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steps to planning a wedding

wedding-in-three-months-part2

I’m not a proponent of rushed engagements, let me be clear. Yet, I don’t recommend any particular length of engagement because every relationship is different. I have some questions though that I propose to Bible-believing couples they can ask themselves when making a decision on how long to be engaged for.

What I don’t recommend is deciding on an engagement time frame based on a wedding planning time frame. I believe the engagement (a time of transition to marriage), should be seen as more than just a time to plan a wedding.

I would be happy to write about a wedding planned for two years that prioritised the purpose of engagement and focused on preparing for marriage! So let me know if yours is such!

 

 

Patrick and Laura’s wedding was planned with a short timeline in mind. They wanted to close the distance gap (one living in the US, the other in Singapore) as soon as they get married. Given the legal process they have to go through (this is still in process at the time of this writing) the waiting time involved in that, and a marriage certificate being pertinent, they decided to get married in three months.

On Part 1 of this blog post, I shared about how Patrick and Laura picked their vendors, how they planned their actions, and how they split tasks between the two of them. I was very curious to know about the latter because they had to plan their wedding while being in two different continents! That’s not easy, but they were able to do it.

For this Part 2, they share about the help they needed in planning their wedding, the challenges they encountered, what their wedding budget was like, and what their tips and advice are for couples planning a wedding with a shorter timeline in mind.

 

 

1.  Did you ask help from people when you planned your wedding?

Patrick: Definitely! We couldn’t have pulled it off without the help from friends and family. Laura’s friends in Singapore were gracious enough to volunteer as hosts and coordinators for the wedding day. This relieved us of the burden of having to run our own show.  A few other friends helped with producing some of our decors. Also, my parents blessed us with $5,000 USD for us to use for the wedding at our discretion. We wanted to be financially wise by not taking on a loan, so the gift from them was very helpful.

 

2.  Every couple experiences challenges during the planning stage of the wedding. What were yours?

Patrick: One of them was the distance obviously. I couldn’t physically be there with Laura as she met up with vendors. She had to repeat to me everything she talked about with the vendors so I can still be involved in making decisions. For many other things, I just had to trust her judgement.

The short timeline required us to act fast, which added to the overall stress during that period. But we still would rather go through that than prolong our being apart from each other.

Laura: Our cultural differences, while making our relationship rich and colourful, brought about some challenges too. The most pronounced part of it were the differences in our family’s traditions and expectations especially around weddings. We had to walk each other through the background of those expectations so we get a better understanding where our families our coming from.

 

3.  What was your overall budget for the wedding?

Patrick: We set our venue package budget to USD5000. We made the estimate based on the templates and budgeting tools we found online. They pointed out that around 50% of the expenses will be for food, venue, and decors. Our venue package included all that. Then we set a budget of another USD5000 for everything else including our wedding rings, honeymoon (in Singapore), photography, the wedding dress, and other logistics.

Laura: After the wedding, we ran through our budget sheet against our actual expenses and everything came up to about USD10,000 which was the target we set.

 

 

4.  What is your encouragement/advice for couples planning their wedding with a budget in mind and with a tight timeline?

The newlyweds shared:

  • Create your priority list.

Decide which elements of a wedding are essential to you, and which ones you can do without. If you allow non-essentials to creep in, wedding expenses could balloon out of control. You could take on immense debt to have a grand wedding, but after a certain point, there are diminishing returns to the extra amount you spend.

  • Manage your guest list size.

Make it only as large as you need it to be. You don’t have to accommodate everyone.

  • Begin with the end in mind.

Couples can get bogged down by the details of the wedding. Remind yourselves of the end goal - which is to be married!

  • Seek help.

Asking help from people was probably the most humbling part of the experience. We are both very independent, so we had to go out of our comfort zones to ask help from people. And it was all worth it.

  • Take breaks.

Remember to take breaks from planning and have fun with your partner. Always remind yourselves why you’re marrying her/him in the first place.

  • Have a sense of humour.

Laura: I remember telling Patrick a lot of jokes. Sometimes he just laughed at me while I laughed at my own jokes.  It’s an effective way of reducing stress and overcoming disappointments. It also strengthened our emotional connection by creating a positive atmosphere. The feeling that we get after laughing helped us stay grounded and united.

  • Invest in your spiritual life.

Regular prayer time goes a long way. The wedding provided opportunities for miracles to happen. It was an invitation to our loved ones to be generous, loving and kind towards us and to one another.

 

 

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wedding-in-three-months-part1

I’m often asked by couples what the ideal time frame is to plan a wedding. My answer is always a question, “How long do you want to be engaged for?”

Understanding and agreeing on how long you want to be engaged for puts more focus on your relationship than on the scale of the wedding you’re dreaming to have. Here’s my blog post that talks more about this.

One couple who decided on their wedding planning timeframe primarily based on how long they wanted to be engaged for was Patrick and Laura.

They planned their wedding in barely three months.

 

 

Patrick and Laura met through a common friend. They were put in touch in a chat group. And as the virtual conversations progressed, the common friend decided to drop out of the chat group leaving Patrick and Laura all to themselves to talk. Their friendship grew and soon realised that they liked each other. So  they decided to date exclusively in spite of being continents apart.

They had planned to see each other in their home cities to learn more about each other’s friends and families.

From the very start, they were upfront to each other about their intention - to find a spouse. So it did not take long for them to decide, through their dating relationship of eight months, that they would like to marry each other.

They got engaged in November 2018 in Los Angeles. A few days after, Laura had to fly back to Singapore where she was working. They were very much aware that they had to close the distance gap between them when they get married. Holding different citizenships, one of them obviously needs
to relocate to the other person’s city. They decided that Laura will be the one moving to America once they’re wed. This process involves applying for a spousal visa for her that they can only initiate once they’re married.

Convinced that getting setup for marriage is more important than the type of wedding they wanted to have, they decided to keep their engagement to at most four months.

During the first few weeks of engagement, they focused on setting up their foundations. They prayed and fasted together while also asking for prayers from their church community. They also started researching on the legal requirements for Laura’s visa application, and the legal marriage rites that are available to them. And they also quickly reached out to the church for pre-marriage counselling.

I asked them about their experience in planning their wedding that Michael, my husband, and I had the honour to attend and emcee. Here’s part 1 of what they’ve shared:

 

 

1.  How did you decide on your wedding venue?

Laura: We agreed on our aesthetic vision and our budget before making the search. We wanted it semi-outdoor, with natural light, with high ceiling, with a tropical green garden, and fit for 40 guests. Then we did a Google search using these descriptions. Lewin Terrace here in Singapore showed up as the top result. I visited their space, then showed videos and photos to Patrick as he was overseas. We instantly fell in love with it! We didn’t look for anything else since it matched our vision plus it qualified for our budget.

 

2.  How did you find your other major vendors?

Laura: What’s great about Lewin Terrace is that they have strong partnerships with other wedding vendors. Part of the venue rental package are the florals, decors, and catering. Then they recommended a photographer too. This made the search easy for us because they had most of what we needed.

*Tip from The Asian Mrs. Blanding: I agree that a packaged deal that includes most of the wedding services usually ends up cheaper than finding them individually yourself. Reason is that the key vendor (in this case, the venue) has already negotiated for a long-term partnership price with these different vendors, bringing down the price that gets passed down to you. It’s a great option for couples who have a tight planning timeline!

 

 

3.  You were physically apart when you were planning your wedding. And you had a short timeline - just three months! What were the steps you took to pull it all off?

The couple shared:

     a. Pursuing pre-marriage counselling

This was a non-negotiable for us. We’ve learned from our married friends how important preparing for marriage is. So even with our distance, we sought for a way to go through counselling. Laura’s church pastor and wife from the Every Nation Church Singapore were very accommodating to our request to counsel us over Skype! It was the best investment of our time.

     b.  Constant communication

We had to communicate daily, even several times a day through calls and messaging to update each other of our progress. Communication also assured us of our availability for each other.

     c. Quick decision-making

We established our “guiding principles” first for the wedding (something we learned from The Asian Mrs. Blanding!). This allowed us to make decisions on the details faster. We also had to stay away from Pinterest or Instagram after we’ve made up our decisions. We didn’t want to be swayed to changing our mind with the hundred other options out there.

     d. Organised file sharing

We used Google Docs a lot. This is so much better than sharing attached files. We always have the latest version of our updates with Google Docs on Drive.

     e. Use of available online tools

For setting up our foundations, we read up on The Asian Mrs. Blanding’s posts and downloaded her tools. One that we used a lot was her 7-Day Devotional that helped us through our prayer time. We also used a lot of the planning tools from the Knot.

For free graphic design tasks, we used Canva.com.

     f. Regular prayer time

We prayed at the start and prayed all throughout our engagement. We asked our friends to pray for us too.

 

4.  How did you and Patrick split the tasks?

We split the tasks based on our strengths and capacities. Since Laura was the one in Singapore where we were going to have our wedding, she attended the meetups with the vendors. Patrick took care of the administrative part, accounting, sourcing of wedding rings, planning the solemnisation requirements, and organising our honeymoon.

On part 2 of this blog post, I share about how Patrick & Laura managed their budget, the challenges they faced, and their tips for couples planning a wedding like theirs.

 

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25-things-to-consider-when-planning-an-outdoor-wedding

When we were deciding on our wedding venue, we already had an outdoor wedding in mind. It fit our personality: we love the beach, nature, and the sweat that comes with tropical weather.

Though looking back, I must confess that the sweat part was something I didn’t really think through at first. It was over 80 degrees Fahrenheit during our garden ceremony, and my makeup turned into pebbles of perspiration on my face.

Besides the heat and sweat, there are plenty of perks to having an outdoor wedding--the sky at the background, the breeze of fresh air, real flora, and the flexibility of an open space that you can design from scratch.

Couples have taken their weddings from churches and hotel ballrooms to the beach, a cliff, a vineyard, a forest, a backyard, a park, a campsite… the list goes on.

On the other hand, an indoor wedding has its conveniences. You get your privacy. You have more control over the foot traffic in a contained space. Then there’s the obvious convenience of not having to deal with weather-related contingencies.

But whether it’s an indoor or outdoor wedding that you decide on, you can still make your uniqueness, creativity, and resourcefulness shine.

 

Our mid-afternoon Bali wedding that had everyone wiping their forehead.

 

If you decide to go al fresco, I want to tell you upfront that there’s extra work that needs to be done. Like I mentioned in this post, you should treat your wedding venue as your home. You ought to extend nothing but excellent hospitality towards your guests.

But how does that look in a venue where there is no room over your head, where insects can wander freely, and temperatures, humidity, and precipitation can not be controlled?

Let me be the first to tell you that you are in for a discussion with your partner and your suppliers about these 25 things that you need to consider when planning an outdoor wedding.

 

Photo by Gardie Design Social Media Marketing from Unsplash.

 

1. An indoor space nearby in case weather changes

A sudden change in weather (rain and wind particularly) can throw you off - literally. While a venue that’s vulnerable to extreme weather conditions can be a treat for your more adventurous guests, it poses as a threat if the weather goes on a rampage. In cases like this, a tent might not be enough shelter. Thus you need to have an indoor space nearby even when you already have tentage for your outdoor event.

Another thing to consider would be the guests your are inviting for the venue. Elderly guests, pregnant women, kids, babies, and others who need the extra care might need some indoor comfort at some point.

 

Photo by Jenie Delunay of Unsplash.

 

2. Accessible bathrooms, or portable toilet rentals for remote venues

Needless to say, this is basic courtesy to your guests. Consider the ratio of bathrooms to your number of guests too. This article suggests having two bathrooms for every 25 guests. Beach weddings, in particular, may mean that you’ll need to share the bathroom with other guests of the property.

Consider the distance, too, of the bathrooms to your main venue. Are you okay with making grandma walk 100 meters in the sand, then queue up for the lone, unisex loo? Think of your guests’ basic comfort.

If you’re aiming for remoteness (e.g. forest), you may need to consider portable toilet rentals. The best gauge whether that’s a good idea is if your were a guest at your wedding, would you be alright with the setup? Since we attract people similar to ourselves, your friends may feel the same way. But then again, don’t forget about your elderly, pregnant women and differently-abled guests. They might have other needs altogether!

 

Photo by Denny Ryanto of Unsplash.

 

3. A cover, shelter, or holding area for your suppliers

As you consider ways to make your guests feel comfortable at the wedding, bestow the same amount of consideration to your suppliers. Most of the things they need on the day of your wedding like meals, transportation, and lodging, are usually already covered in your service contract.

With this, kindly check if your venue options have an area where they can prepare their supplies, have their meals, or wait before packing up. Again, count them and their paraphernalia (think sounds systems, musical instruments, and food carts) in when you make plans for a shelter.

 

Photo by Jenny Marvin of Unsplash.

 

4. The accessibility of the venue for the elders, parents with strollers and small kids, pregnant women and guests with disabilities

I’ve attended a wedding that had me walking up hundreds of steps while carrying my 10-kilogram baby. The wedding was fabulous. We love the couple. But the memory of that treacherous climb up and down haunted my memories. With this, I am resolved to share with future brides that your thoughtfulness about the safety and convenience of your guests will be more appreciated by them than the grand entrance doors or elaborate floral arrangements.

Imagine the walking journey of your guests from where they can be dropped off by vehicles to where you exactly want them sitting. Is any path along the way unsafe? Will it be too inconvenient? Ask the venue coordinator if there are alternative routes. Or if they have provisions to make the journey more convenient, like setting up rubber carpets on the beach for wheelchairs or strollers.

 

5. A sheltered walking path from drop-off area or parking spaces

Again, this is all about the accessibility of your venue. Test the walking distance from the guests’ drop-off points and parking spaces to where you want your guests to go. In case the rain suddenly pours, is there shelter for guests along the way? While, yes, you can provide umbrellas at their drop-off points, do consider the same path under extreme weather conditions.

 

Photo by Heather Miller of Unsplash.

 

6. The holding area for you, the bride

Is there a nearby room where you can get ready, have makeup touch-ups, or wardrobe changes? A pretty isolated venue may leave you with a tent or your bridal car as options.

If you’re going for a tent, consider having side panels to keep the space private. You can recreate the space like your own hotel room by having a cooler, mirrors, and everything else you’ll need to keep yourself feeling refreshed. All these can be rented. Like I’d always suggest, include all these costs as part of your venue budget.

Don’t forget to think about your own access to the bathroom. Because of your dress (think train, multiple layers of fabrics, 5-kilo skirt, et cetera), you’ll need extra care when using the bathroom. (Will your dress fit inside a portable toilet? Just checking!)

 

Photo by Alvaro CVG of Unsplash.

 

7. Costs involved in using any outdoor space

Needless to say, always make sure you’re getting the cost breakdown of all the various spaces you’re considering, even within the same property. For example: You might be thinking about doing your cocktails at the garden, steps away from the hotel ballroom you’re eyeing for your reception. The hotel might charge an add-on fee for that.

 

Lantern release at our pre-wedding dinner by the beach.

 

8. Permits involved in organising a party in a public space

The municipality office or community association might charge for a permit to organise an event in a public space. While the costs may not necessarily dissuade you from booking such a venue, possible limitations might be involved.If you and your partner are gung-ho about doing a beach wedding so you can release lanterns at the reception, you might be disappointed if the town council doesn’t approve of your idea. For this, I recommend that you and your partner are clear about what your deal breakers are before booking a venue.

 

Photo by Lanty of Unsplash.

 

9. Cost of tent rentals

If you’d like your wedding programme to be outdoors even in the event of rain, consider renting tents. You might also want to consider a tent if you’re holding a summer wedding, so your guests can get some shelter from the sweltering heat of the sun.

Do your research on the costs before even booking your venue, and check out the rental services that are in the same vicinity of your prospective venues. Costs differ from place to place. Your goal should be to keep your venue cost and tent rental costs within your venue budget.

 

Photo by Arshad Pooloo of Unsplash.

 

10. Neighbor’s noise

One thing that can go out of hand (and beyond your control) on your wedding day are the distracting noises in the neighborhood. Properties advertising their outdoor spaces cannot always guarantee the behavior of their neighbors. A relaxing spa resort at the beach may be the perfect venue for a solemn outdoor ceremony, but the resort next door that holds afternoon family sports activities may compete with you for airwaves. Another example of noise competition would be a neighbor’s live band performance that may swallow up the audibility of your own band’s performance. So ask the hotel’s coordinator what activities the neighbors do on a daily basis. Better yet, go visit the neighboring properties and investigate.

 

Photo by Zoe Pappas of Unsplash.

 

11. These other extra costs related to outdoor events

  • Tents and related transportation and installation costs: as explained in #9
  • Delivery charges for remote locations: some vendors will charge extra transportation fees to get to areas outside of their usual coverage
  • Rental of portable toilets: as explained in #2
  • Hiring security: for high-risk, open locations; to make sure your guests’ or your own belongings don’t go missing
  • Extra manpower: for when you’ll need to move the set-up quickly to an indoor space in the event of weather changes
  • Lighting: I listed possible lighting requirements you’ll need in my Wiser Weddings: Budget Worksheet
  • Fans: because breeze is not always a guarantee, have some industrial rental fans to keep the guests cool
  • Coolers: for warmer weathers and locations, you might need some cooling equipment
  • Generator: to power all your lighting, sounds systems, and other electrical equipment outdoors (Before planning our outdoor wedding, I thought that we could just plug all the equipment to a power extension connected to an indoor outlet. Wrong!)
  • Transportation for guests: especially for remote locations, you may have to provide the transportation for your guests from a common meeting place

For this next part, I am assuming that you have already decided on a venue. Congratulations, you can start planning for these things:

 

Communicate to your guests what the theme of the party is and your suggested attire early on.

 

12. How to communicate your venue and set-up to your guests

One of the most treasured feedback we’ve received from our wedding guests was “great communication of information”.

“There can’t be too much communication for a wedding event,said one of our friends. And since then, I’ve started to believe that.

The main hosts of the wedding (that’s you and your partner!) will be too preoccupied during those times when your guests would need crucial information the most. And those moments would be when they need to get to the venue, or move to a backup venue in the event of weather changes.

So it’s best to provide all these information to your guests ahead of time - meaning, before they even get to your wedding venue. It would be great to include this in your invitations or wedding website, and to communicate these things together when you ask your guests to RSVP.

 

13. Communicating to your guests about the attire

Specify in your communication channels to guests (in your invitations, wedding website, et cetera) what type of venue it is. Are they going to stand on grass, sand, cobble stone or an outdoor carpet?

Give them a good lead time to prepare for their wardrobe by having this detail announced at least a month before your wedding.

 

Photo by Thomas William of Unsplash.

 

14. Having mobile, easy-to-set-up decors

If you’re not going to use any tentage, the next best insurance you can have are easy-to-setup and ready-to-install ceremony and reception set-ups.

First, you’ll have to agree with your vendors how much time you can afford to wait the rain out. If the rain stops, great; then you can have your troops re-setup in a flash. I’ve seen this happen time and time again - the things that make it to the set-up are the ones that have wheels and big display pieces. For this, you must understand that a certain table’s place card slipped inside a cut cork standee that will only stay up if positioned at a certain angle will be the least of the troop’s priorities in a 20-minute re-setup - if the rain stops at all.

 

15. Decors and displays that won’t be blown away

I’ve been talking about the sun and the rain as key elements that can make or break an outdoor wedding plan. But let’s not forget there’s also wind.

Plan for decors that won’t easily be blown away and end up in the sea or another couple’s wedding reception. Again, you may refer back to # 14 when you decide on weighty decors. Loose paper items, fabrics, and lightweight floor decors are the usual victims of the wind’s wrath.

 

My husband Michael rocking it as an emcee at our friends' wedding. Key to a flawless hosting, he says, is getting all the information he needs from the couple.

 

16. A Plan B script for your master of ceremonies (A.K.A. emcee)

After you plan your plan B in case of weather changes, brief your emcee about it. He or she is the other person, apart from your coordinator, who should know exactly what will happen in case the bad weather ensues. He or she represents both of you, so bring up with him/her how you’d like to address your guests during this critical period of logistical changes - if he/she is writing his/her own script. If you’re writing the emcee’s script yourself, please include this bit of information.

 

A small tweak to your setup can give guests and yourselves loads of comfort - like making them not face the sun directly!

 

17. Consider where the sun is pointing

If you have options as to where to face your guests and yourselves during the ceremony, ask where the sun doesn’t point directly towards. If placing your guests in a specific position would ruin the concept of the backdrop that you’re aiming for, perhaps consider angling the guests even just a few degrees away from having to face the sun directly.

 

18. Seats that can really be sat on

With the advent of Pinterest came the unique wedding locations and creative seating furniture. We’ve attended a wedding in the forest and it was beautiful. I observed though that the older and weightier guests were not comfortable, let alone fit, on the tree stumps as seats. Again, think about how you’d want to make your guests feel comfortable. Think about the grannies, the pregnant women, and your other guests who need extra care and attention.

 

Photo by Jez Timms of Unsplash

 

19. Food that won’t easily spoil

Putting out food outdoors makes it more vulnerable to changing temperatures. And you know what thrives in such? Bacteria. Especially for food that doesn’t keep in the heat.

No matter how amazing a cheese bar would look at your wedding, it might spoil even before your guests enjoy it (Unless it’s cheese fondue!). Your local caterers should know about these things so they can prepare for proper storage. If you’re going DIY, then there’s more to the food planning than just doing away with dairy on the menu. Here is a guidance I found online on DIY Weddings and Food Safety.

 

Photo by Bruno Cervera of Unsplash.

 

20. The amount of time your florals stay out

If the flowers of your choice are extremely sensitive to heat, then plan with your vendors on when to set these up. Your florists should know this. However, if you’re going DIY and it’s your friends or family who’ll do the setup, research more about the florals you’re using. If they’re not tropical and are known to easily wilt under the heat, then only pull them out right before your guests arrive.

 

Photo by Sweet Ice Cream Photography of Unsplash.

 

21. Your dress

I’m talking to you, bride. A wedding dress designers’ first two questions are usually: “When is your wedding?” and “Where is it going to be?”

What they really want to find out with the second question would be the actual venue. The beach? A church? A hotel ballroom? A castle? That’s because the dress has to be functional enough to allow you to move around the wedding venue with ease. A ball gown with multiple layers of fabric is the last thing they’ll suggest for a beach wedding.

 

22. Your hairstyle

This is again for you, bride. An outdoor wedding in the tropics, like ours, might make you want to consider having your hair worn up. There’s just something very stressful about having your hair touch your neck or shoulders when it’s warm, you’re starting to sweat, and your hair has made its way around your neck. Do you feel me?

 

Photo by James Bold of Unsplash.

 

23. Flowers that are natural pesticides

Insects are another natural element you have to contend with outdoors. Many florists are smart enough to have flowers on their menu that repel insects. Options are citronella, lemon balm, lavender, marigolds and peppermint.

Photo by Nick Fewings of Unsplash.

 

24. Outdoor weather survival kits for your guests

Thoughtful gestures for your guests include giving them the following (and in no particular order): umbrellas, fans, hats, tissue, bugs spray, water, sunscreen, first aid kits, paper towels, bath towels, scarves, pashminas, plastic heel protectors, flip flops, and other easy-to-carry accessories.

These come at extra costs, but become memorable and useful to your guests. Just make sure to place them where they can be easily seen by guests. Oftentimes, I’d only find out in photos that there were these thoughtful items at a wedding I had just attended. If I only knew, I wouldn’t have gone home with bug bites.

 

Photo by Nic Co UK of Unsplash.

 

25. Agreeing with your fiancé on weather-related responses

Last, but definitely not the least, it’s important to agree with your fiancé on two things:

  • What your plan B should be in the event of weather changes
  • How you’d like to be supported/comforted if plan A doesn’t push through

Some brides end up being too emotional hours or minutes before the wedding when they hear that their plans have been overruled by the sudden weather change. Since you and your partner most likely won’t be together during this critical decision-making moment (as you both are getting ready in separate rooms), make sure to agree ahead of time on the two things I mentioned.

The groom is usually the one consulted by the wedding coordinator about the contingencies on the day itself, while the bride waits somewhere else for her dramatic entrance. Would you like to be consulted by your groom first before making any decision? You can agree to have your maid-of-honor or someone you trust to liaise with the groom on your behalf. This is in case you want to maintain the element of surprise, and not talk to your groom directly before you walk down the aisle. You can also break the “rules” of not seeing each other before the walk down the aisle and decide to pray together and make the decision together.

Whatever you think will comfort you the most, bring honor to God and one other, and provide convenience to your guests will be the decision you will want to make in the event of the unexpected.

 

I’ve pretty much exhausted all possible considerations for an outdoor wedding. But the truth is, there’s still a possibility for your well-laid out plans to face challenges.

What else is there to do then? Here’s something I wrote to help you prepare for any weather on your wedding day. Hope it encourages you!

 

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when-it-rains-on-your-wedding-day

We totally risked not having a rainy day back-up plan for our garden wedding in Bali. But I have to be honest; it was a decision that leaned more towards frugality than faith. And the sun did shine that day. Too much, in fact, that our guests went home with an extra strong tan.

But what would it be for you, if it rained on your outdoor wedding and things don't go as planned?

Here are some reflections from friends whose weddings were rained on.

Our very hot mid-afternoon wedding had most guests moving to the more shaded side of the garden. See those empty seats behind my ladies? (Photo by Iwan Photography in Bali)

 

An Opportunity to Be Served

I had the honour of coordinating for the wedding of my dear friends, Eric & Kelly. Being the planner that I am, I thought I covered all bases--up until I felt a raindrop on my nose. Then I realized that I didn’t have a rainy day back-up plan.

It just totally slipped my mind! After all, among the 30+ weddings I had attended at that time, I have not been to one that had been rained on.

There’s a first for everything.

I remember our team of friends setting up and tearing down the beautiful garden set-up at least three times, as the rain poured and paused on repeat. With thirty minutes off schedule, we had to finally decide to move the ceremony indoors.

 

Friends and family rescuing non-waterproof items at the outdoor setup at Eric & Kelly’s wedding. (Photo by 9 Frames Photography)

 

Kelly recounts her emotions:

“When I saw the rain fall, I wanted to burst into tears. I held it for my make-up’s sake. But inside, I was like, ‘God, how could you let it rain on my wedding day? Did I do something wrong?’ That was my immediate thought, having had a well-planned outdoor wedding that now wouldn’t happen.

Then God reminded me during the ceremony of the time Eric asked me to be his girlfriend. We were hiking, and it started to rain hard. Eric helped me realise that our life together was going to be an adventure involving some ‘rainy days.’ A few years later, it rained again when our first son was born!”

Unbeknownst to Eric & Kelly was how forthcoming ALL their guests were in helping set up the alternative indoor venue. Everyone gladly made sure that the wedding would remain special and beautiful for the couple.

 

Eric & Kelly’s ceremony had to be moved indoors at the last minute because of the non-stop rains. (Photo by 9 Frames Photography)

 

Eric and Kelly are two people who find so much joy in serving other people. They met at Every Nation Church Singapore where my husband Mike and I also attend. I believe God used the rain to show them how much they are loved by the people they have been serving.

God also showed them His consistency! Pastor Larry spoke during his sermon:

"In the Bible God says, 'Man plans his ways, but God directs his steps.' Although this wedding may have been planned as an outdoor wedding, I believe God, in His divine plan, wanted it indoors. A lot of us don't know this, but years ago, this used to be a church (referring to White Rabbit, the wedding venue). And I felt that before this ceremony started, the Lord just whispered to me, 'Eric and Kelly met at church, I want them to get married in church.

 

All’s well that ends well for Eric and Kelly. (Photo by 9 Frames Photography)

 

A Reminder of God’s Consistency

Rain was also a factor in Dust and Carla’s story.

Carla recalls, It reminded us of our first date - it was also a stormy night! So the rain during our wedding day showed us that God was involved.”

At their dinner party, it continued to rain. While this made it difficult for guests to go anywhere (the venue was on top of a hill), it allowed us guests to focus on the couple, and catch up with friends we had not seen in a long time. It was a lovely picture of a big family getting together over fun and food!

 

Dust and Carla had very few empty seats at any point during their wedding dinner because the rain kept everyone indoors! (Photo by Oak St Studios)

 

The Gospel Was Heard More Audibly

“The reason we chose our venue was because of its beautiful outdoor patio. Our wedding was going to lead up to an evening reception at a courtyard, as I had imagined us under the stars. Then it rained, and we had to scrap all of that to move indoors.” recalls Ina Mendez-Tan.

The Instagrammable outdoor dream wedding that was no more caused Ina’s groom to feel very unsettled.

When we had to move indoors two hours before the start of the ceremony, I had peace about it. I learned later on that Edson, my then-fiancé, was very anxious about the idea that his bride won’t get her dream wedding! That made me love him even more! shared Ina.

 

Edson and Ina finally enjoying the outdoor scenery of their wedding venue after the rain stopped. (Photo by Icebox Imaging)

 

After the wedding, the couple reflected on how focused the guests became to the wedding programme when they moved the venue indoors. “There was just too much to see at the outdoor space that our guests would, for sure, get too distracted!” says Ina.

And most importantly, because there was less distraction, the gospel message during the ceremony was more audibly delivered to the audience who were seated very close to each other, according to the couple.

 

A Rainbow and God’s Promises

In the middle of John and Rachelle’s beach wedding, a drizzle decided to pay them a visit. Then, while the pastor was talking about God’s promises about marriage, a rainbow came out.

Sitting as their guest and marveling at the sight of such a beautiful stream of colours, I remembered the rainbow in Genesis 9. God made a promise to Noah after the flood and said, I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life.

I’d like to believe that there was at least one person at the wedding that needed an assurance from God about that promise. And Rachelle and John’s wedding was used for that purpose.

 

Rachelle and John still had their dream wedding in spite of having to move their planned tropical outdoor dinner.

 

A Silver Lining and Some Disappointments

While there comes a silver lining to some of these rainy weddings, there’s always a level of disappointment that couples have to deal with.

Just think about all that’s been paid, planned, and hoped for: outdoor lights and decors, seating arrangements, or the sound of birds chirping in the background as the couple says “I do.”

Rachelle, for one, shared, “I didn’t let the rain dampen my mood that day when it caused us to move our dinner plans from the beach to an indoor venue. But I also couldn’t stop thinking right there and then about the costs we’ve incurred having planned it to be on the beach!”

Meanwhile, Kelly and Eric never got to see the entire DIY decors their friends put together.

 

What was going to be the backdrop for Eric & Kelly’s planned outdoor ceremony.

 

There will always be feelings of disappointment to battle with when plans don’t turn out the way we hoped. I’ve not heard of anyone who was absolutely unperturbed on their wedding day, or even the days that followed, when things go amiss.

But here’s some good news: we can control our attitude even when we can’t control the weather!

 

Planning for Any Type of Weather

So what do you do to prepare yourself for the possibility of bad weather on your wedding day, while having to fight feelings of disappointment during such a special occasion?

Well there’s the logistical approach, which I talk about on my post 25 Things to Consider When Planning an Outdoor Wedding.

Then there’s the non-logistical approach that I believe is much more important (think long-term. Check it out on How To Prepare For Any Weather On Your Wedding Day.

 

Do you have a similar story to share? If you’re reading this after getting married, I’d love to hear of your experiences in addressing changing weather conditions on your wedding day. If you’re a bride still planning your wedding, tell me about how you plan to make your wedding day weatherproof!

 

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….is actually the first step.

Venue or date? Budget or guest list? Theme or venue?

Where do you begin in planning your wedding?

If you pick the venue first, it may not match your theme, budget, or fit the number of people you plan on inviting.

If you work on your budget first, how do you know what to budget for?

If you pick a theme first, you might end up frustrated if your budget isn’t enough to execute the idea you have in mind.

Oh! What a headache! Does it really need to be this difficult?

When we were planning our wedding, we received all kinds of advice from our married friends on how to get started. But amidst all the how-to’s, we heard something resonate in all of them.

Many of them have shared what a grueling process it was to agree on the hundreds of details they had to deal with. On hindsight, they all shared how they wished they had more discussions that dealt with how they really felt about all these big and small details before getting so close to each and every deadline.

The first crucial step that no one really talks about when planning their wedding is the establishment of your guiding principles. My then-fiancé-now-husband Mike and I distilled what our friends were saying, and came to the conclusion that what they hoped they had to start with were some set of these principles.

 

 

Guiding principles are a set of rules, agreements, or philosophies to help you make better and smarter choices together.

These are elaborations of what you, as a couple, believe in - which are pretty much affected by your faith and preferences. Your vision for your wedding day will likewise define your guiding principles.

They are ideally talked about and written before jumping into logistical planning, so your planning could be easily determined by what you’ve already agreed on.

We only really fully realised the benefits of having these guiding principles after our wedding day, and we could even say that these enabled us to actually enjoy planning our wedding!

That’s why I’d like to share with you these 5 things that you can have Guiding Principles for.

 

1.  How you’d like your fiancé to feel after the wedding day

When the dust settles, what will your fiancé remember you by the way you treated him during the engagement period up until the wedding day?

I remember when I went ahead and printed out our wedding programmes without getting my fiancé’s inputs, which made him feel disrespected. I remember when he overhauled the content I wrote for our wedding website, which made me feel insulted. We both just wanted to be helpful, but we couldn't make sense of our own good intentions because we weren't communicating enough!

On a brighter note, I felt really supported by him when he prioritised me over his family. He definitely treated my in-laws very well, but he had to make careful decisions as to who gets time first when we were all in the same town days before our wedding. And that was even with the premise that he only sees his parents a few times a year! I believe my in-laws exemplified it well to him that his future wife would be priority over the family, and he was already practicing this during our engagement.

This will help determine:

  • How you’ll spend time with your fiancé when you’re planning and when you’re not planning for the wedding
  • How you’ll both communicate during this season
  • How you’ll prioritise things

 

2.  How you’d like your guests to feel after attending your wedding

I couldn’t have agreed more with Maya Angelou when she said,

“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Our friends Angel and Abiel Pascual wrote each of their 100+ guests personalised handwritten letters. That really made my husband and I feel that they value us as part of their life.

This will help determine:

  • The guest list
  • The programme
  • The gifts for your guests (if applicable)
  • The welcome and send-off logistics of your guests

 

Participating in 40+ weddings have taught us a lot! And I'm glad this blog allows me to share them with you.

 

3.  How you’d like your marital finances to look the day after your wedding

With the social pressures of pulling off an extravagant, most Pinterest-worthy wedding--which include but are not limited to an extraordinary prenup pictorial, the highest quality same-day-edit video, the most exotic location, and the most pompous menu--couples throw most, if not all, financial boundaries out the window.

The common justification is that it just happens once in a lifetime (ideally), and that the money can be recovered later on.

But what happens in overspending for a single day of fairytale wedding bliss is the exchange for many months or years of indebtedness and financial insecurity.

No couple in history has ever regretted being on the healthy side of finances after the wedding day, so there must be enormous benefits to making wise financial decisions while planning.

This will help determine:

  • Where your funds will come from
  • Your budget for each item
  • Your choice of vendors

(I write more about how you can plan and commit to a wiser wedding through sound financial strategies here.)

 

4.  How you’ll use this season to learn

The wedding is going to be your first ‘big project’ together as a couple. Your partnership in making decisions will be put to the test. The strengths and weaknesses of your characters will be most transparent.

Whatever you or your fiancé discover about each other during the process will be what you'll have to accept in marriage (or say ‘no’ to if there are serious red flags).

An openness to learn from each other and from what you’ll experience will bring you closer to one another.

This will help determine:

  • How you’ll respond to conflicts
  • How you’ll respond to stressors
  • How you’ll communicate

 

During our engagement period, I learned about how important it is to Mike to have regular breaks to have fun!

 

5.  How you’d like to honour God during your engagement and on your wedding day

The spiritual depth of a wedding can be easily taken for granted when the road leading to it gets very bumpy. That’s why it’s important to stay focused on its true purpose.

You and your groom are going to stand before the Lord and your witnesses to enter into a covenant. Your wedding day is a mirror of how both of you as believers and members of His church unite with Him.

As glorious as that sounds, often times, God is neglected altogether months leading up to the wedding day - because of stress, busyness, and fixation on the less essential parts of getting married. Couples go back to communicating with Him again when wedding planning has reached its conclusion.

But truth is, God deserves honour during the entire process of preparing for your marriage. He is the reason why you’re getting married after all!

This will help determine:

  • How long your engagement will be (to read more on this, check out this article )
  • How you’ll spend time with your fiancé during your engagement
  • How you’ll prioritise things
  • How you’ll respond to stressors
  • How you’ll make financial decisions for your wedding (here's my blog series on 'Weddings & Money').
  • How you’ll relate with people

 

Click the image to get all these questions as a printable PDF!

Conversation Question Cards for Engaged Couples

 

There you go!

I recommend you pray about these things, then schedule a date night with your fiancé to discuss about them. Encourage and show your appreciation to one another every time you both agree on each point.

Can't yet decide on something together? Take a break and pray individually whenever you disagree on certain things. Consult a married couple you both trust to help you navigate through tough discussions if you need to.

Do you need more help with going through these 5 ideas? I made a list of related yet more specific questions you can ask each other! Find them here.

Have fun during this season!

 

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The first step to planning your wedding that nobody talks about the asian mrs blanding

 

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As a child, were you ever asked by an adult to buy something using their money?

When I was a kid, my mom would often send me to the nearby provision store and buy rice.

Where I grew up, rice can be purchased in quantities of 250 grams, scooped from a heaping mountain of rice. I was expected to buy as much rice as I could with the money that I had been given. Sometimes I’d spend it all, sometimes, there’d be spare change.

This, for me, is a simple and clear picture of what it means to spend within a budget.

This principle of spending within a finite limit seems to be taken less seriously nowadays. With credit cards, quick loan applications, and even digital money, our spending is no longer limited to what we have in the bank.

The lack of discipline to practice this principle when planning your wedding can result in financial woes and relational tension in your future marriage.

So I’d like to share with you 8 foundational ways to stick to your wedding budget so that you’re also investing for dividends with your future spouse.

 

1.  Create a budget.

Planning a wedding without a budget is like taking a flight without a destination. You may not be able to come back!

So first things first:

Step 1: Talk to your fiancé about where your wedding funds will come from.

Step 2: Identify how much you can realistically afford based on your savings, plus whatever you’ll set aside from your income during your engagement period.

I talk about steps 1 & 2 more here.

Step 3: Create a comprehensive budget. In other words, decide on how much you’ll be spending on each wedding item. I provide guidance on this and a free Wiser Weddings: Budget WorkSheet that you can sign up for here.

Saying that you’ll set an overall wedding budget of $10,000 without further breaking it down is setting yourselves up for overspending. Because you’ll likely spend most (if not all) of that lump sum budget on the very first thing you’ll purchase.

 

Click the image to sign up for this 2-in-1 Free Pack that includes the 'Wiser Weddings: Budget Worksheet' and the 'Personal Finance Worksheet'.

 

2.  Talk about your "Guiding Principles."

There are tons of tiny details that you’ll be wading through as you plan your wedding. And most of these details will help determine your budget. You will be asking each other questions such as:

“How will we determine who to invite?”

“Are we going to allow our guests to bring a ‘plus one’?”

“Are we going to ask for financial help from our parents?”

Guiding principles help set the vision for the wedding planning period and create the boundaries you’ll need to stay on track. Agreeing on these ‘Guiding Principles’ from the very start will help you and your fiancé to make better decisions throughout the process. Ultimately, the goal is to protect and invest in your future marriage. Check out this blog where I talk about how you can write your guiding principles.

 

Questions-Wedding-Guiding-Principles
Check this blog post out if you haven't yet. I've got free stuff in there too!

 

3.  Meet up with a financial planner.

A financial planner can help you plan for how you’ll pay off debt, if any (and, please, not debt you plan to incur for the wedding), and how to start saving for your future marriage fund. It’s a wise move to talk about this with a financial planner during your engagement period so that you can be future-thinking even as you plan your wedding.

A financial planner who believes in tithing even whilst paying off debt, and before saving and investing, and who encourages you to be benevolent on top of tithing is one my husband and I personally seek.

 

4.  Have a financial vision for your early years of marriage thru Proverbs 3:9-10 and create a vision board.

If you really want to strengthen your resolve to be financially wise while planning your wedding, then you’ll need to have a strong vision for it.

One good way to give soul to your vision is to find a scripture (or a few) from the Bible that talk about God’s overflowing blessings following our obedience. I’ve chosen Proverbs 3:9-10 as one of them:

"Honour the Lord from your wealth and from the first of all your produce; So your barns will be filled with plenty and your vats will overflow with new wine."

As you honor God with your finances while planning your wedding, you are preparing the way for blessings to come to you individually, and soon into your marital home. Being financially free (let’s start with having no debt) during your first year of marriage also relieves you of lots of stress. Such bliss increases intimacy in the early stages, which is a crucial foundation for a life-long marriage.

And since we are visual creatures, try creating a vision board. A vision board is a physical display that contains images of the things you want to achieve, want to do, or want to be in your life (or in a particular aspect of life). It’s like the initial sketch of an architect, or a dress designer. Having the imagery of what you’d like your early married years to be will excite your senses, keep you focused, and help you achieve your goal.

 

My prayer is that no financial trouble would tear your relationship apart. And more importantly, that you start your marriage on a good financial note. It just makes life easier!

 

5.  Get organised.

Have you ever had to pay for excess luggage at the airport? It’s expensive! I’ve found myself having to take the hit whenever I don’t plan my packing well. A few minutes of good planning and organising can avoid a lot of unnecessary fees!

One of my husband’s favourite sayings is “those who fail to plan, plan to fail.” And the same is true with weddings. Weddings become unnecessarily wasteful and expensive when the couples leave things in disarray.

But I’m already so busy and there’s just so much to organise!” This is a cry I hear from many brides-to-be. And I feel you! What I’ve observed, and what I’ve experienced myself, is that much energy is spent on things that can be done more quickly, and less is spent on things that actually need more attention. 

Think late fees. Simply setting calendar reminders will help avoid missing payment deadlines. For more guidance in getting financially organised, check out my blog on how to get organised with your wedding fund.

Another way to get organised is to...

 

6.  Invest in a Wedding Admin Assistant.

I’m a believer that you’ve gotta spend money to make money. Now that may sound materialistic to you, but it’s a sound investment principle. Hear me out here:

Organising the various offerings of your suppliers in a worksheet may not be something that you or your fiancé particularly enjoy. And because you don’t enjoy the task, it will likely take longer, and cause frustration.You may even end up cutting corners and not reviewing the proposals thoroughly.

When it’s time to pick suppliers, you pick one that looks most economical on the surface. But because you missed some details about their offering (e.g. limited-use only clause, late fees, service charges, etc.) you end up paying more and getting less.

In a case like this, you may end up wishing you had spent a little bit of money hiring someone to look into the details that you couldn't be bothered with. In the long run, you would have saved more.

Where can you turn to look for wedding admin help? One way is to find an Admin Assistant on a freelance services online marketplace like Fiverr or Upwork. Hourly rates are as low as USD $5. Another way is to make a crowdsourcing post on Facebook among your friends (I do this often). Be clear that you are looking for someone to support with online, short-term, freelance admin work. When I do this, I often get connected with talented people who are stay-at-home moms, part-time students, or in between jobs.

If you want to delegate the admin tasks, but just can’t bring yourself to pay for someone’s services, then…

 

7.  Enlist friends and family to help.

My husband Mike is a master delegator and he knows how to do it with grace, order and integrity. And I’m learning from him in this area. I tend to hoard tasks, not considering that many other people would be willing, able, and happy to chip in.

When we were planning our wedding, two friends acted as our creative team, recommending colour schemes and design pegs. Another two friends (both skilled graphic designers) helped develop our wedding monogram and avatar logos. My sister helped me to compile a list of wedding dress suppliers within our budget and style. A few other friends helped distribute packages that we needed to send to our entourage members. Our officiant, our emcees, and our wedding band were all made up of friends who just wanted to pitch in and help!

Your wedding day is one of the most momentous events in both your lives. Family and friends would love to partake in it in any way. Asking for help is a virtue (humility) as it is an art. You’d want to do it in a way that holds them accountable if they fail to deliver, and allows them to find joy in serving you and your fiancé.

 

All of our bridesmaids and groomsmen had roles to play when we were planning our wedding. Partnering with them strengthened our friendships even more!

 

8.  Be wise about who to invite to your wedding.

Catering and venue are the two largest costs at any wedding. And of course, the price increases as your guest list grows.

It’s relationally restrictive if you reduce your guest list solely based on budget. But conversely, it’s financially burdensome if you let your guest list blow up to include your entire Facebook friend list.

Some dear friends gave us wise advice to use as a decision-making filter when compiling our guest list:

“When creating your guest list, don’t ask yourselves who have been an important part of your past as single people, but rather ask yourselves who you want to be a part of your shared future as husband & wife. Not everyone from your past is going to make it into your future.”

We followed this advice and we’ve been reaping the rewards of this principle.

First, if you heed this advice, you will be left with the really meaningful relationships on your list. Second, these people will feel so honoured and valued because you’re not picking them based on what they’ve done, but based on the value their friendship can bring. Third, while you’re not planning your guest list based on budget, this principle helps to bring down the number to the very relevant few.

 

 

Your financial decision making skills will definitely get a workout during this planning season. Allow them to be put to the test. Work together with your fiancé in every financial decision you make. This is an opportune time to win each other’s trust that you will be transparent with each other about finances during marriage.

Any thoughts on how else to stick within your budget? Please share in the comment section below. And if you haven't signed up for the Wiser Weddings: Budget Worksheet yet, you may do so here. Happy engagement!

 

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Sticking to your wedding budget while investing in your future marriage

 

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Your city’s biggest wedding fair is coming soon, and you just can’t wait!

A wedding fair is a good place to get a feel of what’s out there. Options are endless, and it’ll get you thinking about what you should be considering for your wedding.

But having a sit-down meeting with a wedding supplier is different though. By this time, most suppliers are assuming that you’ve already done your homework. So it would be considered a waste of time for both parties (you and your supplier) if you sit with them without having first discussed these 4 important things with your fiancé.

Here they are:

 

1.  How long you want to be engaged for

“What month of the year do we want to get married?” usually is the timeline question couples ask, since couples usually weigh in factors such as weather, cost of venues, theme, and vacation leaves availability. After all, you can’t have a beach wedding during the monsoon season in the tropics.

But I encourage you to do something different.

Talk about how long (or short) you’d want to be engaged for, independent of the aesthetics and logistics of your wedding day. There are other more important considerations around the length of an engagement that can affect your spiritual health and your relationship with your fiancé than the wedding programme.

To help you for this talk, I wrote about the 5 Things You Can Consider When Deciding How Long To Be Engaged For.

 

My wedding dress designer asked me to come back after three months because our wedding was not in seven months. Some dressmakers would only start making the dress three to four months before the wedding to prevent the dress from discolouring, or lessen the number of dress adjustments in case the bride changes sizes over time!

 

2.  Where you want to get married geographically

This was an obvious consideration for my husband and I when we were planning our wedding, because we weren’t living in either of our home countries. Whichever place we picked, there would still be a good amount of guests who would need to travel internationally.

This brings us to the topic of destination weddings.

People automatically assume that it’s overall more costly if it’s done overseas. But the real answer to this is not necessarily. For example, a grand ballroom wedding in your home city can be more expensive than doing it at a beach in Phuket. You can go cheap or expensive at any place.

Decide beforehand where you’d want to have your wedding. You wouldn’t be able to compare apples to apples suppliers from different countries - so suppliers’ offers are not a good gauge of whether you’d want it in country A or B.

 

3.  Where you want to be legally married

Due to varying marriage laws across the globe, where you’d want to have a church wedding (officiated by a priest or a pastor) may not necessarily be where you can or you’d like to have your legal ceremony - especially in the case of destination weddings.

It may not even be a destination wedding. Maybe you’re considering getting married where you currently reside, or where most of your guests also reside. But due to citizenship considerations, you may not be able to legally marry there.

It’s important then to discuss beforehand where you’d want your marriage to be registered, and research on the marriage laws accordingly. You may decide to have your civil wedding done in one city and the church wedding (where you make your marriage vows public in the presence of family and friends) in another, and that’s possible too. Our legal wedding was in Singapore a few days before our wedding ceremony and reception in Bali.

On that note, we only considered ourselves married after we’ve said our vows in the presence of our family and friends - and that was our personal conviction. I found this useful blog on the theology of civil and church weddings if you have questions on this subject.

 

Our Bali wedding showcased a Bali-based group of vendors. Their rates and service offerings are very different from vendors in Singapore, the Philippines or the US, which were our potential locations for our wedding.

 

4.  How you'd like this wedding planning process to look

Time and again, my husband and I have seen how the wedding planning process becomes a test of relationship, convictions, and faith for many couples. This was also true for us.

Since a test is something you’d need to prepare for, it’s a good idea to agree with your fiancé how you’d like your wedding planning process to look. Whether you’re doing a three-month engagement or a year, those months will go down in history and you’d want to go through it with grace.

An exercise we did before anything else was to write our ‘Guiding Principles’. These were rules, agreements, or philosophies that helped us make better and smarter choices together. Having this shared vision for this momentous occasion will help you navigate through the wedding planning process, which includes meeting your suppliers for the first time. I talk more about it here.

Once again, congratulations on your engagement! May this season be a time you’ll grow even more in love with each other and go deeper in your faith.

 

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4 decisions to make before talking to wedding suppliers

 

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I love hearing from couples how, soon after their fabulous wedding, they’re able to start saving and investing together. That’s a great financial goal for your wedding: To make it a celebration of the start of a prosperous life together. (Speaking of starting a prosperous life together, I provide an introduction on the subject of “Weddings & Money” here, followed by four blogs related to this.)

After you two start building your wedding fund without borrowing money, it’s time to create a wedding budget! My goal is to help you create one that thinks long term (beyond the wedding!), so that none of you would ever have to ask the question, "Why did we even spend for that?”

Here are 6 steps that you can share with your fiancé during your next wedding planning session:

 

1.  Nominate a bookkeeper and choose your tool.

You will push the pen a lot during wedding planning, so it’s best to give the administrative, accounting, or bookkeeping role to the person who enjoys this task. If both of you enjoy doing it, assign which parts of the paperwork you’d like to split between the two of you. 

My favorite tools: Google Sheets + Google Drive

A traditional notebook or those printable sheets from wedding magazines might do the job, but it was just so much easier for Mike and I to be able to instantly compute values on a spreadsheet. Also, with a cloud-based spreadsheet, we were able to track revisions, edit from various devices at the same time, and share it online with other people. Putting all your wedding-related files in a shared folder on Google Drive (docs, sheets, photos) allowed us to access these files using any of our devices (which made everything so much easier!).

GREAT NEWS! I've created a very elaborate and comprehensive Wiser Weddings: Budget Worksheet for you. All you need to do is sign up for it here in a matter of seconds! I designed it in a way that will be useful for whatever scale of wedding you're thinking of: from completely DIY to plug-and-play, including destination weddings.

 

Between Mike and I, I'm the one who enjoys spreadsheets more. He, on the other hand, writes better and faster (he's one of my blog editors!)

 

2.  Establish your “Guiding Principles” if you haven’t yet.

Guiding principles are a set of rules, agreements, or philosophies to help you make better and smarter choices together. These are elaborations of what you, as a couple, believe in - which are pretty much affected by your faith and preferences. Your vision for your wedding day will also define your guiding principles.

They make future questions so much easier to answer. Questions like “How many guests should we invite?”, “Are we going to order a dance floor?”, “Should we increase our budget on photography for drone shots?”  and many more.

From there, you can list down your “Must-Haves”, “Good-to-Haves” and “Do-It-Yourselves (DIYs)”. Here are quick definitions for each of them:

  • Must-haves: You really need to have these at your wedding because you’ve mutually agreed on their importance. Challenge each other by asking, “Won’t we achieve our vision for our wedding if we don’t have them?” Must-haves are also what you would put most of your budgets or efforts into, while not necessarily making your wedding expensive.
  • Good-to-haves: These are what you’re ok with not having but are just nice to have. This list is where your excess budget can go.
  • DIYs: These are items that you’ll do yourself to reduce costs, as pre-made items tend to be pricey. Consider the cost of your time though. 

Read more about guiding principles here.

 

Questions-Wedding-Guiding-Principles
I've also got a free gift for you on this blog post!

 

3.  Establish your maximum budget for each wedding item.

This is a tough nut. The cost distribution of every wedding are as broad as the different shades of blue. But to give you a very rough idea of which items will get the biggest or the smallest slices of your budget, here's an industry breakdown:

Wedding Planner - 5-7%

Venue - 20-22%

Catering - 22-26%

Decors & Florals - 7-10%

AV & Entertainment - 6-12%

Apparel - 4-7%

Photo & Video - 4-7%

Wedding Rings - 1-3%

Pre-wedding activities (e.g. rehearsal dinner) - 6-8%

Honeymoon - 4-8%

Miscellaneous (Legal, Souvenirs, Your flights if you’re doing a destination wedding, Ceremony, Transportation, Stationery, Hair & Make-up, etc.) - 10-14%

These add up to 100%.

I can’t overemphasise the usefulness of your Guiding Principles, Must-Haves, Good-to-Haves, and DIYs lists. All these percentages will be defined by where you want to put your money into. And there are definitely ways to make them work!

So, let’s say, you are both very particular about having a great documentation of your wedding. Meanwhile, you’re not the type who likes too many things going on at a party. You just want people to talk to each other. You can then bump up your budget allocation for Photo & Video to maybe 8%, and stick to a 2% budget for AV & Entertainment.

Then, it’s time to put the dollar amount for each of these items based on the total budget you’ve agreed on. Still haven’t decided how much that is? I encourage you to read this and this in sequence to prepare you for some serious decision-making around wedding finances.

Note that the bulk amounts that you’ll establish for these general items will be further broken down into smaller amounts for the nitty-gritty of a wedding plan. My Wiser Weddings: Budget Worksheet contains those minute details.

 

 

4.  Collect suppliers’ quotations for all your must-have items.

This for me was fun because it felt like window shopping!

Before you dive into this part though, you and your fiancé should have already answered the questions listed in numbers 2 and 3.

Most, if not all, preliminary correspondences with suppliers can be done through email. If this is the case, they will be sending you digital quotations. File and organise these in your wedding folder.

I suggest capping your search at 5 suppliers.

Make sure you ask for the breakdown of the costs they give you. Ask, “Have taxes been included?”, “Any service fees?”, and “Any late payment penalty fees?”. All costs should be in net.

Compile your findings in a tab on your budget worksheet you can name as “Quotations”, or simply fill out that part of the Wiser Weddings: Budget Worksheet.

 

Wedding Budget Worksheet Personal Finance Worksheet

 

5.  Pick your suppliers for your must-haves and update your worksheet.

This is when you’ll be making BIG decisions. The shopping around is over. Resist the temptation of going further deep into Pinterest to find other themes that “might work” because that step is over.

At this point, you have to decide together which suppliers you want to work with. Ideally, the costs of the suppliers you’re picking are within the budget you set aside for those items. If it goes over, you should be able to allocate more to it from your other items. But try your best not to be going over 100% of your total budget. Again, exercise godly stewardship of your finances during this wedding planning season.

 

6.  Collect suppliers’ quotations for your good-to-haves.

Now that you’ve pretty much allocated your budget for your big-ticket items, you’re about 80% done with budgeting! Your surplus money (and hopefully you still have some at this point) can now go to your good-to-have list.

It’s best to give yourself a deadline in doing this part because the nitty-gritty can throw you off balance and eat so much of your time. One you’ve budgeted for your good-to-haves, you will definitely have to go back to tackling the details of your must-have items to reevaluate the costs side-by-side.

 

There is always a wedding that would fit your budget. And it'll be beautiful!

 

Now...inhale. Exhale.

I know it can get overwhelming especially when you see just how much money you are putting into a one-time event. I thought of suggesting to Mike, my husband now, that we should just elope. Then a wise and caring friend reminded me that our wedding day is a celebration of God’s goodness in our lives, and our closest family and friends would be blessed to witness that. Like how one’s birthday can be celebrated through a small backyard picnic, your wedding day doesn’t have to break the bank.

Speaking of not breaking the bank, here’s another treat for you: read about sticking to your budget while investing in your future marriage here.

Stay tuned for stories of inspiring and wiser weddings.

 

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Vodka. Soak your diamond ring in it to make it sparkle. At least that’s my trick.

If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably been fidgeting a lot with your new engagement ring since the day he proposed. It’s a fantastic feeling! I remember, I would gaze out the window and daydream for hours about my soon-to-be life as a wife.

And then it hit me: We need to plan a wedding!

After my then-fiancé-now-husband and I talked about this, we were faced with a question that left me feeling so uncertain.

“How much will our wedding cost?”

How do you even begin to answer this question?

Thank God we got help from couples who were married ahead of us.

 

Peace about your wedding finances will allow you to enjoy and focus on the most significant moments of your life.

 

In this four-part series, I compile a step-by-step guide to tackle what could be the most daunting element of the wedding planning process: money.

I’m taking my time to cover this topic because I’d really like to help you (and your fiancé) navigate through this part of the wedding planning process with excellence.

Why all the focus? Because I believe that the way you handle money for your wedding sets you up for the way that you’ll handle money for the rest of your married life.

Think biblical stewardship. Our responsibility as Jesus-followers is to manage God’s wealth, and manage it well. And your wedding will be one of the earliest and biggest opportunities to practice this as a couple. I won’t go into too much scriptural detail on what the Bible says about money management because there’s already plenty of great content available on this. Click here to check out one of my favourites.  

Another principle that I’ll be touching on in this series is the idea that “what’s his is yours, and what’s yours is his.” Yes, the Bible talks about being one as husband and wife, which also applies to your finances. Check out this blog by someone who’s been married for 30 years (wow!) and shares about financial intimacy in marriage.

 

When you and your fiancé put God at the center of your wedding finances, God will take care of everything you need - including your sweet desires for the specific colours of your bouquet. You'll be surprised!

 

To get the most out of this blog series, I strongly suggest that you:

  1. Go through each post in sequence.
  2. Set a time with your fiancé to share your learnings and discuss your reflections
  3. Sign-up for the tools that I share in the blogs. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. They’re meant to make wedding planning easier for you and free you up to spend time on more important things (like preparing for your marriage).
  4. Leave me comments along the way. I’d be happy to address them as best as I can.

So here are my 4 Lessons on Weddings & Money:

  1. Building a Wedding Fund Without Borrowing Money
  2. Creating a Wedding Budget You Won’t Regret in Marriage
  3. Sticking to Your Wedding Budget While Investing In Your Future Marriage
  4. How to Get Organised With Your Wedding Funds

Anything else you’d like me to write about regarding ‘Weddings & Money’? Please write in the comment section below!

 

 

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