5 reasons tiny weddings rock

5 reasons tiny weddings rock

Tiny wedding trend

On average, wedding guest numbers are decreasing and a lovely trend in micro or tiny weddings is on the rise; with couples wishing to keep things small, personal and more meaningful. Not always in the extreme of eloping but a step away from traditions and expectations. Making the day a wonderful experience for everyone and good value for money. Tiny weddings could range from having a dinner party in a private room, a picnic in a park, a weekend sleepover in a stately home or a destination wedding for your close friends and family.

Bigger doesn’t always have to be better. Here are 5 reasons why tiny weddings rock from Carly Straughan (from Epic Elopement) who, along with Claire Ady (Wed in Central Park), host Tiny Weddings – an exciting new style of wedding fair for small, intimate weddings and elopements.

1. You get to spend the whole day with your favourite person.

When else do you and your future husband or wife get to spend a whole day just loving each other, celebrating your time together and thinking about your future? With fewer guests to entertain you will spend less time worrying about other people and more time with the person that matters the most. There are also some great studies that show the more intimate your wedding the more likely your marriage is to succeed (surely something to do with the stress of planning a big wedding!)

2. You will avoid the most common planning nightmares.

The hard parts of planning are almost always not related to making your marriage happen. The seating plan, the choice of dining options or what sort of music to play to please everyone during a 4 hour reception are avoided when you have a small group of close family and friends to entertain. Think of your celebrations as less of an operational ordeal and more of a larger dinner party and suddenly it all makes sense.

3. You can spend your money more wisely.

Having a small wedding or elopement may not even mean spending less than you would have spent on a big wedding. The difference is that you get to spend your money on the things that are important to you as a couple. Try making a list of things that you absolutely need to make your day work for you and then set your budget against that. If the dinner is a big part of your day then spend your budget on great food. Feeding 30 people caviar and champagne is much more affordable than serving 150 people a chicken dinner. If travel is your thing, a smaller wedding day can allow you to blow the budget on a mega honeymoon or even allow you to take your wedding overseas with a small party all expenses paid.

4. You won’t explain your quirks to anyone.

It’s much easier to share your plans with a smaller party and explain your choices to those who are invested in you as a couple. If you want the whole wedding party to wear a certain colour, travel to a remote location or do something seemingly random that brings you joy, it’s much easier to get buy in when you’re inviting only close family and friends. It’s going to be more difficult to explain your reasoning behind your choices if you have all your second cousins and great aunts chiming in. Spend your time and effort on the people and things that bring you joy, not arguing about chair covers with Sharon from work.

5. You’ll find suppliers who absolutely love their jobs.

If you’re looking to work with passionate individuals who will put as much effort into your wedding day as you do, then having an intimate wedding is more likely to help you find them. Larger suppliers need you to fulfil minimum orders, cover overheads for their venues and feed 100+ people to pay their bills. Small vendors usually have lower overheads, less staff costs and would be delighted to hear about a no stress wedding with under 50 guests.

About Tiny Weddings

Tiny Weddings is a joint venture between Carly Straughan (from Epic Elopement) and Claire Ady (Wed in Central Park). Having both had intimate weddings and working in the industry, exhibited and visited wedding fairs for years, Claire and Carly realised there was a space in the market for a fair dedicated to those who traditionally are ignored by the big wedding industry. Tiny Weddings Fair is the anti-dote to the mega fair that has grown up in recent years, bringing together vendors who specialise in intimate ceremonies and elopements around the world, whilst also hosting talks from experts in their field who can help couples find their own Tiny Wedding inspiration.

Get tickets for the next Tiny Weddings Fair on Sunday 30 September 2018, 10am-4pm at Wycombe Swan Theatre, High Wycombe HP11 2XE.

About Tiny Weddings’s hosts

Claire is a wedding planner, specialising in elopements and small destination weddings in Central Park, New York, for couples from all over the world. She has been doing this for over six years and has planned almost two hundred and fifty weddings so far. All of her weddings have had under fifty guests and most have between five and fifteen guests. She knows the tiny wedding market well. She knows what drives a couple to choose a tiny wedding and what values and priorities are popular for the couples that take this route.

Carly has been blogging about elopements since her own elopement in 2015. Beginning her career in wedding journalism, Carly moved into wedding planning and events management but always knew it wasn’t her scene. Carly has planned and executed weddings, fairs and events for some of the UK’s most recognisable venues and attractions and continues to work with events venues day to day as a consultant. When her own marriage was imminent she quickly realised there wasn’t much choice for those who wanted a great wedding without a huge guest list, Carly began seeking out suppliers of tiny wedding and elopements around the world and the rest is history.

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Keep calm and carry on…wedding planning

Keep calm and carry on…wedding planning

Keep calm and carry on…wedding planning

Huge congratulations if you’re currently planning your forthcoming wedding. Whilst organising a wedding is incredibly exciting, it can sometimes be a daunting challenge too. Especially as you’ve possibly never organised an event of this scale or importance before, you’re trying to please lots of people and everyone seems to have an opinion on it. So it would be understandable if you find that you can’t keep calm and are sometimes stressing over the small stuff.

Here are top tips from Stephanie Varda Bridal Coach on staying calm and dealing with stress during the wedding planning process and build up. Considering how to deal with conflict, compromise and comments from other parties.

Ten things to remember when (not if!) you get stressed while planning your wedding

  1. Get some perspective
    This is the first tip because it kind of shocks some brides.  So many people think their wedding day is the most important day of their lives.  Your wedding day is the first day of your marriage, so it’s worth keeping that in mind.  Your marriage and your partner will be very important to you as you go through life.  Remember what this is really about.  Now for the practical stuff….
  2. Do it together
    That’s what marriage is about – so don’t take responsibility for all the decision making involved in planning your wedding.  Discuss things as a couple – talk to your partner about what you both want from your wedding.
  3. Delegate
    Even better than planning together could be to ask your partner what they would like to take charge of and let them own that part of the wedding.
  4. Get help
    If friends and family offer help, then accept it.  As discussed above, you could either delegate some smaller tasks to them (or the tasks you don’t like so much!) or accept their advice where you need it.  Beware of unsolicited interference that presents itself as help or advice, though – say no to that!
  5. Be grateful
    Your loved ones will be spending lots of time, money and effort on your special day.  They might not agree with all of your choices, but they are doing this how you want it because they love you.  So, appreciate them.
  6. Take breaks
    Don’t live and breathe your wedding for the entire time you are planning.  You will just start to resent it all.  Take time out to do something else for a little while, perhaps with your bridesmaids or your other half.
  7. Adapt
    Things might not go exactly to plan, and plans may change.  Don’t get upset about things that you can’t do anything about, and stay flexible and open to change.  A wedding involves lots of people, and some of them won’t do exactly as you want them to.
  8. Prioritise
    Decide which parts of the day are most important to you and where you want to splurge, and which you don’t care so much about and those might be where you can save a little on costs.  This will help you to…
  9. Don’t sweat the small stuff
    Identify what is not that important and either delegate or just get it done and don’t think about it again.  Think about the whole day and the bigger picture of what you want from your wedding.  Don’t get caught up in worrying about the details – nobody will notice anyway, your guests will just want to enjoy the day, have a big party and celebrate your love.
  10. This is your day
    This one is last because this is the one you really need to remember.  This should be your mantra.  We all want our guests to have a great time on our wedding day, but you can never please all of the people all of the time and this is your day, so do it your way!

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Why you should take out wedding insurance

Why you should take out wedding insurance

Why you should take out wedding insurance

Here are some insights from the Wedding Insurance Group – they discuss what wedding insurance is, what it covers, how much it costs as well as some tips on selecting the best wedding insurance policy and what are the risks of an uninsured wedding.

The majority of couples will tie the knot this year without wedding insurance. The last time a study was conducted in 2010, Datamonitor estimated 3 out of 4 weddings in the UK go-ahead uninsured. We don’t have any recent national data, however, our friends over at the Wedding Insurance Group have reported an increase in the number of couples taking out wedding insurance in the last year. It is still arguable that the majority of wedding days and receptions go on uninsured. To understand more, we first have to look at how much weddings cost on average.

The average cost of a UK wedding

It’s no secret that the average cost of a UK wedding has increased over the years. In 2017, various sources reported different averages:

• £27,161 – Hitched
• £30,111 – Brides Magazine
• £17,000 to £27,000 – Bridebook

It’s understandable that many couples will be aiming for a cheaper wedding but at the end of the day, weddings usually are expensive and therefore may require insurance for the couple’s peace of mind. Here’s a scenario to put this in perspective.

Insure your wedding just like your other life assets

Imagine you bought an expensive piece of jewellery that was not covered by your contents insurance. Would you be comfortable leaving your property knowing that if something went wrong, you would not be able to recover its value? Chances are, you’ll ensure that such an asset is appropriately insured, just like your car and property. So why should a wedding be any different?

What does wedding insurance cover?

A good policy will protect your wedding ceremony and reception. Many top providers offer different levels of cover as packages. In this article, we will be using the various packages provided by the Wedding Insurance Group as examples. The following key covers are typical of a wedding insurance policy, however you should always read the Policy Wording to ensure the cover meets your needs.

Wedding cancellation

This protects irrecoverable deposits or fees paid up front if the wedding reception or ceremony was unavoidably cancelled due to reasons such as family or the couple falling unexpectedly ill, the venue experiencing a disaster such as fire or flood or the inability of the couple and majority of the guests to reach the wedding ceremony or reception due to adverse weather conditions.

Additional costs of rearrangement

Imagine the couple paid £5,000 for a wedding venue, which then experiences a disaster such as a fire or flood. As a result, the wedding is moved to an alternative venue that costs £2,000 more. The cancellation cover protects the initial £5,000 cost whilst the additional cost of rearrangement cover protects the extra £2,000 to move the wedding in the event of a valid claim.

The financial failure of suppliers

This provides cover if suppliers have gone out of business due to bankruptcy or liquidation. For example, the cake maker or photographer end up closing their business and are unable to deliver their services. Irrecoverable deposits and the additional costs of arranging alternative suppliers are covered even if the deposit was paid before you bought the policy. Certain wedding insurance policies also contain a specific cover for wedding cars and transport in the instance of breakdowns or accidents.

Additional covers

The policies provided by the Wedding Insurance Group also cover additional important aspects of the wedding such as:

  • Wedding gifts
  • Rings
  • Flowers
  • Wedding cake
  • Attendants gifts

Wedding liability insurance

This is essentially public liability for the couple that covers accidental injury to third parties or accidental loss of or accidental damage to third party property. Certain policies such as those provided by the Wedding Insurance Group offer the option to increase public liability to cover all guests. Certain venues will not take on a wedding booking unless the couple has public liability cover of £2 million or more. Some insurance providers do offer the option of liability cover only.

Optional covers

As with most insurance policies, there are optional covers to ensure any bespoke preferences are protected such as:

  • ceremonial sword cover
  • extending public liability to £5 million
  • extending public liability cover to all guests
  • marquee and mobile WC cover

Overseas wedding insurance

Many wedding insurance providers offer overseas wedding insurance containing the key covers detailed above with additional cover for essential documents such as passports, birth certificates and visas.

Excess and policy wordings

Some wedding insurance providers like the Wedding Insurance Group do not require excesses on any of their policies. It’s always a good idea to read your policy wordings so that you are clear on the exact cover you are purchasing and any additional costs. You may wish to avoid a policy with complicated wordings. Certain providers use ‘Plain English’ and shorter wordings which make it a lot easier for you to understand.

When can I take out wedding insurance?

The accepted period of time between purchasing wedding insurance and the big day itself varies amongst providers although you can purchase a policy up to 2 years before the wedding. It’s a good idea to get cover in place once you start paying deposits and making arrangements. There may also be limits between the date of the ceremony and reception. For example, non-Asian Weddings and Civil partnership ceremonies and receptions insured by the Wedding Insurance Group are required to occur within a 21-day period. There are policies for Asian weddings detailed below.

Asian wedding insurance

There are specialist policies available that are specifically designed for Asian weddings or Shaadi. These policies cover up to 6 events over a period of 94 days and are also delivered as different packages that include the key covers detailed above.

Travel & Honeymoon Insurance

The Wedding Insurance Group offer policies specifically designed for Honeymoons offering single or annual multi trips and long stays. In addition to the usual covers such as emergency medical expenses and cancellation, features such as no age limits or discounts for families (kids go free) are available on single trip policies.

How much does wedding insurance cost?

Costs do vary amongst providers but typically you can arrange cover for less than the price of a bottle of champagne. You can pick up a policy starting from as little as £25 for wedding insurance or £59 for Asian wedding insurance. Naturally, you will want to shop around and you’ll notice many providers display convenient tables that compare different levels of cover. Again, we recommend you read the policy wordings that may contain clauses not displayed in the summarised tables so you are clear about the insurance you are purchasing.

What is the best wedding insurance?

This is solely dependent on the ceremony and reception plan. As detailed above, tables that compare different packages and optional extras make it easier for you to find a level of cover suitable for your wedding and planned expenditure. It’s best to finalise all plans, ensure all suppliers are booked and  have an idea of your total costs before purchasing wedding insurance so you are not spending more than you need on a policy.

What are the risks of an uninsured wedding?

Without insurance, the possibility of suppliers failing to deliver their services, the venue going out of business or burning down and the probability of family or the couple falling ill all threaten the harmonious running of a wedding. There are many news stories online about cancelled weddings and other wedding-related disasters that serve as examples of how things can go wrong. Likewise it’s just as important to make sure you are adequately covered and don’t leave yourself underinsured.

Concluding thoughts

As detailed in the introduction, the number of couples taking out wedding insurance is increasing due to greater awareness and recommendations from wedding professionals. Planning a wedding already requires a lot of focus and attention, therefore, it makes sense to ensure all that hard work and financial outlay is protected so you can get on and enjoy one of the happiest days of your life.

 

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Food, food, glorious food – a guide to catering a wedding reception

Food, food, glorious food – a guide to catering a wedding reception

Food, food, glorious food – a guide to catering a wedding reception

As mentioned, in the post ‘How to keep your wedding guests happy’, my number one top tip to keep your wedding guests happy (and ensure your wedding is remembered as a great day by all) is to keep your guests fed, watered and entertained.

If you get this right then you pretty much can’t go wrong by them. Fail at one of these things and your guests will get twitchy, tetchy or bored. Plus as someone with dietary requirements, I’m always impressed (& relieved) when different diets are considered at a wedding (take a look at my post on ‘Catering for special dietary requirements’).


Top tips from top caterers

Here are some tips from top local caterers Ross & Ross Food, who have been recently named ‘The Best Wedding Caterers in the UK’ in the Hitched Wedding Awards 2018. Here is their insight into catering your wedding reception and a look at current catering trends to consider in your wedding planning.

1) Food stations are a huge trend right now

Since we started wedding catering in 2015, we noticed a big spike in people’s love for food stations. Basically, they are small stations of different types of food that your guests can approach and select what they want.

The idea behind our food stations is that it creates a social aspect to your wedding. It also allows your guests to try a variety of different foods, instead of having a simple plated dish. Our food stations include Iberico Ham stations, Oyster stations, Doughnut walls and Yakitori stations.

2) Seasonal food is a must

At Ross & Ross Food we pride ourselves on quality and a bespoke service. We provide this excellent quality by always using seasonal food in our clients bespoke menus.

Using seasonal food ensures the produce is fresh and of excellent quality. This, therefore reflects in the standard of our food and evidently our clients are always blown away. We pride ourselves on the idea of supporting local, so always try to use local producers around the Cotswolds.

3) Sharing boards are great for socialising

Sharing boards are a great idea for your guests to connect and socialise, whilst tasting amazing food! Some of our sharing boards include: Our famous Scotch Eggs & Coleman’s Dressing; Hot Smoked Salmon; King Prawns & Lemon Mayonnaise and Cotswold Cured Meats.

Hopefully these will give you some ideas, if you are looking at the idea of sharing boards. They are also a great opportunity to try a variety of foods, instead of one traditional option.

4) Trust in your suppliers

Once you’ve decided who is going to cater for your wedding, you must put your trust in them! You have chosen them for a reason, so you know they are going to a fantastic job.

We ensure there is regular communication with our clients to ensure they are happy at every stage of the process. All of our clients have had extremely positive things to say about our food and service which is why we are a trusted caterer. Once you have been through your ideas and requirements, just relax and leave the work to them.

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My tummy is rumbling just thinking about all this food! Bon appetite!

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Top tips on getting your wedding photographs picture perfect

Top tips on getting your wedding photographs picture perfect

Top tips on getting your wedding photographs picture perfect

After choosing a venue, the next important supplier to pick is the wedding photographer (and often the second most expensive element too). After all, this is the supplier who will be immortalising your special day and creating the keep sake to look back on in years to come. So it is vital you get this part right if you want to have amazing wedding photographs on your mantel piece.

Hire a professional photographer

Don’t dismiss the need for a professional photographer or think that you can just rely on people’s iPhone snaps. Nothing beats professional photographs!

When you’re looking around, please bear in mind that just because someone has a decent camera, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they can take good photos. However, advancement in technology does at least mean that there is more chance of getting it right.

Digital photography makes such a difference to capturing special days like weddings. There are so many advantages of having digital photography, no more so than having instant results. There’s no waiting around to get the photos developed, so the photographer can see what they are capturing straight away and make any adjustments as they go along. Hopefully this means more reliability and less surprises, plus more shots can be taken (as you’re not limited to a certain number of rolls of film) and you could change between colour and black/white images more easily. It also means that photos can be edited, backed up, stored, and shared with others online afterwards.

Photography style

Photographers may offer different styles of shots in their wedding photography repertoire. Think about the style of photos you want and pick a photographer who has this style in their portfolio whether that be formal, candid or reportage:

  • Formal shots = this is the more posed stuff, perhaps with groups of people in scenes and is likely to be staged, with everyone looking at the camera
  • Candid shots = these are a bit more relaxed and are more about catching a moment in time
  • Reportage = this style tells a story and follows the main events throughout day in an informal manner

Practice makes perfect

Consider having an engagement shoot so that you can get comfortable in front of the camera with your photographer before the big day. Plus this will give you a chance to recce some good photo locations at your venue too.

Think about contingency plans – what happens if the photographer can’t do your wedding at the last minute? Do they have a stand in? Check what your insurance covers and ask your venue if they have a designated space for group shots in case it rains. It’s always best to plan for the worst, hope for the best.

Checklist for selecting the right photographer for you

Here are some other things that it is worth checking when you are considering the photographer to hire for your wedding day:

  • Portfolio – take a look at their previous work and any weddings they’ve shot before
  • Style – does their style of shots suit how you’d like to have your photos taken?
  • Ability – are they able to do the style that you’d like?
  • Qualifications – are they a member of the Association of Photographers, British Institute of Professional Photography, Society of Wedding & Portrait Photographers?
  • Testimonials – what have previous couples had to say about them?
  • Award – have they won anything for their work?
  • Experience – how long have they been shooting weddings?
  • Familiarity with venue – have they done any weddings at your chosen venue before?
  • Availability – can they do your chosen date?
  • Turn around time – how quickly will you get your photos back after the wedding?
  • Insurance / contingency – what happens if they can’t do your wedding at the last minute?
  • Presentation – does how they dress and carry themselves fit with the style of your day?
  • Personality – do you gel with them? Would you want them to be at your wedding with you?
  • Cost – how much do they charge, for how long and what is included in the price?
  • Is an album included in cost? How many photographs are in the album?
  • What other expenses are included/additional? Travel? Food?

Help your wedding photographer get the best results

Share the schedule or running order of the day with your photographer so they don’t miss key moments. Look after your photographer and don’t forget to feed them – it’s a long day for them too!

A good photographer will already know the shots that they would capture for a wedding day. However, it’s good to put together a shot list for your more obscure requests. Think about the shots you’d like to sum up the day (formal, candid and details).

You may well go for a mixture of colour and black/white, plus a combination of formal and informal shots to give you a good representation of the day, as well as some group shots to keep the older relatives happy too!

It’s a good idea to nominate a couple of your most reliable attendants in charge of rounding people up for the big group shots. Have the giant group photo of all the guests taken from up high. That way you’ll be able to see everyone’s faces and fit them all in.

Suggested wedding photography shot list:

Shots to sum up the day

  • getting dressed
  • getting ready to walk down the aisle
  • close ups of couple individually just before the big entrance
  • exchanging vows and rings
  • the first kiss
  • walking up the aisle after the ceremony together
  • getting showered in confetti
  • in the wedding car leaving the ceremony
  • chatting to guests
  • the toasts
  • couple sharing a private moment
  • the first dance
  • cutting of the cake
  • tossing of bouquet / lantern release

The formal shots

  • couple individually
  • couple signing the marriage certificate
  • couple outside the service venue
  • couple with each set of parents
  • couple with both sets of parents
  • couple with each of their immediate families (grandparents, siblings etc)
  • with the bridesmaids
  • with the best man and ushers
  • couple with any special friends
  • the entire wedding party
  • reception shots per table

The candid shots

  • wedding party getting ready with hair and make up
  • big reveal to rest of wedding party
  • couple’s first glimpse of each other
  • wedding party making their way to, and arriving at, the ceremony
  • guests arriving/with drinks before the reception
  • the couple chatting to friends and family
  • receiving line
  • entrance of newlyweds to the reception
  • guests signing the guestbook
  • guests dancing
  • entertainers/musicians

The detail shots

  • clothes hanging on the wardrobe or bedpost
  • close ups of dress, shoes, accessories
  • wedding rings resting on an invitation
  • close up of the couple holding hands (focus on the rings)
  • close ups of wedding details (stationery, favours, place cards, table settings, table plan)
  • the guestbook
  • the cake before being cut
  • bouquet and floral arrangements
  • close up of the wedding car/transport
  • room all set up

Wedding guests taking photographs

You may want to remind your guests politely to make sure that they don’t block the photographer on the day. And also consider having a unplugged wedding so you can see their faces (not their phones) when you look back on your photographs. Perhaps, chose a moment in the ceremony when guests can take their own photos.

Strike a pose

Above all, you want to look good in these momentous photos so here are some final tips for being picture perfect:

  • Hold your flowers by your belly buttons to make a nice shape with your arms
  • Keep your arms slightly away from your sides to give you biceps room to breath for a flattering look
  • Take phones and keys out of trouser pockets to give a better line
  • Get plenty of full length shots of the dress
  • Avoid the midday sun (and squinty eyes!)
  • Use the best ‘golden hour’ light 1 hour before sunset for some amazing shots!
  • Smile with your eyes!

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Top tips for social media at your wedding

Top tips for social media at your wedding

There’s no doubt about it, social media has changed (and continues to shape the way) we communicate, our relationships, our society and culture. It is a part of our every day lives and so it’s no wonder that you’ll want to think about the role that social media will play on your wedding day too.

About a third of the world uses some sort of social media. And the age of technology that we live in has meant that we are rarely uncontactable. There is a sense of urgency in our communicating and the need to share. Social media has enabled us to publish and share our lives not only with our nearest and dearest but to a wider audience too. We can share events, connect with people and it certainly has made the world feel like a smaller place.

I believe that social media has also made the news more relevant and accessible to more people, as well as personalising and interacting with announcements.

We are now living in the moment (all be it a digital one) with a need for things to be instant and live. We are also becoming more visual in our communications and video is the king of social media right now.

Whether you are going to embrace social media or shun it for your wedding, here are my top ten tips and modern day etiquette suggestions to make the most of social media on your special day.

Top tips for social media at your wedding day:

  1. Make sure you keep things personal – perhaps tell your closest family and friends in person before changing your status on social media or posting an engagement ring photo.
  2. Don’t rely on social media for all your wedding communications – think about your guest list as it may cover people from a variety of generations and technological abilities. Not everyone will have access or regular use of social media. A physical invitation will mean everyone on your list gets the same message.
  3. Don’t overshare on social media – keep an element of surprise beforehand. Also you don’t want to make any of your social media followers feel left out if they haven’t been invited to your big day.
  4. If you feel like going tech free then have an unplugged wedding – just make sure you set expectations with your guests early on.
  5. Create a hashtag or a personalised Snapchat filter – share the # on your invitations, order of service and on signs around the reception. Then collect images on a social media wall at the reception or an online wedding album.
  6. Use Facebook live or Periscope – for those guests that can’t make it (or live far away) consider streaming your wedding live so that they can still experience the day.
  7. Give a selfie stick as wedding favours – instead of the old disposable cameras on each table at the reception, give guests a selfie stick or a list of photos to try and capture.
  8. Etiquette tip – guests should wait until after the bride or groom have posted anything before putting up shots of the happy couple.
  9. Keep a traditional photographer – nothing beats professional photographs! And guests, please make sure that you don’t block the photographer on the day. The couple want to see your faces not your phones when they look back on their photographs. Chose a moment in the ceremony when guests can take their own photos.
  10. Enjoy the moment – above all remember to live the day and not just be recording events. Put the phone down for one day and make the most of having all the people you love in one room at the same time to celebrate your special day.

Take a break from tradition with this handy guide to modern alternatives to personalise your wedding.

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Elope to the Big Apple

Elope to the Big Apple

Whilst we are very lucky to be surrounded by so many amazing wedding venues in the Cotswolds, there is always the allure and escapism of flying off somewhere else to tie the knot, perhaps to evade the stress and politics of wedding planning on your home turf.

Couples may chose to elope in secret (possibly behind their parents back) and sometimes in a hurry. However, elopement nowadays is less about running away and more about picking a romantic destination to get married with just a few of your close family and friends.


Here are some top tips from Claire at Wed in Central Park about planning your very own wedding abroad:

When many people hear the term “destination wedding” they think of a wedding ceremony taking place on a beach, somewhere sunny.  Beach weddings are beautiful but they’re not for everyone, and many couples are considering eloping, or bringing a small group of their nearest and dearest to a city or countryside destination abroad for their special day.

1.Paperwork

The first thing a couple should check when they start thinking about a particular location for their destination wedding, is whether they can legally marry in that country. Some countries require complicated paperwork, or for the couple to be in the country for a very long time before they can marry, and if you don’t speak the language things can get tricky, and for same-sex couples matters can be even more complicated. Often couples get around this by marrying close to their home for the legal part of their wedding, and then having the ceremony and celebration (and photos!) somewhere else.

2.American Dream

Did you know that a wedding in the USA will be legally binding for British couples who live in the UK? So, there would be no need for marrying in a register office at home for the legal side of things, just one wedding (and one anniversary) each year! Perhaps the idea of marrying at the Grand Canyon appeals to you? Or in a forest on top of a hill in the Yosemite National Park? Or for that beach wedding in Hawaii or California? Or a big-budget Disney wedding? Or the ever-popular Vegas wedding? All of these locations would be fantastic in my opinion, although some easier than others to achieve. My personal favourite, and the area I specialise in, is helping couples to get married in New York’s Central Park, or indeed anywhere outdoors in New York. It’s my personal favourite because that’s where I got married!

3.New York, New York

To get married in New York, all you need to do is go to City Hall in person, together, with your passports and a credit card to pay $35 with and pick up a license. Then you wait at least 24 hours and after that you can get married! I guide couples through all of the decisions needed to decide how to have the wedding of their dreams in this beautiful, iconic, world-famous oasis of calm in the centre of one of the world’s greatest and busiest cities. After a wedding ceremony in the stunningly beautiful Central Park, with the iconic backdrop of the skyscrapers behind the tress, couples can go all over the city taking photos – the Top of the Rock, Brooklyn Bridge, Times Square, Grand Central – there are so many places that will truly make your wedding photos unique. And then after that; a reception and celebration in one of New York’s incredible restaurants! There really is something for everyone in New York.

4.Who, where, when and how much

If you are considering a wedding abroad I would suggest that you consider what time of year you would be there, and who you would bring with you, if anyone. That will help you to work out a basic costing of the travel and accommodation, which are the major costs when it comes to a destination wedding. You might want to tag a honeymoon on to the trip after the wedding, somewhere close to the wedding location. Many of my clients plan on eloping and then, when they tell their loved ones what their plans are, their close family and friends want to come along too! I would always suggest discussions with your nearest and dearest, whether you are planning on inviting them or not. If they’re coming along, then you need to work out a good time for everyone. You will also need a plan for where everyone will stay and how long for – if you are marrying in New York, then some guests might come for a few days before or after the wedding day, or you might want everyone there at the same time, to allow for hen and stag outings while you are there. If you are eloping, then you might want to throw a big party on your return for wider friends and family, and perhaps keep to the theme of your wedding location.

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Local licensed wedding venues in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds

Local licensed wedding venues in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds

Getting married at a licensed wedding venue in the Cotswolds

We live in such a stunning part of the country, commonly regarded as an area of outstanding natural beauty. The Cotswolds is located in south central England and made up of 6 counties: Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Somerset, Warwickshire, Wiltshire and Worcestershire. It’s no wonder that every year 20,000+* of couples getting married in England choose to say ‘I do’ in a wedding venue in the Cotwolds.

Photography by Squib Photography

About the Cotswolds region

Mainly rural landscape, with it’s lush green countryside, the Cotswolds is a relaxing escape from the big cities. With acres of lavender fields, historical towns, stately homes and picturesque, chocolate box villages with their honey coloured limestone buildings. It’s no surprise that this region has many places that feature in the Britain’s richest towns list. And we are perfectly located amongst the ‘golden triangle’ of the Cotswold towns of Burford, Chipping Norton and Woodstock.

Photography by Farrow Photography

Wedding venues in the Cotswolds

Hanami Dream is based in West Oxfordshire and there are some truly beautiful venues to choose from in the surrounding Cotswolds. Whether in a barn, a manor house, a marquee or a hotel, there are some amazing places (with some breathtaking views) to hold your wedding or special occasion. There’s something out there to accommodate most styles, guest numbers and budgets.

Bride looking down in the garden | Journey to the Centre of the Earth | modern ethereal winter styled bridal shoot by Hanami Dream | agate | marble | airplants | tulle | pale blue | gold | Oxleaze Barn | Gloucestershire | October 2017 | Photography by Squib Photography www.squibphotography.co.uk

Take a look at the venues with wedding licences where you can get married in West Oxfordshire:

    1. Bay Tree Hotel
    2. Blenheim Palace
    3. The Blue Boar
    4. Caswell House
    5. Cogges Manor Farm – see my wedding venue review for Cogges Manor Farm here
    6. Eynsham Hall – see my wedding venue review for Eynsham Hall here
    7. Ferryman Inn
    8. Friars Court
    9. Heythrop Park Hotel
    10. Merriscourt – see my wedding venue review for Merriscourt here
    11. Old Swan and Minster Mill – see my wedding venue review for Old Swan and Minster Mill here
    12. Oxleaze Barn – see my wedding venue review for Oxleaze Barn here
    13. The Cotswold Plough
    14. The Trout at Tadpole Bridge
    15. Oxford Witney Hotel (formerly Four Pillars Witney)
    16. Witney Lakes Resort
    17. Witney Registration Office – Windrush Room
    18. Woodstock Town Hall
    19. The Wychwood Golf Club

Not technically in Oxfordshire, but we also wanted to include new kid on the block in Chipping Campden:

20. Lapstone Barn – see my wedding venue review for Lapstone Barn here

Photography by Squib Photography

We are certainly spoilt for choice around here for amazing venues to hold a special occasion. For more details on how to pick your perfect wedding venue look out for my The Holy Trinity of Wedding Planning – Part 2: where.

*Data from Office of National Statistics www.ons.gov.uk Area of occurrence 2015. Based on 245,513 marriages in England. Based on 20,106 marriages in the Cotswolds (combined Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire, Somerset, Warwickshire, Wiltshire and Worcestershire).
Local marriage requirements in Oxfordshire 2018

Local marriage requirements in Oxfordshire 2018

Photography by Farrow Photographywhere
You will need to give notice of your marriage in your local registration district. If you and your partner live in different areas, you will both need to give notice in your own district.

You can get married in a church, registry office or an approved venue. Or you could choose a legal service followed by a celebratory ceremony because you want to celebrate your marriage or civil partnership in a venue that is not licensed for ceremonies.

Remember that if you’re using a celebrant then there’s no restrictions when it comes to location (as long as you have permission from the land owner) nor temperature, or time of day!

Photography by Farrow Photography

when
In order to give notice of marriage in a registration office, you must have lived in that district for a minimum of seven days. The earliest date the notice of marriage can be given is 12 months before the wedding ceremony. Normally, 28 clear days’ notice is required.

how
You will be asked to produce evidence of your full name, nationality, age and proof of current address plus evidence of marital status.

Photography by Farrow Photography

how much
A non refundable booking fee of £46 will be payable for all ceremony bookings with a registrar.

To give notice of marriage or civil partnerships costs £35.

Marriage certificates cost from £4 each.

Attendance of a registrar at a wedding or civil partnerships in a registry office will cost £275 from April 2018 (inc £4 cost of marriage certificate)
Attendance of a registrar at a wedding or civil partnerships in a church costs £90 (inc £4 cost of marriage certificate)
Attendance of a registrar at a wedding or civil partnerships in an approved venue will cost from £495 from April 2018 depending on day of the week and time of the day (inc £4 cost of marriage certificate)

For a church wedding there is a required legal fee. If you marry in your home parish (providing you both live there) it costs £474 in 2018 (and £517 if you marry outside your own parish). This is set by the Church of England and the same for each church nationwide. This fee covers the cost of the vicar, calling your banns, a banns certificate, the marriage certificate, plus lighting and admin.

This doesn’t include the services of a verger, heating, organist, bell ringers, choir and church flowers. So, you’d need to check with your church on the costs and booking process for these additional elements.

A church wedding must take place between 8am and 6pm on any day.

Photography by Farrow Photography

who
Two registrars will attend a civil wedding: one to conduct the ceremony and the other to register your marriage.

You will need two adults to be your witnesses. They can be friends or relatives, but should be over the age of 16 and able to understand English.

Photography by Farrow Photography

useful links
Getting married in a church

Guide to licensed venues in Oxfordshire

How to legally marry with a Celebrant

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Dates for your 2018 diary

Dates for your 2018 diary

Happy New Year! And huge congratulations to you if you’ve got engaged over the festive period.

Telling people your big news and flashing your new piece of jewellery is such an exciting time and it won’t be long until you’ll be asked (again and again) when is your big day.

So here’s a little help with picking a date for your special day (and take a look at this useful guide to setting the date too).

Make sure you think about what else is going on in the world such as national, local and annual events including:

  • Public holidays
  • Sporting events
  • Royal occasions
  • Other people’s occasions (like birthdays, wedding anniversaries and religious festivals)

Here’s a list of some events (in England) in 2018 that could influence your choice of dates:

  • New Year’s Day 1 January
  • Epiphany 6 January
  • Orthodox Christmas Day 7 January
  • Orthodox New Year 14 January
  • Burns Night 25 January
  • Winter Olympics 9-25 February
  • Shrove Tuesday 13 February
  • Valentine’s Day 14 February
  • Chinese New Year 16 February dog
  • St David’s Day 1 March
  • International Women’s Day 8 March
  • Mother’s Day 11 March
  • St Patrick’s Day 17 March
  • First Day of Spring 20 March
  • Boat Race 24 March
  • Clocks go forward 25 March
  • Good Friday 30 March
  • Passover 30 March – 7 April
  • April Fool’s Day 1 April
  • Easter Day 1 April
  • Easter Monday 2 April
  • London Marathon 22 April
  • St George’s Day 23 April
  • May Day Bank Holiday 7 May
  • Ramadan begins 15 May
  • Royal Wedding 19 May
  • FA Cup Final 19 May
  • Spring Bank Holiday 28 May
  • Trooping the colour 9 June
  • Eid 14-15 June
  • Father’s Day 17 June
  • Royal Ascot 19-23 June
  • First Day of Summer 21 June
  • Wimbledon 2 – 15 July
  • Independence Day 4 July
  • Henley Regatta 4 – 8 July
  • British Grand Prix 8 July
  • Summer Bank Holiday 27 August
  • First Day of Autumn 23 September
  • Diwali 19 October
  • Clocks go back 28 October
  • Guy Fawkes 5 November
  • Remembrance Day 11 November
  • Thanksgiving 22 November
  • St Andrew’s Day 30 November
  • Hanukkah 2-10 December
  • First Day of Winter 21 December
  • Christmas Day 25 December
  • Boxing Day 26 December

Enjoy celebrating in 2018 and I wish you a very Happy New Year.