Set a Date
This may sound like the most common sense thing in the world to do but after the excitement of getting engaged and letting everybody know the good news it can slip aside a bit. Setting the date will help you know exactly how long you have to plan and if you need to save up – it’s not a lie that weddings are an expensive business but if you give yourself enough time to plan things out you can do a lot of comparing and finding good deals while still getting everything you wanted. We got engaged in 2008 and decided to get married in 2010, not only did this make my OCD happy (nice round number) but it gave us time to enjoy being engaged as well as plan out things as we wanted and gave us enough time to get them sorted. You can lose hours of yourself in research so make sure you have plenty of time to do it in!
Pick a Venue
The great thing about weddings now is that that can take place pretty much anywhere you want (licence permitting). We always knew we wanted to get married in a church but surprisingly it is not as simply as you may think. Firstly you need to find the ‘right’ church – now you would think each church is as much of a muchness as another but each building has its own uniqueness and more importantly the personality of the Vicar is what will help you make your final choice, we were so lucky to find Rev. Mark Nicholls at St. Mary’s in Rotherhithe who not only presided over a lovely old church but had a great personality, a lovely sense of humour and actually took the time to get to know us as a couple.
The only hiccup we came across in the wedding process with the Church of England was that due to my soon to be husband coming from South Africa we needed to be interviewed by a third party Vicar to make sure we were genuine (sad fact was getting married made no different to my husbands status as he was on an ancestral visa and was pretty much almost through his process of becoming a British Citizen) – we have a certificate and everything to prove our love is real. Father Mark did say we should frame it and put it in the toilet (see back to comment about Vicar’s good sense of humour!)
After that is was a case of paying the fees, and here is a good place to point out that getting married in a church is not cheap – here is a link to the current fees you can expect to pay http://www.yourchurchwedding.org/your-wedding/the-cost-of-church-weddings.aspx
Choosing the reception venue was a little easier. I had looked at a couple of ‘fancy’ venues to host our guests, and I was very particular to The Globe Theatre but instead we went local and ended up with a great space in our local pub. We have the whole top restaurant area to ourselves as well as the wrap around balcony that overlooked the Thames – as it was a sunny warm day it was just lovely. Food wise we went with a carvery as pretty much everybody had a choice of something they wanted to eat and the venue also organised a DJ for us that kept us in Rock, Pop and Cheese until the late evening. We also arranged a mid-session snack of sandwiches, teas and coffees to keep our guests energised for the rest of the night and a open bar to help them get there in the first place.
Remember church’s and reception venues tend to get booked up pretty early so make sure you book well in advance!
Letting Your Guests Know
So once you have done all the hard work, sorted out your venue and timings the you get to make a decision on your wedding stationary. Thankfully we live in an information friendly age and there are plenty of on-line printers that offer a range of stationary for all types of budgets. Most will send you out samples for a small fee (and usually taking whatever you paid out already off your final bill if you place a final order with them) and it is so worth it to try before you buy.
There are plenty of options to pick from than just invitations – there is reply cards, orders of service, save the date cards, table plans, matching place names etc. so make sure you plan exactly what you require to ensure everything can match. We sent our invites out a good six months before the big day and told those travelling from overseas as soon as the date was set so they had plenty of time to plan travel as required.
Also always invite who you want to invite – your wedding day is about you and your future husband/wife and nobody else, so make sure you surround yourself with people you want to be there rather than who you think you should invite.
The Wedding Party
One of the best things about getting married is being able to ask your friends and family to be part of your day. We went with a mixture of the two for our wedding party and decided on two bridesmaids and two grooms men (OCD again…) and a male and female usher. The men were pretty easy to dress and I was lucky enough to come across a shop on-line that sold really lovely Bridesmaids dresses which could easily be tailored to more practical dresses after the event. I also went with some comfy silver kitten heels so they would actually be able to walk rather than hobble for the day! All outfits were finished with a little thank you gift for being part of the day, necklaces for the ladies and cuff-links for the guys.
Again this is your day so make sure your Wedding Party is made up of people you want to be there and not people who you think you should ask due to family ties etc.
Hair and Make-Up
I don’t have a huge amount to add around this – I was lucky enough to know somebody who is a professional wedding make-up and hair technician so I knew I would be in good hands! Make sure you do your homework in this area, speak to previous clients, have tests done and make sure you really talk through what you want. Also take samples of your wedding colours – you wouldn’t want anything to clash!
I’m going to be honest, I was completely dreading going Wedding Dress shopping. I have little patience when it comes to trying things on and I honestly couldn’t think of anything worse than doing that with tons of lace, taffeta and silk! Luckily I managed to find the perfect dress on my first outing and although it needed a few fittings (dreaded changing rooms again, this time with added pins!) I was really pleased with my choice, considering it was totally a 360 from what I had in mind when I went out in the first place. I was thinking of something very simple with arms and no veil – what I ended up with with a totally sleeveless dress with quite a few layers, decorated on the back with a longish train and a veil! My advice would be to go dress shopping with something in mind but don’t let it rule you completely, try on a few different things and you never know – something might surprise you.
Most dry cleaners offer a wedding dress cleaning service – my dress is currently in a special box in the loft surrounded by acid free tissue paper!
As with the dress, I wasn’t totally stressing over a choice of flowers for our big day. I’m not a very OTT person when it comes to those sort of things and I what I wanted was something very simply comprised of my favourite flowers, Daisies. I spoke with a few florists and and soon as you mentioned the word wedding the prices shot up and simple arrangements were beginning to seem like a distant dream. Eventually we decided just to do the flowers ourselves as I have a very talented Aunt who can put these sort of things together. So the morning before the wedding we went down to Covent Garden Flower Market ad bought everything we needed for a Bride Bouquet, Bridesmaids Bouquet, Lapels and a few other things in between and all at a fraction of the cost. The local florist to my mum did us a very good deal on a more complicated corsages and button holes and in the end I got exactly what I wanted.
Go with your gut instinct and as log as you can afford it go for it. I didn’t want a traditional wedding car for the day because as a true London girl I wanted to arrive in a old fashioned London Taxi. Some internet searching later and I found the perfect car from a great company and it really did help make the day just that little bit extra special.
Neither my husband or I are huge fans of traditional wedding cake or in fact the style of traditional wedding cakes, so instead we found something that was closer to our personalities. Again some internet searching took place and we found a local bakery that made the most amazing Birthday and Wedding Cakes. We went with a traditional vanilla/jam/cream sponge covered in fondant icing and also bought a single layer of fruit wedding cake from M&S so those expecting a more traditional offering had a choice. Always shop around and see what the best deal you can find for you is, also make appointments with bakeries if you want to try before you buy!
Once you get the big things out of the way you then think about all the little things you need. I found the fiddly extras one of the most stressful things to deal with. Once we had the Bridesmaids dresses sorted and the colour scheme was locked down we had to go ahead with trying to find the exact same colour to match (we picked Teal which was harder to match than you might expect, who knew there was so many shades!) We needed bows and ribbons to decorate the aisles of the church, ribbon to wrap around the flowers, table confetti, little bags to put the favours in – all in the same colour. We also bought some additional customised favours (little chocolates and plant seeds) and also needed to arrange centrepieces (we went with candelabras). This is where the internet and on-line shopping really came to our rescue as did ebay! Wedding shops in London are abnormally expensive but they came in very useful for us to browse and then look for items we liked on-line afterwards. There are plenty of family run businesses all over the country that can supply you with pretty much anything you need, for a fraction of the price of the larger, chain stores. I found plenty of these trading on ebay and not only did they save us money but they provided us with a fantastic service.
After the big day I ended up using ebay again to sell all the items I no longer needed and was so happy that the candelabras were going to another wedding up the country!
My biggest stress in the build up to the wedding was finding somebody to take photos, after all you hear horror stories of all the things that can go wrong. Luckily I have a very close friend who is also a wonderfully talented photographer and she arranged everything and we ended up with so may fantastic photos that not only looked great but were taken with a lot of thought and emotion. If you are not lucky enough to know somebody close to you to do this make sure you do your research and don’t be afraid to talk to previous clients – you want to make sure the memories of the day are captured in a way you can treasure after.
I haven’t listed any supplier details, but if you do want to know where anything came from drop me a line!