The Ultimate Guide To Newly Engaged Couples

The Ultimate Guide To Newly Engaged Couples

There’s no two ways about it: getting engaged is big news. You’re marrying the love of your life and making plans for an exciting future together. Before you know it, you’ll have family and friends asking questions about the big day – often before you’ve even had a chance to pop the Champagne! Read on to discover how wedding-industry experts advise you to begin

Congratulations! We love a Christmas proposal and we hope you’ve got a ring on your finger that you adore. But that’s the easy part!

While planning a wedding is a fun task, it’s also hard work. So, before friends and family start asking you how you envision your day (trust us, they might even ask before you’ve clinked those celebratory glasses), check out what wedding-industry experts advise you to do in order to get your dream day off the ground, in eight simple steps.

Announce the news. Wedding day.

Announce the news

Whether you called your parents moments after you said yes or chose to enjoy the newly engaged bubble alone for a while, letting everyone know you’re engaged is an important next step. “Many couples send out an engagement announcement,” explains Vaishali Shah from Ananya Cards. “I think it’s especially lovely when they include a photo of the proposal!” You might prefer to bypass the cards and just post an engagement selfie on Facebook and Instagram – just be weary that not everyone is on social media so you may want to let close relatives and friends know privately before you go public.

Host a party.

Host a party

Traditionally, engagement parties were hosted by the bride’s parents to celebrate news of the happy couple’s forthcoming wedding. Today, many couples choose to host their own, giving them free rein on how, where and when they celebrate. It could be as simple as a barbecue, as elegant as a garden party or as glam as an evening of dinner and dancing in a country house – the choice is yours. It’s also a great way to practise the art of party planning on a smaller scale, before the infamous wedmin begins…

Choose a date and book your venue

Choose a date and book your venue

Booking your venue is typically the first planning step couples take – this gives you a time, date and location to make all your plans around. But there’s a lot to consider to find the perfect setting for you. “Think about the number of guests you’ll have, your budget and what time of year you’d like to get married,” suggests Wedding & Events Manager at The Bingham, Amy Braund. “There is no point looking at a venue that can only hold 60 guests if you’ve got 100 to invite.”

Send out your Save the Dates

Send out your Save the Dates

“Send out Save the Date cards once you’ve booked your venue and know the date of the wedding – especially if you’re getting married in the summer or at Christmas,” advises Vaishali. “You can give as much or little information as you like. Date and location are key, but if you already know it will be a certain type of celebration, a destination wedding, for example, let your guests know now.”

choose your bridesmaids
choose your bridesmaids

Choose your bridesmaids

Wedding planning is a bit like a rollercoaster ride. There’ll be highs when you find your dream dress, lows when you discover a supplier is fully booked and, in the end, you’ll probably wish you could relive the whole process again (even if you don’t think that at the time)! Who better to ride those emotions with you than your best friends? Choosing your bridesmaids early on means you’ll have their support throughout. “You could ask your best girls to be your bridesmaids with a scented candle featuring an engraved cover that says ‘will you be my bridesmaid?’, gifted to them as a surprise,” suggests Champagne and Flamingos’ Jane Helliwell.

Start thinking about your wedding styling and themes

Start thinking about your wedding styling and themes

Weddings are at their most joyous and beautiful when they are a perfect reflection of the two of you. Everything from the the flowers to your wedding cake can reflect this. You might find it useful to start creating different boards on Pinterest so when you begin speaking to suppliers, they have a visual point of reference. You’ll soon start to see your favourite trends emerging – even if you hadn’t realised. “A great cake designer will pull out little bits of this and design you a beautiful wedding cake that tells a story of you both and your special day”, says cake designer Suzanne Thorp from The Frostery.

Book a wedding dress appointment

Book a wedding dress appointment

You may already know exactly what you want or have absolutely no idea. Fear not, the earlier you start, the less stressful wedding dress shopping will be. Maria Yiannikaris from Mirror Mirror wishes everyone would plan ahead as much as possible. “We’re living in an Amazon world, where we all think we can just click ‘buy’ and it’ll be delivered the next day by drone! But gowns, whether they’re bespoke or made-to-measure take a lot of care and time to create. We think purchasing a dress eight months in advance is ideal – to allow fittings and alterations to take place without a lot of last-minute stress”. 

Once you’ve booked your first appointment, you’ll hopefully have a better idea of what you like and don’t like. Remember, it’s true what everyone says about keeping an open-mind. “Listen to the advice of the person that’s leading the appointment; they know what they’re doing and, quite often, you’ll be surprised by what you end up with”, advises Katherine Radford at Suzanne Neville.

Step up a gift list

Step up a gift list

One of the great perks of throwing a wedding is all the presents you’ll receive. If you want to give your guests a helping hand, it’s a good idea to set up a gift list. “It’s great to start thinking about your gift list nice and early. Start thinking about the items you have always wished for, and items you already own that you might like to replace as you wedding list is the perfect time to upgrade your home”, says Georgie Evans from The Wedding Present Co. You’ll want to ensure the details of any gift lists are set up before you design your wedding invitations so all the info can be included.

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How To Negotiate A Discount With Your Venue

How To Negotiate A Discount With Your Venue

If you’d love to secure a lower price but don’t know where to start, here’s my guide on how to negotiate a discount with your wedding venue to get the price you want to pay.

Not every wedding venue will be able to offer a discount, but there are some who are only too happy to negotiate as they’d simply rather have the booking than an empty venue, especially during times when there are fewer weddings on the horizon.

Some people like to haggle and won’t give up till they get what they want while many of us are prepared to pay the full price and won’t even think to ask for a discount, whether out of pride, embarrassment or just plain fear.  If you do want to pay less though, it is always worth asking; here’s how:

Confidence is Everything

The first rule of negotiating is to show no fear. If you are confident, you can ask for almost anything. Don’t, however, ask for the impossible or you may not be taken seriously – you are never going to get a million pound mansion for a fiver. If you are shy and find asking for anything very stressful, then it will help you to prepare.

First, you need to know exactly what to ask for. You may want to ask for a 10% discount, removal of one or two items from your package to lower the price, or for a substitution in the package that will give you a better deal (for example, fewer drinks for more food).

Negotiate discount with wedding venue

How Low Can You Go?

From the venue’s advertised price list, work out how much you could ask them to reasonably lower the costs. Asking for ten or even up to twenty percent off is acceptable and larger venues may be able to take off more – if they are willing. A word of warning on the ‘feel no fear’  however – don’t start off with a price that’s too low and say you’re not moving because you may end up having to walk away. Similarly, if you start off too high and they instantly agree, you might kick yourself for not asking for more off! There always needs to be room for negotiation, up and down.

Alfred Woodward at Winterville Tower Hotel told us, “We expect a couple to negotiate. Whilst we have set prices for our wedding packages across our wedding venues, experience tells us every wedding is different. Personalisation is key. Couples crave it. We work as flexibly as possible to ensure we offer value for money and a day that each couple and their guests will remember for years to come”. 

When to Negotiate a Discount

Understanding why and when a venue will come down in price should help you to get the best discount. A Saturday during peak season will never be hard to fill, and in previous years they might have had several couples asking after the same date. The best times to negotiate a lower price are for days when the venue has considerably less interest – that’s usually weekdays and weekends out of peak season.

Peak season for most US venues tends to be from June to September, around Christmas, and of course, Valentine’s Day on February 14th is also likely to get booked up fast.

Dianne Holby, the in-house wedding coordinator at The Wayne Gardens in Sacramento, said: “It’s definitely key to book out of season to get great deals on your wedding.”

We all dream of bright, sunshiny summer weddings where our photographer will make the most of our stunning surroundings and we can mingle with our guests in the late evening light, but it is worth bearing in mind that we will pay extra for it! The weather is never guaranteed in this country though and you could book your dream venue in July or August and still have heavy rain. So, if you want to save hundreds, consider planning your wedding on a Friday in March rather than a Saturday in June. Getting married on a Friday also means there’s the potential for a three day celebration, not just two!

Venues Offering Late Availability Deals

Many venues now offer deals for couples looking to book at short notice. Late availability deals can be had if you are planning your wedding in a matter of weeks rather than months, and it can pay dividends to marry out of season. An early spring or late autumn wedding can cost half as much as a mid-summer or Valentine’s Day wedding. Summer is, of course, more popular for the good weather and for more outdoor photography opportunities in gorgeous settings.

Wedding ceremony venue price negotiation.

How to Ask for a Discount

Do your research first. Ask around to see if anyone you know has managed to negotiate a discount locally. Visit three or four venues and discuss exactly what they offer and for what price. Ask if they could substitute any parts of the package such as offering room hire without in-house catering for less. That way you could save on fixed-price catering charges and bring in cheaper outside caterers. Ask about corkage fees – could you use their caterers but bring in your own wine for less?

A recent groom told us:

“When we were looking for venues we would find out where the venue made its money and investigate if they were open to letting us arrange the other aspects ourselves, saving on their prices for extras. The venue we booked was run by a catering company who made their money from the food and corkage and were very happy for us to do our own decor. Another venue we spoke with subbed out the catering so would have been happy for us to save money by bringing in outside caterers. I found it essential to keep the negotiation open and avoid ultimatums as when it’s kept positive, and both parties are actively engaged, the result is better for everyone.”

Once you’ve done your research on other venues in the area, you’ll be in a stronger position to know what is possible. You could start your negotiation by saying how much you have in your budget, how much you’re hoping to pay and then how much their competitor down the road has quoted you. You could put the ball in their court and ask what kind of a discount they could offer you but in taking this approach, you are giving them the control and once they’ve given their offer they might not budge on it. Better to ask them for your preferred price and see what they say even if you end up haggling up and down a little.

An Important Point to Remember

Once you have agreed a price, ask to have it confirmed in writing from the venue. Only pay the deposit up front, never the full amount and always take out wedding insurance to secure your deposit.

And finally, if you’ve fallen head over in heels in love with one venue and will do anything to get it, but know you can’t really afford it, be careful how much emotion you show. If the venue manager can see you have your heart set on it, they know you’ll be less likely to walk to away even if the price stays high. Play it cool, and you could get your dream wedding venue for less than the usual asking price. And the good news is your venue may be only too pleased to make a booking on a day they might otherwise have been empty, making it  win-win when you negotiate a discount with your venue.

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How To Choose the Right Wedding Venue

How To Choose the Right Wedding Venue

Everyone knows that in order to make your wedding day special you’ll need to make a few important decisions along the way. Among the biggest choices you’ll have to make is picking the right wedding venue.

What is the big deal about the venue? Wouldn’t any venue do? Here’s a look at the important aspects of why choosing the right wedding venue matters and tips to guarantee your hunt for the perfect venue goes as smooth as possible.

Creating the Atmosphere

The venue will be the central part of creating the atmosphere at your wedding. The venue’s style will be key to defining the rest of the wedding theme. Many even choose to build their theme around their selected venues.

If you already have a wedding theme in mind – perhaps you are looking to create a quirky vintage wedding, you can narrow your venue search for venues that suit the theme. For instance, if you want a relaxed, no-fuss wedding, don’t pick a posh hotel where guests have to sit at their tables.

Choosing the Right Wedding Venue

Adding Your Unique Touch

Not all venues provide the same opportunities for you to highlight your personality – in fact, some venues might not even be accommodating for slight color changes. If you are looking for a place to decorate yourself or to add your own unique mark on it, you need to find a venue that allows this.

On the other hand, you might prefer to have a venue that makes the whole planning process easier. Some venues will be decorated according to your selections and this allows you to focus your attention on other aspects of organizing the wedding.

Organizing the Entertainment and the Food

The venue will naturally be the setting for your wedding entertainment and the food – both crucial parts of organizing the wedding. Certain venues only allow you to pick from their caterers and from a specific set menu, while other venues might be more flexible with what they provide you.

Checking what the venue’s catering and drinks policy is should be one of the first questions you ask them before you necessarily even check them out. You don’t want to spend your whole wedding planning visiting venues that turn out to be ill suited for your needs.

Furthermore, if you are planning to organize special entertainment, such as a fireworks display, at your wedding, make sure you ask about the venue’s policy. It’s always a great idea to tell your suppliers which venue you’ve booked as soon as possible, so they can prepare for it!

Choosing the Right Wedding Venue

Staying Within the Budget

The wedding venue is one of the largest expenses, if not the largest, of your special day and you naturally need to find a venue that fits into your budget. You don’t want to go with a venue that doesn’t provide you the things you need nor do you want to get in debt just to book your dream venue.

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