Everything you need to know about planning your perfect wedding
This year’s Kent Wedding Awards saw Salomons Estate shortlisted for the ‘In-House Events Team of The Year’ award, following on from a successful win last year for ‘Best Events Team’. So, who better to ask for wedding planning advice than Kent’s crowned winner in events planning? Fiona Owens, Events Team Manager at Salomons Estate gives us her expert advice for organising your dream day
Begin with your budget
The first thing anyone should consider before deciding on anything, including the venue, is the budget. Then, write a list of people you would like to attend your day. Ensure you prioritise the things that are most important to you on your wedding day, for example your photographer, food or décor, and make sure you add in a realistic buffet for back up too!
Think about timings
Consider what time of year you would ideally like to get married and also the fact that your wedding budget will play a very important part when it comes to which date you hold your wedding. For example, if you are hoping to hold your wedding over a weekend in the summer, then the venue rates would be higher when compared to a date in say, October.
Other factors to consider when choosing a date, are the colours you would like to proceed with for your wedding party, the flowers you would like (as these may not be in season in certain months) and décor of the venue (if you choose a date in November or December your venue are highly likely to have Christmas decorations up).
Pick your place
Before you book your venue, create a list of what you want from it first. What are the most important things to you as a couple? Is it the food, location, onsite rooms for guests? When visiting, make a pros and cons list for each venue you visit.
When choosing a venue, my top things to look for are:
Onsite accommodation or nearby accommodation
Are there any additional fees, such as a service charge, that you need to be aware of?
What does the venue provide? Cutlery, crockery, linen etc.
Do you have to use the venue’s suppliers or are you able to use whichever suppliers you want?
Is there flexibility in the packages offered from the venue? For example, can you adapt the menu to suit you and your guests?
You can never guarantee the weather, so are there good photo opportunities inside the venue?
When it comes to bookings, book your venue first, then book in your photographer and videographer as soon as you can, as these suppliers can get booked up a couple of years in advance. You'll have your photos and videos forever and you want them to be perfect.
I’d recommend sending out your save the dates 12 months before your wedding, and the official invites no later than six months beforehand.
Food for thought
Ask your venue or caterer to hold wedding tasters for you to sample the food and its quality. If you are having additional evening guests, make sure you cater for them too. As a venue, we recommend catering for no less than 80% of your evening numbers, as once people have a drink then they are likely to want something to eat.
Most weddings do go for the formal sit down wedding breakfast, but do what you want to do as a couple - whether that’s an informal BBQ, pizza van or interactive carved roast at the table! Another great way of deciding on food is thinking about what you have enjoyed at other people’s weddings you have been to - the same goes for entertainment and extras like photobooths.
To ensure your day runs as smoothly as possible, invest time in the planning stages. Create a spreadsheet to keep track of payments, deadlines and everything you need to book and organise. In the days beforehand, create a checklist of everything you need for your wedding day and tick each item off once it’s packed and ready to go. If you are providing décor, name cards, favours and table names for the wedding breakfast, separate them into boxes for each table; this will make the set-up for yourselves or the venue’s wedding team much quicker and easier. If your venue’s team is setting up decorations and other bits for you, ensure there are clear instructions so they are able to set up smoothly on the morning of your wedding.
My last tip is to give your venue coordinator or someone in your wedding party a list of suppliers and their contact numbers - that way, if anyone is running late or you require information then you can allocate someone to give them a call.