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Some wedding planning tips from a real-life wedding planner

The 2020 wedding season was a bit of a slow one, but that doesn’t mean your planning needs to be. We asked wedding planner Nonie Leonard, for some real tips for getting the planning started, building your budget and some hints for how to actually stick to it

My first advice to recently engaged couples?  Decide what type of wedding you’d like. 

It’s easy to get pulled in lots of different directions, but your wedding day is about the BOTH of you and should reflect your personalities. So start by choosing the theme. This can be anything from rustic to luxury country house or weekend wedding. 

Need some help deciding?  Here’s some things to consider… 

Is it a winter, summer, autumn or spring wedding?

Your wedding season has an effect on your theme, particularly if you’re following trends closely. Most autumn/ winter weddings for example, lean into the golden, autumnal and winter tones, and make use of homemade comforts such as pumpkins for decor or winter shawls to keep guests warm. 

What type of venue do you want for your wedding? 

The venue of your wedding can hugely define your wedding theme so think if you have somewhere in mind to tie the knot. For instance, if it’s a barn wedding then this lends itself to a rustic theme, with some DIY elements. If it is a luxury country house, then most couples opt for either a classical English or slightly more modern theme for their wedding.

Do you want a destination wedding?

With enough notice your guests will attend your wedding wherever you choose to have it, so if you have a favourite destination, there’s no reason not to go there. 

There are however, a few things you’ll need to think about prior to making a decision about your destination wedding. Location, budget and season will all have an impact on your final wedding budget. 

Real life tip: Portugal is one of Europe’s most affordable countries both to visit, and to get married – the temperatures are optimal for a destination wedding year-round, and prices are generally lower than in the UK for both venues and wedding suppliers.

Breaking down your budget… 

Once you have your Pinterest board full of inspiration, it’s time to start looking at the numbers. Break down your budget so that you have a clearer vision of the total amount required for your wedding.

[Real life tip: Couples should decide early on what their non-negotiables are. This lets them plan their wedding with full transparency.]

I strongly recommend that couples have a buffer for last minute spendings, additional guests and any incidentals that may appear after their wedding day. Find this money by identifying areas you’re willing to downgrade on (more on this later), based on your non-negotiables.

30% of wedding budget on the venue of choice

Your wedding venue spend will depend on the month and day you choose but be prepared to set aside at least 30% of your overall budget. 

30% on catering 

Catering is one of the major areas where you have an opportunity to negotiate costs and you can either upgrade or downgrade based on the type of food and drinks package that your caterer offers. I always advise couples to look at different menu options, such as buffet or family dining style,  which may help reduce their catering spend. 

20% on flowers

Depending on your list of non-negotiables, flowers are an area many couples choose to spend between 15-20% of their budget on. If you’re looking to invest in other elements of your wedding, choose artificial or silk flowers instead of fresh flowers or simply reduce the quantity of flowers for your wedding.

20% photography and videography

The majority of wedding photographers and videographers offer different packages for you to choose from, to either focus on still imagery or video footage.

3 ways to save money 

Planning your wedding doesn’t have to be stressful or filled with money worries, particularly when you can find ways to make your money stretch further.  I meet a lot of couples who have big dreams for their big day and believe that having a celebrity look-a-like wedding means spending lots of money. However you can easily achieve a celebrity style wedding with some personalisation and great budgeting skills…

Choose a non peak day and season

Summer is wedding season. When choosing your date, look for off-peak options such as late autumn and winter months as they are considered to be off peak in the industry. Not only should you consider the season, but also the day. Sundays to Wednesdays are also considered off-peak for weddings. Combining these two when choosing your wedding date will help reduce costs significantly, which could come in handy on other aspects of your wedding budget. 

DIY Your wedding 

Nowadays couples love to personalise their wedding using DIY. With Pinterest as a source of inspiration, you can find some of your wedding decorations in your local shops such as The Range or Hobbycraft. This can be a fun project for you as a couple as you can discover some hidden creative talents in the process and makes for an affordable date night as you save up  for your wedding. 

Find a way to downgrade

It is so easy to find things to upgrade on your wedding, but if you want to stretch your budget you can look at downgrading some of the options. One of the downgrade options you may can look at is the flowers, which can cost at least 15% of your wedding budget. This may mean choosing artificial or silk flowers instead of fresh flowers, or it may mean reducing the number of flowers for your wedding and reusing some of the ceremony flowers for your reception. 

Catering is one of the most expensive parts of your wedding, costing around 40% of the budget (depending on the food options). Selecting a buffet menu could significantly reduce the costs compared to a sit down dinner. Another option on downgrading your catering costs is to reduce the number of guests attending the main reception and invite them as evening  guests, where you are offering a buffet or grazing table option. Grazing tables have increasingly become well known for weddings by offering an array of food choices. 

Are you ready to get started? See your wedding loan rate in just 3 minutes. You can apply online, with no fiddly paperwork and your loan is easy to manage on the Zopa app. Representative APR 17%.   https://www.zopa.com/loans/wedding