Planning Your Wedding

Planning Your Wedding

Planning a wedding is an exciting activity but comes with challenges. You want to get these right.

Of course, no two couples will do exactly the same as any other. One thing you’re likely to need to do is to set a budget (and agree who will be on the decision-making team).

Questions to Consider

Are you going to plan the event yourself, do some of it (perhaps in tandem with someone else) or take professional help?

What do you want to include on the day? This can range from what drinks to offer (straight after the ceremony) to hiring a band.

What sort of ceremony will you choose? Church, registrar or celebrant?

How many guests will you invite (and who might they be?)?

What date do you want? Unless you have a specific landmark date in mind, be flexible. Some days are more popular (and expensive) than others.


You need to get cracking with bookings, as some suppliers get booked up well in advance.

Priorities normally are:

  1. The Church or Register Office
  2. The wedding venue
  3. Caterers (if you’re having any)
  4. Wedding Planner (ditto)

Next you may consider:

  1. A civil celebrant
  2. Clothes supplier
  3. Photographer/videographer
  4. Florist
  5. Entertainment
  6. Transport to/from the venue
  7. Make-up artist
  8. Hairdresser

With all suppliers, do your homework, where possible. Check for recommendations, use websites and make in-person visits, if you can. You must be confident that they can do what you require.

You may be able to do all this in a matter of weeks, but, realistically, you should start planning at least a year before your big day.

Hopefully, this can suffice for starters. If you want more advice, just contact me.

A great guide (OK, I am the author!) is “Your Wedding Guide”, available on Amazon. It takes you right through this process in much more detail – and  costs (currently) less than a fiver!

Main photo: Matt Penberthy



It’s time to take a look at the relatively new trend that is changing the face of weddings across the UK (and beyond).

I’m referring to micro-weddings.

Of course, people are still looking at “traditional” weddings (bride in white, formal processions, receptions for large numbers, and the like). Hopefully, after 21st June, weddings will be unrestricted again (although social distancing will surely still apply) and people will be able to pursue this lovely course of action once more.

However, there are more choices open to couples nowadays, as people have had to adapt to the draconian regulations imposed on us. With guests and participants severely limited, what has changed?

Excessive pomp has been limited, but the budget for weddings has not necessarily decreased. Demand is exceeding supply at the moment, which can add a premium to the budgeting. Couples are also focussing on quality, as that appears more affordable. The guest list might be smaller (allowing you substantial savings), but that has opened the way to, for example, providing better champagne!

As such weddings are often not “traditional”, they can become more personalised. I hardly need say that, as a civil celebrant, I have been offering personalised ceremonies for years, but this is becoming the norm now.

So the proceedings can be far more relaxed. The bride’s father might not give the bride away. The bride might dress in colours or separates. Dresses may be shorter and less formal nowadays.

Venues can be less formal too, as cafes or bandstands come into the equation. Decoration still plays a big part, but quality can stand out at smaller-scale events. There can be personalisation for the guests too – perhaps their name can be inscribed on the cutlery, for example.

Make the ceremony yours.

Don’t forget that a civil celebrant will add so much to your ceremony, whether it be a larger “traditional-style” event or a micro-wedding. Just contact Michael for a chance to find out how!

Why are Weddings so Expensive?

Why are Weddings so Expensive?

A simple question, seemingly, but there’s actually more to it than meets the eye.

A cynical response

Suppliers rub their hands together when they see a couple approaching. They sense the opportunity to exploit excited, bemused, ignorant people. They can inflate their prices just because it’s for a wedding. The couple are unlikely to shop around very far, so they offer rich pickings.

These suppliers can include venues, dressmakers, caterers, florists, make-up artists, celebrants (yes, even some celebrants!), photographers, planners, entertainment arrangers, vehicle hire – anyone and everyone!

A measured response

The first observation is that not every supplier will be out to take advantage of you. Most are ethical and are keen to offer a service commensurate with their fees. Often, they do an enormous amount behind the scenes. A celebrant doesn’t just turn up early on the day, deliver a half-hour ceremony and then go home. There is a massive amount of work beforehand to ensure that the ceremony is perfect on the day, and reflects the couple’s personalities and beliefs.

A wedding will cost a lot, undeniably, although much will depend on what your budget and expectations are. You are often employing specialists, so their expertise, training, and know-how need to be rewarded. So, although your outlay may be significant, you may actually be getting good value for money.


There are ways to reduce costs without sacrificing quality. You can get married Monday to Thursday and/or in the morning or afternoon. That should get you cheaper rates. Avoid peak times (Bank Holidays and summer in particular).

Finally, shop around. Don’t necessarily go for the cheapest vendor, though. Choose one who you feel you can trust and who is prepared to listen to your vision. Look at their testimonials and go with your heart.

Your wedding might not seem so expensive, after all!

Vow Renewals for less

Vow Renewals for less

Vow renewals are wonderful and significant events. Of course, they cost money.  But one advantage of a vow renewal over a wedding, say, is that you have control. You decide the budget (not your parents) and choose the type of ceremony you will have (not your parents!!!).

If, however, the idea of saving some money appeals, you might like to bear the following in mind:

What season?

If you’re booking a hall or room, autumn and winter tend to be the quietest times – and the most likely to be open for negotiation when asking for quotes.  Avoid the Christmas/New Year period and Valentine’s Day too.

What time?

A morning ceremony and reception can work out very well for you, as brunch will cost a lot less than dinner. Moreover, people will be  less likely to want alcohol at this time of day, which should save you a lot.

Which location?

If you are members of a church or synagogue, you will probably have to pay very little, if you decide to use their facilities. However, if you shop around, you may find municipal historic buildings and gardens available at a surprisingly low cost. If it’s to be a small ceremony, you could consider holding it at home (although you may have to hire equipment, which can add to your bill considerably).

How many guests?

Food and drink are the biggest costs. If inviting people from work, try spare hurt feelings by doing it by department etc. You may not need to invite children. And why invite someone you haven’t seen in years?

Invitations and programmes

Today’s 10-year-old can design and print off invitations and programmes – and may not even want paying! You can also save money if friends or relatives can prepare something they may do as a hobby – I’m thinking of flower arrangements, or a musical entertainment. Perhaps they can lay on a luxurious car, for example.

Food and Drink

If you want a theme, choose one which is less expensive (such as “A Day in Italy”). Pasta and the like are popular but not dear. If you have a bar, limit what you offer for free.


It is normally cheaper to buy locally-grown flowers. It is worth telling your florist that you do expect to cut costs!

Finally …

Start planning early and concentrate on the essentials. Then you can ensure you have a wonderful event.

And you may even be within budget!


Michael will be happy to advise you on setting up a Vow Renewal ceremony.

Planning a Successful Wedding

Planning a Successful Wedding

Of course, everybody wants a happy and successful wedding. But such a result does not come without careful planning.

That applies whatever your budget.


You will probably be using caterers, flower-arrangers, photographers, a DJ and possibly a wedding-planner and – hopefully! – a civil celebrant like myself.

It makes sense to get quotes from two or three of each before committing. Cost will matter, but should not be the critical factor (see the next paragraph). If you don’t have any first-hand referrals, look at testimonials, but definitely don’t neglect some kind of personal contact. This allows you to get to know the supplier as well as to ask questions before committing. Allow time for all this.

Depending on your budget, you should ensure you do not stint on what really matters to you. The venue, wedding dress or the catering could be the most essential component to you both. To ensure you get exactly what you want may mean reducing costs elsewhere – eg the guest-list, venue size, the flowers, etc. Just make sure you and your partner are in agreement and are not inadvertently preparing a rude shock for the other!

Saving money

Sometimes, using a less common venue (park, zoo, beach, field) can reduce your fees, but still fit the bill completely.

If you go for a wedding lunch, rather than dinner, this may reduce costs. Moreover, the season will have an effect. Summer, Christmas and Valentine’s Day can be more expensive times, for example.

Do ensure any wedding-planner, celebrant or venue knows exactly what your desires are (in good time). Make a list, and bear in mind you may want to arrange accommodation at the venue (possibly for guests from further afield as well as for you). (You might be able to negotiate a special price too!)

So, plan, plan and plan. Make notes, ask questions, take advice and build a perfect day for yourselves and your guests. Ensure you know what you really want. This will be the day when your every desire must be fulfilled!

For further help, speak to Michael!