Don’t be conventional

1. Walk Down Memory Lane
Make the guest feel like integral parts of the day by incorporating them into the décor — in a gallery of meaningful photos. Why not hang pictures of the bride and groom with friends and family along the walk from the ceremony to the reception. It’s a fun cocktail party conversation starter.” As guests take a leisurely stroll and find pictures of themselves with you, they can reminisce and socialize.

2. Break the Ice Creatively
When you enter your reception for the first time as husband and wife, don’t just take a conventional arm-in-arm stroll. “Run. Skip. Dance. Swoop in on a rope swing! Brainstorm with your groom about the most creative, appropriate way to make a big impression. This is a great way to break the ice and set up for a fun vibe for the rest of the event.
3. Play Party Games
How about the menus being puzzles, so each person got one piece of the puzzle at their place setting, then everyone had to put the pieces together to get the full menu description. Crossword puzzles are fun for the back of a program or if you have guests going on a long bus ride to get to the wedding reception venue.

4. Be Entertaining
Guests always love the energy of a live band but tend to want to hear the original artist sing their favourite tunes. As a compromise, a bride may hire a dance band but also play DJ music during the breaks, or she’ll arrange to have live music during some parts of the event and recorded music during others.

5. Surprise them!
Love poems from a book makes a wonderful, lasting guest favour that’s much more meaningful that a bag of sugared almonds! If you buy in bulk, you might get a discount — contact your bookseller directly. And don’t forget to add a personalized bookmark thanking your friends and family for sharing your big day with you.”

Wedding costs

Having a clear idea of your budget is essential for any wedding day. Sit down together, or with your parents if they’re going to contribute, and work out what you can afford to spend.

Write down the estimated costs in a budget planner.

As a guide, here are the average amounts that Brides readers spend. (Of course, it’s up to you where you decide to save or splurge!)

Wedding venue: £2,500

Reception venue: £4,000

Catering: £3,000

Photography/video: £1,500

Flowers: £500

Cake: £300

Entertainment: £700

Dress: £1,300

Shoes: £100

Stationery: £240

Headdress/veil: £100

Attendants’ outfits: £450

Mother-of-the-bride outfit: £300

Groom’s outfit: £300

Beauty: £250

Engagement Ring: £2,500

Wedding rings: £650

Other wedding jewellery: £200

Honeymoon: £4,000

Gift List: £2,000

Total: £24,890

If budgeting is a big concern, you may be interested in tips for setting your wedding budget.

Finding a Fascinator

Stylish, dramatic and beautiful, fascinators are becoming a must-have addition to any wedding outfit, and, for the modern wedding guest they are a stunning addition to this season’s trends. So what are your options? Here are some top tips to help you find the perfect fascinator.

Large, colourful hats have traditionally always been the desired choice for a mother of the bride or groom. A trend resulting in nothing less than a huge hat-off between wedding guests determined to impress with stunning head-wear. Thank goodness then that the current trends have seen the fascinator come into its own.

What is a fascinator?

A dramatic headpiece often made from feathers, fabric, beads or flowers, attached to a headband or comb. They come in a huge range of shades and colours and tend to cost less than more traditional forms of headwear. You’ll find styles and shapes to suit every face shape or hair style.

Where to start?

A bigger shop is more likely to have a wide range of styles to choose from and it’s a good idea to take a swatch of your outfit along to match colours as well as possible.

Online stores are a fantastic starting point and if you are willing to take a risk you may even pick up a bargain on e-bay. However, it’s always nicer and less risky to try before you buy.

Go with a trusted friend and a digital camera so that you can try on lots of different styles and then have some thinking time before deciding what looks best.

Think about your hair style and how your chosen fascinator will complement your hair style and colour.

Bespoke or budget?

If you have the budget then go for a bespoke fascinator, a made-to-order piece in your chosen style and colour. Alternatively search for one-off creations in smaller boutiques and shops.

Happy head-wear hunting!

Fairytale Weddings

When it comes to romance, beauty and timeless charm, Disney has it all sewn up. Everyone has a favourite Disney character or story, and even if you’re not the biggest Disney fan, it’s hard not to be bewitched by the escapism of Disney’s larger-than-life fairy tales.

In celebration of Disney’s enduring sparkle, be inspired by four of the most famous — and best loved — Disney princesses. Whether you’re looking for inspiration for a Disney themed wedding, or you’d just like a touch of Disney magic on your big day, check out these four very special Disney princess mood boards.

Eternally Elsa

Frozen is a modern classic, loved by millions across the globe. Perhaps you’re such a big fan of the film that you’ll be playing “Let It Go” as you walk down the aisle…or maybe you just want to incorporate some of Elsa’s signature sky blue into your wedding styling. With her side plait and ice cool beauty, Elsa is a stunning Disney icon — and a few touches of Frozen magic will make your wedding day spellbinding.

Charming Cinderella

Cinderella is perhaps the most popular princess to inspire a wedding day. Her fairy-tale revolves around love and marriage — and a beautiful girl’s search for Prince Charming. Now you’ve found “the one”, you could celebrate your own love story by taking a leaf out of Cinders’ book: go for full-on glamour with a huge ball gown, sparkling headdress, sensational underwear, a horse drawn carriage, glitzy reception décor and — of course — a beautiful pair of glass slippers.

Seductive Snow White

Snow White is a dark fairy-tale complete with a wicked witch, a poisoned apple and a glass casket where Snow White sleeps until she is woken from her slumber by a handsome prince. If you’re using this story as your inspiration, forget the seven dwarves and concentrate on the enigmatic beauty of this Disney classic. Opt for dramatic make-up, a crimson dress, blood red roses against bright white icing, linen and candles, and a classic red and white colour palette. If you’re a raven haired beauty with a mysterious side, Snow White is definitely the princess to inspire you.

Rocking Rapunzel

In the 2010 Disney movie Tangled, Rapunzel appeared as a feisty, independent and spirited princess with a bubbly personality — as well as magic golden hair. If you want to blend timeless Disney romance with a contemporary edge, use Rapunzel as your role model. Look for a boho-inspired gown, 70s-style headband, pops of purple in your colour scheme and – in keeping with Rapunzel tradition – a castle with a tower for your reception.

Church Wedding

With more UK wedding venues available than ever, saying your vows in a church is no longer the norm. But for many couples, a church wedding is still an essential and traditional part of the big day.

So with around a third of UK couples still choosing a religious ceremony, here’s our beginner’s guide to booking a wedding ceremony in church:

What are the legal requirements for a church wedding?

Couples must be 18 to marry without their parents’ consent in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, or 16 with their approval. The ceremony must take place between 8am and 6pm, witnessed by two people.

In Scotland it’s legal to marry from 16 without consent and at any time of day, although you do still require two witnesses.

Most marriages require banns to be published before the wedding, signifying your intention to marry. These need to be read out in the parish where each of you lives, as well as the church where you’ll be married for three Sundays during the three months before the wedding.

If there isn’t enough time for this, you can apply for a license costing from £200, which you may also need if one of the couple isn’t British or lives outside England. In Scotland, you need to give 15 days’ notice with the local registrar.

NB: Marriage and Civil Partnership laws are changing from March 2015 when it comes to giving notice. Find out more!

Are the rules different in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland?

Yes — Scotland in particular has different laws than England and Wales, while there are stricter residency requirements in Northern Ireland. Catholic churches also differ, for example, needing a dispensation if one person is not Catholic but not requiring the banns to be read.

Can I get married in any church?

For a ceremony in England and Wales, you can marry in any church if you meet one of several conditions: that either of you has lived or attended services in the parish for at least six months, was baptized or prepared for confirmation there, that one of your parents or grandparents was married in the parish, or one of your parents has lived or attended services there for at least six months after you were born. If you’ve recently moved, you’ll be eligible to marry in your new parish too.

In Scotland, there are no residency requirements so you can marry in any church you choose. In practice, it may depend on availability and the individual minister who’s likely to want to meet couples who aren’t members of the church beforehand.

In Northern Ireland, one of the couple must be resident in the district where you plan to marry for at least 14 days before being eligible, unless you apply for a special licence

Do I have to attend church before I can get married there?

Not for a Church of England ceremony, although if your heart is set on marrying in a church where you have no connections, attending services for six months — even a single service each month — would allow this.

Do I have to be religious to have a church wedding?

Not necessarily. The Church of England says anyone is “welcome to have a Church of England wedding, regardless of your beliefs… as vicars understand that spiritual beliefs are complex and varied”.

How far in advance should I book a UK church ceremony?

Churches can become booked up several months in advance, so ask the vicar or church office as early as possible, especially for popular dates. Many churches won’t arrange weddings during Lent, although this doesn’t apply to Catholic ceremonies.

How much will a church ceremony cost?

The legal fee for marrying in 2015 costs £486 in England and around £500 in Wales, which covers expenses for calling the banns, the certificate, vicar and church. Extras such as having an organist, bells, choir or flowers — as well as heating — will incur an additional cost. In Scotland and Northern Ireland there are no fixed costs.

Can I use my own vows in church?

Not in England and Wales, where legally no part of the wedding vows can be changed. However it’s possible to include poems, readings or songs which have a special significance in the service, depending on the individual vicar. In Scotland, you can vary the traditional forms or write your own with the minister’s approval.

Can I decorate a church with my own flowers?

Yes. Most churches will be able to recommend someone, but you can also use your own florist. It’s worth discussing any plans for large displays with the vicar to check they won’t cause any problems during the ceremony.

What happens during a church wedding rehearsal?

The rehearsal is a chance for the bride and groom, as well as bridesmaids, the best man and any family and friends who are involved in the ceremony, to run through the service and make sure everyone knows what to expect.

Will my guests be allowed to throw confetti outside the church?

The rules on throwing confetti vary from church to church so it’s worth asking whether or not confetti is allowed so that you can inform your guests in advance. If confetti is not allowed then the church might allow a natural or bio-degradable substitute.

Can I have my reception in the church hall?

Yes, although it depends on the individual church and their facilities. However you can also arrange the reception at another venue if you prefer.

When marrying abroad

Considering getting married in Spain, France, Greece, Italy or Mustique? You’ll need to do your homework first – luckily for you, we’ve done the legal bit for you…

CERTIFICATE OF NO IMPEDIMENT (CNI)

What? A certificate confirming there are no objections to your marriage.

How? It is a legal requirement that each party gives notice prior to any proposed marriage. You’ll need to arrange a meeting at your local register office – your notice will then be displayed for 15 days before your CNI is issued.

When? The certificate is issued without an expiry date. However, the country in which you intend to marry may have its own validity period; so check.

Who? If you are getting married in Italy, Spain or Greece, you will be asked for a CNI. You’ll need to get your CNI translated and sworn before the courts or Justice of the Peace in the relevant country.

Cost? A register office notice fee costs £35 per person while there is no charge for a CNI.

STATUTORY DECLARATION

What? A legal declaration used to confirm your single status.

How? You will need to make a declaration under oath, in the presence of a solicitor, stating your intent to marry in the destination that you have chosen.

When? This document must be obtained within three months of your intended wedding date.

Who? Italian law requires a Statutory Declaration.

Cost? The cost is nominal (from £5).

LEGALISATION

What? The Foreign & Commonwealth Office needs to certify your statutory declaration and CNI as genuine.

How? You will need to complete the legalisation application form at gov.uk and then send away the relevant documents and payment to be processed.

When? Immediately after you have your Statutory Declaration and CNI, as the SD has a three-month expiry date.

Who? Weddings in Spain, Greece and Italy require the legalisation of documents.

Cost? This service costs £30 per document, plus postage.

The countdown

The perfect Wedding needs planning and we thought that this 12 month handy planner maybe just the job to ensure you are organised for the big day;

12 months to go…

Have the budget conversation with your fiancé and your parents
Fix a date and time
Decide on guest numbers
Visit reception venues and book one as soon as possible
Buy wedding insurance

11 months to go…

Send save-the-dates
Book your photographer and videographer (Make sure the church or wedding venue allows photos and videos to be shot!)
Book the caterer, DJ and/or band
Make appointments to try on wedding dresses

10 months to go…

Choose your guests – bridesmaids, ushers and best man etc.
Decide on your dress (allow at least six months for a made-to-measure dress to be delivered)
Choose and order your bridesmaid’s outfits.
Start thinking about a honeymoon, including the costs, season and flights

9 months to go…

Find a florist and discuss your flowers, including buttonholes, bouquets and arrangements for the church and reception venue
Taste and confirm your menu and drinks with your caterer
Choose and order your bridesmaid outfits

8 months to go…

If you’re getting married in a church, discuss readings with the minister or priest and music with the musicians
If it’s a civil ceremony, enquire about what readings and music are permitted
Order invitations and envelopes (allow one invitation per married couple or family), plus place cards, menus and a seating plan

7 months to go…

Book transport to the wedding venue and on to the reception for you and your bridal party (as well as a car to take you to your first-night hotel or the airport)
Order your wedding cake
Choose and order wedding favours

6 months to go…

Remind your fiancé to get his and the usher’s outfits
Choose gifts for the wedding party
Pick your wedding rings
Confirm the order of service with your priest or registrar, and then have guest booklets printed. If you have a choir, they need copies, too

5 months to go…

Go honeymoon shopping (Remember summer clothes aren’t easy to find in the winter and vice versa!)
Book a hairdresser and style consultation (do this earlier if you’re planning to grow your hair)
Book your make-up artist and trial appointments

4 months to go…

If you’re changing your name, renew your passport now or do it after you have your honeymoon. The officiating minister or registrar will sign the form
Find out if you need visas or inoculations for your honeymoon.
Discuss hen and stag night plans with your friends.

3 months to go…

Pick a company and start gift-list window shopping!
Book for a colour (if you get your hair coloured) and a trim
Organise a rehearsal and inform those who will need to be there
Attend a reading of the banns, if you’ll marry in a church

2 months to go…

Send out invitations six weeks before the day and keep a list of acceptances
Check that your fiancé has organised the rings, his wedding clothes, and your first-night hotel
Try on your whole wedding outfit, including headdress, shoes and underwear. Forgotten anything? Get it!
Book any other beauty treatments (nails, fake tans, etc.)

1 month to go…

Confirm numbers with caterers and do the seating plan
Discuss special requests with your band or DJ
Order honeymoon currency and traveller’s cheques
Visit the hairdresser to try out hairstyles with your veil and tiara, and have your final cut and colour
Have your hen and stag nights – after all that running around, it’s time to party!

Wedding cakes

Whether you prefer sugar or fresh flowers, pretty blooms are the perfect accessory for your wedding cake!

One of the highlights of every wedding; the cake! Guests might forget your first dance song or the colour of your table runners, but your friends and family will always remember what your wedding cake tasted like — and looked like.

Wedding cakes with flowers are one of the most popular big day desserts, and for good reason! Pretty blooms add vibrancy to an otherwise simple cake at a relatively low expense. It allows the bride and groom to skip pricier decorative techniques — like fondant or hand-cut details — in favour of floral adornments.

And though sugar flowers cost more than fresh, the fake buds are still a cost-effective way to upgrade your wedding cake without bursting your budget. The best part about going the faux-flower route is that the colour and design options are endless.

If you prefer to use real flowers (which look absolutely gorgeous on a big cake!), choose a bloom that’s currently in season and complements your wedding theme.

One of the most popular ways to include flowers on a big-day dessert; the topper! Many couples are forgoing traditional cake toppers in favour of fresh blooms. But if you can’t image skipping the classic bride and groom, consider other options, like sugar petal details or scattered buds at the cake’s base or between layers.

With countless options, including hand-painted, cascading, single-bloom, and overloaded-floral styles, it’s impossible not to find a delicious confection you absolutely love.

Beautiful Readings

Planning a Wedding is pretty stressful and then there are poignant speeches and poems to consider. Brits ultimately don’t want something that feels too cringe or over the top to say. We want something that can transfer sentiment in a meaningful, thoughtful and beautifully written way that speaks of real and true love, not just the love you find in novels. Here are some lovely readings and quotes from books that will really hit a chord with you and your wedding guests, without it feeling a little too intense. 

 

The Bridge Across Forever by Richard Bach

“A soulmate is someone who has locks that fit our keys, and keys to fit our locks. When we feel safe enough to open the locks, our truest selves step out and we can be completely and honestly be who we are; we can be loved for who we are and not for who we’re pretending to be. Each unveils the best part of the other. No matter what else goes wrong around us, with that one person we’re safe in our own paradise. Our soulmate is someone who shares our deepest longings, our sense of direction. When we’re two balloons, and together our direction is up, chances are we’ve found the right person. Our soulmate is the one who makes life come to life.” 

He’s Not Perfect by Bob Marley  

“He’s not perfect. You aren’t either, and the two of you will never be perfect. But if he can make you laugh at least once, causes you to think twice, and if he admits to being human and making mistakes, hold onto him and give him the most you can. He isn’t going to quote poetry, he’s not thinking about you every moment, but he will give you a part of him that he knows you could break. Don’t hurt him, don’t change him, and don’t expect for more than he can give. Don’t analyze. Smile when he makes you happy, yell when he makes you mad, and miss him when he’s not there. Love hard when there is love to be had. Because perfect guys don’t exist, but there’s always one guy that is perfect for you.

This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen

“No relationship is perfect, ever. There are always some ways you have to bend, to compromise, to give something up in order to gain something greater … The love we have for each other is bigger than these small differences. And that’s the key. It’s like a big pie chart, and the love in a relationship has to be the biggest piece. Love can make up for a lot.”

 

Research Your Photographers

Have you been looking for a wedding photographers but feel overwhelmed because there are so many options and so many styles?

 

Or, maybe you’ve dreamed about being a wedding photographer but aren’t sure how to push fear to the sidelines, take that leap of faith and turn your hobby into a full-time career.

What To Ask A Wedding Photographer

 

  1. Cost is almost always a concern, but it’s not the most important element to your decision. Find out how much the photographer charges for different packages and prints.
  2. Find out how long the photographer has been in business.
  3. Do you actually like the photographer and can you spend the day with the photographer you’re considering hire?
  4. What kind of experience do they have – the longer they’re in business doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the best choice for you.
  5. What contingency plan does your wedding photographer have in place in case something goes wrong?
  6. Ask to look at group photos to ensure all the guests are smiling and laughing, because it’s usually the photographer that makes them smile so you want to know what kind of rapport they will build with you AND your guests.

 

If you spend a little more time researching the right wedding photographer, it will be well worth it in the end.