Weddings are an accumulation of everything I adore; flowers, cakes, dresses and most importantly the people you love. I studied for my degree in Events Management in Birmingham and during this time I had a placement year working for a wedding venue in Ireland which is where my passion for weddings began. Since graduating I have been working for the past two years at The Norfolk Mead as a Wedding and Events planner where myself and my colleague Victoria Norman spend our days helping couples plan their dream wedding day.
Below are my top wedding planning tips which I have learnt along the way to help newly engaged couples:
1. Guest List
The best advice I could give to an engaged couple is to nail a rough wedding guest list before you set your wedding budget. This will really help you shortlist wedding reception venues and come up with a realistic set of requirements for your day. Many wedding venues have minimum numbers and minimum food spends in place. The number of guests you have can really set the scene for the style of day you wish to have; intimate and relaxed or big numbers with a lively party!
2. Wedding Budget
Once you have determined the style of wedding day you wish to have you can then decide on how much you want to spend on making it come to life. Budgeting for your wedding is one of the most important factors when planning your day so having a good idea of this will also assist on the overall wedding organisation and how much you want to spend on each component of your day. It can always be hard to know what the average breakdown of a wedding budget is which is why there are a range of different wedding planning websites out there which are able to help you. A personal favourite of mine is Rock My Wedding a great source for weddng ideas and advice!
3. The Wedding Venue
Picking your wedding venue is one of the biggest and most exciting parts of the wedding planning process. The availability at your chosen venue is most likely to determine your wedding date which is then the starting point of being able to book those all-important wedding suppliers. My one piece of advice would be to visit as many different types of venues as you can and really work out what your priorities are. Is accommodation a necessity? Or is something completely rural more of a must have? Do you want a Norfolk wedding venue? Another key piece of advice would be to ask as many questions as possible in regards to catering, licensing, exclusivity of the venue, access on the day and payment plans. Your event venue will also provide you with a set of terms and conditions and advise you to take out your own wedding insurance to cover your special day. Many couples choose John Lewis for their wedding insurance.
4. Wedmin and Organisation
I think it’s a given that when planning a wedding you need to become organised. Wedding admin, also know as Wedmin, is a term commonly used by brides and grooms when planning the details of their day. Wedmin can assist with the budgeting but it will also help you to keep focused and have clear timelines for when things need to be actioned. The high street has really jumped on the Wedmin term and produced a range of different organisational planners to remind you of key dates and wedding timelines. Below is a link to a few of my favourites:
5. The Wedding Photographer
Although all the wedding suppliers you decide upon play an important part in making your day come alive, it’s the photographer who will help you remember it for a lifetime. In my eyes it’s one of your most important investments for the day. Gone are the days when there was only a handful of wedding photographers to choose from. Now there are a range of different styles and packages that will suit individual couple’s needs. Finding someone’s work that reflects you as a couple is incredibly important. Not many people are used to being in front of the camera and so a great piece of advice would be to have a pre-wedding shoot with your chosen photographer. This will really help put you both at ease and it’s a great way to get to know who will be shooting your day. My last piece of advice would be to really think about the group shot list before you send it to your photographer. I strongly believe the moments following your ceremony should be for congratulations and emotion, not to be herded into lines for photographs. So, keep that group shot list short and spend time with the people who have joined you on your special day. Do remember any good photographer will catch you with your loved ones throughout the whole day saving those precious moments just after the ceremony.
6. Entertainment and Music
Finding the perfect type of wedding day entertainment can be one of the most time-consuming aspects of the wedding planning process. Whether it be a band, DJ or a solo artist I would certainly recommend seeing them first with your own eyes (or ears in this case!). Whilst this is easily done for bands and solo artists as they often play at local gigs, it’s not as easy for a DJ. If you decided upon having a DJ, always go from recommendations from the wedding venue or someone you trust. Any good DJ will also insist on meeting with you before your wedding to get to know you both and the type of music that reflects you as a couple. It’s always good to discuss any entertainment with your venue as they may have limitations in place surrounding noise.
7. The Weather
The weather is one of the most common worries for a wedding day and it’s one of the only things you can’t control. However, what you can do is prepare for such eventualities. Bridal brollies and wellies make for great photo opportunities – especially at countryside wedding venues! It’s also a great question to ask your wedding venue; what procedures do they have in place and where would photos be best taken if the weather isn’t as kind as you had hoped? Whatever the weather make sure you embrace it; rain on a wedding day is good luck after all!
8. The Wedding Menu
Guests may not remember what flowers you had or if you had a sweet cart or a chocolate fountain, but they will always remember the wedding day food. The biggest compliments we get here at The Norfolk Mead are for our top wedding day catering. The quality of the wedding food is one thing to consider when picking the right venue for you but also something to prioritise when thinking about your budget. Often guests have spent a lot of money attending your special day from buying an outfit to the gift, so ensuring all guests are well fed and watered should be at the top of your priorities. It’s also a well know fact that when we are fed, we are much happier! Lots of calories are likely to be burned on the dance floor!
9. Wedding Event Management
On the day, all the happy couple need to be focusing on living in the moment. It’s a good idea to give a member of your bridal or groom’s party the job of being the point of contact for your wedding planner and wedding venue. Your wedding coordinator can then approach this person at any given moment if an issue or query arises. They will have been involved with the wedding planning process with you and would have been briefed with the timings for the day.
10. After all the Wedding Planning is done …
Lastly, the best piece of wedding planning advice I will always give to my couples is try not to overthink any of the above. When you finally get to marry the love of your life in front of your nearest and dearest all the planning and stress fades away and you are left with a room full of good food, good drink and those you love the most. So, immerse yourself in every single moment; embrace the bits that don’t go quite right, and enjoy it all because those memories will be sure to last an entire lifetime.
If you have recently got engaged, and would like to arrange a tour of our beautiful wedding venue, call Francesca or Victoria on 01603 737 531. We can cater for weddings and civil partnerships. We welcome all couples as a LGBT+ friendly wedding venue.