Hello there you newly engaged human! First up, throw some confetti in the air, because you’re about to embark on the thrilling (and somewhat nail-biting) journey towards your wedding day. Seeing as I have seen and documented quite a few weddings up to date, I will be by your side to expertly guide you through the ultimate ‘what’s next’ wedding checklist, making sure you don’t find yourself stuck on an inspirational Pinterest Board, not knowing how to take action. Let’s dive in, shall we?
First and foremost, just take a moment to bask in the excitement. Share your news with your nearest and dearest and enjoy the feeling of being blissfully engaged before you embark on the journey of wedding planning.
Sit down with your ‘fiancée’ (has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?) and fantasise about your ideal day. Envision the theme that you would like to go for – perhaps it’s boho-chic or classic elegance. Try to see if your visions align and learn to compromise on the wishes that your partner might have. It’s important to note that your visions for your wedding day might not actually be alike (yikes!). Just remember that it’s the start of the next chapter of your love story, so make it unmistakably YOURS. Tune out the noise of convention, tradition and expectation, and focus on the things that bring you joy as a couple.
Before you go ahead and book that castle, it’s important to talk about numbers with your future spouse. Ideally you should determine a budget that won’t lead to those post wedding blues. Decide what you are willing to splurge on and where you think you can cut back. As a wedding photographer, of course I would recommend not holding back too much when it comes to booking the people responsible for capturing your memories. My biggest regret about my wedding day was not hiring a professional photographer who’s style I absolutely loved, and the images we have now are all we have left as memories of our day. Anyway, that’s my two cents, but if you feel you’re more willing to splurge on an incredible venue, while cutting back on your guest count, you do you!
You might find that this is one of the trickiest parts of planning a wedding (and then comes the seating chart). Discuss the guest list with your future spouse, keeping in mind your budget and the venue you would like to book. This can be a very controversial opinion, but I truly believe that if you haven’t spoken to someone in years and they really don’t have any impact or input in your life, you can leave them off the list. Again, tune out the noise of tradition, convention, etc. and curate your guest list in a way that will ensure you know (and like) everyone that shows up as witnesses to your union.
This is where you can decide who you want by your side throughout the entire day. There seems to be a trend going around where people don’t really have bridesmaids or groomsmen anymore, so this could be step to skip if you don’t like the idea. If you do, however, feel you need the support, make sure you choose the people that have been with you through thick and thin. Again! Don’t feel any obligation to ask anyone to be a bridesmaid or groomsman because it’s expected of you. Save yourself from the drama and just stick to your favourite humans.
Pin down the when and where, making sure you do this sooner rather than later – all the good venues get booked up quite fast! You’ll want to make sure that you choose a venue that aligns with your vision for your big day (and can fit uncle Bob with all his dance moves).
This is where you decide on your photographer and videographer (*cough*), the caterer, the DJ, the florist, the planner (the list goes on). Remember that the early bride catches the best vendors. Don’t be shy – interview and ask for portfolios to make sure their work is exactly (or very close to) what you’re looking for. It may also be helpful to rely on them for advice! These are industry experts, so if your cake lady suggests that a twenty-tear cake might not actually fit through the door to your reception, it would be wise to listen to her.
It goes without saying that there’s a lot to keep in mind when choosing your wedding attire. I’ve learned the hard way that a dress on Pinterest won’t look the same on me as it did on the model in the picture. You might be thinking of a super tight mermaid style dress with lots and lots of lace. However, it might not really compliment your figure and if you’re spending all day (and night) in it, you might want to be able to move without feeling uncomfortable, sweaty and itchy. My advice would be to go for a fitting and see what really complements your figure, as well as what you feel comfortable in. Also, if you’re getting married in the middle of the summer under the African sun, is a waistcoat really necessary?
Start working on those invites (perhaps this would be a good time to schedule an engagement shoot so you have beautiful images to choose from for your wedding website, or wedding stationary in general). Pick the decor that dazzles you, create a menu that will make your mouth water just thinking about it and chat to your DJ about the perfect playlist to use throughout the day. Pick the song you’ll walk down the aisle on, have a few relaxing hits for the cocktail hour (or perhaps some live music would be in order) and make sure the DJ has the ability to light up the dance floor!
Sometimes things can go a little awry. A little rain on your parade? Make absolutely sure you have those plan B’s ready, especially in Cape Town (even if you’re not getting married in the winter, rain has been known to fall unexpectedly in December). But also be sure to take a deep breath and remember what really matters – you are marrying your favourite human!
Cue the nervous excitement as you finally see all your plans come together around your beautiful wedding day. This is where you do your final dress and suite fittings, vendor confirmations, timeline planning and of course, spa days! Enjoy these moments and take deep breaths. You’ve got this!
On the day when you finally say “I do”, I can promise you that all the lists in the world will fade away, leaving just you, your new spouse and the magic of your love.
So cherish every tick of the checklist, because each one leads up to one of the most beautiful days of your life.
As a little bonus (if you’ve made it this far), here is a link to download the Ultimate Wedding Checklist that I put together to make your lives just that much easier!
Now let’s get you hitched with less hitch and more magic!