Having now exhibited at three wedding fairs in the last few months the general consensus is that 2014 is going to be a popular year for weddings. Many months are now fully booked. There is much planning to do. But remembering the essentials is key to a successful day.
Choosing a venue
- Church or hotel ? The venue is important it has to be accessible for all, not too much traveling between the wedding ceremony and reception. Your guests may have already clocked up the miles so don’t expect them to have to travel too far in an area they don’t know. Particularly after the reception when it is dark and they are tired. Make sure they have checked in to their hotel beforehand, you don’t want interruptions during the photos, people do just drift off. Your day should run as smooth as clockwork if you have done your homework. Often hotels will offer a good discount on group bookings if guests book early enough. A church wedding is truely a memorable occasion and the formality of it meets many a bride’s wishes, but there are some couples who really don’t feel the whole occasion is best suited to a church ceremony. Hotels as a venue are fully equipped to deal with the legal part of the ceremony, it also means you are all in one place, but don’t get complacent with time. You will need to see the registrars 10 minutes before your ceremony and you need to be ready as the registrars may have another wedding to go to after yours.
- Which day of the week? There are deals to be done if you plump for a weekday. You could save yourself a heap of cash on accommodation, and some services. But remember not all suppliers will offer you this. The reason why is simple, the same amount of work has to be carried out. The same preparation, the same post work for videographers and photographers. I have worked out that to do a wedding from start to finish is around 40 hours of time, from first consultation to the final delivery of an album. Friday weddings are popular but you can expect a percentage of suppliers cannot offer this service as they are preparing for Saturday, particularly in busy months. You may find also that some guests cannot get the time off work. Bank holiday weekends are popular but get booked up really quickly.
- Where do I source my services? There are a number of good wedding websites <http://www.icethecake.co.uk> Confetti, Etsy, Hitched etc. Then there’s magazines, wedding fairs and word of mouth. Recommendation goes a long way to fulfilling your requirements. You want to use people you like and trust. They need to be professional and of course meet your needs. Price is important but if you make that connection you need to be sure they are going to perform on the day. So many times I have heard that couples were disappointed with their photographer, which is why I get as much information as possible from them. What style they like, informal or formal or some of each, posed or natural, When families come together sometimes there can be some underlying tones, make sure you tell your photographer who should appear in each photo. I produce a spread sheet enabling the bride and groom to put down all of the information as we use it as a crib sheet on the day. One popular move is to do the whole group photo first, thereby allowing friends to go to the bar if they wish. Trying to keep the flow going is important, we get through the photos quicker and get your guests fed a lot sooner.
- You want your wedding to be different? Many suppliers will be experienced and have a good knowledge of what works and what doesn’t. Bounce your ideas off your suppliers. In the past I have changed the venue for a couple, the reason was the church they had chosen was covered in scaffolding, so I called up the vicar in the next parish, explained the situation and we moved the venue. This summer one of my brides resided in Zimbabwe, she had bought this amazing dress in ‘Old Gold’ with diamonte and filigree detail. She was struggling to come up with a colour for the bridesmaids dresses. So I put my A level art to good practice and came up with orange/tangerine as it features in the Zimbabwean flag and also in the national flower of Zim. You will build up a rapport with good suppliers and you will get so much back in return. Go to wedding fairs for inspiration, look at bridal magazines and the internet.
- The costs are spiralling what do I do? I have a price structure as many other suppliers will have. I don’t put all of my prices on the website because I want to get into dialogue with my couples. I have a starting price on the website, that way we are not wasting each others time. You need to start with an assumed budget and try your hardest to stick to it. There are ways and means to cut your cloth accordingly without it looking so. Numbers first, choose your family first, because you must, then friends and finally work colleagues. You should create an A list and a B list, the second list is to replace those that cant make it. It is important to send out your invitations or save the date cards (designed and printed by Nigel Crump photography of course! from £35.00 quid for 50), if you wedding is August or September you must give people 4-5 months notice minimum, for other months at least 3-4 months notice. The less notice you give people, the less guests likely they will be able to make it. Guests coming from abroad will appreciate as much notice as possible to book cheaper flights. I have many other cost saving tips to impart, you will learn these if you follow my blog.
- What time of the day do we have our wedding? The day will go VERY quickly, time seems to be fast forwarded. Make sure if you are having a wedding around 12-1pm then make time for breakfast and something before you go out of the door. You will probably not be eating again until around 3pm at the earliest. Later weddings mean your guest may have lunch before they arrive at the church, this can benefit them to allow them to get to their hotel, check in and get something to eat. So eventually you may be sitting down at 5-6pm from a 3pm wedding. Remember if there are children at your wedding, they like routine and feeding times are important to them. Maybe have some snacks available at the reception, the sort kids will eat. your other guests will have the Champagne and Canapes. You must offer food if you are giving them drink, otherwise you know the consequences.
- Do you offer food to your suppliers that are with you all day? I’m inclined to say in most cases, YES. But you must inform them beforehand if you are not. They may have been with you from mid morning and stay up until first dance that equates to around 10 hours, more in some cases. There is no right or wrong way to deal with this, often caterers will charge you but not fulfill their obligation. Remember guests must come first but consider your suppliers.
- Enjoy your day This is the most important thing you should remember. The planning and scheduling have all been done, you can’t do anymore. You should relax and enjoy your day, don’t get wound up if something is not going to plan. Your suppliers should identify this and put it right. If things are not right, make a mental note and speak to your supplier after the wedding. Remember also to thank all of your guests personally. This means actually spending time talking to them during your meal, maybe between courses. not just a hand shake and a kiss at the receiving line.
- Make sure you have enough time I recommend to couples to work the time backwards. What time do your evening guests arrive? Make sure the speeches are not dragging on. Put a time limit on them if you have to. Respect your guests both daytime and evening, they have come to see you and you should give them the time. Remember time will fly. Older folk don’t always last up to the dancing, so make sure you have a break out area away from the music where they can sit and chill, you might appreciate that yourself.
- When to pay? By the time the wedding day has arrived you will have paid for most things. Apart from your hair and make-up and your bar bill in the evening. Photography is paid for two weeks before your wedding and with DVD and proof book packages you have the option of an album later on when you have financially recovered. You will get your disk and the copyright to print from it, but its not the same as having an album to show your children and grandchildren in years to come.
- Delivery times For DVD and proof book packages in two weeks your book and DVD will be delivered. A nice home coming gift if you plan to go on honeymoon. For album packages your proof book again is ready in two weeks, you then have six weeks to make your choices and then another 4-5 weeks from placing your order for your album. This is delivered with your DVD fully copy written to you.
- Enjoy your wedding, make the most of every moment, savour it, breath it in and let it flow over you. It is a wonderful time and I consider it an honour to be part of your most amazing day. GOOD LUCK.