The 10 Do's of Wedding Planning
- Decide between a registry office or church wedding. Together with your partner decide if you want a registry office or church wedding. Both options involve quite a bit of paperwork in Spain, especially if the bride or the groom (or both) is not a Spanish national. Furthermore, if you plump for a church wedding, the priest might not want to marry you if you're not a Catholic or refuse to take the "marriage course".
- Flexibility as to dates so as to obtain the best value for money. Some couples know exactly on what datethey want to get married, or at least the month or the time of year. However, it's always a good idea to be flexible with dates particularly if you are working to a fixed budget, since there will be dates that are not so sought-after and, therefore, cheaper. This is especially important when you have a very long guest list, impossible to reduce, and limited means.
- Choose the place to hold the wedding. Once you have decided on the type of wedding and the date, you should then pick the place. It's always better to choose your place of residence because this simplifies paperwork. Nevertheless, you might want to get married somewhere else for one of many reasons. It's important to weigh up the pros and cons before making a decision, because not all of the guests will be able or willing to travel, above all if the wedding takes place on a weekday.
- Choose the venue for the wedding reception. The next step is to choose the venue for the wedding reception. There are plenty of options, from restaurants with banqueting facilities, to typical haciendas, country estates and manor houses especially adapted to wedding celebrations (some even have a chapeland most organize civil wedding ceremonies), through venues with that special something, such as a lakeside location, a forest, a Galician pazo, on top of a cliff or even in a conservatory… the choice is yours; there is no accounting for taste. Nevertheless, if you've picked an outdoor venue, you should be far-sighted enough to have a contingency plan in place so as to avoid the foul weather ruining everything from the bride's dress to the cucumber sandwiches.
- Pick the best option for the wedding gift list. Many couples still choose the traditional gift list, but if it's your second time round or you have been living away from home or together with your partner for quite a time, it's highly improbable that you'll need the type of gifts you find on lists. So, here you can innovate. Cash gifts are practically always welcome, although there are now a number of other options available. There are websites that offer original alternatives, such as a honeymoon or simply a trip, dinner at a 3-star Michelin restaurant or other luxurious experiences. All guests have to do is access the website in question and make a cash donation (this can be anonymous).
- Send invitations well in advance. After choosing the date and place, it's recommendable to get the invitations sent out as soon as possible (nowadays, there are cheaper or free ways of letting people know, for instance via SMS or WhatsApp or with a post on the social media, although certainly less formal and not that advisable), so as to know exactly how many people are going to attend.
- Look into different catering options. Nearly all of the more conventional venues offer a catering service or at least have partnerships with several local catering firms. Venues and/or catering firms usually organize menu tasting sessions and it's never amiss to find time to attend one of these with your partner so as to avoid unpleasant surprises.
- Study the seating plan. One of the most important aspects of a wedding reception is where or next to whom to seat the guests. This is not so much of a problem if you have chosen a reception or cocktail party layout – but not so if it is going to be a sit-down affair. It's normal practice to place members of the same family together, as with the friends of the bride and groom and work mates; anyway, they can always mingle after dinner during the dancing and drinks. Nevertheless, it's well worth your while to dedicate time to studying the seating plan with your partner. If in doubt – guests who are difficult to classify – ask someone who knows them better.
- Help guests with transport and accommodation. If you have chosen a country venue, your should consider offering guests the possibility of travelling by coach. No-one wants to be fined, with the subsequent loss of points, or something worse. And a dry wedding isn't much fun, provided that you are not a teetotaller. And if you do pick a country venue and many of the guests have to travel from another part of the country or from abroad, make sure that there is accommodation available or a hotel nearby.
- Consider the possibility of engaging the services of a professional wedding planner. There are quite a few other matters that have to be taken into consideration, so if logistics isn't your cup of tea or if you simply haven't the time, it's probably better to leave everything in the capable hands of a professional wedding planner.
The 10 don'ts of wedding planning
- Don't choose a venue in the back of beyond. Do not choose a venue in the middle of nowhere, unless the idea is to celebrate your wedding on your own, because it's very unlikely that anyone is going to accept you invitation.
- Don't start planning until you have fixed a budget. Don't start planning your wedding without first having elaborated a well-balanced budget (a haute couture wedding dress will dazzle the guests, but the limp sandwiches and insipid cocktail sausages certainly won't). You don't have to calculate everything down to the last penny, but it is indeed necessary to fix a limit for each budget item.
- Don't get carried away with the guest list. If you don't have a very generous budget, don't invite everyone you know. However hard it might seem, you have to prioritize. It's practically impossible to exclude close family and friends from the list, but it's not that hard to pare it down to the bare necessities. Of course, what you should never do is inflate the guest list with the hope of receiving more gifts, and then find that there isn't enough and food and drink to go around. Quality is always more important than quantity.
- Don't invite your ex. Don't invite your ex, however noble the gesture might seem – this type of scheme usually backfires. And, by the way, it's best not to invite the family bore (we all have one) along because, together with your ex, he'll manage to dampen the spirits of more than one guest.
- Don't leave the guest list in the hands of your parents. Don't let you parents or your future in-laws handle the guest list, because, among other surprises, the family bore will be there. If the bride's parents are organizing (and paying for) the reception, as is the custom, make it quite clear from the start that this doesn't give them the right to invite whoever they please.
- Don't let guests bring their kids along if special arrangements haven't been made for them. Don't letguests bring their children along if there isn't going to be a special area for them and someone supervising them. Other people's children are delightful only during the first half hour.
- Don't allow jokes in bad taste: your wedding day isn't a stag or hen night. Make it quite clear to your more boisterous guests that rude jokes or those in bad taste during the reception are absolutely verboten – they should save these for your hen or stag night. And, on the same subject, don't be tempted to celebrate it on the night before your wedding: nearly everybody has seen "The Hangover". Tigers apart, a simple gastritis can convert the big day in an authentic ordeal for you, your partner and everybody else – anyway, lemon sorbet doesn't taste the same after taking on industrial quantities of Pepcid Two. (Please note: that if you think that by taking an omeprazole before the binge of your life, you'll be as right as rain the next morning, you are sorely mistaken).
- Don't leave the photography in the hands of a friend. Don't leave the photography in the hands of a willing friend, unless it's his or her profession or he or she is well-known for her photographic flare and takes the whole thing seriously. Evidently, this also goes for video recordings. For more informal photos, you've got your guests who will bombard your inbox with the thousands of snaps and selfies that they have taken during the day (and evening) with their digital cameras or smartphones.
- Don't forget to greet all of the guests, one by one. Don't forget to greet all of the guests, although you don't know them personally or you're not really on friendly terms with them, but also beware of gatecrashers!
- Don't be mean with the booze or monotonous with the music. Don't be stingy with the open bar if you can afford it (you know your friends' drinking habits better than anyone) and, if on a tight budget, at least invite them to the first round. And, as regards the music, don't torture your guests with a loop recording of your favourite band – make sure there's variety.
And, finally, don't choose the Caribbean for your honeymoon in August, September or October. It's hurricane season. There're some great bargains: now why would that be?
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