A Guide to… Wedding Planning

Written by Emma Hla

Wedding Planning.

It’s a big job.

But with a few simple broken-down steps, it can feel like a breeze… Promise!

So, to help you on your wedding planning way, we have the rather gorgeous Kat from Katrina Otter Weddings & Events making another cameo appearance on the Coco Blog, this time with her guide on this hot subject!

Kat’s given you her run down of where to starts, what to dos and what to considers! Oh and I’ve created a pretty (pinnable!) Cheat Sheet for you to refer back to over your wedding planning journey.

So, shall we…?

Notes from Katrina

A big hello again!

Thanks to Emma for asking me to write another guest post for Coco

I really am delighted and honoured to have the opportunity to share my wedding planning advice, especially on such a stylish and inspirational blog!

As a wedding planner and stylist I regularly receive emails and calls from couples with various wedding planning queries and dilemmas. In light of this, I post weekly Top Tips over on my Facebook page and have also recently started a regular Wedding Planning Q&A feature over on my own blog.

Additionally, I will be answering the most common wedding planning questions as part of a series of posts on Coco, sharing some helpful tips with you over the coming months with the aim of making your wedding planning journey a little less daunting, far more manageable and, dare I say it, fun!

So where best to start than at the start of your wedding planning journey!

You’re engaged, you have that incredible bit of bling, you’ve celebrated with your family and friends and then the realisation sets in… It’s time to start planning your Big Day! But what do you do next? And where on earth do you start?!

It’s a little-known fact that before the excitement sets in, you need to get past the bewilderment stage! Some couples are so overwhelmed they freeze entirely, whilst others get so caught up in the excitement that they rush to book the first wedding suppliers they see. Neither route is advisable but don’t worry, if you’re still in the dark about how to kick-start your wedding planning journey, I’m here to help!

What kind of wedding do you want?

The venue search is certainly the first step, but before you rush into making this first and very important decision, you need to think about who you are as a couple and what’s important to you about your wedding day.

Do you see yourselves having a casual or formal day, an intimate affair or lavish celebration…?

And what feeling or vibe do you both want for your day… Do you see yourselves having a City Chic wedding or a Classic and Elegant affair…?

If you’re struggling to determine what kind of wedding you want then try gaining inspiration, hit the web, pick up some bridal magazines, fashion magazines and certainly take a peek through the six style categories on Coco Wedding Venues to see which venue vibes you’re feeling!

Determining what you want at this stage of the planning process will ensure that your wedding is a personal reflection of you as a couple and will save you valuable time in the long run.

Work out numbers

Start by drawing up a rough guest list to give you an idea of numbers, capacity can suddenly start to rule out certain venues.

If you’re looking for an intimate ceremony for ten people you don’t want to rattle around in a hall fit for 100. Similarly, if you have your heart set on a big, lavish wedding, you can safely rule out venues that can’t accommodate your guest list.

Draw up a budget

Before you can commit to booking a venue, you need to know how much you can realistically spend.

If anyone has offered to contribute, now is the time to nail down the details!

Make a list of your incomings and outgoings and work out how much you can (and want to) save. Calculate the total projected savings plus any gifts from family, and you have your Big Day budget.

Deciding how much of your budget to allocate to your venue is another dilemma, and will depend on a lot of other factors, so you’ll need to start prioritising early. This will mean sitting down as a couple and making some tough calls – what aspects of your wedding are most important… The food, the location, the venue, the music, the décor, the details…? What’s essential and what’s nice to have…?

List your venue requirements

Coco Wedding Venues has a great list of questions and helpful tips to ask your venues when you’re ready to view, here is a list of questions that I ask my couples to consider before they start to shortlist

Once you know the answers to the following questions, finding your perfect wedding venue will be that much easier!

  • Where geographically would you like to hold your wedding…? If you have your location narrowed down, for example you’d like a wedding venue in the South East of England, then you can safely rule out anything further afield.
  • What date would you like to get married on…? If you have a special date in mind you may need to be flexible on the venue, or the time you’re willing to wait to get married! Venues do book up in advance and the average engagement is 14 – 18 months.
  • Think about the seasons – are you an Autumnal chick or more of  a Summer belle…? High season months (July / August) will come at a premium, so certainly something to consider along with the style of wedding.
  • What day would you like to get married on…? Some venues only host weddings once a week or on certain days.
  • What time do you want your wedding to start and end…? If you’re dreaming of partying until dawn, you might want to consider if they have a late licence or not. Also check the flexibility on this, as some venues can extend their licence with prior consent!
  • What kind of ceremony would you like to have…? If you’d like a religious ceremony rather than a civil wedding you will need to book your ceremony and reception venues separately. If you’d like your ceremony and reception in one place, then you need to check if your venue has a civil ceremony license and where you can and can’t say your vows, as only certain rooms will be licensed.
  • Are you happy to use in-house or preferred suppliers, or do you want to bring in your own…? Some venues have a preferred suppliers list or in-house suppliers, ranging from caterers, florists and entertainment! So it’s important to ensure you’re happy with the options on offer and that they fit within your budget.
  • Do you want to bring your own alcohol…? Check to see if the venue bar is in-house, external or whether they charge corkage.
  • Do you want a blank canvas venue or one that comes pre-styled…? And are you happy to plan, set up and style your wedding by yourself or are you hoping for help from the venue staff…? While some venues are fully staffed, others are venue hire only, which means you’ll need to make all of your own arrangements and have people onsite to set up on the day.
  • Do you need affordable accommodation onsite or nearby…? If the venue can’t accommodate everyone, they will certainly be able to recommend local options for your guests so take notes when you visit! Check out the local area for things to do and see, your guests may want to make a weekend of it!
  • Do you want a marquee…? Some venues have capacity for marquees and work with preferred suppliers, and some even have permanent marquees erected throughout the summer months. If you have your heart set on a marquee wedding then make sure it’s a) an option and b) the style of marquee you want. From traditional pole style tents, through to yurts and tipis – there’s lots of options! Check out the marquee suppliers and marquee venues on Coco!

Planning your wedding should be a fun and enjoyable experience!

Armed with the above, you will be able to tackle the wedding planning process with confidence! Speaking of confidence, I’m very proud of all of the venues we work with here on Coco and as you will see, a lot of the first steps above, including budget, focus on this very important task.

Take a look through our directory, where new venues are being added each and every day! There’s bound to be something that ticks your boxes, and indeed sparks some Big Day inspiration. Our venues galleries are bursting with beautiful photography!

Thank you so much to my gal Kat for this lovely introduction to wedding planning… Katrina will be back very soon with her helpful tips on another sexy subject!

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