Bridesmaids top tips for the big day

The bridesmaid’s role at a wedding might not be as clearly defined as the best man’s, but it’s just as vital. And from emotional support to practical assistance, your duties start long before the big day.

1) Check the Venue

You might be asked to help set up or make sure the placing is correct on the morning itself. Don’t worry about losing out on “getting ready time” — remember the bride is the only one who needs to look perfect, your help and support is much more valuable.

2) Getting Ready

Get dressed as quickly, quietly and efficiently as you can (the bride won’t thank you for hogging the GHDs or having a tantrum over a bad hair day) and take charge of any younger bridesmaids to ensure everyone’s dressed with hair and make-up done.

3) Act as Photographer’s Assistant

Before the ceremony, liaise with the photographer as well as rounding groups of guests up later on.

4) Attend the Bride

As well as walking down the aisle, hold the bouquet as she says her vows and arrange her train. Later, check she and the groom have champagne and canapés.

5) Public Speaking

More and more bridesmaids are making a speech, They’re also often asked to give a reading and the chief bridesmaid may be a witness. So be prepared to show the best man how it’s done.

6) Be Ready for Emergencies

Have a kit prepared, including lipstick, sewing essentials, tissues, baby wipes and blister plasters.

7) Get the Party Started

Make sure guests go in to the wedding breakfast when they should, and be one of the first onto the dance floor later.

8) Don’t Forget the Details

Check everyone has confetti, remind the bride to throw her bouquet (and make sure there are people to catch it!) — you can even help to distribute the cake.

9) Go the Extra Mile

One idea is to take the brides mobile phone on the morning of the wedding and not let her have to deal with any phone calls. Let her enjoy her morning and get ready without the hassle of having to answer calls.

Lighting up the Barn

Having a barn wedding might be on of the most popular styles of rustic weddings right now but often times you have to take the barn wedding venue and transform it into a beautiful wedding location. One of the best ways to add some wedding glam to your barn wedding location is by adding some dramatic lighting to space.

The proper lighting can help to make a rustic barn feel more intimate, more wedding day ready and of course more fairy tail like. It is not always easy to light a space like a barn so many times it helps to bring in a wedding lighting professional who can help you achieve the look you are going for an help you actually hang the lights.

If you plan on going more the DIY lighting route than you might want to take some advice below and start to create your perfect barn wedding lighting.

It is pretty clear that one of the best and easiest ways to add lighting to a barn wedding space is by adding string lights.

If you have a special place in your heart for the rustic industrial style wedding then large industrial hanging lights create more of a warehouse look all the while adding fun between the modern look with the barn wedding location.

Magical is the best way to sum up a vintage style farm & barn wedding and so is the lighting. With just one chandelier hanging over the ceremony spot and the hundreds of tiny white lights with the addition of the white drapes makes for maybe the perfect barn wedding decor.

Another way to make your lighting amazing is to use large white paper lanterns, cheap and cheerful with dramatic look.

 

Country weddings

When planning a rustic wedding or a country wedding most brides usually get control over the venue space, the wedding gowns and a few other key details but one thing no bride has control over is the weather. If you are planning a rustic or country style wedding you might find yourself checking the weather in the weeks and days leading up to your wedding. We thought it would be the perfect time to give a few ideas on rainy day wedding must haves! With a wedding, especially one that is planned for outside it is always best to play it safe and have these items on hand

Wellies

You probably will not be able to provide Wellies or rain boots for all your guests but you should check the forecast and if rain looks like it may happen buy some lovely rain boots for your bridesmaids, your flower girls, your mother and fiance’s mother and of course a white pair for yourself. Wellies can look great in your pics and are easy to switch in and out of as you move from one location to another.

Hay

Hay can be a last minute savor for a wedding that has been hit with rain. Adding a layer of hay to an outdoor location like a garden wedding or a rehearsal dinner can soak up the water and help to prevent mud from forming. You can’t exactly break out the hay if the clouds open and rain comes unannounced but it is something you might want to think about in the days before your wedding if you have had some weather come through.

Clear Plastic Tarpaulin

For a very reasonable fee you can get a large clear plastic tarpaulin and keep it on hand to place over items such as your wedding chairs, wedding flowers, your aisle runner and just about anything else that might be wet. Hardware stores stock this at great prices.

 

Would you spend £1,000+ on wedding photography?

The simple answer is £1,200, including your album and disc of images. How much you spend on a wedding photographer really depends on how important the photos are to you. If photos aren’t a priority, don’t be afraid to go for a less expensive photographer or perhaps only get coverage for part of the day. Just make sure you understand the risks!

It’s hard to compare photographers based on price, because so much of what you’re paying for is about the quality of service and personality of your photographer. It’s worth investing in someone who’ll not only take great pictures but help you have a fantastic day, and so we think it’s important to meet them before you book.

If you’re having an overseas wedding, make sure you can communicate with your photographer properly – whether this means getting a translator to be the go-between for you and the photographer, flying a UK-based photographer out to your chosen destination, or choosing an expat who’s based locally.

The last thing you need to be worrying about is whether your photographer knows exactly what you want from the day because there’s a communication issue. 2,000 euros are about the going rate.

When it comes to costs, it’s a simple equation, Wedding photographers can only fit in so many weddings per year while maintaining good customer service, professional development and a smoothly-run business. It’s impossible to pay the bills unless you charge in the region of £1500 a time.

Some will charge slightly less and some a lot more, but a photographer charging under £1,000 must be either an up-and-coming talent or one of the many wedding photographers of whom we hear horror stories from couples who contact me for help after being disappointed with their budget photographer.

There are many talented ‘weekend warrior’ photographers who work a regular nine-to-five job during the week, but who still do a high-quality job at weekend weddings, However, you need to ask if they have invested in the back-up facilities for your images, professional gear and lenses that can shoot in very low light, and public liability and professional indemnity insurance should the worst happen.

Certainly anything less the £1,000 a day is often a recipe for disaster. A full-time wedding photographer with upwards of 200 weddings under their belt should probably be around £1,500 for a full day’s coverage.

Many of the top wedding photographers will be charging more than £2,000 and sometimes over £3,000 for their services, and in my experience, the £2,000 cut-off is quite a telling price point. The most important thing is to check out their portfolio and their coverage of at least three full weddings.

1,000 a day seems to be a ballpark amount to set aside for high-quality photography that you’ll cherish forever.

 

Intimate Wedding Venues

Intimate Venues for Small Weddings

Bingham, Richmond

A chic riverside hotel with a restaurant that glows over the Thames come twilight. The Bingham in Richmond is made of two Grade II listed 18th-century houses and run by a mother and daughter team. While its event space allows for up to 100 seated guests, the hotel has 15 bedrooms allowing for up to 30 people to stay overnight. Hire the whole hotel and choose from a casual barbecue by the water or a formal five-course wedding breakfast.

Lower Barns, St Austell

In the Cornish countryside near St Austell, Lower Barns brings together one-of-a-kind furnishings and a bold maelstrom of textures. The hotel creates an upbeat feel in their rural home and a fun and quirky environment for small and intimate weddings. The quirky bedrooms with freestanding baths or a custom-made breakfast bars are real conversation starters. Spend the evening before your nuptials stargazing from the outdoor hot tub and unwinding in style.

Court House Farm, Portishead

A beautiful medieval manor a stone’s throw from Portishead Point and Woodhill Bay. This venue offers plenty of space and the perfect rustic, romantic backdrop to any wedding. Only a couple hours from London or 30 minutes from Bristol, Court House Farm is very well connected whilst maintaining the perfect feeling of country escape. The venue is open all year round and the owners are more than happy to work with you to help create your dream wedding.

Cley Windmill, Norfolk

For something a little different on the Norfolk coast, Cley Windmill is a B&B with tonnes of character. It’s set in a 19th-century grinding mill surrounded by open fields and perfect for intimate wedding ceremonies.  It has a restaurant and a beautiful round Sitting Room too, which can hold up to 22 people. Given the intimacy of the space, it’s all about bespoke occasions whether you opt for a daytime or evening occasion. However, we’re particularly fond of the candlelight dinner option.

Pentillie Castle, Cornwall

In a timelessly elegant fairytale setting, surrounded by woodland and overlooking the River Tamar lies Pentillie Castle. Built in 1698, it has remained in the same family for more than 300 years. It is surprisingly spacious and classic, with 55 acres of gardens to roam in. It’s a wonderful place to feel like royalty and to welcome guests to a special occasion. Say your vows in the romantic Victorian Bathing Hut on the banks of the Tamar or on the Terrace if you prefer. You can furthermore tailor the rest of your day to suit you and your nearest and dearest as you please.

Romney Bay House, Kent

This beautiful 1920s mansion in a spectacular location amidst wild marshland scattered with ancient churches. Romney Bay House Hotel is a spectacular place for a small and intimate wedding reception. Plus, you can hire the whole hotel for up to 20 guests and take the whole hotel for an entire weekend from May to September.

Hever Castle B&B, Edenbridge

Hever Castle is probably best known as the home of famed and fated wife of Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn. Today the magnificent 13th-century property is not only a spectacular attraction, but it’s also open for wedding hire. There are multiple spaces in this historic location so you can have a wedding of any size here. However, in the castle’s inner hall, there is the perfect amount of space for 60 ceremony guests and 40 wedding breakfast attendees. What could be more spectacular?

 

Stylish Venues

1. The Ned, London

Part of the super-stylish Soho House Group, The Ned was formerly home to Midland Bank, designed by Sir Edward ‘Ned’ Lutyens in 1924. This vast venue has six private hire rooms and terraces available for weddings, with capacity between 10 and 200 guests. And whether your guest list is big or small, with 252 1920s-style bedrooms, every single one of your guests can stay the night. In fact, why not make a whole weekend of it?

2. Hedsor House, Buckinghamshire

Set within 100 acres of historic parkland and listed gardens, Hedsor House makes for one picturesque wedding venue. The Georgian manor house blends the architectural design of the era with stylish contemporary features, featuring a number of spectacular rooms and spaces that will be entirely yours for the duration of your stay. Civil ceremonies can take place here, or you can opt for a religious service at the 12th century church that’s just 300m from the house.

3. Highclere Castle, Berkshire

Whether you’re a fan of Downton Abbey or not, this palatial castle in leafy Berkshire is fit for a celebration. Civil ceremonies take place in the Saloon, featuring ornate detailing, stone arches and a sweeping oak staircase just waiting for you to make your entrance. The food here matches up to the scenery thanks to the castle’s first-class in-house catering team.

4. Natural History Museum, London

One of the capital’s most iconic venues, the Natural History Museum boasts magnificent architecture and intriguing collections to backdrop your day. Its largest space, Hintze Hall, is perfect for a big celebration – make use of the atmospheric lighting and plenty of candles for a romantic celebration your guests certainly won’t forget in a hurry.

5. Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire

Blenheim Palace’s 18th century baroque architecture, over 2000 acres of picturesque landscaped parkland and formal gardens make it fit for royalty. There’s six venue spaces here for different styles and sizes of wedding, from the Orangery to the Great Hall and the Long Library. Guest list exceed 300? Construct a marquee on the lawn that’s big enough for all your desired invitees.

6. The Royal Pavilion, Brighton

Just a stone’s throw away from the city’s famous beach, The Royal Pavilion is the jewel in Brighton’s crown. Built as King George IV’s seaside pleasure palace, there are two rooms here that are licensed for weddings. The palace’s gardens are yours to enjoy for post-nuptial celebrations and photographs – head back inside for a wedding breakfast for 60.

 

The most romantic Wedding Venues

Finding the perfect romantic Wedding Venues isn’t always as easy as it sounds so here are a few of the best to help you find what you’re looking for…

1. Shuttleworth, Bedfordshire

A 5,000-acre site in the heart of rural Bedfordshire, the Shuttleworth estate offers an extraordinary setting for weddings. Choose from three distinct settings – the grand period house, a romantic Regency Swiss Garden, and an aircraft hangar with a backdrop of vintage aircraft and vehicles.

2. Blair Castle, Perthshire

Nestled in the rolling hills of the Scottish Highlands, Blair Castle is fit for a fairytale wedding. The castle’s history spans 700 years, giving you some spectacular rooms and spaces in which to tie the knot – from the intimate Library to the State Dining Room, the grand Scots-Baronial Victorian Ballroom to the stunning gardens.

3. Ashridge House, Hertfordshire

Nestled in 190 acres of landscaped grounds, Ashridge House is a magnificent neo-gothic country manor. Hosting ceremonies for up to 170 and informal evening receptions for up to 400, it offers several breathtaking historic spaces, providing a truly unique backdrop to your perfect day.

  1. Salomons Estate, Kent

Just outside the charming town of Tunbridge Wells, Salomons Estate vast grounds, romantic lakes and handsome manor house are the perfect combination for a country-meets-town wedding. Here, you can choose to marry in a range of rooms within the house or opt for an outdoor ceremony on the Victorian Terrace, with room for up to 230 day guests and 47 bedrooms for those who wish to stay overnight.

5. South Farm, Cambridgeshire

If a romantic countryside setting and first-rate food top your list of must-haves, then family run South Farm could be the venue for you. Nestled deep in the countryside, it’ll make a beautiful backdrop to the wedding day of your dreams – you’ll be charmed by its enchanting gardens, lovingly restored Grade II listed house and beautiful 16th century barn. Couples can enjoy exclusive use, with a choice of five romantic ceremony spaces including both indoor and outdoor options.

6. The Roman Baths, Bath

The namesake of the historical city of Bath, you can exchange your vows here when the museum is closed – giving you the option of a ceremony either by the light of the morning sun, or in a romantic evening service conducted by torch light. Afterwards, drink receptions and wedding breakfasts can be held in the elegant Pump Room, or on the Terrace for smaller gatherings.

 

Planning tips for the savvy

Whatever the reason, one thing is for sure. Planning a wedding at the last minute can put you into a bit of a whirlwind of activity, in a good way though. Follow our savvy planning tips and you’ll avoid confusion and stress and enjoy each stage to the max!

Don’t lose sight of your budget

Don’t panic if you’re on a short timescale and overspend, hoping that it will create solutions. If you’re on a tight budget and have very little time, then consider hiring a wedding planner who is likely to pay for themselves anyway. State exactly how much you can afford for a fee and stick to your budget. A wedding planner will be able to negotiate discounts and special rates for you anyway and is more likely to be able to come up with some amazing last-minute solutions for you.

Do it yourself

If you’re having trouble finding a florist who can do your flowers at short notice, then visit a wholesale florist locally to choose your own blooms. Don’t attempt any sort of formal flower arrangement. Instead go for a shabby-chic, rustic sort of look by arranging your flowers and greenery in mismatched vases and bottles.

Paperwork, paperwork, paperwork

If you’ve decided to rush off and tie the knot abroad then make doubly sure you have all the legal documents you need in place to make this happen. Your passport needs to be valid, with at least six months left before it expires and you’ll need your birth certificate too. In New York we’ve heard of weddings being organised in under a week but in Italy they take about three months!

Finishing touches

These absolutely don’t have to be elaborate, sometimes the simplest thing is best and there’s less to go wrong that way, too. If you’re having a spring or summer wedding you could just sprinkle blossoms or rose petals on the tables to add the wow factor. In winter, put tealights on a mirror in the centre of every table to add a sparkle.

Bridesmaid dresses

Gone are the days when you had to dress each of your bridesmaids in an identical frock, regardless of whether or not it suited them. Now it’s very popular to let your bridesmaids wear different styles of dresses in different shades of the same colour. Let your maids choose their own style of gown that reflects their best features and they’ll be your friends forever and look much more smiley and happy in your photographs.

Getting married last minute is possible – but just keep the above in mind, especially our words on documentation. A lot will depend on the destination in which you’re getting married, so check local requirements and make sure you’ll qualify in time.

That said, getting married last minute is very romantic and very duable. Plus, you’re going to be Mr & Mrs just that little bit sooner!

 

Booking your venue in advance

January and February are typically the busiest times in the wedding industry. With romantic engagements taking place under fairy-lit Christmas Trees, in front for warm, cosy fireplaces, under the illuminated sky filled with fireworks on New Year’s Eve and on the most romantic day of the year in February, you can imagine how busy the best wedding venues get in the spring and summer when it comes to venue viewings and bookings.

After the festive season has come and gone, the first thing that engaged couples (just like you) will be planning to do, is book in to visit a load of wedding venues as soon as possible. Wedding venue viewings are done by appointment only, so to avoid missing availability, we would advise booking in to visit your dream wedding venues early – to guarantee you actually get a viewing, or better still, why not make your appointment to visit them before Christmas, where you may find availability is more flexible?

As mentioned earlier, most engaged couples will wait until the New Year before the start to seriously think about booking their wedding. But, as the rest of the UK starts to focus on the festive season, this could be an incredible opportunity for you to get moving with your wedding plans and potentially book an ideal wedding date before anyone else has a chance. If you plan on getting married during 2019  then there’s no time like the present to visit your shortlist of wedding venues and snap that date up before the New Year. January, February and March are typically known for being extremely busy for wedding venues in terms of taking bookings for the next few years…so to ensure availability, it’s best to view and book ahead of the New Year rush.

Once your wedding venue has been booked, the rest of your plans should fall perfectly into place. So, if you book your wedding date before the New Year, you’ll be able to start your year off with a fantastic focus! Perhaps start the year by sending out your Save the Date cards, or start enquiring about wedding suppliers; like good venues, they will get booked up early too!

 

Getting the music mix right

We all know that when it comes to creating the perfect atmosphere for your wedding, music plays an important part. But if you really want to personalise the soundtrack to your big day, why not consider a completely bespoke musical experience? Here are our top tips for creating bespoke wedding music that wows!

A string quartet playing Bohemian Rhapsody, for example sounds awesome. The traditional wedding march on electric guitar? Seriously cool. You can even see if your musicians will mix up their dress code and typical band setting – we once had a band who loosened their ties and set down their instruments before crowd surfing over guests!

Singing waiters may seem a bit cheesy to some, but they’re still great fun. Or you could try something similar – one of my favourite wedding gigs involved recreating the scene from the film Love Actually where the musicians sit amongst the congregation in the church and stand up as each instrumental section joins the wedding march.

When it comes to wedding entertainment, the sky’s the limit. Depending on your tastes you can choose from heavy metal, bandeoke (karaoke with a live band), reggaeoke (karaoke with a live reggae band), an opera performance, or even Burlesque dancers and fire eaters. Just decide on what’s going to make the day special for you and reflect your tastes, and go for it!

Combining Reggae with Charleston makes for a lot of fun, for example. Or mixing world music styles such as Sega and Mauritian traditional music. Speak to your band to see what’s possible. Depending on the preferences of you and your better half, don’t choose between them;combine them and make something totally unique to your personalities.

 

Confetti Facts

How many times have you been to a wedding where the bride and groom expect guests to shower them with confetti, yet no one has any?

Years ago, guests did bring it with them, however now couples want confetti to match their wedding theme to ensure it looks great in their photographs. With petals being natural, you have a wide variety of colours and petal types to choose from.

Churches/venues tend to now stipulate that no confetti is allowed unless it is biodegradable. This is due to the traditional paper confetti being difficult to clean up and harmful to wildlife. Natural petal confetti is 100% biodegradable and eco-friendly.

It’s a good idea to go and have a look to see where you would like your confetti moment to be. You could take your wedding photographer, as they will be able to tell you the best spot for lighting. Once you’ve decided where your confetti will be thrown, you can choose your confetti. If you are having your confetti moment against a wall, lighter and bright colours work well to ensure they stand out. If it is going to be in an open space, bolder, darker colours work really well.

This might sound ridiculous, however, you only get one chance to capture that magical moment. Your confetti shot will be the most natural of the day as you aren’t posing thinking about the photographer, which means you want it to be as perfect as possible. Many couples now leave a sign next to their confetti, or have their ushers/bridesmaids explain to guests, telling them to grab a handful and throw up high when the time comes. The last thing you want is confetti in your face; throwing it high will ensure it flutters gently to the ground, which will look great on your photos.

Natural petal confetti is great for decorating your venue or using as a romantic petal path aisle for you to walk down. Order extra confetti and scatter petals around your table centrepieces; not only will it add colour and texture to your tables, it is perfect for making your table décor look more than what it is, especially if you’re on a budget.