Planning my friends £20k wedding

When my friend Hope called me one day to ask if I would be her chief bridesmaid (maid of honour) for her wedding, I was so overjoyed. I've always been a bridesmaid or a guest at a wedding but never a maid of honour! With the title comes a lot of responsibilities and I wanted to make sure my friends had an amazing journey and day. My biggest challenge was staying cool and collective so I don't turn out to be a maidizilla (if that's even a thing).

Fast forward to a few months in and they are getting into the thick of wedding planning but they had no wedding planner - rightly so because they don’t come cheap. Here comes Ruth as the maid of honour, I offered my services to be their wedding planner. At the moment, it was a no-brainer because I'm a project manager by profession so planning is all I know (well not all, but most) and in addition to that, I’ve always enjoyed planning events.

My thinking was along the lines of... I plan for the delivery of successful projects every day and I always deliver so how different could it be from planning a wedding, right?! Or well, at least that’s what I thought. A wedding is a beast of its own I tell you. Stakeholder management and expectation is taken to a whole new level because you're dealing with a whole village, and then some.

Here are some of my thoughts for brides/friends/family or anyone that is or will be planning a wedding.

Lessons learned along the planning journey

  • Have Plan A and B, and for every letter of the alphabet. Things can and will always go wrong. Suppliers let you down, family wants to intervene so it’s always a great idea to have a backup plan.

  • BUDGET. Have one and try to stick to it as much as possible. Before you know it, costs will start creeping up, so you need to plan for everything and have a contingency pot. For this wedding, my friends went £5K overbudget.

  • HOLD A KICK OFF MEETING with all those involved in planning the wedding. Such a technical project term but this is so important to set precedents. It is paramount to make roles and responsibilities clear from the get-go because more often that not, I had to deal and manage expectations of family members. This is expected especially if you are African because its everyone's wedding but I found this a good way to manage expectation.

  • COMMUNICATION between the couple must be clear. When we would meet up and plan for the wedding the bride and groom had very different ideas. At the end of the day, it is both their weddings and as a couple it’s important to recognise each other’s thoughts, suggestions and feelings and meet in the middle. Thankfully, this was a painless process.

  • DON’T MAKE DECISIONS WHEN YOU ARE ANGRY. This is when you start compromising, so make sure you take the time to think it through. It’s important to know that if you have conflicting thoughts, it’s okay to think it over and agree at a later date.

  • VENUE. Before you even think about starting the preparations make sure you have a venue, a date and have paid a deposit.

  • STATE YOUR MUST HAVES. Traditionally the wedding is the brides, I categorically do not agree. I suggest you sit down at the beginning of the journey and say what you want at your wedding. Having this list will help when making decisions and taking your partners' feelings into consideration.

  • DETAILS. Don’t just plan for the big aspects of the wedding, it is important to take time for those intricate details, that’s how you personalise your big day.

  • COUNSELLING. I’m not married and so I will just leave this point here but what I will say is after watching my friends go to church counselling during the wedding planning phase, I definitely will be doing the same.

Anyways, here are some memories we created along the way.

On the day

No matter how much you plan, things are guaranteed to always go wrong. The saying goes every best laid plan is due to fail.

IT RAINED!!! Like a literal storm in August, so we couldn’t go to the planned venue for pictures because I was not about to compromise the bride’s make-up or mine.

My back up plan included two options – take the pictures at the church or in the reception hall before entry of guests. I mean, it was a plan, but the pictures wouldn’t have come out as great as I would want them, for the couple of course.

Luckily, and I say luckily because if this wasn’t available, we would have waited till the rain stopped before taking those pictures at the designated gardens. The banquet hall they hired had other separate functions room, so we were able to use one of the rooms for the pictures – definitely better than taking them in the rain, in a church hall or reception area (because we had the whole night to create memories in that room).

Would I do it again?

A million time yes. I was slightly scared at the beginning because like anything, working with friends and/or family can cause ripple in the friendship but if anything, I think this experience brought us all closer.

If anyone was to ask me what was the hardest/challenging thing about this experience. I would say it was managing Hope's veil!

This post is dedicated to my beautiful friends Anthony and Hope Adagha as they celebrate their one-year wedding anniversary (today). Join me in celebrating them and to wishing them a prosperous and happy marriage!

R x

#weddingplanner #weddingideas #weddinginspiration #africanbride #africanwedding #weddingcoordinator #blackcouple #blackmarriage

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