Congratulations! After the awful year that was 2020, I’m so excited to be able to start 2021 by congratulating all of the loved-up couples who got engaged over the festive period!
First things first - just enjoy being engaged! As tempting as it is to dive straight into wedding planning, take some time to enjoy being a fiancé/fiancée.
Secondly, when you are ready to start planning - don’t despair! Getting engaged during a pandemic does not mean that you won’t get married any time soon or that you have to have a small wedding. You still have options available to you and you can definitely start thinking about the type of wedding you want. If you know you want a big wedding with all your friends and family present, then you might want to consider having a long engagement. However, if you would rather not have a long engagement, and don’t mind the idea of having a small (or possibly even a micro-wedding or elopement) then you could plan a wedding to take place sooner. You could always have the ceremony first, and then a big celebration with everyone you love later on. It’s important to remember to be realistic with every aspect of your wedding planning journey; from the possible dates to the number of guests able to attend, always bear in mind what you can and can’t do. Also, take the ‘new normal’ into account with all of your plans, such as having face-masks, PPE and hand sanitiser available on the day, especially if you choose to get married in the next year or so.
It’s also important to work out your budget with your fiancé/fiancée. Do you have savings you intend to use, or are you going to set aside a certain amount each month from now on? Your finances will govern every decision you make for your wedding, so it’s important that you both know what your budget is, before you get carried away planning a lavish event that might not be realistic. If you’re going to have to save up for your wedding, try to work out how long it will take you to save a reasonable amount (bearing in mind weddings typically cost anything from £10,000 to £25,000 [Bridebook - The UK Wedding Report 2020]). Obviously if you are planning a micro-wedding, you may not need as big a budget as originally thought, but it is still definitely worth talking through all your ideas and options together first; and if you are planning on having a big celebration at a later date, you will need to save up for that as well.
The next thing to consider is the guest list; it may be worth creating several guest lists for different scenarios, including maximum number of guests allowed, being six people, then fifteen, and then thirty, as these were the maximum numbers allowed at different points during 2020. You could also create a guest list for your ‘best case’ scenario, if you’re planning on a long engagement or big celebration later on. If you end up with a very long list, have a good think about why you’re inviting certain people; do you actually like them or is it out of obligation? It is worth remembering that one of the easiest ways to save money on a wedding is to reduce the guest list!
You then need to think about the type of wedding you both want to have, and the time of year. Do you have a specific date or month in mind? Is your heart set on an outdoor wedding, a traditional church ceremony, a stately home or maybe a marquee in the garden? Is there a particular theme you want to incorporate, and therefore a specific type of venue that fits with this?
Once you have decided on the type/style/theme of your day, you can then consider potential venues. At this point you should think about key things that are personal to you that will affect your final decision, such as: how many people the venue can hold; is there accommodation onsite/nearby; can you have the ceremony and the reception there (if that’s what you want and are able to do); what dates do they have available that suit the time of year you want; what are the menu choices; can you have a live band; etc. For a micro-wedding, have a look at these Kent wedding venues that are perfect for an intimate wedding. A lot of venues have made the most of the lockdown situation in 2020 and revamped their websites to include virtual tours, so you can explore a venue from the comfort of your sofa. This will help you get a better feel for a venue and whether or not you like it, but I would still recommend seeing a venue in person before making a booking.
Once you have your venue, everything will begin to fall into place, as you can then confirm your date, send your save-the-dates and start to book your suppliers. When it comes to choosing your suppliers, I strongly recommend having a really honest chat with them about cancellation policies and find out how they have coped during the pandemic so far. Also, read any Terms and Conditions carefully! This will give you a clear understanding of what to expect just in case anything should go wrong. Also, make sure you have everything in writing; even if you confirm some details on the phone, follow it up with an email outlining what you just discussed. Most suppliers will do this anyway, but it is good for you to make sure you have a written copy of everything that has been agreed. It is also worth purchasing wedding insurance, but again, check the small print and what exactly you are being covered for. Most new policies will not cover pandemics, but it is still worth being protected from other things that could go wrong (just in case!).
If you decide you don’t want to wait to get married, then please don’t worry that your wedding won’t be as good because it’ll be small; micro-weddings can be amazing. Every couple I featured on this blog that got married since the start of the pandemic have all said how special, personal and intimate their day was, and because you’ll have a smaller guest-list, you could splash out on other aspects of the wedding. Check out these perks of having a small wedding.
There is also my detailed Essential Wedding Planning Checklist which is a great tool when it comes to planning your wedding, and you can download your own copy of the condensed version for you to keep and use. They will help you keep on track with when to start planning certain aspects and booking your suppliers.
And don’t forget to keep checking this wedding blog for plenty of varied wedding inspiration for your wedding in Kent!
Enjoy, and here’s to a better 2021!