Where on earth to start
The first two major steps in Planning your wedding. Start with the people, then pick your venue, THEN the other stuff.
Where the hell do we start? Is a common question these days, more common than you think. When you have nothing besides, “We want to get married,” (which is obviously the most important part to start with), all of the options in front of you can feel incredibly overwhelming. Are we rustic-barn-in-the-country wedding people? Luxurious snow capped mountain wedding people? Something in between? What the hell is Pinterest? If you don’t have a vision for your wedding, how do you find one?
The good news is, lots of what the wedding industry tells you is important… is complete and utter nonsense!
Your wedding doesn’t need a “theme” or even a “colour scheme” to start with. In fact, starting off with these things could mean you are actually starting AT THE WRONG END!
So, let’s walk through where to get started, and how to let the “style” of your wedding reveal itself to you in a way that DOESN’T involve a fifty page questionnaire.
Without a doubt, the first decisions you make regarding your wedding are by nature the hardest—the further you go the easier things get, and in fact, towards the end you’ll notice things start to just fall into place. The wedding industry generally wants you to start with the pretty and work backwards, this could lead to al kinds of trouble—can’t afford petite bouquets on every guest’s plate? So cut your guest list. Um…wait…. WHAT?!
Let’s be honest, the people at your wedding are always the most important thing. Now this may mean you want all of your people there, and end up inviting three hundred. Or this may mean that you really just want your very nearest and dearest and invite fifteen. Both are perfectly legitimate ways of making people the most important thing—you’re surrounding yourself with the people who you need there with you on the day you get married. Which is why we encourage people to start with:
The Guest List
A huge amount of your other decisions, and costs, will be based on how many people will be attending your wedding. Book a venue with a capacity of 60 and then realise you have 150 on your guest list? You may find yourself out a deposit, or in tears as you start crossing your cousins off the list. A key thing to remember: not everyone you invite is going to attend. Usually, with smaller weddings you have a higher attendance rate, say around 70 – 90% as apposed to a wedding that has 150+ invites, you could see that drop to 65-80% attendance. You see what I mean?! Work out how many guests you are wanting to have at your wedding and work from there.
That said, guessing attendance is very much not a science, so please use these numbers as general guidelines, not law. We generally encourage people to book a venue that will hold most of their guests if it comes down to it.
Now. Why is all of this important?
It’s likely that your venue will ultimately have the biggest influence on the rest of your wedding. A hotel ballroom with red and teal carpet in the heart of Auckland City is probably going to call for different decor than a Luxury Estate in the mountain rages of Queenstown. In the same vein, a restaurant in Auckland will probably call for a different feeling wedding than a lodge in Taupo. Once you have your guest list, start your venue search. There are two main ways to do this:
NARROW DOWN BY LOCATION: (e.g., Waikato region, Northland, Bay of Plenty).
I think it is always better to narrow it down to region. This will give you a better scope of venues, but still within relative travelling distance for you and your guests.
NARROW DOWN BY TYPE OF VENUE: (e.g., you want somewhere that the majority of your guests can stay onsite, or you can host multiple events over a weekend, Estates, Vineyards, Lodges etc).
Save yourself some time and find out as much as you can about a venue before you go visit—you should hopefully be able to narrow things down based on price, noise restrictions, food and beverage restrictions (Do they let you bring your own booze? Do they have a mandatory caterer? Can you afford those restrictions/do you care?), availability, and other factors so that you only need to visit three or so venues in person.
Visit our blog on 33 critical questions when choosing your venue
It’s also important to point out you don’t have to fall in loooove with your wedding venue. You’re not moving in there; you’re having your wedding there. So while it should be somewhere you like, and can picture getting married in, it’s okay if you think the bathroom tile is hideous, or the landscaping isn’t your absolute favourite style ever. Look at the BIG PICTURE: can it fit your guests, what are their catering restrictions, will they allow the music you want, do the aesthetic qualities you like outweigh the ones you don’t? If your pro-column exceeds your con-column, it’s probably a good venue for you. (That being said, if you walk into a space and immediately know that’s it’s right, your decision is even easier!)
Okay! You have your guest list, and your venue, what a fantastic start! So where do you go from here?
Next Stop, DECOR!!!