hayley elizabeth Blog

Get the kids involved!

As you get stuck into planning your wedding, one of big discussions that you will have with your future spouse (and potentially other very interested family members…) is around the wedding guest list.  Check out my blog on guest list dramas to get some key tips on getting your guest list right.  Once you have decided on that magic number of guests and which lucky people have made the final cut, you then need to consider whether you will be extending an invite to the full family, or just the adults.  Please be reassured that WHATEVER you decide, there is no wrong answer – this is your wedding and your decision is final!  Clearly you don’t want to upset people, but most will understand that planning a wedding is no small feat and there will be difficult decisions that need to be made.

If you DO decide to include children in your wedding day, I applaud you!  Whilst kids may have a reputation of being hard work, noisy, messy, and the rest… they can bring so much energy and joy to your big day! They just need a bit of love and direction in return 🙂

SO once you’ve extended the full family invite; they’ve all RSVP’d in delighted acceptance; and you find yourself with a wedding gathering that includes 20 little people… its best not to just leave it there!

You are going to need to do some “small person planning”.  The good news is THERE ARE SO MANY OPTIONS!  And here are a few thoughts to get the wedding inspiration juices flowing…

  • Consider the ceremony – will it be longer than an hour?  Possibly not child-friendly if so… See what your minister can do to accommodate children; simply addressing them and making them feel part of the service will draw them in and encourage them to sit a little more still and attentively. There might even be a special place they can sit to get a better view of proceedings! You could ask one or two of the older kids to do a reading – there is a fab link here to some suggested readings for this exact scenario: kids wedding readings in church. You could also involve some of the kids by giving them a job the ceremony such as distributing programmes with the groomsmen or confetti cones at the end of the service.
  • At the reception make sure there are child-friendly meals available for your littlun’s  – this is a chance to REALLY make them happy, channel your inner 10-year old and think nuggets, chips, jelly, ice cream… you get the idea.
  • You can have a lot of fun with putting together a table JUST for the kids – they will feel so special having their own space that looks much MUCH cooler than the adult tables…! Why not cover the table in kraft paper so they can colour it in during the reception?!

Putting together activity packs is a MUST!  This is what’s going to keep them occupied during the meal (and possibly speeches), so don’t scrimp!! Colouring, stickers, games, play doh, puzzles, lollipops…

I absolutely love the idea (if wedding venue space permits) of having a separate area where the kids can be “entertained” – if budget allows you could hire a fairy princess to dazzle them and then paint faces and lead some dancing/games.  If not, in this space you could have a dressing up box, a piñata, a mini cinema… Like I said there are a LOT of options!

This may all sound like a lot of work, but I totally think its worth it – you get to have those little beacons of joy with you all day, but none of the negative stuff because they are having the BEST DAY OF THEIR LIVES!

If you really do have a large number of kids you could even organise some babysitting – hook the parents up ahead of the event so they can coordinate sharing babysitters during the evening – ready for some adult party time!

Enjoy the planning… and if you are starting to feel stressed by it just get in touch, and I will be your wedding-wing-man!

(what a lovely idea this is – posh milk and cookies!)

Consider a Hygge Winter Wedding

Just got engaged? The very first thing to get nailed after he pops the big question, is when and where your big day will take place…

The most popular time of year (to address the first of those points) has seemed to be Summer forever and a day… but Summer weddings are becoming a bit cliché aren’t they?  They absolutely have their perks and can make for beautiful weddings, but before opting for the heat, an outdoor venue, and strappy bridesmaid dresses… I urge you to consider the alternative.
We have just come out of Christmas – the most magical time of the year! Part of what makes the season magical is what also makes it romantic… Stunning frost covered landscapes, fur throws, log fires, beautiful spiced scents filling the air… The Danish have coined the word “Hygge” to describe this cosy winter feeling; enjoying life’s simple pleasures.

Why not indulge in a Hygge wedding that offers fur blankets for your guests to get cosy on; an open fire to warm their toes and a mulled wine bar to warm their cockles! A country estate will look spectacular in the winter with lanterns, tea lights and fairy lights, and there are some truly fabulous winter wedding dresses out there… You have a little more flexibility with a dress that works in the winter; think heavier materials, bolder colours, more accessories and shawls!
Another massive plus point: Winter weddings are cheaper! They’re a less desirable time for many, so you’ll have more room to negotiate with your chosen venue.  You could even jump on the back of their Christmas season decorations to save money on your decor…
Winter weddings are definitely more unique – your guests are not likely to have another one to attend and so their excitement and anticipation will be peaked!

So when planning your wedding, give it some consideration and look at some of these beautiful winter wedding snaps for some wedding inspiration

A sneak peek from the other side

My latest clients got married on 23rd July this year, with a beautifully relaxed beer festival-styled reception at the “Willow Tree” in Bourn, Cambridgeshire.  It was an absolute pleasure working with them mainly due to their creativity, honesty and easy-going nature – which I thought would make them fabulous examples for future Bride & Grooms.  So I pleaded with the lovely Clare to share her story and impart some freshly felt wisdom to future Brides.

Read below to discover Clare and Keith’s romantic story and very honest foray into wedding planning

How did you and Keith meet and how did he propose?

“We met through work.  His Dad was the Chief Executive at that time and Keith would come into the office occasionally.  However, before I could use our relationship as a bid for promotion, Keith’s dad announced he was leaving!   I was in charge of arranging his farewell party and Keith came up from London to attend… One thing led to another and here we are!

Keith proposed on 6th November 2015 – his birthday.  He used the birthday as a decoy and planned a romantic weekend away in Europe.  Two days prior to our departure I lost my passport… no joke! I hunted high and low for it, through the bins, under the bed, in the same places I had already checked –  I even looked in the oven, but it was gone.  I was devastated.  Keith took out his credit card and made a swift plan B.  We went to The Hoste in Burnham Market instead, which wasn’t much of a hardship.  That evening he proposed and I was presented with the most beautiful ring, designed by him and made by one of his friends who owns a jewellery shop in Mayfair… of course I said yes!”

Swoon!  Did you immediately know the sort of wedding you wanted? 

“Well every bride has an idea of what they want from their wedding. But we both knew from the offset that we wanted to throw a big party for all our friends and family.  We wanted to create a relaxed atmosphere, complete with deck chairs, great live music and DIY décor…  And that’s exactly what we got!

We really wanted to showcase our personalities and choose the things that represented us as a couple; to some extent we really did push the boundaries of tradition. But it’s nice to be different!”

It sounds like you had some definite ideas about what you wanted…  What prompted you to hire a wedding planner?

“Because our wedding was ‘alternative’ and we didn’t hire a typical wedding venue, we didn’t have the pleasure of a wedding co-ordinator as part of the package.  The responsibility of planning our wedding fell on our shoulders and became a very daunting task.  It takes a lot of dedication and time to plan a DIY wedding which is a tall order when you’re both working full time.

Also I hate making decisions.  So weddings, with their millions of decisions you have to make (what colour flowers for the table, seriously?) was pure torture for me.  Not everyone has this problem, and many brides (and grooms)-to-be jump into wedding planning like they’ve been doing it forever, but those millions of decisions really wore me down.

I knew from the get go that there was no way I could plan this alone.”

Did you enjoy planning your wedding? What was the best bit?

“We loved the freedom of making it so personal to us as a couple and sharing that uniqueness with our guests.  We made everything ourselves; we designed our own invitations and table plan; we hand wrote all of the place settings and handmade all of the vases.  We started planning early, but everything always took a lot longer than we thought. Doing a lot yourself is great, very rewarding, and will save you loads of money, but it takes its toll on your stress levels and not to mention time! I can’t imagine doing it without a wedding planner – that took such  huge amount of stress off my plate!”

Can you describe how you felt on your big day?  Was it everything they say it will be?!

“We truly enjoyed every minute of our wedding, from the moment we woke up until we closed our eyes.  I was never very interested in weddings or getting married – I always saw it more as a formality.  I couldn’t have been more wrong, it was an overwhelming day in the best possible way.   I never thought I could relax and truly enjoy my wedding day, but with the help of our Wedding Planner I did… every single second of it.  I never wanted it to end!”

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If you could give some advice to brides-to-be in planning their big day, what would it be?

Don’t get stressed and focus on the minutiae of the day – let your day flow naturally.  Every bride and groom want their wedding day to go to plan – you spend months planning every detail.  When the day arrives the main focus should be for you to enjoy your day. If you need to hire in some help in order to help with that, then DO IT!  Especially if you’re going for a DIY Wedding – it was totally worth it.

Don’t choose your dress too early, like I did!  I bought a dress 10 months before our wedding day then changed my mind last minute… so ended up with two!

Dance like a maniac all night!!  It’s the best party you’ll ever attend and it’s all for you!

There may be things that don’t go exactly how you wanted, or things you think you could have done differently, but at the end of the day the wedding day itself is really only a drop in the ocean – your lives together before and after that day will make any dress disasters or table setting blunders pale into insignificance.

Beautiful 🙂  Finally, what did you do for your honeymoon? 

We had an incredible honeymoon in Kenya and Zanzibar, which combined a wonderful safari in the Masai Mara with a cultural experience in Stone Town and a luxurious stay on the beautiful beaches of Zanzibar.  It really was the perfect honeymoon.  I would thoroughly recommend a safari, which was the highlight of our honeymoon, to anyone who has enough left in the budget – it was a once in a lifetime experience.

Ohhhh can we see??

 

Thanks for sharing Clare & Keith!

Wedding photographer: John Woodward Photography

“What’s your flava?”

In the words of Craig David, “Tell me what’s your flava…”

Really though – almost the first thing you should be thinking about having just got engaged (aside from how to announce the jaw-dropping news), is what you want your wedding to look like…  What is the theme?  There are so many options these days, from the weird and wacky to the wonderfully classic.

The main point to get across is that you need to PICK ONE theme and STICK WITH IT! You are bound to fall in love with different elements of various themes as you trawl, transfixed through wedding magazine after wedding magazine…  But trust me, bundling all of these elements together could be distastrous.  The many details that go into wedding planning pull together to make something glorious and awe-inspiring, but if those many details are all speaking a different languauge you will end up with a deafening cacophony that will inspire things other than awe…

It may be that you know exactly where you want to get married already – in which case you should let your venue style take the lead.  Your wedding style should compliment the wedding venue, not shout it down.  If you have picked somewhere full of vintage character and quirkiness, trying to impose a modern sleek romantic theme just won’t work.

Your wedding theme will need to run through every element of your big day – from your dress and the grooms attire to the flowers, transport, entertainment and venue.

For example, a boho-rustic wedding might involve a pretty floaty dress and flower hair garland; loose and bountiful flowers casually strewn; outdoor space scattered with hay bales, picnic blankets a tipi and fire pit; a vintage VW van for transport that later becomes a pop-up gin bar; an acoustic band to cement the chilled festival vibe as your guests celebrate late into the evening…

 

 

On the other hand, a classic romantic wedding would deserve an elegant dress with a veil over a bejewelled up-do.  It may be in a beautiful stately home with sparkling chandeliers and perfectly manicured gardens.  The flowers would be a little more uniformed; a crisp and striking bridal bouquet with complimenting statement centrepieces on each table.  The transport for this wedding may be a beautiful old rolls royce or horse drawn carriage even.  A harp could serenade the guests upon arrival as they sip on a chilled bellini…

 

Also be mindful of the number of guests you are inviting – if you’re going BIG, embrace the fiesta vibe!

Essentially, take your time over this part to consider every angle, as once you’ve picked your theme and started making purchases based upon it, there’s no turning back – and you don’t want to be hammering a square peg into a round hole when things start going awry…!

If it’s all getting a bit much and there seem to be too may possibilities – just give me a call!  We can chat through your ideas and narrow down what theme might fit yours and your fiance’s style and requirements.

Otherwise – best of luck creating your happy ever after!

Guest List Dramas

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A sensitive subject for many couples during wedding planning is the streamlining of the wedding guest list. The politics of not upsetting a family member you haven’t seen for 5 years; or colleagues that you don’t really class as “friends” is often too much for some Brides to bare – they bite the bullet (it consequently blows up in their mouth) and they open the floodgates to distant relatives, tenuous acquaintances and others who’s only real link to the bride or groom is that they rubbed shoulders on the street way back when… Before you know it, your budget has tripled and you are on the road to losing control of your Big Day!  And so the stress begins…

Listen up girls – it does not have to be this way! Planning your guest list can in fact be an enjoyable experience, as you reflect on all the lovely friends and family that you DO want at your wedding.

So how is it done?

  1. Decide on your ideal wedding size with your fiancé. Is it a cosy affair with 50 of your nearest and dearest? Or are you going all out with a party for 500? Also you need to decide at this point whether you want to invite children and whether you will have separate evening guests.
  2. Split your chosen number in half so that you have you a quota for the Bride and Groom separately.
  3. Individually write down all of the friends and family that you would like to invite.
  4. Now prioritise them… Remember – each person on your list will have a considerably large pricetag. Use an excel sheet to highlight those that are absolutely non-negotiable. Then highlight your second rung in a different colour – those who you would really like to be there for the whole day, but you could live with yourself if they were bumped to an evening invite.
  5. Now tally up your numbers.
  6. You may have to go back over this process a few times to achieve your perfect number – but it IS doable.

The main thing to bear in mind throughout is that this is YOUR big day – with a bit of luck it will be the only one you have! Yes it is important to be sensitive to family politics, and you will have to make some hard choices – but don’t lose sight of the fact that THIS IS YOUR WEDDING. Enjoy it!

I found this very useful (if slightly brutal) guide on http://www.yourjubilee.com:

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