If you have just got engaged and don’t know where to start with your wedding planning, here are some guidelines to help get you started.
Have an engagement photo shoot!
Congratulations – you’re engaged to be married! A photo shoot is a wonderful way to celebrate your engagement, it’s also a great opportunity to work with your potential wedding photographer. (Many photographers also include an engagement session in their wedding photography packages). You can use the images in your save-the-date send outs and wedding day décor, or give framed prints as gifts to your families. We recommend The Image Studio which is based here, at The Beaverwood.
Image Studio: tel: 0208 309 9406.
Discuss your ideal wedding
What sort of wedding would you like? Formal or informal? Chic or rustic? This initial stage of your wedding planning will influence your choice of venue. Many couples choose The Beaverwood because it’s a very versatile venue. It’s cream walls and ceiling are like a blank canvas that can be styled whichever way you want and our extensive grounds are beautiful – we had a tepee wedding here this year which looked amazing!
Work out how many guests you want to invite.
Decide on your approximate number of guests – this may affect your venue choice. At The Beaverwood we can accommodate 150 with tables and chairs and up to 330 for the evening guests. Also, some venues may require a minimum number. At The Beaverwood, for example, we require a minimum of 80 adult guests (midweek: 60).
Have a separate evening reception guest list if you want some work colleagues or friends to come but don’t know them well enough to invite them to the ceremony and the wedding breakfast.
Plan your budget
Sit down with your fiancé and parents, if they are contributing, and work out what you can afford to spend. This is a crucial part of your wedding planning. Be realistic and don’t forget to add in a contingency for any surprise expenses.
A large portion of your budget will usually be spent on the reception. In addition to the venue hire charge, the number of guests you invite will affect the overall bill once you’ve worked out your choice of food and drink. As well as the wedding breakfast, you may also be providing welcome drinks, canapés, and an evening buffet for additional evening guests. Some couples even decide to offer an open bar.
Need to reduce your wedding budget? The easiest way is to trim your guest list. Intimate weddings are lovely and our minimum number midweek is 60. Remember, half of your wedding expenses go on wining and dining your guests. To get an idea of how much it would cost to hold your wedding at The Beaverwood, click here. You could also consider having your wedding off peak when prices are cheaper.
In addition to the food and drink, venue styling costs can mount up too, make sure you include in your budget table decorations, flowers, favours, chair sashes, and other venue accessories, such as lighting hire. At The Beaverwood, we include the following in our wedding venue hire charges:
- Starlit marquee style ceiling
- Lighting package: choice of colour throughout
- PA Mic/Sound System
- Any tables, chairs, chair covers, linen table cloths and napkins (black or white) that you require.
- Elegant Chivari chairs for the ceremony
- Red rope and stanchion
- White wedding post box
- Silver wedding cake stand and knife
- Easel to display table plan
Choose your wedding venue and ceremony location (if separate)
You’ll need to book a venue for your ceremony (either a church, registry office or other licensed civil wedding venue) and a venue for your reception. At The Beaverwood we are licensed for civil ceremonies which take place either in our outdoors gazebo from May – September (weather permitting), or our Club House which means you can have your entire wedding day in one location.
Consider taking out wedding insurance as part of your wedding planning
Sounds boring, but with such a lot of money at stake, the small price to pay for wedding insurance could save you thousands of pounds in the long run, should something happen to your dream wedding plans.
Choose your bridal party.
You may know straightaway who you want to have as your bridesmaids, maid of honour, best man, page boys etc., but don’t rush into your decision. You may also want to consider the cost as your bridal party will need outfits, bouquets, and buttonholes.
Send save-the-date cards
This is to ensure that guests don’t book their summer holiday and miss your special day!
Choose your wedding suppliers.
You are, of course, free to choose your own wedding suppliers, but as we organise many events and weddings every year at The Beaverwood, we get to know who are the very best and reliable. We can advise and recommend a variety of suppliers from cake makers to DJs.
Book your photographer
Consider the style of photographs you want: traditional, reportage, edgy, etc. Take a look at websites and wedding albums. We recommend our sister company, The Image Studio.
“Every single picture is perfect and amazing, he captured every special moment without us knowing he was there. My partner hates posing and pictures but Terry was fab with him and we got some amazing pictures. Would highly recommend this company.” Review on facebook
For the evening, if you want something fun and quirky, why not consider hiring a photo booth with all the props? At The Beaverwood, we have our own photo booth and it always goes down well with guests!
Order your dress
This is one of the most exciting and emotional parts of planning a wedding! Be aware that designer wedding gowns can take up to six months to make so give yourself plenty of time to find your dream dress.
Create a wedding gift list
Before sending out your invitations, you should consider starting a wedding gift list. Guests will want to buy something and having a gift list makes the whole process a lot easier for everyone! Take a look at John Lewis, Prezola, and The Wedding Shop.
Send out your invitations
Your wedding invitations should be sent out approximately 3 – 6 months ahead of your wedding day. As part of your wedding planning you will need to find out about dietary requirements (as opposed to preferences), which usually go on the RSVP card, such as: please advise of any dietary requirements. It is really important to notify your caterer/venue well in advance of any allergies and vegetarian requirements.
Most couples opt for a Prosecco or Champagne Drinks Reception, but you could also have Pimms for a summer wedding, and/or Peroni for the men.
With wedding planning starting months in advance of your special day, be aware when selecting your menu, of the season in which you are getting married – a hot soup in summer doesn’t work well, particularly if it turns out to be a really hot day! Also, try and select a wine that goes with your choice of meat. If a wine upgrade for all your guests looks as though it would work out to be too expensive, you could always consider upgrading the wine for guests on the top table.
Create a table plan
Try and group friends and family in maximum of 10s. Take into consideration any guests that may need easier access into and out of the room, such as those with young children and the elderly. Notify the venue if any guests require a high chair.
Consider hiring a live musician, such as a saxophonist, to play during your drinks reception. Also, make a playlist of background music for your wedding breakfast (not everyone wants a DJ playing during their meal).