Wedding Budgets: Setting Them and How to Get the Most Out of Them

It’s time for our final post from Weddings by Rachel – a professional wedding planner based in South Wales. Each fortnight she’s covered a different wedding planning topic and this week she’s covering wedding budgets. How to set them and how to get the most out of them!

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Before you can go out and start booking venues and buying dresses, you need to organise your budget. This is very important to do because you don’t want to overspend – this can put a dark cloud over the day if it means going without something really important to you.

Who is going to pay?

Table of Champagne

First things first, you need to establish who is paying for the wedding. Traditionally the bride’s parents take care of the bill with the groom chipping in for the ceremony and the men’s suits and, of course, the honeymoon.

However, times are changing and a lot of couples are paying for their weddings themselves. It may be that one, or both, sets of parents are willing to offer a sum to contribute towards the cost of the wedding. These things should be established before any final budgets are made so you know exactly what you have to work with :)

How much should we budget?

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A good place to start is considering what weddings cost. The average wedding in 2013 cost over £18,000. This includes approx. 50% of the budget on venue hire, food and drinks. Bear in mind the spending varies from couple to couple and it is important to remember that this is just an average. Lots of couples get married on much less and much more. I recently worked on a fabulous, romantic wedding that had a very small budget :)

The best thing to think about is how you’re going to spend your money. What is it that you really want? It is important that you budget for exactly what you want. Do you have a dream venue that you really want to get married in? Is there a perfect dress that you’ve seen? Do you really want a swing band? Make sure you’ve got enough budget if you have something really special in mind.

A great way to approach setting your budget is to firstly consider how much you can afford. If you are paying for the wedding for yourself you must only budget what you can afford to. You don’t want to start married life in debt if you can avoid it.

Next consider how many guests you want – don’t do this by guessing, write out a rough guest list as you’d be surprised how many more it will be than you initially thought. This is a great way to set your budget. If you know you have 100 guests and the venue you have your eye on is £50 per head, then consider that 50% of your budget.

Use budget planners online as these are very helpful for keeping a track of everything and figuring out how much to spend. A wedding planner will take care of this for you but you may want to keep an eye on it yourself so these are always handy tools to use. I also recommend including a 10% contingency budget for that one thing that was forgotten or for something extra that crops up.

How to get the most out of your money

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So how do you get the most for your money? It’s all well and good to set a budget but you need to know that you are able to shop around and get the very best deals, without compromising on service and quality.

First of all, create yourself a wedding account, preferably in a high interest account. This could help you get a little bit extra back from your savings, and every little helps!

Prioritise everything that you want. Try writing out everything you need for the wedding on pieces of card, for example; venue, dress, rings, music, etc. Lay these cards out on a table and move them around in order of importance to you as a couple. This can then help you consider what you can perhaps do without, or at least spend a little less money on, and what you might want to splurge on a little.

If you have a very small budget, but still want all of the trimmings, have a look at some of the deals around at the moment. For example, the £999 weddings at places like Holiday Inn, Britannia Hotels and Old English Inns. They may not be the absolute perfect venue for you, but if you’re working to a very small budget, they may be the answer to your prayers.

Weekday weddings tend to work out cheaper, and a lot of suppliers give discounts for Monday-Thursday weddings, however, this isn’t suitable for everyone. Neither is out of season if you are a teacher or similar, but it is a possibility if you can be more flexible.

Tips & Tricks

Get everything in writing! Find out additional costs for absolutely everything when you are talking to suppliers. For example, are there any additional expenses? Do you have to pay VAT on top? Are there clean up costs? Is service included? Do you need to feed suppliers who are there all day, and what will the caterers charge for this? All of these little things add up, so consider them!

Talking about little things, it is inevitable that you will pick things up along the way…decorations, accessories etc. It’s not sensible to assume that you will write down every penny you spend as soon as you spend it, so have a little box at home for wedding receipts. Chuck them all in there and once a month sit down and make a note of everything. If you’re spending and spending from your wedding budget, you’d be amazed how quickly you can lose the value of a supplier.

Lots of people don’t like or want to haggle and lots of suppliers won’t budge on price; but there’s no harm in asking. I don’t get offended when people ask me the question. It’s only natural that couples are looking to save some money and they want to be sure that there’s no flexibility in price.

Just remember – if you don’t ask, you don’t get! :)

Catering is a huge cost for weddings, and, as mentioned above, the venue and catering usually takes up 50% of the budget, although this can be reduced. If you’re on a tight budget, look at what you are offering for food. Perhaps you can do a hot buffet instead of a three course sit down meal? Or maybe you could do something such as platters on each table?

If money is really tight look at having a later wedding and just doing the one buffet option, instead of a day and evening meal.

Going high street is more and more common and is a great way to save money. While most couples hire in the men’s suits, shopping around for the bridesmaid (and indeed the bride) on the high street can be a brilliant way to save a bundle. Even places like Tesco Clothing are offering flower girl and page boy outfits nowadays!

Although there may be an element of bias here, I am a true believer that a wedding planner can also save you lots of money (trust me, I’ve done it for many couples!). You’d be surprised the discounts we can get from suppliers because we put so much work their way. We can recommend who to work with that can deliver within a smaller or larger budget, what to go for that’s in season and can save a few extra pounds, and where to look for the best deals.

So, in summary, when you are looking for ways to save money: shop around, do a little bit of negotiating and, another important tip; be ruthless! If money gets really tight, cut the head count. It’s one of the very best ways to reduce costs.

For more budget saving tips and further advice, contact me directly, or comment here with any questions. I’ll be happy to help in any way I can!

Rachel xx

www.weddingsbyrachel.co.uk

8 Top Wedding Etiquette Tips from Weddings by Rachel

It’s time for our next post from Weddings by Rachel – a professional wedding planner based in South Wales. Each fortnight she’ll cover a different wedding planning topic and this week she’s talking about wedding etiquette :)

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Wedding traditions are everywhere. Many traditions have changed or been completely forgotten over the years, however, brides often ask me about wedding etiquette and the expected protocol in certain situations.

Wedding etiquette is an unwritten (though sometimes written) list of traditions and guidelines to follow in the planning and execution of a wedding. Generally, this type of etiquette can be traced back through centuries of tradition and routines, and most of it will play a big role in the weddings and marriage ceremonies of today.

Wedding etiquette is important because it is there to ensure that weddings progress smoothly and that all guests are treated with care and appreciated for attending the wedding. It also really does impact just about every aspect of your wedding, from the invitations to the thank you cards.

Here are 8 top etiquette tips to help guide you through your wedding day.

1. Paying For The Wedding

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Traditionally: Traditionally it will be the parents of the bride that will pay for the majority of the wedding, with the groom paying for suit hire, rings and the honeymoon.

Modern Equivalent: Nowadays many couples are paying for their weddings themselves or even splitting the cost between both families. It is a difficult subject to approach when starting to plan a wedding but it is important to sort this out early on so you know what, if anything, each family would like to contribute.

2. Setting Dress Codes

Traditionally: A formal engraved invitation used to mean that guests were expected to wear morning dress.

Modern Equivalent: When it comes to dress codes, traditions have changed. Nowadays dress codes are much more varied but are still known to be quite formal. If you do wish to set a dress code this is fine, just make sure that any invitation wording is simple and clear.

3. Invitations

Maine Ocean Wedding Invitation

Traditionally: This is an age-old question of who sends the invitations and when? Traditionally invitations are sent from the bride’s parents.

Modern Equivalent: It’s becoming more common for couples to send their own or for the wording to be from whoever is paying for the wedding. If a number of people are contributing, it is best to send it from the couple. Order your invitations four months before your wedding and post them approximately 10 weeks before the wedding.

4. Arriving at the ceremony

Traditionally: The groom and best man should arrive at the venue at least 30 minutes before the bride. This is also true of guests who would usually arrive half an hour before the start of the ceremony. The groom traditionally does not mingle during this time but sits quietly at the front of the ceremony room waiting for the bride to arrive.

Modern Equivalent: Times are changing and this is often not the case any more, with the groom usually greeting guests while waiting for his bride to arrive.

5. Walking down the aisle

Wedding Shoes

Traditionally: The bride would enter first and bridesmaids would follow, sometimes with the flower girl going before the bride.

Modern Equivalent: In the States it’s the other way around, and this is becoming more and more popular in the UK. There’s no set rule for this so go with your instincts and what you would prefer.

6. Favours

Traditionally: Favours are not necessary, especially if you are on a tight budget. The most traditional wedding favour is sugared almonds. These are usually given in a box or bag in sets of five, representing fertility, longevity, wealth, health and happiness.

Modern Equivalent: Couples are becoming more creative with their favours, providing guests with all sorts of gifts. Edible favours still remain the most popular, though, and charity donations are also a lovely option for those who don’t know what to give.

7. Speeches

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Traditionally: The speeches are usually made as coffee is being served. The father of the bride usually speaks first, followed by the groom and best man.

Modern Equivalent: you could have the speeches before the meal so that the speakers can relax and enjoy their food, or hold them later on when your evening guests are also present. Also, these days anyone can make a speech – the bride, a bridesmaid, a grandparent. If you want to do a joint speech, do! If your dad is freaking out about giving a speech but your mum loves to talk then switch the roles :)

8. Gift Lists

gifts

Traditionally: Register your gift list sooner rather than later, especially if you’re planning to use one of the popular department stores. Some will let you register online early, but otherwise 12 weeks is about standard. If you’re sending your invites out eight to 10 weeks before, you can include information about your gift list with them.

Modern Equivalent: Although it’s more acceptable now to ask for money as a gift, some guests may still prefer to buy you a present. A compromise could be to set up a small wedding list and suggest that vouchers for a variety of retailers would be just as useful.

Although lots of couples like to stick with traditional wedding etiquette, times are changing and there are no hard and fast rules for this any more. Use these tips as a guide but don’t be afraid to think outside of the box and be a little bit different.

For more tips on wedding etiquette, or if you have any questions, please get in touch.

Rachel xx

www.weddingsbyrachel.co.uk

When Things Go Wrong by Weddings by Rachel

It’s time for our third post from Weddings by Rachel – a professional wedding planner based in South Wales. Each fortnight she’ll cover a different wedding planning topic and this week she’s talking all about how wedding planners can help when things go wrong at weddings…eek! (You can see all the posts in this series here)

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Sometimes you just have to admit that nothing is completely perfect. Things will inevitably go wrong on the big day, and it is my job (and a guilty pleasure of mine) to make things right before the couple even knows about it.

But even I can’t stop the rain from falling on an outdoor wedding ceremony, or the electric from cutting out during a first dance. Unfortunately these things have, and do happen, and the best thing to do is stay calm in a crisis and prepare for every eventuality you can!

Here a few examples of major and minor issues that I have had to deal with on wedding days and how I organised a solution. Everyone always thinks that it won’t happen to them, but I really do encourage you to consider the fact that there is a possibility, as slim as it may be, that something could happen to you.

Now, I don’t like being the bearer of bad news; quite the opposite in fact. I adore being the one to deliver the perfect wedding day for brides and grooms; and I am over the moon to say that I have had nothing but outstanding feedback since day one; but sometimes even I am faced with a challenge that makes me think “Oh no!”.

So here are some of the problems I have encountered, and what I did to resolve the problem, in the hope that it will help you be prepared for your big day :)

Problem: Delivery of the wrong cake

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Now this was an odd one for me, because I wasn’t actually the planner for this wedding; in fact I was a guest. One of my close friends got married late last year and I was thrilled to be a guest and get to wear a pretty dress to a wedding!

However, when my husband and I sat down in the ceremony, I saw the cake set up on the platform in front and cringed. I was almost certain that it wasn’t the cake that they had ordered, after conversations with my (cake-maker) friend and bride, but as the ceremony was starting I was at a loss of capabilities at that moment in time. I couldn’t talk to the bride to make sure I was right.

I was, however, right, and was promptly informed when I asked the question. So immediately I sent the bride to get her glass of champagne and disappeared to make some calls. After many calls and demands I finally managed to rearrange delivery of the cake (which was two hours away).

The incorrect cake was promptly removed from the reception room and I waited as patiently as possible (I called every twenty five minutes for an update!) for the delivery of the correct cake; which by the way, was delivered to another wedding but had my friends’ names on it! Eek!

On delivery of the cake I checked it over for damage and we displayed it at the evening reception, opting for the cutting of the cake and photos at this time. This allowed the evening guests to enjoy it too, before it being cut and served after the evening buffet.

There was a silver lining though: my fabulous friend was known as the bride with two wedding cakes!

Problem: Blowing a fuse

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This is never good; and is something that is completely out of your control. Unfortunately a bulb blew in one of the lights at this wedding, resulting in a blown fuse; cutting out all of the electrics in the venue. To make matters much worse it was during the first dance!

The second it went dark I moved like lightning to the band and DJ, which is where the catering manager was heading too; and organised for them to get the electric back on immediately. Knowing that they were on the case I went among the guest and ushered couples onto the dance floor.

The bride and groom didn’t want to dance for too long on their own, so while the lights were out I filled up the dance floor with additional couples. When the lights went back on the dance floor was full and many of the guests even thought it was planned.

Problem: Not enough food for the guests

This was one of those ‘worst nightmare’ moments at a wedding; for everyone involved.

This was an on the day package for me and I hadn’t worked with the caterers before. But this wedding was the only occasion where this proved to be a problem. Unfortunately the caterers arrived short staffed (three servers for 130 guests) and clearly without enough food!

During the starters I started to hear the servers telling the kitchen staff that they were running out of starters that people had ordered. When the kitchen staff advised there was nothing left, I jumped in and help create a unique starter for the remaining guests. Luckily, everyone was happy and I walked away from the kitchen relaxed and smiling, despite the momentary hiccup.

But then the real trouble came. There wasn’t enough food for over twenty guests during the main course. Everything was running late and kitchen staff were adamant that people had been eating more than one main course each!

Now this is an opportunity for a melt down – but, and I can’t emphasise this enough, it can’t be done! Calm, cool and collected is the only way in a terrible situation such as this.

I took the time to quietly speak to the guests who were without food and explained that there was a slight kitchen mishap. Unfortunately, the wedding was located in a quiet town away from too many amenities. Except a fish and chip shop.

Aware of the complications regarding time of going further afield, I quickly had to accept this as my only option. I discussed the options with the unfed guests, who were all quite happy with the suggestion; took orders and sent one of my very helpful assistants across the road with some cash.

Throughout the process I made sure to keep the bride, groom and the rest of the bridal party calm and relaxed, ensuring that there was as little worry as possible.

With things running late I organised for deserts to be served on platters to be eaten during the speeches, and we turned the room around in record time.

By the evening, guests were laughing about the situation, which in their eyes caused very little effect to the day itself.

My advice here – be prepared! Know your local area in advance of the wedding day. Although the likelihood of this happening is very slim, it has happened before and it is better safe than sorry! And please, speak to your caterers in advance – find out how many staff they are having and ensure that they are fully prepared, and make sure they definitely know how many guests are coming!

Problem: Melting wedding cake

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I recently did a wedding where the cake maker was delivering a beautiful five tier wedding cake to Caerphilly Castle. I met the maker locally and took her up to the castle, leaving her to set up the cake as I worked on the room overall.

Shortly after our arrival I noticed some panic coming from the corner, and headed over to see what the problem was. It turns out the icing on the cake had melted in transportation and two of the tiers were not maintaining the beautifully smooth and elegant effect of the others.

Now, for those of you who take great pride in your work like this cake maker, you will understand the upset and worry that something like this can cause. She was trying so desperately to resolve the problem and smooth out the cake, but unfortunately it was not going to plan.

Taking a step back and reviewing the cake (and the room), I had a quiet word in the ear of the florist and salvaged some beautiful ivy that was being used to decorate the castle. Taking a stash of my emergency pins (I carry a crazy amount of emergency items); I cleaned all of the ivy and used it to create a ribbon around the damaged parts of the cake.

We also pinned some around the cake stand, making sure that it all integrated perfectly. This looked beautiful and fitted in spectacularly with the room. The bride and groom even commented on how perfect the addition was when they saw it later on!

Problem: Ripped wedding dress

This happens more than you think. High heels, rough floors and children are three enemies of the wedding dress.

This is why safety pins, an emergency sewing kit and someone who can thread a needle are always helpful to have on hand. I have had to sew up many brides dresses in the past to prevent them tripping up on the lining!

Alternatively, some pretty ribbon can work just as well and can be used to tie up a broken bustle hoop too, maintaining a beautiful effect :)

Problem: Rain on your wedding day

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Living in Wales, rain on your wedding day can often be inevitable, so be prepared. Umbrellas, towels and jackets are always helpful to have on hand, and brides are becoming savvy to this. But if you are preparing an outdoor wedding, please think ahead.

The two top tips I can give are these: prepare the ceremony with a quick turnaround indoor option. It is worth not setting up a wedding breakfast until you can guarantee the weather is going to hold. Make sure that you’re going to be able to hold it outdoors so that there aren’t any last minute emergencies. Of course, if you have another room available, that’s perfect, but make sure it’s licensed in advance!

Alternatively, have a marquee or alternative available to pop up last minute in case of light rain. Please consider the location of it though. If you’re getting married on grass, think about those poor ladies wearing stilettos and try to get hold of a remnant of carpet to lay down should it get wet!

So! There are some things that I have experienced (and there were many more), but it’s worth considering everything for your big day. I have heard numerous other stories such as decorations falling down during ceremonies, guests falling ill during wedding breakfasts and much more. I have even had someone drive into me on the way to a ceremony before (I still made it on time; no easy feat I tell you).

But good preparation, or a wedding planner, can prevent you from having to worry about these things and relax and enjoy your day. Being laid back is great, but don’t be underprepared!

Please let me know if I can help with any preparation questions, or if something like this has happened to you, and what you did to fix it. Also, if there are any posts you would like to see here, drop me a line and I’ll do my best :-)

Lots of love,

Rachel xx

www.weddingsbyrachel.co.uk

Busting Wedding Planning Myths with Weddings by Rachel

It’s time for our second post from Weddings by Rachel – a professional wedding planner based in South Wales. Each fortnight she’ll cover a different wedding planning topic and this week she’s debunking those wedding planning myths!

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When I talk to couples who are starting the wedding planning process, I find the same questions and assumptions often come up. Some people have the wrong opinions of wedding planners and the way that they work, so here are some common wedding planning myths: busted! :)

Myth: I can’t afford a planner 

Busted: Most couples think that hiring a wedding planner is a huge expense and is only for big budget weddings, but this is not necessarily the case! There are a lot of benefits from hiring a wedding planner that work well for smaller budget weddings too.

For example, budget management. This is key, especially if you have a strict amount of money to spend; negotiating deals and getting the most for your money is imperative. My packages start from as little as £350 for on the day packages and the complete coordination packages are created bespoke for your individual wedding and budget. I have worked with large budgets and very small ones, delivering the same level of service every time.

A good wedding planner will keep you organised, help you think of unique ideas and create something extra special for you both, but can also save you lots of money (I have saved brides literally thousands of pounds in the past negotiating deals and getting freebies!) and keep track of your budget. I also work with lots of suppliers who offer discounts which I always pass onto my clients! :)

Rebecca Hampson

Bride’s Opinion – Rebecca Hampson

Other than my dress, Rachel was the one thing I couldn’t do without. Aside from all the effort, stress and time she saved me she also saved me a lot of money by finding me some great deals and getting me discounts. She basically paid for herself! I would definitely recommend having a wedding planner to anyone. Rachel covered everything for us, but there are lots of different levels of help available, so if you can’t afford the full package just some help with the planning or on the day support can make a huge difference.

Myth: A wedding planner will take over the planning process

Busted: This is something that worries a lot of brides (and grooms) and the first thing I would say is this: I would NEVER want to take that away from you! Planning your wedding is one of the most exciting times of your life – but it can also be stressful, time consuming and expensive. What I do is pull together all of the resources required to create your perfect wedding day.

I work with you to select the best suppliers and will always offer suggestions and advice but the power stays in your hands. If there are areas you want to handle then that’s fine, of course! Think of a wedding planner as your personal PA for the duration of your planning (and a short while afterwards).

My aim is to make sure that you have the best possible outcome for your wedding day, keeping the process fun for you. Every bride I have spoken to who has used a planner was happy that they did – this is always something to think about :)

Myth: I don’t need a planner, my wedding is going to be simple!

Busted: While this may have a large element of truth in it, every wedding, irrespective of size, requires planning and coordination. If you think that the whole planning and executing a wedding day process is simple then maybe you just haven’t gotten to the details yet :)

There are a number of elements that you do not want to worry about in the build up or on the day, such as arrival of guests, late arrivals of suppliers and ensuring the day runs to schedule.

I have been on hand to eliminate crises in the past, have my (as the lovely Maria Farrelly calls it) ‘Mary Poppins’ emergency wedding kit in case someone forgets cufflinks or you need an emergency chocolate bar for some sugar, and try to always be ready for every eventuality.  All of these are something that a professional will take care of, leaving you to enjoy your wedding day.

 Myth: I don’t need a planner, I have an on-site wedding coordinator 

Busted: As a wedding planner I am someone who the bride, groom and bridal party may contact if they need extra reassurance on the actual wedding day. I meet with clients, double check details with suppliers, introduce myself, and finally am in attendance on your wedding day to make sure that everything happens the way it’s supposed to.

A venue coordinator works for the venue – which means that often that is where their loyalties lie. Their job is to answer your questions about the venue and assist you with your venue layout and decor. It isn’t their job to assist you with all the many details that go into planning your big day! :)

The venue coordinator (or on-site wedding planner as they are often called) probably won’t help you with your bustle in the bathroom, help your grandmother to her room at the end of the night, make sure your suppliers are set up on time and to your specifications, pin buttonholes on groomsmen, dry church floors in the rain to stop your dress getting dirty, and much more – trust me, I’ve done all sorts.

I do however work closely with the onsite coordinators, as this is often the best way to achieve results and they do a fab job!

Jenny Evans

Bride’s Opinion – Jenny Evans

Although the New House Hotel offered a coordinator of sorts it was not really a personal service, unlike the service I had with Rachel. They were dealt with more prior to the wedding as opposed to the actual day itself. Other than confirm the room layout, order of the day and menu selections, they really didn’t know anything else about us or our wedding.

Having a wedding planner was a much more personal thing. We’d had so much communication in the run up to the big day (a year), that I felt confident Rachel really knew me (and Leigh) and what was important to us both by the time the wedding day came around. Namely that we wanted to give our guests the best day we could.

On the day itself it was such a relief knowing that I literally only had to worry about myself and that Rachel was the main contact for everybody – the florist, the chair cover people, the cake lady, the singer – even Leigh, because she took my phone off me!! Every little detail I asked for was remembered and everything went to plan – even if it hadn’t I would have been none the wiser. So for me a hotel coordinator was not enough and having a wedding planner helped to ensure that the big day was as much fun for me as it was my guests :)

Myth: I have a friend who can do it 

Busted: This is something that I come across a lot – please don’t take the risk! It is a money saving option (or so people think) and couples will often ask family members or friends to take care of the finer details of their wedding. This has a number of potential problems. First of all, asking them to be in charge of something means they might not be relaxed enough to enjoy the day. They will also be required for photo-taking and a number of other duties that they may be kept away from on the day and, even more importantly, what if something goes wrong? How will they feel about letting you down and how will you feel if they do?

Cutting out a coordinator is something that could end up costing you time, money and even more stress. Hiring an expert is sensible as the chances are you don’t have experience running events like this. Think about how friends and family will cope if an emergency happens, for example, if the cake doesn’t turn up, or falls over. My job is to take care of everything and leave you to enjoy your day, with all your friends and family :)

Jenny Ferries

Bride’s Opinion – Jenny Ferries

Never underestimate the stress involved in planning and organising your own wedding; for all the lists you can write there are tons more things that can go wrong.

When I got married in April last year I had issues with arranging a timetable for the day to bring together the church and venue as well as planning something between whilst my venue was being prepared. Rachel helped me come up with loads of great ideas and I decided to go for a boat cruise and to have drinks, afternoon tea and speeches onboard. Rachel also helped to arrange a replacement (and as it turns out, better) boat when the company informed me a week before that it had been double booked!

Having a planner shares the stress without involving family and friends in your problems, brings new ideas for your special day and means that you can use yours and your helper’s ideas without then carrying the whole responsibility if things don’t go as planned.  I enjoyed my day without once worrying about the finer details and my family, friends, husband and I could enjoy our day from start to finish.

Myth: Wedding planners are too expensive

Busted: This is a very common misconception. I say misconception because even though a planner will charge you a fee for their services, more often than not that fee is covered by the money saved for you.

You’d also be surprised how easy it is to go over budget. An extra £25 here and there adds up quickly – I make sure that this is all accounted for, preventing you from overspending, and recommended cheaper alternatives where possible.

The important question that I always ask is ‘Is my fee too expensive if it means having a professional on hand, almost as an insurance policy, to ensure everything runs exactly how you want it to, making it the perfect day for you?’

Also, please enquire as to a price – you may be pleasantly surprised by the quote you receive!

Myth: It’s easy to plan a destination wedding from home 

Busted: A lot of the couples I work with are coming from outside of Wales to get married. Please do not underestimate the benefits of having a local wedding planner who knows the area and the local suppliers when planning a destination wedding.

I schedule regular Skype, email and telephone conversations with my destination clients, offering the same level of service that they would receive if they were just around the corner. I am on hand to visit suppliers, collect contracts etc., the finer details that you wouldn’t be able to do from further away.

Trying to coordinate all the details of a perfect wedding from miles away is more difficult than it first seems and can often prevent you from achieving exactly what you want. If you are travelling so far to get married then why take the risk?

If you were going to Hawaii would you use a planner? You would, because you don’t know the area and would need someone who can get you the best quality for the best price. It’s exactly the same when getting married in Wales (except for maybe the sunshine!).

Caitlin Morgan

Bride’s Opinion – Caitlin Morgan

My fiancé (now husband) and I live in Washington DC but wanted to get married in Wales where his family is from. Because neither of us are super particular we honestly didn’t think that planning a wedding would be that difficult – how mistaken we were!

Fortunately we managed to hire Rachel early in the process and are eternally grateful that we did.  She managed to book meetings with all of our vendors, helped with the logistics of obtaining marriage licenses from abroad, got us a ton of discounts that we never would have known about and took care of all of our international money transfers (which otherwise would have been a huge hassle).

Rachel also took care of all the small details that we never would have planned for including: booking taxis for our families, finding local food options and even booking some family events in the days leading up to the wedding.  Finally, it was just great having someone working in the UK and not five hours behind. This meant that instead of trying to coordinate with everyone ourselves we were able to just Skype with Rachel each week.  From planning to the day of, Rachel allowed us to have a stress free wedding!

Phew! I hope you’re feeling a bit more informed about wedding planners now that we’ve busted those top wedding planning myths. I love to hear from you all so please do let me know if you have any questions! :)

Lots of love

Rachel x

Introducing Weddings by Rachel

Today we’d like to introduce you all to Rachel from Weddings by Rachel – a professional wedding planner based in South Wales. Each fortnight she’ll cover a different wedding planning topic, from wedding planning myths to what to do if your day doesn’t quite go to plan. First up tho, an introduction! :)
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RachelMatthewsHello, I’m Rachel and I am a professional wedding planner. Most people automatically think of either Jennifer Lopez or Frank from Father of the Bride when I say that. In fact, one of my fabulous brides has an ongoing joke with her neighbour about me ordering numerous swans and ice sculptures for her wedding, but I really am completely different.

My background is in marketing and events. I started planning weddings for family and friends four years ago and the following year I started Weddings by Rachel.  I am a fully qualified wedding planner, I organise weddings in Wales for clients based locally, all over the UK and abroad.

I’m married to my lovely husband and we are proud Pug owners! We got married in Usk three years ago and it really was the best day of my life (and the quickest!).

I absolutely love weddings – everything about them. I love the excitement in the build up;  I love the way a groom can go from nervous to completely in awe as the love of his life walks down the aisle; I love the speeches and the toasts; seeing children run around playing in formal wear; I love the dancing and, amazingly, I even love the clean up afterwards.

There’s something extremely special about spending a couple’s wedding day with them and I truly don’t think there’s a job like it. There are always ups and downs but being organised and ensuring everyone is enjoying the day is something I thrive on.

People always ask if it’s a glamorous job. My answer: it can be. I have had glamorous moments, of course, but I think the not so glamorous certainly outweigh them. But that’s half the fun of it, and part of the reason I love the job, with the added bonus of taking the stress away from everyone. After all – who wants the bridesmaids or mother of the bride running around organising everything on the day?

I’ve really seen all sorts at weddings, from grandma doing vodka shots from an ice-luge, to children’s dancing performances and a very questionable strip tease. Then of course there’s been the tears of happiness, the excitement and nerves, the laughter and, most importantly, the unbelievable love between the couple and all of their guests. Every single moment is one that never fails to put a smile on my face when I look back.

My job varies from wedding to wedding, but can include planning the entire day to being the on the day coordinator which allows the couple to sit back and enjoy the whole day without worrying about a thing.

Weddings really are my life. Planning a wedding is such an unbelievable experience for everyone involved and I strive to ensure that it is as enjoyable and wonderful as possible.

I hope you enjoy my upcoming posts and if you have any questions or need advice please get in touch here.

Rachel x