Planning Your UK Wedding

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Planning a wedding can be extremely stressful and putting together a checklist of everything you must take care of will take some time.  You want your wedding day to be a complete success, so here are some tips to get you on your way.

Finding the perfect caterer will take time so it’s essential you ask pertinent questions before making a final decision. Don’t fall into the trap of falling in love with the first place you visit and look no further.  The probability of the bride choosing the first wedding dress she’ll see is very slight.  The same should be said about your wedding venue and caterer.

To start off, you must have a list of questions in order to make the right choice that fits your needs.  The costs, the availability, their experience in catering weddings, and location are just a few questions you should ask.

Questions For Caterers

When looking for a caterer for your wedding, keep in mind they should be are far more than just preparing your wedding menu.  A good caterer will coordinate the wedding reception, supply tableware, stock your bar, and in many cases, create your wedding cake!  Once you have narrowed down your list, here are questions that should be addressed before making a final decision:

Does The Caterer Have A License?

This is critical because if they have a license, they have met all local health standards.  If they are serving alcohol, you must ensure they have a liquor license as well.

Does The Caterer Have Liability Insurance?

Any establishment that serves alcohol must have liability insurance and that includes caterers.  This is extremely important because if you have a guest who spent too much time at the bar and either injure themselves or someone else, you could be held responsible if your caterer does not have liability insurance.  Liability insurance will minimize how much you will have to pay should something go terribly wrong.

Can The Caterer Provide References From Other Clients?

Let’s face it, you might not want your caterer tending to other events at the same time as yours.  You want your wedding to get the full attention it deserves.  If they do have another event going on at the same time, do they have the staff to accommodate both events properly?  Ask past clients what their experience was with a certain caterer.  The caterer should be able to provide you with references.
Can The Caterer Serve Specialized Dishes?

If you want a caterer who specializes in a particular cuisine, ask first.  This is also a good time to ask if they use fresh, organic ingredients instead of frozen options.  The caterer you choose should be able to prepare the food properly and will have the resources and staff to provide excellent service.

Will The Caterer Provide Full Service?

This is an important question because you want to ensure the caterer is not just preparing and servicing food  Will they handle the table settings and the cleanup?  Some caterers have packaged deals providing full service.  If not, you will have to pay for additional service providers.

Can The Caterer Prepare Food For Special Diet Restrictions?

You might have a family member or friend who is diabetic and will need specialty foods.  If they do not provide this service, you might have to hire a separate caterer to meet these requirements.  This brings us to a very important question.

How Much Will They Charge For Various Packages?

Not only specialized food, will they charge more for appetizers and entrée selections or are they included in your package?  You should know if the caterer charges by itemized items or if they offer “All-Inclusive” rates.  Getting an all-inclusive package will save you a great deal of money in the long run.  A good package should include appetizers, entrées, desserts, and side dishes.

There are many other questions you should ask regarding their food service.  When will the caterer need a final head count?  Can they prepare other specialized dishes such as vegetarian, kosher, gluten-free, etc?  Last but not least, will the caterer create your wedding cake or do you have someone else in mind?

Finding Your Perfect Wedding Venue

Whether you are looking for a place in the centre of London, in South Wales, or Kent you want to find the perfect venue for your perfect day!  Create a list of places that interest you and be ready to ask questions.  Finding the perfect place is very important and you do not want to rush in until you have all your questions answered to your satisfactory.

Where Are They Located?

Consider where your guests will be traveling from.  If they are not local, is the location easy to get to?  Does the venue provide accommodations and if not, is there a hotel nearby?  How close is the venue to the national/international airport?

From there, you might be able to limit your list of venues by a few. Now is the time to visit their facility to look around and meet with their representative to cover all your other questions.

Will Their Facility Be Able To Accommodate Your Guest List?

Whether you have a large number of guests or a smaller, more intimate group, can the facility meet your needs?  If they have limited space and you have a large guest list, your guests will feel  crowded and very uncomfortable.  If you have a small guest list, you do not want them to feel overwhelmed with too much space.

When being shown the facility, if the room is empty you will have to visualize how it will look  with tables and chairs.  It would be great if they already have a room set up for an upcoming event.  If not, ask if they have a book of photos from past events.  Ask to see their seating plans to give you an idea how much space will be available and whether your guests will be comfortable.

Have the representative go over a typical day of a wedding event.  How well the day flows is crucial because long delays or difficulties will leave your guests unimpressed.  If your ceremony and reception will take place in the same room, inquire what the turn-time will be.  Also, inquire where your guests will be brought to while the staff changes the room around.  Will your guests’ waiting area be indoors if the unpredictable UK weather takes a turn for the worst?

What Time Is Required For Your Ceremony?

Most experts will agree a wedding shouldn’t run longer than 8 or 9 hours.  Much beyond that, guests will become tired and your event will not end on a high note. Get with your venue’s adviser to work out the total time needed from beginning to end.

You should know what time will be allotted for your guests to arrive and get ready if they are traveling a long distance.  Find out the time involved for the venue to get everything set up and if this is included in the initial fees.  When will your suppliers have access to the room to set things up and at the end of the event to clean up?

Lighting

How well the room is lit plays an important part in the overall environment.  You should see the room during the day hours to evaluate how sunny the room is.  During the evening hours, how good is their lighting?  The right amount of light is critical for a pleasant ambiance.  Too dark or too bright will ruin the entire atmosphere. Inquire if candles can be brought in and placed on tables.

Photographs

This is a really important part of your entire day.  Your surroundings will play a big role in creating memorable photographs.  Ask them to give you a tour of their locations for photography sessions.  Many places have both inside and outside areas to create the perfect backdrop for your photos.  Additional outside areas should be relaxing and comfortable for your guests to stretch their legs between events.

Lighting and photography sessions are details that are often overlooked until it’s too late to make any changes.  Be sure and add these questions to your list.

Music

Will you have live music or a DJ?  Find out what the venue allows and if bringing in live music is permitted, when will the group be allowed to set up and when they must finish.  Some places have nearby residences and therefore music must wind down at a certain time.  If you have a DJ, find out if they are allowed to provide their own DVDs or will the venue cater the music.

Other Often Overlooked Details

If you have some ideas for added details for your wedding event, make sure it’s permitted by the venue first.  These details might include a candlelit ceremony, balloons, or throwing rice!

Critical Requirements

Before deciding on the right venue, you and your partner should sit down and make a list of the requirements that must be met.

Your Budget – will the venues on your list be able to provide you everything you need within your budget?  Are gratuities and VAT included in the entire cost?

Catering – if you want a specific cuisine, will the facility provide this service or will you have to hire an outside vendor?

The Cake & Photographs – if you have friends who want to provide the cake and take photos, check with the venue to make sure it’s OK with them.  Some places will expect you to use their  suppliers.

Live Band – will the facility permit you to have a live band?  If so, do you have to use their people or can you hire someone else?

Other activities – if you have some entertainment ideas, always check with the venue first.  Do not assume you can have sparklers, balloons, candles, etc.

Finding the perfect venue for your wedding events will take time but will play a critical role in your wedding planning.  Choosing the perfect venue should fit perfectly with your date, location, and how to design your wedding to be uniquely yours!

Some Wedding Venues For Consideration

We have listed just a few wedding venues that might interest you.  If not, they might just give you some inspiration.

Nash Point Lighthouse

Nash Point Lighthouse in South Wales is a very unique place for your very special day!  Having your special day catered in and around a lighthouse will be very unique and your guests will love it!  Nash Point Lighthouse offers beautiful surroundings and is the perfect choice for smaller ceremonies. They can accommodate up to 25 guests with two floors in this fabulous lighthouse!

The Barbican, London
The Barbican is a lush, tropical oasis and home to exotic fish, over 2,000 different tropical plants and are licensed to host weddings and civil ceremonies.  After your wedding, a photographer will take the couple to a secluded area while their guests are served champagne and canapés.

3 Exceptional Choices At Preston Court, Kent

The Kent Barn
This 17th century Kentish Barn is an enchanting wooden building that seats up to 120 guests for ceremonies and receptions. You will have access to the Long Barn and Kent Barn and for your reception and used together, will accommodate over 250 guests.  The spaces are incredibly versatile and can be decorated in a huge variety of themes.  They also have a large selection of plans and table dressings to match your theme.

Juliana’s Island
This very romantic island is located in the front lake at Preston Court.  They are licensed for outdoor weddings and they will take your wedding photos while you walk across their beautiful iron bridge.  Your beautiful ceremony will take place under their stunning wedding pagoda that is crowned with an ancient yew tree.  The outdoor seating area accommodates 120 guests comfortably.

St Mildred’s Church
The church directly borders the gardens and farm at Preston Court and is less than 100 meters from the Kent Barn for receptions and ceremonies.  This gorgeous pre-Saxon church will perform Church of England weddings with no prior connection to the parish!

Highclere Castle, Newbury
If you want a magical, glamorous wedding this beautiful castle is for you!  Their friendly, professional staff is available to help you with every step to ensure you have the perfect day! Get your photographs taken in the Folly, on the magnificent lawns or in the State Rooms.  The bride is provided with an elegant bedroom in the castle to prepare for her day.  Imagine walking down the first floor Gallery and then descending down their Oak Staircase into the Saloon which is located in the center of the castle.

Hopefully, these tips and suggestions will take some of the burden off your shoulders when planning your wedding.  It takes time, but if you write down your requirements, ask the right questions, your special day will go off without a glitch!

 


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Jane Wingrove

I'm professional writer from the UK specialising in leisure and art and I work for one of the best places to get married in northumberland!