Wedding Planning Tips for Newly Engaged Couples - a Q&A With our Events Director
Updated: Aug 14
Wedding planning is overwhelming - we get it. Our aim at Anopia Events is to make planning the wedding of your dreams as enjoyable as possible, which is why today we're sharing an in-depth Q&A with our expert Events Director, Anastasia. With over 6 years experience arranging, styling and managing weddings Anastasia has seen it all throughout her career and has an array of expertise when it comes to planning your big day. Obsessed with all things weddings, she's worked on weddings of all cultures from 4-400 guests, which makes her the perfect person to answer your questions! This interview is full of practical and actionable tips and advice to help you start planning your big day - enjoy!
What’s the first thing couples should consider when they start planning their big day?
Size! How big or small a couple envision their wedding day to be will probably be something that they have already discussed, and will affect a lot of the other decisions made along the way. The planning process for a wedding of 200 guests will be very different compared to a wedding of 5 guests and will ultimately dictate the venues explored, catering options chosen and overall budget. The vision in your mind of a big or small wedding will shape everything we create together.
What are the top 3 questions a couple should ask when viewing a wedding venue?
Wet weather option – We’ve seen venues with the most beautiful outdoor wedding option that our Bride and Grooms have fallen in love with, however, the inside option hasn’t come close to comparison for them. We always insist that our Brides and Grooms must love their wet weather option as much as their plan A. The one thing we can’t control is the weather, and the last thing you want is to go into your big day disappointed with where you will be making your vows or having your drinks reception.
Capacity – You will need to know the capacity both sitting and standing, in all areas of the venue you will be using. Wedding guests’ numbers often fluctuate up and down and it’s important to have a good amount of flexibility with your venue capacity to accommodate for changing numbers or layouts. Frequently, guests are added on last minute and you want to be confident that the venue can accommodate these changes from the get-go to avoid any additional stress of worrying if everyone will fit. Don't even view a venue if it won't accomodate the number of guests you plan on inviting - you'll only be disappointed if you fall in love with it, and cutting guests out retrospectively is REALLY difficult to do.
Access times – This is commonly overlooked by the Bride and Groom when viewing a venue alone. A common misconception that you will be able to gain access the day before and after the wedding. As much as the venue is uniquely yours for your wedding day, don't forget that the venue may be uniquely someone else’s the previous day. From an expert perspective this isn't an issue - in the past, we've set up weddings overnight so that when the bride wakes up, the venue is perfect for her big day. However, if you're doing your decor or set up yourself, you might consider bringing in a coordinator for the day so you don't have to rush about on the morning of your wedding. It’s important to know the access time and negotiate these before booking if possible. Ideally, we aim for the earliest access possible in the morning to get your suppliers in and set up hours before the wedding starts.
What’s the one thing that couples always under-budget for, and what should they expect to spend?
Registrars and Church costs! The cost of registrars is always catching couples by surprise. These can cost anything from £580 - £670 - and don't forget the additional £11 for a marriage certificate! Although these costs are not extortionate bank-breakers, they are often underestimated or overlooked by the couple when budgeting. Church costs are always expected to be more than registrars, but are still often underestimated. The Church of England set the legal fee for all churches no matter where you live in the country and can change yearly. Currently, in 2020 the fee is £550 if decide to marry in a Church away from your home constituency, and £505 if you choose a Church in your home parish.
With Church weddings, it’s usually the added extras that catch couples out. The legal fee doesn’t include the following: - A verger to ensure the church is warm clean and tidy and assist in handing out Orders of Service and Hymn Books. - Cost of heating the church - Bell ringers, organist or choir - Church flowers
Any tips for planning an unforgettable evening reception?
An unforgettable evening reception is all about creating the perfect atmosphere for you and your guests. My advice would be to focus on your lighting and entertainment. Lighting is often underestimated in mood creation! If the lighting is too high, then guests may not feel comfortable enough to dance. The right ambience is created best through low mood lighting throughout the venue. Your choice of DJ or band will also have a big influence over your evening atmosphere. Bands are always a huge hit but can be costly depending on how long you would like them to play and how many band members there are. Believe it or not, not all DJ's are created equal. We always select a premium DJ service for all of our weddings, as it's important that they are reliable and respectable, and most importantly are aware of your music taste. It can be tempting to hire a friend or relative for the evening, but without the right equipment or expertise, it's easy for a disco to be underwhelming.
What’s your favourite wedding decor trend and why?
Florals all the way. Florals are timeless and always look great - no matter what your theme is. The great thing about florals décor is that it can all be personalised to the couple. No two weddings will include the same choice of flowers and that’s what makes it so unique. Flowers can be simple and discrete or bold and transformational and represent your tastes as a couple.
How can a wedding planner help in the lead up to your wedding day?
Weddings are stressful! That’s one thing any Bride and Groom can vouch for. A wedding planner is there to hold your hand and guide you throughout the planning process. A wedding planner will have years of knowledge of suppliers, colour themes, what works and what doesn’t. Most importantly, they have logistical expertise and can avoid you making easily avoided errors to ensure you’re getting the most out of your big day.
What’s one thing that couples often fail to prepare for on their big day, and how can they avoid it?
Your family and friends will become professionals, and everyone’s a critic! No two weddings are ever the same, and that’s because everyone’s tastes are different, and everyone has different priorities. One thing that couples often fail to prepare for is input from family and friends as they express their opinion when helping decision making. Even the most relaxed parents can suddenly become very forceful when it comes to planning your big day - especially if they're contributing financially!
Whilst other people's advice and options can sometimes be welcome, couples often find themselves overwhelmed by the advice from surrounding loved ones and feel torn between which decision to make. The best way to avoid this is to take everyone’s advice on board, but ultimately discuss it as a couple and make your own decisions.
What is your number 1 wedding planning tip?
Put yourselves first! Many families and friends will often do their best to 'help' the Bride and Groom, but it can often mean putting other people's priorities before their own. You don't have to follow tradition, and you don't have to do what other people want you to do. If you don't want to have a top table, don't. If you don't want to invite relatives that you haven't seen for years, don't! If you want to get married abroad, go for it!
A classic decision we see made is opting for chicken for you sit down meal because ‘most people like chicken’. If chicken is not your and your partners' favourite dish, then do not opt for it to please most guests. This is your big day, choose your favourite and the chefs will accommodate everyone else’s tastes and dietaries.