• Handpicked Harrogate

Written by Karen S Sweeney.



Having worked in the wedding and events industry for over 20 years, I have seen many different kinds of weddings and have worked with many different brides and grooms – from those who have become close friends to the bride who stood and stamped her foot at me whilst informing me she was a princess! Like so many other people who work in this industry, I could regale you with stories for hours, but I won’t... well, not today anyway!

I’ve picked up a few hints, tips and observations over the years and I hope these may be of some help to you in your planning and on your day itself.

Plan in advance...

Late planning could reduce your choice of suppliers from your preferred venue to your caterer, photographer, etc. The earlier you start, the easier, and less stressful it will be as your day approaches. Having a clear plan before you start will help you keep on top of everything and be sure that you don’t forget something important. Before you start looking at dresses and venues remember to take out insurance, work out the estimated number of guests and your budget – once you have these fixed, you can enjoy the fun stuff – choosing your venue, the dress and everything else!

Stick to your budget...

Don’t spend anything until you’ve set a realistic budget that won’t stretch you too far. It’s a common mistake to forget all the little extras – for the budget to work, you need to work all these extra costs in before you start. List every aspect of the day that has a cost attached to it, from the venue and the dress right down to gifts for the bridesmaids, hair and beauty treatments and even dress alteration costs.


If you are working to a tight budget, my advice would be to spend a bit less on elements such as wedding cars and favours, but get the reception room looking how you want it and a really good choice of wedding menu – do not skimp on the food element of the day – it is what your guests will remember!

Be organised...

Create a master document with supplier names, contact numbers, email addresses and other important details. This will help you to feel in control during the planning stages.

Include all costs on the master spreadsheet. This will help you to control costs and to see when payments are due.

You can also print the document for on the day – hand it to your venue duty manager - just in case of emergencies. Or, if you have employed the services of a wedding planner, she will take all the stress out of all this planning for you and will be there on the day for any last minute changes or emergencies, allowing you to relax and enjoy yourselves.

The Planning...

Although it’s your big day, your friends and family will be more than willing to help and will want to be involved in the planning – but don’t be pressured into having things you don’t want to have, or doing things you don’t want to do! And, don’t forget about your fiancé, it’s his day too and he may have his own ideas and opinions and may want a say in the planning. Listen to what he says – from experience, most grooms are interested in the menu, drinks and music!


Remember to take notes.

When visiting suppliers, including the venue, remember to take notes as you are bound to forget some of the details by the time you get home. Don’t be afraid to confirm details to all your suppliers in writing, that way you avoid any misunderstandings.


Remember that planning a wedding can be really stressful. Don’t forget to enjoy the experience and have fun!

The Venue...

Before contacting and visiting potential venues ask yourselves a couple of questions.What kind of wedding do you want? And how many guests do you want to invite? Only once you know the answers to these questions should you start researching possible venues. There is little point in visiting venues that cannot offer what you need – it will upset you as you won’t be able to get what you want and is unfair to the venue.

Hire Excellent Suppliers...

It’s really important to hire reputable people who come highly recommended, because then they won’t let you down or cause you unnecessary stress on the day. Get the very best that you can afford. You may even like to hire a wedding planner, to do everything for you that needs to be done.Your wedding photos are your main memories of the day, so research your photographer carefully. Having an engagement shoot is a good idea too. It gives you chance to get to know your photographer before the big day!


The music for your evening reception is another important part of the day. Book your DJ well in advance. Ask friends for recommendations or if you can, go along and see him in action first and remember to discuss a play list for the evening with him – it’s your night and you need to be happy with the music choices.


If you are having a band, remember that your taste in music may not be ideal for a wedding reception! And, make sure you see the band play before you book them.

Be selective with the guest list...

Sorting the guest list early is important so you can then focus on finding the perfect venue that will comfortably accommodate your chosen number of guests. Costs per head will most likely be your biggest expense, so don’t feel you have to invite everybody!


Choose a menu with dishes you both like...

One of the biggest talking points at any wedding is the food.Many brides and grooms worry about the wedding breakfast menu, and get too worried about what their guests preferences might be (don’t worry about dietary requirements – a good venue, will always help you out with these and accommodate your guests’ needs).


I have always advised couples to choose a menu they would like to eat and pick out their own favourite dishes – you can’t please everybody, so make sure you please yourselves


Always ask your venue or caterer for a tasting prior to making your final menu choice.

Don’t forget what’s important...

Planning your wedding can be stressful and more often than not, it will lead to arguments! If you find yourselves getting too caught up in it all, take a step back and remind yourself what your wedding is really about – the two of you!

THE WEDDING DAY...

Keep It Simple...Don’t try to cram too much into your big day. The more you try to squeeze in, such as manicures and salon trips in the morning, multiple ceremony and reception locations, the more that has the potential to overrun, get delayed or cause you stress. Keeping your morning and afternoon plans simple, without too much travelling required between locations, is the way to go - having everything happen in one venue location is the most stress-free.

Let Go of Control...

There comes a point where you just have to let go, what will happen will happen. The sooner you can do this on your wedding day, the better. Don’t have any last minute things that still need your attention when you should be relaxing on your wedding morning. Make sure everything is ready the day before and it that’s not possible – delegate! Your venue will, where they can, be happy to finalise the room layout and decorations on the day. Or, ask a trusted friend. If you have been working with a wedding planner, then this will be part of their role and one they will relish! It’s what they love doing! If little things do go wrong, don’t worry about it – in the end, it doesn’t matter as long as you’re getting married to the one you love.


Hair and Makeup...

You’re used to doing your hair and makeup every day – but today, treat yourself and hire professionals to do it for you! Let them take the stress away – nobody wants to have their hand shaking on their wedding day when they are trying to apply mascara! Panda eyes is not a good look!


Plan To Be Ready Early...

No matter how much time you think you will have, it will fly by! Aim to be ready at least an hour early – reduces the panic levels!



Avoid cake collapse...

Those of us in the industry have all heard horror stories about cakes being dropped and collapsing before or even during the wedding and some of us have witnessed such disasters! To avoid this, ask your cake supplier to bring the cake to the venue and to set up the cake for you, making sure once this is done the cake is not moved until after you have cut it and all photos have been taken.

Forget the Weather...

You can’t control it! It doesn’t matter where in the world you get married, one thing you can’t control is the weather - so don’t worry about it. You need to just plan for both indoor and outdoor options for your photos and drinks reception and then forget about it. Many years ago, when I first started in the industry, one of my brides was totally fixated on having a hot, sunny wedding day. On the day, it didn’t just rain – it poured! She had become so obsessed with the weather that she just couldn’t focus on anything else and did not enjoy her day at all. Remember, it’s out of your control, just enjoy yourself, whatever the weather



Enjoy the Day Together...

Remember that today is about you and your other half getting married! Don’t worry about anything or anyone else! Make sure that you spend lots of time with your new husband/wife and enjoy taking in this incredible day together. Congratulations!

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