Save the Date: The Golden Rules
Here’s the thing about planning a wedding: it doesn’t have to be that stressful.
No, listen, it really doesn’t. Honestly.
The only way to avoid ALL hassles, family politics and debates over lilac vs lavender is, of course, for the two of you to simply go and do it by yourselves without telling anyone. Just come back married and that’s the end of it.
But for many that’s not the way they want to do it. They want the Big Day, so they happily decide on having a wedding and then unhappily resign themselves to 12 months of all-out Holy War.
As someone who, until last year, was at the coal face of wedding planning, I’m here to tell you it doesn’t have to be that way.
Of course, by its very nature, planning a large sit-down dinner for 150 people including entertainment and table plans is a big undertaking, and you’d be a fool to think otherwise. Even organising a more low-key affair takes some work. It comes naturally to very few of us. But there is a way to do it without butchering your entire family with an ivory Jimmy Choo and ending up spending your wedding day in the Joy, rocking back and forth and muttering to yourself.
The three Golden Rules of Wedding Planning are thus.
- Set your budget and write out your guest list as your very first task.
- Decide what kind of day you really want.
- and never, ever, use the phrase ‘What do you think of …’
Listen up: if you ask people’s opinion about anything to do with your wedding, they’ll queue up to give it to you. So say nothing. Unless it’s vital that friends or family know the exact details of what the décor/food/dress is going to be like, stay schtum. You decide the details, nobody else. Handy phrases such as ‘Oh, we booked that ages ago, it’s all sorted thanks’ and ‘That’s not a bad idea, we’ll have a think about that’ will become your best friends. Use them liberally.
There’s no need to be a Nazi about it, of course. Sometimes people will ask a question about the wedding planning innocently, just to make conversation, and there’s nothing wrong with that so answer politely. But don’t get drawn into ‘Wouldn’t it be nicer if …’ conversations. They are just not worth the hassle.
This is your day and you should have the day you and your partner want. The possibilities are endless. You want a church wedding with a sit-down dinner in a hotel? You got it. Fancy a civil ceremony with just your family and a hooley afterwards? No problem. A ceremony in a fancy hotel with candles and beautiful music? An Afternoon Tea wedding, a marquee wedding, a BBQ or a hog-roast for your main meal? Sure, why not?
It really is totally up to you. Don’t listen to the nay-sayers who say you have to have this or that; you don’t. The only thing you HAVE to do to get married in Ireland is register your intent to marry with the State and stump up €150. After that, the ball is in your court.
Of course you may be limited somewhat by your budget – the golden rule here is ‘if you can’t afford it, don’t have it’ – which is why it’s vital to set your budget and draw up your guest list right from the very start. Vital. There is no point falling in love with a gorgeous old country house which seats 50 when you have 150 people on your guest-list. Likewise there’s no point booking a ballroom that’s going to set you back €10k when your entire budget is half that. Both budget and guest list will fluctuate, probably up to about ten per cent in either direction, but at least this way you’ll have an idea and won’t be working in the dark.
Speaking very generally there are six main areas you should concentrate on when planning your wedding. Sort these and you’ll be almost done; everything else is just details.
These six areas are:
- Paperwork: No matter what type of wedding you’re having, there is State paperwork to be done (you can’t get married without it), and if having a church wedding there’ll be additional documentation required.
- Bridal party attire: As the bride and groom you’re probably going to want new threads for the big day so don’t forget your gladrags.
- Ceremony: You need either a priest or a civil solemniser to perform the wedding ceremony.
- A record of the day: Even if you’re keeping it super small and simple you’ll want a record of the day, so either hire a photographer or have a friend take some snaps, just so you’ll have something to look back on when you’re old and grey.
- Food: Think about what you’re going to do about food on the day – even if it’s just you and two witnesses you’ll need something to eat.
- Party / entertainment: Also think about what you’re going to do about music or entertainment, if you’re continuing the party. Bands and DJs tend to book up early.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be focusing on each of these key points individually, with a whole host of tips and tricks that’ll help you achieve this next and most important goal…
When the day comes, relax and take it all in. No matter what has gone before, no matter what hassles you’ve had or stresses you’ve endured, there will come a moment when all of that falls away and you’ll be asked to turn to your partner and vow to take them for better or worse, for ever and ever.
And that’s the only thing that really matters.