Wedding planning tips

Why hire a wedding planner?

Wedding invitation and engagement ring. Image by David Jenkins

If you read my last post - How to start planning your wedding in the UK - then you’ll know that my number one tip is to enjoy being engaged and not to rush into making wedding plans. However, when you are ready to start thinking about your wedding, you may ask yourselves whether or not to hire a wedding planner…

Contrary to what you might think, planners aren’t just for super-rich couples with unlimited budgets and hundreds of guests. Of course we do receive some enquiries like this, but more often I hear from regular couples who value the guidance, support and friendship that a wedding planner can give.

In case you don’t know what a wedding planner does, or why I'm a good investment, I thought I’d share three of the most valuable ways I can help you.

1. I manage the admin and keep your planning on track

Many couples underestimate how long it takes to plan their wedding. They don’t realise how many emails will go back and forth, or how many decisions they’ll need to make. As a full planner, I spend over 200 hours planning a wedding and much of this time is spent liaising with the venue and suppliers.

Taking all this admin off your hands, especially as your wedding approaches, will make a huge difference to your stress levels. When there are decisions you need to make, I will simplify them wherever I can. If there is a deadline approaching, I will make sure you stay on track.

Hate feeling as if you’ve forgotten something? I keep notes of all the important details as we go along, so you won’t have to keep trawling through your emails.

2. I help you make decisions that save you money and ultimately get you what you want

I often get asked if hiring a wedding planner will save them money. To this I say ‘yes’, but not just because I can (occasionally!) negotiate discounts. I’m more likely to save you money by giving you good advice and making suggestions.

It is my job to recommend outstanding suppliers who are in-keeping with your style and budget. When it comes to design elements like your flowers, stationery and tableware, I can help you come up with ideas and communicate exactly what you want to your suppliers. It’s all too easy to waste time and money because the brief was wrong or incomplete.

It’s also worth remembering that small decisions, like having a string trio rather than a string quartet, or re-using flowers from your ceremony at your reception, all add up. If money is tight, there are lots of clever ways in which you can save a hundred pounds here or there, without compromising on the overall effect.

3. Having me there on the day means that you can completely relax and enjoy yourselves

Couples think that because their venue comes with a venue coordinator (or even a wedding planner!) they don’t need a planner like me. In reality, our roles are very different…

As your wedding planner, I’m there for you from the beginning of your planning journey, right up to the point you say goodbye to your guests. Think of me as your personal assistant; if there’s anything you’re unsure about, or you’re at a loss for ideas, I can help.

And while your venue may have tens or even hundreds of weddings booked, I only take on a small and select number of full planning clients each year. This means I spend a lot of time thinking about your wedding and how I can help make it as wonderful as possible! Imagine how reassuring it would feel to wake up on your wedding day knowing that I’ve memorised the timings, communicated personally with all of your suppliers and that I understand exactly how you and your partner want everything to look and flow…

What’s more, while the venue coordinator will be focused on the aspects that the venue is responsible for, I’ll be overseeing the whole event. As I see it, your suppliers are a team of experts; it’s my job to manage and support them so that they can deliver their best for you. If there's a problem, or if something doesn't go to plan, it's my aim to ensure you don't even notice!

 

I offer all my full wedding planning clients a free, in-person consultation so that we can get to know each other and discuss your ideas. Just send me an email at emma@emmajoytheweddingplanner.co.uk and we can get a date in the diary.

Image by David Jenkins

How to start planning a wedding in the UK

Glamorous vintage wedding at Eggington House. Image by  David Jenkins

Glamorous vintage wedding at Eggington House. Image by David Jenkins

Congratulations if you got engaged over the summer! Being newly engaged is a wonderful, once-in-a-lifetime feeling, so the best advice I can give you is to enjoy it and not to rush straight into planning your wedding. Take time to celebrate and don't feel under pressure to set a date (even though everyone will ask you when you're getting married!).

When you are ready to step off of Cloud 9 (and don't worry, you'll be back up there soon enough!) here are my 5 top tips for how to start planning your wedding. 

1. Agree on your budget

I know, it's not very romantic, but trust me, you can't start planning without agreeing 1) how much you can afford and 2) how much you want to spend on your wedding. Have this conversation with your partner, and, if they've offered to contribute, talk to your parents about how much they'd like to give you and whether there are any conditions attached...!

2. Decide on what sort of wedding you want

Anything is possible nowadays, so talk about what sort of wedding you want to have. By this I mean the location, type of venue, time of year and, crucially, how many guests you'd like to invite and if that includes children.

3. Discuss your priorities

Once you've agreed your wedding budget, you need to break it down. Perhaps you love flowers and you want to wow everyone with a spectacular floral arch outside the church? Or did you bond over music and want to hire the same live band you saw on your first date? Maybe you're really generous and want to lay on a free bar? All couples have different priorities, so agree what yours are and allocate your budget accordingly. If you hire a wedding planner, they will help you do this. 

As a rule of thumb, couples spend around half their total wedding budget on their venue and catering. That said, if throwing the biggest party ever is your priority, you may want to spend more on food and drink!

4. Get inspired

Let me guess, you've already started a Pinterest board and begun pinning wedding ideas?! Wedding blogs, Pinterest and Instagram are overflowing with great ideas. You can always delete things later, so it pays to keep an open mind early on. 

Ask yourselves if there a particular 'style' of wedding that appeals to you and your partner. For example, rustic country or city chic. Ultimately there are no right or wrongs (it's your wedding and the style police won't come chasing!), but having a wedding style will help when you come to choose your dress and your suppliers.

5. Book your key suppliers

It may seem daunting, but by this point you'll be ready to start visiting venues and trying on wedding dresses. Caterers, photographers and florists get booked up quickly, so once you've confirmed your venue and set a date, you'll want to research these too.

A wedding planner will help you to find the best suppliers and can save you a lot of time and energy, but if you're doing it yourselves then I recommend shortlisting at least 3 suppliers for each category. Have a look at their portfolios and read reviews from their previous clients. Never feel pressurised to make a decision and be on the lookout for sneaky sales tactics!

For more advice on how to find your wedding venue, take a look at my journal post 'Top tips for choosing your wedding venue' here.

And finally...

Relax!

Wedding planning is great fun, but sometimes it will feel overwhelming. Believe me, there'll be times when you wish you'd eloped! One of the main advantages of hiring a wedding planner is that they take care of all the admin and deadlines for you. However, if you're planning everything yourself, make sure you take time out from wedding planning and relax!

 

Like some help? I plan heartfelt weddings in London and across the UK. I only take on a small number of clients each year, so I can give each wedding the focus it deserves. If you're busy and struggling to find the time to come up with ideas or liaise with suppliers, give me a call on +44 (0)7709 871999 or send me an email emma@emmajoytheweddingplanner.co.uk. I would love to help you plan your wedding.

 

Top tips for choosing your wedding venue

Over the next few months I’m going to be hitting the road, hoping to discover some really special wedding venues. I can’t wait to see the potential and meet the owners and managers who, like me, eat, sleep and breathe weddings!

Seeing as I’ll be visiting many of these venues for the first time, I thought I’d take this opportunity to share my top tips for choosing a venue.

Forde Abbey looking resplendent

1. Take your time

Choosing your wedding venue is one of the biggest (and most expensive!) decisions you’ll make, so it’s worth allowing plenty of time to look around. Don’t try to visit so many in one day that you feel rushed before you start.

When you first walk in, ask yourselves ‘does this feel like us?’ It’s a bit like buying a home. Walk from room to room; sit at the tables and even dance on the dance floor! Can you imagine yourselves getting married there? Can you picture your friends and family having a great time? If the answer is ‘no’, move on!

2. Find out what’s included

Let’s face it; many of us sign on the dotted line without reading the t’s and c’s. When you’re choosing your wedding venue, you really can’t afford to skip to the bottom. Find out exactly what is and isn’t included in the hire charge. For example, does the price include accommodation? Does the venue have an in-house coordinator? Do they charge corkage? Don’t assume anything and remember that there is no such thing as a silly question.

It is well worth checking when you’ll be allowed to access the venue either the day before your wedding or on the morning itself. Ask what time you have to vacate the following day.

3. Check the capacity

Wedding venue visit inside Forde Abbey.jpg

It’s essential that you know how many guests you’re intending to invite before you book your wedding venue. Some venues have a minimum number as a well as a maximum. Keep in mind that towards the upper limit, everything may feel quite cramped! It’s hard to imagine how much room a table takes up, so ask to see photographs of the venue laid up for a dinner of a similar size to yours.

4. Ask about preferred suppliers

Most venues will give you a list of their preferred suppliers. Some will be happy for you to choose your own, others will only permit those they’ve worked with before. If this is the case, check you’re happy with the options and that they’re within your budget. This is particularly important when it comes to the caterer. If you have set your heart on a particular style of food make sure that this is something their preferred caterer can accommodate.

Similarly, find out if there are any restrictions on decorations. Some wedding venues have strict rules about the use of candles, for example.

5. Did you get along?

The wedding industry is a very friendly place and, remarkably, most venues manage to make you feel like yours is their only wedding! But if you didn’t get along with the team who showed you around, or you didn’t receive a reply to an email you sent, this should ring alarm bells…!

 

I hope these tips are useful. If you would like a comprehensive list of questions to ask your venue, please email emma@emmajoytheweddingplanner to receive your free copy.

Photo Credits: Forde Abbey, as captured by Annie Spratt