Getting the Right Photographer

Make sure you budget for your photographer 

Brilliant pictures cost a lot, but they last a lifetime, so it’s an investment worth making for your wedding. Your budget will inevitably determine which wedding photographers are in the running, but don’t make it an element you scrimp on. Memories are priceless and high quality photographs make all the difference.

Create a detailed action plan 

Everything from your chosen venue to the time of year will affect your wedding photographs. If you’ve got your heart set on certain shots, like couple’s portraits at sunset or a sparkler send-off photo, then you need to talk it through with your photographer. If they know what you want, together you can work out when and where to fit those photos in. 

Make sure you’ve both done your homework 

You can trust your photographer’s experience and ability to come up with great ideas for photographs. But, it is also worth finding your own fun ideas too. Ideas for unusual group shots, any props you might want to include, or parts of your venue that offer a particularly interesting backdrop will all help to create fantastic photographs. 

Remember that practise makes perfect 

While you can get good deals with a photographer who’s new to the industry and building their portfolio, you do need to find someone you trust to get it right, and experience can play a big part in that. A professional photographer distinguishes all the subtleties of shooting a wedding – they’ll know exactly when to photograph your groom as he first sees you walking down the aisle, how to achieve the perfect confetti shot, and what to do in the event of rain. A creative and flexible approach often results in the most breathtaking and brilliant wedding photographs. 

Browse your photographer’s portfolio 

Look through the portfolio of any photographer you’re considering. You won’t just be looking for examples of the weddings they’ve captured. You’ll also be looking at their different styles and approaches. When you find the photos that resonate with you, you’ve found your style and photographer. 

 

Perfect music for your wedding

Book a function band for the evening

Not only does a band get the party started in style, they’re sure to fill your dance floor and ensure many a happy memory as the evening wears on. A band is able to learn a tune that has a sentimental attachment to the newlyweds or more than capable of rattling through the hits, so that  your wedding guests will keep rockin’ all night long.

Book a DJ to finish the evening

A DJ is a great choice, they are able to play virtually any song from the past 70 or 80 years, you’ll be able to seamlessly blend Gangnam Style with Crazy Frog, Agadoo and Ernie, The Fastest Milkman in the West (if you so desire). No matter the genre, our DJs are all hugely experienced and you can relax knowing that your party will still be going long after you head off to the hotel!

Book a harpist for the ceremony

There’s something beautiful about having a harpist play at your wedding, the sound of a harp emanating through your wedding venue is a truly gorgeous moment. The tinkling of the strings really is the perfect sound to accompany a walk down the aisle and when it comes to tradition, we don’t think there’s much better.

Book a string quartet for the drinks reception

When the vows have been spoken and guests have retired for a few drinks, a string quartet is a wonderful accompaniment to their surroundings. The bride and groom will be having their photos taken with the wedding photographer and such a gap shouldn’t be an awkward situation. With the soothing sounds of a string quartet, this is a lovely opportunity to friends old and new to chat to one another on this special day.

 

Background jazz with your wedding food

Many guests’ favourite moment of the day with food, drink and of course, the speeches! The bride and groom often walk from table to table during the lunch or dinner and we find that having some background music certainly enhances the atmosphere. Booking a jazz trio is a great choice which is very trendy at the moment.

 

Join in the Entertainment

In the hopes of ensuring that everybody at your wedding can ‘break the ice’, here are four interactive wedding entertainment ideas that guests will enjoy.

Garden Games

If you are looking to plan a summer wedding, then you might be wanting to hold much of the big day outside in the sun. If this is the case, then after the ceremony and perhaps during the drinks reception, you might like to offer some garden games for your guests. Also able to be enjoyed after the wedding breakfast, games like  croquet or quoits roll back the years and ensure a level playing field from the ages of eight to eighty!

Ceilidh

When it comes to booking music for a wedding, you generally have two options – book a wedding band or book a DJ. But there’s actually a third option. Rather than booking a function band, you might like to book a Ceilidh instead! Similar to a barn dance, a Ceilidh band has an experienced caller who explains the dance moves to you ahead of time and ensures that all ages get involved. A fantastic option for your wedding entertainment.

Retro Games

It used to be that if you liked computer games, you’d keep it to yourself for fear of being ‘geeky’. Games are very much in these days though with the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and recently released Nintendo Switch proving to be extremely popular and why not tap into this love by hiring retro games for your wedding. A bit of fun at the wedding reception, having a Mario Kart tournament featuring your Auntie and colleague from accounts is sure to be one of the most surprising events of the evening! Not sure on going digital? How about booking Scalextric for a wedding instead?

Photo booth

One of the most popular additions to weddings in recent years, a photo booth brings people together like no other wedding entertainment can. Creating memories of your big day, guests will ordinarily be able to instantly print their photos and keep a copy for themselves whilst also sticking in another photo into an album that the bride and groom will be given after the wedding comes to an end. Photo booths often come with props for an extra dose of comedy and you’ll be even able to send yourself a digital copy as well. Marvellous!

 

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.

 

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!

 

Perfect Venues for Outdoor Weddings

If you want to get married outside then take a look at some of our favourite British wedding venues where you can hold an outdoor ceremony

If you’d love to say your vows outside, here are some UK wedding venues to consider:

 

  1.      Brinkburn, Northumberland

Offering an unusual historic, tranquil and quirky experience, the estate is set in a secluded wooded ravine on the banks of the river Coquet in Northumberland, with a beautiful 12th century church and stables in the grounds. Outdoor ceremonies can be held here with the sound of the birds singing and the river running as a gorgeous soundtrack to your day.

  1.      Polpier, Cornwall

If you’re looking for an outdoor venue with a stunning view, picturesque Polpier on the Cornish coast has a spacious front lawn that looks down on Mevagissey fishing village and harbour. With a feature gazebo that can be dressed with flowers and decorations, up to 100 wedding guests can be accommodated at an outdoor ceremony in the self-contained gardens.

  1.      Cripps Barn, Gloucestershire

An old Cotswold stone barn has flagstone floors, an open fire place, a large south facing terrace with fire pits and a bonfire in the garden. Couples can get married either in the barn or outside in the woodland glade which is equipped with a microphone and speakers in the trees so guests can hear music and the couples’ vows. After the wedding, the barn is a perfect place to party – and there is free camping available in the field next door for any outdoor-loving guests

  1.      Jollydays Glamping, Yorkshire

Although Jollydays isn’t licensed for a legal ceremony, it’s a great choice if you are a glamping fan: couples usually have a legal ceremony at the nearby village church, or at the registry office in York, and then have a humanist ceremony in the Jollydays woodland. There are three wedding packages to choose from; you could have a festival vibe, a posh vintage tea party or a romantic boho extravaganza

  1.      Ta Mill, Cornwall

There’s a choice of outdoor options at Ta Mill, on the fringes of Bodmin Moor, including lawns that can accommodate up to 100 guests with a wildlife pond in the background. If the weather changes, a canopy can be used on the lawn, or up to 60 guests can be accommodated in the indoor venue. To continue the outdoor theme you can enjoy a bespoke wedding breakfast in a personalised marquee in the gardens.

  1.      Heaton House Farm, Cheshire

As well as offering a choice of two barns, Heaton House Farm also has a beautiful oak pagoda available for outdoor weddings. Licensed for civil ceremonies, and with its own patio area, the pagoda has panoramic views across the Cheshire plains. Guests can be seated on the patio area with additional seating extending onto the grass if required.

  1.      Laughern Hill Estate, Worcestershire

Laughern Hill Estate can provide a “complete al fresco outdoor wedding experience”. It has a selection of ceremony locations, including beside a wishing well. You could have a quintessentially British marquee wedding or a boho festival style tipi. You could dine under a vinery of real leaves and sumptuous grapes or devour a mouth-watering hog roast within the walls of a secret garden. You could even dance the night away under the stars…with your own silent disco.

  1.      Careys Manor, New Forest

Careys Manor Hotel is the only venue in the tranquil New Forest that holds an outdoor wedding licence. The hotel’s elegant, custom-built wedding pavilion harnesses the traditional romance of a walled garden with its serene design and sweet floral aromas. Up to 100 guests can be accommodated here – and they will also be able to use the award winning spa facilities.

 

Step by Step Wedding Entertainment

Morning

The pre-wedding jitters can easily be set to bed by a little entertainment in the morning! When family are gathered together in the hotel just waiting for a few hours to pass by, there’s nothing better than a bit of entertainment from a strolling act to enliven proceedings. A great time for a magician to diffuse some nerves and ensure that talking to your Great Uncle isn’t as difficult as you’d feared. A brilliant ice breaker, we highly recommend this whilst the bride and groom are busily getting ready.

Ceremony

During the wedding ceremony itself! You’re probably wondering if you want a traditional wedding march to accompany you as you walk down the aisle, but why have that when you can have a small jazz band playing off to the side? It makes for a far more unique proposition than an organist playing that same tune you’ve heard at hundreds of weddings before and can even form part of the ceremony itself should you decide to put your own spin on things.

Drinks Reception

Whilst the bride and groom are off having their photos taken with their various in-laws, cousins and old University friends, it leaves the rest of the wedding party to stand about somewhat aimlessly drinking some Champagne or non-alcoholic equivalent. But it doesn’t have to be that way! Hiring a wedding pianist for an hour, or perhaps a solo singer is a perfect example – always goes down a treat.

Wedding Breakfast

Naturally it all depends on your budget but after the food and speeches the bride and groom tend to walk between tables, happily greeting those they haven’t seen in awhile. For those who aren’t on a table with anyone they know very well, the small talk ran out somewhere between the main course and dessert. As such, some light entertainment in the form of a quiz – perhaps about the couple? – or caricaturist can go a long way!

Reception.

We needn’t go into too much detail about whether a band of DJ is the way to go… Just know that entertainment is pretty much a must have for this portion of your wedding day and can make the occasion even more special to those who have travelled a long way! There are a whole host of acts that come under the ‘wedding entertainment for hire’ banner, so you don’t need to stick to just one!

 

Affordable Wedding Entertainment

Not everyone has a huge budget for the most important and happiest day of their lives but most people would like a little something for their big day. With that in mind, here is  a list of the most affordable wedding entertainment.

Spotify

If you are after ultra-low budget then there’s nothing cheaper than playing Spotify as you walk down the aisle, during the drinks reception and when dancing the night away once the food has all been cleared away. If you’re strapped for cash then this will be cheaper. That being said we do advise signing up for premium ahead of the big day; we can’t think of anything worse than a dreaded Spotify ad every three songs.

Acoustic Guitarist

Many like to walk down the aisle to some live music and what better way to celebrate this momentous occasion than by booking an acoustic guitarist. With this blog on the hunt for most affordable wedding entertainment, acoustic duos are out and acoustic guitarists are in. Able to perform as you walk down the aisle, during reception drinks and perhaps as an accompaniment to the wedding breakfast, an acoustic guitarist is as cheap as they come.

Garden Games

With the weather as nice as it is, you might be forgiven for thinking it’s summer already! Many enjoy an outdoor wedding every year and if you’re one of the people who wants to bring the party vibe, garden games are a must. Croquet, giant Jenga and even a spot of rounders have all been seen in recent years. Fun to play and quick to set up, this is some of the cheapest wedding entertainment around and gets you the most bang for your buck; breaking the ice between guests have never been easier!

Harpist

Incredibly harpists come under most affordable wedding entertainment because they supply their own instrument (grand pianos tend to be a pretty penny to get through the door of a venue that doesn’t have one!) A superb addition to any wedding, we highly recommend booking a harp.

DJ

If Spotify isn’t your thing and you don’t want to shell out for a full live band, booking a DJ is a no-brainer. Experienced disc jockeys know exactly how to read a room and work at many weddings throughout the year. Able to choose the right music for the right moments, you’ll be jumping up and down one second and slow dancing the next. An absolute must for the evening!

 

Quick Dream Weddings

Is planning your wedding in six months really doable? The answer is YES! Whatever your reasons for getting married quickly are, brides often find themselves having to plan their big day in rather more of a hurry than they thought they would have to.

Whatever you might think, there are enough suppliers and wedding venues to go around, it all depends on the time of year you’re getting married and the day of the week. Just remember, if you’re dream wedding entails a weekend wedding in high summer then this might be more difficult to sort – the most in demand season for weddings will require a little more planning in advance. BUT… marry midweek and you’ll find plenty more options open to you! (not to mention the saving you’ll make along the way!) When planning a quick wedding it’s important to establish the couples priorities and whether these can be achieved within the time frame.

The pros of planning in under six months

  • It’s all very romantic – you won’t have to wait long until you’re Mr and Mrs!
  • You’ll have to make quick decisions – which is good if you’re a bit of a dawdler.
  • You’ll probably have a slightly smaller wedding, so it will more than likely cost less.
  • Chances are you may get a better deal on your wedding venue, especially if you’re marrying out of season and if you’re prepared to get married mid-week.
  • You may have to buy your dress off the peg or at a sample sale, which means you’ll probably save money on something made to measure. A good dressmaker can always make alterations quickly in any case.
  • No time to have a cake made by a designer? Some high street stores have some amazing ready-made wedding cakes and you can decorate it yourself with accessories or flowers to personalise.
  • If you’re brave enough to book a honeymoon last minute, you could end up with a bargain.

The issues you may face

  • Not everybody will be able to attend – they may already have holidays, work commitments or a birth of a baby in the diary.
  • You’ve got less flexibility about where you can marry and the date – popular venues, especially in the height of summer, tend to get booked up 1-2 years in advance.
  • If you’re looking for your dream designer wedding dress then it probably won’t be ready in time (most designers and bridal shops need at least three months to put a frock together).
  • You might not get the photographer you want – fashionable photographers can be booked a year or two ahead at peak times.
  • If you’re an indecisive person, a quick wedding turn around may bring on more stress than is worth.
  • You might not be getting married at the time of year you dreamed about.
  • You’ll probably have to take some time off work quite close to the wedding/honeymoon to get your plans in order.
  • If your wedding is in term-time, some kids may not be able to get time off school to be flower girls or pageboys.

Elements To Plan ASAP

Organise your wedding venue

You really need to focus on where you’re going to get married – where the ceremony and reception is taking place and when. Try to organise the ceremony and reception at the same location – this will save on planning time. See what dates they have available, check for discounts for off-season or mid-week weddings and go from there.

Book a photographer

The shots of your wedding day will provide lasting memories so book a photographer you can work with. We suggest you contact four and check availability but if you’re really set on them, don’t book your venue until you know they can do that date.

Your wedding dress

Some designers will need six months to create your dream gown so get it ordered quickly. If you really don’t have six months, we suggest asking your local bridal boutique about how quickly they can get a dress in stock, or alternatively, try the sample sales. These can provide amazing bargains if you’re lucky. Just factor in the cost of dry cleaning.

Your wedding entertainment

If you’re particularly set on somebody and they’re available you need to get on and book them pronto.

 

Romantic Honeymoons

When planning a wedding is over, make the most of your honeymoon and explore your beautiful holiday island taking you to wonderful places of interest where there are sunset bars or take a catamaran cruise, or a classic gondola. You can both experience the most beautiful sunsets in the world, together.

There are many wonderful places to go on honeymoon and some of the most romantic can be Italy, The Seychelles or The Caribbean.

A romantic meal for two

Don’t scrimp on this, enjoy fine dining and experience tastes that you have never tasted before, from a selection of both elegantly casual and formal restaurants, where service is attentive yet unimposing, where creativity and presentation of gourmet cuisine is proudly supervised with passion by the world’s most celebrated chefs.

If you don’t fancy dressing up and want to give the fine dining a miss, go bohemian and have a barefoot chic evening! From a Beach Grill, throughout the night you can have casual dining and be being served delicious local specialities and the catch of the day.

The ultimate in romance is the intimate, private dining experiences on the beach, with just tiki torches and stars twinkling down on you whilst being served by your personal attentive waiter. Combine that with your favourite cocktail, wine, or a glass of champagne while you listen to the Caribbean gently welcoming another stunning sunrise, and you’ll know you’re in paradise!

Spa treat

And don’t forget to book a pampering day for the two of you.  There are many holiday packages that have this included; massages, hot tubs, facials, this would be such a wonderful intimate thing to have together.  Just maybe, this could be the last relaxing holiday you have for a while before the patter of little feet will take up much of your time!