Wedding Tablescapes 101

best creative wedding planner london

Your wedding table is probably the first thing that comes to mind when you start thinking about what your wedding will actually look like. It's when your guests really get to be up close and personal (and sometimes even interactive) with your chosen design.

But, in our experience, we've seen couples tie themselves into knots trying to figure it out, get a little bit overwhelmed overthinking it or, worse, not thinking enough about it.

Planning your wedding tables falls into two different categories - design and logistics. Let's kick off with the latter.


What do you actually need on the table?

The answer to this will differ according to what style of dining you're going for.

wedding table diagram
Images via Brunch at Saks

Images via Brunch at Saks

If you're having a plated meal across a number of courses, the formal option is likely where you're headed. For more relaxed, perhaps family-style sharing platters or a buffet you might have something closer to the informal diagram.

best wedding planner london
best wedding planner london

It's really important not to underestimate how much room each guest will need at the table, so avoid packing people in at tables. If you're having a formal dinner for example, take the maximum number of people you could fit at each table and take away one - eg. a 5.5ft round table can seat between 9 and 11 people, so don't try to fit more than 10 if your dining is more formal.

Don't forget the extras

This is all, of course, what each individual needs at the table. But lots of couples forget to plan room for the shared items like salt and pepper, menus, table names/numbers, bottles of wine and water - and that's before you even get to the centrepieces!

best wedding planner london
best wedding planner london

If you're having sharing platters, you'll have less room to play with for centrepieces so be aware that you'll have to opt for something minimal with a big impact like some gorgeous, statement candles in between plates or a foliage runner that plates can be laid on.

Decorations

A dynamic tablescape comes about with a number of factors:

Colour and texture - standard plain, white linens do not a great tablescape make. Add a colour or even a pattern to one or both tablecloths and napkins. Contrasting colours look beautiful, or even hues of one colour family. Layer different colours and textures together - such as an antique paper scroll place name on a clean, crisp napkin. Or a sprig of foliage against a gold charger plate.

best wedding planner london
best wedding planner london

Upgrades - if budget allows, you can add in design touches by upgrading your cutlery to something a little more special (maybe copper or gold) and ordering in charger plates that work for your overall design.

Rule of three - grouping your tabletop decor into three is just plain pleasing to the eye, it's science. Clusters of votive candles or individual vases on a table looks gorgeous and creates a dynamic look super easily.

best wedding planner london
best wedding planner london

Varying heights - similar to the rule of three, creating various heights with your decor and centrepieces goes a long way. Perhaps it's a row of flower arrangements on a long trestle at different heights, or tall taper candles standing out against a low foliage runner. Just make sure the heights aren't so high your guests can't see each other!

Personality

Don't be afraid to add a few miscellaneous items to the table by way of decor, if you have the space. Perhaps something that ties into the table's name, or that hints at your combined hobbies and who you are as a couple. 

And speaking of personal, don't be afraid to get creative with your place names either - there are some fantastic and beautiful design options that mean your guests will be over the moon to take their little name token home with them as a keepsake of your day.

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best wedding planner london

Find more table setting inspiration and image credits over on our Pinterest board!

Wedmin brides always leave to the last minute

No matter how ultra-prepared you may have been for the year or so until now you’ve been planning your wedding (you’re the queen of spreadsheets and everyone knows it), in our experience there are always just a handful of tasks brides and grooms are always leaving until the last minute. Avoid eleventh-hour stress by tackling this wedmin checklist at least a few weeks before, so you can enjoy your final exciting weeks!

Cue it Up

This is the time to really go through your timeline with a fine tooth comb and make sure you have every key timing covered and that everyone knows what their signals will be. From asking one of your bridesmaids to text the venue manager when you are pulling up in the car, to knowing what the cues will be for speeches and who is introducing who, asking someone to coordinate the confetti moment, and more. People will always need a bit of shepherding, so make sure you delegate to the right people to make sure everything runs smoothly and without awkward silences where no one knows what they are meant to be doing next!

Get the Digits

Now this is something that we usually handle on a couple’s behalf, but if you don’t have a planner or a super-organised, Monica Gellar-Bing-esque maid of honour to delegate to on the day, make sure everyone has all the important numbers for on the day. That includes all your suppliers having contact numbers for the venue, the venue having contact numbers for one of your bridesmaids (see aforementioned ‘signal system’!), and your bridal party all having each other’s numbers.

Don’t forget to keep a note of your transport companies too, a number for the drivers you have booked to get you and your bridal party from your prep location to the ceremony. Plus a local cab company number - just in case!

Numbers Game

Don’t forget to update your caterer with the final headcount - inevitably people change their plans last minute, and you end up adding new guests on (cousin Pete can make it after all, brilliant), taking some guests off (a uni pals ill-timed skiing injury, well done Katy) and new allergies/intolerances suddenly crop up. Make sure you give your caterer the final numbers and seating chart at least a few weeks before as not only will they need to order the right amounts, but it will also affect your final bill.

On the Day Stationery

We’d hope by the two week mark you’d have sorted out the majority of your on-the-day stationery like table numbers, place cards and a table plan (though we’ve learned never to assume anything) but little things like guest books, pens, menus, orders of service - some of these bits get forgotten until the last minute.

It’s also a good idea to bring a copy of your wedding invitations for your photographer to shoot it. You spent a lot of time, energy and budget on those invites, it’s nice to get a few professional shots of it along with everything else!

Getting Your Shots In

Make a list of must-have shots to give to your photographer - that includes groups you want photographed, details you want captured, key moments you have lined up. If you have a surprise musical performance planned or an outfit change mid-evening - let your photographer know otherwise she might miss it!

Always make sure you let your photographer and videographer know about any possible awkward family situations - any divorced parents, new partners, siblings who aren’t speaking, etc. We’ve heard many a horror story about parents who have kicked off because the photographer asked them to pose with an ex, and put a damper on the whole afternoon!

Musical Numbers

One thing that couples always forget to do is have a few playlists lined up for background music. Whether it’s for the time pre-ceremony as guests file in and take their seats, during dinner or in between band sets, have a few playlists up your sleeve and ensure you have designated someone to be in charge of cuing it up.

Honeymoon Planning

Oh yeah, that holiday you’ve got planned as a reward for all your hard work getting married! You’d be surprised how easy it is to forget about prep for your honeymoon as you enter the final weeks of wedding prep. Start packing a bag, order your currency and buy your travel insurance!

A Little Thank You

Some couples choose to buy gifts for parents and bridal party members to hand out during the speeches or on the morning of the wedding. Make sure you order anything in good time, especially if you want to ask your florist to add on a few bouquets for mums. Oh darling you shouldn’t have!

The Aftermath

Even if you’ve registered for gifts, rest assured there will always be a few rebel guests who wrap something up as a little surprise to leave on the gift table (spoiler alert, it’s usually champagne or a photo frame). Ask your venue ahead of time whether there is anywhere you can leave important items overnight, or until the Monday. If not, ask a friend or family member to take things with them at the end of the night.

Don’t forget about any decor you have at the location too - don’t assume your venue will keep everything just in case, let them know what they can throw away and what you’ll be coming back for later.

Most importantly, if you’re getting legally wed on the day, don’t lose that marriage certificate! You would be shocked at how many couples come thisclose to the it ending up in a bin bag at the end of the night along with paper rubbish because they didn’t ask someone to look after it. Nightmare!

Photo credits: Christopher Ian Photography, Maryanne Weddings and Ben Moore Wedding Photography

 

10 Tips for Sticking to Your Wedding Budget

Budget, the dreaded word! But every wedding needs one. How else are you going to know if you can afford Bruno Mars to sing your first dance song (you probably can’t) or Dave Benson Phillips (remember him) as your DJ (you probably can). So before those eternal questions are answered you need to set your budget.

Setting a budget is difficult because all weddings are different, but you do need to have some idea of how much you should spend on each supplier so you don’t end up with debt you’re paying off until your 25th wedding anniversary! There are example wedding budget breakdowns out there but sometimes they don’t really line up with real life and can underestimate the cost of quality supplier so do take them with a pinch of salt.

Image: Weddings by Zoe

We’ve got some handy hints below to help you set your budget and manage it along the way.

1.      How much do you have and how much are you willing to spend? That total amount is what you’re trying to stay under. However, always allow an additional 5% on top as your contingency should you go over budget e.g. with a £25,000 budget keep a separate £250 that you can dip into if you need it.

2.       How many people do you actually want there? This number is one of the biggest factors as it will influence your venue and catering costs. £25,000 can stretch a lot further with 60 guests than 150 so don’t go overboard on the invites if you want to use your budget wisely.

3.       Once you know your total budget and number of guests you can start researching venues to get an idea of the likely cost of the venue. Do your research first so you know if it is a fair price for the location, size and style you want.

4.       The venue and catering are normally the biggest chunk of your budget and could take up to half of your total budget which sounds a lot but is totally normal. Try to avoid going over two thirds of your budget though as you’ll be left with very little to pay for everything else.

5.       By the time you’ve booked your venue and catering you often find yourself in a  ‘what’s left?’ scenario, so now’s the time to earmark any specific priorities you have e.g. if music is the most important thing then ringfence a decent portion of your budget so you know you’ve got enough and pick slightly cheaper suppliers for other parts of the day.

6.       As always, do your research on each industry to check that what you’re being charged is the norm. It will still vary depending on supplier quality, ability and location but always try to get three quotes from similar suppliers. This ensures you know the price is fair and may also give you some leverage to negotiate. Try to research and get estimates for some key elements (photographer, videographer, florist, wedding dress and bridesmaids) before you book anyone so you know either you can afford everything or pinpoint the areas that are lower priority where you need to make savings.

7.       Don’t forget styling. It doesn’t appear out of thin air and can really make your wedding stand out so it’s worth holding some of your budget back for this.

8.       Try not to worry about money. If you can’t afford something think about how much you really want it and whether you can compromise elsewhere. If you can’t, is it really worth breaking the budget for? Would it really affect your day if you didn’t have it?

9.       Keep a log of everything you’ve paid for and what you still need to pay and try to have a separate wedding bank account so it doesn’t get mixed up with the money you spend on a daily basis. Keeping your budget logged and separate makes it much easier to track.

10.   Pay everyone before you jet off on your honeymoon, not only have all the suppliers worked hard to give you a great day but you also don’t want to come back to an inbox full of wedmin!

Controlling Your Inner-Bridezilla - Stress-Free Planning Tips

Wedding planning might seem like fun when you’re tasting cakes but  most  people find it stressful and overwhelming. It can be a hard slog if you’ve never put together an event before, and why would you if you don’t work in the events industry. If you want to be more of a Bridechilla than a Bridezilla we’ve got four handy tips that will see you through the planning process.

1.       Break up your jobs into manageable chunks. Most couples allow at least a year for planning and yes, your to do list may look long, but if you break it up into the jobs you need to do per month you’ll find the whole thing a little easier to manage.

2.       Set out your priorities. Work out what’s important to you and make that your priority. I know it might seem like everything has an equal weight but it’s your wedding so you get to choose what to focus on.

3.       Do your research. Spend some time looking into suppliers and styles you like to narrow down what you want before you start the booking process. This will help give you a clear vision and avoid the stress of wondering if everything works together later down the line.

4.       Be realistic. Unfortunately planning a wedding is a lesson in compromise, a good way to start a marriage some might say. The compromise that normally takes place is between the vision in your head and the money in your purse. Be practical, think about what you and your guests actually need on the day and then decide on the things that are nice to have. You may think your wedding won’t be the same without them but your guests are more likely to remember going hungry over a perfectly decorated room.

The Truth about Festival Weddings

September is here, and we are winding down towards the end of another spectacular wedding season. This year has taken us from countryside stately homes, to urban warehouses, to Italian nunneries. And it's also taken us to fields.

Yes fields. Which is why today we're talking about festival weddings! A trend still going strong with so many UK couples. The appeal is obvious - a blank canvas, no restrictions, no pre-existing designs, no rules. Another appeal for many could be cost - there are no prescribed menus or formats so you can keep the costs down, right? Well, right and wrong.

As much as we love festival-style weddings, it is our planner duty to brides and grooms to get real on some of the pitfalls and hidden costs. So here's our brief tour of what to watch out for and what not to forget!

Bare Necessities

When you're visiting spaces to see if they might be the one to host your perfect festival wedding, you'll be expecting a blank canvas. But check whether you will have access to both electricity (some spaces might be handily hooked up with mains, most won't) and access to water (some may have taps installed). If there's no electricity already on site, your first unavoidable expense will be a generator or two. You'll need this for your caterers, lighting, DJ, photo booth, hairdryers, showers, and more. If you're hiring a marquee or tipi, they may be able to provide these.

Catering

Now this is where it really gets fun. You could literally do anything you want! Food stalls, ice-cream carts, burger vans, the world is your oyster (ooh, oyster bar?).

If you decide to forgo the traditional catering and instead go full-on festival with your food and drink, be aware of some of the gaps this might leave you. Having one caterer at your event means all bases are covered - they will provide the staff, the linens, the crockery, the cutlery, the tables, the chairs, whatever you need. But if you opt for a series of vans and carts, you'll need to figure out where all that other stuff is going to come from and make sure you don't forget anything. 

Aside from what everyone is bringing, also consider what everyone is signed up to do. Caterers would normally handle set up and clean up too but if you're going for something different, make sure you have thought about who is in charge of certain areas. Who is going to set the tables? Who is going to pack away the glassware? Who is in charge of cutting up my cake to serve later?

If your event is going to be a series of trucks and stalls instead of a cover-all caterer, hire in agency catering staff to plug the gaps. They will do whatever isn't covered by your food providers and give you a lot of peace of mind.

On another note, if you are having more than a one-day event and you're asking people to camp on site, think about how and when you will be feeding your guests. Is there a way to cook food for breakfast on site or order something in for brunch the next day? Is there somewhere walkable your guests can sort themselves out?

Home Comforts

Whether you're throwing a three day weekend event or just a single day, you're going to need toilets. Luxury event loos are available far and wide - portaloos be gone - and you can stock them with all the goodies you'd expect at home.

Showers might also be necessary if you're asking your guests to camp for one or two nights before and after, and will be extremely gratefully received by all who use it.

We'd advise speaking with a local company or the shower/toilet providers about getting a cleaner in to spruce up the facilities after your pre-game Friday night or the morning after the big day. It's a small expense that is well worth doing for happy guests.

Weather or Not

Ah, the one thing we can't control. Our blessed English weather. The appeal of a festival wedding is of course that a lot of the day's events are held outdoors, with perhaps the exception of a sit-down meal. 

If you are planning an open-air ceremony, you're going to need to consider a Plan B in case of rain (or even serious sun!), and pray you don't have to use it. If the space you have chosen doesn't have a sheltered back up, consider your options. Would you consider decking everyone out with clear umbrellas, should the heavens open? Is there space in the dinner tent for you to move everyone inside for the vows, and would you be happy with that?

A back up tent may be the way forward here. What you can do with most tent and marquee companies is pay a little money to keep something on hold for your date, and then when it comes to the week of the wedding and you're looking at the forecast, you can make a call on whether you pay the rest of the money to put it up, or lose the deposit but can get married al fresco as planned. It's a little investment for a lot of peace of mind on the day.

Communication

As beautiful as our countryside is, the irritating reality of our fields and farms is that often there's not a lot of phone signal. This is just something to bare in mind when you're briefing your suppliers or if you know if guests get lost they aren't going to be able to get through to anyone.

For your staff working on site, old school walkies are the best (and most fun) way of communicating. And we're very much looking forward to using the ones we've just purchased for ourselves...

What are your main concerns about hosting a festival wedding? We'd love to hear your thoughts whether you're embarking on the planning or have just come out the other side - let us know!

And for the fun stuff, check out our Wed Fest inspo board over on Pinterest!

Wedding Planning Advice | Unofficial Officiants

HAVING FRIENDS AND FAMILY OFFICIATE YOUR WEDDING

We've all got that one friend or family member who you just know would make the perfect officiant at your wedding - that charismatic uncle of yours with impeccable comic timing, or your thespian friend with just the right amount of gravitas.

For many couples, having friends and family perform your wedding ceremony is the ideal way to go. But so many are put off by the confusing legalities of it. Well, today we're going to give you the skinny on it - what you can and can't do and some solutions for those pesky problems.

The main stumbling block is that unless your friend happens to already be a priest, rabbi, imam or humanist celebrant, you won't be able to be legally married. There's a lot out there (we blame the Friends writers) that gives you the impression it's easy to just get ordained online, but it's not like that in the UK where the rules are a lot more rigid than in the US and Oz, where you can literally get married anywhere. It won't be legal and it's just a little dodgy for our liking.

So what's the solution if you want to have your friend or family member perform the ceremony?

The only way around it for many is to have two ceremonies. Lots of couples are put off by this idea, worrying that the drama is lost for that one big moment you get with one ceremony. But you can make it work for you.

If you don't mind doing the legal bit beforehand, a short civil ceremony with a registrar and a few close friends and family is a great way to stretch out the celebrations. In fact, one of our couples this year is opting to have their wedding celebration with their 150 guests in one month, and then have the legal ceremony a whole month later with a totally different style celebration - so much fun!

But if you're keen to just have your one wedding day, be aware of a few different rules.

You can opt to do one ceremony after the other - your legal bit and then your proper ceremony led by your friend - but your legal officiant has to be off site before your friend can start leading the ceremony. Which could make timings a little difficult.

Why not speak to your venue and see if you can plan a small legal ceremony with your officiant and your witnesses earlier in the afternoon before the rest of your guests arrive - either at the same location or elsewhere - and then have your main ceremony several hours later led by your friend or family member. The other guests need never know!

If even the thought of two ceremonies in one day doesn't float your boat - speak to your official officiant about how you can integrate your friends and family into the legal ceremony. Sure, there's the option of having someone read a poem or sing a song, but if you want them to have a larger part in the wedding, speak to the officiant about some other options. They will always be accommodating to your needs - it's your day and you want it to be special for you.

Get creative but always check with your legal officiant to find the best way forward!