By Naome-Shyline Mutsunge; Mabusha Venue In-house Events Manager
Congratulations on your engagement and/ traditional wedding (roora/lobola). As it is a Zimbabwean tradition for the groom to ask for ‘permission’ to wed from the bride’s family as they conclude on the lobola; now that you were granted that, here’s a checklist of how you can go about planning your big day.
- First, Get A Wedding File
One of the wisest things you can do right from the start is to get super organized and detailed about your wedding. Buy a lovely file that looks good and makes you feel all warm, fuzzy on the inside and excited about planning your wedding. What you must do is to compartmentalize it into different sections from your bridal fitness plan, wedding fashion, bridal team, ceremony, reception, honeymoon, etc. Also, get separate notebooks to take to meetings for your wedding and jot your wedding notes in. I have witnessed quite a lot of brides who use work diaries that have wedding notes scrambled at the back or somewhere between the different pages in a much-disorganized manner. That will only create disorder which leads to stress. Being organized will give you direction and clarity for the planning process. Planning your big day should be enjoyable and this is how you can do it the easier way.
- Write the Guest List
First and foremost, I would advise you to write a draft guest list of all the people you are thinking of inviting. Here are a few pointers that can help you in deciding who attends: bride and groom write their individual lists and the parents (guardians) of the couple. You then take all these lists & compile one list, starting with the most important people who have influenced your life and key relatives. This is one of the most difficult things to do for Zimbabweans couples as parents & relatives mostly want to invite the entire ‘village’. Sigh! You need to be strict yet respectful in the way you deal with this and make your parents understand. When writing your list, remember church members or work colleagues you want to consider inviting (you do not have to invite your workmates if you do not have a relationship outside of work).
Remember, the guest list will determine what concept will be feasible with your budget. Also, leave open numbers in case you forgot anyone. It happens.
- Decide on the Concept, Theme, and Colors
A lot of clients out of excitement start by concluding on the concept before the guest list. The number & type of people who will attend your wedding will determine the type of venue, menus to be served and whether certain concepts will work on not.
You might want to do an all peony wedding but if you are going to have lots of tables needing peony floral arrangements, just think about how much that will cost you. You might be in love with certain concepts but they won’t work in correspondence to the number of expected attendees. Consider everything from the dress code, decor, weather, entertainment, stationery, food, and beverage concept and all the details of the event.
- Calculate and Set an Estimate Budget
Now that you are here, roughly calculate the cost of your desired concept with the number of guest lists you compiled at the first step. It is important to remember to include the pre-wedding, post-wedding costs & rings. From this, you will be able to come up with a rough budget and this will help you see if you will manage what you have in mind or not.
You should be honest with your planner in terms of what you can afford. Just as you should never lie to your lawyer; never hide anything from your wedding planner especially about your budget. Think about which wedding aspects that are most important to you where you will be willing to pour in more money. When you seek a wedding planner, you should already have this roughly worked out and thought of as that is the foundation your planner will work with, in starting to plan your wedding.
- Ask about Pre-marital Counseling Sessions
Zimbabwe being predominantly a Christian nation, the couple is required if there are to be married by a religious institute to undergo pre-marital counseling which is a must in most churches. The duration differs from denomination to denomination hence it is important to find out earliest from your church about this. You might want to start undergoing these sessions right away so that you complete them when you still have enough time before your wedding as some ministries won’t conduct your ceremony if you have no completed these.
- Select the Date
Select the possible dates and weigh which one is most suitable considering the following: your guest profiles, your initial decided concept, work schedules, the budget, your season preference, availability of key service providers. Maybe you need to raise more money and save, so the date might be pushed a bit further away, etc. Factors that affect the wedding date being set are various. Certain months are more expensive because of the availability of flowers, weather, events around your community, etc. You can approach your wedding planner with your possible dates and he or she will help you decide what may be the best.
- Book a Wedding Planner
By the time you book for a consultation meeting, you want to have the above information and that will make the planner quickly understand you and that is one thing that makes a planner more open to working with you; is being organized and showing you are investing into planning your event seriously and not window shopping. I will be open with you, we normally charge our prices according to your different personalities, attitudes and how each couple is. Select someone you feel understands, respects your wedding vision and someone you feel a connection with.
- Seek & Secure a Venue
Before you start paying for anything else after contracting the wedding planner, secure your venue of choice by paying a deposit fee. Make sure you go for venue consultation and viewings when you are not rushing and ask a lot of questions about their service, scout the place and also find out reviews from other clients about your venue options. Make sure you understand their policies and operating procedures. Bear in mind the distance, your concept, the guests; to name a few key factors to consider.
- Secure Service Providers
The next thing after securing your venue is selecting and booking service providers. Some have schedules that fill up months and months in advance so it is important to secure the ones in demand earliest to avoid being disappointed. If you have a planner which is highly recommended, he/she will propose which service providers will be able to deliver your vision.
This is also when you should secure your wedding officiant or marriage officer first and foremost followed by caterer if the venue is not providing, videographer and photographer, cake baker, etc,
- Send Save the Date Notification
This is a good time to send out save the date cards to your final guest list to allow your attendees to plan ahead their calenders and budgets ahead of time. Remember it also costs your guests to attend your wedding. You are not doing them a favor. Sending this notification earlier allows them to plan and budget ahead. They will appreciate you for it.
Planning a wedding should be an enjoyable and fun process for the couple and these are tips I recommend you follow to avoid becoming a bridezilla which no-one wants to work with. Be sure to check out part two of this blog. Happy planning!