Plan for your big day

AS WE approach the festive season with its warm, beautiful weather, many couples will be tying the knot.

Although the time leading up to your wedding should be about looking forward to the festivities, most couples find themselves under pressure to organise the perfect wedding.

"It's never too early to start planning," says wedding planner and Precious Celebrations owner Precious Tumisho Thamaga.

"You should ideally start planning and making decisions at least a year before the big day. The earlier the better," she adds.

Thamaga says couples often wait until the last minute before approaching her.

"I think the reason is that they realise closer to the big day how much planning goes into a wedding and that is when they look into enlisting a professional," she says.

Sex Tips 4 Girls actress Mbali Maphumulo, who recently got married in a traditional affair to former Generations and now Inkaba actor Dumisani Mbebe, says her white wedding and the planning around it will be different.

"For my traditional wedding my family and I did most of the planning. You may be the one getting married but it is not only about you - it's about the family. You have to accommodate everyone to make them happy," she says.

Maphumulo says she will certainly get a wedding planner for her white wedding.

The danger, Thamaga says, of planning late is that you can easily forget important things.

She says because not everyone can afford a wedding planner, it is important to keep a check list.

"It's a good tool to make sure you don't leave out important items that may ruin your day," she says.

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Checklist of all the things to do

HERE are some of the key items that should feature in your checklist:

BUDGET - Most couples now pay for their own wedding and don't openly discuss the "budget".

Thamaga says it's important to determine how much you have or how much you have to save to enable you to know how much you can spend and can afford.

If you want a wedding for between 30 and 60 guests you can pull it off with about R60 000.

VENUE - Book and secure your wedding venue early and make sure it is suitable and accessible for family and guests.

GUEST LIST - Decide on the number of guests and draw up a list as early as possible.

PHOTOGRAPHER - Thamaga maintains good and popular photographers are booked way in advance.

"I always tell my clients that their wedding photographs are the only tangible memories that they will ever have and I advise them to book a reputable, passionate and professional photographer whose portfolio they have seen," Precious says.

THE DRESS AND SUIT - Determine your style by looking through bridal magazines and get an idea of the sort of dresses and suits you like.

Designer Ephraim Molingoana says most of his clients are going for couture dresses and have done away with the traditional white dress.

"People are opting for more chiffon, one-shoulder dresses in cream," he says.

He says fortunately most of his clients come way in advance for their creations, but there are those who come late.

"Make appointments with bridal boutiques for fittings and suit designers at least eight months before, to allow enough time to place your order for your outfit to be tailored to perfection," Precious says.

WEDDING CAKE - The focal point of any wedding reception is a cake that looks amazing and tastes good.

Choose one, whether it's a simple tiered classic cake or a more traditional stacked cake, at least six months in advance.

BOOK SUPPLIERS - These include the pastor, florist, décor designer, sound and lighting, confectionery, transport and entertainment.

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