Wedding planner Rianna Elizabeth has been in the industry for the past decade and has experience organising lavish weddings in Florence and Paris through to smaller, intimate affairs in London. Here you can read her top tips and tricks for planning the perfect wedding.
Planning the perfect day can be a dauting prospect. But regardless of whether the task excites you or slightly intimidates you, a few useful pointers from those in the know can never go amiss.
Here are some of the most important things I have learned in my time planning weddings.
Work out what you’re not willing to spend
Start by figuring out what you’re not willing to spend and work back from there to set a realistic budget.
A lot of people say they don’t have a budget, but they always know what they don’t want to spend. For example, I can say that something is going to cost £10,000 and straight away a client will say it’s more than they expected.
Don’t get caught out by booking a venue that’s too small
One of the first and biggest challenges is to find a venue. Thankfully, there are lots of amazing directories online to help you with your venue search, such as Coco Wedding Venues, Hitched and Guides for Brides.
You should find somewhere that can comfortably hold your guests and a little bit more to be on the safe side. If you have an evening reception with a band, stage, dancefloor and dining tables then the space could be significantly reduced. Unless a venue says it takes these things into consideration, don’t choose one that has the exact capacity of your guest list.
Trends do change so be wary of over styling
People often get caught up in a trend and look back on their wedding day and wish they had chosen a more timeless style.
A trend extremely popular in the UK is the boho style, which is hugely popular in Australia. Celebrity and royal weddings can also have long-lasting effects on styles with people still modelling themselves on Kate Middleton and Megan Markle’s looks. Bloggers and influencers also play a big part in setting trends and influencing how the UK wedding market evolves.
Make the most of alternative options
Couples getting married today are spoilt for choice. There used to be far less to consider when planning a wedding and fewer places for inspiration. Now you have a variety of websites, blogs and apps such as Pinterest and Instagram.
Having alternative options allows people to incorporate their personalities into their wedding. Brides are generally being more adventurous, considering alternative wedding dresses and turning to online clothing brands for example.
Go through contracts with a fine toothcomb to avoid being caught out
If you have a contract with the venue then make sure you double check all of the details carefully.
Over the years I’ve had many instances of contract issues. For example, recently a couple booked a band, but discovered there were very strict volume limits at the venue, meaning they couldn’t have any live music after a certain time. I have even heard of occasions when the venue has had the wrong date for the wedding!
Be clear on parents’ expectations before borrowing any money
You should know expectations before accepting money from family members. Have some form of agreement on how the money will be used, what they want control over and the terms of repayment.
Ultimately, if you feel it’s going to cause too much of an issue then you should say no, however tempting the money is. It’s worth also researching additional finance options available such as a personal loan or paying for small items on a credit card, as they can be good alternative options.
Play to your strengths and areas of expertise when planning
Naturally, some people will take more control of the administration and others will be into the style, design and the overall guest experience. Often it is the bride who takes the lead and will delegate tasks, but the groom will be able to make use of a different skillset.
Don’t be scared to reveal your true budget to suppliers
A reputable supplier is never going to max out your budget just for the sake of it and you could lose out on quality if you understate how much you have to spend.
Ask for packages and upgrade options. It’s always good to have the starting price and know what you could get if you wanted to increase your budget. I like to create a shopping list for everything that comes within a couples’ budget and then put the nice-to-haves in a separate column.
Don’t forget the tax man
Always allow for plus VAT because if you set a budget of £40,000 that doesn’t include it, then that’s a big dent in what you can actually afford to spend. For example, food could be £10,000 and then you’ve got to pay £2,000 VAT on top, which can really sting people.
Keep a close eye on the non-sexy costs
Stamps are something most people don’t budget for. If you’re posting save the dates and wedding invitations the cost can easily be as much as £100, particularly international postage for overseas guests.
There’s also often multiple delivery or collection costs for set-up, such as hiring cutlery, furniture or glasses. It’s wise to try and find local people who can deliver more than one item, or will pick things up and take them back as I’ve had people who’ve spent as much as £6,000 on delivery costs.
Honeymoons have to be factored into your spend
Today, more often than not, honeymoons are factored into the total spend because some couples want to go on these huge, once-in-a-lifetime holidays.
Whether it’s on safari, around the world trip, or a tour of South East Asia, people can spend £5,000 to £10,000 on a three week holiday which can eat into your overall wedding budget.
What are your priorities?
You might not want to splurge on flowers, settling for some bud vases running down the table so that you can spend more on having a bigger band. Or, you may be happy with just a DJ and want to spend more on flowers to create a gorgeous dining table look.
Dry hire barns and marquees might seem desirable and cost-effective, but you’ve then got to pay to ensure the venue has water, a kitchen and lighting.
Try and determine your priorities. It’ll then be easier to find solutions to fit what you’re looking for depending on your budget.