Take a piece of paper, a pen and your partner and together write down everyone you know – family, school friends, work friends, other friends, acquaintances.
If it is important to you, now is the time to also ask your parents (and siblings) who they would like to invite.
Now you hopefully have a huge list of names you can work with to make your guest list.
Guest list, not guess list
We circled names of those we had to invite (family), those we felt obliged to invite (family friends) and those we really wanted to celebrate with us (our friends). Somehow we ended up with about 100 people, it was terrifying.
We sourced addresses from families and contacts from Facebook and sent a ‘save the date’ photo message with text using Over. Then we prayed that not everyone would RSVP considering we only gave 10 weeks’ notice for our guests to arrange time off, travel and accommodation in order to attend.
Around this time we discussed who we wanted to have in our bridal party. Our decision to have a small group (best man, maid of honor, bridesmaid, groomsman and two flower girls) was unintended but ultimately worked out very well because we had to choose dresses and suits for everyone with only a couple of months up our sleeve. So, if you are planning a wedding in 12 weeks as well, I recommend keeping your posse tight.
Small bridal party = less drama
My partner had a great idea to put the guest list and addresses into Google docs, which then became our wedding planning database. We added columns for phone numbers, addresses, RSVP’s received, dietary requirements etc.
A separate spreadsheet for our budget with contact details for wedding vendors and amounts was also very useful as we could check off when bills were paid.
It is important to find yourselves a registered celebrant at least a couple of months before your wedding day. In Australia you must complete and lodge a notice of intended marriage application at least one month before getting married. This is usually done soon after booking with your celebrant. You must also both have evidence of the date and place of birth (i.e. your birth certificate) or a valid passport if your were born overseas, and current photo ID, in addition to evidence of previous divorce or death of any spouse (if applicable). Getting hold of our original birth certificates also meant asking our parents to dig through their filing cabinets to track them down. Organising the paperwork to complete the notice of intended marriage application took a couple of weeks, so we were glad we found our celebrant early!
Our celebrant was Kim-Maree Summers, who was professional, relaxed and very experienced. I was very lucky to find her on Google. She is passionate about her work and was awarded Australia’s number 1 celebrant the year we got married! I strongly recommend meeting with your celebrant as soon as possible – it is important you both have some rapport when them and can meet a few times before your wedding day to discuss the ceremony to ensure there are no disasters or surprises.
Planning the ceremony was a lot harder than I anticipated – it took us a long time to decide on vows, readings and music. Amidst the wedding planning craziness, it is important to take time out to work on your ceremony together so it will memorable and special.
Organising the chair covers was the easy part
Around the time of choosing your celebrant, also consider who you would like to be your MC for the reception. My advice for choosing an MC is to find someone who is reliable, organised and a confident speaker and unlikely to get too emotional, drunk, controversial or embarrassing at your reception. Find someone you know well who won’t take the opportunity to use the microphone to broadcast their political agenda, preach a sermon, advertise their business or offend your guests. Your MC should make everyone feel comfortable, relaxed and happy. I also believe the MC role shouldn’t just be limited to older uncles – a young or female MC can also do the job just as well.