Welcome to the first in our new series of blogs, where we’ll be sharing the very best ideas, advice and inspiration from different wedding industry experts. This week we’ve been speaking to some of the UK’s top wedding planners and finding out their thoughts on all the trends identified in our latest wedding survey, as well as their essential planning tips…   

“I've been a wedding planner for seven years,” says Emily Andrew of Emily Andrew Events (emilyandrewevents.co.uk) in Norfolk. “I specialise in marquee weddings and I love transforming an empty field or back garden into an amazing venue!”

Real Weddings Cardiff: Abi and Mark’s beautiful marquee wedding - Eleni Real Weddings Cardiff: Abi and Mark’s beautiful marquee wedding

The average age to marry…

”In my experience, most couples get married in their early thirties, as the WED2B survey revealed,” she says. “Although, most years, I will also plan a couple of weddings for older brides and grooms too. The emphasis for older couples is often on throwing a good party, and entertaining and celebrating with their friends. I also find they spend their budget differently to younger couples. They’re much more selective about the areas they apportion their funds to and are less influenced by Pinterest, blogs and social media.”

Real Weddings Surbiton: Georgina and Toby’s contemporary London wedding - Billie Real Weddings Surbiton: Georgina and Toby’s contemporary London wedding

Why hire a wedding planner?

“My clients are normally busy, professionals,” says Emily. “They have demanding jobs and full social calendars, so finding the estimated 250 hours required to plan a wedding isn’t easy! They also know that, if you want a perfect, stress-free and efficient planning process, some things are better left to the experts. It’s not to say they aren’t creative, but the support of a wedding planner allows you to enhance this aspect of your day without getting bogged down in all the boring nitty gritty! Also, most of my clients don’t live locally, so they really benefit from my expert, local knowledge.”

A budget savvy investment

“Hiring a wedding planner can also save you money in the long run,” says Emily. “The most budget savvy couple I worked with were super organised. They even came to me with their initial budget completely detailed out. It was really clear from this what their priorities were and I worked very hard to ensure they didn't go over budget, with clever sourcing and detailed research. I even managed to save them £5,000, which allowed them to splurge on extra decorations and some finishing touches that made a real difference to them.”

Real Weddings Liverpool: How to have a fabulous day, whatever your wedding budget - Alice Real Weddings Liverpool: How to have a fabulous day, whatever your wedding budget

Emily’s top tips…

  • Set a budget that you feel comfortable spending with. No-one wants to start married life in debt.
  • Get professional help where you can afford it. A wedding planner (myself included) will often offer their services for just a couple of hours, to help get couples unstuck, refocus their planning and to fine-tune everything so nothing is forgotten.
  • Research your suppliers thoroughly. There are too many horror stories! Look at their testimonials in detail, their social media, their website and any accreditations they have, and check they are properly insured. It is so vital to do your due diligence.
  • Be realistic about what you can achieve with the time and finances you have available. For example, Pinterest is great for inspiration but some of the pins you see would cost thousands to replicate at a real wedding!

For every kind of wedding

“I offer couples a number of wedding planning services,” says Tammy Louise Powell of TLC Weddings (tlcweddings.co.uk) near Brighton. “I provide everything from a little help with suppliers, such as finding the perfect venue or band, right up to my full wedding planner service, where I’m involved from beginning to end. This service is best summed up as having a wedding PA. Weddings are my passion and I love them all, from the traditional to the quirky.”

Real Weddings Exeter: Lucy and Will’s Christmas celebration Real Weddings Exeter: Lucy and Will’s Christmas celebration

Plenty of time to plan

“The WED2B survey revealed that 51% of couples are engaged for more than a year, and I’ve certainly found this to be the case,” says Tammy Louise. “I’m currently taking enquiries from couples looking to book for 2021! This is often so couples have time to save up or slowly pay off elements of the wedding. I’m also finding that couples who want a certain type of wedding, such as a particular venue, are willing to have a longer engagement to make their dream a reality.”

Rustic romance

“In the last few years I’ve seen barn/rustic weddings growing in popularity, just as the survey revealed,” says Tammy Louise. “Couples are also choosing venues that offer them more of a blank canvas and allow them to bring in caterers and décor which reflects them as a couple. One of my most budget savvy, yet memorable, weddings was one from last year. Although the couple had a good budget they still wanted to reduce costs where possible.”

Real Weddings Liverpool: Jessica and Danny's intimate town hall wedding - Summer Real Weddings Liverpool: Jessica and Danny’s intimate town hall wedding

Beautiful and budget friendly

“The wedding was held on a beautiful August day at a barn venue with a woodland ceremony,” says Tammy Louise. “It was a ‘dry-hire’ venue, which means you can bring in all the suppliers yourself, instead of using in-house options. The couple decided that they would also ask guests to bring a pudding, instead of paying more for dessert. These were set up on a beautiful dessert table after dinner. They wanted to offer an open bar too, but didn’t want the uncertainty of a final bill. So, they decided to buy the drinks in themselves and hire bar staff, which meant they knew the exact cost.”

Real Weddings Surbiton: Christine and Gary's beautiful barn wedding - Kendra Real Weddings Surbiton: Christine and Gary’s beautiful barn wedding

Tammy Louise’s top tips…

  • As soon as the word ‘engaged' is uttered you’ll be bombarded with opinions about what to do and who to invite. Make it clear from the start that, although you value people’s input, you and your groom will be making all the decisions.
  • Choose your bridal party wisely. The last thing you need is a lazy maid of honour or a bridesmaidzilla!
  • For all my couples I am always a key part of ‘Team Bride’. A good wedding planner will be on hand to make sure no one loses sight of who’s day it really is.

Create a wedding wonderland

“Wonderful Events started in February 2014, as a wedding celebrant service, with the goal of becoming an international wedding planning agency,” says Martina Paul of Wonderful Events (wonderfulevents.co.uk). “I help couples in the Cotswolds area and all the way down to the London borders. I still write and officiate some wedding ceremonies too, as it’s a very special moment.”

Real Weddings Bromley: Michael and Cantara's industrial East London wedding venue - Sawyer Real Weddings Bromley: Michael and Cantara’s industrial East London wedding venue

Summer daze

“The WED2B survey revealed that brides spend two to three times more on a summer wedding,” says Martina. “Summer weddings will always be the most expensive. The weather is great, and it’s also the school holidays. Venue hire is at its highest price too and suppliers are busy, so won’t offer any discounts. If you want to marry in the summer, but are looking to save money, it’s always worth checking for any last-minute dates that might be available at a reduced rate." 

Real Weddings Brighton: Sally and Mat's beautiful hotel wedding - Eleni Real Weddings Brighton: Sally and Matt’s beautiful hotel wedding

The look of love

“I strongly believe that a great wedding venue is a solid base to a successful and stress-free wedding,” says Martina. “That’s why I handpick wedding venues in my area, using my 15 years’ experience in the hospitality industry. In the Cotswolds, rustic barns are currently very popular, along with forest and boho-style weddings. We’re also slowly returning to manors and stunning hotel rooms. And, thanks to last year’s royal wedding, I get lots of requests for similar floral displays. Classy and flawless is always popular.”

Real Weddings Milton Keynes: Sandra and Stephan's manor house wedding Real Weddings Milton Keynes: Sandra and Stephan’s manor house wedding

Martina’s top tips…

  • Set a realistic budget first and stick to it. Your venue hire is a good indication of what you’ll need, as this will most likely be your biggest cost.
  • Allow time for sourcing all the little bits and bobs at the end of the planning process. Finding things like presents for the flower girls, lipstick, perfume, hair clips, etc, takes time too.
  • Hire a professional décor company rather than DIY. The wedding day is overwhelming enough without having to set up your own room with something you’ve been sticking together forever, instead of enjoying yourself.
  • Don’t micromanage, it will drive you crazy!
  • Eat breakfast and have a snack for lunch on the big day. Lots of brides ignore the food completely and feel tired and hungry right after the ceremony.
  • Enjoy yourself. Wedding planning should be fun, not stressful.
  • And finally, if you’re stuck or not sure about something, just ask a wedding planner. We’re here to help!

Click here to read the full WED2B 2018 Wedding Survey. Our 2019 wedding trends survey will be sent out to brides in Summer 2019. If you'd like to take part please follow us on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter and keep an eye out for more details. Are you looking for a wedding planner or other supplier? Then browse our WED2B Wedding supplier directory for all the very best suppliers in your area.