They say that the path of true love never ran perfectly smooth. The same is perhaps true of weddings! But thinking ahead and with wedding advice and planning will take a lot of hassle out of your big day. So this month, with a little experience from staff and couples alike, we thought we would tackle a few common issues and offer some handy advice for planning a wedding, from managing your budget to handling the guest list.
Wedding Budget Advice & Planning Tips
- Do you have a small army of friends and family? If so it can be hard to pick who to invite and who to leave out. Rather than splash out too much and make an impossible choice, the safer option is to shop around for better value wedding packages at less pounds per head. This way you can invite everyone, rather than crossing out names. Another approach however is to keep the list of those attending the ceremony and main meal clipped, while you invite a larger number to the evening buffet and party.
- Get planning and saving as early as you can, and be aware that your wedding budget will almost certainly grow rather than shrink! There is no harm in starting up to two years in advance to get everything organised and save up those all important pounds each month. Should you have your heart set on one of the most popular wedding venues you are also more likely to get the exact date you want by asking well in advance.
- List your various costs at an early stage and ask your chosen venue carefully to establish any extra charges. Do they charge for table cloths, set up or breakdown? Get those questions in before committing or making major plans.
- You might be able to enlist the help of friends and family in many cases, whether you know an excellent cake maker or you have a friend who is a great DJ. However, do be wary about putting too much responsibility into their hands. It isn’t fair to get a friend to act as host for the whole event or leave them responsible for your wedding photography. These jobs call for a professional, not a well-meaning pal.
- There are often huge seasonal variations on price and availability for different wedding venues, whether you want to get married in Devon or Dundee. The best deals on wedding packages can often be found outside the prime summer season and busy weekends, with low season wedding deals especially popular for couples who don’t have quite the time or budget required. At Northcote Manor we are always keen to offer affordable packages outside peak season, such as our current wedding offer, which includes the ceremony, food and drink for 50 guests at less than £4000!
Wedding Guest List Tips and Seating Plans:
A smart seating plan and running order with rough timings will help you a great deal (Place holders by Gallery 360)
- People who don’t get on exist in every family and can be a royal pain in the backside for any bride and groom. So if potential guests dislike each other, what should you do? First and foremost, remember that this is your wedding. If some of your guests can’t stand each other, that is not your fault. Nor is it a reason not to invite them. The classic scenario is two relatives or friends who have a grudge. Unless it is unthinkable, try and invite both rather than neither. They can always be kept separate with a seating plan. One or both might still be petty enough to not come; but at least you have been grown up and given them the choice.
- Another key part of your wedding arrangements is the seating plan. Which shape should it be? How many people should be on each table? Generous sized tables of eight to ten are ideal for keeping things sociable, preferably with guests all facing inwards towards each other. If you have a flexible layout, with longer tables, you could even double them up to get your guests facing each other and mingling. A compact layout, where everyone can hear the speeches and mingle, is preferable to stretching things out.
- Should you invite children? It’s a tough question for many couples. If it’s a yes, it will be hugely helpful to have a child friendly wedding venue with plenty of space. You could set an age limit (such as no children under five) but if you have close relatives and friends with young kids, you might lose some of your most important guests, to say nothing of the fun younger family members bring to weddings. The key rule is consistency. You cannot allow one family to bring kids and not the rest. It’s your call.
- Pick your “Top Table” with care, so that all other guests can see and hear the couple. This table can be bigger than the others and should include bride, groom, best man, bridesmaids and the parents of the couple, along with other significant people. However, don’t feel pressured to accommodate absolutely everyone. Siblings and relatives with young children, for example, may be better placed where they can take little ones for a breather.
- While people are likely to mingle well at any wedding, it’s kindest to place any more distant visitors or family with forethought. Who are they likely to get on with? It’s probably safest to place less familiar guests near old friends or those they know if in doubt. Do also consider languages if you have foreign family members, especially those who have little or no English. Could they sit with bilingual family perhaps?
Gifts and Pleasantries
- Be sure to include a special, safe area for wedding gifts that is obviously signed. A letter box for cards and perhaps a special chest or container for bigger gifts is ideal. Keep this close to where guests enter and exit, and mark it well.
Keep your gifts and guest book area obvious and well signed (Gift Chest by Ineses Wedding Gallery)
- A book of guest comments is also a lovely touch for the gift area, to create some great memories on the day (I still laugh at my younger brother’s comment: “Congratulations on your first wedding!”). Do be warned, however, guests will often ignore the guest book unless you direct them to it! Do have a sign or prompt and remind guests on the night that you would love a contribution from them.
- Is it rude to ask for specific gifts on your wedding? It probably depends on your friends and family, but a “wish list” is quite an accepted part of the modern wedding. If you are still uneasy about this, a safer option is to ask for honeymoon funds. Do so in a way that is gentle, not pushy. For example “the most important gift you can give us is simply your presence at the wedding. But should you want to give us a little help with our honeymoon, that would be fantastic…”
General Wedding Planning & Timing Tips
- Families can cause the most stress of all during planning. They want to help, but very often differ in opinion or dig their heels in. There will inevitably be some compromise required, but do try to be assertive early on and gently remind everyone that this is YOUR wedding. It’s not up to your parents who’s on the guest list, what the main course will be or where you buy the rings.
- Do trust the judgment of the venue wedding planner, and others such as your photographer. They are likely to have many useful contacts to share, from the best local florists to bands that have proved a big hit at weddings! The further away your chosen venue is from where you live, the more vital this local knowledge becomes.
- Whether your style is spontaneous or meticulous, do have an established running order of events and get someone to act as master of ceremonies. Most dedicated wedding venues can suggest someone for the task, but the DJ or main entertainer will usually be an obvious choice. If it is larger venue, you may well need a microphone and PA system- so do check and ask about acoustics.
- Avoid making plans for the day that are overly detailed, meticulously timed or mapped out. The timings of things such as speeches or cake cutting are almost certainly going to slip. But as long as things happen in the right order and there is a sequence worked out in your heads, everything will be just fine.
- Do mark the key parts of your wedding clearly, both with friendly signs and announcements. Get your DJ or master of ceremonies to keep everyone clearly informed so that guests gather for events such as the first dance and cutting of the cake. It might seem obvious to you, but guests almost always need steering in the right direction, especially after a couple of glasses of bubbly!
- It can be a huge battle getting the time to spend with every guest at your event, so don’t beat yourself up about this. Virtually every bride and groom will wish they found an extra five minutes to speak to guests X, Y and Z at the wedding. Unless you clone yourselves, there is never quite enough time! This is also where a good wedding photographer comes in, to capture those precious few hours.
- Whatever you do, be sure to pause for reflection on the big day. Don’t forget to stop and savour the atmosphere. It might seem to go in a flash, but those memories, pictures and special moments will stay with you forever. Breathe deeply, pace yourself and above all else treasure your wedding day!
Northcote Manor: Devon Wedding Experts
With beautiful grounds, excellent food and friendly, experienced staff, Northcote Manor is one of the best places to get married in Devon. Besides summer ceremonies, we run events all year round, with a range of affordable wedding packages to suit your needs and budget. See our dedicated weddings section for further details, including sample menus, facilities and our current wedding packages and special offers.