Congratulations! You've met 'The One' (or someone you're pretty keen on in any case), they've popped the question, you love the ring and the hangover from your engagement drinks has subsided.
Now it's time to get real with your wedding plans.
Of course, some people thrive off organising events. Others have a high threshold for stress. Some of us even choose to bypass the planning and elope.
But most brides will, at some point, hit a stumbling block. And with weddings, there are a lot of potential stumbling blocks.
If this sounds like you – or someone you know – then help is at hand. Wedding planner Sarah May of Mayflower Events has addressed the most common wedding planning nightmares and explains how to handle each one with your sanity intact.
1. I keep getting ghosted by venues who don't reply to any enquiries
When you've found your dream venue, it's almost impossible not to get a nagging feeling when your contact there is unresponsive.
Alarm bells might ring: if they're difficult to contact before the contract has been signed, how will they be in the lead up to the wedding?
Communication with a venue is essential, but try to remind yourself that wedding venues and coordinators work different hours to most people and when you're off at the weekend and planning away, the venue is likely to be running an event.
As your wedding approaches you will typically be in communication more frequently with the venue – venues usually prioritise communication with clients whose weddings are closest.
With that said, waiting one or two days for a response is reasonable, but one or two weeks really isn't, and needs to be addressed.
Follow up with another email or call, and if that doesn't yield a response, try getting in touch with your contact’s manager. You are not being a bridezilla.
2. I've found my dream supplier but they're massively out of my budget
When budgeting for your wedding, try to set your expectations accordingly, and have a rough idea of how much you’ll need to spend to get what you want.
If, however, your dream supplier is more than you’d budgeted for, before looking elsewhere there’s no harm letting them know what your budget is and seeing if they can accommodate (they might be short on events for that particular month and willing to sacrifice a little for the sake of getting the booking).
Ask for an itemised breakdown of the quote and see if there are any parts you can do away with.
3. The guest list is out of hand – help!
Your mum thinks your grandma’s neighbour ('and her carer if there’s space?!') should be invited, and your dad has suggested that his cousin (who'll be visiting from abroad that month with his partner) would appreciate an invitation.
Navigating your parents' requests/demands can cause a dizzying amount of stress.
While it is understandable to want only guests who you and your fiancé actually know, it can make life easier to allocate a percentage of the guest count (e.g. a third) between both sets of parents and leave it to them to choose their guests within that allocation.
When it comes to single friends, you shouldn't feel like you have to invite plus-ones, but bear in mind that they might not feel completely comfortable attending alone, and therefore might decline the invitation.
If you decide not to invite partners of friends who are in a new relationship, it's a good idea to let them know before the invitations go out, to avoid any upset.
4. I don't want kids at my wedding – how do I communicate this to guests without causing offence?
Whether or not to invite kids to your wedding can be very controversial for many couples.
You shouldn't feel guilty for not wanting small humans potentially running riot at your wedding, but communicating it clearly to guests and in a timely manner is important, as they will need to make childcare arrangements in advance.
If you're able to have a conversation with those guests early on, it can help ensure clarity with regard to the invitees.
Being honest with them about your reasons for not wanting children present (whether it’s about adults letting their hair down, venue capacity, overall atmosphere on the day) can help soften the blow for any guests you think might be sensitive.
When it comes to invitation wording, addressing the invitation only to those invited as well as writing their exact names on the response card should make your child-free choice clear to the majority of guests (or specifying the number of guests if it's an online RSVP).
However, to make it perfectly clear, a line on the wedding website (if you have one) or on the invitation itself can help minimise the chances (and embarrassment) of having guests ask you outright.
5. My mum/mother-in-law wants to get involved but her taste doesn't align with mine
While it’s great to have family offer their support with planning, the wedding aesthetics are often very personal to the bride and groom and it can sometimes be challenging to enlighten other family members on your 'vibe'.
If family want to get involved, try delegating tasks that you think they’ll enjoy and be good at but that won’t compromise the style that you’re working hard to achieve, for example booking guest transportation, or any DIY projects that need creating or assembling.
Directing RSVPs to a parent and having them manage the responses is a hugely important task and will save you a lot of time.
6. The seating plan is a nightmare – I don't even know where to start
While assigned seating helps structure the meal and organises your guests, planning who sits where can be logistically and politically challenging.
A top table, if you’re having one, would typically have the bride and groom in the centre, both sets of parents and the best man and chief bridesmaid. If the floor plan doesn't allow for both sets of parents to be on the top table, try to seat them as close to the top table as possible.
Remember to seat any children near loos and old people away from draughts and speakers. And while it's interesting to mix guests up to give them a chance to mingle, try to avoid completely separating couples/groups of friends purely for the sake of it.
Seating all the singletons together is often very obvious and can make for awkward times, as does assigning a table to all those who don’t seem to fit anywhere else.
Be respectful of exes, friends who have fallen out and any other potentially volatile combinations. Follow your instincts and keep in mind what will give your guests the most enjoyable experience.
7. My bridesmaids don't like their dresses/are being difficult
It can be so disappointing when a bridesmaid is clearly unhappy about something. For your sanity, address the issue as soon as you sense any tension and let her know that you’ve noticed she’s not as enthusiastic as you’d hoped.
Agreeing on bridesmaid dresses is often one of the top areas of tension within the bridal party, whether or not your bridesmaids express their feelings.
With different body shapes, skin tones and hair colours (not to mention tastes), it can feel impossible to all agree on one dress for everyone.
To avoid potential tensions, consider choosing a colour palette and budget, and allowing your bridesmaids to find their own dresses, provided you get final ‘sign-off’ on their choices. You want your bridesmaids to feel comfortable on the day.
8. Our parents haven't offered us any money, and it would come in handy – how can I tackle this?
Speaking to family about finances can be tricky at any time, but when it involves thousands of pounds, the thought alone can bring on a mild panic attack.
This taboo subject should really be broached early on in the planning process though, as understanding your overall budget from the get-go will allow you to make informed decisions throughout the lead-up.
If asking directly whether parents are able to contribute any money is really too difficult, you could try a more subtle approach.
Sitting down with them and sharing your wedding budget spreadsheet and asking for suggestions of ways you could save might prompt them into offering some money – perhaps they were also finding it a tricky subject to broach and would appreciate this opportunity to discuss.
Another suggestion is asking your parents a more general 'how would you like to be involved in our wedding?' question. You're not specifically asking them if they plan to contribute financially, but you would expect this to prompt a discussion about money.
9. I'd love a free bar but some of the guests are bad drunks – how do I handle this this?
Stocking your free bar with wine, beer and soft drinks, and forgoing spirits is a way of minimising drunkenness. Guests always appreciate the generosity involved in offering a free bar, even if spirits aren't included.
Limit the amount of wine available on the table during dinner, rather than instructing your waiters to keep it flowing.
If you opt for a full open bar, consider capping it at a certain time or after a certain amount. Guests might slow down their drinking once they realise they are now paying each time they go to the bar.
10. I have two left feet and hate dancing. Do I need a first dance – and how do I cope if I mess up?
Of course you don’t have to do a first dance if you really don’t want to – it’s your wedding! You don’t want to regret your decision though, so if you find dancing a struggle, there are a few ways you could make it easier on yourself.
Some couples have dance lessons in the lead up to their wedding, where they can learn a routine or some key moves.
If you’d prefer to freestyle your way through the first dance, ask the DJ or band if they can do a shorter version of the song. You can also ask guests to come join you on the dance floor part way through the song to ease the pressure off!
11. I hate being the centre of attention – how can I feel comfortable on my big day?
Ask your photographer to focus on candid shots of you and your partner throughout the day, rather than posed shots, which could make you feel awkward.
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