• Planning the Big Day – The Wedding Party, The Dress, Entertaining our Guests, Flowers and Capturing the Moment

    And enter the fun bits of planning a wedding…

    Choosing the special people who are going to be a big part of your big day is very special indeed. My Dad will be walking me down the aisle, and Mum - no doubt - will be wiping her eyes from the chairs at the front. As for those who will be walking before me, or following me down the aisle (I haven’t decided yet), I have a party of seven. SEVEN! Well, I can’t help it if I come from a family of girls and have amazing friends! So, I have my two sisters and three best friends; and then also a page boy (our nephew) and flower girl (our niece) for the cuteness factor. We’ve also chosen two ushers each, and Kingsley has asked his brother to be best man. Being part of someone’s wedding party is a real privilege, but it’s not for everyone. So, don’t assume people will want to be in the limelight, ask them and let them know how much it would mean to you. Also, choose your nearest and dearest, don’t choose because of family politics or because once upon a time you were their bridesmaid too.

    As for the dress, I have a confession to make. I was waiting so long for a proposal that I, erm…ended up buying my dress before the question had even been asked! Yeah, you read that right. Thing is, I found exactly what I wanted, and so I just went for it. I never tried it on though, I just stuffed it in my bottom drawer until I was engaged and able to admit to what I’d done! I bought my dress online, as I never wanted a proper wedding dress, I just wanted a lovely dress that could be worn for a very special occasion. If you are the same, then you can save so much money because once you put the word ‘wedding’ in front of anything, it increase the price ten-fold. However, if you do want a ‘proper’ wedding dress, the last thing I would recommend is buying online. Book in for three appointments at various wedding boutiques and go along with someone who will give you an honest opinion. Make a day of it and chances are, by the end of the day, you’ll either have your dress, or a bloody good idea of what you want and where you can get it from.

    Entertainment tends to get booked up quite early on, so it’s important to book something quite early in the wedding planning process. Our wedding has a country theme (as in countryside), and so we looked at various options including a jazz trio, saxophonists, and other musician/singers. We aren’t having a disco, so that was never an option, but we did want some sort of live music entertainment for our guests following the ceremony and leading into the evening. Bands and musicians can differ hugely in both quality and cost, and so it’s always a good idea to go with someone you’ve heard before. As if chance would have it, at the time I was looking into different options, I was sat in a pub listening to someone laying the piano and singing and rather liked what I heard. I picked up one of his cards and took it home so that I could look him up on You Tube for Kingsley to have a listen too. He liked him. Job done.

    Florists are popular people, and another service that is good to book quite early on. As we aren’t having a formal seated wedding breakfast, we’ve no need for elaborate table centres which has kept our budget for the florist at a really sensible couple of hundred pounds. We have ordered button holes for the men, and a larger corsage for my mum, and as for the bridesmaids and me, we have wrist corsages. I hate trying to juggle holding a drink, eating, greeting people and trying to grapple with a bouquet so I figured wrist corsages were the practical, yet pretty, way forward. Our flower girl has a pomander with a ribbon to hold. As for the venue, we are going to have jam jars of flowers on every surface going.

    Photography is one of the most important aspects of the day to some people, and I agree in that you should have some excellent photos to remember your day by, but I detest (and I really mean detest) taking time out of the day to have photos taken. It’s one of the things I hate about more traditional weddings. Photos are to prompt memories, but your memories should not be of you standing in a field having numerous photos taken whilst your guests start the party. That’s my opinion anyhow. So, we have recruited a husband and wife photography team (who I know through work) to take some fantastic snaps of our day. There will be no formal photographs, but instead, they will capture the special moments of the day and get some natural shots of us and our guests enjoying the day. They are also going to set up a photo booth for our guests to have a bit of fun with some country style props. When choosing your photographer, I would recommend asking for a package that means you get all the pictures on a file/disc after the wedding rather than in an album. This way, you can do as you please with you photos.

    So that’s all the BIG bits out the way, and now on to planning the finer details. Next I’ll be looking at the invites, and the things we have in store for the day.

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  • Planning the Big Day – The Legal Bits, Accommodation and Important Dates

    I’m back with the next instalment of this planning the big day malarkey. A somewhat boring part, but extremely important bit, is to get all the legal stuff ticked off. Once we had our date and time set for the ceremony, we had to contact our local registry office to give notice (the non-religious version of reading the banns in church), book the registrar and start considering the various parts of our ceremony. This can all be quite costly, so make sure you put money aside. The registrar alone cost over £400, not to mention the Notice of Marriage and booking fees. We both had to go into the registry office and be ‘interviewed’ to check our intended nuptials were all legit.

    Once all of this was done we got our hands on the ceremony information and started to choose vows and promises to say to each other. We have also chosen the songs for our service, although, I’ve still got to choose the most important one – the aisle song. I just can’t decide! I keep telling Kingsley I’m going to dance down the aisle, so watch this space. We chose two special people to do readings at the ceremony (a great way of including more people in your special day), and have also whittle down a long list of possible readings down to two that resonate with us. The ceremony plans don’t need to be finalised and sent off to the registry office until two months before the wedding, so we still have a bit more time to make final decisions and change our minds a few times.

    As for accommodation, we are lucky enough to have chosen a venue with twelve double bedrooms on site for our nearest and dearest, as well as a honeymoon lodge for us two. And just across the road, like literally, just across the road, there’s Hunters Hall in which has thirteen double rooms. At the time we booked our date they had eleven rooms left, so I reserved these ready for our guests to then book in. It’s really important to offer your guests accommodation suggestions and options. We have more guests than rooms available at both places but we have a list of great places to stay nearby for those who do wish to stay. We’ve also booked lunch at Hunters Hall in for the following day – just to make the whole experience last as long as possible. It will be a really nice way of seeing many of our guests before they head off home and we jet off on our mini-moon.

    I mentioned in my last post, that I am having a big hen party because we are having a small wedding with no separate evening do. So I made sure I sent out a Save the Date for the hen party explaining exactly this. This way, I have informed family and friends about our upcoming wedding, but also let them know how much I want to them to be there for my hen do.

    So, now we have a date, a hen date, our guests know all about it, most of them have already booked their accommodation and we needn’t worry about the legal bits as that’s all done. Next up are all the fancy and fun bits: The wedding party, the dress, the entertainment, the florist and the photographer.

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  • Planning the Big Day – The Budget, Guest List and Venue

    I (as in one of the team at The Wedding Consultancy) recently got engaged, and it’s so flippin’ exciting to be finally planning my own big day, especially after helping so many other Bride’s to organise theirs.

    So rather than keep it all to myself, I thought I’d share some of my wedding planning journey with you. After all, it might even be of some help to a Bride-to-be out there.

    So, first off, we had to work out our budget. This doesn’t just mean sitting down and working out how much money you can put aside each month to go towards the wedding, but also, you need to know if anyone else is contributing money so that you can take this into account. It’s also a good idea to find out if there are any people you know who owe you any favours or who you can asl to help you out with things such as hair, make-up, photography etc.

    Once you have the budget sorted, you can start to write up your guest list for the ceremony, reception and evening do. We are doing things a little differently as we are having an ‘intimate’ ceremony, but then being joined by our other guests straight after for welcome drinks altogether. We have decided against an evening do, as I’m personally not the biggest fan, and plus, we aren’t doing the whole disco/dance thing. For those friends and family who would have been invited to the evening do (at a more typical wedding) they will be invited to my rather large hen do instead.

    Once you have a rough idea of numbers, you can start to look for venues. Now, we knew that we didn’t want a traditional wedding venue, we wanted it to have a ‘country’ feel, we ideally wanted it in Gloucestershire or nearby, and the food had to be out of this world. So, our search simply started on Google to help us to build a list up and then whittle it down again, taking into account all the things on our tick list as well as our budget and numbers of guests.

    Then, my Mum and I travelled all over the county and beyond over a weekend. Among our favourites were Manor by the Lake, The Rectory Hotel, The Bell, The Gloucester Old Spot and Kingscote Park House at Matara.

    I got the list down to three before dragging the husband–to-be out to see the venues and together, we chose Kingscote Park House at Matara.

    Although we are having a small wedding, I have a humongous family, so it‘s become known as the ‘biggest-small-wedding’. We have about 60 coming to our ceremony and then we will be joined by a few more to bring our numbers up to just over 80 for the rest of the day. Kingscote Park House is just perfect for what we want with no formal dinner, so guests can walk around the beautiful gardens or sit and natter in front of a log fire in the house. We will also be having a small marquee alongside the house just to give everyone a bit more room!

    So, next on my list is to book the registrar, sort out accommodation for our guests and book a date in for the hen! I will be back soon with another update of what I’ve been up to and how the planning is going.

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  • Rosie and Mark's Wedding Day

    Saturday 9th August 2014

    Rosie grew up in the lovely little village of Oxenton in Gloucestershire and when we first went to meet her parents, we loved the idea that the whole day was going to be very personal and informal, with family and friends getting involved.

    Just a two minute walk from the house is Oxenton church, where Rosie and Mark made their vows, and just next door to the church is a barn owned by the family where the celebrations took place.

    We were pulled in to help coordinate the day, so that everyone could enjoy themselves and not worry about anything at all.

    We were incredibly lucky with the weather. The news talked about a hurricane on its way, but luckily it didn't hit until the morning after, so Rosie and Mark had a lovely sunny day with just a few spots of rain. A friend of the family did the photo's of which there were just a few straight after the church and then guests made the short wlak to the barn and were welcmed with pimms, homemade elderflower cordial and cool beers. All of the food was planned and cooked by Margie (Mother of the Bride), and for canapes she made scotch eggs and gaspacho shots.

    After a few drinks and lots of nattering, guests made their way into the barn for the wedding breakfast. It was a veyr informal affair, with people helping themselves to a pulled pork buffet - again, cooked by Margie. Then it was time for dessert with lots of choice from cheesecakes, trifles and mousse, all homemade.

    After speeches, guests were served teas and coffee and the evening celebrations commenced. Rosie and Mark hired a juke box to provide the disco and later in the evening stone-baked pizzas were made for guests before tucking into the wedding cake which had caused Rosie's Mum a few headaches in the days running up to the wedding!

    Even the accommodation was on site, with a yurt set up for Rosie and Mark to enjoy their first night as Mr and Mrs Brakefield, and other guests set up their own tents so didn't have far to stumble at the end of the night.

    A few words from the Margie and Simon:

    "We are both very impressed with the service you provided - it worked beautifully."

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  • The Barn in Oxenton

    Saturday 15th March 2014

    We recently met with Simon and Margie at their home in Oxenton, Gloucestershire. Their daughter is getting wedded this August.

    I wanted to write about this wedding due to its home-grown nature. Quite literally home-grown. In fact, the seeds for the wedding flowers are being sown in Simon and Margies garden as I write!

    Never have I come across such a beautiful setting which will lend itself to a wedding with absolutey no faffery!

    Rosie is going to be getting ready at her parents home before walking round the corner to the beautiful church. Once they have made their vows, they will be walking to this barn (look, you can even see the church through the opening!) and starting the celebrations!

    Simon has already started getting the barn fit for purpose, and as for Margie, she is not only growing the flowers but also planning the menus as she will be cooking all the food herself including the wedding cake!

    We will keep you posted on the wedding, but don't want to give away too many secrets for now! But needless to say we are very excited about being there!

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