7 tips for planning your dream wedding day

It’s so exciting when you begin your journey planning your wedding day. For many people it’ll be the first time getting married and so knowing where to start…and how to start can be daunting.

Luckily you can surround yourself with experts who can help guide you along the way and turn that uncertainty into excitement. We love working with couples planning their big day and starting from a blank piece of paper. Crafting a wedding menu from scratch is exciting and you can see some great examples on our menu pages

You don’t need to know exactly what you want at the very beginning of your wedding planning. Your wedding day will unfold in the weeks and months to come. Each aspect will knit together to create the wedding of your dreams.

Wedding tips and advice

Now having a wedding planner by your side can be a very good idea to help navigate your way through the whole wedding process. Wedding planners are full of great advice, top tips and short-cuts to the best suppliers they know. They can also be a friend by your side, a fountain of knowledge and reassurance when you need some impartial advice.

So to help with the start of your wedding planning, we teamed up with the brilliant Claire Clarke at Claire Clarke Weddings, to give us her top tips to help you no matter where you are in the process. Claire is a luxury wedding planner, organising incredible weddings all over the UK. Claire is also resident planner at the stunning Holdenby House wedding venue in Northamptonshire.

So we’ll hand over to Claire and let her share her wisdom and guidance and help get things organised.

You’re engaged!! Congratulations! That ring is on your finger, sparkling away and let’s be honest, you can’t stop looking at it right?! And never had you wished more that nail salons were open! 

But now what? Where do you even start when it comes to planning a wedding? 

Step 1Enjoy being engaged! 

Before you run off to start planning guest lists and venue viewings, take a moment to stop and bask in your newly engaged bliss. Being engaged is such an important step in your relationship so it must be acknowledged. Have a date night, celebrate with loved-ones. Enjoy the love from friends and family who want to pass on their congratulations before you dive into step 2. 

Step 2 – Get Talking

Planning a wedding is a joint venture and it’s so important for both parties to be involved from the start. Remember this is a joint celebration. I find a lot of couples run off at the start looking at venues before thinking about an overall experience. So firstly slow down and get talking. Sit down with a bottle of wine and talk together about what you’d both like. Discuss all the things you love and what you both want from your day- what’s important to each of you? I guarantee your priorities will be different! And then, it’s all about compromise… good practice for married life!

Step 3 – Set a budget

This seems too boring to have so high up on the to-do list I know, but this is probably the most important step in the process. The budget will guide how many guests you realistically can invite. It will help inform the type of venue you opt for and which pricing band of suppliers you research. You may be receiving help from family members so it’s really important to be direct and ask them for a set figure they can contribute. Then, realistically work out how much you can save too. But the most important thing, it won’t be an enjoyable day if you are in debt from your wedding and paying it off for years. Be sensible with what you really can afford. 

Once you have a budget in place, go back to step 2 and decide what suppliers are your priority. If food is the most important thing on your list and you’re happy to have a smaller cake, then ensure you split your budget to represent these choices. This will help when you get to step 7!

Step 4 – Start the guest list

This is so important to establish earlier as without a guest list you can’t find the right suppliers or venue to work within your budget. The key question I always suggest to my couples when they embark on this step is to ask themselves “have I had a one-on-one chat with them (in person or on the phone) for more than 15 minutes in the last year?” If the answer is no, then should they be on the list?

Step 5 – Find your wedding style

Your ‘wedding style’ is not only everything visual for your wedding but also the ambiance of the day too. When I look at the styling, I think about the lighting as well as the textures of flowers and linens. Even how the food will create an experience for your guests. Ensuring you find your wedding style will help you refine your focus. You can cut out that ‘wedding noise’ from Pinterest or Instagram that can so easily take a couple off focus.

Knowing your wedding style will help you communicate more effectively with wedding suppliers too. It’ll make the process of finding the right suppliers for your style so much easier. 

Step 6 – Find your venue and set a date!

Hopefully when working out your wedding style you will know if you are more drawn to a London Ballroom or a country barn. So now is the time to start booking your viewings. But with more and more wedding venues popping up, it can be hard to know where to start when choosing that perfect venue. Luckily, I wrote a couple of guest blogs for Engage Weddings giving you my top tips on how to choose your wedding venue and the top questions to ask…

Choosing your Wedding Venue. and 24 Questions to go armed with!

Step 7 – Research suppliers and bring your wedding style to life

Finding the right supplier can be a minefield. Hopefully however, if you have followed all my steps to get to here, you will have homed in on your wedding style and a budget. This will mean the process of shortlisting suppliers should be so much easier. When considering suppliers, first find ones that match the wedding style (remember to think ambiance not just look of the day too). Then ensure they fit in the budget you have set. Make sure you ask lots of questions and have paperwork signed by both you and the supplier. Then keep a spreadsheet of everyone along with payment dates on a budget spreadsheet. 

I know I’ve made that sound super simple and for some, even with this guidance, you still won’t know where to start. I find a lot of couples get to step 2 and realise they need help to pull all the ideas they have together. 

So that’s where I can come in! Having planned weddings for over ten years including weddings at some of London’s most iconic venues, I will work with my couples to bring their vision to life within the budget that’s been set. Meaning you really can take a step back and just focus on step 1… enjoy being engaged! 

If you’re considering hiring a planner, I’d love to hear from you! 



For more great tips and advice on planning your wedding and inspiration for your food and drink, we have loads more blogs from our team and from expert friends and partners. Take a look at this one for wedding styling – “Your wedding style affects everything from your decor to your wedding hashtag, making it one of the most important steps while planning.” under the section Find Your Wedding Style.