Week 5: Dresses & suits, flowers & decorations

If you’re planning a quick wedding, it’s likely you’re not the type of bride who cares a great deal about finding the perfect dress.  High five to you sister, you rock.  However, low maintenance doesn’t mean no maintenance – it is important to still have in mind what you want – but be prepared to go shopping with a very open mind.

I ended up buying a bridesmaid’s dress – on sale for a steal at $75.  I got it hemmed professionally (and lied about being a bridesmaid).  My shoes were from Target for $20.  I made my own veil which cost about $15.  My two real bridesmaids went shopping together and bought dresses they both liked off the rack for about $50 each.

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Wedding outfit $110 – bargain bride

Fortunately for the guys they can hire suits.  I advise you not to leave this until the last minute as it can take weeks for suits to arrive, especially if you need tall or large sizes.  Once you have your bridesmaid’s dresses you can then find matching ties and handkerchiefs for your groomsmen.

2014-02-22 15.27.52Get ready to send each other strange photos like this

After sourcing suits, dresses, shoes and accessories for your bridal party, organising flowers and decorations should feel pretty painless in comparison.  We decided on the colour pink and it was very easy to find pink decorations on sale after Valentine’s day and around Easter time.  We sourced most of our decorations from Ebay and discount stores (and reused the pink lanterns, poms poms and bunting from my bridal shower for the wedding).

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So much pink!

Our big splurge was on flowers – we went to Fleurus for our bouquets and corsages.  We also arranged for corsages for our mums and boutonnieres for our dads.   To be honest, the money was probably worth the effort – I couldn’t have made them myself and they were beautiful (the yellow billy balls were my favourite!).  Of course if you want to DIY, I recommend Flower Lovers in Brisbane for wholesale flowers.

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Week 4: Invitations and website

By now you are truly in the midst of wedding planning – and totally rocking it, I hope.  Time to send out invitations and make it an official event!

The key to invitations is to send them out early.  Especially if you are planning a wedding in a short space of time.  Now is not the time to spend your weekend browsing expensive stationery stores fondling ribbon and studying parchment paper.  Your invitation is, at the most basic level, how you communicate where and when the wedding is, how to get there, where the reception is, what to wear and what to bring.

I found the tricky part to be the invitation wording and finding good examples online that weren’t too formal, too cheesy, too religious or too weird.  Traditionally, if your parents are paying for the wedding, their names go on the invitation.  In our case, our parents did contribute partially so we thought it was polite and appropriate to include them.  Our invitation read:

‘[Bride’s father and mother] together with [Groom’s father and mother]

request with pleasure your company

in joining them to celebrate the marriage of

[Bride and Groom’s first names]

at [location, address] [date]

at [time]

Dinner, drinks and dancing to follow

Dress cocktail

RSVP [date]

[website address]’

I found this post on Offbeat Bride to be very helpful when wording our invitations.  I downloaded a nice typewriter font and designed the invitation on PowerPoint (Click Design -> Page Setup -> Custom and enter the dimensions of the invitation you want.  We used 10.5 x 4.8 cm and printed 4 invitations to 1 page).

We printed them on some good quality card with a magnet on the back (for the fridge!) and did all our invitations in one hectic evening.

My partner did an incredible job of making our wedding website – we filled it with everything we could about the wedding – times, dress code, maps, venue information, accommodation nearby, transport we had arranged and a bit about ourselves and the bridal party.

As we planned more about the wedding we updated the site to include pictures of the band, the menu and pictures of the venue.  I highly recommend putting together a wedding website or WordPress blog, we found it saved us a lot of time explaining how to get to the venue to our friends and family.

One last thing I wanted to note about having a wedding website is whether to mention gifts or a wishing well.  We didn’t have enough time to organise a registry (and also already lived together) so we decided to have a wishing well at our wedding.  Although it is now an accepted tradition, in hindsight I felt a bit rude asking our guests for cash.

wishing-wellHelp me, I’m poor

We received some very thoughtful presents as well and I wished we had given people the choice to give a card, some money for a wishing well or a present – to be honest, I loved getting wedding presents and cards – they felt more personal and were so thoughtful.  Of course, what you decide to do is up to you!

Next week, dress shopping…

Week 3: The guests, the bridal party and celebrant

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Week 2: The reception venue

The venue – the place where beautiful memories are made, ‘I do’s’ announced, food consumed, drinks imbibed and many, many photographs are taken.  For the purpose of this post, ‘the venue’ really refers to the reception venue, and to put it frankly, the place where you’ll spend most of your money, because the reception is the best part of the wedding!

First of all, if you have big dreams for your wedding, I recommend you give yourself more time.  Don’t plan a destination wedding or anything too elaborate if you have only a few months, unless to plan to elope with only a few friends (clever you).

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An example of elaborate

We initially decided we wanted around 50 guests and were happy to get married locally.  We wanted a hall or similar venue we could hire, with plans to supply our own catering and alcohol so we could save some money without paying per head price.  We were lucky to find Currumbin Farm School which has a beautiful wedding garden and a dining hall with a bar area, fridges, tables and chairs we could use for a reasonable price.  The venue hire included an event manager for the day and waiters and bar staff who also helped with setting up.

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Reception in the shed!

 Our venue had lots of advantages – the ceremony and reception were in the same place, there was no limit on how many people we could invite (our guest list blew out to 90 on the day), we saved money on alcohol by buying kegs, wine and spirits and had a catered buffet so there was plenty of food.  However, this meant that it was a lot of work – organising catering, drinks, glassware, the band, decorations, lighting, additional outdoor seating and transport for guests from the venue late at night.  It was in the valley in a rural setting and out of range for a taxi service, with no mobile phone coverage.  Fortunately this didn’t deter anyone from showing up and celebrating with us.

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No internet or phone service at this wedding #sorry

However I think it’s important to consider your guests when hiring your venue, and consider what they are willing to tolerate in order to be a part of your wedding.  Will they be happy to stand in the sand at your beach wedding, pitch a tent in the mud at your rustic winter wedding or spend a fortune on transport and accommodation at your bring a plate and BYO alcohol budget wedding?

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Leave your heels at home ladies

If you are planning a wedding in a short space of time, your guests will have likely already made an effort to make last minute plans to attend, so be kind to them on the day and consider how they will spending the day with you and accommodate to get them home safely as well.

Around the time of booking your venue make sure to book your accommodation in the days before your wedding and for your wedding night too.

High Five Business people

Stock photo high five!

 Once you have a venue and date locked in, give yourselves a high five!  You now have a time and a place for your wedding day.  Next week – planning the guest list and your bridal party…!

Week 1: Have you set a date?

I remember when we first announced our engagement to our family after a couple of weeks of being unable to keep it secret any longer.  We were met with hugs and congratulations, lots of questions about the proposal, the ring, the reaction etc.

After the excitement bubbled down, the next question everyone seemed to ask was ‘So, have you set a date?’  ‘When’s the big day?’ ‘Are you getting married soon?’

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How about a random Thursday?

I was really surprised we got pestered about the wedding date literally days after getting engaged – especially when most of our friends were engaged for a year or more before getting married.  After getting asked a few too many times, we decided the best way to give everyone an answer was to just get on with it and set a date!  We started looking for a venue that weekend.

Setting the date depends a lot on where you want to get married and the availability of your venue.  We also considered work schedules of family and friends and potential time needed to travel from interstate or overseas.

Take the time to talk about what is important to you for your wedding – for us it was good food, good drinks and a live band.  I’d suggest making a list of everything you want then selecting two or three things to really focus your energy and budget on, especially if your time is limited!  For example:

1. Live band

2. Food and drinks

3. Over 50 guests

4. Venue setting

5. Venue timing (Saturday night vs weekday)

6. Photography

7. Flowers

8. Wedding gown, hair and make up

9. Ceremony and celebrant

10. Bridal party size

11. Transport and accommodation

12. Table decorations/ bonbonierres/ photo booth

13. Wedding cake

14. Honeymoon

Think about what you value as a couple and what your friends and family will remember and enjoy.  Consider what you would willingly sacrifice in order to be able to focus on your priorities for the wedding.

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from someecards

Once you have a good idea of what type of wedding you want, talk to your partner about a budget before you spend anything.  Keep in mind that you will likely go over your budget and plan to have an extra 10-20% of your total budget available to use as well.

We spent about $17 000 on our wedding with just over 90 guests.  This total included our wedding rings, my wedding dress, my husband’s suit, bridal party dresses and suits, hair and make up, transport, accommodation, photographers and ceremony and reception expenses.  Our reception (venue hire, catering, glassware, lighting, extra seating, alcohol and band) cost around $10 000 – about 60% of our total budget.  Our original budget was $14 000 so we went over budget by about 20%.  Expenses I didn’t include were our cake (which was home made as a wedding present), champagne and wine (which my parents purchased), hen’s and buck’s nights (which our friends mostly contributed toward), invitations (which we printed at home) and thank you cards (about $150 to purchase and post).

If you can afford to do it – without offending your family – I would recommend paying for your own wedding.  This will give you the flexibility to spend your money how you wish without feeling indebted to your parents.  This is a tricky topic as parents often want to help out and it can be difficult to negotiate money and responsibility whilst making them still feel loved and appreciated.  I suggest asking your family what they would like to help with on the day and who they would like to invite.  Keep them updated with the planning process so they don’t feel left out, but keep any disagreements and details about finances between you and your partner.

With a date in mind, a few priorities and budget set, you should now be ready to find yourselves a venue!

How to plan a wedding in 12 weeks

Congratulations!

You’re engaged!  I’m so happy you have found the love of your life, who loves you as much in return.  Ah, love!

I’m also very happy you have found this blog to help you plan an amazing, no nonsense, organised wedding.

I was married last year and we planned our wedding in 12 weeks – engaged at Christmas, announced to our families in January and married in early April.

I wanted to share with you what we managed to do in a short space of time to give you an idea of how to tackle the wedding industry, avoid expensive traps and have an incredible day.  Don’t believe the hype – planning a wedding can be fun if you have realistic expectations and can share the work with someone reliable and honest (who hopefully is your partner too).

Each week I will post tips, ideas, pitfalls to avoid and things to consider when planning your wedding day.  A 12 week guide that you can stretch out or condense to suit your own schedule based on our own DIY planning experience.