Getting Organised! Expert Wedding Planning Advice from Mennat Al Hammami
Written by on March 29, 2016.
Tagged under: Cloud Nine Weddings & Events, Getting Organised! Expert Wedding Planning Advice from Mennat Al Hammami, Mennat Al Hammami, WEDDING PLANNERS, Wedding Planning, Wedding advice, wedding tips
Regardless of the number of years they’ve spent dreaming about their wedding day, or the amount of (perhaps secret) Pinterest boards crafted over this time to offer inspiration, many new brides-to-be often find that as soon as they become engaged, what they thought they wanted goes out of the window. It seems to be the case that once marriage is a reality and plans need to be made, there are so many things to think about that it’s hard to know where to start, and ideas that were previously dismissed for one reason or another become an option once more. To make matters worse, trying to make decisions can be even more stressful due to the knowledge that time is ticking by, plus the all too real financial implications.
If you’re recently engaged and have found yourself in this situation, our expert panel member and founder of Cloud 9 Weddings and Events, Mennat Al Hammami, is here to advise you on how to begin the process of being an organised bride, saving you time, money, and a lot of stress. Read on to learn more!
Do the logistics of your day on paper look like a wedding planner’s worst nightmare? First things first. Prepare and get organised by following a planner checklist or guide. You can go about this in several ways, depending on the type of couple you are. If you prefer to work with hard copies or write things down, a good tip would be to invest in a sturdy binder or folder, and separators with pockets to place all of the additional documents and business cards. Keep all of your wedding information and inspiration material inside this binder. If you are more the virtual type, try downloading a planner or application to your phones. A good app is Wedding Happy.
Since the UAE is relatively new to wedding education, there is a lack of dedicated checklists for the modern UAE wedding. Therefore, you may find that online planners include too much unnecessary detail. To help with this, I’m going to outline the key points to help you organise a checklist that works for you. To simplify matters, let’s use a UAE bride’s vision and analyse it as we go through every point:
‘I envision a spring wedding with natural lighting amongst a lot of greenery, with close family and friends and time to take photos during the daytime. Something that is hassle free, where all we would need to do is show up on the day and have a great time! Music is a huge element and I don’t mind going for very simple flowers and lighting’.
The first step is to think about the type of wedding you are going to have. Note down all of the aspects that are essential to you and your fiancé. Namely, the style of venue: outdoors or indoors? Garden/beach/grand ballroom? The next thing to consider is the time of year. A spring/summer or autumn/winter wedding? Figuring out if the wedding will be a destination wedding or closer to home will help you determine the time of year. It will start to become clear to you what is achievable through your discussion of your notes.
Going back to our example, we can understand the bride would like an outdoors, garden wedding during a time where the whether is warm. A destination wedding is an option, yet it could also be something such as a resort location amidst a natural setting when the weather in the UAE is suitable. You may find that the next topic will come up during the initial brainstorming session, which is the size of your wedding. This is going to play a big part in budget and location. Couples today are opting for destination weddings to limit numbers and to keep the ambience more relaxed. Simultaneously, this region plays part to some of the most lavish weddings too (below image: A Cloud Nine planned wedding) – whether local or destination.
The key is to be diplomatic and decisive when figuring out whom to invite to your big day. From most couples’ perspectives, a lot of wedding-related stress emerges from the difficulty in trying to please everyone involved, namely family members. Be decisive by knowing that if opinionated personalities disrupt the planning process, you are in charge. Do so in a diplomatic manner by giving consideration to their opinions. Using the example above, it is easy to determine that the bride would like a small and low-key wedding, which would typically mean being selective with the guest list.
Budget and saving money on your wedding
For a UAE wedding (and most weddings around the world), the venue hire and catering packages will probably constitute the bulk of the expenditure. Since hotels in the UAE are the providers of food and drink on the day, this part is crucial. Set a maximum rate you feel comfortable paying just for hiring the space, followed by how much (at most) you are looking to spend per head on food and drink.
If you are lucky enough to find a venue where the site hire is waived, then great! Work your way through the options, crossing out the venues that are way beyond your budget. Always ask for customisable packages too. Ways to save on this cost would be to find acquaintances with a private space and find a caterer who can offer flexible packages. Perhaps delve deep with your caterer to discuss affordable table rentals too. Another idea would be to incorporate food stations instead of fully loaded buffets. These would work particularly well if you plan on throwing more of a party type of wedding.
The remainder of your budget is split between designing your wedding, which includes venue decoration and special touches, photography and video, and entertainment. I always advise couples to prioritise amongst themselves and allocate percentages of the budget accordingly. Using the example above, we can see that a large portion of the budget would be allocated towards entertainment. Hiring a band or a great dj and incorporating fun elements would be key to this couple.
Feeling confused? Why not consider hiring a planner to run the décor elements for you, adding the special touches whilst keeping everything in check? Contrary to popular belief, a planner can actually help you save money simply because they know the vendors, often receiving better rates as a result, and charge a fee for doing the running around on the day rather than leaving your family members to do all the work. To some, that fee may be worth their feeling of ease! Planners are also a good idea because they can recommend ways to add special touches without breaking the budget.
If picking your planner is a priority, then do your research! Word of mouth referrals tend to lead to the best planners. That’s because the people recommending them have worked with or seen the planner in action, and their endorsement carries a lot of weight. Couples can also turn to acquaintances on social media and wedding portals such as Bride Club ME for recommendations and information on real wedding reviews.
Whether you want to hire a planner or not, or if you are sure about choosing your wedding theme yourself, try downloading applications that can alleviate the stress of the research. A good application is, myPantone Weddings & Events as well as the ever so popular Pinterest, which allows you to pin images and create mood boards. Having these handy will help guide any vendor involved with the wedding.
I hope that all of this information is indeed useful and will somehow give you more clarity on how to get organised and begin the planning process. Good luck!
xX Mennat Xx
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