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.
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 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.
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.
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).
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
We weren't sure what we wanted, we had nowhere to store any quantity of
gifts, so asked our guests for vouchers.
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.
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.
Consider how bad or good weather might alter your wedding plans and have
contingency plans to work around any problems.
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 Streetmap.co.uk 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.