10 ways to kickstart your wedding plans

Mystified by all things marriage-related? Let Catrina Duthie, the brains behind wedding planner Fin Flükra, set you on the right road

Photo: Walnut Wasp

There is an awful lot to think about once you get engaged, and, with well-meaning family and friends offering advice left, right and centre, it can sometimes start to feel a little overwhelming.

But fear not, my newly engaged guys and gals: help is at hand. Read on for my top tips to kickstart your wedding planning journey in the best way possible. Take things step by step and you’ll soon start to feel much more in control.

1. Work out your budget

Money might be the last thing you want to think about amid the thrill of being newly engaged, but you really can’t proceed with any kind of planning before getting to grips with your moolah. Do you have savings you can use? Are family members contributing? Are you having a longer engagement so you can save up for your wedding? These are all things you need to discuss and be honest about from the start. Be clear about what you want to spend (and can afford to invest) before you even think about booking suppliers. Your budget will have an impact on many other decisions too (which we’ll come on to later), so it’s vital to get to grips with this from the beginning.

Surround yourself with a gang that can deal with the highs and lows of the planning journey (photo: Lauren McGlynn Photography)

2. Consider what size of wedding you want

It can be easy to inadvertently make all your workmates and Facebook friends think they’re invited to your wedding, so be careful not to get carried away. The length of your guest list will be influenced massively by the budget you’ve set. So although you don’t need to have it firmed up at this stage, it’s prudent for the pair of you to sit down together and begin making a list of the people who you both absolutely want to be at your wedding and then go from there.

3. Establish your priorities

Perhaps you’re both really into music and it’s important to have performers playing live throughout your wedding day. Maybe you’re big foodies and you want to ensure the food that’s served reflects that passion. I always tell my couples to ponder what their top three ‘must have’ items are for their wedding. It’s a useful tool for deciding how to allocate the budget better, and means the things that really matter will get a bigger share of the cash, and the areas which aren’t as important can be cut back or left out altogether.

4. What’s your wedding style?

Start gathering inspiration and images that reflect the look and feel you want to create for your wedding. Identify the things that are important to you as a couple and how you might incorporate them into your day. Pinterest is a handy tool for this, but you can create your own moodboard via Google Docs or by saving images you like on Instagram. Whichever way you do it, having a clear visual image will help when it comes to researching suppliers later on and deciding on those that are the right fit for you.

Not a digital diarist? Keep track of your plans with this 12-month ‘I Am Very Busy’ ring binder planner, £26.50, ban.do

5. Do you need help?

Planning a wedding takes a lot of time (about 250 hours, on average). If you already have a jam-packed schedule, trying to squeeze in wedmin can feel impossible. Or perhaps you’re just not that organised and the idea of having to arrange everything feels completely overwhelming. If this is the case, you might want to consider hiring a professional planner. As you would do with any supplier, though, research your options thoroughly. Selecting the right person or company is just as much about their ability and experience as it is about you clicking with them.

6. Get wedding insurance

Insurance is not a glamorous or exciting element of the planning process, but I can’t recommend getting it highly enough. You’re putting a huge amount of time, effort and money into bringing everything together for your wedding, and that is absolutely worth protecting. Fingers crossed nothing will go wrong, of course, but life can sometimes chuck a spanner in the works. Give yourself the peace of mind of knowing you’ll be protected should anything go pear-shaped.

7. Research venues

Scotland is spoilt for choice when it comes to places in which to tie the knot – so where do you start? Having a good idea of your budget, guest numbers and wedding style will make it easier to narrow down the options. Other things to consider: if you want to have your ceremony and reception in different locations, you’ll need to supply transport for guests. Travelling takes time out of your day too, so be mindful of how far apart the two places are. Is an outdoor wedding ceremony your ideal choice? If so, make sure to check what the indoor options are at the venue. Would you be happy if your ceremony had to take place indoors because of bad weather? Do your research, and before visiting any venues, contact them to find out if they are within your budget so you don’t end up falling in love with a place you can’t afford.

flowers and cake
From left: Have an idea in mind for your bouquet? Save any images you love, such as this bunch by Meadow Isle, to a moodboard (photo: Craig & Eva Sanders); Even if the skies are grey, you can have a riot of colour inside, courtesy of this rainbow macaron tower by Mademoiselle Macaron

8. What time of year to wed?

Spring and summer are by far the most popular seasons for nuptials, mostly because there are more hours of daylight then, the weather is (theoretically) better, and the school holidays make it easier for those with children to get time away. But the rest of the year has its own charms: I’m a fan of the striking colours of autumn and the sparkle and glamour of winter, for instance, and the shorter days during both make fireworks a great addition to your evening celebrations. You might find suppliers more willing to offer discounts or incentives if you marry outside of the peak season too. If possible, visit your short-listed venues during the season you hope to get married in so you can imagine how it might look on your own big day.

9. Picking your bridal party

This is your dream team, the guys and gals who will support you during the build-up and be there for you on your big day. Does your selection feel like a no-brainer? Even if it does, take your time and consider it carefully. If you’re thinking about having a small wedding, your bridal party would usually be smaller too – which could mean some tough decisions have to be made. Budget will also be a deciding factor in the size of your team: the more people, the greater the expense for outfits, flowers etc. Don’t forget there are many ways you can involve family and friends in your day – they could give a reading, make a speech or be an MC. Friendships can change over time too, so don’t rush into making this decision the minute you get engaged.

Bride and groom
Get your priorities straight from the outset and you’ll be all smiles when the big day rolls around. Kari gown and Marlowe cape by Savannah Miller, £POA, Whimsical Bride; kilt outfit, £POA, Scotch Tweed; bouquet, made to order, Stems; location: The Haining; photo: EnaMay Photography

10. Enjoy being engaged!

Don’t launch yourself into wedding planning straight away. Take some time to revel in your newfound status and let the whole idea of getting married settle in. Bask in the congratulations and the cards. The planning will be there, ready and waiting, for you when you decide to jump in, so savour this wonderful time and the anticipation and excitement of all that is yet to come.