Sophie and Scott

Based on your experience, what are the key elements to prioritise in planning a wedding?

Start early, even if you’ve got over a year from getting engaged to the wedding day, start booking the most important things such as the venue, photographer, videographer, caterer and in our case the bar. Once these big things are booked you can then relax for a while and enjoy being engaged.
Choose what you don’t want to compromise on e.g. we knew we wanted a videographer so we made sure our budget covered this. We also knew we wanted lots of flowers so to keep costs down we did a mixture of real and fake flowers. We had 15 children at the wedding, we originally wanted a child free wedding but that wasn’t possible so we prioritised having a nannies to entertain the kids.
Set a budget (but expect to go slightly over).
Find out what family and friends can help out during the planning and on the day e.g. we had an aunt do the flowers, a family member do the cake, friend do the make up and family members help set up and clear up etc.
Expect rain with a UK wedding, anything else is a bonus but prepare for rain.

Did you focus on the venue, photography, and catering for your wedding – what impact did they have on your big day and did they match your budget and tastes?

Decide on the type of vibe you want your wedding to be and choose your venue and suppliers around this.
The Courtyard Venue was the only venue we visited, we loved everything about it that we knew we didn’t need to see anywhere else. We wanted a chilled vibe where everyone could feel relaxed but also within a beautiful setting which is what we got with this venue.
We knew the venue, photographer and catering would be the most expensive elements of the wedding. The venue we didn’t want to compromise on but we did choose the others based on the fact they were cheaper than some of the other suppliers we looked at. This however didn’t matter as they were both incredible.

How did you select a date for your wedding?

We had an idea we wanted our wedding later in the summer/September and the venue had 2 weekends in September free so we went with one of those.

How did you determine the number of guests you would like to invite?

From going to other weddings we knew we did not want over 100 people to the day as we wanted to make sure we could see and speak to everyone. We left 80 people was a good amount with another 20 in the evening. We ended up with 90 to the day and another 15 to the evening.

How did you decide on your venue?

We also knew we wanted to put our own personal touches on the wedding, the venue was pretty much a blank canvas for us to do what we wanted but we didn’t have to think about hiring tables, chairs, kitchens and toilets like you’d need for a marque.

Did you use a wedding planner? Why and what impact did this have?

No but we did speak with a wedding planner about 9 months before the wedding as we thought it would be helpful to have someone there help coordinate the day. Speaking with the planner was extremely helpful as she gave us some rough timings of how the day would go but we left the meeting feeling like we actually didn’t need one. The day went so smoothly that we’re glad we didn’t spend the money on one. We would recommend making sure all the groomsmen and bridesmaid know the timings of the day and what you’d like them to do. The suppliers will know who they are and will ask them questions before asking the bride and groom. Tig was also a massive help on the day which we will always be grateful for.

Which professionals did you use (photographers/caterers/stylists etc) and more importantly, how did you make those decisions?

Decide on the type of vibe you want your wedding to be and choose your venue and suppliers around this.
We were given a list of recommended suppliers when we booked the venue. We chose a caterer and the photographer from this list as we had no other recommendations to go on and they were both amazing.
The Rustic Roast company were our caterers. As the wedding was the end of September and weather was slightly cooler we went for pie and mash and we had so many comments on how amazing the pies were. Even the photographers said it was the best wedding meal they’ve ever had.
The photographer (Nicki Jones Photography) was amazing too, we had two photographers and we barely noticed they were there. Nicki was chosen based on cost as we knew we wanted full day coverage and 2 photographers so there could be photos of both the bridal party and groomsmen getting ready.
Nick Boy – videographer – Nick was amazing and again we barely notice he was there.

How would you describe your theme or colour pallette?

Our main colour pallet was dusky pink; however, we knew we also wanted some bold colours so we had yellow candles on the tables, a single orange flower within the table flower arrangements etc.

How did you decide on the theme and colours for your day?

Theme and colours changed quite a few times from when we started planning the wedding. Pinterest, social media and the venue website was a great place to start.
Once we had a rough idea of what we wanted, we arranged to go to the venue with our decorations for the table to do a mock layout out and see if our vision worked, which it luckily did. We were then able to determine how many of each vase, candle etc we needed to budget for flowers and decorations better.

The best advice we got was to make everything in your wedding about you and your partner, the personal touches have the biggest impact. We had photos of one of us and the guest as name cards on the tables which people loved, we also wrote small hand written thank you notes for each guest instead of favours which people were not expecting and also loved. None of these were left behind.
How did you choose your wedding dress, and those of the bridesmaids?
I came across a wedding dress shop around the corner from my office. I checked they’re website and found the style of dress I wanted was in their sale so I booked an appointment with my mum and sister. We went there a couple of weeks later on my lunch break (not how I had expected my dress shopping experience to be). At the appointment I tried on about 8 dresses (all in the sale), the last one being the one I thought I wanted, however it was the second to last one I actually liked more. It was different to the dresses I had seen and I felt extremely comfortable in it. As it was in the sale not only was it cheaper than I had budgeted for it also meant I could take it home with me that day. This was amazing as I could try it on whenever I wanted and I was able to show my bridesmaids and mother in law which was really special and all said it was beautiful and a ‘very me’ dress which helped me feel even more confident in my choice.

All of my bridesmaid were different sizes and had different tastes so I told them I’d like the dresses to be a shade of pink but they could choose their own style to make sure they all felt comfortable on the day. This worked really well with all shades slightly different but two in a satin type material and two in a shift type material.
How did you decide on the groom and grooms-mens’ attire? Any recommendations?
My husband chose a suit from a shop in London which tailored it to his size. We told the groomsmen we would like them in navy suits, however if they already had one we were happy for them to wear that. All groomsmen were happy to buy new suits and they chose a navy suit from Next. We gifted the groomsmen matching waistcoats with floral pattern on the back which matched our colour pallet which looked great and made them stand out as groomsmen.

How did you manage wedding planning stress?

Did you delegate tasks, rest periodically, and maintain open communication with your partner and wedding team?

Tasks were delegated as much as possible. I generally found the planning fairly easy and generally stress free as I started planning fairly early and made sure I kept in contact with suppliers. I kept an up-to-date spreadsheet with when payments needed to be made, costs of everything, dates when anything needed to be finalised etc.
Did you take time off work to finalise any last-minute details and spend quality time together before the big day?
We took 3 weeks off after the wedding for the honeymoon so we didn’t have much annual leave to take time off before the wedding. The wedding was on Friday so we took for Wednesday and Thursday. We worked from home the last week leading up to the wedding to could finalise last minute details but generally everything was pretty much sorted. We made sure we were taking time to ourselves too.

How did you manage other peoples’ expectations during the process?
We made it very clear from the beginning that we were going to do what we wanted to do. We had to make some compromises but generally we felt people respected our decisions.

Did you prioritise getting enough sleep before the big day?

Yes, especially the night before the wedding. We both went our separate ways and had dinner etc with our families but we knew it would be a long day and I knew I would end up waking up really early so I made sure I had a chilled and fairly early night.

Did you assign responsibilities to others during the planning or on the day?

We had some family and friends offer to help set up and clear up the venue the day before which was very helpful.
We told parents of the children that they would need to organise food for them.
On the day we made sure all the groomsmen and bridesmaid knew the timings of the day and what we’d like them to do.

As the date of your wedding approached, did you need to tie up any loose ends or confirm arrangements with anyone?

Confirm final numbers and dietary requirements with the caterers.
Confirm pick up times for the bouquet and bridesmaid flowers.
Confirm timings of the day with the photographer, videographer and caterers.
Pick up wedding dress from the seamstress and suit from the tailor.
Finish off final decorations and personal touches e.g. signs, photo name cards, mini thank you cards etc

How did you embrace the excitement leading up to your special day while also completing any remaining tasks on your wedding checklist? Did you take a spa day, or plan in time with loved ones?

We just tried to make it as fun and exciting as possible. Everyone who was available mucked in. In the evenings we would try and see friends or go to the pub on our own but it didn’t feel like a particularly stressful time.

The Big Day: Enjoying Your Wedding

How did you take the time to unwind and cherish each moment on your wedding day?

When doing the couple photos away from the guests, although we wanted to just get back to see and talk to everyone this was actually a really nice time to just decompress and take in everything. We also tried to make sure we were with each other as much as possible and I also made sure to take us away from everyone for a couple of minutes every now and again to enjoy each other and the moment.

What did you embrace and truly enjoy about your wedding day?

We both just loved every moment. The ceremony was really special and very emotional, something that we’ll always cherish.
It was the most amazing feeling having all of your family and closest friends in one space and all there to celebrate you as a couple. The day went so smoothly, everyone looked like they were having the best time and everything we had hoped and planned for just seemed to happen.

How did you create a memorable guest experience?

How did you plan your seating? What did you consider important at this stage?

The seating plan was definitely the hardest part in the planning process. Start drafting this early!! We knew we were having long tables and we knew we wanted to be sat with our bridesmaids and groomsmen. Traditionally the parents are sat close but we decided they would actually have a more enjoyable time if they were sat near but with their friends. We had a couple of people pull out last minute which meant three of the evening guests were invited to the whole day instead so we had to change the table plans slightly. We hand wrote names onto a mirror for the table plan which meant this last minute change wasn’t an issue.

Did you help with accommodation advice or research local hotels/self-catering? Any recommendations?

Yes, we set up a wedding website with links to all local accommodation. As many of our guests were travelling quite far and we knew it would likely be a busy time for weddings we got this information to our guests a year ahead of the wedding.

Did you help with transport?

We arranged for some taxis to come to the venue from a certain time but this turned out to be quite difficult to organise people to get in the taxis. We recommended all our guests prebook taxis before the day as taxi’s aren’t great in Oswestry which some did but many had difficulty with. As the signal is poor and there’s no wifi some of our guests did struggle to get back to their accommodation but did get back in the end.

How did you plan for their enjoyment of your special day, did you organise activities or entertainment?

It is very easy to get swept away in thinking you need loads of entertainment for guests and spend even more money. We felt because of our timings there wasn’t that much time for guests to get ‘bored’ so decided it wasn’t necessary.

Did you have a band, a DJ, lighting or sound? What influenced your choices? Any recommendations?

We had The String of Roses, a two piece string band for the ceremony and reception drinks. They were incredible and we would totally recommend them.
We chose a DJ for the evening who came with their own lighting and sound system. They also provided a PA system for the speeches which was great but I would recommend practicing with the volume as the acoustics were a bit echoey because of the high ceilings and we think some people struggled to hear some of the speeches.