Just engaged? Congratulations! Try not to panic.
f yours was a festive proposal and you're back to work already, you may have just noticed the romantic dust settling, and the excitement waning as life gets back to normal and you realise you've been landed with a massive project you've no idea how to even begin going about.
First thing? Don't panic. Plenty of people have been there. Planning 'the modern wedding' can feel a mammoth task but honestly, it's up to you how much of an impact planning the big one has on your day-to-day lives.
While you may already be feeling overwhelmed with dates, trends and opinions from family and friends, try to put these to the back of your mind as you tackle the initial basics. Don't get bogged down in bridesmaid dress colours, wedding themes and for heaven's sake stay off Pinterest for the moment, lest ye roll down the rabbit hole into signature cocktails and llama ring-bearers (oh yes, it's a thing) before the budget is even set.
Get the basics up and running and before you know it you'll be crafting your own 'Just Married' bunting, using the work printer for tiny 'yay' flags to wrap around all the straws for the drinks reception and debating the pros and cons of changing your maiden name (TBD all in good time!)
Here's what you need to get cracking on now:
1. Decide on a date
...or at least get an idea of a date you'd like to tie the knot. If it's this summer, you're in for a let's say 'exciting' few weeks of planning. Most people leave around 12-18 months between their engagement and wedding to get everything sorted. Decide what season suits your style best, and pick your month. After that the availability of your venue (or sometimes photographer) may dictate the actual day your nuptials fall on.
2. Discuss the budget
You and your partner might have very different ideas on how much your wedding should cost, and this needs to be discussed fairly soon into planning so that you're both on the same page and nobody gets any surprises. While by no means should the national average influence what you decide to spend on your day, some couples find it helpful to know that this figure is currently around the €25K mark. Your budget should be what you can afford (comfortably, or a little uncomfortably if you want, without going into debt) - and, importantly, what you're both happy to spend. Whatever that number is, you will find a way to have a beautiful wedding celebration.
3. Short-list your venues
Many Irish wedding venues book up for popular dates 18 months to two years in advance, so if you really want that August bank holiday weekend for your nuptials, you're going to have to get your skates on. Decide what county might work best for you and your guests, and draw up a short-list of venues that would suit your style and budget and drop a few mails to get your hands on their wedding package details.
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4. Discuss the ceremony type
There are so many different choices of wedding ceremony available to couples, and you should begin discussing what style would suit you best as a couple as soon as you begin drawing up plans. If you'd like a church ceremony, contact you church and begin initial dialogue, giving the sacristan or similar an idea of dates. If you're planning a secular or religious ceremony*, you must notify a registrar of your intent to marry. Anyone notifying a registrar of their intention to get married in Ireland must give at least three months' notification in person to the registrar. It's best to arrange this appointment as early as possible to get a suitable date as appointments with the country's registrar services fill up fast. The good news is that the registrar does not have to be the registrar for the district where you live or where you intend getting married. If you wish to have a civil marriage ceremony in a registry office, you should contact the registry office in the district you wish to be married. Visit hse.ie for more.
*Check the Irish Registrar of Solemnisers to ensure your proposed solemniser is registered.
5. Make a rough guest list
Before anyone starts with the verbal invites, agree with your partner that nobody is to be invited to the wedding without discussion. It sounds a little wacky, but honestly, so many couples have landed themselves in wedding guest list/table planning nightmares with a hasty 'of course you guys are coming!' to a bunch of colleagues or indeed the local rugby club. While most people won't hold you to a verbal invite, you don't need the stress, so just agree that nobody is invited until invites are issued. Before saying a word to parents, have a chat - just the two of you - about who you WANT to be there. Jot down names or groups and think about how the numbers will affect your budget. You don't need to issue invites until closer to the day, but if you've friends or family abroad a vague idea of a month would be much appreciated by them as soon as you've an idea yourself. Other than that, many brides say that their hair stylist of choice wasn't available due to another wedding, so if you've only one person you'll allow to touch your barnet, best throw them a text and let them know to pencil you down.
6. Research possible suppliers (photographer and band)
Now, don't let this stress you out but if photography is something you are into, you're going to have to start making a move on finding a professional soon. Popular wedding photographers often book out 18 months in advance, so getting your research done early and short-listing one or two should hold you in good stead. Start by browsing things like real Irish weddings (here on THEVOW.ie!) to get a feel for the different styles out there, and whittle down the ones you love. Another vendor that can book up fast is wedding bands, and if you've not been to many weddings, finding the perfect band can be a bit of a stress for some. The best way to find your band is often through recommendations, and if you're planning an investment, popping along to see a few live and in person to really get a feel for them.