Met a very nice couple last night, and I could understand the stress they might have gone through to begin their wedding plan. After all, for most couples, it is their first time planning a wedding. At the end of the meeting, when I saw the smiles of the couple, especially from the groom, I knew somehow they understood and knew how to begin the planning, and that itself brings a refreshing joy to my soul.. we have helped them addressed all their concern and worries they have had about their big day.
Now, I thought it would be good for me to share some of my thoughts I have shared with them to couples who are now planning your wedding and may have encountered the same stress level. My prayer is that you would find insights with these little tips I have concluded from my 7 yrs of experiences as a wedding planner.
1) Before you engage anyone in the industry, always start your wedding plan by forecasting your own budget or investment you would allocate for your wedding. You realise I call them "Investment"and not "Cost". To me, a wedding is a celebration where you get to invest your efforts and money to make a day you would share with your loved ones, creating memories you would desire to create and be remembered. A couple once came and told me planning a wedding is a huge waste of money, and I was very surprised to hear that. I differ from that thought. Whenever you create an occasion to celebrate with the people you love, the money spend on such occasions are never regarded as a waste of money. In fact, it is an exchange you give to create the experience you desire. Whether you are planning a birthday, a party or a wedding, you do it for yourself and for the people you love, you spend to celebrate the occasion, you lavish for the fact you want to create memories with whom you cherish. Weddings expenses would only be perceived as wastage when the money incurred are not for people you cherish or value. So be it small or large weddings, as long as you know very clearly your objective of creating an occasion i.e. to celebrate and be remembered, these expenses are never regarded as cost or wastage, they are in fact investments you incur for the people you love.
So allocate reasonable budget for each item. Do not compare your allocated budget with friends who have done their weddings some times ago. The market rates for many wedding vendors and details have changed drastically over the last 2 years. Prices have gone up, and a lot more new intricate details and efforts have been put in by vendors to make today's weddings personalised. Besides, whatever your friends had decided then for their wedding may be of different expectations/dreams compared to yours for your wedding. Every one's dream wedding is different, so understand your desired expectations, and you would manage your budget.
I thought I might as well quote an example of a good estimate of an investment for a wedding. Averagely for 300 guests weddings, even before you allocate details budget into the actual day wedding, you would have easily spent an estimate of S$70K on food & beverages plus your own bridal items such as wedding gowns, suites and accessories... By the time you add in the intricate extras to create a wedding that you can call your own (from staging, floral, lightings, entertainment, DJ, photographer, videographer, stationery etc etc), you would easily reach about S$120K and more for a wedding that is personalised. Nobody knows better the budget you are comfortable more than yourself. So decide between you and your partner, the budget you want to invest, and match them against your desired expectations. Once you know your comfortable investments you want to put in for your wedding, then you can begin your selections of the various venue, artists etc.
2) Now when selecting the vendors you desire to work with, check around their works first on their websites prior to meeting the various players. These days, the Internet is the best media for sourcing and information referencing. In fact, couples would have known much about us as vendors even before you come to visit us. A good vendor or artist should have a decent website to draw you to want to find out more about them. Their good works should be consistently showcased from the websites, to the magazines. You can even gather constructive feedback from vendors they have worked with.
Once you have determined whom you want to explore with, schedule a face to face meeting with the vendors you are keen. Nothing expresses better than a direct encounter with the people you are considering to hire. Emailed quotations alone are never the best way to determine a selection. Finally, you always choose a vendor whom you are confident of their works, and whom you have a chemistry with. I always tell my couple : whatever you do, do it with your heart. Deep within us, we know what we want, and even when everyone advises you otherwise, if your heart decides a plan, follow through with that plan. And at the end of the day, you will discover the joy of following your heart.
3) Finally, after you have determined your investment, after you have selected your desired vendors, the last step and the most important step to do as a couple is to learn to let go and learn to enjoy the planning process. I often remind my couples, planning your wedding is a "catalyst process" (if I may call it), to give both of you a glimpse on how marriage could be liked with each other. You are invited to an experience where both of you make decisions together from major milestones to very minute details. You get to understand how each other think, verbalise or even behave. I always marvel at simply watching my couples respond to each other. Often I discover, when a couple truly loves each other, the wedding planning process will be an illustration to confirm that, and even God above will support their dream. I have witnessed from so many weddings that weathers were altered by God to demonstrate to couple that He is on their side. For those of you who believe in God, let this wedding process be more than mere monetary investment, let it also be an emotional and spiritual investment where you learn to understand the dynamics of love and standing by with each other. If you can see God answering your prayers during your wedding planning stages, I can guarantee you that you will see God present in your marriage and every step in your journey as husband and wife.
My prayer is that more couples will spend the same amount of intensity in their marriage journey as they have done for their weddings.