Archives for the month of: November, 2013

From Dream to Scream: 10 Top Tips On How To Avoid Wedding Stress Part 3: Finding The Perfect Venue

This is a biggy; probably the most important element as it can make or break an atmosphere or theme. I’d suggest (if possible) physically going round the venues instead of cruising the interwebs and trying to gauge a venue by the pictures on their website. Take a camera with you (even if it’s just using your phone’s camera) as this can be very useful when you’ve left a venue as you can look back and assess each location.

If you’re keen to get great photos of your wedding then I strongly recommend looking out for lots of natural light and big windows, especially if your ceremony is at your reception venue, but it’s also worth considering if you’re having a Church wedding. Many times in the past I’ve had to shoot a wedding ceremony at a licenced venue, only to find that they’ve managed to licence the one room with no natural light, an old table in a corner and no interesting features! Most venues seem more aware of this these days and I only mention it because often the photographer will not be able to use flash during the ceremony itself, so in order to get some nice results, you ideally want a light room with nice features.

DO: hire a planner if you can afford it. Or, at the very least, ensure that someone who’s very reliable and who will be there on the day to act as your No.2 helps you with the planning – you may not want this to be a family member as you’d prefer them to be able to completely relax on the day rather than having ‘wedding chores’ to take care of, so perhaps choose a trusted friend instead.

So, the venue is a big deal and it needs to be right, but equally you need to get on with certain members of staff as you’ll probably be speaking to them quite a bit in the run-up to your wedding. Most managed venues have an “Event Coordinator” or Manager who’ll be on-hand to help you with your wedding and will usually deal with most trivial problems on the day without you ever realising! My advice would be to get to know the person who’ll be handling your big day and try to meet them at each venue you visit whilst you’re deciding where to book.

TIP: Ask who the venue use for catering and other services as they’ll be able to point you in the right direction with good and reliable suppliers.

DON’T: Keep it all to yourself. I hired a private house with no event coordinator or planner (anyone would think I was testing myself!) and even though I wrote a list of names and numbers of suppliers for my sister, I didn’t actually give her any real instructions for the day. Added to that, she wasn’t really involved in the planning, so it was much easier for me to handle things as they cropped up on the day, but this meant that I was making phone calls and dealing with suppliers myself on the wedding morning. Not ideal!

A couple of local venues I’d highly recommend:

Grade II listed stately home with various marquee options and a very cool underground bar!:
http://www.inglesidethehouse.com

Beautiful countryside converted barn:
http://www.kinscotebarn.co.uk

Awesome castle on a lake:
http://www.eastnorcastle.com

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From Dream to Scream: 10 Top Tips On How To Avoid Wedding Stress  Part Two: How easy is it to find THE DRESS?

This is the part of the wedding process that most women dream about and look forward to the most. That is until they actually go shopping for one, at which point mouths dry up, stomachs are in knots and brain fade sets in. What if I can’t find one that suits ME? What if they all look horrible, or worse, what if I look horrible in them? Most of all, what if I find the dress of my dreams but it’s totally out of my budget?!

Shopping for THE DRESS can get a little stressful if you’re not careful, so here are a few tips based on my own experiences and those of brides I’ve worked with:

Everyone will have an opinion. If you’re lucky, your family and friends will be nothing but supportive about your choice of dress; after all, it’s your wedding and you know what you want (in theory), but some people can be a little more vocal and critical – they probably think they’re being helpful but are in fact just making a big decision all the more difficult. If this happens to you, just try to remember that ultimately this is for you and you alone, regardless of who’s paying for the dress, and that it’s you who has to feel comfortable and special on your big day. If you really want that knee-length dress covered on polka dots then stick to your guns! You’ll only regret it if you let the opinions of others sway you.

Bridal shops can be a minefield. Most are very pleasant I’m sure, but too many brides I’ve worked with have mentioned that some shop staff aren’t always as lovely as they’d have hoped. Some of the bridal shops I visited on my own journey were owned or staffed by some of the snippiest women I’ve ever encountered, which was such a shame because it took away from what should have been a fun day with girl friends and family. In my head, I expected to go into the appointments to be greeted with a glass of bubbly and a warm smile, followed by staff rushing around me to show me all their beautiful dresses and accessories (perhaps I expected too much?). In reality, in some shops (who shall remain nameless) I felt as though my being there was somehow a terrible inconvenience and I was quite taken aback by how unhelpful and rude the staff were. That being said, there are of course plenty of wonderful shops and boutiques out there whose main aim is to make your dress shopping experience a special one; I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and working with some of these during my time in the wedding industry and have linked a couple of these below.

Make more than one day out of shopping for THE DRESS. I know most of you will anyway, but there’s good reason for it (as if you needed an excuse). If you have enough time before the big day, I’d recommend making some appointments and spending your first outing visiting bridal shops with a good friend – friends somehow seem able to tell you what looks good and what doesn’t in an honest way that just we can’t always take from our Mothers.

It’s customary for the Mother of the Bride to buy her daughter’s wedding dress – naturally not everyone will work like this but on your second (or third) outing, nearer to the time of needing to buy the dress, take your Mother. Regardless of whether or not she’s paying for the dress she’s sure to want to be involved in this part of the process, and by now you’ll have a good idea of what you want and what looks good so you’ll be able to show her around with confidence.

Make sure you visit more than one shop / boutique and where possible, get your friend, sister or mum to take a snapshot of you in the dress. Bridal shops seem to vary on their rules about this but it’s really handy to look back on once you’ve got to the café and you’re chatting through all the various styles you’ve seen or tried on during the day!

TIP: Bridal shops vary wildly in their lead times for producing your final dress so if you see something you like, be sure to enquire about the production time. Mine had a lead time of 4 months so it was a good thing I didn’t leave it too late.

A few local Bridal shops and boutiques I recommend:

Original Vintage & Inspired Vintage One-to-One Boutique:
http://www.cotswoldvintagebridal.com

Bespoke Couture Bridalwear & Corsetry:
http://www.alissiacouture.com

Bridalwear Shop:
http://www.thebridalroombroadway.co.uk

Bridalwear Shop & Boutique:
http://www.grandjour.co.uk

From Dream to Scream: 10 Top Tips On How To Avoid Wedding Stress Part One: Fail to Prepare = Prepare to Fail

If you’re anything like me, the thought of planning your own wedding not only makes your skin tingle with excitement, but also scares the pants off you!

I planned my own wedding thinking it would be a breeze, as half of my life is spent either photographing weddings or organising photographic shoots, so I’ve seen my fair share of weddings and am well-versed at dealing with multiple suppliers and bringing them together. However, I don’t know whether it was down to it being MY wedding, or just that it’s a totally different ball game planning such an important day, but I have to admit that if I did it all again, I would definitely call on more help, and it certainly gave me a new respect for Wedding Planners!

Although most of us like to think we’re super-organised and can multitask with the best of them, most of us don’t actually do event planning for a living and so the very notion of bringing together multiple suppliers who you’ve never worked with before to create a day that absolutely HAS to be the best day of your life is a very brave, and some might say, ridiculous notion!

So this is the first of 10 parts giving you a Do’s & Don’ts Tips List that I’ve put together based on my own experiences and those of other weddings I’ve been involved with, to help those of you about to embark on your wedding journey together to take everything in your stride and to sidestep the more stressful moments!

So, my top tip for part one revolves around planning:

DO: Think about hiring a Wedding Planner. Many of you might not consider a Wedding Planner or would think of them as an unnecessary additional expense, but if you’re planning to do much more than elope to Gretna Green I think it’s worth having someone on-board who has prior experience of putting a wedding together.

Even if budgets are a bit tight or you think you know exactly what you want (I know I did), a planner can still be extremely beneficial. It’s important to remember that they’re not there to take your ideas away from you and to give you something you don’t want; they’re there to work with you and to realise your dreams (hopefully!) without you having to do all the donkey work! Many planners are also skilled stylists and they can provide ideas for you if you’re unsure, as they’ll have experience with what works and what doesn’t, but ultimately whatever they do will have your seal of approval.

DON’T: Bite off more than you can chew. I’m loathe to admit, this was probably me. During the planning phase I was working full time whilst juggling my own business and found that putting together even a modestly-sized wedding can become a full time job in itself! I found that for a time it took over and I would be tossing and turning at night worrying about silly things that I couldn’t possibly control, such as how long it would take us to decorate the Tipi the day before the wedding, and what would happen if the loo backed up in the house and who would fix it? Would I find myself in my wedding dress, wielding a plunger whilst frantically yelling “don’t worry Auntie Linda, I’ve nearly fixed it!”?! If you have someone to take control of the day, worries like these are taken care of and so won’t be your concern. Choosing to have part or all of the day at a managed venue can help as they can often provide you with a dedicated wedding co-ordinator who works for them, but whatever you do, make sure that you allow time for you! It’s supposed to be an enjoyable experience so try to let someone else do Lion’s share of the worrying!

Regardless of whether you work with a planner or decide to do it all yourself, you’re going to find yourself faced with the task of deciding which suppliers to use and believe me, it can be a minefield. Who’s reliable? Who’s good? Who can we afford?
I’ve broken down the main wedding supplier “elements” into different chapters and will post a new one each week with my personal recommendations for each one. Remember, they need to be booked well in advance of your wedding otherwise you risk disappointment when your chosen supplier’s already busy on your date. As a wedding photographer I’ve already taken bookings for 2015 and have even had enquiries for 2016!

What I will say is this: yes, the big things are important. BUT, don’t get so bogged down with the big things that you forget the little details, and don’t spend your whole day trying to ‘create’ your perfect wedding, just let it happen! I’ve seen many couples miss some of the magic moments because of this and both my husband and I were guilty of it at our own wedding – in the morning when I should have been enjoying a relaxing pampering and a glass of bubbly with my family and girlfriends, I found myself making frantic calls to our vintage coach supplier as they hadn’t arrived on time to collect our guests, whilst at our evening reception, my husband was so busy trying to sort out both our DJ and band who’d decided to arrive at the wrong times that he missed half the dinner, and I know he was looking forward to the food!

Some Wedding Planners and Stylists I’d recommend:

Wedding Planning and Styling from start to finish:
http://www.finesseplanning.co.uk

Wedding Venue Stylist:
http://www.littleweddinghelper.co.uk

International Wedding Planner:
http://www.plannedforperfection.co.uk

Bespoke Wedding Planning & Co-ordination:
http://www.katherinecourtney.com

I hope this has been useful to you and please keep your eyes peeled for next Monday’s chapter, which will be all about The Dress!

Feel free to get in touch with me on studiotoyou@mac.com