Get everything sorted with help from our local experts
Save the date
Q. We've chosen our wedding invitations and they are now being designed. But how far in advance should we send them out? And how long should we give our guests to RSVP?
A. Cassie Leedham says: Normally, it's best to send out invitations about six weeks before the wedding, although it does depend on a few factors. If your wedding is during school holidays, you might want to send them a little earlier, as people are more likely to be booking trips away at this time. Save-the-date cards can give people a bit more notice and can be a great way of making sure you get in there first! I would keep the deadline to reply quite short – about a month. If they haven't responded by then, it's likely they will need a reminder anyway.
The place to be
Q. My boyfriend recently proposed and we're now planning our dream wedding, starting with the venue. There are so many beautiful options in this region: romantic castles, countryside barns, historic halls and plush hotels, we're finding it very hard to choose just one. How can we narrow it down?
A. Jacqui Park says: I agree there are some fantastic venues out there and the choice can be mind boggling, but the trick is not to get overwhelmed. I suggest sitting down and discussing how you both envision your forthcoming wedding, and the best way to start is by choosing a theme or colour scheme as this will narrow down your choice. For example, if you're looking for a very formal, elegant feel to your wedding, then a castle or manor house would be perfect. However, if you're drifting towards a spring country feel with bunting, wild flowers and traditional homemade food, then a countryside barn would be better. If you're still unsure, invite friends and family round for a brain-storming session.
Q. My fiancé and I are currently looking for a photographer for our big day and we want to make sure we get a good feel for both their work and them as a person. What are the most important factors we should consider so that we make the right choice?
A. Simon Thomas says: First of all, choose the right photographic style for you. Meet up with each photographer for a chat. If you don't warm to them as a person, they may not be right for you; after all, they will be with you for the whole day. Flick through sample albums, but I would also ask to see some of their recent weddings. Most photographers should be able to supply you with access to a few galleries so you can see a whole day's coverage. Finally, have a look at any testimonials. After absorbing their portfolio, and assessing how open they are with you when answering your questions, you'll know if they're right for you.
Running like clockwork
Q. Our wedding is three months' away and while most of the planning is done, I've been worrying about the organisation on the day, such as making sure things run on time, or dealing with any last-minute problems from suppliers. We don't want to get too involved so who should I ask to do this for us? Should I divide up the tasks between the bridal party?
A. Jacqui Park says: Every minute of your wedding should be remembered fondly, so yes, let someone else take the lead. Normally, these duties are handled by the maid-ofhonour and the best man, however the tasks can be divided between other members of the wedding party depending on their abilities or interests. If someone is creative, ask them to help dress the venue and if someone is musical, get them to liaise with the DJ. However, bear in mind that your friends and family will also want to savour your day so you could also consider using a professional wedding coordinator. That way, you can be confident that you're in safe hands, and it's not as expensive as you might think.
Piece of cake
Q. We're inviting around 100 guests to our wedding and we're currently looking at cake designs, but we're not sure how big our cake needs to be. Is there a rule of thumb to work out how many portions we should order?
A. Caryn Watson says: First you need to decide whether you are serving the cake after the wedding breakfast or at the evening reception where you may have more guests.
Professional venues will normally cut a wedding cake to give each guest a small 2” x 1” portion for a sponge cake, or 1” x 1” for a fruit cake. So a three-tier, all-sponge square cake with 6”, 8” and 10” tiers, equals 100 portions. A round or shaped cake will serve less than 80, so you would need more or larger tiers – adding a 12” tier will allow for 138 guests.
It's best to over-cater, as the bride and groom sometimes miss out – ask the venue to save you some for later!
These cute wooden cufflinks from Sarah Hurley Designs would make a great gift for the groomsmen. Laser cut with a cheeky hand-drawn moustache and engraved with either 'dad', 'best man' or 'groom', the cufflinks are made from 2mm wood veneer, then hand-finished with metal fixings. Each pair is packaged in the designer's signature turquoise gift box. Available from Not on the High Street, each pair is priced £16.99. For more information on the range, visit www.sarahhurley.com
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It's tricky to fit in those all-important photographs without missing the canapes, but would you consider holding the Mr and Mrs shoot before or after the day?