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