Wedding Whispers The Easy Guide to Planning your own Wedding.

Planning your own wedding is a huge task; just organising so many people to be in one place is challenging enough for the bride and groom to be, but when you add in the budget, decisions and choices that have to be made, help is needed and that's where we come in! Here are just a few of the factors that most brides and grooms have to consider when planning their own wedding. It is an exciting time so enjoy.


Planning a Wedding - Making a Start

The key to getting started is knowing what you want to spend and setting your priorities. You don't have to spend a fortune, there's a lot of choice and discounts and offers are easy to find especially if you are prepared to be flexible with the date and time. Generally once you have set a date, booked a wedding venue and type of ceremony everything else is easy. After this your top jobs will include shopping for a wedding dress, booking wedding cars and finding a photographer. These need to be secured sooner rather than later.

Guests soon add up and so to do the costs so you might need to limit these if money is tight, but food and drink prices vary so find a wedding venue that offers flexible menus rather than fixed packages. 

If you need to save some cash but still want a good bash, you can often get a good discount for a week-day ceremony and reception with many approved wedding venues offering different tariffs between Monday and Thursday depending on the time of year. If your wedding is in a few weeks rather than a few months you can still find a wedding dress at a discounted price and book a reception/ ceremony venue. You'll need to be flexible and organised but most wedding services are easy to source at short notice.

Planning a Wedding - Buying the Dress!
Generally a current season wedding dress can cost from £500 plus alterations and delivery can take up to five months, after which you have to factor in time for your fittings. ice guide. Some bridal shops offer an express delivery service so ask for details. Shops always have wedding dresses they sell off the rail on the day and often at a discounted rate, so ask if you are in a hurry.

Planning a Wedding - Setting the Date!
Be flexible with your date and you'll find many benefits to choosing a day other than a Saturday and you will almost certainly get your first choice wedding venue and exclusive use which means you don't share the venue with anyone else. Most of the larger wedding venues often do more than one wedding a day and can charge a premium for weekends, especially during the busy summer months. Think about October which is outside the main season but it can be a lovely warm month full of autumn colour and there are some great venues in spectacular coast and beach resorts to combine both a wedding and mini moon.

Planning a Wedding - Where does the money go?

The cost of the reception/wedding breakfast, food and drink will be the most expensive item on your budget planner and will almost certainly have an bearing on how many guests you want to invite. The guest list can soon mount up as you realise just how many family and friends you both have! Do a quick calculation and allow at least £60 per guest for food and drinks and also include all the small items such as stationery and invitations. You can always work back to a smaller figure if you need to. Everything is negotiable so don't be put off by prices as these can almost certainly be discussed. And if you want fish and chips, then all you have to do is ask. It's your wedding after all.

If money is no option you can have 'a ball', however, if you prefer to spend more money on a romantic honeymoon or perhaps your new home, look at the costs of the guest list again. If your respective famiies are willing to help with the cost, you may not have to prune the list too drastically. Extending the invitations to the children of guests can be a tricky problem for some couples but it is worth noting that there are reputable and specialist childcare agencies that can be hired to keep the children safe and happy whilst the adults have a good time. Not inviting the children of guests, especially when they are close family and friends can cause upset so it is worth considering this.

Planning a Wedding - Choosing a Venue
Whatever you have set your heart on the best way to start is to shortlist a few reception venues and either visit them or ring for their wedding information. If you do decide to get married in 'Approved Premises', you will be expected to book their facilities for the wedding reception. If however, your ceremony is to be held in a Church or a Register Office, you will have more flexibility over the choice of location for the wedding reception. Some wedding venues charge a separate room hire and others will offer an all inclusive package for food and drink based on a set number of guests, usually 50. Out of season or midweek rates for room hire can be cheaper and some don't charge at all. Many smaller privately owned country houses that have licensed rooms for the civil ceremony generally offer exclusive use and quite often the run of the house for the weekend.

You should be aware that the most popular wedding venues can and do host more than one wedding a day. If you want your wedding to be the only one, then you will need to book 'exclusive use' of the venue and may have to pay a premium for this. One way around this is to either choose a small venue where they cannot do more than one, or move your date to another less popular day or out of season or midweek.

Alternative Ideas for your Ceremony and Reception
In recent years marquees have offered couples an alternative to hiring a venue especially if you are lucky enough to have a large garden. Marquees are easily installed a couple of days before allowing time to decorate and theme as you wish. There are so many great ideas for marquees now, that include, yurts, tipis and every type of traditional marquee.

The trend for getting married on a beach at sunset is helped by the growth in services of professional civil celebrants who conduct a ceremony based on your own personal wishes. You will have to be legally married in front of a registrar so ask your local register office for details. Generally couples can visit the register office either on the day or a few days before to conduct the legal part after which you can opt to hold a celebration anywhere you like, even your own garden if it is large enough!

If you are really on a budget, you could of course do it yourself by hiring a village or church hall and save yourself some money. It's fun and you get to put your own personal stamp on the day. It's much harder work however and you will have to think about every aspect of the day or bring in a team of experienced people to make sure it runs smoothly who will set up, serve and clear up! You might also have to hire in tables, chairs and linen and will need contacts for this.

Wedding Gift Lists and Wedding Insurance.

These days couples often have lived together and have much of what they need, so tend to ask for honeymoon vouchers, or even cash to help with larger items or expenses for the wedding. But asking for an amount of cash can sometimes put guests in a quandary, so wedding gift lists can provide a choice of both gift and voucher options and are easy to set up. The best known wedding list services in the UK are John Lewis who have gift list departments for couples to open an account. Typically you select a list of items from the store, tell your guests where your list is held and the store will manage and deliver the gifts they choose for you. Wonderful!

Wedding Insurance is often overlooked by many couples planning a wedding in the UK or abroad but it is better to cover yourself especially if the planned spend on the wedding are considerable. In the unfortunate event of a wedding date that has to be re-scheduled, some items such as bridal clothing, accessories and shoes can be almost certainly be saved. Other services may be able to re-schedule your date given reasonable notice and of course their availability. This may not be the case with a wedding venue, catering or marquee service where the outlay and loss of business is often considerable. Your deposits may be lost at best and at worst the whole amount payable could still be due as business cannot be regained at short notice. If you cannot afford this you would be wise to take out wedding insurance. Check out John Lewis. Their wedding insurance provide straight forward levels of cover from just £60 to suit your wedding spend and budget.

What about Wedding Planners, Co-ordinators or a Toastmaster?

Nowadays most brides to be are capable of organising a wedding without the help of a professional wedding planner, however if you don't have the time and can afford it, make sure you engage the services of a professional wedding planner to help. You should verify their reputation and check to see if they have some level of qualification from a recognised body. There are quite literally hundreds of wedding planners in the phone book and online; and many are attracted to the wedding industry because they have planned their own wedding, plus that of a friend and so think that organising another will be a doddle! It takes a lot of organisational skill, business acumen and a well established reputation with the industry, to plan a successful wedding for another bride and you need to be sure that they are competent.

A professional wedding planner will typically charge a fee for their services; and some will offer options such as 'On the Day', which means you stay in control of the planning of your wedding but have assistance in the run up to and on the day itself.

Your wedding co-ordinator can also be based and work exclusively for the wedding venue but you can hire your own if you feel this works for you. Typically the charge is a daily rate or fixed fee in return for their services and you'll usually meet with your co-ordinator prior to the day to discuss what help is required. A good wedding co-ordinator is like having your very own PA for the day.

Another useful service to consider is that of a professional toastmaster. In our experience, toastmasters are usually gentlemen, although ladies do this also.  Some venues will state they have a 'Master of Ceremonies' or MC as part of their services. This is quite different from the services provided by a professional toastmaster. Generally the Master of Ceremonies at the venue are part of the operational function in the venue to make sure that the staff and services provided run smoothly, but who would not normally be available in the weeks prior to the wedding to discuss the other important planning aspects of the day.

Music and Entertainment for your Wedding.

Ask your Vicar if you are getting married in church, or the Registrar if you are having a civil ceremony, what type of music is allowed? In church, a mix of religious music, modern and classical is fine, but this is not so for a ceremony in Approved Venues, which are strictly non religious. Ask these questions, as music is a very important element of the service. And make sure you have someone competent to look after the equipment, plan the music and turn it on and off at the appropriate moments!

Booking a Wedding Photographer or Filming Service
The cost of a professional photographer can range from a few hundred to well over a couple of thousand pounds. Find one who will be fully insured and happy to spend time with you finding out your needs. It is a modern thing for guests to take photos and add them to social media sites such as Facebook, but don't rely on this as you may regret not having a complete set of professional photographs to last a lifetime.

Most good professional photographers are able to offer a full service of reprints, books, albums and framed prints which you and your family and friends will no doubt want to have as keepsakes of the occasion.

If money if tight, amateur photographers can be tempting especially if they only charge a couple of hundred pounds. You may know a friend who is willing to help out with the photography, but consider this carefully as he or she may not have the experience, the time or the personality required for wedding photography. Consider also the risk of losing a friend if your photos are a disaster. Amateur photographers will not belong to a professional body such as SWPP or BIPP and are unlikely to have insurance so you could be taking a further risk if things go wrong.

Once you have chosen your photographer be prepared to pay a deposit and sign a contract of what he or she will do on the day and keep this up to date as family groups can be tricky sometimes!

Hire Wedding Cars and Vintage Transport

You will want to make a grand entrance and travel to the church or venue in style, so if you haven't anything in the garage that fits the bill, you'll have to hire a specialist to supply one and there are many to choose from; vintage, sporty, classic and traditional Rolls Royce cars.

RR Elite Ltd have a fine collection of traditional, classic and iconic cars created from a privately owned fleet of beautifully cared for vehicles that are just too magnificent to be kept out of A great favourite with couples is the NYPD car or the Yellow Checker Cab direct from New York.

Whatever you choose you may need more than one car unless you are not too far from the venue or church. The general rule is that mother and bridesmaids travel first, followed by the bride and her father.

Sweet or Savoury Wedding Cakes

There are many fabulous wedding cakes to choose from and you can pay several hundred pounds for some of the most extravagant! And don't be put off if you have dietary concerns as many artisan producers can make a bespoke cake that are gluten and dairy free and still look and taste delicious.

New ideas for DIY brides are to make your own wedding cup cakes that look really pretty on a tiered cake stand decorated with rose petals. If you are making your own foil cases and decorations can be bought from most sugar craft shops. Layers of sponge cake infused with elderflower are a delicious alternative to heavy fruit cakes.

If you have savoury tastes, cheese tiers decorated with fresh fruit and served with served with rustic breads, artisan biscuits and jugs of celery are lovely. In most regions of the UK there will be a dairy from which you can buy a variety of locally produced cheeses and which can be assembled into a cheese cake the day before. And the traditional cutting of the cake can be done with the savoury cheese cake!

Have an English Afternoon Tea theme with a tower of scones, complete with jam and clotted cream! Dress up a side table with vintage china and decorative bunting. Your guests will love the informality and some may be even be up for baking a home made sponge as a gift.

Save the Date, Invites and Placecards
You will almost certainly require a quantity of stationery; invitations, place settings, orders of service and thank you notes. An invitation on Facebook is not recommended! You will want to convey the style and theme of your wedding and these can be made to order. However if you intend to buy your own, most high street department stores have a selection of ready made invitations that are inexpensive to buy. Remember to add in the cost of posting them and ask for RSVP so you can plan the final guest list. It is also a useful idea to add in how to get to the venue or Church, where the guests can stay locally and a note about your wedding gift list if you have one.

The Finishing Touches
It's all in the detail and your own personal finishing touches make your wedding individual and special so it is worth setting aside a small budget for decorative effects and ideas. Chair covers are very popular and provide the solution if you need to harmonize your colours at the wedding reception. Many wedding venues keep their own chair covers and may include these in the package. You can hire in your own but don't be tempted to put them on yourself, it's very time consuming draping chairs and tying on sashes!

Congratulations, have fun and remember that planning your wedding is so much easier with Wedding Whispers!