By Claire Moulds


‘The perfect match’

How to find wedding suppliers who can turn your dream day into a reality. Now you have a clear idea what you want your wedding day to be like it’s time to start searching for the perfect location.

Since the venue will take up a large proportion of your budget, and popular ones get booked up so far in advance, it’s important to focus on this first, not least because it will mean that you can then set the date!

Make appointments to visit all of the venues you’re interested in and be sure to spend at least a few hours there. Don’t just look at the building itself … observe how the staff behave, how professional and on the ball the wedding co-ordinator is, and try and taste the food and drink. Ask if yours would be the only wedding there that day, where your photos would be taken if the weather is bad, and what time the music has to stop in the evening. Try and see it when it’s set up for a real wedding so you can really get a feel for how it would look on the day.

If the venue is also where you want to spend your first night together as husband and wife make sure the bridal suite is reserved for you – don’t assume this will automatically happen!

Now that the venue and date have been confirmed, inform everyone you intend to invite so that they can put it in their diary and book time off work if required. It’s not imperative to send out save the date cards; you can simply phone and email everybody on your guest list. Make it as easy as possible for those travelling a long way by sending them details of airports, railway stations, local taxi firms and a choice of accommodation to suit every budget.

My next priority was booking the photographer. As your wedding photos are your lasting memory of the day, they are absolutely worth investing in but, as photographers can vary markedly in price, they can also make a big dent in your budget. Certainly, at whatever stage you book your photographer, it’s worth asking to see albums of recent weddings they’ve shot at your venue so you can get a feel for how they use the space. It’s also important to confirm how much of the day they will cover – will they still be there to capture your first dance together?

SERIES: BECOMING MR & MRSWhen looking for suppliers don’t be afraid to pick the brains of family, friends and colleagues who have recently married. Many brides shy away from this as they want their wedding to be completely different to anyone else’s. However, if your friend has already done the legwork and found a florist who offers a good service for a fair price – and you loved the flowers at her wedding – it would be silly not to ask.

Research, research and more research is the key to finding good suppliers who really understand your vision and who you feel confident working with. Weddings often attract a premium, so negotiate on everything you order – if you can’t get a reduction on the price ask, for something extra to be thrown in for free!

Throughout the planning process, it’s vital not to lose sight of your original vision for the day. You might want to tweak some ideas based on your research, but always remember that the best weddings are a true reflection of the couple themselves. It’s the personal touches that will make your wedding stand out in people’s memories in the years to come, and these are often more about thought and effort than spending lots of money.

For example, we ordered very simple, good quality wedding stationery, then added a ribbon detail ourselves to match my dress and to create a signature look that ran through the whole day. The ribbon only cost a few dollars, so the main investment was spending a few hours together tying them on. I also spent days constructing a playlist for the DJ of all our favourite songs – and those of our guests – and everyone said that they hadn’t danced as much in ages.

The hardest part for me was finding my dress, especially as everyone said I’d know the minute I found ‘the one’. I never experienced that initial rush of love for mine – even though it was absolutely perfect. Having spoken to other brides, I’ve now realised I’m not the only one, so don’t worry if you don’t! Spend your first appointment trying on every type of dress available, even if you think you know what you want. I was adamant I didn’t want a strapless dress but, quickly realised they suited me best. While I sometimes took family and friends with me, I probably made the most progress when I went on my own, as I wasn’t being swayed by the opinions of others.

Be true to your own style with your choice. Don’t feel compelled to go down the ‘big dress’ route if that’s simply not you. Consider how your wedding photos will look in twenty years’ time. Is the dress too ‘of the moment’? It shouldn’t be the determining factor in your decision, but it is worth considering so your photos don’t quickly appear dated.

While it may be a stressful and expensive process, planning your wedding is also a really special time in your lives – you’re creating something that reflects the pair of you and which sets the tone for your future lives together. Enjoy and treasure every single moment of it!

Next time: Claire looks at the day itself and what it means to be a bride.