Your Wedding Alphabet: The A-Z of wedding inspiration

There are so many aspects to planning a wedding and so many things to think about. So, for each day of February I shared some tips and inspiration on my Instagram feed to give you some food for thought and now it’s here in its entirety, all in one place. So, without further ado, let’s work our way through the alphabet and see what things can spark your imagination…

 

A is for AISLE

Creating an aisle which is in fitting with your venue is much more flexible these days so don't feel constrained by a more 'traditional' set up. This gorgeous ceremony set up for L&K last summer at High Bliingshurst Farm is a great example of how this lovely couple envisioned a beautiful woodland blessing with an aisle created amongst the tress and marked out with ribbons and natural floristry from All For Love London. What sort of aisle are you dreaming of?

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 B is for BRIDAL GOWN

Arguably the most exciting part of planning your wedding... choosing the dress! There are so many options and styles to choose from so you really can find a dress that is perfect for you. Whether you want a traditional gown, a vintage gown, long, short, white, ivory, coloured, lots of lace, sparkly, full skirt, fishtail, strapless, with sleeves, high neck, sweetheart neck... the list of possibilities is endless. 
I would recommend doing your research before you go shopping. Think about the kind of styles you think you like and will suit you, and at the designers who fit your brief, and also your budget.
Once you're in the shop, try on as many as you like - even in styles which you aren't sure about - as you might just find that a style you hadn't even considered actually looks fantastic and completely change your mind.
Choosing a dress is a decision based, mostly, on emotion. The 'one' needs to make you feel great, beautiful, confident and comfortable. Anything less means it's not the one for you.
I love this gorgeous pocketed short dress from Opulence and Grace - it's a little bit different and suits this bride perfectly. Happy shopping brides to be x

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 C is for CEREMONY... CHURCH OR CELEBRANT LED?

The marriage ceremony is the defining moment of your day when you go from two singletons to one married couple. Whether you opt for a traditional church led ceremony, or a celebrant led blessing at an alternative venue of your choice, the feelings and emotions are the same and its my favourite part of the day.
Choosing your ceremony style for some couples is an easy decision but for others it is a harder choice. When considering what ceremony is the right one for you think about what sort will reflect your personalities and values, what sort of person you want to legally marry you, how any people you want involved and how you want it to fit into your day. .
As a planner, its such an honour to be involved in my clients most special moments and I never fail to be touched by the ceremony part of the wedding. You can, quite literally, feel the love. No matter what form your ceremony takes - traditional, religious, outside blessing, registrar led, celebrant led, same sex couples, first time couples or couples looking for that second or third chance at love - each one is special and I'm so grateful to have a job that gives me glimpses of genuine true love each and every time.

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 D is for DANCE

The moment either loved, or hated, by couples on their wedding day! Some couples go to town and perform a fantastic choreographed routine, some sway romantically to a special song, while others grin and bear it and hope their two left feet don't let them down. I personally love the first dance moment (weepy romantic that I am), but its not for everyone. 
The first dance often signifies the beginning of the evening party as the rest of the wedding guests join at couple after the first song, but its not for everybody.
If doing a first dance fills you with dread or its just not for you, there are other ways to kick off the festivities...
- Might you consider a group dance with your bridesmaids and ushers so the focus isn't so much on you?

- If you have children, or children within the wedding party, you could have a family dance which is much more relaxed to get the party going.

- A Father and Daughter dance can be a beautiful and emotional addition to your day if the groom isn't keen.

- Speak to your band and have them invite everyone on the floor for a wedding dance to get the dance floor full and start the party off

However you start your evening festivities, some classic floor fillers are guaranteed to keep the dance floor full and everyone will party the night away.

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 E is for ENGAGEMENT PHOTO SHOOT

Becoming increasingly popular, an engagement photo shoot is a great way for couples to celebrate their engagement, as well as being great practice for the big day.
Particularly if you or your partner are not very comfortable in front of the camera, a pre wedding shoot allows you to try it out so you know what to expect on the day, will help you feel more relaxed, and also helps build the rapport with your chosen photographer which can only result in even better photos.
Lots of photographers offer an engagement photo session as part of their wedding package, and if your chosen photographer doesn't as standard it's worth looking into as an optional extra.
This fantastic engagement shot from US photographer Givenchy Jones Photography is so beautiful and is exactly what I would have wanted if I'd had engagement photos taken (sadly I didn't) - this makes my heart very happy. 

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F is for FLOWERS

Flowers can really make a big difference to the look and feel of your day and a great florist is one thing to secure early on. There are so many different options when it comes to choosing your flowers and what to have where but, as some basic rules:
- Ask your florist for advice on which flowers are in season for your wedding. A seasonal flower will always look better and fresher than a forced bloom, and will also be kinder to your budget as they will be more readily available locally and not have to be shipped in from somewhere else
- If you have a certain colour scheme in mind, advise your florist of this early on so they can best plan a colour palette for your displays and bouquets
- Consider the use of foliage to bulk out displays and also to break up blocks of colour. A splash of greenery always looks beautiful
- Consider the size and weight of your bouquet when selecting this with your florist - a huge and heavy bouquet will soon become cumbersome and will wilt quicker if its a hot day
- Different heights of floral displays will suit different venues so think ahead. Also remember for table centre pieces that guests don't want their view, of you and of the other guests, blocked by huge displays
- Use your displays wisely - it is often possible to reuse some of the flowers from the ceremony in the reception displays - you just need to allocate the task of transporting them across to someone
- Consider having a smaller bouquet made for 'throwing' at the reception - so many brides don't want to throw their own bouquet for the traditional moment as they want to keep it
These fabulous displays from Rhubarb and Bramley are a great inspiration for any wedding reception - will you be having something like this?

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G is for GOLDEN HOUR

You will hear planners and photographers talk about this time of day. A lot! We love it - the short but special time as dusk is falling towards the end of an exhilarating day where some spectacular photos can be captured. As the sun is setting, the light changes and the colours around you take on a different hue and the couple look all lovely and glowy.
When agreeing the brief with your photographer, make sure you have put aside some time in the day for this and take yourselves off for 20 minutes or so to take some individual and couple shots and make the most of this gorgeous time of day. You won't regret it.

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H is for HAND FASTING

I love it when couples add a unique or more unusual element to their wedding and if you're looking for something which is non-religious, then you might consider hand fasting. 
The term 'to handfast' means to formally promise or to make a contract and so handfasting is a ceremony of bethrothal which often takes place alongside a more formal blessing or registrar led ceremony. 
Its roots are said to be in the Old Norse Scandinavian term handfesta meaning 'to strike a bargain by joining hands'. Now included in some modern day marriage celebrations, it is a blessed marriage rite in which the hands of you and your beloved are wrapped in ribbon as you 'tie the knot'. Lovely x


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 I is for INVITATIONS

Personally, I'm a stationary freak so I LOVE the invitation and guest list stage of wedding planning! There are a huge range of options available, and many bespoke services, so there are very few limits on what you can have these days. Your colour scheme and/or theme can be reflected in your stationary choices and can run through the whole event from invite stage through the order of service, table menus and place names and follow up thank you cards.
The invitation you send your guests is the first impression they will get of your big day and sets the tone of what they can expect so it's definitely something to put serious thought into.
But let's not forget that paper invites aren't the only option. Many couples embracing the digital age use a personalised wedding website to communicate with their guests and use it to share information about their day and collect RSVP's and accommodation requests which is a fantastic resource.
I'm still a fan of a traditional paper invite however and love this fantastic colour pop suite from Hip Hip Hooray which featured in our styled shoot at The Highden Estate 

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 J is for JEWELLERY

The exchanging of rings is one of the key moments of the wedding ceremony and is the moment the couple symbolically declare their life-long love for and fidelity to each other. The exchange of rings is often expected as a matter of tradition and etiquette, so much so that the absence of a ring is often interpreted as meaning that the person is single. Not all couples both choose to wear a wedding ring, and traditionally men didn't. My husband does wear a wedding ring which I really like - I personally see it as a sign of commitment and as a physical declaration that he is linked to me.
Choosing rings is a lovely part of the planning process that you can do together. Whether you prefer your band to be thick or thin, gold, silver or platinum, matching, moulded around an engagement ring or as a stand alone statement piece of jewellery, your wedding rings are a piece of jewellery you will (hopefully!) be wearing for a long time so make sure you like it and it fits correctly. Regular cleaning and maintenance will ensure it stays shiny and doesn't irritate your skin, and whilst it’s a boring point, make sure you have your jewellery insured properly in case of any damage or loss.

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K is for KIDS

If you are having children at your wedding, you are no doubt wondering how best to keep them entertained so that both they and their parents can have a great time and enjoy the day. There are a few simple things you can do to make your wedding kid-friendly, whilst still being the dream day you have imagined

1. It's a good idea to give them a chance to let off some steam during the reception before sitting down for the wedding breakfast so think about some lawn games or simple games/ toys for them to play with

2. When seated, an activity pack goes a long way to keeping them in their seats and allowing their parents to eat their meal while it is hot! A simple pack of colouring pages and crayons, some stickers and a simple model or some lego to make will their day :)

3. If budget allows, you might consider hiring a kids entertainer to do a little show during the speeches so they can be otherwise occupied with magic, face painting, bubble blowing, crafts or party games

4. Little people get tired early on so these fabulous tents from The Little Tents provide a fantastic chill out area for the kids when they want to get away from the party for a bit

5. Don't forget to advise your venue and caterer that you have smaller guests to make sure there is enough equipment available (high chairs etc) and it's lovely to have your caterer provide some milk and cookies for the children in the evening to keep them going

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 L is for LEGAL BITS

If you are having an outdoor ceremony you will need to consider the legal part of the marriage. It is important to be certain if your venue is licensed for marriage ceremonies otherwise, while you can still have a humanist ceremony or blessing, the legal part of actually getting married may need to be done elsewhere before the day (or on the morning of). It is not currently legal to get married outside in the UK so some venues may have a licensed structure in their grounds where you can perform the legalities, otherwise off to the registry office you go. Your venue should be able to advise you but make sure you ask the question early on.

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M is for MARQUEE

Being a wedding planner who loves a marquee wedding this one was a no brainer! A truly flexible structure, a beautiful marquee can accommodate any guest number and is a fantastic blank canvas for you to create your dream wedding. This beautiful Oyster Pearl tent from The Arabian Tent Company is one of my favourites and provides a special understated luxury to any wedding day. 

Choose your supplier carefully - or work with a planner with tried and tested premium contacts - and you can have a stunning setting for your wedding which has been dressed and created to your bespoke wishes.

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N is for NEXT DAY

The day after your wedding day can, for some couples, feel a bit depressing! After months, sometimes years!, of planning and thinking about your wedding and every little detail of it, it’s not uncommon for couples to feel sad that it’s all over. Unless you are jetting off on honeymoon straight away (in which case this likely won’t be a problem for you!), make plans for the next day to wind down slowly and make the most of your friends and family still being around. 
If you have stayed the night somewhere, or if people are around locally, its a good idea to organise to meet for breakfast or to host a brunch to carry on the festivities a little longer, and also to give you the chance to speak to everyone before they have to head off and to say goodbye and thank you properly.
Don't be too sad though, the start of a great adventure together is just starting and there will many more things to plan for in the future xx

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O is for ONCE IN A LIFETIME

If there was ever an excuse to splash out on a once in a lifetime trip, it’s for your honeymoon! For me it was a 3 week road trip in a convertible Mustang down the west coast of America starting in San Francisco, visiting lots of beautiful national parks and including a crazy fun 3 days in the one and only Las Vegas. We stayed at The Venetian in a sumptuous room and enjoyed a gondola ride. Such a treat!  Where is your once in a lifetime destination?

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P is for PLANNER

Bit of an obvious one today ;) It’s our job to organise weddings and worry about all the little things that make your day personal and unique. If your budget allows, hiring the services of a professional planner can take away so much stress and leave you to concentrate on this very special occasion with your partner. If you can’t justify a full planning package, look into alternatives as many planners offer a partial planning service to help you in the final weeks before the day to make sure everything is covered and runs smoothly, and some planners offer an on the day coordination service to be a point of control on the day so you can relax and enjoy every second knowing all the arrangements are being looked after.  Take a look at the services I offer see if I could be the planner for you.

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Q is for QUALITY OVER QUANTITY

When planning your wedding, concentrate on the details that matter to you as a couple. Focus on those quality moments, items and ideas that will make your day special and unique to you, rather than going overboard to get everyone happy. 
If you want a small outside wedding, don’t be railroaded into a big hotel venue with distant family and friends you’ve not seen for years! Don’t care about a first dance or a cake? Fine! Group dance and brownie tower for dessert it is. Not fussed about big flower arrangements but want the reception lit by hundreds of fairy lights? Not a problem.
Don’t try and fit every stereotype of a wedding into your day if its not what you want. Going all out to please everyone else will only cause regret, stretch your budget away from the details that do matter, and you want to make sure you have a day you are proud of and want to remember for the right reasons!

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R is for RECEPTION

The reception part of your wedding day is where all the planning and details come together into a gloriously breathtaking personal way. Your own special touches, carefully selected decorations. food, drinks and entertainment, and well thought out plan for the day and all your guests will make your day and all the months of planning it be worth it as you relax and enjoy the results of all the hard work.
But where do you start...? Choosing a theme for your wedding reception is a good place to begin - whether that's a colour scheme, an experience or a kind of music. You really have free rein at this stage! 
Once you have this sorted, you can begin to look into styles of food, entertainment, decorations, drinks and the finishing touches that will make it all come together and the dream day you have wished for.
If you don't know where to begin or don't just want to replicate all the weddings you've ever been to, contact me for a no obligation chat about how I can take away all the stress and organise your unique dream day for you.

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S is for SPECIAL MEMENTOS
Your photographer and videographer will capture all the visual moments of the day for you to enjoy over and over again, but what about the other things that also matter? 
Ask someone close to you to pick up a few key mementos during the course of the day and before the end of the night. Whether that’s a hand made party favour, some personalised ribbon, your table place card that announces you as Mrs for the first time, an embroidered napkin, an order of service or the champagne flute you received your first toast as Husband and Wife in, after the day has finished these physical reminders will be a lovely keepsake. Whether you choose to display them or keep them stored safely away, this way you’ll always have a piece of your wedding day to touch and hold in the future.

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T is for TIMINGS

It’s a question I am so often asked -“what’s the best way to organise the timings for the day?”
It’s a good, and sensible, idea to start at your start or end point as this will determine your other timings - for instance your ceremony may be at a set time depending on your ceremony availability, and the end of the night may be determined by a music or guest curfew set by your venue. 
The time in between will be dictated by firstly your catering choices depending on the style of food/ meal you have chosen and how many guests need to be fed, and also your chosen entertainment and how many sets your band or DJ can fit in.
You will also then need to make time for photography, speeches, cake cutting and a good old boogie before the day comes to an end. 
And once you have all your timings set, an order of the day like this fun example from @kilkiesands will let everyone know what to expect and when. 
If you are using a wedding planner they will create a specific and detailed timings schedule for you to make sure everything is covered and run to perfection, taking away all the stress and worry for you. 
Check out some of the testimonials from my past clients to see how I made their day run like a dream

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U is for UNIQUE

After all the planning and involvement of your friends and family in your wedding, there will be some keep people who you want to give a special thank you to. Bridesmaid are often such a source of support and love in the run up to the big day and these gorgeous personalised dressing gowns from The Bespoke Wedding Gift Company are a lovely idea as special and unique gift for them. 
Items which also represent you both as a couple are also a great way to incorporate unique elements in your celebration whether that’s through decorations, drinks, table favours, colour schemes or food.  How will you be making your day unique to you?

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 V is for VOWS

Choosing a celebrant led ceremony gives you so much choice in writing and choosing your own vows to make your wedding day truly unique and personal. Once you have chosen your perfect venue, set about selecting the celebrant that fits the kind of ceremony you would like to have, and one who you really get on with and can represent you as a couple on your day. You have the flexibility to personalise your ceremony by adding stories about your relationship and each other, writing parts of your own vows and adding many personal touches. If you aren’t planning a church based ceremony, it really is a perfect way to become a married couple. 
The lovely Claire from Creating Ceremony is captured beautifully here performing a gorgeous outdoor ceremony. What’s not to love about this :) 

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 W is for WINE

Or any booze really!! A well watered wedding party is a happy wedding party! But how much wine or booze do you need? I am asked this a lot but its a tricky one to answer as it depends on how boozy your guests are ;) As a general rule, you should assume each guest (discounting children obviously) will have 2 or 3 reception/ welcome drinks, allow half a bottle of wine per guest for the table, and don't forget to order extra bubbles/ fizz for the toasts when generally you allow half/ one glass per person. Supplement this with lots of water (particularly if you have a summer wedding and have the heat to content with), mixed up with some soft drink options for children, designated drivers, any elderly or pregnant guests etc.
Your planner, venue or bar provider will be able to advise on quantities needed for your evening party based on your drink menu preferences and guest numbers. If you are buying in the booze yourself, buy on a sale and return basis if you can as its always better to over buy and have too much instead of not enough! 
Lots of couples also choose to have a signature cocktail available, created for their special day which is always a fantastic touch.

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 X is for XTRAS

(Alright, you've got me, but X is a tricky letter!!) There are however many extras to consider when planning a wedding - the list can almost become endless as there are so many additional things you can add to your celebration but these aren't the only extras you need to consider.
It's always wise to have extras of the things you have already ordered - extra invites in case there are any printing or writing mistakes or you need to invite additional guests unexpectedly, extra blank place name cards for the wedding breakfast in case anything changes, extra decorations or favours in case any get broken, an extra allocation of booze so you don't run low, an extra buttonhole in case one snaps... Try and think ahead to anything which you might need a back up for and get a few extras of some key things for added peace of mind.

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 Y is for YEARS

The years after your marriage are worth every bit of celebration as the day you said 'I do'. Every relationship takes work to maintain but through any ups and down your love will hopefully remain constant. Everyone knows about the anniversary themes (year 1 paper, year 2 cotton etc) but however you celebrate, make an effort to celebrate and be grateful for another year together. It's such an achievement. 
While I was visiting Hever Castle last summer I came across the Love Bridge, filled with messages and declarations of love and it was so beautiful to see. This message to Steve just shows that even 24 years on, celebrating your anniversary is an important milestone for all couples.

 

Z is for ZZZZ - a good night’s sleep

Everyone says it, but it’s true! A well slept and rested Bride will look and feel better in the morning and be ready for a busy, and let’s face, very emotional day ahead which can be exhilarating as well as sometimes draining. Save the celebrations for the big day and hold off on too much booze and get an early night if you can - it may take you a while to fall asleep if you're super excited! Couples also often wake quite early on the morning of the wedding - partly as the nerves kick in and also often because they have to start getting ready. Apply a nice face mask or lots of moisturiser and eye cream so your skin is fresh and hydrated ready for your bridal make up, and then snuggle down and catch those ZZZZ's ready for the next day. Sleep tight x

 

So there you have it, a complete A-Z to get your wedding planning going. For more tips and inspiration see my other blog posts for bags of advice and ideas.

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Z is for ZZZZ - a good night’s sleep

Everyone says it, but it’s true! A well slept and rested Bride will look and feel better in the morning and be ready for a busy, and let’s face, very emotional day ahead which can be exhilarating as well as sometimes draining. Save the celebrations for the big day and hold off on too much booze and get an early night if you can - it may take you a while to fall asleep if you're super excited! Couples also often wake quite early on the morning of the wedding - partly as the nerves kick in and also often because they have to start getting ready. Apply a nice face mask or lots of moisturiser and eye cream so your skin is fresh and hydrated ready for your bridal make up, and then snuggle down and catch those ZZZZ's ready for the next day. Sleep tight x

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So there you have it - my A-Z of weddings. For more advice and inspiration visit my blog pages.

Thanks for reading. x