How to start planning a wedding
23 tips to kick-start your dream day.
It can be quite overwhelming to plan a wedding. Where do you start?
You’ve (probably!) never planned one before, so this guide will help you answer some of the most common initial questions couples have.
1. Where do I start with wedding planning?
Find your venue before sorting anything else. Search for venues in the area you want to get married in and visit the ones you like the look of. Only once your venue is secured should you worry about anything else.
2. What do I do after I’ve booked the venue?
Decide what you want your day to look like. Then prioritise the wedding suppliers which will help you achieve this. If there is a certain band you want, book them early and find the best photographer for your day. Look at the style they produce and book them early!
3. How much does a wedding cost?
The average cost of a wedding in the UK is £21 740 (source: Bridebook 2022 annual wedding report).
4. What are the most important things for me to spend my budget on and how much will they cost?
The main three items are:
Dress (£1 313), Venue (£ 5 406) and the photographer (£1 155).
How much do other things usually cost?
Wedding cake £500
Wedding stationary £500
Hair and makeup £500
Wedding rings £900
Registrar fees £300
5. How long before I send out my save the dates and invites.
Around 12 months before the wedding is about right. Rachel Bull design make some fantastic designs for these and are local to Norfolk/Suffolk.
6. To save money, I just want a couple of hours of photography, not a whole day. Will my photographer do this?
Chances are they won’t do this as it means they have now locked themselves out of another couple coming along next week who do want the whole day. There are many photographers hoping to start out in the business though, and these would probably be more flexible for your needs.
7. When do we do the speeches?
Traditionally, speeches happen immediately after the wedding breakfast.
However, many are now holding the speeches before the meal as it takes away the stress many suffer from when waiting to do so. Often, people cannot enjoy their meal if they have the burden of doing their speech afterwards.
So many are now choosing to do it before so that everyone can relax and enjoy the food.
8. Why is it called the wedding breakfast?
Back in the 1700s a wedding ceremony would take place after mass.
The wedding party would not eat for the entire day until after the ceremony when they were invited to sit down and eat. It would be everyone’s first meal of the day, hence the title, Wedding Breakfast.
9. Should I prepare things myself, to save costs?
If you are comfortable making invites or producing favours or even some of the décor items then do so. But you may be surprised as to how time consuming this can be.
Hiring professional suppliers will mean that you can chill out and focus on other things – and almost always the result will be far superior since they do it all the time, they are specialist in their field.
10. When should we take family photos?
This is best done during the wedding drinks reception, immediately after the ceremony itself.
You will often have the best natural light at this stage and all the family will be in one place ready for gathering for the photos. A little later on and some may have retired to their rooms for a spruce up or may be dotted around the venue and harder to locate.
11. Do I need to do a receiving line? What even is this?
Traditionally, the wedding couple will greet each guest into their venue after their marriage. The guests form an orderly que to do this and this is known as a receiving line.
Not so many couples do this nowadays as people hate waiting in line and they will just want to go and relax and have a drink. It is a personal choice, but most couples will simply go around each table/group during the day. Make sure to start with close family and friends though
12. Do I need to provide meals for my wedding suppliers such as the photographer?
Some suppliers will be with you for the whole day and it is usual that they are offered food as they are essential to the smooth running of your day. They may not have the chance to sit down with you all so don’t worry too much about placing them into your seating plan – they will be used to eating at slightly different times and often in different locations to the main party guests.
13. I want my wedding to be memorable. How can I make it stand out?
Simple – make sure your guests are happy! Take time in the day to interact with everyone and keep them happy when you can’t (e.g. you’re off having photos or chatting with others). Consider some entertainment options like a photobooth, magician, wedding golf or garden games.
If you want to spend lots of time with them, ditch the time-consuming 3 course wedding breakfast. These take forever to finish!
14. What type of entertainment options can I hire to look after my guests?
Disco/DJ from £500 to £1500
Band from £350 for a solo performer to £2000 for a 5 or 6 piece band
Caricaturist from £175 to £500
Photo booth From £300
Singing waiters. Imagine a waiter falling over and spilling cutlery and plates over the floor, only to get up and start singing! From £400
Garden/outdoor games. Giant Jenga or Connect Four or just a giant Noughts and Crosses or full crazy golf course? From £200
Magician from £300. Working the reception or around tables, a short stage/cabaret show or just mingling with your guests while you are busy having photos. This can be key to bringing people together and making them laugh and smile.
15. Can you tell me a wedding joke?
It was an emotional wedding. Even the cake was in tiers.
16. Should I invite children?
Absolutely! A wedding is a family celebration but you need to plan carefully when inviting children. Weddings are full of formality and children are often told to stand/sit still, stay quiet, not run around etc and this is all they seem to want to do!
So think carefully about these issues if you invite children. There are plenty of solutions if you want to search for them. You can even check out this guide on how to plan for children at your wedding.
17. How much cake will we need?
A 6 inch cake will usually serve around 15 to 18 people. A 14 inch will serve about 78 people. You will probably have a number of tiers but your cake maker will be able to advise you on how many tiers to have and how large it will need to be.
18. Can I have different flavours in each tier of my cake?
19. Can I save the top tier for a christening?
This is a tradition that used to be normal practise years ago. And yes you can. But only if it’s fruit cake, stripped down and frozen correctly, to be honest. Don’t try it with a sponge tier.
Here is a cake surrounded by a balloon table arch. Some like to frame the wedding cake in this way:
20. How many songs do we need for our wedding ceremony?
Around 3 songs is usually enough.
21. I’m worried I will trip over my wedding dress when dancing. Does this happen? Can I stop it from happening?
This can happen! To avoid it, as you walk, do a little kick forward with each step which pushes the dress out in front of you and prevents you stepping on it. Or have a hoop in the bottom of your dress – you can keep pushing this away from your feet.
Make sure your shoes don’t have buckles as these can easily catch in the net lining and this can lead to tripping.
22. I want to go abroad for our honeymoon. Do we book the tickets in the maiden name or the married name?
Travel tickets need to match your passport name. So you will need to book in your maiden name(s) so that they match.
23. What do we do with our gifts and wedding hire items at the end of the night?
Check your venues policy over wedding hire items. Most will allow you to leave them overnight but vendors would probably need to pick them up early the next day as the venue may well have another wedding. You should definitely arrange for someone to take your gifts away for you at the end of the night.
I hope you have found some valuable tips in this article.
Have a great time planning your wedding. If you are looking for some entertainment to liven up the quieter moments, check out my roaming wedding magician service.