Mel will be marrying Mitch this Sunday 18 March 2018, in a Jewish wedding at Warren Weir at Luton Hoo, UK.
THREE FACTS: (1) Mel and Mitch met online on JDate (2) Their Jewish wedding will be classy and traditional with plenty of modern touches (3) Mel is a member of Smashing The Glass’s private members club VIB Club. Not yet a member? Come join us here!
The final countdown
As I write this it is two weeks until the big day. 2 weeks! 73 weeks ago we got engaged and now there’s just a fortnight until I’m married. Cannot. Believe. It.
Everyone said to me when we set the date that time would go quickly. It was well over a year away so felt like plenty of time. They were right. Time has disappeared. Brides — cherish your planning time; it will be over in a flash.
How am I feeling?
For the last few months everyone has asked me the same question; “Not long now until the big day. How are you feeling?”
I’ve lost count the number of times I’ve been asked this. And every time I say the same thing; I get flutters of excitement, anticipation, nerves and fear. It hasn’t quite dawned on me yet that I’m getting married. I’m not sure when it will feel real — I’ll have to get back to you on that one.
Image by Daniel Clements from Laura and Steve‘s Jew-ish wedding
Top tips for planning the perfect day
Organising a wedding is a huge task. Planning an occasion of this scale and importance comes with some pressure. There are so many questions before even starting — how do we select a date? Do we get a wedding planner? How do we chose the right suppliers?
I think unless you’re an event manager or wedding planner, you can never quite prepare yourself for planning a wedding. I’ve just winged it. So here are some of my top tips based on my experience.
1. Carefully chose your date
It sounds pretty obvious but there’s not much you can do before you’ve set a date. Of course you can research suppliers and meet with them but until you know when you need them, you’re a little stuck.
Think about how long of an engagement you want. Mitch and I knew we didn’t want to get married too quick and wanted at least a year to plan. You then need to consider what dates you can get married. There are a number of dates throughout the year when you cannot get married because of various Jewish festivals. Have a look at websites like www.Chabad.org to see what dates the festivals fall on and determine what dates you can marry. Smashing the Glass also has a good post which tells you which dates to avoid in 2018, 2019 and 2020. Also consider the time of year; if you’ve got your heart set on a Saturday wedding, choose a date in the winter months when Shabbat goes out earlier.
Once you’ve secured your date with your venue and Rabbi, let people know as soon as possible. Especially if you choose a bank holiday weekend or school holidays.
Image by Barney Walters from Claudia and Nick‘s Jewish wedding
2. Set a budget
If you’re on a budget, you need to be smart with the way you allocate your money. Even if you’re not limited to a budget, it is still a good idea to track your spend. Prioritise what is most important and work back from there — it would be crazy to book a photo booth or buy wedding favours before you’ve booked your florist and photographer for example. Last thing you would want is to find you can’t afford to have the photographer you want because you spent £500 on a photo booth.
Set a rough budget for your ‘high priority’ suppliers; for us these were the venue and catering, band, photographer, videographer and florist. It’s difficult at first, but if you’re not sure how much things will cost contact a few suppliers to ask for their price list to get an idea. Once you’ve worked on your budget for the main suppliers, then set your budget for everything else.
You should always include a contingency budget (I’m a Project Manager so working within a budget is my job!). Things will crop up that you haven’t accounted for or you may go slightly over budget on your dream dress for example. Do not rely on prices coming in lower than you estimated — if you overestimate anything then that’s a bonus. We hadn’t even thought about feeding our suppliers. It was only when we read the contract for our photographer that said we will need to provide food. Thinking about it, the band, photographer, videographer, and toastmaster will be with us for 8+ hours, so they will need something to eat. For us, we need to feed 21 additional people. So speak to your caterer and ask what they can offer for your suppliers. Our venue offers a special meal for suppliers that is different (and cheaper!) than the meal for guests.
3. Research, research, research
There are so many different vendors out there who are amazing it’s so hard to know who to choose. I spent hours trawling through supplier’s websites and social media. I spoke to friends and family and read through loads of blogs on Smashing the Glass.
I was able to create a shortlist of suppliers and arranged meetings. There’s only so much you can get from a website or Instagram page. I found personal recommendations have been the biggest help; we found our venue, band, photographer, florist and bridal salon from recommendations.
Image from Den and Eden‘s Jewish wedding (photo by Jeremy Blode and video by Moon & Back, STG’s Recommended Vendors)
4. Spread the load
We opted to plan our wedding ourselves without recruiting a wedding planner. Planning can be very physically and emotionally draining. I got so caught up in everything at first. I wanted to organise everything at once. It wasn’t realistic.
Spread the load. Don’t try and book everything within a short period of time. Take time to find the right suppliers. It also means you can manage your budget by spreading out costs — remember you usually need to put down a deposit for each vendor. Can you afford to do that all at once?
Consider your priorities. Focus on trying to book what you consider the most important suppliers first.
Plan together. Mitch is so involved in planning. We have divided the suppliers between us so we each lead on different ones, e.g. he leads on speaking to our band and videographer and I lead on the photographer and florist. That way, neither of us take the full burden of trying to do everything ourselves. If you can get your partner involved then definitely do! I think us girls can be guilty of trying to do everything ourselves.
5. Trust your instincts
As I mentioned, there’s so many suppliers out there to choose from it’s so hard to know who to book. You can look at hundreds of websites and Instagram pages but you can only really get to know a supplier when you meet or talk to them.
For example we met some very experienced photographers who have been in the business for years and done hundreds of Jewish weddings but we got a good feel about Chiko. I don’t know what it was but he just seemed to get us as couple and our vision which was so important. Vendors are amazing at what they do; but that doesn’t mean you will connect with them on a personal level, which I think is important.
Equally, it’s impossible to meet with every photographer or band or florist for example. You have to be able to draw the line. If it feels right, then trust your instincts.
Image by Luz Weddings (STG’s Recommended Vendor) from Tamar and Asaf‘s Jewish wedding
6. Make it personal
As I mentioned in my last post it’s the personal touches that make each wedding unique. Think of ways of injecting your personality into your wedding where you can. We created our own logo, designed our own stationary, created a hashtag — #LoveIslinTheAir (credit to my bridesmaid for coming up with it!), plus a few other surprises we have planned.
If you’re struggling, think about weddings you’ve been to before and what you liked about them. You can also speak to your suppliers, they will probably have a few ideas you may not have considered.
7. Enjoy it!
Planning the biggest day in your life should be an enjoyable experience. Looking back on planning, overall I’ve loved it. It’s been so much fun coming up with ideas and taking inspiration from other weddings. It’s also been really fun talking to friends and family about the wedding. I was always conscious about talking about the wedding too much but if people asked me about it I was more than happy to share!
I’ll be honest, there have been some stressful times — mainly about the guest list and table plan but I’ve tried to not it affect me too much.
Image by Flix’n’Pix from Lauren and Avi‘s Jewish wedding (kippot by Hebrewear, STG’s Recommended Vendor)
My best finds
During planning, I have found some amazing websites and apps (aside from Smashing The Glass of course!) that have made planning that bit easier and also saved us money! Here are my top three:
- Wedding Wire — this is an app and a website. You can use it to track everything including suppliers, budget and guest list. You can even organise your table plan. It’s brilliant — definitely check it out. It was so useful having an app to track whether guests are coming or not. Whenever we got an RSVP I would simply open the app. Who needs a spreadsheet when you can use an app?!
- Printed.com — we used Creative Invitations to print our invitation suite but when it came to the table plan and table numbers we wanted something a little different. Printed.com is amazing. You can do everything from printing your table plan on foam board to printing all of your invitations and RSVPs. You can even contact them for a bespoke print. For our table numbers we needed something that wasn’t available on their website so I contacted them and they were able to deliver a bespoke print. Their customer service is amazing. Also, if you know someone who has an account get them to refer you for 20%. We also went through topcashback.co.uk and got money back.
- Canva — this is a free service where you can design anything you want. I used it to design our logo and it was so easy to use. Some people design their invitations using Canva then use printed.com for printing.
The time has come
So after months of planning, the time has come to see all our plans come together. It’s crazy to think so much time, money, effort and stress has gone into just one day; but it will be the most perfect day and the start of my new life with Mitch.
Image by Reportage Gallery from Pippa and Josh’s Jewish wedding (planned by Qube Events & Productions, STG’s Recommended Vendor)
Click here to read all Mel’s planning posts to date.
Mel & Mitch’s Wedding Vendors booked so far:
Videographer — Denee Motion
Band – XS Showband
Photographer — Chiko Photography
Flowers — Alexandra’s Florist
Table decorations – Wedding Venue Decorators
Venue — Warren Weir
Bride’s dress – Brides of Berkhamsted
Bridesmaids – David’s Bridal
Mother of the Bride – Mary’s of Enfield
Stationery – Canva, Creative Invitations and Printed.com