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Ready or Knot

Getting hitched means making a hundred decisions on everything from flowers to photos. We can help out with at least 27 of them.

Preview Staff
January 28, 2019

There’s a ring on your finger. Now what? A wedding will probably be the biggest and most involved party either of you have ever put together, but don’t be scared.

When planning your wedding, there are things that are nice to know, and there are things you need to know. If you’re wondering whether there’s something you may have missed (or even if you’ve got everything under control), check out our indispensable planning secrets below.

A: Ambience
When you close your eyes and imagine your dream wedding, what do you see? Is there a relaxed nature-vibe with boho styling? Are you thinking uber-trendy city chic? Or perhaps you want something more formal and traditional. Couples can really get hung up on feeling that they have to have a wedding theme. A theme is just a way of creating a cohesive and consistent look for your wedding. It could be as simple as a color or a flower that you love. The most important thing to remember, though, is that your theme has to flow throughout the day. So once you have decided on something that you really love, stick to it and don’t be swayed by Pinterest or wedding blogs, as you could end up buying loads of items that just don’t work together and end up costing you a massive chunk of your budget.

B: Budget
We’re not going to lie. Getting married is not a cheap business. The average spent on a wedding in 2018 was $22,218, according to one wedding website. Be suspicious of statistics like these, though, as a handful of really lavish events can skew the figures. A straw poll of your married friends will prove that an excellent wedding can be had for much less. Heck, you can do the whole thing for about $400 if you’re happy with a civil ceremony on a weekday and a round of drinks afterward.

Start your budget planning by making a checklist of the crucial details, like the music, wedding gown, invitations, flowers and photographer, and assign a number to each — one being the most important and three being the least. Invest your money in all your number ones and cut corners on your number threes. But everything can’t fall into the No. 1 category. For example, if a designer gown and fabulous food are what really matter, you may have to choose simple invitations and smaller floral arrangements.

C: Cake
Gone are the days when a wedding cake has to be three tiers of fruitcake. Now, pretty much anything goes. We’re seeing lots of hexagonal shapes, especially with a marbled effect on the icing and copper stenciled or painted designs. Or, instead of a cake, doughnuts have become a thing for some.

D: Dress
There’s no getting away from it: the dress is a big deal. Chances are, it’s unlike anything you’ve ever worn before, so try to be open-minded. There are no rules in weddings any more, so don’t stick to any. If you prefer shopping by yourself, then do that. If you decide to bring people with you, then make sure they are your nearest and dearest who know you well. On a practical note, make sure you are comfy in the dress you choose.

E: Entertainment
You’ll be wanting some entertainment to keep the party rocking, but do you want a DJ or a live band? Although it’s your day, it’s always worth considering your guests’ tastes too. You may love hard rock, but if you’re the only ones who do, the dance floor is likely to remain empty all night.

These days, anything goes at a wedding. There’s so much more focus on entertainment to create the “guest experience.” This could be a casino, a firework display, magicians, bouncy castles, photo booths or maybe an intergenerational game of tug-o’-war. It’s all about introducing something different and fabulous to create a real wow factor.

F: Food
The truth is that the food is one of the things that most people will remember about your day. And a hungry guest is an unhappy guest. But wedding catering no longer has to be confined to the traditional three-course meal. Sharing-style platters are becoming really popular. And couples are keen to be able to express their own style through the food.

G: Gifts
There is a good chance your guests will want to give you a gift to celebrate your nuptials. To avoid ending up with multiple toasters, you can set up a registry for guests to choose from. Or, if you already have everything you need, you could ask guests to contribute toward a honeymoon or make a donation to charity.

H: Hair
You’ll want to ensure your tresses are looking tip-top, and many salons offer bespoke bridal services and to help you find the look that’s just right for you. Start thinking about your hair and makeup around six months before. This allows you to build confidence with your stylists and take on their recommendations to achieve the best results for you.

Think about the time of year you’re going to get married, too; you may consider sunkissed highlights with a bronzed glow for a summer wedding, for example. Bring along all your accessories to try. Your dress is going to play a big part in deciding to wear your hair in an updo or down. and after trying different styles, you may want to consider some extensions.

Soft, relaxed and undone is a popular look at the moment. Something like an unstructured chignon is a classic style with a modern twist, while braids make a great statement piece without looking too bridal, whether it be a halo braid or a loose side-swept fishtail braid. Or if you’re wanting to wear your hair down, a classic vintage wave or a looser beach wave both add elegance without leaving you feeling exposed. And you can always add fresh flowers, feathers or even hair jewelry to elevate the desired look.

I: Invitations
So, you’ve got about 200 friends and family but only 80 seats at the wedding. Nightmare. Sorry, but you’re going to have to divide them into an A-list (guests that you can’t get married without, such as friends and family you see regularly, work colleagues you socialize with outside of work and other family you’d visit more than once a year) and a B-list (work colleagues, gym/club friends, etc.).

Your venue will also dictate some of the decision-making process. As a rule of thumb, allow for 25 to 30 square feet per guest. That may seem like a lot, but it’s really not if you count the space you’ll need for the tables, bustling waiters, the band and a dance floor.

And not to be party-poopers, but the easiest way to ease a bulging wedding budget is to cut your guest list. Nearly half of your wedding expenses can go to wining and dining your guests. If it’s costing you $100 per person, eliminating 10 people can save you $1,000.

Also prepare for rejection. As a rule, about 10 to 20 percent of the people you invite won’t attend. This depends on the location of your wedding (destination weddings are harder to attend), how many out-of-towners are on your list, and the timing of the event (some guests may have annual holiday plans).

Give people plenty of notice of your wedding date, especially if they’ll need to travel, stay overnight or take time off work. Don’t forget they may need to budget too.

J: Jitters
How do you tell run-of-the-mill nerves apart from a serious case of cold feet? Your underlying emotion, generally, toward your upcoming marriage (not wedding day). Is it happiness or dread? If the former, have a bath and call your mom for a last-minute pep talk. The latter? You don’t need us to tell you what to do.

K: Kissing
And other forms of PDA. The smooch shot may be a staple in 21st century wedding albums, but if making out in public makes you uncomfortable, there’s nothing fuddy-duddy about a demure peck. Your guests will take your physical compatibility as a given; you don’t need to flaunt it.

L: Lingerie
Don’t forget that you might want something slinky to slip into once you slip out of your dress. It is your wedding night after all.

M: Makeup
You’ll want to look and feel your best on your wedding day, and let’s face it, that’s probably going to involve a bit of makeup. More and more, brides are embracing their natural beauty with minimal face makeup, and a focus on a healthy, glowing skin. Regular exfoliation and a good skincare routine will take care of this.

Always visit the salon for trial makeup before the day. This is when you can get the look exactly right; there’s never enough time to play around with it on the day. Also, it helps if the bride brings some ideas along in the form of pictures, color ideas, and so on.

Finally, the bride should allow as much time as she can for herself on the day. Many brides choose to have their makeup applied last, after all the bridesmaids and moms are done, which can mean it’s a rush. Go first.

N: Nails
With that new wedding ring on your finger, people are going to be looking at your hands a lot, so make sure your nails are looking on point.

O: Organization
You can’t possibly ever be too organized for your wedding. Wedding shows can be a great place to go and see a lot of providers all under one roof, and can often offer the chance to see a venue set up for a wedding.

If you’re struggling, then a wedding planner can be a great sounding board. You only get married once (hopefully!), but a wedding planner has been involved with numerous weddings and has an excellent understanding of what does and does not work. They can offer you a wealth of expert advice, ideas and suggestions that you might not have considered, but could be perfect.

Wedding planners know their local area and other local wedding suppliers. They have worked with many of them and know who provides an excellent level of service, who is reliable, reasonably priced and efficient … and who isn’t.

Your planner can also prevent last-minute panic by contacting all of your suppliers and confirm delivery and set-up times with them. They will also have contingency plans in place, in case the worst should happen. And they’ll manage the day itself so that you, your mom, sister and best friend can just get on with enjoying every minute.

P: Photographer
We live in an era when, thanks to social media, everyone assumes they’re a photographer. However, everyone isn’t. This day can’t be repeated, and that is why putting the money into a decent photographer is so important.

There are hundreds of wedding photographers out there, but you’ll know when you’ve found the one who is right for you. Make sure you see at least one or two full wedding galleries — that’s everything that a client will receive — so you can be sure that their photos of speeches, key moments, details and guests will be as good as the artsy couples’ photos they show on their portfolio. Think about your guests too. Choose someone who you feel will fit in with both your family and your friends and will find a way to relax them and capture them in a way you’ll recognize.

Most photographers will be organized and will send out questionnaires or meet with you to discuss the plans and timings in advance. Make sure you let them know of any surprises, any special features of the wedding or times when any gifts might be given out to guests. If they don’t ask for a shot list but you have people you’d like a photo with, make sure you provide them the names and they’ll be sure to set them up.

Q: Quiet Time
Ironically, considering you’ve probably spent the last year agonizing over every minuscule detail, your actual wedding day will feel like it lasts 20 minutes. At some point amid the vows, speeches, dancing and checking in with guests, you and your new spouse must find a secluded spot, and consciously take in the wow-ness of everything.

R: Reception
Once the serious part of the day is over, this is when you can relax and the fun really begins.

S: Social Media
Please, all you digital natives, check with the bride and groom before posting snaps of, or even comments about, their big day. They might have a special hashtag set up so they can revisit their wedding later, or they might just cherish their privacy and not want such a precious and intimate occasion broadcast to the world. Yes, in 2019, these people still exist.

T: Travel
How are you going to get to and from your venue(s)? There are so many options from vintage cars, and horse and carriages to limousines and even more quirky alternatives like tractors or buses. However you choose to travel, though, make sure it’s been carefully timed to take into account traffic and any possible delays.

U: Ushers
The groom’s “squad” is responsible for ensuring that come ceremony time, everyone is sitting where they are meant to be. If you’re renting suits for them all, make sure everyone goes and gets measured in plenty of time, and assign one of them the job of collecting them all up the following day to be returned.

V: Venue
This is one of the most important decisions you’ll make as it’s where you’ll be spending most of your time.

Most brides normally have an idea in their minds of where they’d like to be married, and then view the venues that would suit that style. View as many venues as possible with an open mind but always be realistic with the budget so that you don’t over stretch yourselves.

Some venues will allow you to rent out the whole place. The incredible advantages to exclusive use is that the venue can be a home away from home for the time you are there. The place is yours for you and your loved ones to exclusively enjoy.

W: Wedding Rings
You’ll both be wearing these for the rest of your lives, so choose wisely. Buying a wedding ring is all about finding a design that complements your engagement ring. Neither ring should outshine the other, and you want to create a beautiful pairing, bringing out the best in both of your rings. When you are purchasing a wedding ring, it’s important to try it on with your engagement ring so that you can see how they sit as one. Mismatched metals are becoming more and more popular. Going for a different metal from your engagement ring to your wedding band is a little more quirky and individual, creating a fun and unique style. The different metals can still really complement each other; for example, rose gold adds a feminine touch to any metal.

X: Exes
Invite them or not? Well, because so few marry their childhood sweethearts, chances are some couples have racked up an ex or two. And because you’re not characters in a soap opera, some of you may be on good terms with some of them. Indeed, some may have had children with exes and consider them very much still part of the family. So the answer is: yes, but only if your intended is 100 percent down with it.

Y: Your Day
There’re going to be plenty of people wanting to give their point of view throughout the wedding planning process. Ultimately though, remember that it’s your day, and go with your heart.

Z: Zzzzzz
Weddings are long and tiring days, not just for you, but for your guests as well. Make sure you’ve arranged somewhere lovely for you and your spouse to stay on your wedding night, but don’t forget about your guests. If your venue has rooms, it’s worth checking if they offer a discount for a block booking for people coming to the wedding. It not, you could put together a list of nearby hotels and B&Bs and send it with your wedding invitations.