Updated: Sep 8
A new shiny ring was on my finger and it was time for the wedding planning process to begin. It's exciting! I was, ( I mean we were ) about to go on a wonderful journey together! I knew wedding suppliers were going to be key to our big day but seeing so many suppliers out there it was all a little overwhelming.
There are so many key elements to any wedding celebration, finding a venue and suppliers was just the start of it all. Looking through websites speaking to organisations and deciding on aspects of how we wanted our day to be was the start of a great journey together.
Making your investment - setting that budget!
Be prepared to invest ( working inside your budget ), looking at venues and suppliers will give you an idea of costing and will highlight areas where you may need to focus more of your funds on. Doing this will also help identify areas where you can make savings. Most couple's priorities tend to be the wedding venue, wedding photographer and wedding videographer. You can save money in a number of ways, the first one may be choosing an out of season wedding date ( Nov - March ) or a midweek wedding ( Mon-Thurs ) you could literally save £1000's not just on your wedding venue, but some wedding suppliers offer special rates as these dates may be less in demand.
Another thing to contemplate is wedding guests and who to invite! Wedding guest numbers generally fluctuate between 60-120 per wedding. So how do you choose who to invite to keep within that all important budget. Apart from the very close family and friends think about who you see on a regular basis, if you haven't seen them in more than two years ( unless they live a huge distance away ) do they need to be invited? It can be a tricky decision but try not to feel pressured into inviting more guests as it can quickly start to spiral out of control. Considering a child free wedding, your friends and family will also get to have a bit of down time and can celebrate alongside you with the odd drink or two.
Are you getting married at a venue? think about get ready there on the morning of your wedding, this will save the expense of hiring a wedding car. If you are getting married in the summer, consider having the ceremony a little later say around 2-2.30pm, this will allow your guests to have breakfast and lunch before the wedding starts, which will save you the cost of providing canopies at your reception. You also have lots of daylight allowing your wedding photographer to have plenty of time to get those all-important shots. Having a Spring or Winter wedding means the light fades quicker so having your wedding around 12-12.30pm would mean your wedding photographer can get your wedding photographs in good light.
Looking for Inspiration
Searching the internet and attending wedding fayres is a great way to get inspiration for themes and colour pallets for your wedding day, this is where you can see how wedding venue dressers and florists ideas start to bring your wedding to life showcasing a visual feast for your eyes. Try not to plan multiple things at one time so not to overwhelm yourselves. Shortlist a few wedding venues and suppliers within your budget and follow their work across media platforms. Maybe join a wedding chat group to see how other couples are getting on with planning their big days.
Choosing your wedding venue
Now you have a theme in mind, you need a wedding venue where you can bring those ideas to life! The UK is filled with a huge variety of stunning wedding venues, from the grand to the quaint and everything in-between. You are truly spoiled for choice and there is a venue to suit every budget. Book an appointment with the venue, there are lots of questions you may have such as, how many guests the venue holds? Do they have accommodation for your guests? Can you attend a wine and food tasting session once booked? Can you provide your own catering professionals? The list is almost endless but hey! Get ready to fall in love with your venue as your wedding plans start to gather momentum. We have found that it's always the professionals who make your wedding day truly memorable. The wedding coordinators and professionals you have chosen support you in the run up to your big day, and work tirelessly during your wedding day ensuring everything goes to plan.
The legal stuff
To get married, you must first give notice of your intention to marry at your local register office, 29 days before your wedding date. This notice will be displayed publicly in the register office for 29 days. You will need to reside in the registration district for at least 7 days prior to giving notice at the register office. Your ceremony must then be held within 12 months. If you are arranging a civil ceremony in a different area, you should also contact the register office for the district in which the marriage is due to take place.
You will also need to pay a small fee and provide the following information:
Name (take your birth certificate along)
Age (the minimum legal age for getting married in England and Wales is 16 years of age but written consent may be required for anyone under 18 years)
Nationality (ideally in the form of your passport)
Evidence of your address (shown on your driving licence or a utility bill)
Evidence of the ending of any previous marriage or civil partnership ( decree absolute etc )
When arranging a civil ceremony in the UK, you will need to check whether you are subject to immigration control, providing documentary evidence to the superintendent registrar to confirm that you satisfy the eligibility requirements.
Finding the perfect wedding photographer / wedding videographer
Find a style of wedding photography and wedding videography that you like, from documentary, candid to posed. Check out any potential wedding photographer and wedding videographer reviews in advance of speaking to them, this can help you feel confident that your wedding photographer / wedding videographer can deliver what your looking for on your wedding day. Speak to them by phone, skype or in person if possible, you will be spending your entire wedding day with your wedding photographer / wedding videographer so it's important to get a feel for them. A good way to look at this is, "would you invite them as a guest on your wedding day?"
It's okay to ask the wedding photographer/wedding videographer questions, like how long they have been shooting weddings? Check out their accreditation and public liability insurance , are they a member of any guilds or associations, is their work award worthy? Do they seem like the kind of professional who can deliver your wedding! your way!
If you are looking for both wedding photography & wedding videography consider an organisation who can cater for both. This can not only save you money but it will also ensure those precious moments are captured by a team of people who know each other and more importantly how each other work achieving the best results for you. Having the best skilled professionals on your wedding day who will deliver your amazing wedding photographs and a beautifully captured and edited wedding film is something you truly only get one chance to get right.
Be cautious about booking that all day shoot deal you may come across on media where the claim is that one person can deliver photography and videography along with an evening photobooth whilst they fly their two drones at the same time as live streaming your wedding. If the claim and price seems to good to be true " it is! " and will be a massive risk to take. Although the photographer stressed out with 4 cameras strapped to them whilst chasing their drone may be entertaining to watch this will certainly be at the expense of your wedding photography and wedding videography.
Saying yes! to the dress!
We have photographed some incredible wedding dresses over the years, in all styles and shades, but how do you decide what dress is right for you? The most important thing is to keep an open mind. You will have a vision in your mind of what your perfect dress will look like, however most brides we talk to end up picking something completley different for their wedding day.
Visiting a bridal shop is a must for all brides to be. Having an experienced professional who will take you on your wedding dress journey needs to be at the top of your wedding list. Bridal shop professionals are magical humans who upon meeting you will instantly know what dress will suit you without uttering a single word. Many of our brides have had dress suggestions they would never have chosen themselves, simply burst into tears because they know this is the dress!
Some brides have two or three changes on their wedding day. This may be down to personal choice or they may be partaking in a religious festival / tradition. Think about your first dance, are you planning on a rehearsed scripted dance? Will the dress allow you to move so you can perform the steps?
The Bridesmaids and Groomsmen
The all important Bridesmaids! Your bridesmaids are simply spoilt for choice nowadays, with many of the major high street retailers offering beautiful affordable styles of dresses. There are multiple options for ladies in similar styles so having a variety whilst keeping to your theme keeps everyone happy. Multi way bridesmaids dresses allow the ladies to feel comfortable as they can choose how they want to wear it. Remember you can delegated small tasks to your bridesmaids such as handing out confetti to guests, which will take the pressure off you guys and allows your wedding day to flow more naturally.
Here's to all the handsome grooms and their ushers, the suit needs to compliment your wedding theme and of course the beautiful bridesmaids. Suit hire or suit buying, the choice is yours. Some guys who have multiple events to attend will buy their suits themselves especially as many are very fashionable at the moment, such as peaky blinders tweed and hipster styles hitting a chord. You have such a wide choice of suit hire companies, look for ones who are well established and importantly can cater for the style you want. Always get measured up for your suit, the last thing you want on your day is a suit that is badly fitted or colours that don't match. Like the bridesmaids your ushers and best man can be key to helping support you on your big day, helping to organise the guests for photographs is one of the few ways they can help.
The wedding rings
The saying is, your wedding band is an unbroken circle with no beginning and no end and signifies the love you have for each other. Many couples will look online or will visit jewellery shops to get ideas. However some wedding ring designers can come to your home to design your ring with you perhaps using several air looms and can incorporate them into your new wedding bands. The choice is endless.
Save the date / wedding invitations
Remember the potential wedding guests you invite will have other invitations to events, busy social schedules, travel plans, and even may have to arrange babysitters. Consider sending a save the date card either physically or digitally so people have plenty of notice. Do not expect all of your guests to reply to a save the date notification. If you are having an adult's only wedding, ensure you include that information.
Avoid any confusion by specifying guest names or adding “plus guest” or “plus one” if you are extending the invitation to single friends. Once the actual invitations go out this is the time you will ask for a RSVP so you can gather the information you will need to supply your venue with the final number of guests. Expect to chase a few people and expect that a few may not turn up on the day even if they confirm they will attend, this happens nearly all time and may be unavoidable due to illness. Here's a few extra tips.
If your wedding is planned for the peak summer season get those save the dates out early ( people get booked up quickly in the summer months May and August )
Destination weddings require lots of pre-planning - keep guests informed as soon as possible
Do not overwhelm guests with information, keep it short and sweet
Be creative with your invites, get ideas and make them personal to you guys
If the location is difficult to find, consider adding a map and / or directions to help your guests
Consider making a wedding website, you can fill this with all the information your guests will need regarding your wedding day and either email or message the web link over. If you have a pre wedding shoot with your photographer, why not add some of the images to add a bit of finesse
Entertainment for you and your guests
Couples are truly spoilt for choice these days, from bands, DJs, magicians, outdoor games, singing waiters, photobooths, farm animals, caricatures and even children's entertainers to keep your little ones occupied during the speeches. Choosing the right entertainment for you and your guests, can be a minefield as the list is endless.
Your Big Day!
Your big day is here at last and with all the effort you have put into planning your wedding day its time to enjoy each and every moment. Many people speak of the bridal bubble and yes your wedding day can seem to whizz by at a pace and everything can become a bit of a blur. You can relax in the knowledge that you have set everything in motion, trust in the wedding professionals you have booked to support you on your wedding day. Start your day by eating breakfast and remember to keep yourselves hydrated throughout your wedding day.
If you are handing any gifts out during the morning preparations consider if you want your wedding photographer / wedding videographer to capture those moments. Remember if they are not there they cannot capture it! Think about if you want a bridal reveal for your bridesmaids and in some cases the father of the bride, your photographer can help set this up on your behalf. Your bridesmaids will need to be in their dresses well before you get into your bridal dress, this way any photographs of you being revealed in the dress will showcase your bridal party at its best. Getting into the dress as early as possible allows you to relax before you leave and sort out and minor issues that may arise with the dress with time to spare.
Confetti, life is always better with confetti! The more the better. If you want an amazing wedding confetti photograph supply as much as you can and delegate the bridesmaids and ushers to hand this out to each of your guests. Try to limit group shots, we generally recommend no more than 6-8 as you will want your wedding day to flow as naturally as possible . Couple wedding shots should only take 20-25 minutes. Larger venues may mean walking further distances to get that shot you want or if we see an amazing opportunity we want to seize. The weather may mean we pop in and out between showers to get your wedding photographs. Try to have some comfy shoes on standby.
Speeches before or after your wedding breakfast? This needs to be discussed ahead of your wedding with your wedding coordinator so timescales can be put in place whatever you decide. Having speeches before can take the pressure off those speaking who are nervous, meaning they will be able to enjoy their meal afterwards. On the other hand guests may be hungry and are looking forward to eating once being seated. Giving the speakers a timeframe to work within will ensure a happy chef, along with guests who don't have to wait too long for their food.
At the reception venue you could put together some freshen up kits in the toilets containing travel size deordorant, hairspray, combs, freshen up wipes, hair bobble, and mints, giving your guests the chance to freshen up especially on hot days can be just what the doctor ordered and encourages them to stay and enjoy your day for longer.
Cutting your wedding cake generally flows straight into your first dance. The DJ or band will announce the cutting of the cake and will ask guests to gather nearby. This positions everyone perfectly so when you go straight into your first dance this will be your guests cue to show them the party has started. Dance floors tend not to shake until you guys have embraced each other on the dance floor. Evening guests generally arrive between 7-7.30pm so having your cake cutting and dance around 8pm is perfect!
Consider getting some comfy sliders or flip flops for your guests to wear, place these near the dance floor for easy access. We always try and get a outdoor evening shot as they add creative magic to your wedding photographs and only take a few minutes to capture.
Take a look at this short video for more inspiration!
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