by Jeffrey Cleaver
Director of Silver Pear Weddings, Oxfordshire
How does a bride cope with the strain of planning a wedding, managing (inevitable) family debates whilst organising a raft of suppliers and striving to keep herself (and her groom) sane in the process?
Some of the answers are probably glaringly obvious but here, guest post writer for Guides for Brides and Director of Silver Pear Weddings in Oxfordshire, Jeffrey Cleaver, is only too aware of the stresses a bride encounters and has developed a hot list of tips based on years of experience.
“Be organised – create spreadsheets to manage costs; have an indexed lever-arch file for quotes and correspondence with plastic wallets for fabric swatches and copies of wedding stationery; consider creating a scrap-book of wedding images/ ideas – it’ll help evolve and fine-tune your style and guide suppliers (like florists) to an instant idea of ‘you’.
“Be as considerate and polite as you can with suppliers – it may sound obvious but courtesies like “please” and “thank you” are still ‘magic words’.
“Be honest and up-front with suppliers: talk to them. If your budget isn’t equal to your ideas don’t immediately head straight off in search of a cut-price look-alike (as cheap is usually just that for a reason), talk to the supplier: they have years of experience so may have alternatives ideas which could achieve a similar result via a cheaper route or they may suggest a slightly different ‘take’ one which you might like as much – or more – than the original idea.
“Be patient: it’s tough when you’re keen to crack on or concerned you’ll miss that venue or this photographer but suppliers still need breaks, they may have family commitments and, in peak season, they’re often working silly hours seven days a week so emailing on a Friday evening expecting a reply on Monday morning may be a tad unrealistic.
“Be prepared to compromise: reducing one cost could save cutting corners where it will really tell. Giving a little on someone else’s priority could mean getting your way on yours. You want an all-pink colour scheme but your groom is utterly pink-resistant? For one couple that ‘all-pink’ scheme was achieved because the groom got to name the tables after his favourite footballers…
“Be prepared to “let go”: it’s totally understandable you won’t want things running awry from what you’ve envisaged but not every guest will know those finer details so if one thing isn’t just exactly how you thought it should be, dare I say this, but it may not matter that much in the bigger picture. So don’t be tempted to micro-manage on the day or you’ll wind everyone up including yourself and that is really not how you want to remember your wedding. Let the professionals take over doing what you’re paying them to do and leave them to handle problems like the weather playing up or speeches and photographers running over-time. If it helps, select a point of contact in charge of liaison. It could be the Best Man or a chief usher or a level-headed friend or family member. The day will flash by so make the very most of enjoying it rather than fretting on the positioning of the cake flowers.”
Finally Jeffrey adds, “A friend said “gin” was her answer to the stresses of planning her own wedding, I’d say humour, patience and intuition are the qualities I rely on most. In the early stages of planning, humour’s the best ally: I find countering an unworkable suggestion or making a serious point always works better when it’s sugared with a twist of humour. In the days just before the wedding, patience and intuition become equally as vital as seeing the funny side – knowing what to say and how to say it and also when to step in and take the bride off for a quiet mug of tea so she can have a rant or a cry or both.”
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