They say wedding planning is up there with moving house and changing job when it comes stressful life events. The good news is that planning your big day doesn’t have to be a hassle. It can actually be really fun! If you’re celebrating your engagement, you may be wondering where to begin. Here are some top tips to help you navigate your way through the planning process without any problems at all.

Set a date and choose a venue

Everyone is different. Some people get engaged and then can’t wait to get married. Others wish to enjoy a long engagement. Whatever your preference, it’s a good idea to have some dates in mind. If you want to get married within twelve months of getting engaged, it’s wise to start looking at venues as soon as possible. This is particularly important if you want to get married during peak wedding season. Do you want a summer wedding, or are you looking around Christmas or New Year? If so, it’s advisable to get in there early. If you’re not flexible with dates, make sure you check availability before you book viewings. There’s no point in looking around places that are already booked.

If you’re flexible with dates, you may have a wider range of options to choose from when it comes to your venue. Think about where you want your ceremony to take place. Do you want a church wedding? Would you rather have a civil ceremony? Do you want two different venues or would you prefer to have everything at the same place?

When you’re looking around venues, go with your instincts, but consider practicalities. Is the venue big enough to cater for all your guests? Is there scope to add your own touches? Is it in an accessible location? Is it affordable? Arrange some second viewings before you make a final decision.

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Draw up your guest list and send out save the dates

When you get engaged, this is probably one of the first things you’ll start thinking about. Write down a list of everyone you want to invite to the wedding. You may wish to have separate lists for the ceremony and the evening reception.

Once you’ve got your list, contact your guests and ask for addresses. Design your save the date cards and send them out. Personalising your invites and cards is a great way to channel a theme and make your wedding more unique. Have a look at wedding stationery from Paper Themes for ideas. With your save the dates, all you need is the date and the location. You can include information about timings, hotels, and directions with your formal invitations.

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Book some dress fittings

It can take a long time to find, order, and alter the perfect wedding dress. Search online for local bridal boutiques or ask friends or colleagues for recommendations. Call up and book some fittings. When you go to the shop, have a good look around. Try on a variety of dresses. Even if you think you’re sure about what you want, don’t narrow down your options immediately. You might be surprised at what suits you, and which styles you like best once you’ve tried some dresses on. Take your bridesmaids, parents, or friends with you and make a day of it. Don’t rush this stage of planning. This is probably something you’ve been looking forward to for years. If you can’t find the ideal dress straight away, don’t panic. If you’re tried on a load of different dresses, and nothing feels quite right, you could design your own dress. Look for local dressmakers and arrange a meeting.

wedding basics choosing a wedding dress

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Find a photographer

Most people are desperate to have incredible shots of their wedding day. Try and book a photographer well in advance of your wedding day. Check out websites and arrange to meet some different photographers. Have a look through portfolios. Go for somebody who offers the style of photography you want. Some people like formal, traditional shots. Others prefer a more natural approach.

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Once you’ve got all these jobs ticked off, you can focus on the finishing touches. Think about flowers, bridesmaid dresses, rings, and transport. You may also want to add entertainment, table decorations and hair and makeup to your list. Draw up a budget, and keep a record of what has been paid for and what still needs to be done.

Wedding planning can be overwhelming. But it can also be really enjoyable. Get the basics sorted first and then working through your list. Good luck!