August 18th, 2016 | Rachel Parry
We all know that while wedding planning can be a fun and exciting, it can also be a daunting and stressful task, which is why having an expert to help can really lighten the big day load.
Contrary to what some may think, hiring a wedding planner doesn’t mean a couple are left out of the decision-making, but instead the bride and groom-to-be work with a professional who knows the industry like the back of their hand to piece together their perfect big day, saving time, and in some cases money, along the way.
Cue an introduction for our fabulous new Sponsor, wedding planner Justine Vincent of Silver Sixpence Weddings. Whether a couple just need assistance certain elements, such as venue and supplier suggestions, or instead want a professional on hand at every point of the planning journey for guidance and inspiration, Justine is the lady for the job.
Described by her clients as “amazing” and “a godsend” perhaps we could all do with a Justine to organise our busy lives, but for now we’ll leave her explain how she can help to plan your perfect big day…
Tell us a little about your background and how you came to set up Silver Sixpence Weddings?
justine says: As long as I can remember I’ve always loved planning! Whether it’s been a party, corporate event, holiday or wedding. Over the years I’ve helped many friends, family and even the odd work colleague plan their special day. Before starting my new business I worked various organisational/planning roles, however these were never as fulfilling as my passion for wedding planning – for me was the best thing ever.
After having my little boy I decided it was the right time for me to do the one thing that I have wanted to do all my life and that was to become a wedding planner. After lots of research in to the wedding industry, hard work and planning Silver Sixpence Weddings became a reality.
Do you offer full planning packages or can couples opt to just use one or two services, such as venue search assistance?
I do offer a full planning package, however this I know is not necessarily for everyone. That’s why I offer a number of services, including venue and supplier searches as well as on the day management to ensure the smooth running of the day from the bride and groom’s perspective. As I’m independent anything can be tailored to suit each and every couple. I can even help the bride to find her perfect dress!
Do you offer your services nationwide or just in a particular area?
At this moment in time my clients are Yorkshire based, however I’m more than happy to travel to any couples that require my help.
What is it that you love about working in the wedding industry?
I love all the different people that I meet in my job. These people enable and help me to create a wedding that’s as individual as my couples’ personalities. Creating ideas with them and seeing them come to fruition is truly amazing. What could be any better than being involved in the best day of someone’s life?
September 29th, 2015 | Rachel Parry
Having set your budget, booked your venue, sent out your save the dates and secured your photographer and entertainment, it’s time to move onto tasks that many brides deem as the more enjoyable and exciting parts of the planning schedule.
This is because it’s time to start thinking about how to style yourself and your venue for the big day to come! So in today’s wedding planning post we’ll be talking blooms, bridal boutiques and bridesmaids.
Today beautiful blooms tend to stretch way beyond bouquets and button holes with many couples opting to incorporate pretty petals into their décor too. From dainty pew ends to grand floral chandeliers, the possibilities are pretty much endless, though you will need to find a florist that shares your botanical visions in order for them to become reality.
When searching for the right florist, it’s important to look for a trusted supplier with good testimonials from previous couples. You will also want to view examples of their recent work to get an idea of the styles and arrangements that they can achieve. So it might be that you are looking for a florist known for loose, natural and rustic designs, or perhaps neat and elegant arrangements or those that can wow with modern, striking floral structures.
Once you have whittled down a short list meet up with the florist to see how you ‘click’ and if they share your visions on bouquets and floral decorations. They might even suggest great ideas you’d never even thought of.
In many cases shopping for the dream dress is a bride’s favourite part of the planning, though it can be daunting and frustrating at times too with so many options to choose from.
Having done your initial wedding dress research using magazines, blogs and websites to get an idea of the type of gown you might like and to suss out which designers fall into your dress budget, it’s time to search for boutiques that stock your chosen designers and make appointments to visit.
When attending bridal boutique appointments it can be easy for brides to get carried and invite a small entourage to accompany them but it really is best to keep numbers to a minimum to avoid becoming confused by differing opinions. Take those who know you and your style best and will give you an honest opinion – so perhaps mum, sister and maid of honour.
Though it’s good to have an idea of the type of dress you might like, it’s also good to be open minded at your appointment as a style that you’ve never considered just might turn out to be ‘the one’. Bridal stylists know their stuff so if they make a suggestion to try a certain gown on, go with it but don’t feel pressured – the decision is ultimately yours.
Once your dress is sorted you can move onto finding the right gowns for your maids. Again, though most ladies love to shop, bridesmaid dress hunting can be far from retail therapy with bridesmaids clashing on what they would and wouldn’t want to wear.
To avoid shopping centre tantrums it’s a good idea to get together with/speak to your bridesmaids about what type of design and colour you were hoping to dress them beforehand, giving them an opportunity to express any concerns early on. If you have maids of varying figures you could dress them in one colour but different styles of dresses to suit their individual shapes. Alternatively, if you have maids of varying hair colours and complexions, you could ask them all to wear the same design but in varying complementary colours, to suit both them and the wedding styling.
Also, when picking suitable colours for the maids’ dresses think about the styles and tones of flowers you’ve picked and how they will work together.
At this point in the planning process it’s also a good idea to get the catering search underway if the venue you’ve booked won’t be providing the food.
Over time wedding breakfast menus have been extended beyond traditional meat and vegetables, meaning that there are now lots exciting options to whet your appetite. Some couples base their food choices on their personal preferences while others make their decisions by the season of the wedding. There’s also the option to pick menus that complement the style of the wedding, so for example afternoon tea for a rustic, country themed wedding, or street food, such as pizza or Mexican, for informal outdoor weddings.
Whatever you decide look for caterers with good reputations and find out what is included in the price, such as waiting staff and glass/crockery hire, to avoid any hidden costs. Then it’s time to sample the goods with a tasting session so you’ll know exactly how the food will look and taste when it’s served up on the day.
April 16th, 2015 | Julia Braime
With all this promised sunshine on the agenda, plus lots of crushing on this gorgeous Venetian wedding this week, here at Brides Up North HQ we are dreaming about destination dos.
If you are doing the same, there’s an expert to help! Step forward the lovely Lisa (who I first met back in 2012 as part of a shoot for a profile in Fabulous Magazine) of Brides Up North Sponsor the bridal consultant, who is ready and willing to make your overseas dreams come true.
Grab your passport…
When did you launch your business and what is your background?
The Bridal Consultants Ltd was launched in 2004. I have a love of travel, I actually met my own husband while working on cruise ships and together we travelled the Caribbean, South America and Canada for 5 and a half years. This was a fantastic experience and I learnt a lot about the wedding abroad market; Information that was to prove very useful when setting up The Bridal Consultants. When we started, 11 years ago, the wedding abroad industry was very different. It was very much a conveyor belt style of wedding and no one was offering a tailor made service for couples living in the UK who wanted to marry overseas, but didn’t want to book their wedding under the restrictions of a set wedding package, couples who wanted to tailor make their big day to make it personal to them.
What services do you offer and to who?
We plan tailor made weddings for couples wanting to get married abroad in one of our handpicked destinations. This includes everything from helping to choose or recommending the venue, menu planning/tasting, decor, bridal party flowers or live entertainment. We help with the legal paperwork, our admin team will ensure all the documents are completed correctly so the wedding is fully legal on the couples return to the UK. We also work with British people outside of the UK, at the moment we have several brides living in Dubai.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Getting to know our couples and what they want most from their day and then through careful questioning finding out what’s most important so we can make the best recommendations for the venue and the suppliers we recommend to them.
I also love the creativity of seeing a wedding theme come to life, advising on colour choices and decor, after all the majority of our couples won’t see the venue until their wedding day so they rely on our expertise to help them make the best decisions. We visit our venues regularly which really helps with ideas and keeps our information update and fresh!
What makes you different to other destination wedding planners?
A big factor is the way we get to know our couples closely. We provide sample costs and then we encourage our couples to tailor their day rather than commit to a predefined package. Every couple deserves a wedding day tailored exactly to them. We’re also very honest and if we feel that a venue doesn’t suit or a supplier isn’t a good fit we will tell our couples, after all the couples happiness is our success.
Where are you located and what areas do you offer your services in?
We work with brides all over the world but mostly our couples are from the UK, our offices in Chester are in the city centre so easily accessible to those that wish to visit us, however due to time pressures the majority of our brides use email, phone and SKYPE as forms of communication
Can you give Brides Up North an idea on price?
A simple wedding in Santorini, Greece for 25 people is usually around £6000.
This includes everything you need for your wedding and receptions: venue hire, basic photography, decor, food, drinks and wedding planning services. However our average bride spends around £8 to £10k once they have added entertainment, upgraded their photographer and added extra decor. Everyone is unique and usually the sample costing is a starting point for them to work from.
We focus on the wedding and reception, so this doesn’t cover costs such as flights and accommodation or wedding dress/ suits, so don’t forget to budget for those.
What is the process for a bride-to-be booking you to help plan their big day?
Initial contact is made via email or phone where we discuss the bride/grooms ideas/requirements and what they expect. From here there is much communication via email/phone, and on request a consultation to discuss the finer details of the day. As soon as the venue is decided we’ll look at a date and secure this first. Some venues book up years in advance so this is key at this early stage. The Interim planning for the wedding then takes place in October of the year before the wedding with final planning around 3 months before. It’s a very easy process and suits our busy couples. Along the way we are always here to discuss ideas and, of course, concerns which are a normal process in any wedding, we wear many hats!
What areas of the wedding do you find brides need the most help with and why?
Finding the perfect venue is the hardest I would say. The majority of brides will not visit the venue before booking so they rely on us to translate their wants/desires into their perfect day. We visit our venues regularly to ensure we are up to date in our recommendations and we pride ourselves in being able to interpret what a couple wants into their perfect wedding day.
Another thing that couples tend to need help with is the look of the day. Done correctly this really makes the wedding unique and perfectly reflects the couple. I find that couples have lots of ideas but struggle putting them together in a way that works, so we help them to incorporate their ideas and desires into a way that works perfectly with the wedding venue and the day.
Do you offer elements of planning such as venue search as well as a full planning package?
We only offer full wedding planning so the whole day from start to finish.
How far in advance would a bride-to-be need to book you?
At least one year in most locations, however in highly demanded destinations like Italy and Santorini 18 months to 2 years is the norm!
Are there any particular destinations that are popular with your brides at the moment?
Santorini is definitely very popular, it offers exclusivity and is very stylish without losing the Greek charm. It’s not overly commercialised either and is very good value for money considering the calibre of suppliers and venues. We get a lot of requests for a very modern and minimalist look and Santorini fits this perfectly.
What destinations do you cover? Tell us a bit about them.
We specialise in weddings around the Mediterranean, our most popular destination being Greece followed closely by Italy. Greece offers all types of settings from a private beach to vineyards and rustic farms, whereas Italy has an array of private villas, luxury estates and historic castles. We recently expanded our services into Ibiza which is perfect for the relaxed stylish bohemian bride and will shortly be adding Marbella in Spain which offers beautiful boutique style luxury venues and stunning Croatia where you can get married on a small island away from the main land together with a lighthouse, all overlooking the beautiful azure water of the Adriatic coast.
Tell us about the types of weddings you help to plan? Is there a favourite that stands out?
We plan all types of weddings from intimate weddings with 20 guests so extravagant weddings with 100 people plus. I especially love planning weddings where the bride and groom get really involved in the overall look of the day and work closely with us to ensure the day reflects their personalities.
One of my favourites last year was the wedding of Nicole and Andy from Manchester a young professional couple. They were so excited about the wedding, yet so relaxed and trusting in us as a company. They really went to town for their guests by making sure they were kept up to date via a fantastic wedding website. They prepared welcome bags for their guests and gave them out pre departure with wedding guides that were simply brilliant. They went as far as to tell them how much a beer cost and what to wear on the big day (and very funnily what not to wear). On the evening they incorporated games, my favourite was a dancing game where each table was named after a song and when the DJ played that song the guests on that table had to get up and dance and the best dancer got a medal that the bride and groom had made. They also had each guest make peg versions of themselves which each guest brought with them to the wedding and the best peg won an award! Although this was quite a lavish wedding, the wedding was so successful due to the time taken by the bride and groom creating these special touches, and these cost nothing and can be incorporated by anyone.
Any tips for brides-to-be on how to pick the right destination for their wedding?
I would say write down the top 5 priorities, such as weather (sun or snow, warm or hot), budget (and be honest), distance from the UK (long or short haul), cost of guests accommodation/accessibility to all types of accommodation from budget to 5 star, type of wedding venue, (villa/hotel/town hall/church/beach). Once you have these it’s easier to narrow the choices.
What would you say are the main plus points of having a wedding overseas?
The weather is still the main advantage for most bride and grooms along with the unique settings that you can only get with a wedding abroad and the obvious cost factor that your money goes so much further abroad. The majority of the guests won’t have attended a wedding abroad before so you will be offering them a very different and unique experience far different from anything they have experienced before.
What would you say to couples that think it would be too stressful to organise a wedding abroad?
Planning a wedding abroad can be very stressful, more so than planning a wedding in the UK where you can actually visit your suppliers and see them face to face. I would always recommend using a planner that understands your requirements and expectations, offers clear honest advice and that fills you with confidence. You should only really have to get involved in the decision making, the planner should take care of the contracts, and administration along with offering advice and ideas. If you can find a company you trust and enjoy working with there is nothing to be stressed about, you can truly enjoy the experience of the planning and the day itself.
In your experience do destination wedding couples tend to honeymoon in the same place they have their wedding or do they move on to another country?
In most cases the bride and groom have a separate honeymoon after the wedding. The wedding is such an exciting time but much of this time is spent with guests, socialising, hen party/stag do’s, pre wedding dinners, that having the time afterwards together away from guests is quite important so you have time to enjoy each other and reflect. Some go straight on after the wedding others come home, have an after party in the UK and then go onwards to their honeymoon.
Are you married?
I married in 2013 in Scotland! 30 of our close friends came with us so it was a small intimate wedding, it was on the 20th of December as we both love Christmas. However I am planning a renewal of vows in the next few years, I’m just searching for the perfect venue, I love Villa Eva in Italy and The Sunset View Terrace in Santorini, I just can’t decide!
How can Brides Up North get in touch with you or find out more?
We’re really proud of our website, it offers lots of information plus real life wedding case studies and details of each of the gorgeous weddings venues we work with, so this is an excellent place to look at what we do and what we can offer, after this we suggest an email or phone call to talk with our team about your wedding plans:
01244 316 772
October 13th, 2014 | Julia Braime
I do love autumn. Crisp skies, moody mists, golden leaves, better telly.
This is a special season and a special week, in fact, for my family as my husband and I celebrate four happy years of marriage together, and our second anniversary with our little daughter in tow.
If you tie the knot yourself this week, let me tell you, it’s a great one for it – and I hope you are as happy in your future lives as we are.
For the rest of you, let’s kick off another week of wedding inspiration with this pretty marquee castle wedding, sent to Brides Up North by our fabulous Sponsor Andrea of Fabulous Day wedding planning, and real bride Gemma.
String out the bunting…
With images by SMH Photography.
Gemma says: We got engaged on a weekend away in Cardiff. We saw the perfect ring and knew the time was right.
We set the date for 25 July 2014. We are both teachers and knew we wanted to marry at the start of the summer holidays. The venue is lovely on a sunny day and we wanted to maximise our chances of plenty of sun.
We were married at Chirk Castle. It is one of our favourite places to visit. We have always found it very romantic and loved the idea of being able to have the ceremony in the Hawk House.
We decided on a pretty eclectic theme. There were lots of flowers and pastel colours but we wanted it to feel relaxed and have an informal, thrown together feel. We didn’t have just one main colour. Lots of floral patterns and colours were important to us so that is what we were aiming for.
I chose a Maggie Sottero gown. It was a long dress in light gold with beading. It had straps and was corseted at the back. I didn’t want a white dress and after searching for a year found one that I thought was perfect. I used Aristocrats Of Chester.
David wore a grey Cameron Ross morning suit. The morning suit seemed to go better with the informal style of the day.
We used SMH Photography. They were great and we would highly recommend the services of Sandra and Steve. They were very professional and worked really hard all day.
Our flowers were from Fletcher and Foley. We had a variety of fragrant herb and flowers to link the the garden theme. We had jugs of flowers on the tables that matched the bouquet and buttonholes.
The favours were homemade whiskey marmalade for the men and strawberry jam for the ladies. David’s parents made them and we bought personalised labels from notonthe highstreet.com.
We choose a ‘Naked Cake’ after seeing something similar in a newspaper. We had three tiers each filled with cream and decorated with fresh flowers and fruit. Our colleague, Nerys, has made the cakes for lots of the teachers at our school and did a great job on a very hot day!
Andrea at Fabulous Day was our wedding planner and we couldn’t have done it without her. We want her to come and live with us now!
We used Ice Cream Dub ice cream for desserts, including mojito and strawberry champagne flavours. The van looked great.
In the evening we had a curry station served outside as the weather was so great. Rupert Frazer Worden was our fantastic caterer. At the bar we had Wrexham Lager on tap as David’s grandad worked for the company. It was great to have it there.
We also loved the DIY photo booth provided by our marquee company. The guests had loads of fun playing around.
We used Lucy of Memento Stationary and were very pleased with the results. We’ve even used Lucy for our thank you cards.
We loved the setting for our wedding and would have chosen it a thousand times over. The place was already special to us and now it’s a special part of our lives. My family members from South Wales loved it so much they’ve been back to visit.
I was apprehensive about the ceremony as I’m a very emotional person but it was just perfect! Very natural and laid back, just as we wanted it!
I really wanted to go to the Maldives and it was just perfect. We booked through Kuoni and had 10 days in the Maldives and three days in Dubai. It was the perfect end to the whole experience. A perfect setting and great service at a wonderful resort. We want to go back now!
My top tip for other Brides Up North would be to hire Andrea, she had so many unique and money saving tips and contacts. Our day would have been completely different without her. Thank you Andrea!
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September 12th, 2013 | Julia Braime
Welcome to Thursday Brides Up North – you are on the serious downhill to the weekend now! Between then and now, there’s a fair bit going on at Brides Up North HQ. Last night on Twitter and Facebook we announced plans for a very special wedding industry party (more on that later – but if you can’t wait… here are all the details) and our guest list is already swelling – so much so that our Paypal system couldn’t cope, whoops! – and on Sunday it’s our first beautiful bridal event in Yorkshire: The Brides Up North Luxury Wedding Exhibition at Allerton Castle. Have you registered for your VIP Goody Bag yet? Better hurry…
So whilst we manage our chaotic diary, I’ll hand you over to a lady who’d probably be much better at all this than we are – Bernadette at The UK Alliance Of Wedding Planners, a Brides Up North Featured Supplier. Planning is this lady’s middle name, and she could probably plan your big day in her sleep. Lucky for you, she’s a little more professional than that… so lets meet her!
Hi Bernadette, please introduce The UK Alliance Of Wedding Planners: how long has the organisation been running and why was it set up?
The UK Alliance of Wedding Planners was founded in 2004 for one purpose: to promote professionalism in wedding planning. The company believes that by investing in training and development and helping to grow the wedding planning industry in a professional manner we can together provide an outstanding and unparalleled service for today’s brides and grooms.
The UKAWP is owned and run by two like-minded wedding planners who are passionate about the industry. Each run a small but successful wedding planning business of their own. Each of the directors has 10 years+ experience running UK-based wedding planning businesses.
They both bring a different approach to weddings, have complementary experiences and operate in different areas, but remain committed to promoting professionalism and good and honest business practice in this field.
They firmly believe that being operational wedding planners and knowing the ‘day-to-day’ of the job enables them to successfully run the Alliance, train new potential planners and nurture and support members.
Tell Brides Up North about the service that UKAWP offer for Brides?
One of the main reasons for the existence of the UKAWP is to act as a reliable reference point for you, the bride. If you are looking for a professional wedding planner, this is the place for you. We are the only membership organisation in the UK dedicated to the ‘wedding planning industry’.
All of our wedding planner members have proven their professionalism and experience before being accepted and the majority continue their learning by attending workshops and seminars. They are dedicated to improving their knowledge to become the best they can possibly be, for you the bride. They all offer a consultation where you can discuss your wedding in detail and how they may be able to help you.
What services does UKAWP offer for its members?
We offer various educational workshops and seminars throughout the year, a mentoring service for planners new to the industry, terms and conditions to use on events and lots of support and networking opportunities.
Why should Brides use a wedding planner?
A wedding planner can save brides considerable time leaving them the fun aspects of wedding planning. Experienced planners have the knowledge of what’s hot and new in the wedding world, as well as saving their clients money with their excellent supplier contacts and wedding hints and tips!
Planners offer meticulous attention to detail and will help reduce the stress that can be associated with brides planning a wedding. It’s important to remember we do not take over, it’s your wedding always. It’s our job to take your vision and implement it.
What wedding planning services are available?
Most planners offer a variety of services so it is worth looking at individual websites, but the majority offer the following:
Full Planning – the planner designs and manages the whole wedding, recommending all suppliers and working closely with the bride to put her vision into place.
Partial Planning – the planner takes the reins somewhere between 6 and 12 weeks prior to the wedding. Most suppliers will be in place but a few may still need securing I would say anything from 6-9 months before?
On the Day Management – the planner works with the bride for just a week or two, seeing through the plans which the bride has put in place.
Why should Brides use a UKAWP member?
Our members have been vetted and reference checked, important in an unregulated industry. Our planners believe in investing in training and their continued learning ensuring they are at the forefront of the industry and offering the best customer experience.
How can Brides Up North use your website to find a UKAWP member in their area?
Brides can pop along to our directory and simply search for a planner near to them, or near to the area they are marrying in.
What would be your top tips for selecting a good wedding planner?
Go onto the UKAWP directory and conduct a general internet search to see what planners are in your area. Look through the websites carefully for typos and bad grammar. What’s your first impression on the planners style: does it excite you? Contact 2 planners for a free consultation, during this meeting does the planner ask lots of questions about you and the wedding? In short are they interested?
Can you give Brides an idea of a reasonable price for a planner’s services?
Most planners charge anywhere between 10% – 15% for full planning (excluding items like rings, honeymoon, attire) but with a minimum starting fee of approx.. £2,500.
Many planners offer partial planning starting at about £1,000 or day of services at circa £450.
Explain your code of business practice and what this means for Brides using a UKAWP member?
All our members adhere to our code of business practice which promotes high standards and offers reassurance to couples. One very important clause is that none of our members accept commission, all discounts are passed directly onto the bride.
How would a wedding planner become a member of UKAWP?
The planner can fill out an application form via our website . Both directors will review the applicant’s website in detail and a decision will be made. Aside from adhering to our Code, we request a copy of the planner’s Public Liability Insurance and written assurance that they use legally binding contracts with their clients, for the safety of all.
What are the benefits of membership?
Members benefit from belonging to a friendly alliance allowing them to build up a core of support when needed for events. We hold various social and educational events throughout the year.
A high proportion of membership fees go directly into bridal marketing ensuring planners have a far wider reach then they could afford independently. Many of our members tell us they receive most of their enquiries via our site.
Tell us about the various training courses that UKAWP offer?
We offer two core weekend courses, Business Practicalities covers how to launch a successful wedding planning business, and Step by Step takes the planner through how to actually organise a wedding for a client.
How can Brides or wedding planners get in touch with you/ find out more?
If brides have any questions about wedding planners in general feel free to contact us and we will be pleased to help. Should you wish to hire a planner don’t forget to look at our membership directory for a planner near to you.
March 13th, 2013 | Julia Braime
Always an easy option! Image sourced via Zoe Lewis via Pinterest
Ahh, now this is a task that I remember from my own wedding. It took hours and at the end of it all, I still couldn’t be 100% sure that everyone had a seat… Luckily, it all worked out in the end, and yours will too. Just try to resist the urge to play matchmaker or seek revenge, and with our regular guest blogger Rachel of Mosaic Brides tips you’ll find the perfect place for everyone.
Rachel says: Sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin…
The task of planning a wedding sees a bride and groom go through many different emotions, ranging from excitement and happiness, right through to anxiety and despair.
Drawing up the dreaded seating plan usually stirs up the latter emotions causing a couple to endure sleepless nights and countless arguments as they debate where best to place guests in order to avoid family feuds, disapproving looks and Pinot Grigio-fuelled outbursts.
The wedding breakfast is a main feature of the big day and a carefully constructed seating plan can be key to achieving the desired atmosphere. While there is no right or wrong way to approach this tedious task, the following might help…
First things first…
It might be the job you’re dreading most but don’t keep putting it off. In the first instance talk to the wedding coordinator at your chosen venue to find out what size and shape tables you will have for your celebration and how best to arrange them to accommodate your guests. From here you can set to work on a draft seating plan which you can then amend at a later date when you know exactly who will be attending. To save time (and perhaps an entire rainforest) it’s a good idea to draw up a seating plan on a computer rather than by hand, that way if you make a mistake you don’t have to draw it all out again. Better still, there are handy seating plan tools available online which can make the job a whole lot easier by allowing you to make changes at the click of a button and amend right up until the last minute.
Taking Centre Stage…
Seating plans usually begin with the top table and deciding whether or not to have one. For those who want to stick to tradition the top table is usually made up of eight places; the bride and groom, flanked by the bride’s parents, then the groom’s parents, followed by the best man and chief bridesmaid. For those with divorced parents who have remarried the top table may need extending a little. Alternatively to avoid seating parents in close proximity who do not see eye-to-eye, you could have a top table made up of the bridesmaids and groomsmen leaving parents to join family tables.
Another option is to have a ‘sweet heart’ table just for the bride and groom which will allow you to spend some precious time together as husband and wife during the reception. Couples with children may want to seat them at the sweet heart table too. Meanwhile other brides and grooms have been known to invite certain guests to join them at their table for certain courses.
Shake things up…
Most couples ask themselves the question of whether to mix guests up or to keep family and friend groups confine to separate tables.
The aim of many couples is to create an enjoyable atmosphere by seating guests where they will feel most comfortable and where conversation will flow freely. This usually means putting those of similar ages with common interests together. So beyond close family and friends, who are generally seated closet to the top table, there might be tables of extended family, family friends, childhood friends, university friends and colleagues.
Those who do want to mix things up will need to decide how best to do it. Perhaps you could take a couple of guests from each of the different groups and place them on a table together with a bridesmaid or groomsman acting as ‘host’. There is also the option of drawing up different seating plans for different courses so guests move tables and mingle with others (though this one sounds like a recipe for indigestion).
In order to help things run smoothly on the day clearly display a seating plan in the entrance to the reception room directing guests to their allocated places. Also be sure to exhibit table names/numbers clearly and use place cards with first and surnames to avoid confusion.
Turn the tables…
For some grabbing a seat scenarios should only be experienced on Ryanair flights but for others it’s seen as a simple solution to the seating plan headache – take inspiration from the image at the head of this feature and let your guests decide where to sit. While this approach is highly likely to cause chaos in formal dining settings it can work well for more relaxed wedding breakfasts such as barbecue buffets and outdoor picnics.
And remember – you can only do so much to encourage a good atmosphere – the rest is down to your guests.
Rachel Parry is editor of Mosaic Brides and a regular guest blogger for Brides Up North
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