Living in Scotland we are used to seeing all four seasons in one day, whatever month of the year! But whether a drizzle or a downpour, rain is no reason to give up hope on your wedding day. Stormy weather is nobody’s ideal wedding forecast, but unfortunately, it’s the only real part of the day you can’t control. Prepping for a rainy wedding day in advance will save you a headache in the future.
Any couple having an outdoor wedding ceremony should confirm a weather backup plan in their venue contract—whether it’s an indoor room, a covered outdoor area or a last-minute tent setup. That way, if the forecast spontaneously calls for rain on your wedding day, you’ll have something to fall back on—and no reason to panic. However, if you forgot to make a plan B from the start, here’s how to pull off a fabulous affair no matter what.
Talk to Your Venue and Suppliers
You planned an outdoor wedding, but your only weather prep was crossing your fingers and praying to the rain gods—now it’s supposed to rain on your wedding day. Call your venue coordinator and find out your options. Do they have another protected space on-site where you could relocate? If you were planning an outdoor ceremony and an indoor reception, can they help transform the indoor space for both the ceremony and reception? (If you go with this plan, ask them how long it’ll take to flip the room. A good team should get the job done in about an hour while you and your guests enjoy drinks and hors-d’oeuvres at another spot at the venue.)
Another option, if your budget and venue allow, is to rent a tent last minute. The site manager might even be able to refer you to a rental company they’ve worked with before. Speak to your photographer and make sure they have a plan B for indoor group shots and/or bridal portraits in the rain.
Get ready to roll with the punches and welcome the weather—rain on your wedding day is actually considered good luck! If the rain brings wind and chilly temperatures too, arrange for heat lamps, offer blankets and make sure there’s plenty of hot coffee, tea, cider or cocoa. Provide enough umbrellas and rain boots for your guests—or, at the very least, for your wedding party. Plan a playful rainy photo session with your wedding party holding cute umbrellas and wearing colourful rain boots. Or sneak away with your soon-to-be spouse for a romantic kiss under a shared umbrella. First, find out if any of your vendors can supply these sorts of props. For example, I bring 4/5 wedding umbrellas with me to every wedding – just in case. No luck? You can get super cheap fleece blankets or towels from Ikea and umbrellas from Amazon or eBay.
You’re Allowed to Be Upset (for a Little Bit)
Rain or shine, this is true of all weddings: No matter how beautiful your floral arrangements, elaborate your reception amenities or terrible your weather luck is, your guests will feed off your mood. If the forecast makes you flustered, upset and anxious, you’re allowed to let your frustration out (I know, it sucks), but don’t let it weigh you down for the whole celebration. Your guests can sense all your tense and negative energy, so the sooner you can get past it and be your own source of sunshine, the more fun both you and your guests will have—I promise.
Think you’re the only one whose nuptials got caught in the rain? Search for Rainy Day Wedding Photos on Pinterest—they’ll convince you everything will be okay.
Remember a Wedding is a Party, not a Performance. If at the end of the day you are married to the one you love, then everything went perfectly.
Obviously, the first question is – Is your venue available on the required date?
But when you are trying to select a venue for your wedding, forgetting to ask an important question could mean you end up selecting a venue that is missing a key element or costs you more than you first thought.
Below I have listed lots of relevant questions. I suggest you try and ask as many of them as possible to cover all possibilities. Your circumstances may change and questions that seem not important now may prove to be extremely important once your big day comes around.
Is your venue easy to find for guests?
Is your venue licensed to carry out civil weddings?
Will ours be the only wedding at your venue on our wedding day?
How many people can you accommodate?
How many car parking spaces are available?
Do you allow confetti to be thrown at the venue?
Do you allow candles to be lit in the reception room?
Do you have a noise limiter fitted or can we turn the music all the way up?
Are there any bedrooms over the dance floor?
Do you allow professional firework displays at your venue?
Do you offer the option of a marquee? Are there separate rooms provided for the wedding, reception, meal, evening reception, etc?
Is there a room provided for the use of “wedding couple” for the day?
Is there a dressing room that the bride and bridesmaids can use prior to the ceremony?
When can we have access to begin setting up the room in terms of decorating it with balloons, flowers, banners, etc? (Morning of wedding, day before, etc?)
If the evening reception is being held in a room that is being used for something else earlier in the day, do you require the DJ/Band to set-up their equipment beforehand?
Is there an area that could be used as a crèche if needed?
Is there a quieter area for older guests to get away from the noise of a band/DJ?
If rooms are available for overnight accommodation, how many?
What are the costs for overnight accommodation? Is there a special rate for wedding guests?
Is breakfast included?
What is the checkout time the following day?
Do you have a room where you are able to store wedding presents until you are able to collect them and are you insured for any loss or damage to these presents?
Do you insist on doing all the catering?
Can you supply examples of suggested menus along with prices?
Do you include a cake stand and knife if required?
Do you have a preferred order of service (when and where do we cut the cake)?
What time do you offer an alcohol license until?
What time do you insist the reception finishes by?
Do you insist on supplying the wine and champagne?
If we are able to supply the wine, what do you charge for corkage?
Can we offer alcohol as favours? (some venues don’t allow miniatures which are popular favours)
Can you recommend preferred suppliers e.g. flowers, djs, photography, etc? Do you have promotional discounts with them?
I hope you can use this list to secure the venue of your dreams and that it helps inspire other questions you might want to ask.
It saddens me that I’m even writing this. However, ever since I have been business I see at least one post a month (sometimes more) from couples on wedding social media sites that have been let down by their wedding ‘photographer’. Scamming couples planning for their big day has become so prevalent there are even Facebook groups that are dedicated to stopping these criminals such as Scottish Wedding Scammers and Wedding Scammers Don’t Let Them Win. Both good places to start if not sure about a supplier but be warned, reading about people’s wedding plans being shattered doesn’t make for pleasant viewing.
A wedding is such a memorable and important moment for brides, grooms, their families, friends and relatives. The organisation of such an event requires elaborate planning and preparation, as well as interviewing, hiring and coordinating several suppliers to make it a success. The most common complaint from scam victims, according to the reports in the media, is for vendors who look like legitimate businesses and service providers but either, never deliver the service or do not deliver it in a way that is consistent with expectations. While the latter could be subjective and due to multiple reasons, the former is a pure form of scam.
Today I will be sharing some ideas that, with a bit of homework, might help you spot a scammer.
Every photographer has a pretty unique photography style which not only defines him or her as an artist but which also differentiates them from other photographers. You should be able to see consistency in the work of a photographer either in person or on their website. Try to browse through the photographs of at least three to five weddings by a certain photographer to truly get a grasp of their style. Make sure they’re all similar. If you see inconsistency, then it may be cause for concern that the images themselves have been taken by other photographers and placed on a website to simply populate it.
While many businesses do not have websites alarm bells might trigger if you only see a photographer’s work solely through Facebook.
Photography is a visual art, and photographs are meant to be shared and displayed. A legitimate business is expected to have an online presence, especially one marketing photography services. Being unable to visit the website of the business you are considering is a red flag. (note they may not be a scammer but could be a newly-started, and not-yet-established business – if in doubt ask).
If you are able to locate and visit the website; look for contact info. Legitimate businesses want people to find them online and contact them in order to establish a professional relationship with them. While you browse through the website, pay attention to broken URL links or incomplete web pages. It could be a sign of website design made up on the fly, or one where not much attention was paid to detail. Any business owner who cares about the user experience and its own online presence would maintain and keep its website functional and updated.
Again, make sure it is all consistent with everything else you see the photographer display on other media sites and that all the details match up.
3. Business Details
While as a sole trader you are not necessarily required to be listed under Companies House, if the company claims to be a Limited company, go onto the Companies House website and check them out.
Again, while not mandatory, most professional photographers will belong to a governing body, mine, for example, is the SWPP (Society of Wedding and Portrait Photographers). This information is clearly stated on my website, please feel free to contact them to find out more about me. Again, they will list the given address of my business; make sure all these details match up to who the photographer claims to be.
The second biggest element in this section I believe, would be business insurance. I for one am insured through Aaduki Multimedia Insurance for Photographers. Believe it or not, some wedding venues ask suppliers such as myself to show insurance details before they allowing you on the premises. It is always a good idea to ask to see your photographers fall back plans and insurance certificates.
On the day, I will have my camera which has two memory card slots backing up photographs straight away. If there is an issue with my first camera, I have a second camera ready and waiting. Once home, the images are placed onto separate hard drives so again everything is backed up. Everything is then, sent to the cloud to be backed up again in case my house gets set on fire, floods, etc (you get the picture!)… I would rather prevent any issues than create them, or destroy your day.
First of all, make sure you are offered one! A contract should be in place to protect you both. It should also provide a recorded note of what you have both agreed to. Please always read contracts/terms and conditions fully, and query anything you’re not sure about.
5. Location Location Location
Most wedding photographers work with local clients and shoot on locations close to their homes. For example, I’m based in Central Scotland and if all you could see in my portfolio were white sandy beaches from Florida or the Bahamas and no local landscape or venues. You would have to ask the question: “why have no local couples ever hired this photographer?”
You should at least expect to see some local landmarks or venues in your area if you are looking to hire a local wedding photographer. There might be legitimate reasons as to why there are no portfolio images from your area. So, when in doubt, ask questions. Legitimate business owners would not see a problem in providing you with a reasonable explanation.
6. Venue Information
If the wedding photographer you are looking at has photographed at as many weddings as claimed on their website. He or she should not have a problem naming a few of the most recent venues he or she worked on. Most photographers spend between 4 – 10 hours on location, so would be difficult to forget it. You could even go ask your chosen venue (if it is one the photographer has been to) for an impartial opinion.
Having done your homework
Most scammers are looking for a quick “hit and run” before they are detected and shut down by authorities. They don’t usually spend years laying down their scam. In many cases, they are often sloppy and can be easily spotted if you know what to look for.
Finally, please, please, please take out wedding insurance! Considering how much we all pay for one day this is a simple and cheap way to protect yourself. Use comparison websites to find the best deal for you with policies starting from as little as £20. Then even if you have done all your homework and have been let down for whatever reason, you will at least have something to help you through this time as you change plans and work around the situation. For example, think of all the dress shops that have gone bankrupt recently.
As my gran always used to say if it feels too good to be true than it probably is. Let’s be honest most of us are good people and just want to do the best we can. It’s a shame the 0.0001% of people wreck it for others. Never ever feel pushed into a decision and always ask questions. All legitimate businesses will be more than happy to answer your queries.
Everyone seems to have an opinion on this. Who you should and should not have at the top table, the correct order, etc etc.
I say…..STUFF EM!
That’s right you heard me. It is your day, so do it your way. By that, I mean whatever feels right for you, your partner and those closest to you.
In this blog I am offering up suggestions and alternatives that you may not have thought of.
Traditional UK etiquette
If you want to do it the completely traditional way then follow the diagram below
Or any combination of this that works for you and your situation e.g. stepparents, children, grooms mum and dad wanting to sit together, etc.
On the plus side, this is usually a blend of family and friends so the best of both worlds and these people are usually the ‘speech givers’ so they don’t have to shuffle too far to get the mic.
The Family Table
You could make it a family affair and just have parents, siblings and in-laws at the table. Also good if you have kids.
The Wedding Party Table
If you’d rather be surrounded by your friends for dinner, this is the best wedding top table seating plan for you. Instead of your family, you’ll reserve seats for your entire wedding party and (usually) their dates. This is great for those who want to start the party early – your Chief Bridesmaid and Best Man are bound to get the drinks flowing earlier than your mum and dad would 😉
The Sweetheart Table
I saw this recently at a wedding in Budapest and it’s popular in other countries too. If you can’t decide who you’d like to sit with or just want a little one-on-one time with your partner, go with a sweetheart table. This option accommodates two guests and two guests only, so you can have a mini date amidst all the mixing, mingling and wedding chaos. Keep in mind you’ll want to make your rounds after dessert finishes – being antisocial newlyweds is a no-no.
Can’t settle on one group you want to sit with at your wedding reception? Well, good news, you can sit with all of them! Add two extra chairs to a few of the tables around your venue and spend the evening moving from place to place. You’ll want to divvy up your time evenly, so spend a courses length at each spot (i.e. starters at one table, main dish at another and dessert at a third). Remember, if you can’t squeeze every single table in, it’s not a problem, you can always talk to your other guests after dinner has wrapped.
Have a Buffet
Having a Buffet has its perks! It’s definitely the least formal of the bunch, but going for this option means that won’t have to stick to (or even make) a wedding top table seating plan. You can spend the evening playing musical chairs and moving from group to group while your munch on crudites and vol-au-vents. Bonus: it’s also the least expensive choice when it comes to catering, so you’ll be able to save a few £££s, too! And if it’s good enough for Prince Harry and Meghan’s wedding….!
Each wedding is unique. The above is intended as some suggestions, but don’t feel like you’re doing it wrong if you want to deviate – it’s your day after all!
“And all along I believed I would find you
Time has brought your heart to me
I have loved you for a thousand years
I’ll love you for a thousand more”
Christina Perri – A Thousand Years
It wasn’t quite a thousand years Christine and James waited to get married but seventeen years and two children later can feel like a really long time!
They met seventeen years ago at the gym and about seven years later James asked Christine to marry him. They started planning a wedding but six months later discovered they were pregnant with their daughter Neive. So the wedding got put on the back burner and then life got in the way.
Christine was looking at the venue The Vu on social media earlier this year when a last minute date popped up as a cancellation. As it was James’ birthday she sent it to him as a joke thinking he’d never go for it. But he did! By the time they phoned up another couple had already booked it so they thought that was that. Twelve hours later the venue called them back. The other couple had pulled out as they felt it was too short notice – did they want it? Christine and James rose to the challenge. IT WAS ON!!!
A Family Affair
In the intervening years, Christine and James also had a son, Jude and he looked super smart in his matching kilt.
Neive meanwhile looked beautiful as one of her mum’s bridesmaids.
Christine looked absolutely stunning in a fit and flare dress with a plunging back set off with a long sparkly veil and pastel roses bouquet.
I now pronounce you man and wife
It was a short but memorable service. At one point Neive got emotionally as her parents finally tied the knot and as I gave her my emergency hanky I noticed all the other bridesmaids getting a shot of it. Quite a lot of glassy eyes in the building.
Baby, it’s cold outside
Christine and James were very fortunate with the weather for a late October wedding. It was beautiful blue skies and little puffy white clouds. It was also only about three degrees and bitterly cold.
Undeterred the happy couple braved the weather for some formal photos on The Vu’s famous jetty.
It was my first time shooting at this venue and having checked it out beforehand I had such plans for pictures of Christine and James and their kids walking by the reservoir and the bridal party in the pagoda. Ahhhh such plans! The Baltic weather stopped us in our tracks, well if I’m honest the bride (what a trouper) and myself were up for it but the kids point-blank refused to stay outside any longer than absolutely necessary!
The pictures of the new Mr & Mrs on the jetty were worth the cold weather though!
A Sensible Plan B
Being a premier wedding venue there was a plan B and Hannah the wedding coordinator suggested the slate wall back inside the room we had the service. Coordinators like Hannah are worth their weight in gold. She was so helpful all day 🙂
The wall was the perfect backdrop for this stunning couple.
A Sparkling Evening
After the speeches and the meal, we braved the weather again armed with some sparklers.
Then all too soon it was time for the cake cutting and first dance and time for me to take my leave. You would never have known this wedding had been organised so quickly and as my last wedding of the year, it certainly didn’t disappoint.
Congratulations Mr and Mrs Welsh and to all the other wonderful couples I’ve shot this year.
When Mr JB and I lived in Edinburgh we had a flat with no garden. As the Royal Botanic Gardens were a stone’s throw from where we lived they were a beautiful respite in a bustling city, a place to walk on a Sunday morning and feed the fat squirrels, somewhere we would joke was our ‘backyard’. They are a magical place that we have very fond memories of. Hence, I was delighted when Pamela and James booked me to photograph their wedding there.
James and Pamela met in a bar in Edinburgh whilst out with their respective friends. Pamela wasn’t too keen on giving James her mobile number so the cunning devil stole it! Three years later and James proposed in Greece which Pamela said was just in time as she thought it was never going to happen. The proposal itself took two attempts as the first time Pamela thought James was trying to steal her Panini!!
James is Scottish and Pamela is Italian and when I went to her room at the Inverleith Hotel to capture some of the bridal prep I had my wedding umbrellas with me, just in case. I was greeted at the door by two gorgeous, very animated Italian ladies that were clearly very excited about something! When Pamela realised I was completely confused she translated that they were very happy that I had brought wedding umbrellas as it looked overcast and they were thinking they might have to go out and buy some! As it turned out we didn’t need them – but you never know in Scotland….
Pamela looked absolutely radiant. As they had chosen the garden venue she had gone with a stunning floral crown in her hair and the overall effect once she had her dress on was off an ethereal goddess. James was a very lucky guy.
In the Garden
I left Pamela in her maids’ good hands to get to the Caledonian Hall, the wedding venue they had chosen inside the Gardens. Pamela and James picked the venue as they too love coming to the Gardens in their downtime and once they realised they could get married there nowhere else came close for consideration.
The Groom and his Best Man arrived resplendent in Stewart Tartan. As the guests arrived they were played in by Davie Christie on his violin.
As half the guests were Italian the service was conducted by the registrar and one of the couples friends who is an interpreter for a living. She also interpreted the two readings the couples had chosen and all the speeches. I think it all sounded more romantic in Italian.
James also spoke some of his vows and his speech in Italian which was a lovely touch.
The gardens looked so beautiful in all their autumnal splendour. The new Mr and Mrs Stewart were so photogenic. I could have spent hours walking them around the garden taking pictures. In fact, I nearly broke my own rules which are to get the couple back to their party and guests as soon as possible.
Their favourite parts of the Gardens included the Rock Garden and the Chinese Garden. I made sure we got lots of great pictures in those places.
Confetti? Who needs it!
Due to strict conservation rules, the guests weren’t allowed to throw confetti in the gardens. But who needs confetti when you have leaves!
Alice in Wonderland
The couple had chosen Alice in Wonderland characters for their seating plan and with glass candelabras, lots of flowers and a naked wedding cake the Caledonian Hall looked absolutely magical.
The Maid of Honour kicked off the speeches. I can honestly say was the most beautiful speech I’ve heard all year. The Italian translation sounded even more poetic.
After the speeches, I bade them farewell before they tucked into the wedding breakfast and then started dancing the evening away. At the end of the night, they were serving the guests pizza. I just hope nobody tried to steal the Bride’s slice!
“A smile is happiness you’ll find right under your nose.” – Tom Wilson
It took a family visiting from Canada to introduce me to Plane Castle or Cock-a-bendy castle as the locals call it. A beautiful restored castle literally 5 minutes drive from my house/studio.
When I got there the laundry guy was just leaving and asked me if I was there for the wedding? A bit confused I dragged my camera case over the cobbled stones and met Shaun who had contacted me to arrange the shoot. Then all became clear! Shaun and his new wife Jamiela had eloped in May. Rather than have a big wedding back home, Shaun who is a huge history buff decided to use the cash to holiday in various castles in Scotland with Jamiela and his teenage daughter Alorah. An excellent idea I thought (especially as they booked me for some family photos!) and Jamiela got to wear her pretty dress for a second time. Genius!
Set amongst 3 acres the castle has been lovingly restored with a pond and many statues and features. I am told there is even a peacock but he didn’t appear whilst I was there.
We certainly had some fun exploring parts of it.
Off to the Tower
The Hecks were staying in the Medieval Tower part of the castle and as Shaun looked very dapper in his kilt I felt it was only right to take an obligatory knee up, fireside shot!
Then it was time for me to leave the Hecks holiday residence and trundle home. As I left they were planning what castle to visit next before heading back to Canada. I think Stirling Castle was winning. I, meanwhile am delighted to have discovered a castle that has literally been under my nose this whole time.
If you’re struggling to put together your schedule and don’t know how long to factor in for each element of your day then don’t worry, you are not alone!
Wedding day timings are possibly one of the hardest things to gauge, particularly if your wedding is the first large-scale event you’ve ever organised! Whilst there’s no one-size-fits-all template, I wanted to give you a rough guide of how long to allow for each part of your Big Day with some top tips sprinkled throughout!
So let’s start at the beginning, shall we?
What time you start your bridal prep and the amount of time you allow for this will ultimately depend on several factors including:
The size of your bridal party.
The complexity of your hair and makeup.
Whether you are having an individual hair and make-up artist or a team
How much you prepare in advance.
The time of your ceremony.
The distance between where you are getting ready and your ceremony location.
Whether you plan on having any photos with your bridal party prior to your ceremony.
The best starting point when it comes to working out how much time to allow is to ask the expert! If you are having your hair and makeup done professionally then ask your hair and make-up artist how long they think they will take. I asked my favourite expert Carla Haley and she said as a general rule, allow a couple of hours for bridal hair and make-up and an additional 45 to 75 minutes for each member of your wedding party).
Work back from the start of your ceremony and factor in travel, putting on your dress (this takes longer than you think so give yourself at least 30 mins!) and timings from your hair and make-up artist. This will give you a rough idea of your starting time!
Remember to factor breakfast and lunch (and of course a glass of bubbles!) into your bridal prep!
If your bridal party are doing their own hair and make-up then ask them how long they think it will take them to get ready and then double it! Overexcited bridesmaids will always take longer to get ready than they think!
Leave a margin of error of around 1 hour… This will ensure that you are ready in plenty of time and can enjoy the morning.
When it comes to your ceremony and timings there are 2 elements to consider:
Firstly, what time should everyone arrive at the ceremony?
As a general guide I usually advise the following:
Groom, Best Man / Men and Ushers – 45 minutes before the ceremony.
Guests – 30 minutes before the ceremony.
Groom’s parents – 15 minutes before the ceremony.
Mother of the Bride and Bridesmaids – 10 minutes before the ceremony.
Bride and Father of the Bride – 5 minutes before the ceremony.
Secondly, how long should you allow for your ceremony?
This will ultimately depend on whether you are having a Religious Ceremony, a Non-Religious Ceremony, or a Civil Wedding / Partnership…
Non-religious Ceremony – 20 to 45 minutes.
Civil Wedding / Partnership – 30 to 45 minutes.
Religious Ceremony – 60 to 90 minutes.
You may want to use your ceremony location for some group pictures and the confetti shot. If you do then remember to factor this into your timings.
Allow 1 ½ to 2 hours for your drinks reception as this will give your photographer plenty of time for your group and personal portrait shots. It will also give you enough time to mingle with your guests and enjoy your canapés and bubbles.
If you want a longer drinks reception then it is essential to your keep your guests entertained and provide plenty of drinks and canapés!
Group & Portrait Photos
The number of group photos you want will ultimately determine how long your photographer will need. However, as a general rule of thumb allow 5 minutes per group photo and at least 30 minutes for your personal portrait shots.
Make sure everything runs like clockwork by asking your photographer to scope out some potential backgrounds in advance. If they are like me they will do this anyway 😉
At your wedding photographer consultation ensure they make a list of different photos and combinations of your family and wedding party that you don’t want them to miss. Then arrange for the relevant people to gather at a designated spot right after your ceremony so that nobody goes AWOL (to the bar) when they’re needed for group shots!
Give somebody trustworthy (and someone who knows the difference between your dad and your distant uncle) the job of rounding everyone up for group photos and chasing any stragglers! This person should be the photographers best friend by the end of the group photos!
Seating your Guests
Allow up to 30 minutes for guests to move from the drinks reception to the location of your Wedding Breakfast and for them to then find their seats.
If you are planning on having a receiving line then allow an additional 40 minutes on top of this.
Designate at least a couple of your Bridesmaids or Ushers to direct guests, assist with the receiving line and speed up any loitering guests!
This is a perfect opportunity for you and your new husband/wife to steal some time together. Whether that’s using the time for a little one-on-one time or indeed to capture those couple’s shots.
Allow no more than 30 to 40 minutes for your speeches with each speaker allocated up to 10 minutes. It is important to try and stick to these timings as speeches that take any longer normally result in fidgety guests and your evening may lose momentum!
If you ask your speakers how long they think they’ll take always double it! From experience, I have never known a speech to run to time!
The best starting point when it comes to working out how much time to allocate for your Wedding Breakfast is to once again ask the expert!
Your caterers will be able to give you a guide on how long they think their service will take depending on the number of guests, choice of food, number of courses, number of catering staff and type of venue.
As a general guide allow up to 2 hours for a 3-course meal.
Once the evening reception has begun timings can often go out the window!
However, there are some key elements that need to be factored into your schedule as otherwise they can easily be forgotten in the excitement of the evening’s festivities!
I, therefore, suggest you factor in the first dance, cutting the cake and throwing the bouquet no later than 45 minutes after the end of their wedding breakfast. This will also ensure that the photographer manages to capture everything before they leave.
If you have invited evening guests ask them to turn up at least 30 minutes after your wedding breakfast. If for any reason your wedding breakfast overruns the last thing you want is to have evening guests turning up whilst people are still eating!
Each wedding is unique and timings will vary drastically between different celebrations. Use the above as a loose guide, but don’t feel like you’re doing it wrong if you want to deviate – it’s your day after all! Also, this covers lot’s of the traditional elements of a wedding and you may want to skip parts of these to suit you as a couple!
• Set the date
Start your wedding planning twelve months or more in advance to ensure you get to book the venues and suppliers of your choice at the best prices. You could save money by booking a mid-week wedding instead of a Saturday.
• Decide whether to plan your own wedding
Or enlist the help of a professional wedding planner. You could plan the wedding yourself and call on the expertise of a wedding planner or stylist their experience is often worth its weight in gold.
• Send save-the-date cards
To make sure your guests don’t book their summer holiday and miss your special day. If you are booking a photographer see if they offer engagement shoots and use a cool picture for your save the date cards.
• Set your budget
Make it realistic without going into debt and add in a contingency just in case.
• Draw up your guest list(s)
Try to make it equal and keep both families happy. Have a separate evening reception guest list if you want some work colleagues or friends of the family to come but you don’t know them well enough to invite them to the ceremony and the wedding breakfast.
• Book your venue(s)
The sooner you book your venues, the easier everything else will be to plan. You’ll need to book a venue for your ceremony (either a church, registry office or other licensed civil wedding venue) and a venue for your reception, for your wedding breakfast and disco or other after-dinner entertainment. Take into account seating capacity, room hire costs, catering options, indoor and outdoor settings for photographs. You could save thousands of pounds by booking out of season – many venues have fantastic winter wedding offers too.
• Appoint bridesmaids, a best man and ushers
Choose from close friends and family who are nearby ideally and, ahem, thoroughly trustworthy!
• Book your photographer and videographer
Find a wedding photographer who offers the style of photos you are looking for (traditional, contemporary, reportage style or a combination), meet with them personally, ask to see their portfolio and also a whole album from one wedding. Also, see my blog 10 things to ask your wedding photographer.
• Meet your minister/registrar
They’ll be able to answer all your questions about the ceremony.
• Book a DJ/band/entertainers
You might want to book a DJ to dance the night away or hire a live band or classical musicians for your reception. Some couples like to have a singer perform a live solo piece at their ceremony, others book magicians or celebrity lookalikes for their evening reception just to add a sense of fun!
• Book caterers if needed
If the reception venue you have booked is not doing your catering then you’ll need to consider hiring outside caterers or, if your budget is tight, catering the wedding with buffet party platters from your local supermarket.
• Book your cars
You’ll need to book one bridal car for you and the person giving you away and you may also want to book a second or third car for your mother and bridesmaids. If you want to make it easier and fun for all your family and friends – book a bus! You could get some amazing wedding photos of you and your guests atop a vintage double-decker bus!
• Book your florist
Decide how many flowers you would like and where, or if you’re on a tight budget, invest in everlasting silk flowers that can be sold on after the wedding. A combination of real and silk flowers can also work. Ask your local florist for advice.
• Book a toastmaster
You might think you don’t need a toastmaster or master of ceremonies, or be worried that having one will make your wedding day feel too formal. They’re worth their weight in gold for ensuring everything goes to plan at the right time, in the right place and with the right people. A lot of venues offer this as part of their package so be sure and check.
• Book your honeymoon
Whether you’re planning just a honeymoon or a whole wedding abroad, book it in your maiden name and use your existing passport, then change all your documents to your married name when you return.
• Take out wedding insurance
It’s not costly and could save you thousands if a supplier suddenly lets you down. It’s worth it just for peace of mind!
• Decide what kind of wedding dress you want
If you’re having a couture wedding dress made for you then you’ll need to start this process now. If you’re ordering a designer dress then allow 4-6 months and if you’re buying off-the-peg or second-hand, 4-6 weeks before should be fine for alterations if needed.
• Start your healthy eating diet and exercise programme
Whether you want to lose weight or simply tone up for your wedding day and honeymoon, there is no better time to start than now! Go to the gym together as a couple or go with a friend. You’ll never have such amazing motivation to look good again!
6 months +
If you’re planning to DIY some aspects of your wedding – such as making your own invitations, table centres, cake or favours, then you will also need to build in time for practice as well as production – just to be on the safe side! Now is the time to start.
• Order/make your wedding invitations
Don’t forget all the other wedding stationery including orders of service, place cards and thank you cards.
• Order the wedding cake
Or cupcakes or ‘cheese cake’, or have your wedding cake homemade.
• Buy your wedding shoes and accessories
Get your shoes in good time for your first dress fitting, and your tiara and veil in time for your makeup and hair trial. Choose what jewellery and any other bridal accessories you will wear.
• Book your make up artist and hairdresser
Speak to several to find the one that’s right for you, then book a hair and makeup trial complete with your tiara and veil if possible.
• Buy your bridesmaid’s dresses and suits for the groom, best man, ushers and any flower girls or page boys.
• Book the honeymoon suite
3 months +
• Have your wedding dress altered
And then don’t lose any more weight!
• Buy your wedding rings
Make sure they are both the right size and that your wedding ring will sit comfortably alongside your engagement ring if you plan to wear them together.
• Send your wedding invitations
Traditionally they are sent out 6-12 weeks before the wedding but you can send them sooner if you prefer. Include information for your guests on overnight accommodation, transport, parking and any dress code if appropriate. Include reply cards to ensure they all RSVP and ask your guests if they have any specific dietary requirements. Or use a free wedding website like www.gettingmarried.co.uk
• Order your venue décor and table decorations
Including table centrepieces and traditional wedding favours thought to bring good luck.
• Decide if you are having a gift list
Make it available to all your wedding guests (through your invitations) and your wedding website if you have one.
• Choose wedding music and readings
Your minister/registrar will be able to advise further. Or check out my wedding music blog here.
• Buy gifts for the best man, ushers and bridesmaids
And bouquets of flowers for the mothers of the bride and groom. Personalised gifts with your own message engraved make very special keepsakes.
• Arrange to have any vaccinations done
If required for your honeymoon.
• Start to plan your hen and stag parties
With the help of your best man and chief bridesmaid respectively.
1 month before
• Arrange for a final fitting of your wedding dress
And bring along your mum, sister or best friend too!
• Reconfirm the wedding arrangements with all your suppliers
Speak to them personally and make sure you have confirmation of dates, places and times in writing from them.
• Have your last nights of freedom!
And don’t do anything you wouldn’t want him/her to do… Wear L plates if you want to!
• Finalise the seating plan
And make your table planner for the reception so guests know where to sit.
• Contact any guests who have not replied to your invitation
The venue and the caterers will need to know final numbers at least 1-2 weeks before. Parents are great at helping to chase up RSVPs so rope them in to do some chasing for you!
• Arrange a date to pick up any hired suits
And make a note of when they need to be returned – give that honour to your best man.
• Write the wedding speeches
Either have it written by a professional speech writer or write from the heart, and then practice, practice, practice…
1 week before
• Have your hair trimmed and/or coloured
Then you’ll know it’s looking its best for your ‘up do’ or curls on the big day, but only do as planned in your hair trials – this is not the time to experiment with a new colour or drastic style changes!
• Pack for your honeymoon
You’re going on the holiday of a lifetime!
• Wear-in your wedding shoes
Don’t wear bridal shoes outside, but do wear them around the house to make sure they’re comfy on the day.
• Create a wedding emergency kit
Include makeup, a compact mirror and powder, lipstick, tissues etc – anything you think you might need on the day. Ask your chief bridesmaid or your mum to carry your bridal kit for you.
• Order your foreign currency for your honeymoon
And make any other last-minute arrangements.
• Buy ivory wedding umbrellas
If the weather ahead looks rainy invest in some bridal umbrellas or for a sunny day, pretty parasols. Check and see if your Photographer brings any before you buy. Some, like me, do!
• Have your beauty treatments
Go for pre-wedding and honeymoon waxing or fake tanning in good time before the big day. Get eyebrows shaped and anything else that needs attention done the week before, not the day before.
• Find your ‘something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue’
Ask your mother or grandmother for something old, the rest is easy and a silver sixpence is meant to bring good luck.
• Hand over the supplier list of contacts to a designated person
Give the list of all the wedding suppliers involved in your wedding day with their contact details and times they are meant to arrive, in case they need to be contacted, to your best man and/or chief bridesmaid and then do not give it all another thought!
The day before
• Have the day off to relax
Don’t go to work, spend the day with friends or family and don’t do anything too exhausting.
• Drop off anything you need to at the venue(s)
• Have your nails manicured
Book it for the afternoon to avoid chips and breaks.
• Try to get an early night
You’re getting married in the morning!
On your wedding day, the one thing you should try to keep in mind is that it’s not the end of your wedding planning, it’s the beginning of your marriage. So whatever may happen on the day, your marriage is what really matters most, and that’s why it will be a wonderful day you’ll remember for the rest of your life.
Happy Wedding Planning!
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“Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it family: whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.” – Jane Howard
I first heard about Simone and Alexander’s wedding when Simone put a plea out on Facebook on one of the wedding groups. Her gran was ill and as a result, she was downsizing her big planned wedding next year into something more intimate this year to hopefully ensure she could be there.
I had the date free and wanted to help.
And I’m pleased to say Simone’s gran and grandad were there to witness the happy occasion.
Family is really important to this pair and they wanted their two kids Macie and Hugo to play a big part in the whole day.
Hugo was the worlds cutest pageboy and he led the bridal procession with the help of his granny. In matching tartan to his Daddy and the groomsmen no less.
Then came his big sister as a beautiful flower girl leading in Simone’s four bridesmaids. They wore soft grey dresses and had wrist corsages instead of bouquets. I thought this was a genius idea to keep their hands free.
The wedding ceremony took place in the beautiful Drummond Room at the Stirling Office. The last time I was there was for Neil and Raymond’s wedding and their pictures now grace the official Stirling Council wedding site 🙂
After the ceremony, the new Mr & Mrs Podmore headed off with Hugo and Macie in their big white stretch limo to the Stirling Court Hotel on the University grounds.
We were due a storm that evening so the air was humid and muggy but Simone and Alexander were proper troopers during their photos.
Once back inside you could see all the thoughtful touches Simone had worked hard on whilst planning the wedding. Alex’s mum was sadly no longer with them. So Simone had set up a charming memory table so she could be there in spirit. Both Alex and his dad mentioned her in their heartfelt speeches as well.
But she didn’t stop there. Their wedding cake was in keeping with the sparkly theme of the day from the front…
But from the back…
Simone had incorporated a tribute to Alex’s football team. Now that is relationship goals right there! (goals – see what I did!!).
Congratulations Mr and Mrs Podmore and your beautiful family.