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A Stresshead’s Guide to Wedding Planning (Part I)

Pretty much as soon as my other half had popped the question, the excitement, anticipation and stress kicked in. The most I have ever organised are a few teenage parties with a handful of my friends in attendance. But a wedding? Oh gosh! This was going to be a whole new ball game!

As soon as we told both sets of parents about our upcoming nuptials, the excitement heightened – and so did my stress levels! I really don’t do well at handling stress. It completely feeds off me and almost every time I end up a nervous wreck, curling up somewhere and muttering to myself. Anybody who dares to venture near me is at risk of losing a few nose hairs when I start breathing fire.

There was no way I was going to turn in to a Bridezilla!

So, instead of waiting for the stress to set in, I decided to grab the bull by the horns and take the plunge in to the world of wedding planning. The boy and I aren’t actually getting married until 2016, so it all may seem pretty early, but the best way for me to battle my stress demons, is to start planning as early as possible. For any like-minded ladies out there, who want to curl up at the thought of planning a wedding, I wanted to share what I have done so far (in the first month.) Hopefully it will help unburden the load and make the whole planning process a lot more enjoyable (and mot make your fiancé/friends/family cower in fear of your raging wrath!)

Step One: Research Material

The very first thing I did was get my head down and go in to full research mode. Wedding venues, photographers, dresses, flowers….Anything that I could think of to get some idea of what it was I actually wanted. I went out and bought wedding magazines so that I could tear, cut and stick ideas down for future reference. I ordered myself a wedding planning book and a DIY wedding book so that any future ideas, bookings, or purchases can be correlated, catalogued, and stored. Maybe I did go a bit overboard when I colour coordinated the planner, but anything to be as organised as possible.

Step Two: Setting A Budget

This was a bit of a sensitive subject because the boy earns a lot more than I do. With us agreeing that I would cut back on makeup splurges, curb online clothing orders, and save as much as I could to contribute, we settled on a modest, affordable budget for us both. My parents also really kindly said that they wanted to make a contribution to the wedding fund and buy my dress for me, which was the most amazing thing to happen. It was a staggering gesture, but the boy and I want to keep costs down as much as possible. I’m going to make the save the dates and invitations (which are already designed of course,) and do as much as I can to stick to the budget. It’s like a competition really. I’m in a game with myself to constantly find the most affordable way to do different things.

Step Three: The Venue Shortlist 

I am in the fortunate position to have a slot during most days where I can do my own thing. This has made researching possible places to tie the knot a lot easier. With a definite budget in place I was able to eliminate locations out of our price range, and pick out places to show the boy that he might be interested in. Quite quickly we narrowed our choices down to two places, and with visits to both in the bag, and a year and a half to go, we are 99.5% decided on where we are going to become MR&MRS. Finding venues that had catering, linen and drinks packages as part of the final price has really helped keep the stress at bay. With a few simple decisions, everything will be taken care of, so that, on the day, I will (hopefully) be a vision of stress-free serenity.

Step Four: Organising The Bridal Party

I have not lived at home properly for 10 years (university included.) Nearly 7 years ago I moved away from home and 200 odd miles up the country to the North West of England. In the wedding planning process this could prove to be very tricky to manage, but I am making sure that each member of my bridal party is included in some aspect of the wedding. My mum and I have frequent Facebook chats where we discuss ideas and come up with concepts, and I and one of my “honourable maids” are going to The Wedding Show in October. It’s also really important to make sure everybody gets to meet each other as much as possible before the big day, soothe Boy and Iare not only planning an engagement party, but I have invited all the girls up/round to mine in January for a little hen night training celebration. Giving everybody something to look forward to means that they can share in a piece of the excitement.

Step Five: The Dress

Did you know that on average a wedding dress takes in between 6 and 9 months to be ordered, made, and delivered to the bridal shop? No. Me neither. Once I learnt that, looking for a wedding dress a year and a half ahead didn’t seem so ridiculous.

Picking your dress is one of the biggest steps in the whole wedding planning pricess, and me, well I knew it could potentially be the hardest. I need to feel as comfortable as possible. Having my arm on show all day will be a big step for me, so if I found a dress, it had to be the dress. I started out visiting high street shops to get an idea of shape. I took my friend – with a camera in tow- so that I could see pictures of myself in dresses (material can look different in real life to on camera.) Once I had done some investigations, I booked an appointment at a bridal shop that is close to my mum. With a broken arm and a ban from long public transport journeys, she couldn’t really come up here to shop, and I wanted her to be there should I find my dress.

And…I have! I have found my dress. The dress. The one…and I absolutely love it.

And the bridal shop say I can go and see it whenever I want. 9 months is a long time to wait, and this way, I can show as many people as I like. Finding the dress has definitely made things seem much more real! I’M A BRIDE-TO-BE….Eeek!

What is really the most important thing to remember is that it is your wedding. All the decisions that need to be made about the wedding lie with you, your partner, or both of you together. It is so easy to find yourself getting overwhelmed with ideas from other people, but at the end of the day, they are bubbling over with excitement and just want to share this with you. Appreciate the gesture and graciously decline it if it’s not what you want. They will understand. Take as much time as you need to plan your big day, and remember that if things get too much, take a step back, a deep breath, and remember at the end of the day, you’re getting married. All the wedding stuff is just a very big cherry on top of the marriage cake.

Stay tuned for Part Two….

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