Well hello 2019, I can now finally say that I am getting married this year... say what?!

13/10/2017 is the date etched in my brain as the most amazing and exciting day ever. The day he put a ring on it!! I never actually spoke about my engagement on the blog, it is something that's been mentioned on my social media but I never sat down to tell you how the engagement happened.

It was Friday 13th October 2017 and we were in Los Angeles about to have a private tour of the Warner Bros studios. Luckily for us we had friends in high places who were able to show us around without needing to be part of a huge group; thank god (this will be clear in a sec). Five minutes in and we stepped foot in the Central Perc set, sat down on the oh so famous orange sofa in the coffee house to have the obvious tourist photo. Little did I know what was about to happen, along with the poor lady who was trying her very best to get our two friends to be a part of the photos too.

It was all a blur, but seconds into the "photo shoot", Martyn got down on one knee and asked me to become his wife and obviously I said 'YES' along with the lady screaming and a very excitable gentlemen who worked there running in and saying 'He's her lobster' (Friends quote). A lifetime went by before the words 'YES' came out of my mouth, however video evidence says the complete opposite and Martyn barely finished asking me before my answer spurted out - oops.

Fast forward well over a year and we come to the year of our wedding :-) It has felt like a lifetime since we booked the date, it's been a whirlwind but also quite intense too, I really did not know what to expect. It's every little girls dream of having that perfect wedding right? Having those scrapbooks of every little detail of the 'dream' wedding! But not me, I thought about having a wedding one day but I never actually sat down to jot down what I wanted, I was too busy writing stories/songs and playing with dolls. Although I do have that board on Pinterest full to the brim with ideas; private of course.

We are currently seven months into planning and organising the wedding and I have learnt so much already, we have experienced a hell of a lot of stumbling blocks but also discovered a number of fantastic individuals who work in the industry who have been absolutely amazing and incredibly helpful in our journey!

This blog post could go on and on and on but I am just going to share with you the BIG things such as budgets and also the stumbling blocks we hit and how we overcame them. 

The first thing we did was figure out a budget, we knew it would be low but we loved the challenge to create the best day for us at a price that was affordable and didn't put us in any debt! I am now the person who deals with finances on a spreadsheet ... yes a bloody spreadsheet, who even am I? Jokes aside, this has been the best thing we ever did, this allowed us to know how much we needed to save and we put down an estimate of how much things cost so we could see what we were working with, if it was a no go or we could fit it into our day.

The spreadsheet we have is in the document sheets which both me and Martyn have access to via google documents and also on an app which is so handy when we have been sent through quotes. I would definitely recommend starting one whether it is planning your budget for a house move, general day to day life and weddings! 

Don't be a stickler, yes we all know that we cannot afford splashing the cash wouldn't it be lovely if money was no object, but your budget will change! We started out with an idea of what things were going to cost, but as we spoke to suppliers it was clear to us that things cost less than we expected - bonus! Things cost more than we thought - bummer! Our budget has switched around loads but we are still within a few hundred of what we agreed on! This is where shopping around and negotiating becomes vital. 

Secondly, came the venue and this is where we hit our first stumbling block and what a big one that was! I'm not being over dramatic here but it got to the point where I was seriously contemplating on not getting married for a long time. For me the venue is key, if it was not perfect then we could not have the wedding. It had to cater so many different factors; had to suit both of our personalities, be within our budget, suitable for family and friends i.e. wheelchair friendly etc and allow us to dress it up and have the perfect caterers etc.

We initially thought we had found the dream venue, perfect location, within our budget, suitable for everyone we would like to attend. It seemed to be too good to be true and guess what .. it was! The only issue we had was trying to barter them down on the minimum bar spend which was extremely high, little did I know the delay in us trying to reach an agreement was actually a saving grace. One day out of the blue, a local paper announced on their website that the venue was being sold for housing at the end of that year; we had zero communication from the venue owner but we could have lost a huge amount of money. So the search was back on and this is where it got very frustrating.

I actually left it in the hands of my sister, she's incredible at finding things online. I honestly have no idea how she does it but she has helped us so much (more of this later on in the wedding series.) She put together a list of places that she thought fell into my ideal category and it was down to me to have a look through the pictures and speak to the venues. I will obviously go into more detail in a future blog post on how I found the venue etc but as of June 2018 we had paid the deposit and the venue was ours! 

The next stumbling block we hit was probably getting a wedding photographer! If you follow my social media channels: Insta, Twitter (little ole' plug there haha), this has been a pretty recent issue. I found what I thought was my dream photographer via our venue's instagram page (I'm not going to hint where my venue is until after the big day, some things I like to keep private to make it more special). 

I had zero clue what I wanted in a photographer, there are so many different styles out there, who knew! But the ones that stood out to me were the more natural shots and images that captured the beautiful light as we all know I am a sucker for fairy lights and sunsets etc. This one photographer captured all of this and more, we booked them in for a skype session and we knew that they were going to be the one but months went by before we actually sat down to book and by then it was too late. I am also a believer of things happen for a reason and within 24 hours of disappointment we then found our photographer who is absolutely wonderful, they really are a dream to work with. 

At this point in time, these are the only issues we have hit, but I know we have so much more planning to do that there could be more issues along the way. I have learnt so much but also this process has helped me discover my vision for the day. 

I would also say that be prepared to compromise, this may be the hardest thing you have to do. The main thing I decided on was not having a wedding car, as my whole day is taking place at the one venue and no one would see me arrive I don't see the point in forking out on hiring one just to drive 10 minutes from where I am staying the night before to my venue. The only people who will see me is my parents and bridesmaids, I am perfectly ok to miss out on a couple of shots of me in a fancy car if I am going to save a few hundred pounds which can go towards my dress or the florist. 

Another big thing I would say is look around at who you know, its not as weird as what it may sound haha! Who do you know and what do they do? My sister is a graphic designer and she has kindly offered to make our wedding invitations for us which is incredible and it also makes it that little more special as you have created a lovely memory in the build up to the big day! 

Martyn's mum is incredible at baking, especially when it comes to decorating cakes! She has made a couple of wedding cakes in the past for his cousins so it was only right that she got the opportunity to make our cake too. All of these things are a great way of saving money, I am not saying use and abuse our loved ones, if they offer you it as a gift then that is incredible but make it known that you will pay for their services. 

We are almost there, I promise. But I wanted to end the post by giving you two top tips if you are ever planning a wedding, no matter who you are, what you want from your big day or what budget you are working with! 

Always shop around and negotiate! This could sound like such a faff but honestly, the extra hours you put in is so worth it! There are so many times I wanted to go with the first thing I saw; the venue, the dress, the florist and even hairdressers for my bridesmaids but I haven't and thank god because I have discovered new companies who are so incredible to work with plus we have managed to save so much money!  

All that is left for me to say is Congratulations on your engagement and I hope you have as much fun as we are having booking your day!! I hope to see you popping back when my next post in the wedding series is live! 

Alice xxx