Wedding Fairs & Websites

As you move into full tilt into wedding planning mode, it’s always worthwhile attending a few wedding fairs to meet potential suppliers or have a look at venues.  If venues you are interested in host wedding fairs, it gives you the opportunity to have a good look around and also see the venue space and set up etc.

A lot of venues also have preferred suppliers who they deal with regularly and that kind of experience and history can ease a lot of planning stresses and worries if you know that all of your suppliers have worked together before. Some may even have referral discounts, like ours did with our photographer, which are always worthwhile considering.

Wedding fairs are a great source of inspiration, and suppliers will always have plenty of information about their products and services for you to have a look through and discuss in further detail.  I also found that wedding suppliers often exhibited the newest trends in weddings, from flowers to cakes and stationery.  You may see something on display at a wedding fair you had never considered for your day!  We took away swatch samples of chair covers, we saw the sweetie cart we had and I trialled the airbrush makeup, all at a wedding fair.  It also provided me with good information on dress boutiques as well, and one wedding fair we attended even put on a fashion show.

They give you a great opportunity to meet suppliers, have a chat and get an overall feel of how they work.  I’ve said this before, but having a great relationship with your suppliers is vital, you are trusting them to help plan your special day, and you need to have confidence in their abilities to deliver what you want.  Even at an early planning stage, visiting wedding fairs can start to give you a good idea on where you are on the price ranges for different aspects of the wedding.

Wedding fairs can be quite seasonal, which is understandable given that the most popular time to get married in the UK is the Summer. They will usually run from October to March, so bear this in mind in your planning process. I would add that you should limit the amount of fairs you commit to visiting though, by the third or fourth, you will most definitely be sick of them and you won’t be as enthusiastic to chat with the exhibitors if you have already done the rounds at a few. We visited around four, the last one we went to we only attended because it was being held at a venue we were keen on. I felt quite rude as one of the photography exhibitors tried to chat to me and Bobby while all we were interested in doing was sizing up the space!

I found Facebook a great way to find wedding fairs that were local to me, and I liked all the pages of the venues we were interested in to keep an eye out for updates.  I also liked a lot of wedding resource pages on there, such as The Knot, but this page is a great one : The Vintage Wedding Fayre.  This organisation runs wedding fairs up and down the country in major towns and cities and you’ll find a lot of their exhibitors have a ton of unique, bespoke ideas for your wedding.   They also share a lot of supplier pages on Facebook, so you can like away to your hearts content! I ended up creating a separate feed list for all my wedding stuff so I could browse through quite easily whenever I wanted (which admittedly, was a LOT).

The other sites I used were Hitched,  which lets you search by region, particularly handy if you are getting married far from home.  It also lets you search by month, so the avid planners amongst you can really get ahead. Confetti also offer a similar service.

I joined a couple of wedding planning groups on Facebook too, and joined UK Bride, which is a social network for brides. The forums and discussion posts on there sites and groups are stuffed to the brim of useful information, tips and even on Facebook are linked to buy/sell groups – perfect for sourcing, and eventually selling, your must have items.

There’s a lot of great resources out there to help you in you wedding planning process, so use them!

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Wedding Wednesday…To Save The Date?

I see a lot of debate on wedding sites and forums over the increasing trend of sending save the dates for your wedding.  It’s a relatively new idea, but as yet, not a firm tradition or expected necessity of the wedding planning.

There are several reasons why it’s become popular to send one, and all of them are valid considerations for part of your planning process.

  • With weddings being booked months and often, years, in advance, it can be quite important to have a firm idea of your guest numbers before the wedding. While most save the dates do not require a RSVP, if your guests know in advance they cannot attend, they would let you know.
  • Weddings are also increasingly being booked for weekdays, and giving your guests some forewarning that they may need to take time off work to attend your wedding can only be helpful.
  • Alternatively, your wedding may be around a special holiday or Summer break, your guests will appreciate being given the heads up to include your wedding in their plans.
  • Our circle of friends and families are much wider now, and you will most definitely have guests who you would like to attend that you don’t see on a regular basis..
  • Also, many couples opt for a long engagement, so it’s a lovely way of letting your loved ones know that you have set the date for the wedding.
  • If you are having a destination wedding, it’s essential to send one with the dates you will be there for, saving the finer details for the official invitation.
  • If you have a wedding website, also include these details on your save the date so your guests can keep updated with your wedding planning.
  • Save the dates are a great way to get super creative and are generally a bit more fun and less formal than your wedding invitation. It gives you the chance to start a theme for your wedding, or send magnets or CD’s, or even a personalised save the date photo of you and your partner!

There are loads of websites out there that will help you get creative with your ideas. We opted for a cinema ticket stub style and we designed it online at Zazzle, and sent them as postcards. You don’t have to go overboard with the expense either, keep the budget small and save the big money for the formal wedding invitations.

designall view

What are your thoughts on save the dates?

Suzy Signature

Wedding Wednesday…Suzy’s Dress

Wedding dress shopping is daunting, exciting, scary, joyous and stressful all rolled into one. No matter what your temperament is as a person, you will experience a whole range of emotions when choosing THE DRESS. And rightly so, your dress will be what makes you feel beautiful on your wedding day, and you will want to feel like a million dollars.

I’ve been off work this past week and have been indulging myself by watching a LOT of TLC – in particular, ‘Say Yes To The Dress’, so today’s topic could be nothing other than this. Here’s a few tips of my own (and some stolen from the show) for when you make the decision on your wedding dress.

    • Time – two things to consider:
      • Leave enough time before your wedding to choose your dress, you have to consider the usual lead time from ordering your dress to it arriving. You will also need to set aside enough time for the alterations to be made. On average it can take 9 months, so bear this in mind. I was quoted 6 months for mine to be ready, and it actually arrived just two weeks before the wedding. It was a worry I did not need!
      • When making appointments with bridal shops, ensure you leave enough time for the actual appointment. Each shop will have so many styles to choose from, you may need longer in some than others depending on the range available, experience and knowledge of the bridal consultant etc. Feeling rushed when choosing and trying on different dresses could lead to rash decisions.
    • Set a budget that includes accessories and alteration costs. Typical alterations can include, bust, waist and height so you will need to factor an estimate of cost in for this. Unfortunately not all sizes will fit perfectly. You may also choose a hoop with the dress, and these come at an extra cost.
    • I’d probably also consider what lingerie you think you might like before you choose your dress. For example, I have a larger bust and knew that not wearing a bra for my wedding day was a no go. That also meant low backed dresses were not an option for me. I decided fairly early on I would like a corset as I am also quite conscious of my tummy.
    • Following on from this, decide what is important for you for the style of dress you like. You may be set on a lace dress, or a dress with sleeves, or a skirt style like A-line. However, always be open to other options.
    • Communicate your initial preferences (like the corset & style) to the bridal consultant and also to your friends and family who come with you to your appointments.  For the consultant this is a great starting point for them, to get a feel for what you are after. If you don’t have any preferences, then I would definitely suggest you try lots of different styles, colours and fabrics to try and narrow down what you like and don’t like.
    • In fact, even if you do have set ideas on what your perfect dress is like, make sure you try on at least a couple of different options just to make sure. You never know! I think it’s a great idea to try on a style of dress you would never normally consider. At the very least, it will reaffirm your final choice.
    • I’d also consider asking the bridal consultant to pick out at least two dresses for you to try. They have the most experience on this, and they can choose options for you based on your colouring, size and the current trends in bridal design, as well as your price range.
    • Try and take heels similar to the height that you want to wear on the day with you to the appointments. Even though length of dresses can be altered, you need to know how tall you are going to look in the dress.
    • Know when the dress is THE ONE. It may well be the first one you try on! Of course, carry on trying on some more dresses, knowing you can always come back to your favourite at the end of the appointment to make sure. Conversely, if you are not grinning from ear to ear when trying any of the dresses on, then move on from the appointment. Visit some more stores, and maybe make notes about the dresses you didn’t like and why. This should help you find the right one at a future date. I tried my dress on three times at two different stores before I chose it, and my body language when I was wearing it confirmed my decision.
    • To veil or not to veil? I was ADAMANT I didn’t want or need a veil for my wedding day. The bridal consultant suggested I try one on with the dress just to see how it felt and I have to say, it transformed my dress from a lovely dress to my perfect wedding dress. It completed the look for me, and I was amazed at how I felt about it once I had tried it on. Luckily, I borrowed a veil from a good friend (thanks Fiona!) so didn’t need to find extra money in the budget for this!
    • Make sure you order the size that fits you now, and not a smaller (or larger) size that you hope will fit you in the future. The bridal consultant will measure you and advise which size you need based on your dresses size guide, and I strongly suggest you take their advice. You can’t add material, you can only take it away. I lost just over a stone in weight between ordering the dress and my wedding day, but I was more than happy to pay for the alterations needed. Imagine the heartbreak if I had ordered a smaller size and hadn’t lost the weight!
  • Ask for discount. I am so serious about this I can’t even tell you. What’s the worst that can happen? They say no, and you pay full price. Most stores are competing for your business, and discounts are an important incentive to you choosing the dress from their store as opposed to another. I didn’t even have to ask for any discount on mine, the consultant knew what my budget was and told me she could discount my dress to come within my price point. Lovely stuff.

Here’s some of the dresses I tried on:

Photo 19-10-2012 14 37 09 (1) Photo 19-10-2012 14 47 49 (1) Photo 19-10-2012 14 55 23 (1) Photo 19-10-2012 15 06 31 (1)

And here’s the dress I chose. The last pic was taken at the final fitting.

Photo 19-10-2012 15 11 12 (1) Photo 19-10-2012 15 20 13 (1) Photo 25-07-2013 18 36 08

I hope you find these tips helpful!

Suzy Signature

Wedding Wednesday…Photography

Once our venue had been booked, our next step was to get a photographer booked too! As with venues, your photographer can get, and more than likely will get booked well in advance of the day, and as your everlasting keepsake of the wedding, choosing the right one for you is really important.

So, what should you consider when choosing your photographer? One of the invaluable steps to take is to have a really good look through their body of work. Each photographer has different styles, approaches, themes and techniques that they will use for your day. It also shows their ability and skills as a photographer, and apart from a personal recommendation, there is no better way of ensuring they will meet with your expectations.

Be wary of any photographer that doesn’t have a comprehensive collection of images that they are more than happy to show you. Any reluctance on this should set alarm bells ringing.

It is so easy to get overwhelmed with the options of wedding suppliers available for you at the planning stage, and we found that photographers who are quite open and upfront about their prices and packages (even guideline prices) from the beginning made a better impression on us.  We were looking for the right photographer, not just the cheapest, but before you even set a meeting you must have a rough idea of whether they are in your price range or not!  I also felt it showed the photographer knew their worth within the industry, and this also demonstrated confidence and pride in their work.

When meeting potential photographers, I’d also recommend getting a detailed quote of what is included (particularly if there is a package option you are going with). An understanding of what is included is very important, and having prices for anything extra you may later choose to add is also a good idea. We went with a package but upgraded it slightly after the wedding, and it was easy because we already had an idea of what the extra cost should be. Also agree the times the photographer will attend during the day for the fee quoted.

The next tip may seem a bit silly, but you really need to LIKE your photographer on a personal level. Yes, they are providing a service, and yes, they should do whatever you ask of them for your day, but they will be spending the WHOLE day with you, and a rapport is vital. You as a couple, or any of your guests, don’t want to spend your day whinging about the photographer. Believe me, I’ve been to weddings where I thought the photographer was a bit of an idiot, and it can have a negative impact on your enjoyment of the day (as much as it shouldn’t).

Communication between the couple and the photographer is so key, to ensure you get the balance of taking photos and spending time with your guests, as well as ticking off everything on that all important shot list. A lot of this will be covered in the pre-wedding prep, but on the day you need to know you can speak with your photographer about anything you want doing differently, and vice versa. If you came away from the day feeling you hadn’t got that perfect shot, or that the photographer got in the way of your enjoyment in any way it would be disastrous, and should have been totally avoidable.

One of our other considerations was how well the photographer knew the venue and it’s surroundings. We got married at the beautiful Dunsley Hall, and as it’s an 13th Century Grade II listed building, it’s interior and exterior are very different to other venues. Our photographer, Maxine from Emotive Imagery, came recommended from the venue, and they even had an agreement of some extra discount if you booked with her. She had shot at the venue on numerous occasions previously, and when we met with her at their wedding fayre, she showed us her beautiful images of the weddings at Dunsley Hall. Because of this past experience, we knew she would be able to get all the best shots using as little time as possible. We also bonded really well with her early on, and in the end, she was the only photographer we sat down to discuss our ideas with. I’d collected a pinterest board (obvs), of some of my ideas for shots, and Bobby pitched in some of his ideas too, and I was so chuffed how well she understood our ideas and gave us her thoughts on how these would work at Dunsley.

Needless to say we were overwhelmed with Maxine’s input and professionalism on our wedding day, and our guests had nothing but positive comments about her and how hard she worked to capture our wonderful day. When the shots came through, they were beautiful, and have given us such joy to be able to share them with our friends and family since the wedding.

A slideshow of our wedding can be found here, hope you like it.

Suzy xx