Key steps to a successful wedding plan

So you’re going to get married! And everything looks so simple and easy to plan. And you’re not going to have that fussing and fuming that so often overwhelms wedding plans. Definitely not. You’re going to do the whole thing yourself, and it will simply be a matter of making a couple of lists, and booking a suitable venue.

Think again. Planning a wedding often turns out to be more stressful than anticipated. Avoiding tears often means hiring a wedding planner to shoulder the responsibilities. But if you truly want to handle as much as you can yourself, here is an easy guide to the myriad of tasks that any wedding, from large to small, from conventional to quirky, will present.

Making your day memorable

Set the budget
Weddings cost money at one level or another. But your plan has to begin with what you are prepared to spend. When you pair what you would like with what it may cost, you have a glimmer of a plan. You may also know if you need to borrow from your parents for this important event in your life, or perhaps find out what they would like to contribute as part of a wedding gift. Be realistic. Plan what you can afford as closely as possible, and figure out how you will deal with any overruns. Check your savings – and maybe begin to budget extra savings well in advance of setting your plans in place. Avoid debt as much as possible. Since money can become a sparring point in marriage, don’t start your life together with debt on your back.

Choose the date
This is where the whole plan begins. Once you have a date that agrees with everyone involved, you are ready to look for a venue, dream your wedding, and ensure the booking you would prefer. Flexibility on the date is vital. Don’t set this in stone until you have checked with a specific venue and back-up venues. Have at least three ideas in mind. Things don’t always work out as you plan, so be ready to switch the date if the venue you might prefer is booked on the day you have chosen. Check out the facilities to see what guest numbers can be accommodated.

Decide on the guest list
Once you have a budget, a date, and a tentative list of venues, you can turn to your guest list. You will have an idea at this point, how many you can include on your list. Talk to your partner and family about who they’d like to invite and put together a preliminary guest count. With a ballpark number, you’ll be ready to start looking at venues and costs. Your guest list may need to be determined by how much you want to spend per head. Begin with an ‘everybody’ list and cut it down as necessary.

Book the venue and create a table plan
This is the process that really sets the plan in motion. The setting is really important these days: gardens, beaches, hotels, country clubs, farms…the choice is vast. But the size of your guest list should help narrow it down. If you have a number of elderly guests avoid somewhere that requires climbing stairs; if children are involved choose somewhere they can be accommodated separately or with easy access to a play area. Seating facilities are also key; well-spaced comfortable chairs are essential. And who will sit with who? Will there be enough room for dancing? If an outdoor venue…what are the arrangements should it rain? And bathroom facilities…enough to cope with the number of guests you have in mind? When it comes down to it, the venue IS your wedding, so sorting this aspect to your satisfaction is crucial.

Create your wedding style and presentation
Once you have decided on a venue, you must decide how you want your wedding to look and feel. Think colour, theme, vibe. Is your wedding going to be romantically pink and loaded with flowers; are you going to be funky and do everything in black and white; are you going to startle with sun-warmed yellow and orange? Your colours should run through your theme: green and environmental; high energy and sassy; cool blues and greys for calm and cool. How your wedding influences your guests’ experience, is important and indelibly part of the memory you want to create.

The dress and the bridal party
Once you have chosen who is going to be part of this select group, choose the dress – whether off the rack or custom designed – that will suit your wedding theme. Likewise the dresses of the bridesmaids, and even the ties and button holes of the groom and best man. And get the fittings done as early as possible to allow for alterations. In the end, it should come down to what makes you feel most comfortable, beautiful and confident.

Choose your numerous suppliers
Catering: It’s important to find a caterer who can cater to your menu preferences, and who is able to work within your budget. Someone who has worked with your chosen venue before is usually a good way to go.

Book your photographer: Good wedding photographers can be booked up to a year in advance, so this needs some quick thinking. It can take time reviewing portfolios so make an appointment to meet with your photographer and ensure he understands your brief. After all those photos will become the memory of that day, so this aspect of the wedding has to be on target.
Florist: The flowers are key to your theme – colouring and arrangement complement everything, from your dress to the venue and your theme, to the table arrangements. Make sure you go through your vision with the florist well in time.

The cake: Everybody loves the cake! So whether you choose a traditional style or you want something entirely different and creative, remember that professional cake-makers are under time constraints – so book this early as well.

Printer: From wedding invitations to a gift list, to name tags and song sheets – whatever needs to be written and printed will require your thought to design, fonts and paper. Your printed material is a lovely evocation of your theme colours and style.

Music: You will have to arrange and book this well in advance if you are planning on having a live band or DJ. Recorded music might work just as well, but you have to be sure of quality on the day. You will also have to decide on wedding songs, speeches and and wedding readings that will be part of the entertainment and focus of the day.

Create a wedding gift list: Your guests are going to want to buy you a wedding gift, so save them the stress of deciding what to buy and create a wedding gift list. On the other hand, remember to order gifts for all those who have helped you to plan this memorable and remarkable day.

We are an award-winning wedding venue just outside Hermanus, Cape

Nestled between fragrant fynbos, spectacular vineyards and swatches of olive trees, Bona Dea Private Estate is the perfect wedding, conference and function setting just 90 minutes from Cape Town. Whether you’re planning a breath-taking winelands wedding or a outstanding corporate function, our venue is the perfect year round, all-weather destination.

Spectacular and memorable is our business – so you can be sure your dreams will be brought to life in unforgettable style and elegance. Whether you’re planning a wedding or business function, our team of highly imaginative and resourceful event planners will make it happen.

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