Planning makes perfect, a step-by-step guide to all you need to know – and then some…

The Engagement

Traditionally, the first thing to do after telling your family and close friends about your forthcoming marriage is to announce your engagement in your local and/or a national newspaper., though now it’s more common, quicker and certainly cheaper to post your new engaged status on your Facebook site, announce the news on Twitter or even – for the more organised – get a video of the proposal on YouTube.

If you are going down the newspaper route, do check how much it will cost before you place the announcement.
It will usually read:

The engagement is announced between Michael, elder son of Mr and Mrs David Jones, of Poole, Dorset and Jennifer Anne, only daughter of Mrs and Mrs Simon Hayes, of Bracknell, Berkshire.

Though the habit of giving engagement presents has now fallen somewhat into disuse, if you are lucky enough to receive some, don’t forget to write and thank the senders.

Rings pictured are original designs by Erin Cox Jewellery of Exeter (

Getting down to business

The very first things you must decide about your wedding are where, when – and how much. Will it be a church wedding or a civil ceremony? Will it be a lavish affair with no expense spared or an informal celebration for close family and friends?

The most popular days for weddings are Saturdays and the most popular months are from May right through to September. If your plans follow that pattern, be aware that the most popular venues get booked up very early, so set the date and book the venues as soon as possible after your engagement.

But don’t discount other days of the week and other times of the year. Friday weddings are becoming more popular, with many venues offering a discount for weddings on any day other than Saturday and guests welcoming the opportunity to enjoy a long weekend. And if you’re happy to have your celebrations mid-week in, say, February, you can usually negotiate a substantial saving on peak season prices.

Photo by Sophie Bowdler Photography

The budget

Nowadays it’s much more common for the bride and groom themselves – and even the groom’s parents – to contribute towards the cost of the wedding, so talk to everyone involved about setting budgets and who is going to pay for what. And the rule of thumb is that whoever is footing the bill should have some say in what they’re paying for.

If the bride’s parents are footing a large proportion of the bill, for instance, they should have a significant say in the guest list. If the couple are paying it all themselves, then it’s up to them who makes the cut.

Similarly, it is increasingly common for bridesmaids to pay for their own dresses, but if they do you should offer them some say in what they are going to wear. If you pay for them yourself, you can choose their outfits.

Your wedding will probably be the biggest party you ever throw – which means it will probably be the most expensive. So it’s vital that you set your budget and stick to it.


Photo by Orchid Photography

So, how much is it all going to cost?

Basically, the answer is as much as or as little as you want it to. An intimate ceremony with lunch in your favourite pub for your closest family and friends can be every bit as special as a huge event at a top venue for hundreds of guests.

If you’re working on a limited budget, decide what’s most important to you and spend your money on that. Maybe you want a really spectacular dress and are prepared to do without a flashy car to take you to the reception. Or perhaps you’ve always wanted to arrive at your wedding in a pony and trap and will settle for fewer guests.

Whatever you decide, do remember that many guests may be coming a long way and spending a lot of money to attend your wedding, so it’s often better to look after a small number of people well than to invite more than you can comfortably cater for.

The important thing is that it’s your day and the last thing you want to be worrying about is how you’re going to find the money to pay for it. So, be realistic when you’re setting your budget – and remember, with a little imagination you can make your money go a lot further.

Your budget will need to cover:

  • Wedding ring(s)
  • Wedding dress
  • Bridesmaids’ and attendants’ outfits
  • Groom’s suit
  • Stationery
  • Flowers
  • Fees for the ceremony
  • Reception venue, food and drink
  • Wedding cake
  • Photographs/video
  • Wedding transport
  • Thank you gifts for best man and attendants
  • Going away outfits
  • Honeymoon

Photo by Bridle Photography

Traditionally, The Bride's Parents Pay For...

If you’re going down the traditional route, the bride’s parents might be expected to pick up the bills for:

  • Announcements in the newspapers
  • All the wedding stationery
  • Bride’s and bridesmaids’ dresses
  • Transport for the bridal party to the ceremony and from the ceremony to the reception
  • The reception itself
  • The wedding cake

Pictured: Lulworth Castle

The Groom Traditionally Pays For...

The groom’s financial responsibility at a traditional wedding encompasses:

  • All the fees – whether for church officials (including vicar, organist, choir, bellringers) or for the registrar and civil licence
  • Bouquets for the bride and bridesmaid, sprays of flowers for the bride’s mother and his own mother and buttonholes for himself, the best man and the ushers
  • Engagement and wedding rings for the bride
  • Presents for the best man and the bride’s attendants
  • Transport to the ceremony for himself and the best man and to the reception for himself and the bride
  • The honeymoon


Photo by Maxi Photography

Insurance - Do You Need It?

Much though we hate to say it, things can go wrong at a wedding and it’s some consolation to know that you won’t lose out financially it they do.
Insurance policies on offer cover everything from damage to your wedding dress to loss of deposits due to cancellation of the wedding and theft of wedding presents.
Do get quotes before you decide which one to take out – and do read the small print to see exactly what each policy covers.


Photo by Ron Bushell Photography

Wedding Planner

First Things First

From announcing your engagement to setting your wedding budget plus the low-down on who pays for what.

Read More

Best Man / Bridesmaids

Take a look at their list of duties before you decide which of your friends to choose.

Read More

The Invitations

Set your wedding style right from the start with your choice of invitations – and find our how to word them.

Read More

Who Does What?

Eliminate the hassle by making sure everyone know where they should be and what they should be doing.

Read More

The Ceremony

There's never been so much choice in where to get married, from church to licensed venue or even abroad.

Read More

The Reception

From a buffet catered at home to the glitziest of venues, how to plan for the biggest party of your life.

Read More

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Getting married?? Need some inspiration? Get yourself along to one of our fabulous Wedding Extravaganzas where you'll find everything you need, all under one roof. A great day out with live music, two catwalk shows each day and a gift bag for every couple. Early bird tickets on sale NOW September 15thWestpoint, Exeter 5th and 6th October ... See MoreSee Less
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