A Wedding Planning Survival Guide with eve + Friends

Written by Emma Hla
Image by Emmy Shoots | Wedding Planning ByChenai Events.
Last month we took part in a brilliant virtual showcase, hosted by eve and CH&CO. We chatted all things venues and were pretty chuffed to be alongside some amazing industry experts.

If you didn’t make the virtual showcase, then we’ve highlighted the most important tips and tricks from the team in this Wedding Planning Survival Guide, aimed at kick-starting your wedding planning in 2021. Expect top line tips around planning, the venue hunt, the dress search, choosing your flowers and, of course, the food.

There’s also some great advice for couples choosing to host an intimate wedding in 2021.

Shall we start?

Meet The Experts

eve – eve is the platform that connects you to everything you need for your perfect event. They have access to the best venues in London and beyond and it’s not just finding the venue they can help you with – they also specialise in event production and bespoke catering.

CH&CO – Having delivered a combination of high-end and beautiful weddings over the years, all the venue teams are expertly equipped with the very best experience, knowledge and creativity to help you plan the catering for your wedding day. They understand that food is one of the most important elements of your wedding day and it is, by far, the biggest thing that people always remember! All of the venues that took part on the tour have a common thread and that is that they are all exclusively operated by parent company CH&CO, ensuring that whichever venue you choose to work with, you will experience the same incredibly high standard of food and service which really is the heart of their business.

Emma Hla, Founder of Coco Wedding Venues

Coco Wedding Venues is the first place to kickstart your wedding planning. The UK’s original style-focused wedding venue directory, showcasing a carefully curated selection of the very best wedding venues in the UK and beyond.

Rita Colson, Bridal Couture and Eveningwear Designer

Rita Colson is a London based fashion designer in the heart of West London, specialising in Bridal Couture and eveningwear. Her unique style uses vintage lace and silk to create contemporary and bespoke pieces with an ethical twist. All materials are sourced ethically and sustainably, creating pieces fit for a variety of occasions.

ByChenai, Luxury Wedding Planner

Named one of the Top Planner’s in the world by Harper’s Bazaar, ByChenai Events is a luxury wedding planner, creating sensational weddings and parties.

Joanna Rhodes, Managing Director at Hayford & Rhodes

Hayford & Rhodes’s design-led, creative approach and ability to produce timeless, beautifully styled wedding florals is a testament to their heritage as one London’s most established florists.Flowers are their first love and this is reflected in the quality of the floral designs they produce for each and every wedding. They have a quintessentially English, contemporary style, led by their clients brief and inspired through those little details that breathes personality into such a joyous occasion.

Planning Survival Guide

Get Organised or Get Help

Chenai says: For those of you who are confident and comfortable with planning projects and parties, once you’ve had time to enjoy your engagement, you do need to start getting organised.

Set aside a time or day each week for wedding talk and wedding planning, this will ensure you don’t get overwhelmed and that it doesn’t take over other parts of your life. To the spreadsheet kings and queens, put a little tracker together that will serve as a budget / payments tracker, somewhere you can keep a list of your suppliers and their fees. Having this view of what you need to pay and when will help you manage your budget well.

If however, the thought of organising a birthday let alone a wedding stresses you out, then consider working with a professional wedding planner. Here at ByChenai we offer 3 services that give different levels of support – from helping you plan the whole thing, guiding you with the design and styling element or stepping in a few weeks out to help you tie up loose ends and then coordinate the whole day for you.

Things to consider before the venue search

Emma says: Getting engaged is amazing. It’s a life-changing moment. Of course, it’s exciting, but it can also feel quite overwhelming and daunting when you first start those Google searches, trying to figure out what you want for your big day. Throw in a global pandemic and all those feelings of where do I start just feel mammoth and I guess can make you feel a little stuck in moving forward.

Before you do anything, I suggest considering the following:

First of all I think it’s really important to say, you do you. As in there is no specific timeline to follow in terms of how long your engagement should be or you need to immediately jump into wedding planning. So, take your time, have a chat, understand when you want to get married. Whether that’s 6 months from now or in a couple of year’s time. However, something to consider when you’re thinking about when to marry is that venues tend to book up 12-18 months in advance in normal circumstances. With the Pandemic we’ve obviously seen many, many 2020 couples postpone their dates into 2021 and 2022. So even if you’re considering 2022/23 I would at least look at locking down your venue and date at some point in the near future.

Before you start anything, I think it’s really important to know what kind of wedding you want. Epic question to answer I know. But it’s one that’s worth answering, so sit down with your partner and do a little bit of digging into who you are as a couple and what’s important to you about your wedding day. How do you see your big day? A fancy fairy-tale or a relaxed gathering? Do you want guests to be wowed by the grandeur, or do you want there to be lots for them to experience and do over an extended weekend? Do you want a formal feast or street food style catering? I guess what I’m trying to get at here is what’s your individual style as a couple – all of this will have an impact on what kind of venue you will be drawn to so take some time to really talk about your style and consider the right season and venue.

It’s a good idea to have a rough guest list before you start venue hunting because this might dictate capacity sizes. Also consider will you need any accommodation for friends and family or are there specific facilities you or your guests require onsite.

Most of your plans will take their lead from the venue you book. But before you can commit to a venue, it’s important to know how much you are looking to spend overall. Venues can be around 15% of your budget, and that’s for a basic hire fee. It’s more like 50% when you add in food, drinks and any accommodation. So, it’s a big portion of your budget and it can feel pretty scary because it’s the first thing you do. Be clear and honest with how much you can spend and who is paying for it. You might be paying for it as a couple, or you might know that your family already want to help. So, it’s good to have these discussions now too.

Then finally, the venue. I think it’s really important to say that there is no such thing as a perfect venue. There isn’t. So stop searching for that unicorn. I think you can find the best wedding venue for you as a couple, but there will probably be some compromises along the way and you’ll just have to figure out if you’re good with those compromises. When you’re searching and using venue filters, maybe strip some out and see what pops up because it can be quite surprising what you find, and you didn’t realise that was actually what you were looking for.

You can read more tips about the venue search on our platform here.

Intimate Wedding Tips

eve says:

Intimate doesn’t mean any less lavish and beautiful! Having a smaller celebration can mean a higher budget for other elements such as florals and décor which creates a more memorable impact.

Love always wins! Distance makes the heart grow stronger and, in a world, where you cannot hug or kiss, an intimate wedding with family and friends being safely reunited makes a wedding day even extra special.

A smaller guest list means less expense and being able to celebrate with your nearest and dearest to you.

It’s all in the detail – gifts, favours, little personal touches through your day is one thing that isn’t restricted, so make sure personal detail is plentiful throughout the day. Could you offer your all-time favourite cocktails after dinner or provide entertainment? Ideas such as these make up for the no dancing.

Be patient! We are all in this together, we are following this road through ‘new normal’ together. Be patient with each other, but know in the meantime before weddings are back for good… an intimate celebration really creates memories to last a lifetime.

Ensure to consider venues that are spacious, larger venues ensure the space is the perfect size for intimate celebrations with distancing.

Never forget a wedding day is about you as a couple, having a small wedding doesn’t take away from this, it makes it even more intimate and special.

Questions to Ask Your Wedding Venue

eve says:

  • Is the venue licensed for civil ceremonies? What council do you need to marry you (you need to contact the local council and book your ceremony slot which you can do online these days)?
  • Are there separate rooms for you both to get ready in with your bridesmaids / groomsmen and what time will you have access?
  • Is the venue exclusive use, what times from and to?
  • What time will your suppliers have access on the day?
  • Are there local hotels for guests to stay in and do you have any preferential rates with these?
  • Does the venue have any suppliers they’d recommend (some suppliers will work there frequently and will have great knowledge of the venue i.e. photographers will know the best places for photos and florists will know what colour schemes work well and will be able to show you photos so always worth considering their recommended suppliers)
  • Where are the best places for photos inside and outside?
  • Is there somewhere you can safely leave your wedding gifts?

Covid-19

Whether you are considering an intimate celebration in the immediate future or a larger wedding at a later date, be sure to consider venues who have shown flexibility and guidance across this last year with always putting their couples at the forefront and showing the upmost flexibility, we are proud to say this is the case for all of our eve venues.

Contract / Booking Process Questions

  • If you wanted to proceed with your venue, ask about the reservation / deposit procedure – when would the deposit and signed T&Cs be due and how long can they hold a date for provisionally?
  • Ask to see a copy of their T&Cs in advance – do they have a Covid clause, what is the cancellation policy like, is the venue flexible?

Selecting your wedding menu

Stuart Cooper, Executive Chef at CH&CO says: Remember to know the day is about the two of you, you can make such a memorable impact by basing your menu around personal things you both love.

For example do you have an all-time favourite restaurant you adore, a memorable place you have travelled or a style of cuisine you both love that you could tie into your wedding menu and use for inspiration?

Although it is great to pick an option you think your guests may find more preferable, know any food from CH&CO venues will be incredible and food to remember for a life time.

Finding The Dress

Rita says: My ‘one top tip’ is to be brave! Do consider less traditional lengths, why not opt for that short number. Brides-to-be have had to rethink their wedding day due to Covid-19, so considering non-traditional lengths is a fun way of bringing in a bit of your personality.

Tea length is fun for the quirky bride or a 1960s inspired mini dress is always chic!

WEDDING Flower CONSIDERATIONS

Joanna says: Hayford & Rhodes ensure to have a one to one with all our couples and we make sure we go over all the finer details with you. Make sure to work out your budgets ahead of consultations and meetings with your florist.

As your venue or other suppliers who they normally work with, suppliers all have to work together on the day so it’s important there is good synergy between your A-team.

With planning a wedding in 2021 have a plan A + B if numbers have to be reduced  due to COVID regulations. Have flexibility with your suppliers to have A + B quote scenarios – as things could change quite quickly and you need to be ready to make these changes to ensure it is hassle free.

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