There is so much involved in planning a wedding, that it can often feel a little overwhelming; fortunately our A to Z of wedding planning, which covers every part of the process, should help to make things easier.
With a unique collection of 20 stunning country house hotels across the UK and Channel Islands – all of which are licenced for weddings, we know one or two things about how to plan for a perfect day and the truth is it can all get a bit stressful at times. So, to help you keep calm and organised we have created a simple two-part checklist of everything you need to remember – starting with A to M. Be sure to come back next month to read the second part of our guide covering N to Z.
A is for Attendants
The number of attendants you choose is completely up to you – keep it intimate and just ask your closest family members or extend your party to everyone you know and make it a lavish ceremony. Establish your guest list early on; as it will be easier to book a venue and arrange catering, and ensure that they are all well informed about every element of your wedding. Make your day personal to you but don’t forget to be considerate of your guests’ experience in the process, after all you want them to enjoy it as well.
B is for Budget
Making a budget should be the first thing you do when planning for your wedding. Include any contributions from family and try to stick to your final. Learn to prioritise – home in on what is really important, and shop around for the best deal. To read more about planning a wedding on a budget view our blog here.
C is for Catering
Hand Picked Hotels offer tastings and we will tailor make menus to your specifications – using seasonal and local produce where we can. We will also welcome outside vendors, such as fish and chip or wood-fired pizza vans, but take the time to check their references, and ask for samples when possible. Don’t forget your cake either – do you know about wedding cake cutting etiquette, find out more here, and do your research, this is an area you can get creative and choose something really special.
D is for Décor
Regardless of whether you have a dedicated wedding theme or colour, you will more than likely want to decorate your wedding room and reception. If you want to make an impact with flowers, find an experienced florist to find out what is in season and how to ensure uniformity if you are having a bridal bouquet, floral arrangements on tables and buttonholes, for example. Here are some top tips on decorating your venue.
E is for Entertainment
After the reception comes the party and you should bear in mind your guests and the type of music they will boogie to while booking a band or DJ – you don’t want an empty dance floor. You may also want to consider an acoustic soloist for your ceremony. Spend time looking for talented musicians who know how to read a crowd and create the vibe you want. Other ways to make sure your guests are entertained is to hire a magician, caricaturist, casino tables and a photo booth – garden games are great for summer weddings.
F is for Favours
Thank you gifts show your guest how much you appreciate their attendance, and while traditional favours used to be sugared almonds, couple are thinking outside the box now. In fact, favours can be almost anything to reflect your own personality and budget. Purposeful miniatures are a great idea as you can make them unique to each person – think preserves, packets of seeds, tea light holders or even scratch cards. Bubbles and soft toys are great for children. To learn more about this time-honoured tradition click here.
G is for Gift List
Some couples find the idea of a gift list bad taste – but generally people are aware that if they are invited to a wedding they will need to buy a present, so it can prove very useful. Just ensure there is a wide price range to choose from to save any embarrassment. If you already have a home together, you could ask guests for contributions towards your honeymoon. If you are struggling for wedding present ideas check out our dedicated blog on the subject.
H is for Honeymoon
Admittedly not part of the wedding, but getting away from it all will feel like a huge relief after the planning that you have been doing ahead of your big day. Try to book this as early as possible – flights are generally available to book 12 months in advance if you plan on going abroad, and look out for special offers specific to newlyweds. Of course, not everyone has the time or budget for a two week honeymoon, which is why mini-moons are becoming so popular and Hand Picked Hotels offer the maximum experience for minimal time away if you fancy a post-wedding getaway in the UK or Channel Islands.
I is for Invitations
Invitations should be sent out at least six weeks before your wedding day, so people have time to reply. If you don’t plan on making your own, start looking for designs six to eight months prior to your wedding so you have time to place your order to the printers. A professionally printed invite is suited to very traditional weddings, but if your celebrations are more contemporary DIY invites are great. Remember to include all the information your guests need to know for your wedding day, such as when and where the ceremony is and directions.
J is for Jewellery
Brides should either wear their everyday items, or pieces that are plain and compliment their dress, in which case it may be worth consulting with a jeweller to design your wedding jewellery bespoke to you. Alternatively if you want to keep a charming tradition alive, you could have an item of jewellery that is something old, something new, something borrowed, or something blue. Remember the ring is the most important item and should not be dominated by anything else.
K is for Kids
You need to decide early on whether you are allowing children to your wedding and if you are not tell family and friends from the outset. There is no right or wrong answer, but if you are allowing children, be prepared and keep them occupied. At the wedding breakfast for example, consider a special kids’ table designed just for them, and enlist either a willing teenage guest or hire a local babysitter, to supervise the little ones. Put a colouring book and crayons at each place setting or provide each child with a goodie bag of small treats like stickers, mini games and sweets.
L is for Lingerie
Many brides may want to consider something sexy, but remember it is important to have the right underwear for your dress as it may need to be functional. Take the advice of the shop you buy your dress from. Also, let’s be realistic, after all of that planning and then partying the day away, you will be doing nothing but sleeping on your wedding night.
M is for Make-up
You will want to look and feel your very best on your big day so make sure you think about your beauty routine well in advance. You can opt to do your own wedding day make-up, ask one of your bridesmaids to do it for you, or hire a specialist so you can relax and enjoy the morning before your ceremony. You may want to do a trial run. Everyone will want to see your wedding ring, so show it off in the best way possible and treat your nails to a manicure.