Love it or hate it, social media are here to stay. But how much of a role should they play in a wedding and in the build-up?
OK, so I’m an ageing civil celebrant, not some tech-savvy teenager! However, I do have a few thoughts on this subject that might be useful.
However tempting it may be, resist posting the good news of your engagement or wedding date on Facebook (or wherever) until you’ve told all your family and close friends first. It’s a common-sense, tactful thing. If you ignore that, you may end up causing a lot of offence.
There’s nothing wrong with using social media for your invitations (e-vites) – it’s a lot cheaper than printed invitations and can still look good. (If you have a teenager in tow, they may design a fabulous invitation for you !) (You can always send printed invitations to your more conservative friends/relatives, if you choose.)
You need to be able to track the replies, so you have to be consistent and clear. It may be best not to use social media here (not [quite] everyone has a Facebook account, for example). E-mail is probably safe, but technological problems are not unknown! What if your computer dies? Thus snail mail may be the best bet. So, ensure your address is on the invitation, even if the invitation is sent via social media.
The big event
It pays to communicate with your guests. Especially if you have special wishes.
You may well be happy with a photography free-for-all. That’s fine. If you want no photography during the ceremony, however, you can put a note in the programme or post this fact on the wedding website. Most – if not all – people will respect your wishes. ‘Unplugged’ weddings are becoming increasingly common nowadays.
Hopefully, guests who do take shots regardless will, at least, not post these for a few days. (It’s best to go with the flow, if people disregard your request – it’s not worth letting their lack of consideration spoil your big day.)
Of course, people should be welcome to take photos of themselves, if they want. You may set up photo opportunities for guests at the end of the ceremony (eg signing the register).
Do send out ‘thank you cards’ – but not by e-mail or social media. They’ve got to be hand-written.
So use social media to help you, by all means, but be tactful and considerate about it.
And if you’re looking for a non-tech-savvy person of more mature years to put together and conduct a truly magnificent ceremony, I think we know somebody who might fit the bill!
Visit www.shawprograms.co.uk for help planning your event (see photo).
Last time, Mish from KP Events in our guest post, gave us some welcome advice about controlling wedding costs – especially food, drink, DJs and photographers. Here are other areas where you can save without compromising quality.
Alcohol need not be such a big factor at a wedding – often one half of every couple will be driving anyway. Despite that, it’s easy to get carried away and run up a heavy drinks bill if you’re not careful.
The most obvious saving comes from serving sparkling instead of Champagne. There are plenty of terrific Proseccos and Cavas out there that tend to go down a treat and it’s always fun researching which one to go for before the big day.
Keeping spirits out of the equation is another sensible option. People generally won’t miss them, and if you happen to know that your uncle Alfred has a penchant for Scotch, and you don’t want him going home disappointed, you can always leave a sneaky bottle behind the bar.
You could consider paying for reception and dinner drinks and then having a pay bar after dinner – you may not like the idea but it is a customary and understandable option.
Lastly, during the meal, bottles on the table work well in that people generally only pour what they can drink, whereas if you have staff pouring, we find that people accept the top-up offer even if they’re not likely to continue drinking. As a result a lot does go to waste at the end of the evening.
As nice as fancy invites may be, environmental concerns have made it perfectly acceptable to invite by email. You can still design something that’s creative and personalise each invite, but then simply email it rather than post it. Let’s face it – the invite’s not going to make or break the day.
You can spend a fortune on flowers. If using a florist, make sure you find out which flowers are in season as they will be considerably cheaper than those that are imported.
You can of course do the flowers yourself or give the task to a creative friend who will feel flattered to have been given the responsibility.
Old jam jars make great vases and stores like IKEA have all sorts of interesting bottle shaped containers, so if you’re prepared to do the table centre arrangements, you’ll be dramatically cutting your floral costs. You can even find prepared arrangements off the shelf at places like M&S.
As a half-way option you might consider using a florist to do the button holes and bouquets but doing the table centres yourself as those are relatively easy.
Depending on the logistics of your day, you may even be able to re-use the flowers from your ceremony on the top table.
Remember – as beautiful as flowers can be, they’re ancillary rather than integral to the event.
Like flowers, wedding cakes can also eat their way into a surprisingly large chunk of your budget. And more often than not, with a cheese course and dessert already dealt with, no-one has any room for cake. It therefore becomes an extremely expensive photo-prop for the cutting ceremony.
If you’re going to have a cheese board anyway, then why not have a tiered cheese board in the shape of a cake and kill two birds with one stone. Equally you could lose the cheese altogether and have the cake as the principal dessert – maybe with some fruit on the side.
Another attractive and really popular option at the moment is to replace the cake with personalised cup-cakes on a large tiered stand.
Multiple cars for the whole bridal party is, in our opinion, an unnecessary expense. If it has always been part of the princess dream, fair enough, get one for the bride and get friends with nice or interesting cars to do the rest – again they’ll be flattered to have been asked. And if you really do have guests who are going to be blown away by seeing a ’54 Bentley R-Type, then buy them a ticket to the Goodwood Festival of Speed – it’ll be much cheaper.
Lighting is by far the most effective way of ‘decorating’ a room. It can change a seemingly ordinary space into something spectacular and is versatile enough to create different moods as the event moves through its transitions from reception to meal to dancing to wind-down. Pound for pound, money spent on lighting is usually very good value.
If you are theming your party, customised props are generally expensive. There’s a lot however that you can do with table numbers, seating plans and place cards – all for £50 and a bit of creativity.
Equally, candles, lanterns, fairy lights and bunting are relatively cheap accessories that (if used appropriately) can really add that extra something.
You don’t have to have a colour scheme ‘per se’ but do ensure you have an element of colour consistency across the venue – something that can be achieved simply through lighting, linen, flowers, bunting, etc. Even food and drink can be tied into a colour scheme but now we’re adding to costs rather than reducing them!
Not forgotten …
There are two aspects we’ve not touched on in this article – civil celebrants and venue choice.
In regard to civil celebrants, the fact that you’re reading this on Michael’s blog would suggest that you’ve already found your way to the very best and clearly need no more guidance on the subject!
In regard to venue choice, many couples are often quite clear about where they want to hold their wedding and only need help with all the rest.
That said, matching up our clients with their dream venue is something that we love doing at KP Events and we have extensive knowledge of all kinds of potential locations – many of which are off the beaten track while each offering something quite unique. And a lot of them don’t cost quite as much as one might think …
To find out more – or indeed for help with any aspect of your big day – please do give us a call.
Conatct Mish or Kati on 020 8883 7411
www.kpevents.co.uk | www.facebook.com/kpeventslondon
Like it or not, social media is here to stay. It will surely be a part of your wedding, so a few tips about prudent use might prove invaluable.
Let’s consider three areas: wedding websites, invitations and handling social media.
It is increasingly common for couples to use wedding websites, Facebook pages and/or designated hashtags. The website should give directions to the venue (especially for more remote locations) and information about attire. Will it be outdoors? What sort of terrain should guests expect? If dress is important to you, don’t assume that everybody is going to know your expectations.
If you want to share details about your ‘story’, that is fine, but don’t go over the top. Make them tasteful and sincere.
Obviously, you are going to include essentials such as date, time and place.
You may also have particular feelings about whether or not your wedding will be child-friendly or not. It may be better to approach this via the website, as you will have space to explain/justify your requests.
You don’t want to cause unintentional offence by excluding someone’s child while including somebody else’s. However, if that latter child has been invited as a bridesmaid, that’s not so bad. Or if you feel obliged to limit children to, say, ten for budgetary reasons, you could explain this. (Fore-warned is fore-armed!) Of course, you may at least still be able to invite the whole family to the wedding ceremony only.
Do read my article on children at weddings for more discussion on this subject.
If accommodation for guests is going to be an issue, your website can offer options and information.
A website is good for telling people about gifts, including whether there is a wedding list etc., not least because it can be updated. (However, information can go on a standard invitation too.)
Handling social media
Make sure you leave no doubt about social media rules. In my role as civil celebrant, I am increasingly seeing signs in the venue as people come in, informing them of the couple’s wishes – eg “Unplugged Ceremony”.
Let people know if they should not post photos of the big day until you have done so. This may apply especially to pictures of the bride before she’s walked down the aisle, so specify your wishes.
A hashtag is one way to track wedding photos from guests, so make sure you give out the information as to which hashtag your wedding will be using.
If you’re inviting a lot of VIPs, it may be better to request social media silence from your guests.
As a guest, if you’re not happy about something that happened (or didn’t) at the wedding, don’t put that on social media. The couple probably put a lot of effort in to planning the event, and, with the best will in the world, things can get overlooked or go wrong. (At my wedding, I genuinely forgot to invite an aunt to the family supper afterwards, and that understandably didn’t go down well, although relations were restored after a while!)
Social media and the internet should add to the experience, not cause stress or detract from the couple. Be careful and respectful.
It doesn’t take a lot of skill to upset your wedding guests. If you want to enjoy your big day, you must ensure that your guests are content too.
You might like to consider these items when planning your event.
If possible, don’t arrange your wedding during something major like Wimbledon or the World Cup or over Christmas holidays. People often take the whole Christmas period off and go away, so, unless you give a lot of warning, this may not work for them. Similarly, if you don’t give enough notice, guests may have already booked their summer holiday by the time your invitation arrives.
Make sure you do specify whom you actually wish to invite. Do you really mean for your friends’ 8-year-old child to come too? What about a “plus one”? Then, if there are several events (eg ceremony, drinks reception, meal, disco), make it clear who is invited to which. You can put something like “Children are only welcome for the ceremony”, for example.
An impossible one to perfect, but don’t seat wedding guests too close together. Try and be aware of who it might be unwise to seat near to whom (such as couples who have recently broken up). Resist the temptation to score points off people!
Cash bars are not popular. To reduce your expenditure, but to keep guests happy, supply a limited selection of wine, beer, champagne, and soft drinks (at the table).
Melt-down or frost
Although you can’t control the climate, you can ensure the experience does not become a deterrent. If the ceremony is outdoors and in hot weather, ensure there is sufficient shade and/or fans and arrange for cold water to be available; blankets could be laid on for the winter.
It’s a nice touch to find out about guests’ allergies or dietary requirements in advance. You obviously need to work with your caterers to ensure there will be sufficient food and that it is of decent quality. You can probably arrange a food-tasting in advance. (If you’re only offering nibbles, then this should be made clear on the invitations).
Children’s menus should not be too exotic, but can be a bit more imaginative than chicken wings.
Do what you can to ensure that the photographs don’t go on for ever – or the speeches. You can reasonably give instructions about this beforehand.
It is also a good idea to plan things so there are not huge gaps between, say, the ceremony and cocktails, or before the reception. Nobody likes ‘dead time’.
You’ll never please everyone all the time, but music before the dancing should be background level, and not everybody will want to have tub-thumping, ear-splitting music for the dancing. This will apply even more if the majority of guests are more mature.
Do try and get round and speak to everybody – table to table is best – even to offer just a short acknowledgement (and it’s better than making people stand in a receiving line).
Don’t forget the thank-you cards either.
Your guests will appreciate touches like these – and the atmosphere will accordingly be that much more pleasant!
In my profession of civil celebrant, I sometimes find myself in “marriage counsellor mode”. But rather than look at putting right what may have gone wrong after marriage, in this blog I look at ways to prevent wedding foul-ups.
It’s always a difficult path to tread: do you hire a wedding planner or do it yourself? This is a subject I have discussed in my blogs already, but it is something only you can decide on. If it’s a large wedding, there is so much that may be overlooked, so a wedding planner is an obvious choice.
Wedding planners don’t always turn out to be exorbitant and, in the long run, they may even save you money. What they certainly offer, which is invaluable, is peace of mind.
If you’re arranging it all yourself, you have to make a check-list of suppliers you will need. Next comes sourcing them – (first, vet and evaluate them, then be prepared to chase them up.) You need to make plenty of lists (well in advance) and be very careful not to miss anything out.
Be thorough in your research. Are there any local laws or regulations you need to know about – possibly, regarding the marriage licence or the venue’s requirements?
How are you going to organise the reception – and will there be that dreaded seating plan to draw up?
Keep your guests in the loop
Whom to invite is a potential minefield, but, if you have special requirements for your guests (eg theme, wedding list, dress code, unplugged wedding, arrangements for destination wedding, children not wanted, etc.), make sure these are clearly communicated.
Ensure the best man (if you have one) has the ring(s) and knows what is required. If you have a reader or singer, will they know their cue? Do you need to warn any speech-makers about keeping it brief, and not offending others? Do bridesmaids and ushers know their roles?
On the day
Always allow more time than you need – for applying make-up or getting dressed calmly, traffic hold-ups, co-ordinating with photographers/videographers, or checking room arrangements with the venue.
Quite a lot to bear in mind, I accept. But if you proceed calmly and bear all the above in mind, there should every reason why your wedding day will be a resounding success!