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  • Writer's pictureZuza McKen

Wedding Planning Hacks - how to plan a wedding

Updated: Dec 29, 2021

You said YES! But what next?

Image Via Caroline Opacic Photography

You have the picture-perfect image of what your wedding should be like, but when it comes down to planning it, it can seem a bit daunting. Where to start? How much will or should your epic day cost? (Average wedding in the UK is around 25-30 grand). What venue to choose and why? City or countryside? What shall the theme be? Who will you invite? Will you be able to dedicate over 200hrs of planning to pull it off? (Yes, that is about how long it will take you!)

It’s all doable of course if you put your savvy head-on - didn’t mean to scare you.

Here are some planning hacks to get you started:

1. The Budget

It really is a no brainer that the budget should be first on this list as it determines what kind of do you can get for your buck.

These are some of the important things you will need to budget for:

  • The dress/dresses

  • Grooms suit/suits

  • Rings

  • The venue

  • Catering

  • Booze

  • Photographer / Videographer

  • Florist

  • Decorations/props

  • Furniture (if it’s a dry hire)

  • Props

  • Stationery (save the dates, invites and on the day stationery incl boards/signs)

  • Production (lighting & sound)

  • Crockery & glassware

  • Entertainment

  • On the day coordinator/planner (a savvy decision, if you want to have a stress free day!)

  • Stylist (crucial if you want to nail the look & feel of your wedding. But book them first. They will help you find your perfect suppliers and save you TIME & MONEY!)

Start calculating your cost.

For example:

The venue - out of your £30,000, the venue will take out £6000.

Catering - out of your £30,000, for 100 guests, £100 per head will take £10,000 out of your budget.

That's half of your budget gone already. Now is the time to prioritise the rest!

There is no point in calling around asking for quotes if you don’t have a firm budget set in your mind (and dosh in your bank). And of course, stick to it no matter what. You will find that if you don’t, the cost can easily run away with you. If you find the whole thing a bit “don’t know where to start”, don't fret. I can help you.

If you haven't yet, download my FREE Wedding Planning Calendar Checklist to get you on your way.

2. Number of guests

Think of your wedding as a big party with all your loved ones in one place celebrating with you. Be it a small intimate celebration or a 100 + guest, now is the time to sit down and write your guest list of everyone you want there with you.

Don't lose sight of the budget here, if budget is important. The number of guests and the budget will influence your venue choice. To help you start thinking in numbers, catering is calculated per head (think around £100/£200/£300 per head, for example, depending on your caterer.)

Decide if you're getting the booze yourself or rather have the caterer be in charge of it all - so much easier if you ask me. The caterers will know how much to buy, can charge you on a consumption basis, and can do all the glassware sourcing, cleaning, returning, recycling, etc.

When you're both happy with the number of guests, turn your attention to venue hunting.

Top tip: to save on cost, if you can't feed everyone but still want to party with the most, divide the guests into full day and evening only. Loads of venues seat certain numbers but have enough space for more when the party kicks off.

3. The Venue

This is so very personal to you guys. Some couples want to get married somewhere special they have a romantic connection to (first date, where he/she proposed or had that venue in mind forever).

Some want that cool urban setting (easier to stuff all your tipsy pals into taxies at the end of the night), some want the countryside barn or stately home with amazing grounds, and some a colourful tipi festival wedding.

Whatever it is you want, it'll dictate the cost of the hire, so do your research before deciding where it'll be.

But let’s see how venues differ:

There are a few things you might want to consider when it comes to city versus country.

City venues might be more pricey but are more practical.

Country venues could be cheaper but logistically a bit more complicated. You will need to think about your guests' transport and accommodation for example. How will you meet the vendors, supervise all supplier setups, manage the end-of-night clear up, etc?

Do you have time to go and have a rehearsal walk-through in the country, meet all suppliers to talk logistics, and do a tasting? Will you miss anything when booking the barn or tipi? Imagine you realised on the day that you didn’t order enough lighting or a second generator for example? Yikes!

This is when I can come in, check nothing has been missed, take over the wheel and drive it smoothly over the finish line.

4. The Date

Sometimes this will be determined by the venue availability. 2022 looks to be a crazy busy year with weddings, due to the Covid postponement domino effect. I would advise that as long as it’s as close to your imagined date as possible, you'll be totally fine. We are seeing a significant increase in midweek weddings too. You wouldn't want to miss out on your dream venue just because your exact Saturday was booked up already, right? Your besties will be there no matter what, so I really wouldn't worry about that.

Once the date is booked, you can press the button on your Save the Date's and send send send!

5. The Vibe

This should totally represent you guys. Nailing the colour palette and style is key.

Do you want it to be super elegant, over the top crazy, very modern, colourful, romantic, cool minimalist, fun & relaxed?

What kind of food do you want and how do you want the meal to be served? Canapes and full service? Or do you want your guests to help themselves from a lush grazing table (super popular for some time now), or have dinner platters on tables?

What kind of a seating plan will you go for? Round tables or long trestle tables, swanky or rustic? What kind of chairs are you after? Chairs are important in setting the style and are so overlooked, it hurts!

Do you want to have a sweetheart table (my fave) for just the who of you or a head table with the in-laws and best man/woman?

What kind of party is your party? Find the right DJ, band, performers, production co for lighting, props co for decor, and the right florist!

6. Choosing the right florist

As with the photographer/videographer, choosing the right kind of florist is key. After all, floristry plays a huge role in your overall look. There are so many wedding florists out there, and you might think that there's not much difference between them. But oh yes there is! Don't settle for any florist. Choose one whose grid attracts you the most.

I will say that choosing cool design-led small independent florists will not only save you money but they will deliver amazing unusual designs that will set your wedding apart from the rest, for less and with more care! Small independent florists, in my opinion, go over and beyond to please their clients, and are a joy to work with!

7. Photographer

Choosing the right photographer and videographer to capture it all in the right style is vital. I see so many couples going wrong here. The wrong kind of photographer/videographer can result in huge disappointment. If you need help, I know a ton of them, each right for a different kind of wedding (think different filters they use for indoor or outdoor shots. Do they specialise in colour, black and white or moodier imagery, fun & relaxed, reportage or more staged shots?)

8. Stationery

The same principle goes here as does for choosing the right florist or photographer. You got to choose the right stationery designer for you and for your theme. I'm talking paper, font, colour, details, fun, clever, gorgeous. There are so many different styles to choose from. I know many incredible stationers who can zhuzh up your wedding taking the overall look up a notch, and taking into consideration what is important for you as a couple, from eco-friendly, luxuriously lux, amazing graphic masterpieces to retro coolness. After all, don't we just love noticing the clever little details? I'm not talking about just the invites here. Loads of couples overlook or do not even factor in the On the Day stationery like place cards, menus, welcome signs, seating plans, etc. It all has to tie in with the overall look, so choosing the right stationery designer that can bespoke designs just for you is key.

OTD stationery is something I love as it plays a huge role in my tablescape design & styling.

9. Wedding cake

As with all the other suppliers, cake makers differ in style. From traditional to modern to minimalist to retro. None of them does it all and if they say they do, my alarm bells would go off immediately. Go for the cake maker that has its own niche. Niche is key to finding the one that compliments your vibe. Don't do a rooky mistake and ask them to copy another cake makers style. Having a mood-board of what you like is great, but keep in mind it will be used as an inspiration and leave the expert, whose designs you like, to come up with something they think will look awesome. They will show you what they have in mind beforehand, don't worry. All you need to do now is to sign the design off and enjoy the tasting.

If you need help with all of the above, I offer a Wedding Planning Boost Session consultation zoom call where we go over absolutely everything. I can help you nail down the vibe, recommend the perfect suppliers that will deliver to your brief, will send you a mood-board to brief supplier with (genius!), and will flag up anything you might have missed.

And remember, it takes over 200hrs to plan a wedding from start to finish, so don’t leave things too late and run out of time.

Better still, get a consultation in with me and explore the option of hiring a pro to help you immensely with advice, design, suppliers and coordination. You will only do this once, make sure you do it right.

Fill in the inquiry form here and get the ball rolling now.

I cannot wait to talk to you about all things wedding.

Whole Lotta Love,

Zuza x

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