Category Archives: Wedding Planning Advice

How To Plan A Wedding: Catering, Cakes and Cocktails

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Whatever kind of wedding you choose to have, the food and drink are in prime position to make or break the day. Not only will they help to set the tone, they’ll bring people together and fuel those bodies for dancing into the wee hours! The food and drink can take up a huge chunk of the budget so it’s important to make wise choices.

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Here are a few things you need to consider when making decisions about what kind of food to serve:

What kind of food do you really like to eat? These days traditional wedding breakfasts are almost a thing of the past, especially for alternative couples, so the world really is your delicious oyster when choosing what to serve! Obviously you want everyone to enjoy the food, but this is also a time to please yourselves.

I’ve been to fully a vegetarian wedding, and even though I’m not a veggie myself, I loved the experience. It’s something that defines the couple so I loved that they stuck to their guns and didn’t feel like they had to serve meat just to please everybody else. This is not the time to worry that your great aunt might not enjoy your favourite food, this is your day so your taste buds should dictate the menu!

If you’re on a budget, consider having a buffet (or BBQ if the weather is nice). The wedding buffet used to have quite derogatory connotations (soggy sandwiches, frozen volovants and lank sausage rolls anybody?) but these days more and more couples are opting for this idea – and doing it in style! With a little bit of forward planning and imagination, a buffet meal can be both delicious and cool.

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Wedding catering doesn’t have to be all about a three-course sit down meal. There are many catering companies offering really unique options such as portable woodfire pizza kitchens, taco trucks and baked potato bars. And don’t forget about dessert too. How about an ice cream trike, a candyfloss vendor or a candy apple station?! My friend London Bride did an amazing blog post on some of the coolest options in the UK so be sure to have a nosey and her suggestions.

Think seasonally. Just like with flowers, food that’s in season will be much more delicious, fresh and affordable than anything that has to be shipped in overseas. Also consider sourcing your ingredients locally if you’d like to support growers and producers in your area. Farmers markets and local independent restaurants are a GREAT place to start!

If you really want to save money, how about having pot-luck catering? Instead of gifts, ask your guests to bring their signature dish. This will make for a yummy and truly unique culinary experience!

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How to Plan a Wedding: Choosing your Dress

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Sashy rocked her Vivienne Westwood wedding dress, dare I say even more then SJP?

I think it’s safe to say that for most brides, finding that perfect dress is the first thing they think about when they get engaged. It certainly was for me – I was online and trawling through dress designer’s websites the day after Gareth asked me to marry him!

When I was looking, way back in 2007, I struggled to find anything that wasn’t white, long and strapless. In retrospect I probably wasn’t looking in the right places, after all I didn’t have Rock n Roll Bride to guide me (ha!) But seriously, I actually had no idea that there were other options besides going to a bridal boutique and just picking one out, oh how things have changed!

These days, even the most traditional of designers have caught up to the fact that many brides want more options. A lot of them now offer short styles, dresses with straps (who would have thought it would be such a revelation!) and oodles of colour, style and fabric options. In fact, now you’re spoiled for choice!

Basic wedding dress shapes

The style of dress you choose to wear will most likely be determined by which one suits your body shape best and what kind of wedding you’re having. If you’re planning a small backyard family gathering then a giant ball gown might look a bit ridiculous, although in saying that, if that’s what you want – go for it!

The world really is your oyster when finding a dress style you like, but these are the basic, and most common, wedding dress shape options:

A-line dresses are flattering to most body shapes. The top is fitted around the bust and flares out smoothly and gently as it goes down. There’s usually no break between the top and skirt sections of the dress.

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Dress by Nova Mia

Ball gown styles are corseted with a full skirt. There is usually a more distinctive break between the top and skirt of the dress (sometimes with a sash but most often just a seam). Ball gown dresses help to create an hourglass figure and look fabulous on girls with great boobs!

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Dress by Anne Barge

Empire line gowns have a high waist, just under the bust, and are perfect on petite girls, pregnant brides or anyone who wants to disguise their tummy.

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Dress by K’s Custom Gowns

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How to Plan a Wedding: The Wedding Party

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Uneven numbers in your wedding party? Who cares!

For the lucky ones amongst you, choosing your bridesmaids and groomsmen will be a walk in the park. You ask your siblings and best friends, he’ll asks his and voilà! But for others there may be some drama surrounding who to have standing up there with you.

While the short answer to all the questions you might have is “choose who you damn well please”, as with everything in weddings there are often other people’s feelings to consider.

How many attendants should we have?

While there is no strict rule as to how many people you should have in your wedding party, tradition states that you should have one bridesmaid/ groomsman for every 50 guests. Goodness knows who came up with that number, but there you go.

However, remember, the more bridesmaids you have, the more likely it is that there could be disagreements on dress choices!  If you’re on a limited budget, think less is more. Although your bridesmaids may be wearing their own dresses and doing their own make up, you’ll still need to get everyone a bouquet and those things can really add up!

Do you have to have the same numbers of bridesmaids and groomsmen?

Of course not! I had three bridesmaids and Gareth only had a best man when we got married and it made not one ounce of difference. With must less importance being put on the classic line up photos these days anyway, who’s honestly going to care if you’re not evenly matched?

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Awww!

What’s the deal with flowergirls and ring bearers?

Other than being cute and adorable, throwing petals as they walk down the aisle and handing you the rings, honestly not much. If you have young children, siblings or relatives it’s nice to have them involved in the wedding, but if you don’t then you don’t have to bother.

Should all my bridesmaids wear the same dress?

Not if you don’t want them too! I personally love it when bridesmaids wear mismatched but complimentary dresses, I think it looks so great in the photos. 

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How to Plan a Wedding: The Guest List and Invitations

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Choosing the guest list for your wedding can be a task fraught with stress and drama. Who gets final say on numbers? Do you have to invite children? What about long lost relatives we never see? Will my tattooed, punk rock friends get on with my much more conservative family? How about just inviting some people for the evening? Will people be offended if they’re not included in the whole day? Are we allowing +1s?

There are so many questions and many, many concerns surrounding who to have (and not have) at your wedding. In fact I’m sure a lot of you are now starting to see the benefits of eloping!

The short answer to all those questions is that you should invite who you want to, but unfortunately weddings are never as simple as that. It may well be ‘your big day’ but there are other people’s feelings to consider too, like your parents. As I mentioned when we discussed the budget, they have probably been looking forward to this day since you were born and will want to be involved in the plans.

You have to remember that not too long ago a wedding was pretty much the parents’ party that they threw to celebrate their daughter getting married. A lot of the major decisions (such as the guest list) for their own weddings would have been made by their parents, so don’t seem too surprised if they want some input.

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The way we got around this for our wedding was that we actually had two celebrations. The first was the main wedding where we invited our closest family and friends (which was still about 120 people!) and when we returned from our honeymoon my parent’s threw a second wedding party for all their friends in their back garden. It was actually a great idea. I got to wear my dress again, my dad did his speech for a second time and we cut another cake. In many ways we all enjoyed it a lot more than our actual wedding day because it was so much more laid back.

So just how do you start to compile a list of wedding guests? Well, my advice would be to sit down and write down everyone you’d like to invite – friends, family, co-workers, everyone. Get your fiancé and both sets of parents to do the same. Then split the master list into two – an A-list and a back up B-list for if you have any extra space or someone can’t make it. The final number will usually be down to how many you can afford to feed and how many your venue actually holds.

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How to Plan a Wedding: The Venue

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Unusual venues such as museums will make a really fun and different wedding!

When it comes to planning your wedding, the venue is usually the first major decision you need to make. Not only is it often the biggest expense, but it is difficult to plan anything else until this is sorted out.

The first thing you need to determine is where in the world you want to get married. If you are both from, and still live in, the same town as all your friends and family then this is a pretty easy task, but if your family and friends are more spread out it can be a harder choice.

It is my personal opinion that you should make things as easy as possible for your guests. A destination wedding may sound wonderful and romantic (throwing the honeymoon in with the wedding, yes please!) but they can often be very stressful and expensive for guests. If you want all your friends and family to be able to attend, then jetting off to the Bahamas might not be your best option.

There are a myriad of things to consider when it comes to picking your wedding venue. Do you want to have your ceremony and reception in the same place? What style of wedding are you having and what kind of venue would be suitable? How much can you afford? Do you want to invite children? Do you want a place that offers packages or one that it a lot more flexible? Do you want to bring in your own caterers and supply your own booze? What’s the weather going to be like? Is an outdoor ceremony possible?

It’s easier said than done but try not to get stressed out. Yes, it can all feel very overwhelming but you can do it. My first recommendation would be to look on a venue listings website. There are lots of them around but I recently used Coco Wedding Venues to search for a venue for an event and it was great. They had some really cool and quirky places listed and you can search by style of wedding or location. Another good one is Funky Weddings.

Also have a search through the real weddings on this blog! You can use the search bar at the top of the site to search things like ‘urban’, ‘pub’, ‘farm’, ‘festival’ (or whatever you like) and see what comes up. Each venue is listed and linked to in the Supporting Cast section at the bottom of the wedding gallery.

Finding the right venue is often really tricky, and for me was the least fun part of planning our wedding. In fact our original venue cancelled on us three months beforehand! PANIC STATIONS!  It actually worked out fine, and we managed to find a much nicer place in the end although I wouldn’t recommend it!

It’s worth noting though that if you do book somewhere last minute you’re in a much better position to negotiate on the price. The manager may well be more flexible because it’s unlikely that they’re going to get another enquiry at such short notice, and they’d probably rather have slightly cheaper booking than no booking at all.

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How to Plan a Wedding: The Budget

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Toni & Colin spent just £3000 and their wedding was flipping amazing!

Regardless of how much you have to spend, planning an amazing wedding is completely possible. If you’re cleaver with your choices and make smart decisions, you’ll be surprised how far you can make even the most meagre of budgets go.

While crunching numbers may be way less fun than, say, dress shopping, having a hold on your wedding finances will make things much less stressful overall and will help you to keep things in perspective. Yes, that Vera Wang one of a kind gown is incredible but do you really want to spend 90% of your entire wedding fund on it?

Most importantly though, having a budget protects your future. After all, you’re planning for a marriage here, not just a wedding, and you really don’t want to start married life under the shadow of a massive post-wedding debt.

First things first, sit down with your fiancé and discuss what you can afford and how you’re going to pay for the wedding. If your parents are helping you out then you should include them in this too.

Although you might see this as ‘your big day’, your parents have probably been dreaming about this since you were born. Especially if they’re paying for or contributing in any way, you should include them in any major decisions. It’s unlikely that they’re going to write you a blank cheque and not see you until the day.

Ask your parents which parts of the wedding they’d like to be involved in. My mum really wanted to be included in the picking of my dress for example but wasn’t really bothered about the stationery. To make it easier and to avoid the ‘too many cooks’ syndrome, do the research yourself and then present them some options when it comes to selecting things (“We’re thinking about these three photographers at these prices. What do you think?”)

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