Newly Engaged and don't know where to start?

Recently engaged… here’s some essential wedding advice every couple needs to know.




Congratulations to all the loved up couples who recently got engaged!

I know that some of these topics are rarely discussed, but getting engaged is a strange experience. Definitely joyous, of course, but also overwhelming. Even if it’s something you and your other half have discussed in advance, the decision to get married is one met with a lot of emotions, attention and questions. Suddenly, you’re both faced with endless decisions to make – along with a barrage of (admittedly well-meaning) questions about your big day.

The good news is, unless you’ve been married before, or work in the wedding industry, no one is really an expert when it comes to getting married. We’re also in an era where wedding traditions are now considered very much optional – the choices are endless and what constitutes the perfect wedding is completely up to you.


So where to begin? …Since I'm an experienced, full-time Marriage Celebrant I have gathered a few top tips along the way, and they are.


Decide what’s important to you.


Weddings that truly reflect your personalities are always the most fun. If you are always the last one on the dance floor with a martini in hand, then hire a great band and serve fabulous cocktails. If you are the first to visit every new restaurant in town then make it all about the food. Follow traditions that are meaningful for you but don’t get overwhelmed by them - always remembering that the day is a celebration of the two of you.



Think about your budget


Work out what your overall budget is before you start planning. Remember that unfortunately, with a wedding there are higher costs involved. The average wedding budget can go over by 40% as couples often under-budget for styling their venue, flowers and the costs for the bridal party which of course is optional. So if you’re planning on personalising your venue, be sure to budget for things like additional printing, lighting and signage, as these elements can add up.


Consider the basics before choosing a venue


The three main questions you need to ask yourselves before you dive head-first into wedding planning are roughly what year and time of year you would like to get married, what geographical area suits you best, and how many guests you feel you would like, or need, to have in attendance. This may seem simplistic, but these three elements govern the venue options available to you, and your venue choice which will steer many other decisions. The venue is often the first major box ticked.


Once you have your wedding date and venue locked in, it’s time to book your Wedding Celebrant.


Wedding celebrants , especially popular ones, can get booked up really quickly, sometimes even over a year in advance. If you particularly like a Celebrant, do enquire as soon as possible about your date. Experienced Celebrants are worth their weight in gold as we set the tone for the whole of your wedding day. You should be able to relate well to your Celebrant as you will be spending a lot of time with them, so make sure you select one that you can easily chat with and that they listen to what your needs are. They should also be able to help you with recommendations for other reputable wedding suppliers to ensure that your day is as amazing as it should be.

Book your wedding photographer as early as possible


Wedding photographers can get booked up really quickly, so if you particularly like a photographer, do enquire as soon as possible about your date. Check out their style of photography and make sure that they have heaps of experience at weddings and have worked at both your ceremony and wedding reception locations. Again, you need to feel super comfy with your photographer of choice, if they make you feel relaxed then that’s going to shine through in your photographs.


Consider hiring extra help if you’re marrying at home


When you get married at home, or on a private property you don't want any of your family to feel under pressure to be answering questions from suppliers or trouble shooting any issues. Instead you want them to be able to just relax and enjoy the day and take in all the lovely moments. A wedding co-ordinator is invaluable for that reason. The wedding planner will co-ordinate supplier enquiries, timing, and any last minute issues that will crop up. This leaves you and your family time to relax and enjoy your wedding journey and then of course, your wedding day.

Create a joyous atmosphere with live music


I always advise couples to think of music as the soundtrack to their big day. Live bands and musicians have a way of setting the atmosphere that a Spotify playlist just can’t do. There is nothing like enjoying your first dance to a live performance. There are heaps of wedding musicians out there so do your research and check them out yourselves if you can. An individual musician could cost anywhere from $1000 and up, while a band could be a bit more, but it’s a vibe worth paying for, and your guests will love it.


Don’t start shopping before booking your venue


A lot of brides-to-be leap in to dress shopping first enthusiastically; but I always encourage them to hold off until they know where and when they are going to marry. Knowing what style of wedding you want is the key. Whether you are having a big or small, country or beach, formal or informal wedding, your venue will impact the design and style of everything including your dress.

Do your research before going wedding dress shopping


Wedding dress shopping is unlike any other shopping experience. It can help to do some research and also to bring the right people with you to your appointments. It usually takes six months to order a gown, and anything from 1-2 months for alterations, so I recommend booking appointments with those dates in mind.


Consider buying pre-loved


There are still many brides-to-be who are unaware of pre-loved and ethical wedding dress shopping. It’s easy to find designer, good-as-new dresses with huge savings to be had at pre-loved bridal boutiques and on-line.


Look out for sustainability credentials


One of the most important thing to consider when looking for a florist is sustainability credentials. Your florist should give back to the environment, and avoid using harsh chemicals and non-recyclable materials. A lot of florists are now engaged in environmental schemes and initiatives, which is a good way of checking if sustainability is important to them. After your big day, many couples now donate their bridal bouquets to nearby hospitals or aged-care homes.


Consider working with a wedding stylist


Whether you are a very visual person or not, creating an aesthetically beautiful setting for your wedding is really important. If you do use a wedding stylist, make sure you feel you aren’t going to get a ‘cookie cutter’ type wedding. Have a look at their work and you should be able to feel a different narrative and story told for each wedding.


Plan for the weather


OMG, yes…especially in Queensland if you’re having an outdoor wedding, definitely have a wet weather option, but also be prepared for an intense heat or storms. It’s best to plan ahead, so if it’s hot consider hiring fans and hand held parasols or source water sprays for everyone, and get plenty of drinking water to make sure that none of your guests melt in the extreme heat.

Pamela McDonald | Sunshine Coast Wedding Celebrant

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