The Planning Conundrum: Advice and a voice of experience from a beloved EYiLove bride

As far as planning going, the wedding has to top the list as the pinnacle of all ultimate decision-making stress fests… Not ideal, but here, Jen McGraw, dream EYiLove bride who married her beau David in 2016 in a ridiculously gorgeous Glasgow Uni Chapel/Oran Mor bonanza, recalls her planning process, from saying yes through to saying I do and all items in between, giving all brides to be some seriously sound advice. 

“David and I met through a friend of my brother’s when I tagged along to a boys night – I was just 15 and David 16. A couple of weeks later (on Valentines’ Day of all days!) there was a massive party that we both found ourselves at and that was it! 11 years later here we are!”

“It’s funny, the proposal day is all a bit of a blur in my head and I can’t fully remember if I was expecting it or not. I finished my last ever uni exams on the Friday then we were at a music festival in Glasgow Saturday and Sunday. I remember in my last few days studying in the library, talking to my friend, saying that David had suggested going somewhere nice for lunch on the Monday as it was a bank holiday. I remember joking that maybe he was going to propose as he rarely planned things like this! I don’t think I really ever believed it though.

Anyway on the Monday, we went for a walk and stopped for a seat on our favourite bench in Kelvingrove Park when David produced this large wrapped box which contained music speakers playing all our favourite songs; a mini bottle of Moet and two glasses and instructions to me – one of which was ‘Live Happily Ever After’ – a bit soppy but very lovely!”

Still reeling from this super-sweet proposal, Jen admits that the first few days of her engagement felt a little fraught. Most brides struggle with those first steps, wondering where to begin with such a monumental planning task, especially when every person you meet wants to know details as soon as the ring is on your finger! 

“I remember the first few days being overwhelming – for both of us! We were obviously thrilled to be engaged and although David obviously knew it was coming but I don’t think he fully expected everyone to demand to know ‘When are you getting married?!?!’ One thing at a time! 

I didn’t really know where to start so we just took some time to enjoy the celebrations and that cloud nine feeling of being engaged for a good few weeks. We planned an engagement party and focused on that for a while. Me being me, I started making a thousand lists but it soon became clear that a venue was the key one to pin down first.” 

Jen suggests that for her, it was became easier to locate her dream venue once the couple had decided on a ‘theme’ for their celebrations. With so many incredible locations on offer, ranging in style from rustic barns to awe-inspiring churches, blank industrial spaces to glamorous hotels, it’s no wonder couples find this decision one of the biggest and the trickiest in their planning journeys. However, it can be the most important decision, setting the tone for the rest of the celebrations.

“We mainly looked at venues online without viewing them and we seemed to know exactly what we didn’t want but struggled with what we did! Eventually it came to us that getting married in the city centre of Glasgow, or even the west end, would be perfect for us. It’s our favourite place, perfect for guests and just felt right! So the next weekend we viewed and booked Oran Mor. This felt like a massive task ticked off so we had another wee break for a few weeks.” 

It may sound cliche, however Jen advocates for that one tool that appears to transform even the most chaotic of couples into a dream organisational duo: the spreadsheet. Involving your groom in these key decisions can also play a huge part in minimising stress levels.

“Because of the length of our engagement we were lucky because the stress levels were generally kept quite low. We would tick off a task from the spreadsheet every few weeks without ever having an overwhelming task of needing stuff done quickly. Generally the way it would go is I would spend hours doing the research – compile a short list of say 5 videographers and present them to David in a short, snappy 5 minute presentation and he would help decide. His attention span was generally at its limit after this so this was the best way to get things done.It definitely can get overwhelming at times but the key is not to look at the entire list of everything you need to do – instead pick one task – tick it off, then pick another. It always does all come together in the end! ” 

A stellar cast of suppliers, in which we were incredibly proud to feature, also helped to alleviate any stresses in the run up to the big day. 

“I had seen photographers Craig & Eva Sanders online from a couple of weddings and knew I wanted them for ours. All their photos are just so light and fresh and I had a slight concern of Oran Mor being quite dark so thought they’d be just the people. Then, about 15 months before the wedding I went to a wedding show with some tasks in mind; cake,band and stationery. It wasn’t quite the triumph I had hoped for but the one saving grace was the lovely couple I met at one of the stalls who changed our wedding forever (too dramatic?) – Jack and Lorna.

Two of the loveliest people I’ve ever met, a brilliant team and definitely the nicest wedding stationery I’ve seen. And so began the process of designing all our stationery and my borderline unhealthy obsession with gold foil. From the save the dates in navy and gold; to the invitations themselves on marble card with navy and gold accents we were just so thrilled with it all. This again just helped confirm our vision – the navy went well with the suits; the bridesmaid dresses in a metallic fabric went with the foil. The flowers were my mum’s priority and she just wanted there to be flowers everywhere – something I definitely wasn’t going to argue with!” 

After months of planning and preparations, the big day itself can seem to fly by, with so much happening and so many details being brought together. Remembering her wedding, Jen’s favourite moments were those stolen with new husband David. 

“The day itself went, surprisingly, smoothly but I genuinely don’t think I would have cared if there were any wee surprises – you really are just so happy and relaxed that nothing else matters. I’m trying to pick a favourite part of the day and I think it may have been when we went to get our photos taken. As it was raining we went to the indoor part of Glasgow Botanic Gardens and got some really stunning photos – it was quite surreal as everyone else there was in massive waterproof jackets and we swanned in in our finery we had a few funny looks! Also it’s nice to get away from it all for a wee half hour!”

“I don’t think there’s anything I would have changed. It seems funny to say but I wouldn’t necessarily want to do it all over again. It was an amazing day, but it did all go to plan and we had a ball and that’s almost a relief after so many months of planning. I’m happy to look back on the photos and memories. We also have all the EYI prints from the day hanging in our flat which look amazing and are such a lovely reminder of a perfect day.”

So, after such gloriously stylish celebrations and months of planning momentum, what would be the one piece of advice Jen would offer to brides at the beginning of their planning journey?

“I think the main thing to do when you first get engaged is try to have a vision of what you want your wedding to look like in your mind. What kind of vibes are you looking for? Sometimes the venue is the first thing to tackle for this – but it depends on what is important to you as a couple.”

We’d love to say a huge thank you to Jen McGraw for agreeing to feature in this blog and giving us such an amazing insight into her planning experience. As a hugely personal process, we are so grateful that she has shared these utter gems of wisdom with us (and you of course!) and wish the happy couple (and their precious little one on the way) every happiness! 


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