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. Last month we covered A to M, this month we’re back with the second part of our guide covering N to Z.
N is for Nuptials
After you have chosen the type of ceremony you want – religious or civil, if you plan on the latter then you legally need to give a minimum 28 day notice period to your local register office in the UK. Let relations discreetly know of your name change in advance, in case they are writing you a cheque. It is an old tradition for wives to take a man’s name after marriage, but nowadays more women are continuing to use their maiden name.
O is for Outdoor wedding
The magic of an outdoor wedding can be hard to beat, and if you do have your heart set on al fresco celebrations ensure you have a backup plan in case Mother Nature has other intentions. A lot of our Hand Picked Venues have an outdoor marriage licence and we will always have an indoor ceremony room reserved just in case things don’t go accordingly. Marquees are a great alternative option in the event of rain and you can also have heaters in case of cold, or fans if it’s too hot. To read more about planning an outdoor wedding click here.
P is for Photographer
Photography should be a priority when planning your wedding because it will be the last memory of your special day. Make sure you don’t leave it until the last minute and maximise your budget for it - after months of planning you will want to capture every detail. Choose someone who is experienced and look at their portfolio to ensure you like their style. Discuss with your photographer what exactly it is you want and consider drawing up a checklist (from groupings of guests to candid shots). If you don’t have a photographer in mind, all of our venues have a comprehensive list of recommended suppliers.
Q is for Questions
When you are planning your wedding keep notes somewhere of questions you need to ask or information you need to know when you go to your venue viewings. Perhaps you need to ask the hotel if its cost per head includes room hire, for example, or how long does the wedding breakfast typically last. Think of questions for suppliers too, this will prove extremely useful if you are planning on going to a wedding fayre. It’s so important to do as much research as possible for everything to do with your wedding to ensure you get the best value and service.
R is for Reception
After your ceremony, it’s time to celebrate and while reception traditions have developed over time it typically lasts four hours and will generally include the following rituals: photography, appetizers and drinks, dinner, toasts and speeches, first dance and cake cutting. Factor in what entertainment you might want during this period, too, and whether you want to offer more food during the course of the evening. Work out a schedule of events in advance and give a copy to suppliers. The key to a memorable and stress-free reception is careful planning.
S is for Speeches
There are no hard and fast rules but the wedding speeches traditionally follow the order of: father of the bride, groom, best man, and other toasts. It’s growing more popular for the bride to make a speech, too, and quite often they will thank the guests for coming, along with her parents and bridesmaids, compliment the groom and propose the toast. Usually the wedding speeches take place after dinner, but increasingly couples are choosing to do the speeches before or even between each course – the order, and who speaks, is entirely your choice.
T is for Table Plan
It’s the least favourite part of planning a wedding, trying to sort out where friends and family seat – but remember guests only have to sit in their assigned seats for dinner. As soon as you have your RSVPs decide how you going to seat everyone – don’t leave it last minute. Think about what kind of wedding reception and wedding breakfast you are having, too. A traditional meal requires a seating plan; a more relaxed affair could see guests choose their own seats. If you are having a big wedding however, this could become chaotic so at least allocate them a table. Also think whether you want a traditional round table set up or family-style long rectangular tables. Lastly if you’re worried about last minute changes use a blackboard so you can easily update names.
U is for Ushers
The ushers and best men at your wedding play a vital role throughout the day, so ensure you are comfortable and wise with your choice. They are responsible for showing guests where to park, ensuring that they are all escorted to their seats as they arrive for the ceremony, and, if required, assist in getting people to the reception venue. Appoint at least one usher for every 50 guests. Whether you are leaning on friends and family to help create your dream day, or you’ve hired a planner, giving people a job eases the pressure on you and saves you time.
V is for Vows
Your wedding vows will bind you both as a couple forever, and saying them will be one of the highlights of your day. You should decide in advance whether you want to write your own wedding vows or stick to tradition. Chat about the different options with your registrar. Writing your own vows can add a real personal touch to your ceremony, but try to make the style of your vows similar, for example serious or humorous, or both.
W is for Wedding Rings
Purchase your rings at least six months before your wedding as it will give you enough time for resizing and engraving. A lot of people are now opting away from the traditional band of gold or platinum, and instead finding a local jeweller or goldsmith who can make and design a ring. Others may choose to wear a family heirloom. Whatever you are thinking, discuss your wedding ring choices as a couple; they’re important as they’ll be the one part of your special day that will stay with you forever.
X is for X… as in your fist kiss
Your first kiss as a married couple will be another moment to remember forever, so be sure to have invested wisely in your wedding photographer and that he (or she) is on hand to capture the moment. Don’t fret, this is probably one of those details that’s best left improvised. If you are worried, then practice makes perfect, but only if the final kiss both looks and feels natural.
Y is for Your Day
If you are recruiting friends and family members for help to plan your wedding, always remember that it’s your day. Don’t let anyone else influence any big decisions, such as your wedding venue, dress and overall theme – go with your heart. Bear in mind why you’re getting married, as your stress levels soar in the run-up to organising your wedding and take time out every now and again to focus on yourself, your relationship and the rest of your life. Come the big day, it goes in a flash, so try to relax and savour every single moment.
Z is for Zzz’s…
It is really important to get plenty of rest in the days leading up to your wedding day – you need your beauty sleep. After you have had your dream day and following all that planning you will probably feel like you need more sleep! Oh well, there is always the rest of your marital lives to party.