How to plan a wedding- without the stress!
Planning a wedding is a once in a lifetime, exciting experience however it can be quite stressful at times! Who to invite? How long should the drinks reception be? Who will organise my suppliers on the day? Why can’t my wedding look like those I’ve saved on Pinterest?! So many questions!
Here are some tips to help you smooth out some of the important factors of the day!
Picking a Venue
You’re engaged! You’re going to find the venue of your dreams with the one you love! What could be more perfect?! Surprisingly, this can quickly turn from exciting viewings with champagne to a mindboggle of figures, decisions and the unknown!
If you have always had your heart set on a particular venue, book it quick! Dates go fast, particularly weekends in the summer months! If your ideal date is booked, you might have to compromise-maybe your wedding day could be on a Thursday instead of a Saturday or maybe you’ll have to have your big day in another month (on the plus side-this can be cheaper!) Try to be flexible with dates as this will enable you to have more choice.
If you’re not sure about what venue you’d like, try to narrow down the style of wedding you’d like. If you are aiming for a relaxed, DIY style wedding, then maybe a marquee or geodome would be up your street. If you want grandeur, look at castles and stately homes. If you want family orientated and close to home, look at your local hotels. If you’re not sure-look at all the options! You definitely find ‘the one’ when you walk into it and know it’s made for you!
Before you book, ask all the questions you can. What is the price per head? Are there corkage charges? What is included in the price? Do you have a wedding co-ordinator on the day? No question is silly and make sure you are totally happy with the package you are getting.
Who to invite?
Ah, the question which can cause sleepless nights, parental involvement and drama! Many people tell you to invite only who you want there, but in reality, it’s not as simple as that! Your guest list will ultimately be controlled by the size of the venue, the price per head and then the guests you would like.
If your parents are helping with the cost, it is polite to ask for their advice (and yes-you might have to invite great auntie second removed on your dads side!) but try to have a relaxed conversation about the numbers and what is feasible and affordable. Decide whether you’re having an intimate wedding or whether you are having a larger number. We have found that on average, there are around 80-100 guests in the day and another 40 for the evening reception but this is totally up to you! Decide early whether you are in inviting children and plus ones-have your rule and stick to it! It saves for awkward conversations later!
If there’s the possibility that people get offended because they’re not invited or are only invited to the evening reception, we believe the best thing to do is to talk to them. Explain your reasons but emphasise how much you love them and more often than not, they appreciate the explanation and will be happy for you!
Weddings can be expensive. By the time you’ve added up the meal, the flowers, the photographer etc, you may be surprised by the total. Budget effectively but also don’t let a couple of hundred pounds worry you.
A prime example-the photographer you want is quite pricey but he seems lovely, is on your wavelength, has amazing portfolios, great reviews and does the job full time. You come across another photographer who is also lovely and he is £300 cheaper. He doesn’t have as many reviews as he works as a photographer part time alongside another job and doesn’t have a large portfolio. Who do you pick? For £300 extra, we certainly recommend the more expensive photographer. Looking back on your wedding day is something you will do for the rest of your lives and you want a fantastic documentation of this. You do not want to be thinking, ‘I love our pictures but I wonder what if…’ Cut the budget somewhere else which isn’t as important to you or don’t buy each other birthday presents for the year before your wedding.
Make savings where you can and in the lead up to your wedding, be a little more careful with money. Also think-when are you going to have a day where all of your friends and family and all of your partner’s friends and family are together in one place enjoying a happy celebration? Probably never again. Weddings can be expensive but they are SO WORTH IT.
There’s a lot of suppliers to consider for your special day! Everything from photographers to cake makers to bands to florists to singers – the choices are never ending! Write a list of what is important to you. Some couples find that style is important so will spend much of their budget on this whereas other couples find entertainment a priority-it depends on your taste.
Attend wedding fairs – not only is it a fun day out, these have a range of suppliers of all shapes and sizes! It is important to connect with the supplier-if they’re on your wavelength and seem genuine, nice people, then you’re on to a winner! Before booking them, check their reviews which are often on their facebook page, this way you can see what real people have said about their services. Check their portfolio-for photographers and florists, see the range of styles they cater for, for entertainment, make sure you watch a large range of videos. It is easy for the supplier to show you a snapshot of their services as they will choose their best examples, so make sure you delve deeper than that.
If you’re ensure, you can ask your venue for advice. They will often have preferred suppliers and they will have seen weddings of all shapes and sizes so can advise you on what works best.
Friends and family will also try to help and offer advice which is great, but don’t book anything without doing your research!
High-quality suppliers will be excited for you, willing to chat, listen to your ideas, offer advice and above all, be professional.
Picking The dress
This is the moment that every girl has waited for…searching for THE dress! It is exciting and a wonderful experience but it can also be quite overwhelming.
Think about who you are going to take to try on dresses with you. We recommend taking a minimal amount of people-too any opinions can often make the decision hard and you’ll question yourself.
Go for the dress that gives you shivers, that make you feel comfortable and that makes you feel wonderful! Remember to set aside money for alterations – these can make a HUGE difference in the fitting of your dress!
Don’t forget shoes!
If you’re having a killer pair or heels, have a pair of flats as a back up. A wedding is a long day and painful feet are the last thing you want. Make sure you take your shoes when you have dress alterations-the length of your dress and size of your heels is more important than you know!
People suck at replying to things. Chase them-you need to know if they’re coming!
People doing you favours
It is lovely when your cousin offers to take photos your wedding for you for free as he is currently studying Photography at University or when your friend offers their band to play. However-be aware what you get may not be what you want. Professionals are professionals for a reason-they have a wealth of experience and knowledge and the will provide a service for you of a high standard. Your cousin, even with all the best intentions, will not realise how difficult it is to rally wedding guests for a photo or they may miss a magical moment between you and your dad while they are eating their dinner. The band your friend plays in only knows punk styles songs which are not quite to your taste. So even though it may be tempting to take up peoples offers of favours to save money, be very wary. It is much easier to say, ‘Thank you, but I want you to enjoy the day as a guest’, than to have regrets. If you do like your friends/cousins style and you don’t mind their band playing/ their photography, make sure you talk through what you want and set boundaries. If your cousin is being your photographer, then maybe he shouldn’t be taking advantage of the free bar. Nothing will stress you out more than watching him get drunk when he’s supposed to be taking your pictures but you can’t get angry at him because he’s doing it for free. Argh! It’s all about balance.
If you are a soft touch (most of us are when it comes to things like this), find a compromise.
‘I would love you to enjoy the day as a guest however I love your photography work too. Could you please take our formal group pictures but we will have a photographer to take photos throughout the day so you can enjoy yourself’. Or how about, ‘I love your band but your singing is the most important thing to me. Could you please sing me down the aisle instead?’
Win – they are not offended. Win – the professionals do the work. Win win.
Now you have chosen your suppliers, arrange meetings or phone calls with them to discuss your wedding day. Explain the things you want, your preferences and ideas but also take on their advice-they are the professionals and they will probably mention things you may not have considered. Suppliers are happy to talk to you often in the lead up to your special day-they understand how important it is for you!
Consider who will be coordinating everyone on the day-find out whether your venue will provide a coordinator. If you do not have one, think about having a toastmaster or hiring a wedding planner for the day. They will sort timings, hiccups and suppliers and you can relax and enjoy the day! DO NOT rely on bridesmaids or groomsmen-they do not have the experience and will want to enjoy the day with you.
We live in England and unfortunately English weather is not predictable. You might visualise an August wedding outside but the heavens may open and ruin your dream. Keep this in mind from the start and plan alternatives you are happy with in case the weather is bad. On the plus side, getting married when it’s rainy is considered good luck and your wedding pictures will be banging because colour comes out better when it’s overcast.
List, lists, lists
Some brides love to make colour coordinated excel spreadsheets with all the information on for the day. That’s great if you enjoy doing that! If you don’t have the time, just give a simple list of all the suppliers details to your wedding coordinator. Have a meeting with the coordinator (whether this is the venue’s or is a toastmaster) to discuss timings. They will keep track of it all and they will ensure everything goes smoothly on the day but give them a hand by giving them essential info.
Trials are important. Make sure you have a hair and make-up trail before your big day. These often come as part of their wedding package. Do not feel bad for not liking the style, trying something different or organising another trial. It is YOUR day and you want to feel the best you possibly can! Quite often, brides choose their local hairdresser to do their wedding hair which is fine, but it is essential to have a trial with them. Sometimes, they are not experienced in wedding hairstyles and you’ll find the curls dropping out after a few hours. If that is the case, do not feel embarrassed to get someone else to do your hair-someone who specialises in wedding hair styles. Your local hairdresser will understand and will still want to hear about your big day the next time you go for a cut!
If you DIY-ing it and you’re not sure on timings, here’s a rough guide to help!
Make sure guests arrive half an hour before your ceremony.
Ceremony – 30 to 45 minutes
Drinks reception – 1 ½ to 2 hours. In this time you will have drinks, photos, canapés and welcome your guests.
Wedding Breakfast – 2 -2 ½ hours depending on how many courses you are having. This is based on a standard 3 course menu.
Speeches – talk to those doing speeches and ask them roughly how long they’ll be. Speeches usually take around 30 minutes. Any longer can be a bit of a drag so chat to those doing speeches to find out!
After dinner coffee and drinks – if your venue needs to turn around the room, find out how long this will take. An hour is the maximum time we suggest for this.
Evening reception – evening guests to arrive and then let the band or DJ play!
Consider anything that may impact on timings and make sure your venue is aware, for example, our Singing Waiter show lasts for 30 minutes after the main course has been cleared. It is important for the kitchen to know so they don’t prepare desserts too early! No one wants a melted cheesecake!
The wedding morning flies by! Get up early, eat a good breakfast and plan to be ready an hour before you need to be. Being late or rushing to get ready is unnecessary stress you don’t want. Prepare for your dad to randomly sob with happiness because you look so beautiful and allow time for this-these special moments will be with you for ever! Tell everyone else to be ready an hour early too-the last thing you want is for a bridesmaid to be having her hair done ten minutes before you need to leave!
Note – getting in your wedding dress takes AGES- especially when your mum is crying happy tears and is trying to do up all the buttons while she’s shaking with excitement.
This process takes a long time!
It is the day, the one you’ve been dreaming of!
Pass any worries or stresses to the wedding coordinator/ toastmaster/ planner. It is their job to sort everything out today!
If your hair falls out, laugh about it and get a friend to help pin it back in. If your dress rips, get your nan to sew it up whilst dancing. If the best man is too drunk and passed out, prop him in the corner with a homemade dunce hat on. Take pictures.
All the professionals should be running like clockwork but there will be the odd hiccup for you. Embrace and enjoy-when you look back, these will be the moments that made your day all the more special and unique! Most importantly, you have now married your love and have the rest of forever together!
Photos by Latzo photography