Assemble an all-star cast that fits your bill by following these easy steps.
1. Sit down with your man to draw up a detailed wedding budget, including any contributions from your families. As a guide, around 50 per cent of your fund should go towards the reception, 15 per cent should be spent on attire, 10 per cent on flowers, 10 per cent on photography and 15 per cent on the rest. Budget for your honeymoon separately, and set aside an extra 10 per cent for emergencies. Next, prioritise the most important aspects of the day – you'll get the most from your vendors if you can tell them exactly how much you have to spend in that particular category, as many will customise a package to suit your needs. To keep an eye on what you're spending, create a tracking spreadsheet.
2. Hire a sidekick in the form of a wedding planner. They know the best deals around and which businesses are easiest to work with. If you can't afford to hire a planner for the duration, consider having a one-off meeting, where they will detail realistic expectations for each category based on your budget, and point you in the right direction.
3. If you're going DIY, do your research and narrow down your options before you schedule appointments to see potential vendors. Meet with just three service providers in each category – having more options than that can be overwhelming. Seeing is believing, so ask for references and samples of vendors' work. Flip through photographers' portfolios, watch live footage of bands' past performances, inspect hire cars and ask your cake maker or caterer for a taste test.
4. Explain your vision to your vendors in as much detail as possible. Collect pictures from magazines so you can show them images of colour schemes and designs that appeal to you. Consider your vendors part of your team and be open with them about the expectations you have. Communicating your feelings every step of the way will leave less room for misunderstanding and ensure you get precisely what you want.
5. Read the fine print before signing any contracts so there aren’t any surprises. Make sure the details of the products or services you’re commissioning are clearly outlined – especially when it comes to the deposit, when additional payments are due and whether you'll be eligible for a refund. Always keep the proof of purchase so that you're covered by the Consumer Guarantees Act should anything go awry.