I'm engaged now what. . . .

The question we get all the time - I said YES but where do I start?? 
First of all, congratulations. It's such an exciting time of your life.
You now finally speak our language: any and everything wedding ! 
Yes, planning a wedding is super exciting but can be extremely overwhelming too. 
All of a sudden will all your friends, cousins and aunties all be expert wedding planners with the best ideas  . . . haha its actually always so funny when we hear all the stories. 
Anyhow, let's get back to the planning.
The dream wedding you have always wanted. 
First things first, the swear word no one ever wants to talk about. Money! 
It is the first step always. No point in creating these luxurious Pinterest boards, and planning the wedding of your dreams, and then that wedding stay in your dreams, as your budget will not allow for it. 
You need to know how much you have to spend. As you can then allocate your money according to what you have.
Here is an example of how you can allocate your budget: It is just our guideline. 
Note: Each bride has her own idea of what is important to her. Some brides take high value in her dress, some like to splash on decor and flowers. Others may find the venue as the most important with a 5-course meal, and then some brides feel it's all about the photographer. 
There is absolutely no right or wrong here. We are all our own person with our values, and only you can decide what you want to spend where. 
Please remember something so small yet so big. It is YOUR wedding day.
It is hard when your parents or someone else is paying for your wedding, and they want to push their ideas on you just because they are paying for the wedding. You need sit and have the discussion with them, as hard as it may seem, that it's your day. 
Next is your guest list. We see it time and time again where brides find their dream venue, but then it can't accommodate your guest list. Either the venue has a min head count of example 100 guest and you only planned on 60-80 guests, or you have a guest list fo 300 and your venue can only accommodate 250 guests. So please please, trust us on this one. Start with your guest list. 
Don’t guesstimate  it - you will be very surprised how quickly the numbers add up and when you see again you have a guest list from here to the UK. But you also need to remember. We are now going back to budget. You can't think to have a 300 guest wedding but only have a R50 000 budget. 
Keep it realistic. Our rule of thumb that we normally use for our weddings is R1500 per head for an average wedding. 
Let's use an example: Your budget is R150 000. Take your R150 000 / R1500 = 100 guests. This your complete wedding from start to finish. This is NOT just the per head fee your venue will charge you for food. This is a margin rule to use as a starting point to know what size wedding you can have for your budget. 
** Tip 80-90% of invited guests will attend
Your next big decision is to wedding planner or not to wedding planner. 
This is a topic that can relate into a very looooooonnnnnggg discussion. 
There is many that will agree and many that will disagree. There is no short answer to this, but completely up to you as a bride. You know who you are. If you are the control freak, and planning everything to the T then maybe no, you don’t need to get a wedding planner. If you are the ticking time bomb who freaks out and stress if just the wifi goes off, then maybe for ease of mind get a planner. 
But a wedding planner is not just for the stressed-out bride. Some brides like to have their own go-to person during this amazing planning process. That well-connected person, who will give all the right advise, completely bias to opinion, the fastidious organizer who will keep you on track and be there every step of the way, all the way down the aisle. Wedding planners are not only for the rich and famous. There are many industry professionals who will fit in your budget. Or even just an on-the day co-ordinator will work with you. Go and sit and think about this as it will impact all the rest of your steps. You don’t want to plan your whole wedding, then realise at point 99 I do need my own wedding human, and then find your perfect planner. Spare yourself a lot of effort and decide now, from step 3. 
** Tip - this is maybe your first wedding you plan, but wedding planners do this year-round. So, they may just have more tips and tricks up their sleeve that you think you have. 
Move along to the next biggest step of planning your wedding is the venue. 
This is the place where all the magic will happen. 
Venue search can take the most of your time. Firstly, please remember to make an appointment with the venue of desire and don’t just pitch up. You are not the only bride getting married, so please make an appointment so that they can give you all the much-needed details about their favourite place. 
Photos can be very deceiving and you never really know if what you see is what you get. You would need to go to each of the venues to see if it is really that dream venue that will complete what you have in mind for your theme and wedding pictures.
Remember to have your short list on hand and that the venue does meet all your requirements. Can they accommodate the number of guests you have in mind? Do they have a chapel at the venue? Are there accommodation available for you to get ready and or stay over the night of your wedding? 
Brides, please please go do your homework on the venue before your book and pay. Gosh I can't stress this enough. So many of our brides land up booking a venue and then later in the process realise it's not what they wanted, and now they have paid the deposit and there is no turning back. Find other brides that got married there, ask them about their day, ask about the catering, ask about the staff, and don’t be scared ask the question if they could choose again if they would pick the venue again. . . .
Once you do your venue evaluation, remember to ask what is their plan B if it rains. In these new day and age with the COVID pandemic upon us, ask what is their terms and conditions if something like a pandemic happens. Do they have alternative fees, corkage, bar-men & waiters, closing time? And THEN the promise all the venues lately make to their brides-to-be, the venue says these famous words: “and you will even get your own venue co-ordinator ”
Boom, bride is in-love and books with the venue as wow you get a venue co-ordinator. Stop - take a breath, and ask them what does your venue co-ordinator involve. And then soon you will find out it is not so glamorous as it sounds. A venue co-ordinator is there on the day to oversee the venue staff. They are there for the venue, not so much for you. They will see that the tables and chairs etc are in the venue that they supply, but they don’t do the set-up. They don’t run around setting your fairy tale wedding, and climbing on ladders to reach the tree tops. No, they are just your go to person on the day. 99% of the time do they leave as soon as you walk down the aisle. Your wedding then gets handed over to a function manager (that you have most probably not even met) The function manager then runs your wedding and that is your new go-to person until the end of the evening. Phew, that felt like quite a mouth full just about a venue, but we can still go on and on and on about venues. . . But we think you more or less get the ins- and -outs of need to know about a venue. 
Now on to your Photographer & Videographer. These group of artists will spend so much time with you on the day and you need to be so sure you are comfortable with them, in your space, in-front of their lenses. We are not all selfie queens and feel 200% comfortable being photographed for a whole day. You therefore need to be sure you have that connection with your media team as they'll be shadowing your every move, and the more comfortable both of you are with the photographer, the better your photos will turn out. 
The question mainly gets asked how do I know this photographer is for us? First step of evaluating is budget. No point falling in love with a photographer that is just not fitting to your budget. Browse your photographer's portfolio and see if they shoot the style you are after. Go through their social media and see what previous brides have to say about their work. Are they ethical and staying within their promised time-line of when you will receive your pictures. 
Don’t be afraid to ask how, when and where they make backups of your pictures. We have had 2 brides who lost all their precious pictures and have nothing other than the guest photos to show, due to lack of incompetence of the photographer. 
Also, check if there's a second shooter included in the contract, and if there's not, ask about the possibility. It's likely the second shooter can be confirmed later on, but the main benefit to having two shooters is, of course, you get twice as much coverage. 
Remember that your photographer is the pro, so—while it’s helpful—you shouldn’t spend too much time putting together a detailed shot list for them. Instead, pass along your day-of timeline, give them an idea of what images you’d like captured (like a shot with each of your bridesmaids in addition to wedding party portraits) and let them do their thing. This is also the perfect moment to give them a heads up on any family or friendship intricacies they should be aware of, like divorced parents, a grandmother that needs to remain sitting for portraits or a groomsman and bridesmaid that don’t get along. 
Alrighty then, you are making progress with your planning process and let the hunting begin for the dress. 
I think this is the absolute most favourite part of being a bride. Finding that dress that you have been dreaming of that will make you feel like a true princess. 
You probably by now have a style in mind of what you think will suit your body. But please try on as many dresses as possible. And if you think you are an A-line girl type dress, do try on a mermaid dress, or an open back or a black dress. This is your time to shine queen. And as much as you think you can only be in one style dress, do let the dress consultant make suggestions. You never know, she may just know your curves better than you and let her do the styling and you just flaunt the assets! 
Please don’t leave this dress shopping for a “I'll do later” list. You think it's something you will find in a wink, but doll, you may just end up with a designer designing your dress and that takes time. . . 
Let us be the head scratcher solver from the start and roll out the facts about dress fitting. It cost money to try on dresses and in your head makes 0 sense right. Well think of this, every time a bride tries on a dress, it means her body odour, her skin cells, gets onto that dress. So clearly the dress needs to be cleaned and freshen up before the next fitting. The bubbly you and your bridal squad are sipping on cost money. Since you have made an appointment, its one-on-one time booked with a seamstress that is a professional by trade. You expect the best service, get treated by the best, so why not pay for that service you receive. 
** Tip. Dress fitting can get quite personal on getting that dress on. SO Please remember to shave, wear conservative underwear and have a clean bikini line. Wear minimal accessories, with no watches or bracelets as it just may hook on the dress. 
If you want to wear your hair up or with a hair pin, take it with to try and get a more or less complete look with your dress. 
You are slowly but surely getting there and the next step is your stationary. Save the dates, Invites, menus, seating plan, welcome boards, name place cards, table numbers, it all now needs to tie in with you colour scheme and theme. 
Don’t fret too much about the wording of your invite. Your design team will assist you with the standard formalities and wording. If there is anything specific you would like to add you can just communicate that to them. Send them ideas of your theme that you have in mind, so that they have a clear understanding of the look you want. Once you have a design and a theme, that will be drawn right trough all the elements of your stationary. 
Your save the date can go out at any point of time. There is no specific set time for when. Its more important for your invite to go out 8 to 12 weeks before the wedding. If you have a destination wedding please allow your guest more time, and send it out even up to 4 months in advance. 
Although your save the date or the invite is the first impression your guests will get of your theme of your wedding, its something people will forget within a week. Yikes, we are going to say it, but people can not really care less what your wedding invite looks like. They either read it, save the date on their phone, and yes sadly toss it in the bin. Only grandma and your mom will keep the souvenir until your first baby is born. Please don’t hate us for saying this, but we need to lay out all the facts. The biggest money saving tip we can give you is think clearly about your invite and how you want to spend your money. With our new tech day-and-age, be modern and do a wedding website. All in one place, and if you need to change any details Like postponing your wedding due to Covid 19, its not going to cost you another arm-and-a-leg to send out new save the dates or invites. Its as easy as asking your web developer to make a change, ( at a minimal fee )  and boom all updated, at the finger tips of 98% of your guests. 
98% guest - yes no typo here. Your 88 year old granny is probably not tech savvy. So think of a special idea to tell and remind her of your wedding day. 
Time to book your glam squad. To get an appointment at your favourite hair dresser is not always that easy, so imagine getting an appointment for your wedding day (which is most probably a Saturday ) Remember that your hair dressers busied day is always a Saturday . So, for your hair dresser to take the day off for your wedding is not as easy as you would think. Your hair dresser might even not be able to do your hair on your wedding day as it's not feasible for her to take a whole day out of her schedule to do your hair. So please be kind to your hairdresser when she says she cannot assist you. 
When booking an appointment with an unknown hair dresser, make sure you get your trial done and communicate with her. Don’t feel you need to spare her feelings if she is busy with something you don’t like, you need to tell her. As that is your only opportunity to see what your hair will look like on the day. If you want a hair clip or something special in your hair please take it with. 
** Tip: Please tell hubby-to-be not to cut his hair day off or day before wedding please. At least 2 - 4 days before wedding. There is nothing worse than a newly gentleman’s haircut on pictures. Let his hair just settle for a day or 2 please. 
Then onto your make-up team. Okay so you might be an artist yourself but please leave this to a professional to do and treat you to on your day. Again, your trial is vitally important here, and if you can arrange for your pre-shoot to be on the same day extra bonus point for you. You will then get a true reflection if your make-up is too light or too dark in pictures. On the up side there is time to fix the problem and communicate it to your fairy glam to lighten up or hit a bit of a darker tint. 
Its cake time - yu !! Cake tastings is super fun. The cake can not only look pretty it must taste yummy too! If you have a tiered cake and can't decide on one flavour, make each layer another flavour. When it comes to the cake there is no rule that you need to follow. You can have whatever you like for your cake. Its more-so about the act behind the cake than the cake itself. Okay okay the act - the cake cutting - it's the first thing you and hubster will do together for the first time as a married couple. When you cut it is completely up to you. You can cut it for pre-reception snacks, or for dessert. No right or wrong here. 
** Tip : don’t have 5 deserts, a candy table, chocolate thank you gifts and cake for dessert please.
Take our word its going to waste ! 
Drum droll. . . . DJ time. How cool to have your own DJ playing your favourite music all day long just for you! Its quite a vibe to have the best music playing BUT the neighbour wanna-be DJ from next door can kill the vibe for you before you get to cake cutting. 
For some of you, you want to save the cost and use the kid on the block, but please please make sure you have that dude who can play your tunes all day long without needing to raise your eyebrows to him at 8pm. 
Give them a list of your all-time favourite songs, and let them know what to play and what not to play. You never know they just might play that Afrikaans song, or that song from the 80’s that no one want to jam to anymore. 
** Tip: If the venue provide a DJ as part of their in-house package, please ask previous couples what they thought of the DJ. At least ask 5 bridal couples what they thought. 
Oooo and your final and our most exciting part (for obvious reasons) flowers & decor. Okay so you have another hour of reading time for us, right? Haha not really - there is just sooooo much to discuss when it gets to flowers & decor, this topic is never ending. (maybe we should do a blog just on trends on decor & flowers : comment and let us know if you want to see a blog about this topic)
We will keep it on the straight and narrow. For the DIY brides, please keep to one theme and don’t try and overcomplicate it. 
Settle on your vibe or style first and then find a way to add a serious pop of colour to your celebration.
We understand it is hard to visualise how it all will come together, and with input with everyone around you, you will get confused. One easy part is to take all your pins from Pinterest and make a final board with only the items you have booked or are going to use. If you are still unsure why not arrange for a mock with your supplier.
To explain how we do our mocks for our brides: We first have a meeting to discuss all elements of your day, and we get all your idea pictures from you. From there we set a date at your venue and do a mock with all the elements that we discussed. For a bonus we always take with extra elements so that you can play around with ideas until you get your desired look. Remember that even though you are a DIY bride does not mean you need to do the complete set-up of your wedding. This is an enormous task you want to take on your shoulders while you are supposed to be stress-free on your special day. Rather hire a set-up coordinator who can set-up your wedding for you. Take this advice and trust us on this one. 
Back to the basics, Colour combinations, it is so important, play with colour and texture and designs. Come-on its 2020 !
Have your colour combo swatch by hand to give all your suppliers so that everyone is on the same page on what’s your idea of blush pink. Go to a paint shop and get your colour combo swatch. They are for free, and that way all your suppliers will all have the same blush pink colour swatch and there will be no confusion in colour.  
**Tip:  Always go for the wow-moment. Instead of stretching your decor budget to include many things, narrow in on one or two true statement moments. Your guests will be sure to remember a real standout detail, especially if it feels very “you guys.”
These are all your main tick box items to make sure you get done in a timely manner. But your to-do’s list for planning your complete wedding is still a long way to go. 
You need to book your pastor / marriage officer. 
Check that the groomsmen are on track with their suits. 
Rings - are his ring ordered? Yours need to be cleaned week before wedding.
Are all your wedding accessories ready and matching the shoes and the dress? 
Are your marriage contracts done?
Transport and accommodation for you and hubby
Have you gone for dance lessons for your first dance?
Is your MC on par with everything that is happing 
Nail and grooming appointment done 
Gift registry done
Then the famous last words: To gift or not to gift. . . your wedding favours. Another topic we can write a whole blog about. All we going to say are these 2 things: 
  1. Gifts is not a must and completely your choice. 
  2. Sorry, not sorry here.. but its true..people don’t want things with your names and your wedding date on. It has no value to the guest. 
Wow - you are still ready all of this - you are truly excited about panning your wedding. And so are we excited with each and every bride as this can truly be a magical planning process and we have such a passion for weddings. 
If there is anything you feel you want more clarity on - please pop us a mail and we will gladly assist 
Happy Planning !! 
Your Wedding Professional
Luzanne JvR

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