Key wedding professionals are essential to turn your vision into reality. Here's how to work with yours...
Find your dream team
Spending hours pre-wedding drooling over Pinterest is all very well, but how do those gorgeous images from other people’s celebrations make their way from imagination to reality? Well, one thing’s for sure, you can’t do it alone. You’ll need a trusted band of professionals that will listen to your fantasy and gently guide you towards what your budget will actually buy in the real world.
Unless you have a true flower aficionado in the family, doing your own flowers – from buttonholes to centrepieces – is a big undertaking. If you still want to get creative, consider DIY-ing just one element: the church flowers perhaps, or posies for a marquee. Florist recommendations are good, although make sure your tipster knows the florist’s work from an actual wedding, not just because they’ve walked past the shop and bought the occasional bouquet. Look at flowers everywhere – in restaurants, foyers and offices – and explore markets, to get an idea of how blooms contrast in colour, style and size.
Budget buster Ask your florist for bigger displays in places everyone will see them, rather than lots of smaller arrangements on every windowsill. The flowers themselves are a fixed cost, ie, £xx per stem. The sliding cost is the florist’s time, so the more complex your floral arrangements, the more hours you’ll clock up.
Tip ‘Today’s couples want to know about green credentials,’ explains Hazel Shaw from Eden Blooms. ‘So when you’re choosing a florist, ask if they recycle their cardboard and paper waste, whether they can offer a plastic-free service and where they source their flowers from.’
Your cake maker
If you have a GBBO-standard dad/mum/cousin who can whip up a showstopper, you might have just saved yourself some budget on your wedding cake. But if, as most couples do, you actually need a professional, recommendations are key, so ask your venue, caterer and everyone you come into contact with along the way. Once you’ve found your star baker, discuss ways you can personalise your cake – from decorations that match the bridesmaids’ dresses to sugarcraft detailing that mimics the lace on your dress.
If three tiers is enough for 70 guests and you have 80, see if your cake maker can make a smaller, cutting cake to keep in the background for the extra 10, rather than having the expense of an extra tier. And remember, you get more slices from a square cake than a round one.
If you only need a two-tier cake but would like to make a real statement, ask about false/dummy tiers, which are essentially blocks decorated with the same icing and ribbons as your cake.
Resist the temptation to ask a keen amateur photographer – a disappointing album will be with you forever. You need to feel comfortable with the person you book as you’ll be spending hours with them. Check out Your Weddings at weddingstyle.co.uk to find styles of photography you like. Some photographers specialise in a more editorial style (with pictures that tell a story); others offer a spontaneous fly-on-the-wall style.
Budget buster There aren’t many ways to cut corners, as the biggest cost is your photographer’s time. So you need to decide which elements of the day are most important to you. Photographers often offer 6-hour, 8-hour or all-day coverage. Some won’t include the evening, which will be charged as extra, but if you know your friends will capture you rocking It’s Raining Men on their smart phones, you may not need a professional at that stage of the day!
Tip Make a list of family and friends group shots and put someone sensible in charge of assembling the troops. After all, your photographer can’t be expected to know who cousin Charles or Auntie Bea is.
A planner can help you secure the best people for your dream team, at the best prices, to make all your ideas come to life (or gently talk you out of the craziest ones!). They certainly take on the lion’s share of the stress. Many will be involved from the outset; others might do partial planning, from about three months before the big day; some may offer on-the-day only (although certain planners prefer not to as they see this as ‘stepping in to take the flak for someone else’s mistakes’).
Budget buster A planner involved from day one will probably charge a percentage of your overall budget (10-15%). If you seriously think you may need planning help, but are undecided, weigh up the cost of getting a planner in halfway through when you need crisis management (if costs are spiralling), against the peace of mind you might get from a safe pair of hands from the start.
‘Your planner should take time to find out what makes you tick,’ says planner Andri Benson. ‘Many couples are unsure what their ideal day actually looks like at the start of the process, so we work together, asking and answering questions, until they have a vision that fits their personality.’
Compiling the perfect gift list
We asked three gift list companies for their tips on thinking beyond the toaster – although if you do want a good toaster, that’s fine, too…
‘Each guest will have a different budget and it can be daunting when the only gifts left are on the list are the more expensive ones, so make sure you select a range in a variety of price points. Your gift list should be filled with things that you really want and not ones you think you’re expected to have. With so many choices – bespoke cash gifts, honeymoon funds, experience days and romantic mini-breaks – you can create
a list that’s as unique as you.’ Jessica Gibson, Prezola
‘Subscriptions are the gift that keeps on giving. To keep that newlywed feeling alive, Bloom & Wild will deliver flowers every month. Or, for post-wedding date night inspiration, The Spicery will send a box of fresh spices and recipe cards. We’re also big fans of group gifting, letting guests contribute towards items you’ve always wanted. For foodie couples, this could be a wood-fired pizza oven, or a classic KitchenAid mixer – a real gift-list favourite.’ Jane Evans, The Wedding Shop
‘Some guests can feel overwhelmed by a list, so help guide them towards your favourite gifts by highlighting them on your list as a ‘Couple’s Choice’. These sit at the top of your list with a little star to explain that they are your most-loved presents. Consider bespoke options, such as a drinks tray made using your wedding invitation, or a personalised wine cooler made using a map of your wedding location.’ Georgie Evans, Managing Director, The Wedding Present Co
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