When it comes to planning a wedding, the beauty and wonder of the actual wedding day can be swallowed up by the rise in stress levels in the lead up to the event. Hamilton marriage celebrant and wedding planner Hannah Porter loves every aspect of weddings and shares some of her insights with INSPO Fitness Journal.

“As a little girl, I dreamed of my wedding day. Whenever I played dress-ups I was always a bride. So it was only natural I ended up in the wedding industry.

“I became a wedding planner in 2012, starting up my business Alare, and then became a registered celebrant in 2015. I love being involved in weddings, seeing all the ideas and planning come together and the magic that happens on the day, the smiles, the tears and the love.

I meet a lot of couples getting married, and many are recently engaged and just starting to plan. It’s so exciting, and often a day they’ve been thinking about for a while. It is so easy to get overwhelmed – with pinterest, Instagram, styled shoots featured on blogs, and the dreaded FOMO (fear of missing out), it can get too much too quickly!

It’s a big deal, and a big day. No matter whether you decide to have an intimate ceremony in your back garden with just your kids, or the big white wedding with 200 of your nearest and dearest, it takes time and effort to pull it all together, and you want it to be perfect.

To avoid getting overwhelmed, start with the following five things:
• Guest List
• Budget
• Date
• Theme
• Top Three

I always suggest to couples that they start with the Top Three. Work together to decide what the three things are that you and your partner desperately care about, and try not to stress about the rest.

The Top Three will be different for every couple. For some people the photography is the most import, others will want five-star food. Maybe an unlimited bar tab is incredibly important to you, or live music, or the dream dress. Only you and your partner can decide what your Top Three are, but figuring those out early on is key to making the planning process less stressful.

Why? Because once you have settled on those three things, that helps you determine where your budget goes, and where you’re going to look to save some cash. The items that don’t make your Top Three are the ones where you’re going to look for more budget conscious ways to achieve your ideal look and feel.

The other details that you need to figure out before you can start browsing websites, making phone calls and visiting venues are: guest list, budget, date and theme.
Those four things will determine everything else. There’s no point in visiting a cosy homestead if you’re planning 150 guests. There’s no point in checking out a top of the line wedding venue If you are hoping to get married for under $5000. There’s no point in visiting an inner city urban venue if you’ve got your heart set on the beach. And there’s no point in visiting anywhere if you have no idea when you want to get married.

So figure those things out first. Write them down, and refer back to them during the planning process. When you find beautiful things online that you MUST have on your big day, go back to the theme, the budget and the Top Three and work out if it’s worth it.

Getting married in the Waikato, you’re spoilt for choice. Just a quick nosey at online directories like Wed in Waikato (wedinwaikato.com) will bring up a number of talented suppliers to choose from. Being involved in groups like this have taught me one very important thing … in the Waikato, we’ve got it all.

We have rustic venues like Te Miro Woolshed and Rosenvale, funky urban venues like The Atrium at Wintec House, and traditional options like Woodside Estate and Vilagrad Winery. They range in size, style, price and BYO options (hence why that Top Three, guest list and budget are so important). Without a doubt, there will be something that is perfect for you.

We’ve got award winning makeup artists, Glitter Squad accredited celebrants, all the latest on-trend décor and hire items, amazing musicians, epic photographers and some of the best food you’ve tasted. There is no need to go far and wide to find the best of the best, it’s all right here in our region.

For many people I meet, this is the first time they’ve gotten married, and knowing where to start and who to book is a hard decision.

When it comes to your vendors, go with your gut. Your celebrant will be up there with you conducting the most important part of your wedding day. Your photographer will spend all day with you, and your hair stylist and makeup artist all morning. You have to like these people and want to spend time with them.

Everyone you book has an important role to play in making your day just the way you want it, so pick people you like, and who’s work you like. The most important thing to remember is … that there are no rules. To legally get married you’ve got a couple of things you have to include in your ceremony. That’s it. The rest of it is all about you.

So whether you want a BBQ or a Food Truck or a three course plated meal; whether you want real flowers or silk flowers or felt flowers; whether you want cake or cupcakes or donuts; whether you want a DJ or live band or Spotify; whether you want inside or outside or Tipis – the choice is yours. It’s your day and you can do it your way.

If the idea of organising your big day still feels overwhelming, feel free to download my free 12 month planning checklist from alare.co.nz but above all remember that your wedding day is exactly that – it’s yours. Yours to personalise in the way the best reflects your personality and dreams.

Photos this page: Brooke Baker, Photo Taker, Magic Maker (www.brookephotomagic.com)