Boutique Bridal Concepts

20 Expert Tips for Wedding Planning

Ursula Forrest - Monday, September 07, 2015


Wedding Budget

Set your wedding budget first as this will determine how much you can spend on each element of your wedding. Work on these ratio’s; 48 -50 % of total budget to wedding reception; 8-10% for wedding flowers; 8-10% for music/ entertainment; 8-10% for wedding attire; 10 -12% for photographer/videographer; 2-3% for wedding invites; 2-3% for gifts & favors; 8% for wedding coordinator & other items. Always allocate an extra 5% for unexpected surprises or things you may have mistakenly omitted.

Managing your wedding budget is all about finding the right balance. Work out what is most important to you and where you are not willing to comprise and allocate your budget to those items. Invest your money where it matters. Not everything is as important and sometimes it means slightly simpler wedding invitations so that you can spend more on your wedding photographer or wedding reception centerpieces.

Guest List

Devise your guest list before starting to search for a wedding reception venue. The number of guests you can invite is often dictated by the size of the venue. Work on between 2,5 -2,7 square meters per guest.

Your guest list is often the first hurdle that needs to be overcome. Our advice is before you start planning your guest list, set a few rules that will make it easier to cut the list if you have to. i.e if either of you have not met the person your respective half would like to invite, if it means cutting the list they go first (unless of course it is the sister of the bride who has been living abroad for years!) My husband and I set a rule that any friends we had not socialized with in the past 6 months were not invited and if there were any friends our parents wanted to invite that we had not met, they would not be invited either.

Prioritize your guest list starting with immediate family and wedding attendant’s at the top of the list ending with distant cousins and acquaintances near the bottom. That way if you have to cut the list you can start at the bottom of the list and move up.

Singles Policy

This is often a contentious issue. Weddings are expensive and when almost half of your wedding budget is spent on food & catering you need to be sure that you are spending your money on people who matter the most. If it means inviting a special someone over your single friends new beau, you need to have a policy in place for this.

Reception Venue

Before hiring your reception venue, read the fine print. Understand all the inclusions and exclusions, operating times, catering & bar facilities available and any hidden charges that you may not be aware of. Some wedding reception venues only operate until a certain time or may only allow set up from a certain time. Be aware of any of these restrictions so that you can either negotiate around them or factor them into your wedding planning.

Minister / Marriage Officer

If you have a childhood minister or a specific marriage officer in mind, make sure they are available before setting your wedding date in stone. Often couples forget to book their Minister or Marriage officer in advance and then struggle to find someone at the last minute.

Wedding Photographer

Even if you hire a videographer, your wedding photo’s will be displayed in your home and will be the one keepsake you will always look at. Special emphasis should be placed on hiring a professional wedding photographer. The top wedding photographers are sought after and often booked up to a year in advance.



Wedding Flowers

If you have your heart set on a specific flower, check with your florist that they are in season over the period you are getting married and always have a plan B in case your florist cannot obtain your flowers for your wedding day. Be prepared to budget for extra if you would like to specially import your flowers if they are out of season.


Look at previous years weather patterns for the period you have selected for your wedding day to gauge what the weather will be like. Where possible visit the venue at the exact time of day you want to get married to see how hot or cold it is at that time of day and what the light is like for photo’s.
If it is too hot and you have planned an outside wedding ceremony you may need to arrange to have umbrellas for your guests and if it is too cold you may need to arrange out door heaters.
Obviously the weather is unpredictable so always have a plan B.

Blackout Dates

Investigate and know before hand if your wedding day falls on any local event, major sports day, conference / exhibition or any other major event that could affect traffic and accommodation in your area.

Shared knowledge

Your wedding photographer is usually one of the first wedding specialists you will hire. Ask your wedding photographer for any recommendations of florists they have previously worked with who’s flowers have been spectacular and ask the wedding reception manager if they can recommend any bands/ DJ’s/ entertainment that they know have been very popular. Ask the experts you have hired for advice and guidelines – that’s what they are there for!

Be super organized

Save all your images, notes and contact details of your wedding retailers in one place by category. Follow up all conversations with your wedding retailers in writing and keep a copy of all your correspondence together either in a file or on your tablet device. Save important retailers numbers onto your mobile phone. The more organized you are, the less can go wrong.

Wedding Invitations & Save-the-Date

As a guideline your Save-the-Dates should be sent approximately 6 months prior to your wedding day (sooner for out of town and overseas guests) and wedding invitations should be sent no less than 3 months prior to your wedding day.

Posting wedding invitations can be an unforeseen expense. Be sure to weigh your invitation mock up and check the price of different sizes of envelopes before printing wedding stationary that costs a lot more than you had budgeted to spend on postage.

Children’s Policy

Make a uniform children’s policy and include the policy on your wedding invitations. You can either welcome children with open arms in which case you may need to make special arrangements for children with regards to meals, entertainment & baby-sitting facilities or advise parents that your wedding is “adults only”

Meal Requirements

Check your contracts with the wedding providers that will be present at your wedding and understand their meal requirements. Many contracts state that you are responsible for providing a meal during their hours of service. If this is the case, check with your venue with regards to alternative, less expensive meals for your wedding retailers if budget becomes an issue. Otherwise you could be serving oysters and caviar to an extra 15 people.

Catering Requirements

Buffet style – each buffet station requires a minimum of two servers per thirty guests and two additional runners to clear plates and restack. Two additional runners are required for every 200 guests. If using six or more staff, you will require a captain / manager.

Sit-down dinner – a seated dinner requires one waiter to every 8-12 seated guests depending on the intricacies of the meal. You may require additional waiters to serve beverages. A captain is required for more than 4 waiters.

Bar – a minimum of one bartender is required for between 50-70 guests. Additional bartenders may be required if you are serving mixed, blended or special drinks.

Guest accommodation

Once you have set your date and reserved your wedding reception venue, investigate accommodation options in different price categories for your guests. Some accommodation establishments allow you to block book rooms in advance at a special rate which you can release a month prior to your wedding. Ensure you read the fine print though with regards to cancellation policies.

Audio equipment

If your ceremony is outdoors or you have more than 15 rows of seated guests, it is a good idea to hire audio equipment. Speak to your DJ / entertainer as they normally have this available at an additional charge.

Shopping for your dream wedding gown

First find a style that you like on-line so that you have an idea of what to look out for. Don’t be surprised though if you land up with something completely different! Sometimes you may be completely surprised by a wedding gown that you would never have considered. Trust the advice of your wedding dress designer, they know what will work with your body shape.

Never go shopping for your wedding dress alone. If your mom can’t go with you, ensure that you take a friend who can give you honest feedback. This really is the time when you want someone with you that will help you choose which wedding gown looks best!

Devise a logical planning schedule

This sounds easy but is often where brides get unstuck! Don’t book your reception venue until you have confirmed your date; don’t hire any suppliers before you have confirmed your reception venue, don’t design your wedding cake before you have an idea of your wedding flowers and colour scheme.
Work out which tasks need to be done in a logical order and stick to your plan. Be realistic with your time. If you are 3 months out and still have crucial tasks to do, don’t be afraid to ask for help from friends or consider hiring a professional wedding planner.

Emergency contact numbers

Keep a printed list of all your key wedding providers for your wedding day and give a copy to the reception manager and wedding coordinator. It may come in handy if you need to contact someone urgently.
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