Wedding Planning
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Wedding Planning

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How to plan a wedding, advice on who to invite, where to hold it and the extras you need.  The topics below are not to be treated in a specific order, a problem with the venue can force a rethink over the number of guests.  You don't have to be traditional, you can break custom if you think you and your guests will enjoy it.  Go for the personal touch.  Spend time rather than money on the details: try the restaurant or caterers, have a look near the venue for places to take photographs.

Who to Invite?

The first question you want to ask yourself is who you want to invite.  You should weigh up the numbers: too many people and your guest may feel neglected and less special, too few and you may not be able to invite all the people you might want to invite.

The Advantages of More Guests

The Advantages of Fewer Guests

You will be able to invite more of the people you want to invite. You'll be able to spend more time with guests.  Guests will feel more special.
There will be more opportunity for mingling between guests. Venues will be easier to book with fewer people.  More intimate venues can be booked.
It can cost less, or more can be spent on each guest.

Who do you invite?  Ideally those who will get along with each other, and those who are important in your lives.  Your numbers may be limited by the venues available in your chosen location.

The Location

Pick a venue a good proportion of your prospective guests can attend easily.  We chose London as our venue, though we knew we would miss out on the fresh air and open space of the countryside.  Most of our guests were coming from within London.   You may want to chose a particularly special venue for fewer guests that may be more difficult to get to, such as a foreign country or remote location.

The Time

The date and time of your wedding can affect who can come, wedding venues are busier at weekends, but you'll find more people are able to attend.  Confirm with your important guests who is available when before booking.  Some guests may not be able to attend due to prior engagements.  You may have to make do without guest you consider important.  The fact that your venue may only have certain dates and times available can restrict your choice of dates and times.  Try to give everyone plenty of notice.

The Budget

Given the numbers of people coming and the activities planned (is this simply a registry wedding followed by a meal?), you should have an idea of the budget.  You may want to go overboard on the frills, or you may want to concentrate on the venue and the main activities.  We chose to concentrate on the venue and the food and tried not to go overboard on the frills.

The Venue

Try to find a convenient and pleasant marriage venue.  Even if you are planning a registry wedding the council will offer a number of venues, which you may want to explore.  Think of how people will arrive there and where people will go onto from there.  You may want to create maps to send out with your invitations (see below).

The Food

If you plan to have food at your wedding, try out potential restaurants or caterers beforehand.  A friend of ours had a copy of the Good Food Guide, so we spent weekends before the wedding visiting them, seeing whether they had the atmosphere, enough space for all our guests and above all were friendly and had good food (we chose the Almeida).


Seating can be tricky, especially if there are disputes between friends or family.  You may want to separate divorcees and smokers from non-smokers.

The Drink

Your restaurant or caterers may be able to give you advice on the drinks to serve, our restaurant had a sommelier and we also took advice from the Guardian wine critic (not personally!) in the choice of our sparkling wine, Cloudy Bay Pelorus (see the page on buying wines).

The Transport

How many people are going to see how the bride or groom arrives and for how long?  Only about 8 people were outside our venue when the car turned up.

The Flowers

We were fairly traditional with the flowers.  We went around a number of suppliers for our flowers, though the buttonholes were good, we ended up being a little disappointed with our bouquet.  Perhaps we should have gone with the trendy florists rather than our local florist.

The Cake

We steered away from a traditional wedding cake, partly because of cost, and partly because we found a convenient shop near our venue that was willing to customise a large celebratory cake they frequently baked to our specifications.  We considered buying layers from Marks and Spencer and decorating it ourselves, which seemed a little too much trouble, or ordering the whole thing from Waitrose, but they didn't seem to offer quite the right cake.

The Gifts

We weren't sure what we wanted, we had nowhere to store any quantity of gifts, so asked our guests for vouchers.

The Speeches

We weren't planning any speeches, but as the day drew near, the best man and a number of family said that they wanted to give speeches, which we were quite happy to let them do.  On the day we had an impromptu speech from one of the bride's best friends.

The Photographs

We took advice from our venue on a photographer.  We left our guests at the restaurant whilst we went away to have some photographs taken on parkland.  The surprise of the wedding was leaving our digital camera with a teenage relation, she took more than a hundred photographs.  People seemed to pose naturally for her.

The Weather

Consider how bad or good weather might alter your wedding plans and have contingency plans to work around any problems.

The Honeymoon

Having planned and had a wedding, the couple can feel quite close, and they may enjoy the closeness if they take a holiday together immediately after the wedding.  We waited some weeks before the honeymoon and felt we missed out on not having a honeymoon immediately after the wedding.


It is possible to eschew prefabricated wedding invitations.  It can be inexpensive and quite fun to make your own invitations.  Send them a map along with the invite.  Naturally the map and invite were generated on computer, with a themed item stuck to the invite.  You can stitch together map images from a site like or Google Maps

Enjoy your time planning the wedding together

Try to relax when planning the wedding, enjoy the planning together.  Try the restaurants out together beforehand and relax when making decisions.


There are a number of websites set up for those planning a wedding, including shops with all manner of knick-knacks.  We did most of our own investigation into possible venues, flowers, food and cakes.


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