Booking a wedding should be fun – but it can be quite stressful, especially knowing all of the things that you need to book for the big day. This article highlights some of the key suppliers that are really important for a wedding – the must have suppliers! It’s not just a list though – there are lots of little hints and tips along the way! It is important for me to say at this point that this is from experience – no-one should ever tell you how to have your wedding. Your special day should be exactly what you want.
The 10 things you need to book for your wedding checklist
Hair & Make-Up artist (MUA)
The venue decision is probably the biggest decision you will make! Firstly, you will want to make sure that they have the availability, and if you have your heart set on a location, the date for the wedding will probably be flexible around their availability. There are two “venue” options to consider here – separate ceremony and reception, or a venue that can do all in one.
The traditional option of having the ceremony in a church or registry (register) office is a fantastic one – you get the most important people to have the wedding in a location of your choice. It is worth noting that all churches and register offices have interviews and meetings to attend, and fees with deadlines. The timeframes for all of these varies massively, so make sure you contact them as soon as possible to find out what the rules are. Make sure you are clear on all of the costs as well. Register offices often have room hire as well as ceremony fees, and churches may have extra costs for organists, choirs, heating and decorations.
The reception is typically whatever suits your style and personality. Whether you have a hotel, a specialist wedding venue, a marquee, a barn, golf club etc, there are a huge range of options and it is worth looking around. I will do a full article on booking your reception venue, but needless to say you need to make sure you ask plenty of questions and look at reviews. If you are having a separate ceremony and reception, make sure you know what the travel arrangements are and talk to your photographer about where you will be doing group and couple’s photos.
All in one
Some venues, typically hotels although there are other options, offer a full day wedding from getting ready, the ceremony, photos, wedding breakfast and after party. One of the benefits of this is that there is normally a coordinator (they are not a wedding planner!) who will make sure that everything in the package happens, and it makes it much easier to get things organised under a set price. The other benefit is that travelling, especially to and from registry offices that are generally in the middle of cities, is quite stressful! So, consider that you will have more time and a more relaxed experience with an all in one venue. Venues do vary in flexibility, so make sure that the wedding packages from a venue either suit you or can accommodate your wishes.
There is an alternative, which is often the option to go for if you want your wedding to be somewhere that doesn’t have a wedding license. This is what is required for you to have a legal ceremony, but might limit your options. In this case, you can have a very simple legal wedding at a registry office, normally before you then have a full wedding at the location of your choice. This doesn’t mean you can’t have a service there… which brings us on to the next section.
If you are being married at a church or registry office, you must make sure that you have everything booked, including “giving notice” where you have to provide plenty of details, ID etc. However, you can have exactly the service you want to have – this is where a celebrant comes into play. With a legal wedding there are set requirements for the ceremony, which some people may find limiting or against what they would want. A celebrant provides the ceremony as you want it, and works with a couple to go through exactly what they want. They can often be a lot more special because they are personal to the couple and can respect things like different religions or cultures.
It is worth noting that a celebrant does not legally marry you, so you would still need to go to a registry office to get the legal bits covered if you want to be legally married.
Wedding dresses are extremely varied, and whether you are in the minority of an Instagram “this or that” vote, or are after THE designer dress of the season, it doesn’t matter; its what suits your taste and makes you feel fabulous. Give yourself plenty of time – you may want to go to a number of stores. You will typically need to order your dress well in advance – it can be a 9 month process from ordering to being perfect. Most dresses need at least some alterations, such as being taken up – so as well as the delivery time of the dress, make sure you factor in fitting. Some dress shops will do the alterations, or you can take them to a seamstress. Either way, this can easily add at least a month.
I have spoken to a lot of brides, who have looked at tonnes of dresses online and there are two main bits of advice. Actually, there was a tonne of advice to the point that there will be a separate article, but there were two obvious ones. Firstly, be open minded – even if it’s a style you had never considered, you would be surprised what you might fall in love with. Secondly, make sure you are strict to your budget – falling in love with a dress that is double your budget will only cause pain and heartache – don’t do it to yourself!
My specialist subject – wedding photography! I have been very specific there – you want to book someone who is a specialist at wedding photography. Just because someone can take a pretty sunset picture, or get a great pic of a bird in the garden doesn’t mean you can rely on them to get you a full day of quality wedding photos. Typically, you should be looking at 5%-15% of your total wedding cost on a wedding photographer; discounts aside, anything under £1200.00 will not get you an experienced professional photographer.
Remember that these photos are probably going to last longer than anything else from the wedding, (other than the marriage and rings probably!), so this is not an area you want to scrimp on. I have written a full article on choosing a wedding photographer, however the most important thing is to make sure you are happy with their portfolio. Don’t just look at their top 10 – have a look at a full wedding to get an idea of what you will receive.
Mmm, I love the cake! Who doesn’t?! Costs of cakes vary massively and its not always easy to determine what changes the cost. It’s worth shopping around and doing a taste test! Some people are fantastic at decorating, but don’t focus so much on the cake itself – so it’s worth getting an idea of both bits. Also, on the day it’s likely that quite a lot more gets cut up than gets eaten, so consider providing a bag or box for guests to take a slice away with them.
It is traditional to exchange rings as part of getting married. Wedding rings don’t have to be expensive, the symbology is really what is important, but these days the options are extremely varied. The traditional gold band is no longer the only choice. Remember, if you are losing weight for your wedding, you need to consider how that will effect the size, and if you put some of those pounds back on from eating the wedding cake, the size may change again.
Whether you are keeping things simple with just a bouquet, or getting bridesmaids bouquets and buttonholes, to going the whole hog and decorating your whole day with flowers, your choice will be a fantastic way to bring together your theme and add some stunning fragrance. It is worth talking to your florist about seasonality of flowers – very often they are imported and are generally more available than standard UK seasons, but it is worth making sure your vision is achievable. Of course, this is not a problem with fake flowers, though you will not get the natural scent. One trend I have been seeing recently is dried flowers – they look very pretty and work extremely well for a rustic or boho styled wedding.
Invites and Order of Service
Your guests won’t turn up if they don’t know when and were to go!!! Invites can be really simple, or extremely elaborate. If you are going to make them yourself, make sure you give yourselves plenty of time – it will take a lot longer than usual! Are the invites on theme with the wedding? Consider getting orders of service that match. If you are sending out save the dates, make sure that you are clear of what part of the wedding the guest is invited to - saving the date and booking a full day for a wedding (especially booking time off work), to only be invited to the evening do can be really irritating!
The suits can be quite important – firstly the comfort of the groom but also stylistically. But a lot of grooms/groomsmen/brides don’t think ahead or just haven’t bought many suits before. Make sure that all of the people going for a fitting have a shirt and smart shoes to hand, as how a suit fits varies depending on footwear etc. In fact, make sure you know whether you are hiring or buying, timescales and whether you are getting shirts as part of the order.
The music for the evening reception is normally quite an important choice, but more arguments are had between couples for walking down the aisle and first dance music! Think about compromising, and very often people will play music while you sign the register. If you need some help, go to the bottom of my wedding suppliers page where I have a number of wedding music playlists from Spotify. It is worth talking to the band or DJ that you hire to make sure they are happy to provide you with the music that you want if they refuse to play cheese when you really want it, or insist on in when you want some club bangers, you are only going to get annoyed.
Now I am going to say something controversial; many ceremony venues, no matter how expensive they are, have awful sound systems. I have worked at weddings where a beautiful song is played for walking down the aisle, and all you an hear is the crackle of the awful vibrating speakers. Consider getting the evening music act to turn up early to help, or even bringing your own speakers with you. When you got to visit your venues, ask to hear music through the sound system.
Finally, check the situation with the venue for sound level limits, especially for the venue. Very often they will have dB limit – this can be a real problem if they have to have a sound level trip switch, as if the sound just trickles over the limit, it can turn half the room off!
Hair & Make-Up Artist (MUA)
Make-up for the big day is often something that people just pick someone and expect them all to be the same. But make-up artists are people, and they are all very different. Do you need separate hair stylists and makeup artists? How many do you need for the size of your wedding party? How much time do you need? Do they use products that are ok for your skin? Will they do as much or as little as you want? Can they provide the hair style you want?
But, almost the most important thing; what is their personality like? Do they suit you? I know some make-up artists that are quiet and serious, there are some that are bright and bubbly, some are chatty, some are mad as a box of frogs, etc. You need what is going to make you feel your best on the morning of the most important day of your life – you will likely feel stressed and you don’t need people around you that are going to rub you up the wrong way.
Finding the Right Suppliers
If you, like me, are in the south central region of the UK – ie Hampshire, Dorset and Wiltshire, I am happy to recommend suppliers. In fact, many of them are on my recommended suppliers list page, but I am always happy to answer questions and recommend people to your requirements.