If you’ve recently got engaged, you’ll want to know where to start your planning and whether Covid will have any impact on the planning process.
If you're only just starting to plan, the main impact the current pandemic is likely to have is that more of your initial planning will be online to reduce unnecessary in-person meetings. Tens of thousands of deferred weddings will be taking place in 2022, so it’s important to be organised and secure the key elements early - especially the venue and suppliers that can only do one wedding per day, such as the photographer.
Here we look at all the key points you should be considering.
1) Find your wedding venue
In order to secure your wedding date, you’ll first need to find the perfect venue. During periods where venue staff are working from home, isolating or minimising unnecessary contacts, it can be a little more difficult to arrange a venue showround. However, venues are offering helpful and creative alternatives to help get you started.
- Finding your venue starts with online research and you’ll be pleased to hear that’s totally unaffected by Covid! Use our venue finder to find venues that are of interest to you and shortlist them with the heart icon.
- Send a message via Guides for Brides - This gets you to the front of the queue to check date availability, or for a showround.
- Quick Tip: A lot of venues prioritise Guides for Brides enquiries as they tend to come from more informed couples who know what they are looking for. For this reason, we'd encourage you to add a personalised note to every enquiry so they can see you have done your homework.
- If you have a few favourites, you may want to find out more by setting up a video call with their wedding coordinator or a virtual venue tour.
- Finally, try to only visit your favourite venues once you are confident they meet all your requirements. Read our guide to safely viewing a venue during Coronavirus.
- If for any reason, your top choice venue is unable to offer viewings due to restrictions, most will hold a date for you until you can visit, for a small, refundable deposit. This way you won't risk losing out on your date before you can make the final decision. Just ask them about your options.
2) Book your key wedding suppliers
Like venues, your on-the-day wedding suppliers may have limited availability due to the knock-on effects of postponements from earlier in the pandemic. So, it is really important to secure your key suppliers as soon as you can. Here’s how to approach this:
- Create a wish list of suppliers you ideally want or need for your big day. From this list, identify which suppliers are most important to you and which will likely only do one wedding a day, such as photographers, videographers, makeup artists, celebrants and planners. These should be the first that you find and shortlist.
- Contact them via Guides for Brides so your enquiry is saved in your planner, they have your details on file and they know you are a serious enquiry.
- You may want to meet key suppliers in person, so if that isn’t possible due to travel restrictions or self-isolation, set up a video call instead. They won’t find it an unusual request and developing a personal relationship before the wedding day will be as important to them as it is to you.
- When you are ready to book, confirm with a deposit.
3) Wedding insurance?
At the point of making your first booking, we would usually recommend getting wedding insurance. However, there is very little to choose from and you are unlikely to find any covering Covid-related cancellations or postponements in their policies.
As a result, venues and suppliers are working with couples to give them the assurances they need for the early planning stages, as insurance can be arranged at a later date. For deposits and payments over £100, pay by credit card if you can to give some level of protection under Section 47.
Look out for the Book with Confidence guarantee offered by a lot of businesses on Guides for Brides, just in case you need to move the date.
Don't let the lack of insurance put you off; less than 1/3 of couples insured their weddings pre-Covid.
While you can't get effective insurance, research the businesses you book carefully; never book a business found only on social media, check they are listed on the main directory websites such as Guides for Brides to reassure yourself that they have been trading for a while and check that they have online reviews going back a reasonable amount of time.
4) Find your wedding dress or suits
Your outfits will be one of the biggest elements of your wedding day and with an unprecedented number of weddings in the pipeline, you will likely need to be more organised than usual to ensure your outfits arrive in time.
Most brides shop for their wedding dress 6 - 9 months prior to the wedding to allow 5 months for it to be ordered, made and delivered, but with longer lead times due to a combined combination of Covid and Brexit, we recommend starting this search as soon as you can. Essentially, as soon as you have a wedding date and a venue, you can start shopping for your bridal wear.
Menswear has shorter lead times unless it is being made to order, but it is still worth being as organised as possible.
Here’s how to approach wedding dress and suit shopping during Covid:
- Start your search online. Find brands, designers, and styles you love and create a shortlist. Our Essential Guide to Bridal Wear and our Ultimate Guide to Menswear are the perfect places to start.
- Then, find a bridal boutique or menswear shop that stocks these styles. Contact them via Guides for Brides using the “Request an Appointment” button to suggest a date and time that suits you.
- Before you visit, let the stylist know your preferences, especially if there is a particular gown or suit you’d like to try on.
- Read our guide to wedding dress shopping during Covid before your appointment to know what to expect on the day.
- Attend your appointment with confidence, you’ll likely know what you are looking for and because of the preparation, it is also likely that you will find the right look for you!
- Your appointment gives you the opportunity to discuss outfits for your bridesmaids and groomsmen. Some boutiques and menswear shops offer an online measuring service that may be easier than getting a group together for a fitting.
5) Save the Dates and other Announcements
While you haven’t yet confirmed a venue or date, or don’t know how many people you will be able to invite to your wedding, you can use our wedding websites to advise your friends and family of your plans so far. It can be an effective way to encourage them to keep possible dates free without you needing to make the commitment at this stage on who you are going to invite to the big day.
As your wedding day approaches, these pages also provide a great way of allowing open communication with your guests, keeping them informed about any changes to your plans, where they can find accommodation near your venue, and provide them a link to your online gift list.
6) Wedding Fairs
In the early stages of wedding planning, many couples like to browse wedding fairs to get to know suppliers and learn more about their chosen venue.
The larger shows may ask you to show your Covid pass to help keep attendees safe or may ask you to pre-book a time slot. It is sensible to pre-register if you can and always check that the event is going ahead with the venue before you set off. Read our guide to wedding fairs during coronavirus to ensure you know what you can expect and feel prepared.
Where can I find advice while I am planning?
This year, more than ever, it is important to use trusted suppliers from a trusted source. Guides for Brides have successfully matched several million couples with their venues and suppliers over the past 26 years and the evidence is there for all to see in the form of 1000s of reviews, almost all 5* (unlike some websites, we show all reviews, not just the good ones!).
Follow us on Facebook, Alison does regular Live videos that will keep you up to date on any changes to weddings and wedding planning in the UK so you can stay a step ahead.