Home » Wedding Planning » Key Decisions
Planning a wedding can be hard work - especially if you don’t plan ahead and think things through.
Stress levels can escalate if you’ve sent the invites only to find out the venue doesn’t have a music licence.
Before you do anything else, you need to decide on the following:
You’ll probably also want to check that you are legally able to marry!
What type of ceremony do you want?
The first decision is whether you want to have a civil or religious ceremony.
Civil weddings can take place in a register office or a building that has been approved for civil ceremonies (approved venue). Religious ceremonies can take place in an Anglican church or any other religious building where a marriage can be legally solemnised.
If you’re keen to get married but don’t have the money - look for ways to get married on a budget
The next decision is how much you want (or can afford) to spend and how you’re going to finance your wedding.
If your parents are contributing towards the big day or you’ve been saving for a while then finding the cash might not be a problem. If the proposal was a complete surprise - it may be you have very little cash in the bank.
You may prefer to have a longer engagement to allow you time to save up. This might also be a good time to cut back on other expenditure and start thinking of ways to save money.
Think carefully before getting a loan to pay for your big day. Starting married life with a big debt can cloud the start of your new life together. If you’re keen to get married but don’t have the money - look for ways to get married on a budget. For wedding budget help and advice and money saving tips, see our wedding budget section.
Do you want a grand formal affair or a low key ceremony with a few select friends? There’s no point planning a large and grand wedding if you have only have a small budget. Your choice of wedding style will influence a number of things including your choice of venue, wedding dress, suit hire, catering and music.
Who to invite
Knowing who you want to invite is another key decision to make. There’s no point looking for a venue until you have a rough idea as to the size of your guest list. The number of guests will also have a huge impact on your wedding budget and vice versa.
Are children invited?
Whether to invite children could be a difficult decision to make. Children at weddings are usually the focal point for many photographs - their enchanting behaviour will have most guests captivated and entertained for hours. Yet some couples decide to have a child-free wedding.
There are a number of reasons why you might decide not to invite children. The venue might not be suitable, you might not have the budget or you might not want a child crying out in the middle of your vows. If you decide to have an ‘adult’s only’ day - don’t worry about offending anyone. Every parent needs time out every now and then - so you’re wedding could be a good excuse for a child free day out.
Agree your priorities
Everyone has a different idea about what’s important to them on their wedding day. Perhaps you’ve always wanted to arrive in a helicopter or you’ve always dreamed of getting married by the sea. It’s important to decide at the outset what you really want and what’s a nice to have. You may find that as a couple you have different priorities - so you might need to do some negotiating or compromise!
Where to get married
Once you’ve decided what type of ceremony you want, the next decision will be where to get married. With so many venues to choose from, you might not know where to start. Our venue section looks at the different types of wedding venue and provides advice to help you to find the right wedding venue.
Wedding planning - do it yourself or get some help
Some brides thrive at the thought of planning the wedding of their dreams. For others, the prospect of wedding planning fills them with dread. It is often suggested that planning a wedding takes 250 hours! If you really don’t have time or if wedding planning isn’t for you - you might consider using the services of a wedding planning consultant.
Using the services of a wedding planner has several advantages - less stress, more time and instant access to recommended suppliers. They will have experience of dealing with setbacks and should plan for every eventuality. These services would obviously be at a cost. How much you pay for a wedding planner will depend on how you use their services. Do you want someone to organise your whole day or just help with one or two aspects? Whatever you decide you should expect to pay a wedding planner an average of 10-15% of your wedding costs.