So you’re engaged!! Big congratulations and what an exciting time you have ahead of you :).
The next steps in planning a wedding can seem very daunting and many people feel overwhelmed on where to even start. Don’t stress, here is a simple(ish) guide to follow and I promise, the rest will fall into place (having a checklist helps tremendously, but let’s talk about that later).
Decide how many people you want to invite to your wedding
Compile a list of guests you must have at your wedding and guests that you actually want to be at your wedding. Once you get to later steps, this can be tweaked if required.
This is easier said than done as it depends on many factors such as (and not limited to) travelling guests, family situation, budget and location. Determining a guest list can start family wars, cause tension between friendships and ultimately cause you a lot of anxiety. However, just remember that this is your wedding, you are paying for it and it is your choice on who you want to be there on what may be the happiest day of your lives.
Things you may want to ask yourselves are:
How close are you with these people?
Do you even like these people?
Do you see yourselves friends with them in 5-10 years?
Do you want children at your wedding?
Do you want to invite plus ones?
Don’t get bogged down by questions like, will this person be offended if I don’t invite them/ their partner? Will this person even come?
I didn’t invite many people who I had very close friendships with in the past but hadn’t spoken to in years. I didn’t invite some colleagues that I wasn’t close with even though I invited many others that I was close to. I found myself wondering if the non-invited would be offended. After the wedding was over, I actually got congratulated from some of them and none were in the slightest bit offended (probably didn’t even care!). So don’t worry yourself too much about the little things.
There may be compromises that need to be made but sit down, talk to your significant other and communicate openly.
Once you have the number of guests, decide on a location and then choose a venue
Venue choices will be limited by the number of guests you plan to have. For example, if you have a guest list of 400+, you may need to find a function centre that has rooms large enough to accommodate for this number. Conversely, if you have a small guest list of 20 people for example, you might be able to have the reception in a private room at your favourite restaurant.
Of course, there are some people that have a dream venue in mind and if this is your priority, you can base your guest numbers on the capacity of your chosen venue. There are so so so many different and spectacular venues you can get married at - function centres, farmhouses, private properties, vineyards.. The list goes on. Speak to your partner about what style suits the both of you.
So, how do we find venues? Don’t run away yet, yes this is overwhelming but it’s not as hard as you think!
There are several ways to find potential venues. I suggest the first stop be trusty ol’ Google. Type in key phrases such as “Sydney wedding venues” or “Sydney wedding receptions” etc. There is an abundance of articles that you can go through and as you browse, start writing down a list of venues you could see yourself getting married at.
Another search engine you can use is Instagram. Click the magnifying glass to search the same key phrase as above and you should see hashtags pop up such as #sydneyweddingvenues. Click on this and then browse to your hearts delight, like when a menu at a restaurant has pictures. Sometimes the posts will have the location tagged, sometimes locations will be mentioned in the captions or hashtags and sometimes you may need to read through the comments.
If you’re interested in having a more unique wedding venue such as on a farm, in a warehouse, etc. then check out Wedshed venues. The website Wedshed has this search engine where you can browse venues based on location, guest number, property type and much more. It even has approximate pricing attached - freakin’ amazing.
So after all this, you’ve got your list of potentials and now it’s just a process of elimination. Jump onto your email and contact the places to find out their pricing, or it may be available on their website. Use Instagram and Google images to find more pictures on your potential venues, you’ll find out more information and angles to determine if you still want this venue to be on your list.
Cross off the venues that don’t fit your number of guests (unless you love it and can cut back on a few people).
Cross off the venues that don’t fit into your budget (or your stretched budget either).
Cross off the venues that don’t suit your must-have requirements e.g. a wet weather option, wheelchair access, parking for guests, accommodation near-by, food inclusive.
Cross of the venues that aren’t convenient to your situation e.g. if you plan to have the ceremony at a church, a reception within a short driving distance would be more convenient for everyone involved.
By now, you should have a very short list of places - hopefully no more than 3! All that’s left now is to schedule appointments to see the remaining venues in person and decide which one both of you love the most.
Choose the date
Once you’ve chosen the guests and the venue, selecting the date should come quite easily. Choose which season you’d like to be married in. Consider if you would like it to be warmer or cooler. You may enjoy the look of vibrant Autumn leaves for your wedding pictures. Generally, Spring and Autumn are the most popular seasons to get married in and Winter is the least popular. However, having a Winter wedding may appeal to many and some vendors may offer discounts during Winter as it will be their quiet time of the year - don’t be afraid to ask!
Decide what day you would like to be married on. Saturdays have always been the most popular choice so that guests will be able to drink and dance the night away without worrying about work the next day. However, there are benefits to having your wedding on other days - they tend to be more available and cheaper (and trust me, there will still be people drinking and dancing the night away regardless).
Many people like repeating numbers e.g. 22/2/22 and if those numbers happen to fall on a Saturday.. Well, expect a lot of venues to be booked out so get in there quickly.
Consider, culturally, auspicious dates if appropriate to you and your partner. Again, Google (or grandma) is your friend.
Have your deposit ready, a favoured date and a back-up date, contact your chosen venue and BOOK IT! You can now embrace the wave of relief that is washing over you.
So there is my 3-step guide on the first steps to planning your wedding. You may find yourselves doing the steps out of order which is perfectly fine, there is not a one-size-fits-all pathway to approaching wedding planning. The next steps you can take your time with because all the major things are now semi out of the way.
Until next time, have fun!