After celebrating our engagement with family and friends, Nick and I are now in the early stages of wedding planning. We’ve set a date and chosen a location (which in itself has been a mission!) The journey so far has been a rollercoaster and we’ve already picked up a few tips that I thought might be useful for those of you who are dreaming up your big day or maybe just a little curious about it all…
Start with your budget
The obvious place to start, to my dismay, isn’t Pinterest or Instagram (although I did spend a good day or two combing through pages and pages of bridal magazines)… Start with a good old Excel spreadsheet and plot out how much you anticipate to spend on every little detail from the flowers to your dress and the venue and catering.
Wedding tax is real
Everything costs more than you’d expect, especially if you’re planning to opt for a more traditional wedding. The wedding industry is a multi-billion dollar industry (one that’s finally being disrupted thanks to millennials, but more on that later…) Prices for your big day will be inflated. I’ve heard from several people to avoid using the word, “wedding” at all costs. From the catering to the venue, I had NO idea how much everything would cost and it definitely makes me cry a little.
On the other hand…
I get it. There’s infinitely more pressure attached to being part of someone’s big day and I can understand why vendors need to charge more. How you design your wedding is completely up to you, and that’s quite exhilarating. I’ve known people who’ve tied the knot at their favourite, unpretentious Toronto diner with 25 guests and others who’ve gone to their local courthouse to make things official. Both are incredibly romantic ways of declaring your love.
It’s been an emotional time
I’d always envisioned planning my wedding alongside my parents and my sisters. Being so far from home and deciding on the important details of my big day has been challenging. I’ve experienced a lot of guilt since deciding to have my wedding in New Zealand, knowing that not all the important people in my life will be able to come… It’s also been hard not being able to celebrate important milestones with my mom and sisters. I was able to go dress shopping with my younger sister when we were in Sydney together, and that meant the world to me.
Let’s not play the comparison game
I’ve been to a lot of weddings. I come from a big family with a penchant for huge Ukrainian weddings. While I’m looking forward to incorporating key elements of my heritage into my big day, our wedding is about us as a couple. We’ve decided to plan a wedding that suits us. Our families have kindly shared their thoughts and advice on who to invite, where and when to have the wedding, and who we should include in our wedding parties, but ultimately, these decisions are up to us.
People love to plan ahead
I quickly realised how early couples book EVERYTHING from their venue to their photographer and hair stylist. Our wedding is still more than 11 months away, but many of the vendors I’ve contacted are already booked up for our big day. Fortunately, we’ve secured our dream photographer (which was the biggest priority for me, personally) so that’s helping me breathe a little easier.
I thought I was a bit crazy trying on dresses more than year out, but the shop gals told me it was pretty standard to start getting a feel for styles around the year mark and to order eight months out.
It’s just one day
We’ve been together for more than nine years and our wedding, as exciting as it will be, is just a small chapter in our journey together. As cliché as it sounds, I’m incredibly excited I’ve met the man of my dreams and proud of the life we have together. I sometimes feel indifferent towards it all because I know what we’ve built is real and tangible. Our love has spanned continents, time zones and immigration nightmares. Our wedding is about spending time with our loved ones and getting everyone together — not about archaic ownership laws (let’s just say traditional vows sound downright oppressive to me…)
The planning part shouldn’t be too overwhelming or stressful, it’s a party after all! So, make the most of it and enjoy a glass or two of champagne along the way.