Monday, July 18, 2011

Choosing the perfect...... wedding venue

The other day, a friend asked me which wedding venue I’d recommend in their local area.

As a wedding planner, I am familiar with quite a few venues and it’s really easy to just list all the beautiful ones that look good and have capacity for the number of guests you are inviting. But for me, the perfect wedding venue has to have so much more.

You might have an idea in your mind that you want to get married in a particular style of venue. You might like the idea of a barn reception, or saying ‘I do’ in a Highland castle for example. Maybe you’ve got your eye on an English country manor house. But take it from me, there’s more to choosing the right venue than just looking at the bricks and mortar.

The Bingham Hotel, Richmond, Surrey

For me, it’s mostly about the people.

Everyone you come into contact with at the venue will be critical to your enjoyment of the day, so it’s really important to choose one with exceptional customer service.

Depending on the size of venue, you will often come across several of the venue’s staff. Larger venues have sales staff that show you round, talk you through the benefits of a wedding at their venue and eventually take your booking. Different staff from the operational team will then manage your wedding day. Smaller venues are likely to have one or two people who cover off both these areas.

My advice would be to spend some time at the venue beforehand to get a real feel for the people. If you are thinking about having a civil ceremony and reception at a hotel for instance, book a meal or an overnight stay well in advance so that you can sample the customer service for yourself.

Is the receptionist courteous? If you’ve been for a visit once or twice, do they recognise you and welcome you personally? How is the service at dinner? Was the food inspirational and well prepared? Do the staff smile and look happy? All these things will impact on your day.

Bisham Abbey in Buckinghamshire

I’ve been married for nearly a decade now. My husband and I return to our wedding venue every year. Why? Well, the staff at the hotel were true professionals in the run up to our big day and were nothing but outstanding on the day itself. We remember their amazing hospitality and I can hand-on-heart say that they have been consistently outstanding every year since.

If ‘customer service’ features highly on your list too, you might be interested to know that in the coming months I will be revealing some of my favourite wedding venues that tick this all important box.
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Monday, July 11, 2011

Jenna and Graeme's Pre-wedding shoot in Brighton

Jenna and Graeme from Buckinghamshire chose sunny (and windy!) Brighton as the backdrop for their pre-wedding shoot.  Pre-wedding and engagement photo shoots are becoming more and more popular.  They absolutely loved theirs and think that there are lots of reasons to make them part of your wedding plans …

1. It’s a great way to get to know and feel totally comfortable with your photographer, before the big day

Our wedding photographer is Phil Bourne, owner of e.motion images. He’s a brilliant photographer but he’s also an old friend of mine, so for me and my hubby to be, it was really important to feel confident and relaxed with Phil … not as mates, but as photographer and bride.

A pre-wedding photo shoot was a brilliant opportunity to do that and we think it worked pretty well!

2. It’s a great way to express yourself and your personality

We love all things vintage and fun … so straight away we knew we’d have a vintage photo shoot. After some thought and chat with Phil, we also knew Brighton would be the best venue for this. Not only was it an excuse to have some fun by the sea, we also knew it would really suit the vintage theme.

I’ve also seen some lovely picnic shoots, beach parties for two, and tea parties used as engagement themes. Some carefully selected props make the pictures stand out too!

3. Photos can be a great way of injecting personal touches in to your wedding day

We’ve used our pictures on our invites, order of service and in other little touches to be revealed on September 1st! (our wedding day!)

4. We’ve also made our own album as a keepsake and some as presents for family and friends, which they love!

The only piece of advice I would give anyone doing a pre-wedding photo shoot is to ‘be prepared’! When we did ours, the weather was absolutely freezing … and as you can see, very, very windy!!!!

To check out Phil’s work, have a look at contact him

If you would like your wedding or your pre-engagement shoot featured on our website, please email your details to and send us a few sample shots to look at.  We especially like to see your unique weddings with lots of special touches as these are most likely to be published.
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Monday, July 4, 2011

Wedding gifts you really want!

The tradition of giving wedding gifts for the home is not always appropriate for today’s couples. It comes from times gone by, when more often than not, brides and grooms-to-be still lived with their parents and would set up home together as newly-weds for the first time. Gifts like teapots and cutlery would have been more than welcome, I am sure. Today’s couples tend to live together before getting married and have pretty much everything they need in the way of household accessories.

To get the gift you really want, why not ask guests to donate money towards your honeymoon.  That way you get special memories and shared experiences - and which wedding guest could deny you that! If you set up your list with a specialist honeymoon gift company, your guests will have the chance to specify what they can buy. For instance, they can treat you to a bedroom on stilts, a luxurious spa treatment, surf lessons or a decadent champagne breakfast.

Now, you will always get the odd guest who doesn’t agree with the whole concept and would prefer to offer a wrapped present instead, so you could set up a mini gift list too. That way everyone wins!

Photo credits:
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