Were you lucky enough to get a marriage proposal as a Christmas present? Congratulations to you if you are newly engaged and about to embark on the exciting journey of planning your wedding. Who better to ask for some top tips that our very own ‘national award winning’ wedding planner Caroline Gould – over to you Caroline… Once you get over the extra weight you’re now carrying around on your left hand you will at some point ask yourself “So, where do I actually start?”. Visiting wedding fairs and buying wedding magazines can be great inspiration for your wedding but can also be very overwhelming as you quickly realise there is a lot of choice when it comes to planning a wedding. So, there’s a few things I suggest you do first of all: · Set a realistic budget – you may have some money put aside for your special day, now is the time to think about how much you feel is reasonable to spend on all the elements of your wedding, and ensure you have at least 5% put aside as a contingency. It may also be worth setting up a dedicated wedding bank account to start saving. If you have set your budget right from the start, it will be much easier to stick to it. · What time of year do you want to get married? – Some venues are more suitable for spending lots of time outside, likewise there are venues that have a beautiful interior that you will want to enjoy. When looking around venues, be sure to ask what the alternatives are to outside spaces if the weather is bad. · Draft a guest list – it will be difficult to book a venue (and ultimately set a date) if you don’t know how many people are going to be there. Some venues will only be licenced up to a certain number and you don’t want to cram all of your guests in. Likewise, you wouldn’t want your 80 guests to be lost in a room big enough for 300. · Must haves – any newly engaged couple will have ideas of what they want to happen on their wedding day. Now is the time to talk to your partner and agree on a few ‘must haves’ that are important to you both for your wedding and will take priority. It may be that your cake is a certain flavour, the bride’s mum does the flowers, or you go somewhere really special for your honeymoon… · Think about the theme – The best way to start choosing your theme is to look at bridal magazines and on the internet, there are some fantastic and very inspiring wedding blogs out there with lots of real wedding features. Start collecting pictures of the things you like, don’t worry whether they match or not. Start a file with cakes you like, dresses you like, flowers you like, colours you like etc. One you have started to build a collection a theme will soon naturally emerge. · Don’t rush out and buy a dress – it can be easy to get caught up in everything and just go straight out and start shopping for your wedding dress. Try to wait until you have the venue booked. You will need a wedding date to arrange fittings etc. and you need the venue to ensure your dress with go with the overall theme. If you would like help planning your wedding, visit www.carolinegouldweddings.co.uk to find out how Caroline can help, or better still, come and meet her at The Truly Marvellous Wedding Fair on Sunday 3rd May.