Once upon a time many Bermuda weddings involved little more than a carriage ride to the church, with a small onion in the bride’s pocket to ward off evil spirits and bring good luck, followed by a simple outdoor reception. Yes, the guest list was frequently extensive, but the arrangements were handled almost exclusively by female members of your family and the only outside vendor might well have been a bartender.
As time has progressed, however, weddings have become increasingly elaborate multi-day celebrations involving Pinterest boards, exotic staging, decorations, activities, and a mind-boggling number of inter-connected cultural, social and festive details.
At least, that is, until Covid forced a large number of brides to reschedule and, in some cases, to completely re-think the size, location, purpose, and budget for their big day.
So how then do you successfully plan and execute your vision for your wedding without overspending or becoming so stressed trying to please everyone that you can’t even enjoy your big day?
I sat down with two of Bermuda’s wedding planning experts to get their advice.
“As magical as your wedding day is, never forget that that there is life after the wedding and don’t get so caught up in the details that you forget this,” cautions Nikki Begg of MyBermudaWedding.com.
With over 20 years of wedding planning experience Nikki recommends that regardless of whether your dream wedding is a big budget large-scale event, or a simple ceremony with only your immediate family in attendance, “it is important to treat the planning process as an opportunity to learn about your partner”.
Claire-Anne Raynor, owner of Rose of Sharon Bermuda agrees, “Trying to live up to the dream you have built up in your mind and trying to please everyone creates a lot of pressure and can distract you from what is really important – the start of your life together”.
So how do you plan a celebration that is stress-free and memorable?
Both ladies agree that regardless of the size of your big day, the secret to planning a stress-free, memorable wedding is to be clear about what you want to accomplish from the outset and then engage the services of a professional planner to manage the details.
“A great wedding planner will entirely reverse-engineer the entire day to make sure that all of the ancillary vendors and support services are seamlessly coordinated in the background so that everything runs smoothly,” says Ms. Begg. “But in my mind the number one reason everyone should engage the services of a planner is simply that unless you have planned a wedding before, you have no idea what you don’t know – meaning that you have no idea how to plan a stress-free day so that you can actually enjoy yourself ”.
Whether it’s your dream to “jump the broom” with seven bridesmaids and hundreds of friends and family in attendance, or a stylish elopement with the sun setting over the ocean as your backdrop – every wedding involves planning the same basic elements.
“I like to remind everyone that I meet with that when you don’t have a wedding planner – you have to be the planner,” says Ms. Raynor. “Some people imagine that they can’t afford my services until I point out that by engaging the services of a planner from the beginning, you actually avoid spending money needlessly on things that you ‘believe you need’ but won’t actually help you fulfill your vision for your wedding day”.
So how do you figure out how to allocate the budget for your big day?
When it comes to worry-free budgeting, the key is to avoid becoming emotional.
“I recommend that brides think of their wedding as a Venn Diagram as opposed to focusing on the amount of money that they have to spend,” says Ms. Begg.
“Regardless of the actual amount of money that you have to spend, when you think of your big day as an exquisite balance of multiple components such as: the guest list, design elements, stationery, lighting, music, food and beverages, and rentals; you quickly realize that when the importance of one of these components changes (or increases) everything else has to be adjusted to a corresponding degree to allow for this, which ultimately allows you to make budget decisions in a non-emotional way.”
10 TIPS TO GET YOUR PLANNING STARTED:
- Keep an open mind and have realistic expectations of yourself and family and friends assisting you.
- Choose the right location and take the time to strategize the best way to make use of the available space – where will people sit, where will you put the bar, does the DJ need a tent, what about restrooms?
- Consider the time of year as well as the time of day – would you really want to get married outside at noon in August?
- Make a realistic back-up weather plan – is it fair to assume that your guests will agree to stand in the rain in their Jimmy Choo’s simply because you have your heart set on an outdoor ceremony?
- Strategize ideas for lighting to create ambiance and ensure the safety of your guests.
- Make the most of natural décor – how can you make best use of any available shade, or strategically enhance Bermuda’s natural beauty with potted plants or wild greenery?
- Keep the guest list realistic – it’s one thing to want to share your big day with everyone you know, it’s another to be able to provide food, drinks, and amenities for everyone.
- Consider where everyone will park – where is the closest field in relation to the site of your reception? Will you need taxis on hand to ferry people back and forth?
- Don’t spend money that you don’t have – do you really want to be paying for your big day for the next three years?
- Admit when it is time to call in an expert and be sure to check references.