Expert reveals wedding planning tips for newly engaged couples

couple engaged on beach taking a selfie

Samantha Gilchrist, the owner of The Gilchrist Collection, has had the pleasure of working with thousands of married-couples-to-be, across 12 venues in total including three US, making her the expert when it comes to wedding planning:

"Valentine's Day is an incredibly popular day for proposals, in fact the search for 'Valentine's Day proposal' is currently up 40% globally!" "I love working with newly-engaged couples; but I always encourage them not to wait too long, as they may miss out on getting the best venues, photographers or even end up with key guests of honour unable to attend the big day as they have left sending 'save-the-dates' out until the last minute."

"Planning a wedding should be an enjoyable experience and of course the happy couple shouldnt feel stressed, but if you got engaged this Valentines Day and are planning on tying the knot in 2025 (or even 2026), here is a checklist to help you get those wedding wheels turning. You should aim to have these steps nailed down before the month is up, because the end of the aisle is not so far away!"

BEGIN WITH A BUDGET: Yes I know! Budgets may seem like the party pooper that's ready to shatter your big celebration of love, but it really should be the thing you consider first. It's essential that you sit down with your partner and have an honest conversation about what you can afford. Yes your wedding is an incredibly important day but heading into debt is sure to put a downer on things to say the least! If you are expecting financial help from relatives it is important to have those conversations with them as an urgency too.

GET YOUR GUEST LIST: Your budget will significantly influence your guest list, so consider who you would like to invite next. I recommend an A, B and C list. The 'A' list is day guests, who you just couldn't see yourself getting married without. List 'B' should consist of evening guests, who you would love to have in the day and could be included as a day guest if someone declines. Finally list 'C'; people who you wouldn't mind if they were unable to come or who are acquaintances. This can be a list of people who you know will bring the fun and you would love to invite if your venue allows you to have unlimited evening guests. List 'C' can also act as a bank of people to invite if other guests decline to make up numbers.

VIV: VERY IMPORTANT VENUE: As the owner of 12 wedding venues I've seen the joys of brides and grooms securing their fairytale location for their happily ever-after, I have also, however, seen couples incredibly disappointed because they have left booking their dream venue too late and now we have no dates available! Once you know what budget you have to spend on a venue and how large it will need to be to accommodate your wedding party, it is essential to start doing your research on wedding venues. Get those tours booked in and get ready to be wowed by the incredible venues available.

START SAVING THE DATE: So now you have your budget sorted, venue booking fee down and you know who is coming, the next step is to send out save the dates. This may feel premature to tick off in the first month however there are only so many days in a year. Your guests may be booking holidays a year in advance, or have multiple weddings to attend next year already. Help them to ensure they can make your special day by sending a 'Save The Date' way in advance.

A PHOTO FINISH: Before I owned wedding venues I was a wedding photographer, and let me tell you they book up fast! Working with a photographer who is going to immortalise your wedding day forever is something you want to get right. Spend time looking at portfolios and social media and make a decision with your partner on what you want your day to be remembered like - then get that deposit down! You don't want to be left with your second (or third, or forth) choice. As you navigate the initial stages of wedding planning, remember that securing certain milestones like setting a budget, confirming your guestlist and picking a venue sets the foundation for the entire process. Enjoy the journey, and here's to crafting a celebration that reflects the essence of your love story. Cheers to your happily ever after!"

To see the Gilchrist Collection's full list of venues and to find out more about Samantha Gilchrist please visit: gilchristcollection.co.uk

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