Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Wedding Wednesday: 5 Tips on How to Start Planning

You found your man and you got your ring, what next? Now that you've shared your news with family and friends, it's time to roll up your sleeves and start planning. 

Preparing for the biggest day of your life can be overwhelming. Let me share with you some tips on where to start.

1. Set your wedding date and your budget. 

These are the two most important details you need to agree on with your fiancé. When you book your church, reception venue, and all other suppliers, the first question they will ask is the wedding date. If you're planning a long engagement, it's still better to look for suppliers early so you can lock in their current prices. 

The budget is also a big (if not the biggest) factor when deciding on your suppliers. Set your over-all budget, then set a limit for each supplier so you can already narrow down those that only fit within your budget. 

Planning can be stressful, but you can do it!
Make a need-to-have and nice-to-have lists. Focus on the need-to-have items first, then when you find that you still have the budget for them (this usually happens especially if you get discounts on your bookings), then you can add the nice-to-have items. 

2. Set your theme and color motif. 

These will guide you when researching for pegs and inspirations. It will also give your suppliers (event stylist, florist, gown designer) an idea on how to execute your dream wedding. Some brides choose their motif based on the season they are getting married (pastel for spring, yellows and oranges for summer, burgundy for autumn), but I think you should choose the colors that you want, regardless of the season. I've seen morning summer weddings with bridesmaids in rich wine colors. It's really up to you!

3. Start your visual board. 

Browse magazines and cut out pictures of anything that catches your fancy: venues, cakes, gowns, what have you. Pinterest and the internet will be your best friend. Sometimes, typing the key words of your theme or motif will instantly give you a color palette, and all kinds of ideas for your big day. If you're not keen on sharing your ideas with everyone just yet, you have the option to keep your Pinterest wedding board a secret (that's what I did with mine). 

Don't be afraid to go overboard, as you can always curate it later on. Let your brain be a sponge and get as much ideas as you can. 

A screenshot of a sample search on Pinterest. So many ideas!

4. Find your tribe. 

Aside from asking your family and friends to be part of your wedding entourage, it's also important to find people who are in the same boat as you. Joining Weddings at Work (Yahoo groups and Facebook) was one of the wisest decisions I made. My research for suppliers, feed backs, and reviews became easier because of this. 

Your fellow brides-to-be and former brides are very generous to share their knowledge and experience, and are only a message away when you have a question. It's also great to find fellow brides who will wed in the same church, or have the same reception venue because you can ask about their experience and steps to take.

I also joined a group of Iglesia Ni Cristo brides, and they have become good friends over time. They helped me with church requirements and we also support each other especially those whose wedding dates are already near. 

Another group you can join is GirlTalk. You can also gather your friends who have already gotten married to a lunch or dinner, so you can pick their brains on all the questions you're itching to ask. 

5. Attend bridal fairs. 

Now that you've made your research, you should at least have a shortlist of suppliers you want to inquire from. Check out if they will be part of upcoming bridal fairs, then visit and book them there. Suppliers offer amazing deals and discounts during fairs and caravans (10-20% off, add-on services, freebies like additional desserts or free photo booth, etc). 

This is also a good time to check their sample works, as hair and make-up artists offer trials on-the-spot, photo/video suppliers have their albums and videos on-hand, while caterers and cake suppliers offer food tastings. Note that it is best to first do your research before booking any supplier. It may get overwhelming during fairs, and a great deal may sound too good to be true. So to prevent buyer's remorse, make sure you've read reviews and testimonials of their service.

Hizon's Catering's Grand Food Tasting at a bridal fair in SMX, Pasay City. 
Bridal fairs are usually a two-day affair, so what you can do is go around and scout on the first day. Then research for feed backs, make a shortlist, then go back and book the next day. If you're still not ready to book, ask them when their next bridal fair is, and if they will offer the same discounts there. Go with your groom or with a bridesmaid. This will be a great bonding activity for you!

Jay and I went to three bridal fairs!

With my bridesmaid Kat attending my first bridal fair. 
IMPORTANT TIP: I've heard a lot of stories about brides and couple who change their minds about their suppliers months after booking them. It's either they didn't research beforehand or they didn't click well while communicating with the supplier, but sometimes it's also because they saw another supplier who they think will be a better fit for them. The downside of this is letting go of their deposit or down payment. 

To prevent this from happening, what I personally did was once I booked my suppliers, I didn't look at other suppliers for that service anymore. I purposefully did not follow their social media accounts, even wedding websites, so I won't be deluged with other people's weddings, that may probably cause me to change my mind. Put your blinders on guys and gals! Once you've booked your suppliers, don't go looking at others anymore. Have faith in your decision and the capacity of your suppliers to deliver. :)

Once you've done all this, buy a large clear book or binder. This is where you will keep all contracts and receipts from your suppliers. Organize them by type, and make sure to make duplicate (or even triplicate) copies for your coordinator and yourself. Give your fiancé a copy as well for good measure. 

Then, make a spreadsheet for your budget. Some helpful headers could be: Type of Supplier, Name of Supplier, Allotted Budget, Actual Contract Price, Initial Deposit, Remaining Balance, Notes. Share this document with your fiancé on Google Drive so you can both edit it. 

You can download my sample Wedding Budget Spreadsheet. Click on the File Tab, select Download as, then choose the file type you want. I pre-filled some cells to give you an idea how it works. Thanks to my Excel Master fiancé Jay for helping me out on this one. :-) 

Still a fan of pen and paper? You can get a wedding journal to help you jot down important details! This was a gift from my high school friend Zanine. 

Bonus: I also found a timeline to help you on things to prepare for starting from a year before the wedding. If you have a short engagement, you can alter it depending on the span of time you have. 

If you have any questions or want to share your tips and stories, comment away! Happy preps, ladies!

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