So you’ve got engaged, enjoyed a month or so of celebrating and now it’s down to planning the big day itself and the invite list. You and your partner can’t decide whether to go all out and have a huge party with lots of family and friends and or keep it intimate and truly bespoke to the both of you. We’ve helped some of the UK’s most well known celebrities organise their big day ranging from the most extravagant star studded affairs to smaller, cosy ceremonies and receptions. The day has to be a statement about you and your partner, your love for another and the most appropriate way that you should celebrate it. Here’s some of the key things to think about before you decide…
Some choose a small wedding for cost reasons, others because it’s a second time wedding, vow renewal or they simply prefer a quiet, elegant affair. In any case, budget is a hugely important but planning a smaller wedding doesn’t mean that you can’t have everything that makes a ceremony and reception so special – it just means spending your money in the right way to make the most impact. Make a list of the key elements to the day – and focus your budget here. You can save money where it isn’t going to be noticed – serve a Kir Royal with sparkling wine instead of Champagne, use two iced ‘dummy’ layers on your cake topped with a delicious layer of real cake, and use beautiful candles in place of an abundance of flowers for dressing your table. Then invest in creating a real focal point – whether it be stunning table décor or hip DJ – rather than spreading the budget across too many areas.
Organising the wedding yourself can really cut down on costs and can be great fun to do, but don’t rule out the services of a professional planner to source a key element such as fabulous entertainment. They can often find you gems of talent that will become a real talking point for the day.
A small wedding doesn’t just offer cost saving options though. A boutique and stylish wedding day also opens up lots of opportunities. The logistics of a wedding abroad are much simpler for example, and much more affordable. They also lend themselves to smaller, private dining rooms, stunning boutique hotels or a marquee in a smaller private garden. For others it’s the chance to book the reception venue of their dreams – whether it’s an uber cool city centre hotel, a country castle or the latest top restaurant. You may now be able to afford it because you only have 50 guests as opposed to 120!
Think about inviting your guests to the whole event, so everyone experiences the full wedding day. This controls catering costs but also opens up possibilities such as an ‘afternoon tea’ wedding breakfast, BBQ party in the warmer months or one fabulous evening party.
Smaller weddings also tend to be more intimate in atmosphere. and style. Couples often hand make invitations and choose personalised wedding favours. Lots of couples dispense with the idea of a top table and just have one large dining table, speeches are less formal and often, menus more sophisticated. Many couples , especially second time weddings, seem to spend a little more on a better menu and superior wines as they are catering for less people.
Big is beautiful…
So you can’t whittle down the guest list to under 100 people or you’ve always dreamed of a big wedding, so that’s exactly what you’re having! Big weddings are great fun and partying the night away with all your friends and family is a fabulous feeling, and makes for a memorable day.
If you have your venue short list ask each one for references from couples who’ve had their weddings there. Make sure it has catered for the same amount of people and ask to see any pictures they may have. Also check if there are any other weddings taking place at your venue on the same day – you don’t want bridal parties getting mixed up or service staff to be spread too thinly at your event. Be sure that the venue has sufficient space for the reception drinks and wedding breakfast/party, and that logistics such as cloakroom, car parking and toilets work.
Having a large number of guests may mean that you can work alongside a wedding planner who will liaise with all the various parties, offer creative ideas and offer lots of help and support in the run up to the day. Our job it to take the strain whilst you focus on enjoying the big day!
If not make sure you have one point of contact at the venue for the duration of your planning so that they understand your needs and style requirements, and remember it’s your day and not theirs, so don’t let them take over.
Catering for larger events needs careful consideration. You don’t want huge queues at the bar, so look to having multiple smaller drinks stations available or tray circulated cocktails. Ask how your venue will serve the food – you need it all to come out hot and at the same time. One long buffet table creates chaos, so look to multiple food stations which offer different cuisine – Asian, fish’n’chips, crepes, sushi.
The most important thing to remember for both types of wedding is to relish in the magic that is your wedding day, enjoy it and try and at one point to take a step back and take in the wonderful day that is your wedding.