How to get married
We got married! We’re so excited to start sharing our wedding day, prep and planning and even a few DIYs. But first, we thought it was best to start at the beginning and actually explain how to get married.
So we’re adding to the mass of information you’ve probably already read, pinned and shared with your love about wedding planning. The best bit of advice we could pass on is: you do you.
He/she/they liked it so they put a ring on it. Congrats! It’s an amazing feeling. It also means you need to plan a way to actually get hitched. Hopefully, this will be the first and last wedding you’re ever likely to plan. And just like us, you probably have no idea how to actually do it. And trust us, everyone assumes you know the answer to everything and have everything in place moments after that ring slips on your finger.
First up. Enjoy it! We got engaged on our 5th anniversary on a deserted Camber Sands beach and we didn’t actually tell any loved ones we were engaged for 3 days. It was a perfect little bubble and we loved it. Once we started sharing the news with our friends and family, all the questions started too. It’s totally fine to not know it all. Give yourself time, even if this means a year or just a week. Only when you’re ready, should you start to think about the day and start with the obvious – when.
We knew we wanted to get married on our anniversary date. So for us, picking a date and a timescale was easy – our 6th anniversary fell on a Saturday. If you don’t have a special or particular date or it doesn’t happen to fall on the day of the week you want to marry on, perhaps first decide on what season you’d like to marry in. You can then pinpoint a date by looking at public holidays, events, birthdays or anniversaries of loved ones etc and see which dates fall in your favour and which dates clash.
In England you need to say a standard set of promises in front of a person legally allowed to register the marriage in the local authority. You then sign the register and have two witnesses sign it too. It really is that simple and can take as little as 10 minutes. There is a little bit of background – you need to give notice at least 28 days before you intend to marry. That’s so anyone with strong grounds for objecting to the marriage can do so. This page over on the Citizens Advice is a literal what’s what in terms of legally saying “I Do”.
It’s also important to note that your ceremony venue must be approved by the local authority for weddings. For a wedding venue to be approved it must meet particular criteria, such as the ceremony room being in a permanent structure. Or you may opt for a religious venue.
What ever you decide. This is the most important part of the day so make sure you research the local authority’s pages on marriages and weddings.
Also, you don’t have to get married in your local authority. You might even be jetting off abroad so it’s worth looking into how to make it legal where you are and some criteria changes from local authority to local authority.
Whether you want a religious venue wedding followed by a reception or an all-in-one venue – securing your date may be the trickiest part of your venue search.
We visited over 12 different venues, long listed about 20 and found 40+ in our region. The choice is overwhelming. The penultimate venue we saw was THE ONE and when you know you know.
The venue we picked wasn’t an approved venue so we had to find somewhere else to legally marry. We loved it that much we were happy to adapt our plans.
We’re not religious so it felt wrong to do it in church. We had a few options, from turning up to county hall, booking a separate venue or opting for a community wedding (think registry office meets non-religious service). There were a number of community rooms in Essex, some in town halls and others in some truly amazing locations. We’d hazard a guess that lots of councils have some pretty special community rooms in their roster.
For us the community wedding allowed us to legally marry on our day, in a great location and was very affordable. Later in the day we had a blessing ceremony at our reception venue hosted by a very dear friend. It may not of what we originally thought we’d have but it changed our plan for the day for the better.
We had a “nice to be in the ball park” price in our heads before we looked into anything and after we secured the venue we worked out a realistic budget. We looked a venues from £2,500-£35,000 (the £35k one was just out of curiosity and the lols – it was never, ever a contender!). So a lot can change in your budget very quickly based on venue alone.
As a spreadsheet fanatic(!!) I took the estimations of lots of different blog posts with budget suggestions and sources and worked out the mean percentage of the value. From then we plugged in our budget and with a little excel wizardry it worked out some rough figures at what our budget looked like. We then sat down and realistically asked, what bits we’d want and what bits we wouldn’t; how much we would be willing to spend how much we wouldn’t.
It’s hard to know how much things actually cost and you can end up starting a lot of enquiries to find out prices and then never follow this up. With our guestimate budget we were able to see if we could realistically reach our budget everytime we received a quote and for the most part – it worked. Here’s a blank google sheet similar to what we used to track budget. Take it with a pinch of salt. Remember you don’t need everything (and we didn’t have it all), or maybe there’s more things you want so tailor it to you!
Write down absolutely EVERYONE you’d want to invite each in the very first instances. Then review and compile your lists. There will be cross-over, there will be ‘like to have’ and there will be ‘I’ve never met this person’ on each.
We think asking “Could I get married without them” is the best question to ask. For us the legal bit was so important to us, we just wanted our nearest and dearest. For the later blessing and reception the question turned to “Could I party without them..”
You may discover it’s just one list or you may discover it’s two very separate lists. It’s personal so there’s no right or wrong.
Well once you know when it will be, where you’re holding it, how many will hopefully be joining you, and how much you’d like to spend it’s time to start planning the fun stuff. From florists to photographers and food to decor there’s lots of decisions to be made. We started on Pinterest, reading magazines and lots and lots of blogs. Visiting venues also helped. Once we had some ideas of the vibe we started looking into how to translate this into our venue and working out what we’d need to hire and what we can do ourselves. Our venue was completely dry hire so there was a lot of planning required!
Research, research, research. Get on Pinterest, TripAdvisor, Google reviews, stalk their Instagram and associated hashtags and of course their Facebook page. Really invest time in working out if they’re worth contacting in the first place. Otherwise you’ll be drowning in e-mails. We’d recommend only contacting those that really take your heart. We went to the physical shop of the food cart we booked, we sampled the restaurant of the wedding breakfast location, we scrolled back though every post under the hashtags associated with photographers and watched every video (yes, every.single.one) of our videographer all before reaching out and contacting. Even those that came highly recommended we researched.
And ultimately, it paid huge dividends. We loved all of our suppliers and had excellent experiences with them all. We were on the same page and they wanted to make things happen for us – and they did. We’d recommend every single one time and time again.
Make sure in your first contact you don’t forget mention the following: venue or rough idea of location, date, you and your partners name, timings, numbers and budget (if relevant).
Our suppliers to add to your research list
All are local to North Essex because we love local!!
Furniture Hire – Anthology Vintage Hire
Lighting – Dreamwave Events
Wedding Breakfast – Grain
Pizza – Redwood Stone Baked Pizza
Ice Cream – Saffron Ice Cream Company
Cake – Crouch St Bakes
Beer – Adnams
Favours (custom glasses) – Confetti
Things you definitely do need
A legal venue to say I Do
Documentation of the day
photos, videos, hashtags, wedding book – whatever!
Something/somewhere to eat
Somewhere to celebrate
your nan’s garden, the pub, a beautiful stately home
(aka suppliers) who care
Your loved ones
And finally…Things you definitely don’t need
telling you how they think you should celebrate your day
Traditions that hold zero significance to you
To feel pressure to spend, spend, spend
To invite everyone and their great aunt
(unless you wanna!)
We hope this helps with your planning and gets you excited for what’s next. We loved every second of wedding planning. And although at times, it got stressful, we look back now and think damn that was fun.
Enjoy the process – it’ll be over before you know it!
Anders & Dan x
On the day photos by Jess Soper Photography (😍)