At the weekend I met up with a lovely bride-to-be to discuss the initial ideas for her wedding. She has only recently got engaged and is now in the process of formulating an idea of how she would like her big day to look and feel.
For me, this is one of the most exciting times when organising a wedding. I love the amount of variation available, and it allows me to get to know the couple quite rapidly by finding out about their tastes and preferences. For the happy couple though, this can be completely overwhelming.
I always advise couples to take their time with this stage of planning if they can. It is important to understand what options are available to you from the beginning. This will help you to avoid changing your mind at the last minute, or even worse, once it is too late.
Doing as much research as you can to find out what is out there will help feed into the natural development of a wedding that truly represents you and your partner. Sometimes couples like a lot of what they see, or favour different options, but it is also important to take note of what you both don’t like. Through this process of selection and elimination an overarching theme for the day will emerge. Subsequent decisions can then be made to fit the feel of the day, which can be really useful when you can’t agree or don’t have a preference on something.
There are many ways to look for ideas, suppliers and inspiration for your wedding and I would recommend using as many of them as you can. There are a multitude of websites, online directories, and magazines available, or you can use sites like pinterest to see what other people are doing. Plus of course venues and suppliers will often have their own website so a good old internet search will bring up plenty of collateral for you to look through.
The common drawback with all of the above ways however is that you can only see images, or video if you are lucky, of everything, and it involves you trawling through hundreds of options which can be rather time-consuming. It is because of this I hold wedding fairs in such high esteem. Many are free to attend, and they allow you to see and feel (and sometimes taste!) a whole host of ideas. Plus you get to talk to a variety of suppliers face to face, and get an instant answer to any questions you have.
Wedding fairs come in all shapes and sizes, and generally occur between January and March, and September and November. Most venues that hold weddings will also hold at least one wedding fair a year and will have local suppliers exhibiting. Plus larger fairs take place at exhibition centres (for example the NEC) throughout the year, that will have larger, national suppliers. You normally have to pay an entrance fee at these.
If you have a venue in mind for your wedding (or several you can’t choose between!) and they are holding a wedding fair I would highly recommend that you try to attend. During wedding fairs, venues are often partially set up as they would be for a wedding allowing you a glimpse of what the venue could look like for your day. Visit at any other time and there is no guarantee how the venue will be set up, as it will depend on what event they happen to have on. They may have a gorgeous function room, but it can be hard to imagine it filled with people and laid out for a wedding reception when it is set up for a conference.
In addition, the suppliers you meet at a wedding fair are often ones that have worked at that venue before. This means they will know how to get the best out of the venue. For example, a photographer will know where the best locations are to get the most flattering shots. This is not a definitive reason for why you should go with a supplier, but is something useful to consider when making a decision.
I rarely leave a wedding fair without feeling excited about something I haven’t seen before, whether it is a new cake design, a new idea for entertainment, or even a venue I haven’t visited or thought of previously. When I met the bride I mentioned earlier, the date of our meeting coincided with a wedding fair at the Poppy and Pint in Lady Bay, so we took the opportunity to go there before sitting down to talk details. I hadn’t been to the Poppy and Pint before, and was really surprised by how lovely the function room is. It is a medium-to-small sized room but it has windows along two opposing walls making it light and airy. There is a stage at one end and a bar at the other. The food being served in the pub downstairs looked delicious too. All this, coupled with the pub’s proximity to the Rushcliffe Registry Office, make it an ideal place for a wedding reception.
The wedding fair was small as you would expect for a venue this size, but still gave us the opportunity to talk to someone who made wedding cakes, a photographer, two ladies who worked together to provide hair and make up services, a DJ and a pianist, a magician and someone who provided wedding cars. Plus we were given a goodie bag (and a glass of bubbly!) on arrival with more useful suppliers details in.
I was really glad I had met the bride-to-be here, it served as the perfect demonstration of how wedding fairs can be so useful. She’s now planning to go to all the wedding fairs she can, hopefully not just for the free champagne!