Insider secrets only wedding planners know

Tricks of the trade from three of the UK’s best wedding planners. Brides – it’s time to get organised!

Insider secrets only wedding planners know
Wedding planning is all in the details. Image: M&J Photography

Want to know how the experts plan a wedding? Three of the UK’s best wedding planners reveal their top tips for organising a big day and how to make sure all your hard work actually comes together.

Susanna Young, Knot & Pop
Having worked in PR, marketing and events for ten years, uber-talented Susie founded her award-winning wedding planning company in 2013.

1. Wear your wedding shoes in, and pack some fancy flats. There’s nothing worse than sore feet a few hours into your wedding day. Along with that, pack a ‘care kit’ that you can have a bridesmaid look after, for any little touch-ups through the day and evening.

2. Next time you’re at a wedding, count up the number of leftover favours at the end of the evening. If you’re on a budget, they’re something you can pop into ‘Optional Extras’!

3. It’s nice to layer up the entertainment in the evening, so consider booking a photo booth or having a dressing-up box for the dance floor with some silly props. The thrill of the photo booth never dies!


4. Along with the first dance, get a group ‘last dance’ tune decided. It’s such a fun and memorable way to round off the big day.

5. A wedding takes many hours to plan and set up, so be realistic with what’s manageable alongside your working/family life, and see what additional support you can call on – whether it be from a trusted wedding planner or supportive family member.

6. Don’t forget the de-rig! Once the confetti has settled and everyone’s gone home, there’s a wedding to pack up. Make sure you get others to do this for you as you want to be enjoying your first day of marital bliss, not lost in boxes, tapes, lugging and lifting.

Image: Gabriela Silveira, Pyrus Botanicals

Insider info:
Worst bridezilla moment? Me – when I got my family to plant and landscape the garden based on my wedding palette!
Top budget tip? If your venue permits it (and doesn’t charge a hefty corkage fee), bring in your own alcohol. Majestic offer a great service and have fantastic wine experts on hand. Any bottles that are unopened (and returned in a saleable condition) are also fully refunded.
Favourite part of a wedding? An easy one – the moment the couple first lock eyes during the ceremony. Priceless.
Biggest mistake couples make? Taking too much on themselves, not realising the amount of time that goes into planning a wedding. Trust in talented suppliers and allow them to deliver your dream.
Hottest trend for 2018? My advice is not to prescribe to the ‘in’ colour or ‘in’ detail. Focus on what represents you!

Kelly Chandler, The Bespoke Wedding Company 
As a former Director of the UK Alliance of Wedding Planners, Kelly is a planning stalwart and self-confessed perfectionist.

1. Settle up with suppliers a good week before the day – some don’t require you to pay until just before, but trust me, you’ll want time to relax beforehand, which means as little admin as possible!

2. It can be so hard to know how to divide up your budget and what you can afford to spend on things like food and drink. As a guideline, no more than 50 per cent of your budget should go on the venue, food and drink, which allows 50 per cent for everything else.

3. Seating plans can be hard work! To start, sit yourselves somewhere where most people can see you easily – they’ll want to look over at the newlyweds during dinner. Sit the ‘young people’ near to areas where the waiters will be walking through (they won’t mind so much) and the more mature guests in areas where they won’t be disrupted.


4. Styling your wedding tables has become a must-do for a lot of brides, however hiring in fancy linens, special crockery and upgraded cutlery can eat into your budget. To cut costs, use a plain white cloth (usually included with your venue) and add a napkin in a bold colour to add impact!

5. You may think you need an order of service for each guest, but in actual fact couples and families tend to share so I would suggest printing enough for about 75 per cent of your guests. Conversely, have a few more ceremony chairs than there are guests as people tend to leave spaces in-between groups.

6. If your hair and make-up stylist hasn’t already instructed you on preparations, ask them how you and your bridesmaids should prep your hair and skin – depending on the styling, you may need to arrive with wet, damp or completely dry hair, and sometimes stylists ask you not to moisturise as this can affect the make-up finish.

Image: Sargeant Creative

Insider info:
Worst bridezilla moment? Groomzilla actually – being threatened to “get the string quartet to play that music, or else”, the night before a wedding when the string quartet did not have time to get an appropriate arrangement for the music!
Most embarrassing wedding moment? A champagne tower collapsing just as the bride and groom made their entrance!  
Favourite part of a wedding? When the bride and groom see their venue all set up on the day. There are often lots of gasps!
Biggest mistake couples make? Spreading the budget for food/drink and entertainment too thinly. It’s what guests remember.  
Hottest trend for 2018? Bespoke, unique and humorous wedding ceremonies, using independent wedding celebrants.

Holly Poulter, Revelry Events
Voted London Wedding Planners of the Year 2017, Holly’s company specialise in bespoke ‘rule-book free’ weddings.

1. When drafting your guest list, label your must-haves as your A-list, your would-like-to-haves as your B-list, and your ‘not the end of the world if they weren’t there’ as your C-list. That way, you have flexibility when venue hunting, and you can also send out your A-list invites earlier so any declines can be filled with none-the-wiser B-list guests.

2. Don’t waste budget and order the same size cake as your number of guests – account for around 20 per cent less, as lots of guests won’t eat it.

3. Order more chairs, extra table linen and a few more place settings. If you have spares, it’s easier if something goes walkabout or you end up inviting extra people and forget to tell your hire company last minute.


4. Speeches always overrun. Even if you’ve told your speakers to be 10 minutes, they will be at least 20 (remember there will be pause for applause!). Allow for this so your caterers (and planners!) aren’t worrying about the knock-on effect the delay will have on the rest of the night. 

5. Don’t assume anything. Whether it’s your venue promising things for free or supplier timings – get it in writing. The same goes for your bridal party – a little briefing goes a long way!

6. The life of a planner is not as glam as people think – we don’t wear heels or headsets, we do lots of heavy lifting and we very rarely go to cake tastings! It’s hard work but we love creating perfect days for our couples.

Image: Xander and Thea Photography

Insider info:
Worst bridezilla moment? We’re noticing more groomzillas recently – lots of guys know what they want and aren’t afraid to ask!
Most embarrassing wedding moment? At a marquee wedding last year, we noticed the caterers’ deep fat fryer was draining more generator fuel than we all thought, so we had to do trips to the nearest petrol station with cannisters – all the while smelling like two exhaust pipes! 
Favourite part of a wedding? The speeches! We’re often weeping and laughing along with the rest of the guests.
Biggest mistake couples make? Timing. Getting married too early and having to fill with food and entertainment, or not allowing enough time for things like tables being cleared or guests moving from one place to another.
Hottest trend for 2018? Greenery is still up there, teamed with acrylic, and nude colour palettes. And statement chairs, which really transform a space!

Words by Holly Johnson

Want more? Here are six reasons why your mum is your dream wedding planner and 10 signs you NEED a wedding planner


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