When you decide to get married, first up you should set a date, time and choose a location. Be true to yourselves. What message do you want your wedding to send? Do you want it to be a bold statement, or something more polite and restrained? Decide what you like. Suitability is everything. Any style can be fabulous, but it needs to suit you as a couple.
SKIP THE SMALL STUFF
Your guests will remember ‘the dress’. The fabulous atmosphere. They’ll remember the pretty table setting. They might remember the super delicious prosecco. But the four-course meal, five-tier wedding cake and live band you didn’t have will go largely unnoticed. Allow yourself to skip over somethings. No one will notice except for you.
MAKE AN ENTRANCE
Think of the soprano’s first entrance in an opera, or a movie star on the red carpet. That’s you. When you enter the church, reception or any room on your wedding day, pause momentarily to give people time to notice you. Walk in like a winner. If you sparkle, your guests will too. And it’s free.
WORK WITH THE SEASONS
Don’t drive yourself crazy with a pre-determined colour palette or menu. You might love peonies and asparagus. Work with what’s in season – you will achieve a lot more, for a lot less.
Plan the ceremony (andreception) to suit you; not your family, friends, tradition or trends. Personalise the day with small, affordable touches that feel right for you.
LET THE SETTING, SET THE TONE
A wedding lunch in the middle of a great outdoor setting doesn’t need much more than the green grass and blue sky for décor.
SET THE TABLE
A beautifully set table wows weddings guests the minute they walk in and creates a sense of occasion. Even if all you’re just serving is a simple offering, a great table setting will make it seem like so much more.
NEVER SHOW OFF
Don’t plant a forest of glasses by each setting: one water and one glass per person is enough. Keep the cutlery simple.
BEFORE ANYONE ARRIVES
Preparation is the key to a great wedding. Then all you need to do is look glamorous, be charming and have fun.
HAVE A SEATING PLAN
Art-direct who sits where, with place cards and try to seat like-with-like to ensure everyone is sitting in the right place to have a good time.
WHEN GUESTS ARRIVE AT THE RECEPTION
The first few minutes of a wedding, like any social event set the tone for the rest of the day or night. Greet your guests with a big welcome. Usher them in – gush over their attendance, make them feel loved. Those first few minutes are vital.
DRINK AND BE MERRY
Nothing makes people more relaxed than a generous glass of something when they arrive. Hit your guests with a grand gesture in a glass. Try Campari, martinis, generous slugs of gin-and-tonic or, of course, good champagne. Alcohol is the great ice breaker, don’t underestimate it. It’s amazing what a few glasses will do to relax a room and get everyone laughing.
If you can, seat your guests at tables of eight or ten, the smaller the better. Small tables are cosy and conversational, and no one has to shout – and it’s not just tables that benefit from being slightly too small. Often the best wedding parties are held in tight spaces that allow everyone to mingle. There is nothing worse than being in a vast entertainment area with nothing to gather around or bounce off.
Fabulous weddings have fabulous speeches. You’re the host, so you’ve got a license to choose your speakers wisely. The people who can rev the occasion into action.
LIMIT YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY TIME
Don’t leave your guests on their own, making polite chitchat while you vanish for extended photography sessions between the ceremony and reception. There is plenty of time to get lovely images during the reception. What you think takes a little while, actually results in your guests being left alone and unloved for one or two long hours.
Food should be simple, generous, easy to serve and easy to eat, but not complicated. Keeping your menu humble, is far more stylish than a 10-course degustation masterpiece that will leave your guests overfed and with indigestion. You don’t want the food to distract people form the real purpose of the event: your wedding.
MAKE IT LOOK GOOD
Presentation is everything. You can make plain food look great, styled correctly. Look at upmarket cookbooks, magazines and blogs to see how food should look. Big white bowls and wooden bowls are a good start.
LET THEM SERVE THEMSELVES
Save hassle (and money) by not plating up meals. Do what the French and Italians do, and place food down the middle of the table, or on a nearby sideboard. There’s nothing nicer than helping yourself to what you fancy. Use different sized platters and pedestal bowls for interest. It looks (and feels) modern.
LET YOUR PEOPLE GO
A great wedding doesn’t have to last forever. The way you finish your wedding is just as important as the way you start it. It can be a roaring success and still run for less time than you think.