Ask The Expert

Award-winning wedding coordinator, Tanya Hedley, answers your burning bridal questions…

We’ve just got engaged – how early should I start planning?

Congratulations! Celebrating your engagement is a wonderful time, so bask in it and don’t wish it away. Avoid the temptation to make any big decisions right away and take your time. When you do turn your attention to planning, it’s wise to start by assessing your budget. Boring but essential. Having a realistic idea of what you can afford is essential before you part with a penny.

I’m a very indecisive person – how can I help myself get focused when planning?

Start with the basics and take it from there. Having a clear vision of your ideal wedding will guide the rest of your decisions with ease. What style of wedding do you visualise? City chic or rural retreat? Relaxed or formal? Be true to your personal style; don’t try to forge haute couture if you’re really a boho bride at heart. It also helps to think about the best weddings that you’ve been to and why they worked so well, this way you will know what’s important to you.

When planning, which things should be done first and what things can be left until last?

With wedding planning, it’s easy to get distracted. So, before you spend £500 on candles and ribbons, make sure the important things are covered first. It helps to make an ‘essentials’ and ‘non-essentials’ list so that your budget is used wisely. Choosing your venue and making arrangements for your ceremony should be top of the list. Whether you’re having a church service or a civil ceremony, it is essential that you have checked availability with the celebrant before confirming your reception venue, as these two aspects need to synchronise. Thereafter, you can turn your attention to the more fun aspects of wedding planning. And remember, the most sought-after suppliers will book up early, so if you have your heart set on a particular photographer, make-up artist or band, then snap them up before someone else does.

How can I encourage my other half to become more involved in the planning?

Try to engage your partner in something that sparks their interest. If you think they won’t be bothered about the napkin fold or the menu font, then perhaps they might like to choose wine for the tables, design an arrival cocktail or liaise with the DJ. Always play to their strengths and I’m sure you won’t be left disappointed.

We’d like to put together our own menu, but don’t know where to start. Any advice?

Be true to yourselves and don’t fall into the trap of playing it safe because you’re worried what your guests might think. I served sea trout and guinea fowl at my wedding and everyone raved about it! Collaborate with your venue or caterer as they will be able to suggest dishes and ingredients that are not only seasonal, but fit the brief and look impressive. Always ask guests to note any dietary needs on their RSVP so that your venue can provide suitable alternatives on the day.

How do I choose the right vendors and what happens if a problem arises on the big day?

Seek recommendations from friends or family and ask to see examples of their work or client testimonials before booking. A good wedding supplier will provide the perfect balance of knowledge and professionalism, as well as being someone you get on with. This is particularly important when it comes to your photographer and videographer, as they will spend a lot of time interacting with you and your guests. Above all, it’s essential that you have trust and confidence in your supplier’s ability to understand your instructions and to meet your expectations. If anything does go wrong, it’s likely to be something very small and totally fixable. With good suppliers around you and a trusted point of contact on the day, chances are that you and your guests will not even notice a little hiccup! This is the true mark of a good wedding professional!

How do I tackle the seating plan without any family drama?

It doesn’t matter whether your wedding is for 20 or 200 people, there is always a grumble from someone, so a thick skin is required! Before the wedding, try not to discuss your seating plans with family unless absolutely necessary. Make executive decisions with your partner and stick to them. Alert your wedding coordinator to anything you want to be sheltered from on the day.

How can I settle a case of the pre-wedding jitters?

With careful planning you shouldn’t have this problem, but if you do, the chances are it’s just excitement – and it’s perfectly normal! Run through your plans and itinerary, ideally with a trusted friend, and satisfy yourself that everything has been taken care of. The night before the wedding should be reserved for a relaxing bath and a restful night’s sleep. Look over photos of you and your partner, dig out that box of cinema stubs and Valentine’s cards, remind yourself of your fondest memories… you’re guaranteed to go to bed like a kid on Christmas Eve!

We want to ‘wow’ our guests – how do we ensure our wedding is unique?

In the quest for perfection, don’t forget what’s really important – the love you share for each other! It is the most memorable thing for any guest. I see a lot of very beautiful weddings, but what always stands out to me is not who spent the most money, but who had guests laughing all day, who couldn’t get off the dance floor at 2am, the smiles, the kisses, the hugs and the reunions. In a year’s time your guests might not remember what you gave out as wedding favours or what song you walked down the aisle to, but they will remember having an amazing time and for this reason they will talk about your wedding for years to come!

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