So should I get married?

Should I, shouldn’t I? Is marriage important? Is marriage all about the wedding? Is marriage just for a certain generation of people? Is marriage traditionalism and do we need to conform? Why should we get married?

If you are asking yourself any of the above questions, then it’s not the right time. Much as you may love your partner, if you do not believe in marriage then it’s not right, but also if you are getting married for any other reasons besides love is that right too?

Some people for instance choose to get married to support themselves financially through for instance tax benefits, but again is that right? In the long term, will you regret marrying someone because it seemed right to get yourselves into a better more secure position?

Some people get married due to religious reasons – this is a difficult subject and not being knowledgeable of all religions I will leave this one with just one thought – is it right to marry without love? Perhaps so…

Is it right to marry when you have been together so long and although the relationship is becoming stagnant, you believe that it is the right thing to do, to perhaps ignite that initial spark in the relationship? Remember for most people the initial excitement of a new relationship does not have any longevity – instead it is often replaced with a deeper love through mutual respect, likeness and understanding of the other person. If your relationship is stagnant before marriage, will it be any different once you are married?

Some people when they marry do feel an element of security – those that have worried that their partner may wander, look for someone new, see if the grass really is greener, suddenly find themselves in a position where they think to themselves he or she must really love me after all they asked me to marry them, they are willing to commit to me for the rest of their lives.

The commitment is an important point – should I get married if I view marriage as something I could try out, but then divorce if it doesn’t work out? It’s not as easy as that – and do you want to be tied into a relationship that you are not happy with? Why test the water through marriage when you could do this by for instance sharing a home?

For some people, the marriage is all about the wedding – it’s about showing their friends and family what they have, what they can plan, how amazing a party they can organise. If one person has a certain type of wedding, the next wants something bigger and better. But is that right? Why are people competing? Does it really matter what other people think? Should you not be getting married because you want to spend the rest of your lives together? Yes for many it is important to share the moment – and that is truly special, but for me the most special weddings are those where I can see that the couple really do love each other, that it doesn’t matter what they have on the day the important thing is that they say their vows together. The most heartfelt speeches are the ones that touch me – not the ones that are copied from the internet, but the ones where an individual explains why he or she chose their other half, why they have chosen to spend their lives together.

Some people believe marriage will make any problems go away – it really won’t, certainly not in the long term. If you have problems in the relationship before you get married, they will still be there as soon as the honeymoon period is over, but now you’re likely to feel even more pressure. The things that used to annoy you may annoy you more. So make sure that you sort through any issues before you marry. Take time to discuss things that worry you, upset you, annoy and frustrate you…be honest and open with each other. A marriage based on honesty is much more long standing than one based on lies and fabrication of the better life.

Getting married for me should be about ‘love’, choosing to spend the rest of your lives with someone; showing your family and friends and each other how much you truly care; building a relationship based on trust and respect; becoming a team – supporting each other through the good and bad times; being there for each other even if you don’t always agree; having time to actively listen; to feel secure and to worry less – to realise that they really have chosen you because they love you; to feel that above all else…you have a friend, a partner who will always be there for you.

My husband and I talk about conditional and unconditional love – my love for my children is unconditional as I would support them no matter what as I gave birth to them, however, my love for my husband is conditional – why? Because it’s conditional on both of us feeling love for each other, both of us enjoying our time together, both of us being faithful, both of us being present in our marriage….both of us….marriage is about both of you – a partnership.

So should you get married? I don’t know…only you can answer that question….but if you do, for all the right reasons, it will be the most amazing thing you have done.

When should I get married?

This is a question I’m sure lots of people ask themselves, whether they be men or women. If my daughter had her way I’m sure she would be starring on Take Me Out and finding her handsome Prince some time soon, but at the ripe old age of 7 I think Mummy (i.e. me) might have something to say about that!

I have been married now since 2004 to my lovely husband, and whilst I’m not going to tell you that it’s all been plain sailing, I’m still very much in love and enjoy married life. But back then in 2004, in fact probably in 2002, I started to feel the pressure – my sister was married, my female friends were either married or on their way to getting married and I was starting to consider my body clock.

Call me a traditionalist but I always thought I would marry before having children – I know a lot of people don’t do that anymore, but for me it was what I wanted. So I worked out the timings, how long it might take me to get pregnant, the effect it would all have on my career, and I started to realise that I wanted to commit to my partner. I hinted as most females I’m sure usually do. We’d be passing jewellers and I’d stop to look at watches and move slyly towards the rings saying how much I liked them. But…it still took a good two years before he finally asked me to marry him.

So in 2004 we tied the knot at Peckforton Castle in Cheshire, and it was beautiful. Since, we’ve taken time out of work to travel the world; as a career focused woman I moved my way up to Senior Manager for a Consultancy firm, and then realising that I was nearing 30, I decided the time was right to have children.

I guess what I’m saying is I chose when to get married based on a little bit of pressure seeing lots of my friends getting married and also what I wanted to do before I had children – I wanted the independent life but as the maternal instincts kicked in, my head started to tell me that my body clock was working against me.

Perhaps I’m just a little bit too organised for my own good and maybe I should have been a little bit more spontaneous, and perhaps I should have felt less worry about times and less pressure from seeing people I knew getting married, and perhaps in hindsight maybe I did get married too young or maybe not.

One thing I would say to people is don’t rush into anything, don’t look at your friends and panic that they are all getting married and like Bridget Jones and the male equivalent you are getting left behind. Don’t panic that you won’t have time to have a child before you get married – at the end of the day does traditionalism really matter?

Enjoy your unmarried life to the fullest before you commit to someone. Unfortunately in my line of work, I see far too many couples splitting up before their wedding days, or splitting up just months after they have been married, and my question to them would be ‘was it too soon’ – were you absolutely certain that that person was the one for you. I suppose none of us ever know for sure – there are many people we have all loved in our lives – who knows for certain whether we choose the right one, but you have to be as certain as you possibly can be.

So learn about each other, learn each others idiosyncrasies, learn each others bad habits (we’ve all got them), learn what upsets your other half, what makes them happy, what annoys them, what they love about you and what they love about themselves – and if you still love them – and it feels right, then maybe now really is the time to get married. Of course if you are 7 years old like my daughter then this doesn’t apply to you!!

Planning your own wedding

Although I am a Wedding Planner and I love nothing more than helping couples with the planning of their wedding and taking away any stresses or strains, I also recognise that many couples enjoy the planning of the wedding themselves. So I’ve put together some hints and tips below which will hopefully help you on your way.

  1. Budget: Before you do anything work out your budget – how much money have you realistically got to spend on your wedding. Always ensure that the budget includes a contingency amount as some things do cost more than you may well have anticipated. Be realistic. I remember once I had to speak to a Father of the Bride as he was having to remortgage his house to pay for his daughter’s wedding – their costs were spiralling out of control as the Bride just wanted the best of everything – I remember even having a conversation with him about champagne – and the fact that really not everyone likes champagne, and actually a cheaper glass of fizz will be enjoyed just as much if not moreso. I also remember the time a Bride came to see me about a venue and getting married, and she asked for my honest opinion – should she spend her hard earned savings on a deposit for a house or on her wedding. Whilst you would probably think as a Wedding Planner I would say the wedding, I didn’t – to me, it is so important to be secure, and much as a wedding binds a couple together and is the most special day of their lives, imagine getting married and then having nowhere to live. So my response was without hesitation to buy the house and save up for the wedding, or have a more low key wedding which can still be as romantic and special but will save the pennies.
  2. Decide the type of wedding: So you know how much money you have to spend, but what type of wedding would you like? Do you want to get married in a church; in a venue; abroad? How elaborate or simple a wedding would you like? Would you like lots of guests to be there or very few? Do you want an intimate affair or more of a party type feel? Would you like it to be formal and traditional, or more informal and relaxed? Make sure you both agree so one of you doesn’t end up feeling resentful. So how do you decide? Talk to each other first and foremost. Then research – view blogs, websites, Pinterest. Talk to your friends especially married friends who may have an opinion on what worked for them and what didn’t.
  3. Split the budget: once you’ve worked out how much in total you have to spend and the type of wedding you would like, consider each of the elements for instance: venue, church fees, registrar fees, photographer, videographer, venue stylist, caterer etc, and even in the early stages without much research, start to split the budget into categories.
  4. Source suppliers: You may well have a good idea of how much you have to spend and what the percentage split of budget is by each element, however, without talking to suppliers and researching prices you won’t be able to know for sure. So start to look for suppliers and ask them for information about their services and pricing. You should get at least three supplier prices for each element of your wedding, so that you know you are getting a good deal. That said, don’t always go for the cheapest – they may well be cheap but there may well be a reason for this. Also, if a supplier is exorbitant in terms of pricing, ask yourself why – do they really offer something completely different or are they taking the proverbial. When you are looking for venues, remember that although these may seem expensive, there are lots of costs that they incur: the set-up and cleaning of the venue, the staff, toilet hire, set-up and take down of the marquee, electrician costs to perform PAT testing, and much more. Don’t always assume that a privately owned venue can match pricing of a village hall as this is most definitely not the case. That said, don’t right off village halls if your budget is lower as these can be made to look amazing. Make sure you ask people about the suppliers you may have chosen. Get recommendations from people. Look on their facebook pages and websites for reviews. Check out how many weddings they have done recently to ascertain their experience. Do negotiate with suppliers over services and pricing – but remember that some suppliers will just have a fixed price and actually they may already have a realistic price in place. If a supplier is good, is offering a lot and has a good price, then don’t try to win a battle over price negotiations as otherwise you may lose out on a great supplier who could really make your day perfect.
  5. Write many a checklist: I write down everything and have schedules for everything, but if you’re doing your own wedding, you should have these too. Make a note of everything that has been agreed with a supplier and ask lots of questions. If something is not clear to you, then there’s a reason for that, so don’t feel silly asking questions. If you are organising your own marquee wedding, consider what each of the other suppliers will need in terms of facilities and make sure the marquee company can accommodate these requirements. Write yourself a schedule for the week before the wedding, day of the wedding and days following the wedding. This should be time slotted with clear tasks that need to be completed. Everyone needs to know how you want your day to run.
  6. Meet deadlines: Don’t forget to provide suppliers with information when they need it – any delays could cause issues for your wedding. Suppliers do not like to leave things to the last minute and often do not like last minute changes. So make a note of all your deadlines and remember to gather all of the information ahead of these times. Deadlines also refer to money – make sure you pay suppliers when you have agreed to pay them – they are well within their rights to not provide any service to you if you do not pay them.
  7. Involve people in your wedding: Planning a wedding can be the most enjoyable but also most stressful experience of your lives, so don’t be afraid to use people to help. Parents, Grandparents, Aunties, Uncles, Sisters, Brothers, Friends and paid professionals are all invariably there to help – so if they are offering their help, don’t be too proud to accept this. That said, if people become overbearing in their offer of help, take them to one side and explain how you would like their support – be kind to them as they have best intentions and want the best for you, but sometimes they just don’t see that they are interfering a little too much. On your day, give people responsibilities – ask people to do things for you, whether this be to look after your bouquet, seat people for the service, hand out orders of service, or simply take you to the toilet (I’m sorry but someone usually has to accompany the Bride).
  8. Take time out to enjoy other things besides your wedding: Sometimes we get so focused on one thing we are doing, it becomes all encompassing and we forget about other things we enjoy to do, other people or even the relationship which has led to your wedding. Don’t forget to still spend time with other people and enjoy yourself outside of your wedding planning, and when you go out don’t always discuss your wedding – after all, if you forget everything or everyone else what will you feel like once your wedding is over.
  9. On the day itself – Enjoy yourself. Don’t worry about things that might go wrong, and if things do go wrong, don’t let it bother you – at the end of the day you are having a wedding to get married, and really that’s all that matters – all the other things are just the icing on the cake. Take time with your partner to stand back and watch other people enjoying themselves on your day as this time is precious. Have a drink but please don’t drink so much that you don’t remember your day – if you’ve spent all that money, spent so many hours making sure everything is perfect, all to have too many drinks so that you become so drunk you don’t know what’s going on, that is a real crying shame.
  10. After your day – remember to thank people – your guests, your suppliers. They have worked so hard to make your day perfect or they have bought you such lovely gifts and cards, or travelled a long way to spend your day with you, now all they really want is a ‘thank you’. Also, remember to take anything back that you have hired so you do not get charged, and if you haven’t already paid your suppliers (which really you should have done by now), then make sure they get paid.
  11. Finally, remember that there are wedding planners out there that can help you with all of this. They are trained professionals who know all the questions to ask, they know when things need to be done, and they know how to co-ordinate suppliers. So even if you just ask them to be there on the day for you to manage your wedding and make sure it runs exactly as you have planned, it will be money well spent. For more information on my services, contact me on julie@weddingsbyjulie.co.uk.

My guide for parents of engaged couples

Your daughter or son is now engaged, how do you feel about that? Are you happy with the person that they have chosen to spend the rest of their lives with? Do you have a good relationship with their other half? Do you support their marriage? Will you be getting involved in the wedding planning? Will you be supporting them with a financial contribution? So many questions and just a little bit of advice…

  1. The other half…. regardless of whether you like or do not like the chosen partner for your son or daughter, that person has been chosen for a reason, and your son or daughter love them and want to spend the rest of their lives with them. So even if you may not have chosen that person yourself, remember it is not your choice and if you want to support your grown child, then you need to support their decision. Imagine, if you didn’t maintain your relationship with your son or daughter, you didn’t see your grandchildren grow up..how would you feel? And that could happen if you do not support them and their chosen life partner. As a Mum I know I’m going to find it difficult to let go and I know noone ever will probably be good enough for my son or daughter, but that said, I would respect their decision and as long as they are happy in the future, then that would make me happy. I would try to build a relationship with their partners so that I could understand what my children have seen in them to fall in love and hope that I would appreciate them for who they are.
  2. Getting involved….this depends entirely on your relationship with your son or daughter and perhaps their other half. Some couple’s like to have their parents involved, others I watch and you can see them visibly switch off every time their parents open their mouths. I suppose sometimes though it depends how this is done. Couples do not like to be patronised, after all they are grown adults – old enough to get married and so old enough to make decisions on what will be one of the best days of their lives. So I would suggest talking to your daughter or son, and asking them how they would like you to be involved. Don’t become too overbearing as they will only push you away.
  3. The financials…this is always a difficult conversation to have, and whilst traditionally the Bride’s parents paid for the wedding, this is invariably no longer the case. In the weddings that I have seen just this year, some were paid for by the Bride’s parents, others were paid for by both the Bride and Groom’s parents, others were paid for by the Bride and Groom, or a combination of all, sometimes even a Grandparent, Sister, Aunty or Uncle has contributed. The important thing is to have that conversation early on in the planning – work out a budget with an allocated contingency amount, and stick to it. If you can’t afford to contribute money, you can instead contribute your time and support, these will still be appreciated. Be careful not to dictate to the couple what they need to spend your money on, after all if you have offered to contribute then you should allow a degree of flexibility in what that money is spent on.
  4. Inviting guests….some parents expect to invite people to their children’s wedding, others are happy to let the couple decide but then are disappointed when one of their friend’s or family are not invited. Remember again, it really should be the couple’s choice, but if you are adamant that someone should be invited, broach this carefully with the couple and ensure they are happy with this decision. Couple’s do not like to invite people who haven’t bothered with them for years or haven’t been a part of their lives, even if they are friends with their parents.
  5. Enjoy their day…this may sound obvious, but the amount of times I find myself telling parents in the early stages of planning not to worry, that I will ensure the day is perfect, that they don’t need to clock watch, that they don’t need to remind the suppliers what they should be doing, and instead they should trust that we have everything under control, that we know what we are doing and that they should relax and enjoy their son or daughter’s day – cherishing every moment so that it can be remembered for a lifetime. It’s all true, this day should be the most special day of your child’s grown up life, and that moment should be shared with parents so that you can wish your child well in their future with their chosen partner, and remind them that you will always still be there for them, unconditionally.

2016 Wedding Season

I’m sorry I have not written my blog for a few months, I’ve just been so busy in the midst of the 2016 wedding season. It has been a fantastic year of weddings and I have loved every minute (well almost!).

I am now fortunate to work as the exclusive Wedding Planner at three beautiful venues in the North Lincolnshire / Lincolnshire area: Ealand Gate, in Ealand; Walcot Hall, in Alkborough; and Saxby Hall, in Saxby All Saints.

The feedback from this years weddings has been absolutely incredible and it’s truly amazing to know that my team and I, and our preferred suppliers have been instrumental in making so many wedding days so perfect.

After four years in business I have found some excellent suppliers and what impresses me most is the fact that we all work so well as ‘one team’. We may all run our own separate businesses but ultimately we all have the same goal – to exceed a couple’s expectations.

From the bottom of my heart, I would like to wish each and every one of my couple’s all the very best for their future together – and whilst you will most certainly have your ups and downs in the relationship, I hope that your love will grow stronger as each day passes and that you can see beyond any small arguments that are likely to happen on the journey of love. Enjoy your adventures in life together, smile and laugh often and care for each other always.

Lots of love x