wedding planning | where did I start pt1

Other than moving across the world, I don’t think I have ever been more overwhelmed than when I began planning my own wedding, and that’s a big thing as its also my job, but it is a little different when its your own special day.

We got engaged back in October 2014 and are getting married this September, so 2 years of serious planning in our house! I know there are lots of posts that tell you the ‘first 5 things to do once you’re engaged’ and timeline etc, but every couple is different. Some have a very short engagement so their timeline will obviously be a lot faster moving and some, like us, want to wait a bit longer (8 years obviously wast long enough so we opted for 10). Because we had been together for so long, I pretty much had everything planned in my head so it was a matter of putting that plan into action. So here’s how we did it.


The main detail for us was where. The majority of our friends and family are back in the UK, so to us it made more sense to have the wedding over there. Churches were out and so were barns. Everyone in the UK seems to be obsessed with barn weddings, but it’s not for me. Hotels also didn’t really give me the flexibility to do all of the things I had in my head. I found a lot of venue websites didn’t give a real sense of how a wedding would look which is strange, so I Googled photographers that had shot weddings at my top 3 venues and found it 100 times more helpful. I thought I had found the perfect place and asked my wedding planner what he thought. He gave me some insight as he had worked one there before and I decided to keep looking. It broke my heart as I was set on having it there, so don’t put all your eggs one basket until you know all the information. Luckily our actual venue is amazing and I’m quite glad we kept looking.

Old Down Manor


Now we had our venue, we had to choose a date. Summer months like June-August are always more expensive and book up first. The same with Saturdays as it is the most popular day. Take a look at your calendar and find out if there are any holidays, special days, or birthdays close to when you are thinking. I didn’t want a winter wedding either and spring is too rainy in the UK, so September was the month for us. Do you like my justifying process? We have a few family birthdays in September so avoided them and decided on a Friday as it saved us some money. Our date became even more perfect because of its symmetry 16.09.16 yay!!! My type A personality was winning!

Guest list

I suppose the guest list was also a key factor on deciding on a venue. We had put together a list of everyone we would realistically like to attend and kept that number in mind when looking at locations. Some we had to disregard because their capacity was too small. When we were close to deciding on a venue, we had to be brutal and trim some fat. We kept it to 120 close family and friends. I think we are very fortunate as we both will know every single person at our wedding and I sympathize with those couples whose parents invite their friends from work and neighbours, and the room is filled with unfamiliar faces. Here is a nice quote, “If you pay for the wedding yourself, you control the guest list.” Amen!


This was a tricky one for us. Because of the exchange rate from Canada to UK, our wedding budget was almost doubling what we thought. We had a longer engagement so we could save enough money to have the wedding we both wanted. When deciding on your budget you need to work out what are the most important factors in your day. A general rule is the majority of your budget will go on the reception. Venue, food, drinks etc. For me as a wedding planner I’m all about the details. Flowers, decor, linens, and stationery. For my fiancé, it was making sure everyone had a good time and that the food was good. Unlike local weddings, we had to factor flights and car rentals and someone to look after the dog into our budget too. We were very fortunate to find an amazing wedding planner in the UK. I searched some wedding blogs and narrowed it down to planners in the UK and found our guy. We Skype chatted and he was a perfect fit. Knowing how important it was to record every moment of our day, we decided to use videographers and photographers from Canada. I didn’t feel comfortable having someone we didn’t know capture our day, and I have heard horror stories about couples not having good or in some cases any photos from their day. Our visual team are friends of ours and we wouldn’t have had it any other way.

claudette and jonathan

Part 2 coming soon!


Photography: Christy D. Swanberg Photography // Tulle Skirt: Space 46 boutique from Adorn boutique// Wedding Venue: Old Down Manor, Bristol

About Claudette Hogan

Claudette has been in the wedding industry for over 8 years and has her own event management business, Claudette Marie Events. She loves flowers, ribbon and her daschund Frank. Follow her on Instagram and Pinterest.


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