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How To Organise Your DIY Wedding

You love the idea of creating your own unique wedding but do you have the confidence to step away from all of those boring package deals that most wedding venues offer? I mean, where do you begin with a DIY wedding? Just follow our simple 6 point checklist below.

1. Choose Your Venue
This is step number 1 and one of the most important decisions – this is the core of your wedding and will set the whole vibe for your special day. Thankfully at Brook Farm we also organise all of the boring bits – we’re talking generators, cabling, loos, bins, security, checking suppliers’ PLI & hygiene ratings etc. Definitely not glamorous or fun and not something that you want to be wasting your time with.

2. Choose Your Structure – marquee / tipi / yurt / stretch tent
The next decision should be what style of tent you want? There are a lot of choices out there and once you have an idea of your numbers why not get in touch with our preferred suppliers to get a quote. Our preferred suppliers know our venue well, so will easily be able to give you a quote. I’d recommend picking up the phone and chatting with them – we have a very friendly bunch of suppliers who will gladly chat to you and offer their professional advice. They also organise everything that you need for the structure (the tent, the flooring, the lighting, the furniture, the catering tent, external furniture, fire pits). Our top tip – don’t forget to have bit of extra space (often the dancefloor area) so that you can have your drinks reception inside if the weather turns.

3. Choose Your Caterer
Things are really beginning to get fun now. What is it you want to eat? Most of our couples want to veer away from the stuffy, formal wedding breakfasts of the past. We imagine you probably want to have great tasting food but you also want the whole feel to be more relaxed and fun. Our preferred suppliers and their staff are brilliant at delivering just that. Think about anything you particularly want whether it be the format (e.g. sharing platters, a bbq served to the table, food van) or a specific food – maybe there’s a specific dish you love or maybe there is a certain style of cuisine. Just work out what your core criteria is and then speak to our caterers. They have great ideas and flexibility so will be able to advise you what will work best for you.

Please note, the caterers also organise everything you’re going to need, e.g. the equipment to cook your food, crockery, tablecloths, cutlery etc. You only need to think about what you want to eat!

4. Choose Your Bar / Bar Staff To Serve Your Drinks
The vast majority of our couples provide drinks to their guests during the reception and with the meal. After this, a paid bar is in place for the evening.

The evening bar is the time when it gets complicated (and expensive) because there are a lot of variables involved. There are so many different spirits and mixers to choose from and that’s before you start venturing into the world of shots and cocktails. Trying to do this yourself will leave you with a headache and a whole load of leftover drinks. You are far better off getting a bar company such as The Swig & Filly to manage this.

They will understand the quantities and types of drinks that will need to be supplied as well as the number of glasses that will need to be ordered – this is really important when you are on a dry site such as Brook Farm as you can’t simply wash a few up if you run out. Leave it to the professionals so you do not need to stress yourself out thinking about these things. They will have experienced staff who will be happy to serve your drinks in the reception and then add the finesse to the bar in the evening, meaning your guests are well looked after and have an amazing experience.

We know that some of you would never dream of asking your guests to pay for drinks which is also fine. Please note, the look is a little more relaxed as the day goes on as whenever there is a free bar, people seem to put their drink down then forget where they have put it. They then just go and get another one. This means you use a lot more drinks, a lot more glasses and it is hard to keep everything tidy.  Not a problem, just something  to think about when making your decision.

The key thing to remember is that which ever way you decide to provide drinks, you will need staff to do this. Even the most relaxed event needs staff replenishing stock, serving and clearing bottles/glasses.

5. Entertainment
Background music for your reception and a band or a DJ for the evening are next on your list. When you book, we will send you a document detailing our sound system so that you can pass this on to your band or DJ. The decision of who to book is so personal and subjective. We’re pretty sure you will already have an idea of the kind of vibe you want to create but feel free to ask us if we’ve seen anyone perform that fits your brief. Alternatively, you can swerve the Other Artiste Fee by booking one of our own fantastic DJs.

6. Styling / Florist
The final big thing to organise in your DIY wedding is any flowers or styling that you may want. There is a whole array of ideas out there. Get browsing and save the ideas you like so you can discuss this with your florist / your stylist / your friends & family.

You have the freedom to create whatever look you want. We appreciate we may be a little biased but remember, Brook Farm is an absolutely stunning venue and you don’t need to add a lot. Sometimes a few simple flower stems in a vase can be just as stunning and effective as a big display.

And that’s it. In 6 straightforward steps you have sorted all of the main things for your DIY wedding.

Photo Credit; Gabriela Matei Photography

Drinks Before Your Ceremony

It’s that time of year where you’re all busy planning the details of your wedding day and will be thinking about your timeline.  You start with when your guests should arrive. For those of you having a ceremony you obviously want your guests there before the Bride makes her entrance. So, why not invite them a little earlier than needed and have some drinks served?  Your guests will have a nice chat and a drink and it will be a really lovely way to start the day. Right? Maybe not. We’ve seen this approach used and let us explain how it goes….

Guests arrive and are excited and happy for the day ahead. Friends and family begin mingling and are delighted the bar is open. They have a drink, then another – they are so up for a great day! Everyone is asked to take their seats for the ceremony – guests with drinks take those drinks with them as they sit down.  A few of the guests make a dash for the bar to grab a drink to take with them for the ceremony.

The Bride arrives but we’re just waiting for the guests at the bar to be seated, so the Bride waits a little longer. The ceremony starts. As the Bride enters she notices a few empty beer bottles at the side of chairs / the side of the aisle. The flower petal aisle runner doesn’t look quite so good with these additions. Photos are being taken throughout and the photographer is working hard not to get guests swigging beer in the background! Nevertheless, the ceremony is going well. Oh hang on, a couple of guests have just had to nip off because they need the loo. And a few minutes after that someone else has got up to go the bar for a refill.

Your ceremony takes on a whole new vibe.

The only drink I’d advise being available before the ceremony is water.  It just doesn’t work well when guests drink alcohol before the ceremony.  As well as what is described above, your guests will be drinking on an empty stomach. The whole point of canapes at the drinks reception is that people do not drink on an empty stomach. When they do, you will notice the effect of this later on in the day. Trust us.

This advice is based on experience. We understand the idea of providing drinks before the ceremony sounds nice and civil but it often doesn’t work out that way. We’re all used to going to church weddings where we know there will be no drinks prior to the service. There is no need to make any changes to your timeline because your ceremony is taking place in the great outdoors.

And if you need any more help with your timeline, take a look at this.

Waiting Staff & What You Need to Know

What every couple needs to know before their wedding, is that the people staffing your wedding are KEY to its success.

We’ve talked before about the importance of choosing your suppliers carefully but have you thought about the staff they are using? The suppliers on our preferred list (towards the back of the brochure) all have amazing teams of staff – they wouldn’t be on our preferred list if they didn’t. But what about when you choose a supplier that is not on our list? Maybe we don’t have a caterer that fits the specific type of food you want and you’ve started googling to find a caterer that can offer you what you want. One of the questions you need to ask them, is do they have a regular team of waiting staff or do they get agency staff in?

Unfortunately, we find agency staff are less attentive in their care and service and some are so lacklustre you’re amazed they even bothered to show up at all! Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule and not everyone who does agency work is like that but typically this is what we experience. I suppose they just show up and it doesn’t matter to them how it goes. In contrast, a regular waiting team are working for the caterer week after week and they are managed by the same people and know they won’t get repeat work if they aren’t good enough. That is an incentive to work well and it keeps standards high.

So what do you do when you’ve found the caterer you want but know they use agency staff? Talk to us. We have connections and work with Event Managers like Ettienne Events who can provide a team of good quality staff to come and work for your caterer. You get the food you want but you also get a great service and believe me, that makes all the difference.

 

Photo – one of our amazing preferred suppliers; the team at Kingfisher Event Caterers

 

Wedding Cake Checklist

The wedding cake can be a big part of the reception décor and provides an opportunity for some lovely first photos of the newly married couple.  But there are often quite a few things that get forgotten, so I think it’s time for a little checklist…..

The Knife
Let’s start with the basics – have you got a cake knife to use for your photos?

Are you going to serve your wedding cake? If so, please consider:

Who is gong to cut your cake up into portions and serve it?
Have you actually asked your caterer to cut up your cake and serve it? Please do so – they need to plan it in.

The time you cut your cake.
If you want your cake to be served as dessert, you need to cut it and do your photos well in advance of dessert so that your caterer has time to then cut it into portions. Normally the couple cut the cake and have photos when they first come in to sit down for the meal before any food is served. It can then be taken out to the catering tent to be cut up and plated, so it is ready when it is time for dessert to be served.

Is all of the cake being served?
Traditionally the top tier of the wedding cake is saved to eat on a special occasion, perhaps your first anniversary or a christening ceremony? If you decide to do this, make sure whoever is cutting up the cake knows about it.

Who is providing the plates, cutlery and napkins when the cake is served?  You or your caterer?
Make sure you nail this down. We can’t tell you the number of times we’ve seen the caterer asked to serve the cake there and then but they’ve not had anything to serve it on. As I’m sure you can imagine, it’s quite difficult to conjure up 150 extra plates when you’re celebrating in the great outdoors!

The Weather
Tell your cake maker that your wedding is being held in a tent outside so if it is hot outside, it will be hot inside. This may well delay the time they deliver.  Most structures have sides that can be lifted/removed to get some air circulation and if you’re forecast an absolute scorcher, you can add in some electric fans. However, if it is really hot it will be pretty warm inside and so cakes, particularly buttercream cakes, will melt. Believe us we’ve seen it!

The best thing to do is store the cake in a refrigerated chiller until just before you need it. Often couples have ordered a refrigerated chiller to store the drinks in so they can be utilised for the cake too. We can arrange this for you and have a lovely supplier that provides walk in chillers with shelving that will do the job nicely.

If the cake is being brought out last minute, make sure you arrange in advance who will be carrying it out. They are usually very heavy so it might be a two-man job.

Leftover Cake
Whether the cake is being served to your guests or not, make sure you leave instructions of what happens to any remaining cake. Are there boxes for it to be packed into (make sure whoever is displaying the cake keeps the boxes it arrived in)?

Is someone taking it home to store that evening? No-one wants to see a wedding cake just left in the tent and forgotten about but that actually happens quite a lot! They freeze really well so make sure you have someone organised to take the cake home to store and then the next day it can be cut up and popped in the freezer. So lovely to take slices out of the freezer at a later date to enjoy while reminiscing about your special day.

And what better way to wrap this up? All cake dramas now resolved and you can concentrate on the important bit, feet up and eating that cake!

Photo Credit; Jonny Gouldstone Photography

Cake; Simply Divine by Claire

Can you legally get married outside in the UK?

The short answer is yes, you can get married outside in the UK. The longer answer? Unfortunately you can’t legally marry anywhere you choose. Under current laws, you can only marry at a licensed venue and they need to have a fixed, permanent structure hence the abundance of wedding venues with gazebos. We’re not licensed and so admit that we’ve thought about getting a gazebo ourselves but when we ran this past some of our couples, there was a huge outcry that we should not be going down that path. “There are gazebos everywhere” we were told. “We like Brook Farm because it is different and we are free to style it as we want.” So that was the end of that.

The good news is that the law surrounding weddings is currently being reviewed. It is hard to believe that our current law was made in 1836! Because not a lot has changed since then has it?! As I write this today, the Law Commission are analysing consultees’ responses and a report is due to be published with recommendations towards the end of 2021.  They aim to present a reformed law of weddings that will allow couples greater choice within a simple, fair and consistent legal structure, so that people can have a wedding that’s meaningful to them. Well overdue but at least this is happening.

So what do you do in the meantime if you want an outdoor wedding? The vast majority of our couples invite their guests to their ‘wedding’ at Brook Farm. The guests arrive to see the most beautiful and unique ceremony set up. They sit beside the lake and then watch the bride make her entrance through Pine Tree Aisle.  They then witness a deeply personalised ceremony ~ a ceremony like no other. The couple exude happiness. This is it. This is the real deal. This is exactly as the couple had planned it. Some antiquated wedding law is not going to take their dreams away from them.

But what is actually happening I hear you cry? You’ve already told us you’re not a licensed venue.

The couple are already legally married – they will have done this a few days to a week before in a bog standard registry office with just an intimate few. Now they are having their outdoor wedding just as they want it. Their wedding is taking place where they have chosen it to. They have a unique celebrant led ceremony which has been designed just for them. (I’ve talked about celebrants before but if you’ve not looked into them yet – do it. It’s a game changer.) And that’s it.

Until we have a new law passed that hopefully will recognise what we need from a wedding law today, we have our workaround. And as workarounds go, it’s pretty special.

Photo Credit; Michelle Cordner Photography

 

 

The Bar

So many different views on this subject – a free bar, a paid bar or a subsidised bar? It can get confusing so we thought we’d share some top tips to help you with your planning.

The vast majority of our couples provide drinks to their guests during the reception and with the meal.  After this, a paid bar is in place for the evening.

The evening bar is the time when it gets complicated (and expensive) because there are a lot of variables involved. There are so many different spirits and mixers to choose from and that’s before you start venturing into the world of shots and cocktails. Trying to do this yourself will leave you with a headache and a whole load of leftover drinks. You are far better off getting a bar company such as The Swig & Filly or a caterer like Kingfishers who can run the bar on your behalf.

They will understand the quantities and types of drinks that will need to be supplied as well as the number of glasses that will need to be ordered ~ this is really important when you are on a dry site such as Brook Farm as you can’t simply wash a few up if you run out.  Leave it to the professionals so you do not need to stress yourself out thinking about these things.  They will have experienced staff who will be happy to serve your drinks in the reception and then add the finesse to the bar in the evening, meaning your guests are well looked after and have an amazing experience.

Sometimes couples want to provide a free bar and you can but please consider this. Whenever there is a free bar, people seem to put their drink down then forget where they have put it so they just go and get another one. This means you use a lot more drinks, a lot more glasses and it makes it impossible to keep the place tidy. It is very difficult for the waiting staff to know whether to clear the glasses that are all over the place – is someone still drinking it or has it been abandoned? Things get messy quickly which is a real shame after the work that has gone in to making everything look so good.

A few other little things to consider are:

  1. Don’t forget to supply water. Often steel buckets are filled with bottled water and then dotted around the place for guests to help themselves too. This is really important. It keeps everyone happy and hydrated.
  2. Please also remember that we need to have someone managing the bar who holds a Personal Licence.  (As we are not physically managing the bar we need to have someone in place managing the bar who is aware of all the responsibilities around alcohol.) This cannot be a guest at the wedding.
  3. Finally, lets talk about serving your drinks nice and cold.  Chillermatic have been providing refrigerated trailers to our couples here for years and we would certainly vouch for them.  Your bar company may be able to provide a refrigerated trailer but if they don’t, we would definitely recommend getting in  touch with Chillermatic because nobody wants to drink a warm beer.

Of course you can do things differently ~ we’re big believers of having your wedding your way ~ but this is by far the most popular option and it’s always nice to know what people normally do.

Photo Credit; Michelle Cordner Photography

The Timeline

So you’ve made all the big decisions and got your suppliers sorted but now you’re trying to slot it all together. Should be easy right?  In actual fact, this is one of the areas that can often cause a lot of stress but there is a simple solution.  Ask the experts.

Yep, those good old suppliers are burstng with knowledge. Unlike you, they do this all the time and they have so much experience – you just need to tap in to it.  If you have a wedding planner then they will be all over this but not everybody will have this luxury. Fear not, a key supplier that you will all have, is a caterer and they are so well versed to advise you on the order of the day.  Let’s face it, the food and drinks are the core part of every wedding and they will be able to tell you what works and what doesn’t.

A timeline that we’ve found works really well at Brook Farm is outlined below.  Please note, there are two timelines; if you are having your ceremony here, a good start time is 2pm but if you are just having the reception, arriving around 3pm works perfectly.

14:00     Guests Invited to Ceremony

14:30     Ceremony Begins

15:00     Drinks Reception

16:30     Wedding Breakfast & Speeches

19:00     Evening Guests Arrive

19:30     First Dance followed by Cutting the Cake

20:00     Evening Music – First set for a band

20:45     DJ / ipod

21:15     Second set for a band

22:00     DJ / ipod

23:30     End

Why does this timeline work so well?  Have a look at the notes below for more details.

Arrival Time
Whatever time you invite your guests for, they will arrive earlier than that.  In our experience most guests will arrive around 30 minutes prior to the start time and you’ll always get a few keenos that arrive up to an hour before the start.  Please bear this in mind.  Will your venue be ready for them?  It is quite dull for your guests to hang around watching us set up.  At Brook Farm, we won’t have any parking attendants on site until 1pm at the earliest – it is important the guests don’t arrive before this time as people will start parking all over the place and all the aesthetics you’ve worked hard to achieve can be ruined quite easily with dodgy parking right next to your marquee.

Ceremony
The most popular time couples usually have their ceremony is 2pm.  This gives you guys enough time to relax and enjoy the morning while nailing your wedding prep photos.  It also means everyone has a chance to eat lunch before they come – including you.  Seriously, it’s a long day and although you don’t want a feast you should definitely eat something.

Drinks Reception
One and a half hours is a nice duration for the drinks reception.  Certainly do not go any longer than 2 hours.  It is enough time for your guests to socialise and enjoy a drink or two and a few canapes but not too long so they’re blind drunk by the time they sit down at the wedding breakfast.  I know it sounds a bit dramatic but I’ve heard stories where there has been a long drinks reception and lets just say, it all goes downhill from there…

Wedding Breakfast
It is not that common anymore but if you do decide to have a receiving line, let your caterers know.  It takes far, far longer to seat your guests.  Without a receiving line it will take 15-30 minutes to get everyone seated although this is dependant on your guest numbers.  Make sure your table plan is visible during the drinks reception.  People will naturally find out where they are sitting during this time so it is then much quicker to get them seated.

Speeches
Nowadays, each couple tend to order the speeches at different times so I would definitely recommend discussing this with your caterer.  They need to know when to have the food ready to serve so clear communication with your caterers is key.  I’ve actually seen it where the caterers have started plating the food, ready to serve and then a speech has started.  It was a change the bridal party had made a few days before but had forgotten to advise the caterers of.  It is not the end of the world if this happens, good suppliers adjust quickly but obviously they want to serve you and your guests the best food possible so they would not plan to have it ready 15-30 minutes before they are going to serve it.

Arrival of Evening Guests
7pm is usually the perfect time for the evening guests to arrive.  The wedding breakfast should have finished and there will be enough time to say hellos and get a drink prior to the first dance.

First Dance & Cutting the Cake
At 7.30pm the evening guests will be nicely settled in and can enjoy the first dance.  While you have everyone grouped together, cut the cake.  This will mean you only have to group everyone together once and this flows so much better than letting everyone disperse and then regrouping them again.

Bands
Like many venues, we provide the sound system which has volume control in it.  This set up has been in place since 2015 so has been tried and tested by countless couples.  It works really well because it never cuts the power or music, just controls it.  Live music is far more dynamic than a DJ which is why all live music has to finish by 10pm but a DJ can continue.  Due to this, you should aim for the band’s first set to start at 8pm.  They’re usually 45minutes long which means the band can have a 30 minute break before then starting the second set at 9.15pm.

End Time
Most couples advise the end time is 11.30pm even though, in reality, they know it will be more like midnight.  This is because our end time of midnight is strict and we have to have all of the music off at that time.  When people advise 11.30pm is the end time, it then gives the guests a chance to request ‘one more song’ (normally 2 or 3 times).  It also gives everyone a chance to say goodbye without it feeling like an abrupt ending.  In all likelihood, your wedding will still end at midnight but by advising 11.30pm is the end time, it will feel more relaxed and helps close the wedding nicely. It is certainly preferable to getting to midnight and just turning everything off.

Hotel
A popular choice among a lot of couples is for their guests to all stay in the same hotel.  There are two reasons for this.  If anyone wants to continue the party they can, in the hotel bar. Secondly, your guests can enjoy breakfast together and chat about how wonderful the day was / catch up on any funny stories – there’s usually something!  If you do decide to arrange a block booking at a hotel, the ideal way to transport your guests is on a coach.  Your guests can really relax knowing that their transport at the end of the night is sorted and it is another fun experience for them. All the little things adding up to make great memories.

One of the most common things we hear is that “we want to make the most of the day and enjoy every single minute we can”.  We understand that and you will but if you start too early, it doesn’t necessarily make it more enjoyable.  Using the timeline above ensures you fit everything in, there is a nice flow to the day and everyone is able to truly enjoy themselves.

Photo Credit; Kirsty Mackenzie Photography

Working in the Wedding Industry

It’s National Careers Week so I thought It was an ideal time to share a little insight about what it’s like to work here. I’m always surprised by the interest people show about working within the wedding industry. I guess it is appealing due to all of the happiness we associate with weddings but from a supplier point of view, it isn’t always like that…..

Before we go any further, I should just state that it is genuinely amazing to work in the wedding industry.  Getting to know a couple and helping them to have the day they have been dreaming of.  Meeting all of the guests and having a chat and a giggle with them throughout the day.  Working with the suppliers who you get to spend a lot of time with and, over the years, they become friends and a solid support network.

It is also immense, hard work.  There is so much preparation and work that goes into our venue prior to a wedding day.  So much administration with local authorities, the couple and their suppliers.  And on the day itself, you are looking at 20,000 steps easily with an early start and a late (sometimes very late) finish!  You have to deal with all manner of hiccups and problems that arise in the run up to the day as well as on the wedding day so you need to have a lot of patience and fantastic communication skills. You also need to be prepared to graft. It is not easy. People are a significant part of this industry and the emotion that weddings evoke can be challenging, so you will be tested!

Do the good times outweigh all of the hard work and hassle?  Absolutely.  And that is why it is an amazing business to be in.  If you are thinking about working in this industry then go for it.  Expect to work hard, trust your gut feelings but most importantly, enjoy the good times because that is what it is all about!

Photo Credit; Hannah Mia Photography

Table Plan, Seating Plan, Brook Farm, Brook Farm Cuffley, Michelle Cordner Photography

The Guests That Don’t Make The Cut….

As yet, we don’t know what is going to be allowed in the coming months but boy have we got our fingers crossed! One thing that seems probable is that weddings will be allowed but capped at a certain number of guests.  We know that many of you are trying to get ahead of the game and are thinking about drafting up a smaller guest list, just in case that is what you have to implement. But what about the guests that do not make the cut? The guests that you want to invite but aren’t allowed to….?

First things first, people will understand. This is not a normal time. Yes, of course they want to be there celebrating with you but if COVID has other plans there is nothing that can be done about it. So, is there anything you can do, to try and make things a bit better?

Letting them know that you wanted them with you on your special day will go a long way.  Don’t just not invite them, keep quiet and feel uncomfortable about it.  Let’s be honest, they are probably expecting to hear from you regarding changes to your plans and have probably already thought about the possibility they won’t be able to attend. Give them a call or send them a card to explain the situation. With this in mind, it would be worth heading over to Instagram and giving Sundown Paper a follow. Not just because Sarah produces the most creative, colourful and fun stationery that we think will be right up your street, but also because we’ve had a little heads up that Sarah will be posting some example stationery for exactly this sort of message very soon.

Of course, you don’t necessarily have to not invite them full stop. Some couples are inviting those guests to join them for the wedding speeches via Zoom. I know, it sounds a bit crazy but we’ve got inventive over the last year and this idea has definitely got legs.

If you’re able to, how about sending them a small bottle of bubbles with an invitation to pop it open as they zoom in to your wedding? Everyone can enjoy the speeches and toast you together. It feels inclusive and is an example of one of the many ways we’ve adapted over the last 12 months and shows that we will not let this pandemic spoil your plans.

Another way you can include the guests that aren’t physically with you on the day, is to send them all a piece of your wedding cake. Still order the huge cake you were going to have and after you’ve cut the cake on the day, arrange for it to be portioned up and boxed and sent off to all those that could not join you. For someone like Natasha at Nevie-Pie Cakes, this is a walk in the park.  A boutique cake company in Herts that specialise in painted cakes.  If you haven’t come across them yet, you should definitely check them out. They are incredibly talented and have supplied to Harrods, Selfridges and Fortnum & Mason so I think you can rest assured that you are in good hands.  Normal business involves constantly sending out cake samples, so they are more than happy to offer a service to their customers, where they cut up their wedding cake and send it to all of the guests that weren’t able to join you on the day.  Your guests will be delighted to receive it and feel touched that you have been so considerate – it’s the little things like this that will make a huge difference to both you and your guests.

By acknowledging their absence and making the effort to show these guests that you care, it will alleviate a lot of your stress and will make them feel special. We’ve heard time and time again during this pandemic about the importance of connection and these gestures are exactly that. You can then relax and enjoy your wedding day as you truly deserve to.

Photo Credit; Michelle Cordner Photography

 

 

 

Brook Farm Cuffley Wedding

Scaling It Back

From a quick snap poll of our couples, it seems they are pretty fed up and we can understand why.  I think it is fair to say that we are all exhausted by COVID and the continual uncertainty and stress it is throwing at us. Obviously, perspective is important.  Thankfully, most of us have been very lucky and have only had to make a few lifestyle adjustments but, it doesn’t take away the frustration of not knowing whether your wedding is going ahead or not.

When this hit last year,  most of our couples said they did not want to make any changes to their day and just wanted to push their wedding date back. However, this year it seems that most of our couples are keen to go ahead and really just want to get married and celebrate!  Plans have been made and they are no longer prepared to wait.

We are all going crazy wondering what will or will not be allowed this year but the number of guests you’re allowed is the obvious thing that may be affected. It doesn’t mean to say that you’ll have to have a micro wedding but you may have to reduce the guests numbers a bit so it is worth thinking about.  It seems that, if necessary, a lot of our couples are considering reducing their guest numbers so that their wedding day can go ahead. It is far from ideal but hey, this is a global pandemic and nothing is ideal.

So, if this is the path we have to go down, what do we need to consider?

The first thing that pops up in conversation is what else are you going to scale back on?  Obviously the guest list but is there anything else?  Well, it doesn’t necessarily all have to be about scaling back.  When it comes to food and drinks you might even decide for more luxurious options.  Although your guest numbers may have decreased, your suppliers probably have a minimum spend which means you can now choose some of the finer things. Smaller weddings are all about the intimacy and experience and there is something special about being really spoiled with great food and wine.

With regard to everything else, you just need to run through your original plans and see where you might want to make adjustments. Look through your list and decide between yourselves if there is anything that you definitely will not scale back on.  If listening to the band or having the amazing flower installation was THE thing you’ve been dreaming of, then still do it.  There might be some things that you decide you no longer need  – maybe you don’t need as much entertainment or maybe it’s as simple as cancelling the coaches as you no longer have so many guests.

One thing we would suggest, is that when you are reviewing your plans, please don’t lose sight of the fact this is still your wedding day.  Admittedly when you get the calculator out the cost per head will probably have increased but before you get to gung ho about cutting things, make sure you consider what is more important; the cost per head or the look and feel of your wedding day. There is a balance to be found that will be right for you.

When it comes to the format of a smaller wedding, it doesn’t need to change unless you want it to. If you look to Marie and Wes featured in the photo above, they celebrated their main reception with 52 guests and it was a blast. They were married in the Parish Church in Northaw and then celebrated their reception here with the tipis provided by Tipis4Hire and Kingfisher providing the catering and bar. I’m sure you can all sense the joy emanating from this photo. It was there in abundance and infectious throughout their day so smaller certainly does not mean lesser.

From a year where we have been socially starved, it is exciting to dream of any kind of gathering and those that are there will revel in the euphoria of this feeling.  The pure joy of celebrating your wedding with your nearest and dearest is going to feel amazing and it truly will be a day to remember!

 

Photo Credit; The Springles