When we started planning our farm wedding, our venue was nothing but an empty field. The thought of building a wedding from scratch was daunting and with no previous experience we set off searching for local suppliers. We tried to keep suppliers to a minimum so that we wouldn't be overwhelmed with a large number of people to manage throughout the process and on the day. We found that some suppliers could perform several jobs which made it a lot easier and helped to reduce costs by grouping their services. We chose smaller businesses for the most part as they offered a more personal service and higher attention to detail. Rather than dealing with admin staff that wouldn't actually be there on the day, we met directly with the company founders doing the work themselves. Now, we want to share our top tips with you to create your own wedding and our list of fantastic suppliers!
All photos by James Richards jamesrichardphotography.co.uk
1. Hire a celebrant for a personalised ceremony
If you are planning a wedding in an intimate, private location then you can hire a celebrant to officiate at your ceremony. The ceremony is written from scratch and is personal to the couple, telling their story and including special touches which reflect the personalities of the happy couple. A celebrant wedding is not legally binding so couples often get married at a town hall or church, depending on their preference, to make it official. When looking for a celebrant, make sure they are accredited and qualified. We recommend interviewing a few celebrants first to find your match!
Photo from christopherjamesevents.co.uk
2. Get an events planner
Planning your own wedding is a lot of work. Hiring an events planner can help to manage the running on the day. With careful organisation, the events planner's job is to oversee the main parts of day and ensure it all runs smoothly. Think setting up in the morning, coordinating music, lighting, drinks and food. An events planner is there to take the load off the couple and ensure that the wedding runs according to schedule. It's possible an existing supplier can fulfil this role - for example our sound and lighting supplier offered to be our events planner on the day as well. He was already familiar with the wedding plans and we felt we knew each other well enough through planning that we could trust him with the job.
3. Produce a detailed order of the day
Creating a detailed running order of the day is really helpful so the suppliers who are working on the wedding know what is happening and when. It helps to keep the day ticking along on time and it takes the responsibility off of the couple knowing that the event planning is being taken care of right to the very last detail. A less detailed order of the day can be printed off for the guests to reference so they can look forward to the day and know what to expect. We printed a fabric banner with Vistaprint with our own artwork we created on Canva.
4. Schedule time alone
The wedding day can be pretty intense with so many people to take care of and share the day with. Couples often find themselves surrounded by their guests the whole day without a moment to themselves to take it all in and appreciate each other and the commitment they are making to one another. That's why we recommend to schedule some time in the day to escape, just the two of you and have a catch up in a quiet spot, or go for a little stroll.
5. Create playlists for the ceremony and beyond
The music can often be forgotten until the last minute. I prepared my ceremony playlist just half an hour before walking down the aisle - I wouldn't recommend it! Music is an important aspect of the day that will set the mood of the day and greet the guests when they arrive at the ceremony. Think of your favourite songs as a couple, look at your 'liked' songs on Spotify and create a schedule the events planner can follow on the day so they know which song to play when.
6. Do an engagement photoshoot as a warm-up
Photography is a crucial part of your special day. One that will cement the magic of the day for years to come. A lot of couples are nervous about being in front of the camera and don't feel confident that they will look good in their photos. It's understandable considering the investment the photography requires. We recommend doing a warm-up photoshoot with your chosen photographer in some of your favourite locations before the wedding day. Ask the photographer to send some previews so you have reassurance that you look great in front of the camera. By the time you get to the big day, you'll be seasoned pros and your photographer will feel like an old friend!
7. Prepare some 'special moments' to surprise your guests
We saw some photos of a couple with smoke bombs at their rustic wedding. We decided it was something we really wanted to recreate with our guests. We ordered a load of smoke bombs and set up a montage with some of our friends and set them off in front of all our guests. The guests loved it! We ordered a confetti cannon as well which was detonated during our first dance and covered us and our guests in confetti. It made for great photos too and a lot of surprised faces!
8. Pick your wine with a sommelier
It might seem expensive and complicated to import wine from Europe for example but actually it's not if you source an independent wine merchant in the UK. The wine expert will select wines according to your preferences and the food you'll be serving on the day. They can also help you work out what the right quantity of wine is for your day. So rather than getting commercial wine from Majestic, you'll be serving handpicked wines from smaller vineyards which your guests probably haven't tasted before, at not much more of a cost. We recommend Sommelier Consultant Jean-Louis Naveilhan in London.
9. Feed your guests till Midnight!
Dancing guests need fuel, especially if they've been knocking back the bubbly all day! We recommend organising some late night food with your caterers or ordering a food truck to arrive when the party starts to keep your guests fed until the late hours of the day. It's up to you if you cover the costs or ask your guests to pay for this extra indulgence. In our case, our guests were camping overnight so we didn't want them going hungry until breakfast was ready the next day.
10. Fire pits and cosy seating
When you have a wedding in the UK, you can't always guarantee the weather! To keep your guests warm all night, we recommend getting some fire pits and cosy seating so they can socialise around the fire and stay warm. Even though we got married in August, the evenings are cool and we opted out of hiring a marquee heater or something similar due to cost. Instead, we borrowed fire pits from our neighbours and lit the fire. It was so atmospheric and allowed guests to enjoy the outdoor nature of the wedding without getting cold, all the way through to the early hours!
Suppliers we recommend
If you're looking for particular suppliers, here are ones we recommend:
(including marquee, sound, lighting, event management on the day)
Christopher James Events
Bex The Celebrant