Wedding Planning #1: How to get started?

I am getting married! After helping brides create their dream headpiece for all these years, I am now in line to create my own accessories, gifts and jewelry for my wedding.

I must say being a bride-to-be helps me to understand even more deeply how my clients feel. I wonder if we share the same troubles and emotions. And I feel compelled to share my experience in this blog and perhaps it could help future brides in some ways. 

 

IDEAS, IDEAS, IDEAS!

So first up, like so many brides out there, I must admit that Pinterest is my best friend, my go-to resource for researching ideas and getting advice. Advice is a rare commodity to find online I realise. Many bridal businesses have blogs but talk about issues that are not helpful and give tips that are not useful. I give up reading and researching after a while because the blog posts all felt insincere. 

I do find forums useful, but I seldom have time to peruse threads and threads of discussions. 

Pinterest is useful for browsing visual ideas. Decorations, accessories, bridal dresses - I find most resources on Pinterest. 

 

BUDGET:

1. Who to invite?

We just bought a house hence a big elaborated wedding is out of consideration. Anyway we have a small number of guests (close friends and family), so it is still possible to have a lavish wedding without blowing the budget. We want just people whom we love dearly, whom we are close to, whom we meet at least once a year (that was the cut-off) as guests. Old colleagues, school mates, acquaintances are excluded from the wedding list. All in all, we ended up looking at around 50 guests.

i find this chart useful to help deliberate who to invite and who not to. 

wedding guests, deciding who to invite, use a flow chart

 

It is unromantic to say it this way, but wedding is a numbers game. For someone like myself who hates the excel sheet, it is now my trusted ally when it comes to breaking down the budget, sorting out guest list and generally organising anything that needs organising on the excel sheet for the planning of our wedding. 

One of the first questions we ask ourselves is how much do we want to spend on the wedding. *Duh* ;) I would say both Y (my fiancé) and myself are rather down to earth people, who want a genuine celebration of love for our wedding day and view it as such, instead of a glitzy event for showing off, so we set a modest budget and decide to splurge on our honeymoon instead.

 

Next question: Where to hold our wedding? 

I did not expect this to be such a difficult question to answer. Y is Dutch, and we decide to have the wedding in The Netherlands. I love how there are many options available for couples planning a wedding, and the focus is on how you want the day to be! Why am I surprised? Well, I am Singaporean. So far, all the weddings I know of, begin with gate crashing and door games early in the morning, followed by traditional tea ceremony for both families, and ends with a dinner at a fancy hotel or restaurant, where usually hundreds of guests are invited. 

In Netherlands, you can choose to wed in historic manors, known as "herenhuis", you can do it in posh hotels, you can do it in a park, you can do it near the nature, by the lake... the possibilities are endless. 

We want a place that would welcome dogs, because we have a dog! And personally, I love gardens, flowers and nature so we focused our search on that. It is quite difficult to find locations that would welcome dogs. Again, very surprising, since Dutch people love dogs and dogs are generally welcome in many places. 

Our first consideration was Villa Augustus - this fantastic restaurant with a rustic vibe is a place we frequent for dinners and lunches. We took a tour of the events room and a glass house "Limonaia" where they store plants and trees in winter. It was a great venue, only that they do not allow dogs. Sadly, we had to keep on looking. 

Our second consideration was Huiz Frankendael. I fell in love with the place the moment I saw it. Lush garden with a magnolia tree that blooms in spring, I felt like I was in Secret Garden, yes the novel I used to read as a child. The interior of the manor itself is painted in butter yellow and dark teal green, which is oh so sexy! We could have an outdoor ceremony and an indoor reception, and then proceed to dine under the trees in the evening or even choose the stable, which has been converted into a dining area. 

I was already sold on the location and we were already discussing dates and options. However, many overseas guests couldn't confirm their attendance on time, and there were some logistical issues on our side. In the end, we had to let it go. I was sad for quite a while, I must admit. 

The search continued, and at this point, I was a little disappointed and upset. I never thought I would become a bridezilla, but I could feel myself turning into one. I was blaming my overseas friends and guests for not being thoughtful enough to RSVP soon or at least give us an idea of the number of people we would have. I know my wedding is only important to me, and I tried to understand it is not the priority of other people, but still, it was not a nice feeling. 

I was also grappling with some guests who should be invited just because they are a plus one, or "close" family members - all of whom I either am not close to or even dislike. The idea of having these people at my wedding frustrated me and I was spiralling into some negativity which was unfamiliar to myself. 

This was when I realise how important a wedding location is! Many online articles suggest holding the ceremony and reception and dinner all at one place to cut cost. I agree to a certain extent. But as foodies, we want to dine well, have a feast with people we love, so Y is quite adamant about choosing good food over saving some money on combining locations. 

During this time, we also receive tips from friends regarding potential locations. And we emailed everyone to check if we could bring a dog on the wedding day. Of all the possibilities we considered, only 2 locations allow dogs. So once again, we narrowed down to those venues. 

We finally settled on a beautiful manor which was converted into a popular local tea house / lunch place; set in a park, amidst manicured bushes and flowers, and astonishing, facing a water front, which I would call a lake in my exuberance, but might in reality be a pond. I am not too sure. But in the afternoon when we went visiting, the gentle autumn sun shines softly upon the shimmering water, casting a beautiful light in the area. I was sold. I never thought I would find a place that would lift my heart the way Huiz Frankendael did. So this was a surprise, and a win for us. 

Half of the manor is used for serving guests, so we could only reserve the other half of the manor, with two adjoining event rooms, painted in delicious hues of ancient emerald and sage green, with gold accents. These are all my favourite colours, and to me, a good sign. 

The cost for renting this location is lesser than Huiz Frankendael, which is also a relief for our budget, and we could use the money to invest in more food and drinks and treats for our guests.

We have the option to dine in this new location. But not all our guests will be invited to dinner. In Netherlands, you dine with the special people and family, which is a delight for me, because it truly means I can enjoy the evening with each and every one whom I love, and there is no need to have to face people whom we do not like very much (but in other cases we might be forced to invite them). Hurray! 

As mentioned, the foodie husband-to-be wanted a grand feast, and after the afternoon ceremony, we wanted to head out to do some photoshoot in Amsterdam (with the canals and old architecture). So we decided to look for delicious dining spot in the city, for around 20 guests. 

Initially, we were researching Michelin restaurants, but most places require us to book the entire restaurant. And most places do not have special events room. Also, we want our dog to be with us, so that really narrowed down our options once again. 

Then after some discussions, we wondered why couldn't we look to hotels? (Taking inspiration from my experiences in Singapore). Places which also host meetings would mean they definitely have rooms to rent and dining options. This light bulb moment led us to to look for hotels in Amsterdam which offered fancy dining and there are many choices. Suffice to say, we got that confirmed as well. 

So the entire day has been given a structure through the venues we have chosen, and now we have time to go on to other tasks. 

 

To be continued. 

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