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The internet is full of links to articles offering advice on your wedding planning timeline and to do lists, which I usually find aren't particularly helpful or sensible in approach.

In order to feel in control of the process I am aware that many people like to assign due dates to jobs and different stages of their planning - but what is most important is not the timings but the order in which you tackle each element.

I am consistently surprised at how many people contact me along the planning journey looking for support, having secured some suppliers, but without first setting time aside to breakdown and itemise their overall budget or proposed spending limit. It doesn't matter what level your wedding is, I would always recommend tackling this first and foremost. I understand it's hard to guesstimate costs without experience, but far too often I see clients who decide to add up as they go along with quotes and proposals, quickly spiralling out of control and having to pull back on areas due to financial commitments already made.

A budget breakdown isn't set in stone, it should be a tool to brief suppliers, adjust expectations and track overages or savings as you progress. Everything can be seen in context, with full visibility on where plans may need to be adjusted along the way. I never provide "example" budgets or "average spend" advice to those who enquire about my services. Why? It's unrealistic and unhelpful. Each client, spend and set of expectations or priorities is different. I of course advise on unavoidable, reasonable and expected costs, but it's always in relation to your personal project.

Once you have your draft budget sectioned and planned out properly (preferably inclusive of all elements with detail), then my advice is always to start with your largest costs with the most impact - normally that is a venue or marquee, and your catering and drinks. Having a guide on spend here before attending site visits and tastings is extremely helpful, and once you have proposals and quotes in you can see it in context with the rest of your wedding spend.

Following on from this is design planning. It is absolutely the most important part of the planning process once the foundations have been laid. A full document outlining and detailing the overall vision, with logistics, imagery and a full brief alongside your updated budget is absolutely essential before gathering quotes from other suppliers. It allows you to feel in control, with a strong idea of the aesthetic, mood and workable levels of spend for each se