Monday, June 20, 2011

Don’t get stressed, get a wedding planner!

If you think wedding planners are just for celebrities with big budgets then think again. Couples who employ wedding planners are just like me and you. Looking at my recent clients, most have been brimming with great ideas, but haven’t got the time to put them into action. Or they start planning their wedding day only to realise the enormity of the task ahead. Some have needed help organising the whole thing; some just need a list of trusted suppliers and then get on with it themselves. Others just need help tying up loose ends in the final few weeks leading up to the big day.

Working with a professional wedding planner can be a great asset. Here are 5 good reasons to think about hiring one for your celebrations:

1) Wedding Planners know the best wedding suppliers to work with

More often than not, you’ll be planning your wedding for the first time. You may scour the internet and countless wedding magazines in search of perfect suppliers, but in the end it’s a lottery - you really have no idea whether they’ll be right for you. Wedding planners have done this before. I personally have a database of everyone I’ve worked with. I make little notes on them. The only ones that make my final short list are 100% reliable, 100% professional and 100% fun to have around! It is the best day of your life after all.

2) Wedding Planners can generate ideas you may not have thought of

Now you need to be careful here as some planners are all about the organisation, and less about creativity. But if you choose carefully, you can have both. Talk to your planner about your theme and ask them to come up with ideas. Good planners will put a fresh spin on things and you can choose unique ideas that really capture your imagination.

3) Wedding Planners do all the leg work, so you so don’t have to

Whether it’s internet research, personal visits to suppliers or simply phoning around, a wedding planner can save you huge amounts of time and energy. On average, we visit all suppliers at least twice during the planning process and send and receive literally hundreds of emails. Just think how you could spend all that saved time!

4) Wedding Planners can help your day run more smoothly

Father’s of the Bride with security tags still fastened in their suits, bands refusing to play as they’ve not been paid, feuding families, and even feuding brides and grooms. These are some of the situations I’ve faced when I’ve been hired to work purely ‘on the day’. It takes a great deal of skill to manage situations like these at short notice, but any professional wedding planner will take it in their stride and work to calmly resolve tricky situations.

5) Wedding Planners can save you money

I don’t ever like to promise that I will save you money, but I promise to always try. Most reputable wedding planners charge you a fee up front rather than taking commission from suppliers. That means you always know what you are spending in advance. Good planners will keep on top of your budget. They will also know the venues that offer reduced rates for certain days of the week, or which suppliers are likely to offer discounts on your order.

With the wedding industry crammed full of suppliers, ranging from the very best to the unspeakably bad, a professional Wedding Planner could be a big asset on your wedding day!

Pictures shown are from Nic and Nic's wedding at Bisham Abbey, Buckinghamshire which Clare Beckwith Weddings planned.  Photos used with the kind permission of
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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Creative genius

We are always really interested in soming across quirky little businesses that offer something different from the norm for our brides and their weddings. 

Using our contacts, we have recently discovered creative people who do amazing things with buttons and odds & sods to make the most incredible wedding head gear and people who can create beautiful flower pom poms out of bits of tissue paper. 

Our newest find is Kyleigh who has a way with completely blank pieces of white paper.  Now, if I were to give you a piece of blank paper, you'd probably make a dodgy paper aeroplane, right?

Not Kyleigh.  She does this!

She clearly has a way with paper and a scalpel.  You can find her personalised creations at

They'd make a great gift for the happy couple, or a display on the sweetie buffet.  Even a gift to each other a special momento of your perfect day.

If you are a small business with an amazing product that you think our brides might like to see, just let me know.  I don't take bribes or payment for featuring you and your product, but I will only cover the ones I love, love, love.
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Monday, June 13, 2011

Turning heads

Now I don't know about you, but if I come across a stray button, or a piece of ribbon or the like, I pop it in my 'button box' (a small plastic airtight food container) which is where it lives untouched...well ...forever. 

But some people have a way with bits and bobs and can create the most inspired pieces from the most unlikely materials.  Which is why I just had to introduce you to Chloe Haywood from Hatastic

Chloe started making hats and fascinators when she couldn't find a hat to go with a vintage cream crepe dress for a very special wedding. She wanted a fascinator, but all she could find were bright and brash designs that were really expensive and looked like everything else on the high street.

I met Chloe a few years back when I worked on her equally creative sister's wedding. She can lovingly craft the most amazing head pieces including bridal veils, hats and fascinators.

Each item is handmade from secondhand, vintage or recycled items.  Her headpieces are unique, so you know that your design is a true one off.  No mass produced stuff here.  Perfect for the bride or wedding guest with an individual style.

Hatastic! has been nominated to be Accessory Designer of the Year at the Finest Fashion Awards in July 2011.  One to watch!

Photo credits:
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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Sing your heart out

I asked my favourite music expert Susan Heaton-Wright
to look at how brides can take elements of the Royal Wedding and make them their own.  One aspect that would be interesting to recreate is the choir.

The choir at the Royal Wedding was simply outstanding. They are one of the best choirs in the world and the sound they created was perfect for the Abbey. They led the hymn singing; sang anthems during the service, including during the signing of the register, and performed the astonishing “I was Glad” by Parry, as Catherine walked down the aisle.

Some churches do have a choir and they will be used to singing popular hymns and anthems for weddings. If you've booked a church it is worthwhile listening to the choir at a service, to see if you like the sound of them.

An alternative might be to either book a professional quartet of singers, who would lead the singing and anthems as required, or to book the services of a local amateur choir.

One note about an amateur choir; they are doing this for pleasure, but there are costs involved for them such as rehearsal time, the time of the conductor (who is normally a professional musician), hiring the music and the rehearsal room and arranging the singers to come to the wedding. I normally recommend that you make a donation to the choir of £200 - £300 to cover their expenses and time.

There are plenty of beautiful choir anthems that could be included such as:
  • Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring:  Bach
  • Lead Me Lord : Wesley
  • The Lord is my Shepherd: Various * many choirs will have the ‘Vicar of Dibley’s’ version by Howard Goodall
  • Hallelujah Chorus:  Handel
  • If ye love me: T Tallis
  • Cantique de Jean Racine: Faure
The choir will also lead the hymn singing for the congregation. Just think how relieved all your guests will be!

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Monday, June 6, 2011

The wedding of your dreams for less

Once the initial excitement of your engagement is over you can often be brought down to earth with a bump when the reality of the cost of your wedding sets in.  But help is at hand with our ideas to help you plan the wedding of your dreams for less.

Our first piece of advice is to set a budget that you can afford and stick to it. Having large debts to pay off is no way to start married life. And remember, weddings really don’t have to cost a fortune. Some of the most beautiful and memorable weddings we have seen have been on a smaller budget.

For a more cost effective wedding, try to enlist the help of talented family and friends to create flower arrangements, cakes, invitations etc. They are often delighted to be asked and your wedding will be more personal as a result. One bride we had the pleasure to work with designed her own dress, had her sister make all the bridesmaids dresses and asked an old aunt to make the cake – one of the most beautifully crafted we have ever seen.

Prioritise the elements of your wedding that are important to you – ditch the costly favours or make them yourself for example. It’s a fact that nearly half of your wedding budget will go towards paying for the reception, so keep your guest numbers to a minimum or costs will creep up. Consider getting married on a weekday when venues offer reduced prices. Choose a more alternative venue – golf clubs and village halls, for example, can often be set in pretty locations and are so much more cost effective to hire than a 5 star manor house!

One last piece of advice - always keep in the back of your mind that it’s the thoughtful touches that your guests will treasure, not how much you spent on a 5 tier cake!
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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Recreate aspects of the Royal Wedding with a Trumpet Fanfare

Wasn’t the trumpet fanfare when the Queen arrived; Catherine arrived and also when the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge appeared after signing the register, fab?

Westminster Abbey is a huge venue, and requires a group of trumpeters to fanfare.  For most of us though, our wedding venues are a little smaller so a single trumpet player can re-create this feature very easily.

Rather than the trumpeter just playing as the bride arrives at the ceremony, they could play throughout the ceremony.  Here are our music expert, Susan Heaton-Wright's music suggestions:


Trumpet Voluntary: Clarke
Bridal Chorus: Wagner (Lohengrin)
Trumpet Voluntary: Stanley
Prelude to Te Deum: Charpentier


Wedding March: Mendlessohn
Rondeau: Mouret
Hornpipe from Watermusic: Handel
Ode to Joy: Beethoven (Ninth Symphony)

During the signing of the register:

Let the Bright Seraphim: Handel (with a soprano soloist)
One of the solos from above.

In addition, the trumpeter could play the melody of any hymns, to lead the hymn singing.

With thanks to Susan Heaton-Wright
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