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  • Writer's pictureLisa Flahant

Getting engaged this Christmas?

Updated: Dec 15, 2019

Are you getting engaged this Christmas? Or hoping to? Apparently over 40% of marriage proposals will take place between Christmas Day and Valentine’s Day – so you’re in excellent company!

Once the euphoria over your engagement settles down, no doubt you will be preparing to go into full planning mode. Now while the thought of this fills many folk with glee, for others it is a terrifying prospect. So this blog is for anyone who might need some guidance of the first steps to planning your big day – aimed at tackling the priorities to keep your stress levels to a minimum. Sound good? Then read on!

Firstly, just enjoy being engaged! Don’t start stressing about planning the wedding just yet, simply bask in the enjoyment of being newly betrothed. It’s easier said than done, but please…. just lap it up. Love every moment. Stare at that sparkler. Enjoy breaking the news. Take every opportunity to celebrate it (with a glass of fizz if you feel so inclined). JUST CHILL OUT. In theory, it’s not going to happen again, so make the most of this happy time. Once you start planning, the hazy, crazy days of being totally blissed out and loved up can fade away, so live in the moment.

Then, you need to do something really boring… While rushing off to the venue of your dreams or your nearest bridal shop are likely to be high on your wish list, there is another thing I urge you to do. Have a long hard look at what you can afford to spend on your wedding day. No, it’s not exciting or glamourous or even remotely fun, but it can help avoid a bit of disappointment later, especially if you’ve set your heart on something that is simply going to break the bank. And bear in mind, everything is probably going to cost more than you think, and there will always be extras you may not have planned for at the outset.

And if you’re on a tight budget, now is the time to think outside the box. This is where a celebrant wedding can tick many boxes. Do you know someone who has a glorious outside space? A beautiful garden, a field with a view or maybe a woodland spot? If not, can you think of a public space, on the beach, in the park or the moors maybe, where you could host an intimate ceremony? Making the decision to have a DIY wedding can save you a small fortune, and yes, there will be a lot to consider, but it’s a great way to save money and create something completely unique which no other couple will ever have experienced.

And if you’d like to find out a bit more about costs associated with celebrant weddings when compared to venue weddings with a registrar, then head over to an earlier blog of mine.

Now, you can start dreaming :-) This is the creative bit – deciding on the vibe for your wedding celebration. What do you imagine your day will look like? What will it feel like? What is it you want to look back on and say, yep, that is just what we dreamed of? Traditional or unconventional? Formal or informal? Rustic or classic? A huge celebration or something more personal? Have you ideas for colours or a theme? Are there specific elements you absolutely must have and things that you know you can definitely live without? Whether you start a journal, a folder, a mood board or gather your ideas on Pinterest – collating your thoughts in one place is an ideal starting point. Scouring the internet and social media platforms, as well as joining some online wedding communities and maybe attending a wedding fair, will give you a ton of inspiration.

Consider the guest list While you don’t need to yet know exactly who to invite, deciding on how many will let you know whether your budget will work and also influence your choice of celebration. So if you are considering booking a venue, do your numbers BEFORE you start looking – true, some venues will have options for small and large parties, but it’s really helpful to have a clear idea of numbers from the outset.

And now you are engaged, no doubt those closest to you will be wondering what their involvement might be. So if you are considering including best men/women, bridesmaids, groomsmen and any other key players – now is the time to let them know!

Set the date The first question nearly everyone will ask you is – have you set a date? And you might be quite decided on exactly when you want to wed, or if not, at least the time of year. But if you can have a few options, then this will add to the flexibility of venue selection AND celebrant selection – especially if your wedding is at a popular time of the year or in the not too distant future. Both will get booked up further ahead than you imagine. So try and have a few dates in mind to give you the optimum flexibility – and remember if you have the option of having your celebration on a week day, that many venues and suppliers offer discounts for Monday to Friday celebrations.

Decide on your venue This is the next really fun thing to do on your list! Enjoy the opportunity of visiting the places you are considering, and if it’s a venue, chat to the wedding coordinators to get the feel of which will best fit you. If you are considering something less conventional, look at outside spaces you might use for an alternative wedding. Whatever you choose, getting your venue booked is a big tick on the list. If all this seems too much, then consider involving a planner to help you identify the location of your dreams. In Cornwall we have some amazing planners who know the most tranquil beaches, accessible woodlands and best country meadows all suited for an outdoor celebration.

Book your celebrant Finding that perfect person to lead your celebrations – especially during the busy season – is super-important. Booking the registrar – less so! Yes, you have to do the legals at some point, and you can book this anywhere between a month and a year in advance, but you can arrange the date to complete the paperwork with the Registrar to coincide with the days before your celebration (and if you’re lucky you might even be able to do it on the same day) or you can do it after your celebration. The timing of it is really neither here nor there, as long as you remember to get legally-wed! But booking your celebrant, finding someone who complements you perfectly, who is keen to get to know you in order to tell your authentic story and prepare a completely tailor-made ceremony - it might take a little time. Have a look at this blog which has advice on choosing your celebrant. We’re all quite different, you know!

What next? Now you’ve made all those decisions, you have a great foundation for your wedding and you can start working on selecting your other suppliers. Clearly some will get booked up more quickly than others – so sign up to wedding websites, get a checklist going, try and be flexible, but never take your eye off surrounding yourself by those folk who are going to have your back and support you through the process. (And the budget, don’t take your eye off that either!)

Depending on your celebration, your priorities might be as follows: caterers, photographer, videographer, florist, stationer, musicians/DJ and dress. The rest can fall into place afterwards – cake, suits, bridesmaids/groomsmen outfits, décor, rings, hair and make-up, transport, honeymoon. (Although I do believe I booked our honeymoon very early on – I do love an excuse for a holiday!)

How long should all this take? How long is a piece of string? I am working with a couple who are currently planning for 2023 at the moment – and they have everything booked, from the dress to the band to the cake! That said, I have also worked with a number of couples who have organised everything in just 3 months – which appeals to me greatly, as I am terribly impatient and a complete nightmare at waiting for lovely things to happen! In my experience as a celebrant, the average timeline is 12-18 months – any more than that and you might get tired of the whole process and risk changing your mind on many elements. But that’s just my humble option on the subject!

Ahhh – wedding planning – it’s just one of my favourite things and such shame that we only get to do it once (unless you are renewing your vows – a fab way to relive it all again!). So bear that in mind, remember to breathe, smell the roses and enjoy every minute of the experience. Happy planning! #gettingengaged #weddingplanning #weddingchecklist #weddingtodolist #celebrantwedding #weddingincornwall #cornwallwedding #celebrantincornwall #celebrantceremony #vegancelebrant #veganweddingcelebrant

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