it have capacity for all the guests you plan to invite? Can your must-have officiant travel easily there? Will it allow you your own vendors, or do you have to use theirs? Do you love its ambiance or does the place have a profound and special meaning to you?
- The venue might be more important than the date you have in mind, so be prepared to be flexible.
HOW TO: Choose a wedding date
Some juggling is required between your wishes, venue availability and other peoples availability.
- You don’t have to decide a date the first thing you do when newly engaged. Everyone will immediately start to ask, but take your time to first figure out the Vision and Venue you both love. (See other sections)
- Decide if you want to get married in spring, summer, autumn or winter (OR first decide how much money you want to spend on the venue).
- Check with all the important people: family, close friends, and wedding party to see if they are any dates around the time you are thinking to get married at which they are not available. Remember that your date will to some extent depend on who of your key people can or can’t make it.
- Look for a venue, when you have found 2 of the strongest contenders, see when they are available. Good venues might be booked 18 months in advance!
- Before deciding, you might want to give your marriage officer a call to see if he will be able to wed you then, if it is important that it is a certain person.
- Once you have found a date the venue has available that you are happy with, double check with key people. Go ahead and announce once confirmed.
- Budget tips: Consider getting married on a weekday or Sunday – you will find that the cost is significantly less. The least likely is is to be “nice”on your wedding date, (not sunny and warm) the cheaper the venue fee will be. Daytime weddings are definitely less than evening weddings for that same desirability reason. Remember that almost everyone loves brunch – and it is easier to find baby sitters.
Expensive: Saturday wedding in summer with 3 course formal dinner
Cheaper: Sunday tea time wedding in autumn with buffet style snack food
- Nothing guarantees the Saturday wedding to be a greater success than the Sunday wedding!
HOW TO: Create a Broad Wedding Vision
Your vision is going to be somewhat interlinked with your venue: the vision might depend on what is suitable at the location (for example you perhaps wouldn’t do a coastal theme in winter in the forest). But a lot of imagination is good, of course!
- Where do you want the wedding to be?
- How many guests would you like to invite?
- What time of day would you like to get married?
- What are the wedding musts – emotionally speaking?
- What is your favorite season?
- What style of eating would you like? Formal or more casual?
- Do you want a small or large wedding? Simple or more extravagant?
- Your vision should also contain some ideas about the ceremony, cocktail hour, reception, and over all decor look and location extras. Limit your first ideas to 3-4 in each area to avoid getting fragmented and over zealous early on.
- Your vision can be totally unique – instead of following a theme, you can create your own depending on your personal characters and interests. But we will go deeper into the theme in a later post.
- List all the elements that are important to you, and add it together in your wedding binder/ folder/ google docs.
- This is your basic vision and road map on which to base all the following decisions around. Stay true to it or you might risk getting lost in all the choices that will arise along the way.
HOW TO: Manage the Budget – Venue cost – Guestlist correlation
Warning: Some maths is required here!
- With the calculation below you will have a better idea of how many guests you can invite with the amount you would like to spend on the venue. Or vise versa: the maximum cost for venue, given the guest list you have in mind.
- You should already have a basic idea of what the venue is going to cost, after the research you have done. As we mentioned, spend about 25% of your budget on Venue, and be prepared to have to spend another 20% on everything that goes in to the reception part of the day – including the wedding cake.
- Write down an ideal list of guests (don’t invite anyone yet) and come up with a rough calculation.
- When you have found a venue, ask for the venue fee + cost per head count
for ease sake let’s say your total budget for the wedding is R100.000: 25% would be r25.000 for your rough estimate for venue costs.x- guests
A Venue fee
B venue guest charge per head
The formula looks like this:
y= Bx +A
For example: The venue is R5.000 to hire =A
+ R250 per guest for catering = B guest charge per head x A venue fixed fee
The budget is R25.000 :25% of R100.000
Deduct R5.000 venue = R20.000 left to spend on catering
20.000/ R250 = 80 guests.
- You might want to do it the other way around: establish the guests x, the budget y, then calculate and the formula will find the price range. Look for a venue that fits within that range which allows all your guests to attend within your budget.
- Juggle around in between guest count and venue costs until you have landed on a venue total fee and a guest count that you agree on.
- Obviously you can spend more than 25% of your budget on venue and catering, but then you’d have less for other things. Maybe you will skip on having a large wedding cake and choose less expensive wedding shoes in order to include everyone on the guest list of your dreams.
HOW TO: Keep Wedding Budget
This is the aspect you might battle most with during planning, unless you have an unlimited budget of course. We always recommend putting an upper limit because after the wedding you might want the money for something else, such as upgrading your cars, a deposit towards a house or future school fees. It doesn’t hurt to be a bit conservative and realistic!
- Choose 3 key areas on which to spend your budget. Leave the other areas in the “optional luxuries” pile. We think it is better to do a few things really well, as opposed to spread your budget out thin on too many areas.
- Write down all the things that are essential for the wedding to take place. For example: Officiant. Chairs for guests to sit on. Food. Photography. Mark these out in your budget spread sheet.
- Put a bracket on all the things that you could do without, in theory at least. For example: Favours. Fun socks for groomsmen. That R500 cake topper.
Buy these items last, if there is funds left after you bought the essentials.
- Keep your budget spreadsheet updated and keep track of your receipts. when you have reached the limit for each section of the budget, just put the credit card down and make an alternative plan – perhaps juggle funds from your wedding dress budget to afford something else. Or get a second job. Only you can decide what your priorities are.
- Many wedding budgets go bust and it doesnt mean it is the end of the world – as long as you are not in debt, or feeling buyers remorse at the end of it. But remember that you are going to have a long life ahead of you so plan for the future and not just for that one day.
HOW TO: Determine Wedding Essentials
- There is no such thing as an official Wedding must have list. Your wedding is a truly unique event, and you can design and structure it exactly how you want. Truthfully speaking, in order to be wed, all you need is a Marriage license, a officiant and a couple of witnesses. But obviously you would like it a little bit more exiting than that.. or you wouldn’t be reading this 🙂
- Write down all the things that are absolutely musts for you. Revise this list a few times as the months passes.
- Every time you are about to buy or order something for your wedding, ask your self “Is this essential for my wedding? Or am I buying it because it is something I’ve been made into believing I need” (Hello, bridesmaids robes)
- In terms of sticking to a budget, always establish whether something is an emotional must or a practical must, and then make your decision according to what seems most sensible. There might be a more budget friendly alternative or a simpler way of doing it if you look around.
HOW TO: Stay On Top Of The Game
- Attend to your stress levels and look after your wellbeing. Sleeping, exercising and eating balanced will keep you feeling strong
- Stay organized in a smart way. Keep all wedding related things in one folder in your computer, and on one desk at home. A binder with different chapters is a useful thing, and I cannot stress the benefit of Google Docs – you will have everything in one place accessible from anywhere, to anyone you invite to join it. Great for vendors too as you can centralize everything everyone need to know as opposed to having 10 email threads going. And for any member of your family or bridal party that might be involved, you can refer them to your organized list so you don’t have to explain the same thing over and over.
- A email address especially for wedding planning is a great idea so you don’t have get your normal email account get flooded with vendor queries.
- Voice memos in the phone are great for jolting down thoughts on the go – you can count on that your brain might feel slightly over worked at times, so record your own thoughts before they slip away
- Designate a chat group for you and your groom in whatsapp or messenger for Wedding related communication. It is going to be a relief to keep it separate and handy to have it in one forum only.
- Writing a diary is a good way of organizing your thoughts before going to bed, staying sane and to remember this precious time once it is in the past.
- Go on regular dates, have movie nights, and days completely off wedding planning – which bans all talks about anything wedding related.
- Most of all, try to enjoy the time together even if you might feel really stressed at time. And perhaps you need a break from planning all sometimes, separately.
- Always work as a team, delegate equally and try to now get mad with eachother because of your wedding – that would be rather ironic hey?
Did you find these planning hacks useful, and how is your own planning process going? Let us know by sharing your thoughts in the comments field below.
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If you are about to plan your wedding, or is busy doing it already, don’t forget to check out the following articles:
You are also likely to find the Planning Tools page handy!