Wedding Planning: The First Booking

Wedding planning - what to book first?

Exciting news!! We’ve booked the first “wedding thing” and we now have a date! Everyone mark your calendars for 26th May 2018 and we’ll see you there ;D

The thing about wedding planning is that for the vast majority of people, it’s the first and only time you’re planning a wedding. Even if it’s not your first time, it might be years since you last planned a wedding and things have changed – my mum and I were talking at the weekend about how different her wedding planning 30 years ago was from mine.

The problem with this though is that it means that everything is a new experience. Okay, so that’s fun in itself but it presents a big problem: as a newbie, how do you know what to do, when to do it and what the best options are?!

I’ve found that one of the most tricky things was figuring out what exactly to book first. Obviously we’ve got the engagement ring sorted already (I was tempted over trilogy ones like these from F Hinds, maybe I’ll talk about some favourites in another post if anyone’s interested? But Ben picked out this raw diamond one for me in the end) so we’re at least one step of the way there already! I’m not going to be announcing our venue (remember when I was debating over it a few weeks ago?) until either quite a bit later on or until afterwards (although I’m sure some people from around the area might figure it out based on the posts I’m going to be doing in future!), but we’re having the ceremony and reception at the same location – it’s a privately owned stately home that used to be a priory not too far away from where we live. We’ll be having the wedding inside the house then the drinks reception outside in the ruins (pending good weather!) or indoors (in the case of bad weather) and the reception in a marquee outside. We looked around 5 venues and spoke to about another 20 more via email, as well as researching about 100 others (no exaggeration!).

We narrowed it down to 2 venues then looked in more detail at what we’d be getting at each of them. Once we were about 99% certain which one we were going to go with, we got stuck – do you book it straight away now you’re decided in case the date gets booked? Do you find caterers, photographers, marquees, registrars that can do that date? WHAT HAPPENS?!

So I’ve got a few tips to start off with:

  1. Make sure to ask questions

Like I said, it’s almost everyone’s first time doing it, so ask as many questions as you need to. You’re not going to look stupid because everyone will be asking these questions. Luckily most wedding suppliers already know the kinds of questions that people will be asking so they’ll have already answered them for you, but make a list of things you need to know and ask them. Don’t be scared to email or ring to ask questions afterwards too as they probably won’t occur to you while you’re there.

  1. Remember you’re not alone in planning

I’m possibly a bad person for this, but I do occasionally keep referring to it as “my” wedding – oops! I don’t think I’m a bridezilla (yet!) but I think a lot of brides-to-be are like me in that they’ve got lots more ideas in their head than their other half and they take on quite a bit more of the planning themselves. So my point is to make sure not to forget your other half. If you’re feeling stressed about it and panicking, you’re not alone, you have them. Isn’t that the whole point of getting married?
Plus you’re bound to have friends and family members who’ve done it recently too. I’ve spoken to a few family members to get tips on wedding suppliers locally, timings of the day, people they know. Make sure to ask around.

  1. Google is your best friend

Apart from that other half I just mentioned anyway ;D I have literally Googled everything, from “How much do wedding flowers cost?” (because I literally didn’t have a clue) to “How do you book a registrar?” – you know, the kind of important bit that’s the reason for the whole day!

  1. Get a wedding planner if you need one

Choosing a “theme” for your wedding is a pretty major part of the first stage of planning because it will affect quite a lot of things – the venue, whether you want it indoor or outdoor, even whether it will be a church wedding or a civil ceremony might be affected by the theme. And that’s not even mentioning when it gets more specific – you might want a casino wedding complete with roulette tables and cards, and that’s going to look kind of out of place in a barn. For a casino themed wedding, you’re more likely going to want somewhere like a hotel that you can decorate like the ones in Monte Carlo, and you may not want the religious aspect of it in that setting. You’ll also want to think about what style of food you want, what style of dress/suit the bride and groom will be wearing and so on. It might seem easy enough to plan this all yourself, but when you start looking at all the tiny parts, that’s when you start thinking about a wedding planner.
DIY weddings are very in at the moment, and I think we’ll be doing quite a bit ourselves too, but not all out DIY. Because of this, people aren’t necessarily looking at wedding planners as much, thinking it’s an unnecessary expense if others are doing it themselves. But so far I’ve found that wedding planning is almost another part time job! It’s a lot of emails back and forth, spending weekends meeting people and touring venues, planning budgets and arranging times. And we’ve only made one booking so far! A wedding planner will take a lot of work off you and will ensure things run smoothly, so even though we’re not booking one, it’s something to consider.

  1. Consider your budget and numbers first before booking

Pretty much the most important part – how many people and how much money do you have to spend? The first question we were asked by venues, marquees and caterers was how many people we were having, so we quickly sat down and made that all important list. You need to know this for the size of marquee, for the size of your ceremony room, how many people will be eating, how much drink you’ll need – the list goes on! We sat down fairly early on and made a few different lists – the “abroad” list (because we considered this very seriously at one point); the “small venue list”; the “everyone we’d really quite like”; and the “every possible person that we might invite”. We then chopped and changed these lists so that we’ve got a day time list that fits our venue and an evening list too.

Then think about budget. We found some venues that seemed really awesome until we realised you would literally just get the space to use for twice the amount of money than one where you got everything included. Also bear in mind that even if your venue seems reasonable, you may need to supply additional things such as power, washing-up facilities, toilets and more. What we did was to choose our favourite couple of venues then start talking to marquees and caterers nearby each of them – first to make sure they could do that date, then to figure out travel costs for them (where necessary), then to fit them all together to see how much it worked out at. That way you don’t get any nasty surprises at the end of it all!

  1. Relax!

Wedding planning is kind of fun. In fact, it’s a lot of fun. So relax and enjoy it! You’ll only be doing it once (hopefully! Or unless you decide to go into wedding planning afterwards, in which case, woohoo!) so make the most of it.
And for some advice – we booked the venue first so we had secured the date but made sure that some of our favourite marquees and caterers were available that day. We’ve now narrowed down on caterers and marquees, chosen a fave on each and are about to put down deposits on those too – eek!

So seasoned wedding planners and wedding-ers, any advice to anyone at the same stage as me in wedding planning? I’m happy to take it all!

PS: It’s quite frustrating not having my own images yet to illustrate these posts with – one day I’ll have some, but until the wedding, I’m having to use stock photos!


  1. Lynsey
    April 29, 2017 / 8:21 am

    Such lovely news, booking the venue is a big thing, now you have a date and venue you can be even more excited ?

  2. Caroline
    May 1, 2017 / 9:26 am

    Great news Sian! So happy that you have a date.
    Now the madness actually begins. Haha.
    It’s definitely about asking questions.. though i found I felt silly for asking, as people I asked had already been married, or dealt with people like me most days and were But, yes, it’s best in the long run to ask questions and Google is a godsend!


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