Top tips for planning the perfect wedding
PUBLISHED: 15:05 03 June 2015 | UPDATED: 15:08 03 June 2015
A must read for every bride and groom… Bonnie May’s top tips for planning that perfect wedding
I do, I do, I do, I do, I do… (you need to sing this in your head!). You have had years to think about it, night after night to dream about it… and then all these thoughts turn into reality once Prince, or Princess Charming, pops the question!
The overwhelming excitement, the flashing images in your head: colours, dresses, marquee or venue, 150 guests or 15. All this needs to be captured and turned into reality. To some of us this will all come naturally but to others it will feel terrifying. Either way, there are some really good ways to ensure that you keep your wits about you, and keep the ‘bride, or groomzilla’ firmly locked away with the key tossed aside!
Start with a list
There are probably 1,000 questions running through your head, and a desire to get everything sorted yesterday. This, however, is simply not the case. Depending on how far in advance you set the date, you do have time, if you plan wisely. You need to be thinking at all times about the pennies adding up, and for some you are in a chicken and egg situation between knowing what you have to spend and learning about what things cost (which is always a surprise!).
Your journey, and no matter what formalities you choose, starts with a date, then an invitation… and ends with a ‘thank you’ note. What packs out the middle takes on a different scope for every occasion. Become the queen or king of lists, and double check yours with one that you find online to ensure that no stone is left unturned.
This list is an order of play and a time-line. We are all different, but try to set your organising plans out in a sensible fashion against a timetable that you can meet. Set targets that you can achieve, exceed your own goals and expectations, rather than fail at the first hurdle.
It is really important that you enjoy the journey as much as the day. You also need to choose your wedding buddies carefully at this point. Remember it’s your day… no overruling mates trying to live their day through you are required! That’s a recipe for disaster.
When and where…
Well, for fear of sounding unhelpful, the choices are endless. This decision however is the absolute framework for your day; it sets your scene, determines guest numbers and is one of the biggest spends out of the budget. Do you hunt for a venue on home turf, or do you cast the net far and wide? Family, friends, practicality and cost will all have a bearing on this. Traditional houses are very beautiful and form a stunning backdrop on your special day, but sometimes have restrictions on what you are able to do, and very often have a curfew on timings. However, in many cases, they offer packages which are great for those who find planning the whole day from scratch a little daunting.
This also can help with budgeting as from the outset a clear financial path is set out. Be sure to check the deal on catering and the bar, some venues can offer this all in-house, but if you choose to bring in one of your contacts they can sometimes charge a corkage which then brings the price up. Be sure to read THE SMALL PRINT!
If there is a wedding and party planner in you, maybe the sound of a marquee is a little more appealing. This well and truly will give you ‘carte blanche’ to let your creative juices flow – but there are very often a few hidden charges that you need to account for. Is there power? What about the loos? Do you need heating or air con? What about outside lighting to get people back to their cars?
Every single item needs considering and this is when a wedding or party planner could be your secret weapon. I know on first thoughts this sounds like an extravagance you might not want to afford, but any good planner worth their salt will offer a transparent account, with a management fee, and then will work with you to ensure that every penny of your budget is well spent. Also they will have good contacts in place and their buying power will be greater than yours, so what seems like an extra cost from the start could be a saving in the end.
If you are stretching your search a little further just google what you want. Caves in Cornwall, Beach in Barbados, mountain tops in Mongolia…the world is our oyster, and it’s all there for the taking!
Don’t start everything all in one go. You need to assemble an order to logically work through. Certain decisions will then trigger off another, and if you are out of kilter with this you can end up in a real mess. Share this order with those helping out, so friends and family are singing from the same song-sheet too. The trick is to keep on track and have the communication airwaves well and truly open. Here is our 11 month snapshot plan. This is just a quick overview and we have a much more detailed one if you’d like to hook up with us on Facebook, twitter or email and we’ll send it out.
You’ve got the look
In some cases the venue will drive some decisions in terms of look and feel but, if you have chosen to go down a slightly different route, the overall style of the wedding is all down to you. Start a Pinterest account and build your own mood board. It sounds all very arty, but with the amount of options out there this will really start to pull all your ideas together, as well as toss some on the side. Saying ‘No’ to something is equally as constructive as saying ‘Yes’!
Once you have your style do not deviate off course. To get that overall seamless look that flows through every aspect of your day is hard work. If your wedding was a business for the day, it would have a brand and a visual identity bespoke to you, so adopt these proven rules for the wedding. Order samples, get fabric swatches, make sure linen matches and set the table out to make sure that all parts of your creativity are captured and all work together.
Make it your very own…
We have all been to weddings we can’t remember – so make sure that yours is one to remember. The more personal you can make this the better. It’s the little touches that turn ‘a wedding’ into ‘your’ wedding. Unique and unusual table plans, beautiful heartfelt readings and words, something homemade, and something for your guests to treasure, all tied together. Perhaps personalised cakes and chocolates from www.cocoacream.co.uk, homemade jams and tinctures, quirky photos (see www.virtualbooth.co.uk). ‘The Three Waiters’ at www.thethreewaiters.co.uk can take your day to another level, and in years to come your friends and family will still be talking about it. If you have budget to spare, let the evening end with a bang!
Now pull it all together
You need to know when to stop! Once you have all your thoughts AND budget clearly laid out, stick to it all. The temptation to add a little more here and there can be the difference between the most beautifully executed event as opposed to a bit of a shambles. Make sure all your bridesmaids, best man and ushers know what they are doing. Someone needs to be in charge on the day… and that isn’t you!
At some point you need to be in a position to hand over all your creativity and planning for someone else to manage on the day, this could be a toastmaster or an event planner. I know this is an additional cost but is it very well worth it. And then, last of all, make sure there is an ending. You need to grab the moment of all your guests wanting more… not fizzling out with people drifting off. Throughout the whole day it’s important to capture the moment so you can treasure it forever. I know we all have fancy phones these days, but once you have gone to all of the effort to produce your perfect day, it surely deserves to be cast in stone for ever, www.shootmestudios.co.uk.
The more you put in, the more you will get out, to celebrate one of the most special days in your life in style.
My little black book of some amazing contacts
Having been round the block several times (that’s organising weddings… not me getting married!) I’m fortunate to have a pretty special list of contacts. See www.elegantstationery.co.uk. Joanne is fab, her work is so intricate and beautiful, she must have the patience of a saint. Everything is bespoke and produced just for you.
Rings… www.rtfj.co.uk I know this seems like a little luxury maybe one step too far, but what Richard can produce is something to treasure forever. The all-important bouquet and flowers could come from Sam at www.willowandbloom.co.uk.
Venues and marquees, please do let me know if you need a little help on this front.
Food and drink, the very fun part! Talk to the girls at www.gigfyi.com and I know they would send you into a spin with ideas of deliciousness… then you get to try before fine tuning your decisions. Make the food a real extension of your hospitality, remember you need to make sure people in your party like your choices too!
It’s great to be adventurous but at the same time ensure the whole party is well and truly fed and watered like kings and queens. Then all these lovely people need entertaining. We all love our music in some shape or form and have a plethora of tunes at our fingertips, but a little ‘Live Lounge’ feel, or an up-tempo duo or band can really get the feet tapping – www.globestarmanagement.co.uk have a musical answer to everything and www.mansfieldavenueband.com offer a Capella to rock with a DJ set thrown in too.
• Top tips for the perfect summer wedding - Super summer weddings; top tips for your jewellery and venue
• Bonnie May on catering for Frank Sinatra, the work of GIG and her favourite things about Buckinghamshire - From favourite sandwiches for superstars to lavish banquets for dignitaries, Bonnie May and the GIG team have done it all, Karen Kay finds