An Easy Guide To Planning Your Wedding And Honeymoon

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So he popped the question and you’ve said yes. First of all, congratulations! Once you get over the initial ecstasy, it’s time to start planning for the big day! What follows is going to be a strange mix of stress and excitement. You’re in the driver’s seat for planning the happiest day of your life. It’s natural to feel pressured; ceremonies like this only come around once in a lifetime. And although you’re probably bursting with ideas, organising the whole thing might feel a bit daunting. To help you out, here’s a guide to planning your big day and your perfect honeymoon.

Budget

As with anything, you should start with the budget. When you look at the finances available for your wedding, this can be a little disheartening, and that’s without adding in the cost of a honeymoon. We’d all like to get married under the northern lights or in a beautiful Tuscan village. Unfortunately, most of us don’t have the means for something like that! The good news is that wedding prices are pretty versatile. Whether you’re spending thousands or are a little more limited, there’ll be a venue and catering service within your budget. If your budget is looking a little tight for what you had in mind, my advice is to look at where you could make savings – whether this be a few less guests, or swapping a sit down meal for a buffet. It’s all about deciding what is most important on your day. Shop around for items like bridesmaid dresses, maybe look at hiring rather than buying  the ushers suits, look at what can be made at home rather than shop bought, the savings you can make are endless.

One way that you could get the honeymoon that you really want is through setting up a honeymoon fund, this is in place of a wedding present list or traditional gift ideas. The idea is that you do the costings for your perfect honeymoon, taking in everything including travel, hotel, food and transfers and then you present this like a traditional online wedding gift list on a site like Travelers Joy (I so love their hashtag #skiptheblender ). Those who want to buy you something can then contribute to your dream honeymoon instead if they wish and you get the chance to truly relax after your big day.

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The Venue

One of the most important aspects of your wedding is the venue. When it comes to choosing the venue, there are things you need to bear in mind. First, have some dates in mind, and allow a bit of flexibility, as you might get a bit of a shock when you first check the availability of  venues. The further ahead you plan your wedding, the more options you’re going to have available. If you’re not too fussy and want something traditional, then you should be fine. However, if you were planning something extravagant or unique, then I recommend pushing the date pretty far ahead in order to not put yourself under to much financial pressure in a short period of time.

The Rings

Next we have the rings. Even if you’re quite laid back about the aesthetics of your  wedding in other areas, I advise taking your time with this. You’ll be wearing your ring for the rest of your life, after all! There’s a massive industry for wedding rings, so I’m sure you’ll be able to find something both you and your partner will agree on! There are some gorgeous classic bands out there, but that’s no reason that you have to use them! It’s your day, and your marriage, so take your time finding a pair of rings which says something unique about you. Weddingrings-direct.com has a fantastic selection.

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The Guest List

Next up, the guest list. This is probably the one area of your wedding which you have planned for. While you were working out your budget, you should have set a limit on the reception. Aside from that, the limit on your guest list is completely up to you. Do you want it to be a large and glamorous occasion, or a smaller, intimate affair? I advise creating a kind of family tree structure to draft your guest list. Start with the close family of you and your partner. Then, extend out into your closest friends, and important people in your lives. Keep a strict numbers limit, and soon you’ll have a guest list which you’re both happy with.

The Dress

Choosing the dress is probably the part you were looking forward to the most! You’d have a good reason for this; picking out a dress is probably the most exciting part of the whole planning process. Take your time and have fun! Make sure you try lots of styles and don’t rush into buying the first dress you see.

Once you find your dress ,you’ll need to consider the ushers, bridesmaids and pageboys. Getting a whole dress scheme which fits in with your tastes will give you a uniquely satisfying feeling and will make your wedding a truly stylish affair.

Invites And Finishing Touches

Traditionally, the invitations should be sent three to six months in advance. There’s plenty of time to look at different designs and fonts. Many companies can send out samples so make sure you shop around. After all this, take a look at your budget and shop around for any finishing touches. This could included Chinese lanterns, sparklers, confetti and anything else that could make your day even more magical.

There you have it; my guide to planning your wedding. Do you have any further tips for planning that perfect wedding?

How to create a safety net for your family

No one wants to think about what would happen to their family if they were unable to work. But if you were to fall ill, have an accident or even pass away, your partner and children could be left with much less income than before. Even if you’re not the primary earner in your home, the loss of your earnings could have a devastating effect. It’s important to think about these things before they happen, even if it’s not very pleasant. There are lots of things you can do to prepare for a situation when you can’t bring any money in or might not be around anymore.

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Get Income Protection or Critical Illness Insurance

If you can’t work for a short time or are diagnosed with a serious illness, it helps to have a way to keep money coming in. If you suddenly can’t work, you might have only a little income or even none at all. One of the insurance types you can consider is income protection, which will pay out for a short time if you can’t work. It can cover things such as your mortgage and bills. It’s especially useful if you’re self-employed and don’t have a company sick pay scheme. Another option is critical illness insurance, which will help you if you’re diagnosed with one of several illnesses.

Take Out Life Insurance

Death is a difficult thing to think about, but it’s something we’ll all have to face some day. While we all hope that our children will be grown, and we’ll be long retired by the time it happens, you can’t predict the future. If you do die while your children are still growing up, you want to know they won’t have to worry about money when you’re gone. One of your biggest expenses now is probably your mortgage. If you read a guide to home insurance, it will recommend life cover to help pay off your mortgage after your death. As well as helping them keep their home, it could cover other costs too.

Write a Will

Another way to prepare your family for after your death is to write a will. This is important if you have assets and if you have dependents. You can have a say in what happens to your children, as well as who receives your money and personal possessions. It doesn’t take long to write one up and make sure it’s legal, but it could make a significant difference if anything happens to you. If you’re a single parent, you might find it especially important to specify who will look after your kids.

Incorporated into this is planning for your funeral. It is not something we really want to think about, but buying a funeral plan, either upfront, or using monthly installments, can be a way to relieve a financial burden on your family, and most importantly, your children. A service like Co-op Funeral Directors offer plans that run from 2 years to 25 years, and help to take not just the financial burden away, but also the uncertainty that you are doing the right thing.

Build Emergency Funds

Another way to prepare for illness or accidents that take you out of work is building an emergency fund. You may already have one to deal with repairs in your home and other emergencies. But you might think about building it up a little more, in case you need enough money to live on for a short period. Some people save between three and six months’ income, just in case.

Start preparing for these situations, and you’ll be grateful if anything ever happens. If it doesn’t, you’ll still be glad you took the right precautions.

Who is the Smartest Woman You know?

A few years ago there was a pretty fab campaign for  Clinique Smart Custom Serum.  It Starred one of my fave Beauty experts Caroline Hirons (whom I discovered on Twitter, and who is as funny as she is smart), and it  celebrated smart women and their qualities. For Caroline Hirons, the smartest woman she knows happens to be her mom, something I can totally relate to.

If you have read the Sam Haskell memoir ‘Promises I Made My Mother’ you will probably find yourself agreeing that although you meet many people in the course of your life, it is your Mother you still turn to in times of need, in times of stress, even when you are way past 40, but still need someone to put their arms around you and tell you it is going to be OK. Sam Haskell rose to the top of a very successful career at the world famous William Morris agency, and felt he did this by holding onto the values and life lessons that his mother instilled in him during childhood. These helped him to retain his pride and dignity, even when working in the often morale free world that is Hollywood.

I’m so with Sam! My mom is my heroine in so many ways. She was a teenage mom who proved to be the best mom any young girl could wish for – clever, funny and most certainly smart. She was a stay-at-home mom until I was 12, and then went back to work and rose to the top of her career path. Now she is almost 64, still working in management and is as great a grandmother to her three grandchildren as she is a mom. My son Joe just adores her.

Life lessons from my mom, I have them in abundance and they certainly still guide the way I live my life. She taught me that you can do anything if you try, that you can be opinionated, intelligent, funny and outspoken without needing to be brash, rude, egotistical or offensive. She taught me that if a job is worth doing, it’s worth doing in heels (although she does wear them slightly lower these days) and that you only have one skin, so you most definitely need to look after it, she certainly never sleeps in make up.

I get my love of fashion, of animal print, of Grace Kelly and Marilyn Monroe, of T Rex  and The Beatles all from her. She is inspirational, and most definitely deserving of the title smart woman. My love of reading, of old movies, of animals and travel, all come from my mother, but she also taught me that manners cost nothing and that if you can’t say or do something good, then maybe you should say nothing at all.

You can have lots of friends in your life, but you only get one mom, and I totally struck lucky with mine.

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On holiday in Menorca.

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my mom and me!

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At Marco Pierre White’s in Birmingham.

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Mother’s Day with my mom and sister.