How to pick your wedding venue

How to pick your wedding venue


Picking your venue is going to be the biggest decision in your wedding planning and the most expensive part of your budget. For the average wedding your venue will be approximately 30% of your total wedding budget, increasing to nearly 50% if they provide food and drink as well. Picking your venue is one of the first decisions you will make because it will then lock in your wedding date, let you see how much of your budget you have left to spend and to a certain degree inspire the look, feel and design of your wedding day.⠀⠀


Your wedding venue must-haves

Start by thinking about your ideal wedding day and drawing up a ‘must haves’ list that your venue has to offer and ‘nice to haves’ that you would like it to include but that aren’t deal breakers. This could be things like location, budget, catering, is it licensed, what comes included in the fee, facilities, style for example. It is super important to put some serious consideration into this part before you head into the research phase. It will allow you to ensure your day is truly you and that any compromises you have to make are made with as much information as you can.

I can’t tell you the number of brides and grooms I have worked with who have either gone over budget at this point, making the rest of their planning way more stressful than it has to be, or, picked a venue which didn’t tick all their main criteria so they end up compromising at every point of their planning. This again makes for a less than enjoyable planning journey. If you are using the Wedding Blueprint to help with your planning there are lots of pages included in the planner to help you fine tune your ideas to help you pick your perfect wedding venue.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Then use your criteria to shortlist based on a very simple internet and social media search. If it’s proving difficult, try each scoring out of 5 against your criteria to get an average score to rate them.


Venue Directories

Here are some great directory sites to help with your venue search:


Coco Wedding Venues



Your venue shortlist

Once you have a shortlist contact them with your ideal date, or selection of dates, get hold of their brochure and ask for clarity on any questions you may have. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Use this information to refine your shortlist again making sure you are staying true to your wish list. Read testimonials and get really in-depth with your research. Hopefully by now you should have a handful of venues which fit your criteria and you want to see in the flesh! Venue visits are a whole other topic of conversation….. maybe that should be my next blog!?⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
? If you need more tips and tricks for picking your venue pick up your own copy of The Wedding Blueprint planner! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀




How to plan a wedding ceremony

How to plan a wedding ceremony

Your wedding ceremony is an integral part of your day and it will definitely set the tone for your celebration but what do you need to think about when you’re planning your wedding ceremony?

Do you want a religious Wedding Ceremony?

The very first question you need to be asking yourselves is, “Do we want a religious ceremony or not?” If you aren’t religious then this is likely to be a fairly straightforward answer, and equally if your faith is important to you then it’s another easy answer. The difficulty, in my experience, is where family members feel your ceremony should be in a religious establishment, or where there are mixed faiths. I am not going to discuss all the permutations here, we would be here all day but getting clear on this element before you plan anything else with your ceremony is really important!

Church wedding ceremony
Image courtesy of Andy Davison Photography

Do you want a legal Wedding ceremony?

The next question you need to ask yourselves, which may sound a bit crazy, but bear with me, is “Do we want a legal ceremony or not?” A wedding does not have to be legal if you so choose. For most people one important aspect of being married is that they are then legally acknowledged as a legal partnership in the eyes of the law. So, let’s firstly assume you do want to plan a legal ceremony as part of your wedding day celebrations. If you are not having a religious wedding ceremony, then you will need to use a Registrar for your service. There are a couple of options for the location:

  1. A local registry office
  2. A licensed venue
  3. A Duo ceremony.

For all of the above options you are in the hands of your registrar’s office so you will be communicating directly with them to make time and date arrangements and details on the ceremony itself, as it is the registrar’s who will be conducting the ceremony to make it legal.

A quick run down of what these different ceremonies are:

  1. A local registry office would be where you go to register deaths and births and in most cases you would have the choice of one of their official rooms at the local offices to where you are on the electoral roll.
  1. A licensed venue, is a venue such as a hotel, which is approved by the registrars to hold ceremonies at. A licensed venue has to abide by certain protocol in order to be granted its wedding license and you will find a whole list of them on your local council’s website.
  1. A Duo ceremony is where you have a little more flexibility, for example you say your vows somewhere meaningful to you both, then you sign the official register in a licensed location. Sometimes this can be all on the same site, for example having an outside ceremony at a wedding venue then you have to sign the register in a bricks and mortar location, perhaps a room inside the main building. Or, it could be that you have one half of your Duo ceremony at the registrar’s office, the legal part (perhaps even on a separate day), then you have the more personal part of the service with all your guests at your chosen venue which wouldn’t need to be licensed.

do you want A non-legal wedding ceremony?

There may be several reasons why this is an option for you. For example if you have had to have your legal, registry office ceremony ahead of time, you may still wish to have some form of ceremony with all your guests present. This could be because of availability with the registrars, your venue’s licenses, guests not being able to attend your legal ceremony or you needed to have your legal ceremony ahead of time.

For most couples it’s really important that they have their friends and family around them when they do get married which is why a non-legal option on the exact wedding date and at the exact time they wish may be a preferred option. In this instance there are several ways to conduct the ceremony. You could have a friend or family member lead the wedding ceremony, you could do it yourselves or, recruit a professional to do it for you. These professionals are called Celebrants.

A celebrant led wedding ceremony gives you so much more flexibility to create a wedding ceremony which is completely bespoke to you, rather than having a registrar formatted ceremony. For example, celebrants can offer hand fasting ceremonies (see image below), sand ceremonies, singing, complete flexibility on the timing of your ceremony and the readings you wish to have. The key here is to finding a celebrant you click with, who will discuss your options and understand your wedding ceremony ideas. Here are a couple of useful sites to help you:

The Celebrant Directory

The Humanist Ceremonies

Hand fasting wedding ceremony
Image courtesy of Megan Duffield Photography

If you have already had your legal wedding ceremony but you are holding your celebration at a later date but you still want to have a religious ceremony then you can look at having a wedding blessing. These can be conducted by your faith leader at your place of worship where they bless you marriage inferno of your guests but it has not a legal ceremony.

The finer details of your wedding ceremony

After all those big decisions are made you will need to consider some of the finer points of your ceremony such as:

  • The readings you will have
  • Who will do your readings
  • What music you will have
  • Will you need to decide on set seating
  • Is there any production needed, such as PA systems, lighting, sound?
  • How will you enter your ceremony?
  • How will you leave your ceremony?
  • What decorations you may need for your ceremony.
  • Will you have an Order of service, or do you need any signage?
  • Write your vows

Some of the logistical things you will need to work out will be:

  • Timings – guest arrivals, photographer arrival, wedding party arrival times
  • Transport between your ceremony location and your reception venue
  • How will you orchestrate your confetti shot (if you are having it after your ceremony)
  • Parking for your guests

TOP TIP: If you are having a legal ceremony with a registrar they will need to interview you separately just before the wedding ceremony to confirm your personal details so make sure you allow 10-15 mins for this and you have a suitable, private location for this interview at your venue.

Ulitmate Wedding Planning Book

If you need more tips and help then head over to purchase one of our Wedding Blueprint Planners.

5 Things You Should Plan First For Your Wedding

5 Things You Should Plan First For Your Wedding

The thought of planning you wedding can be overwhelming and not knowing where to start is likely to bring you out in a cold sweat! To give you a helping hand, here’s our expert advice for the 5 things you should plan first to have the perfect wedding day!


1. Plan your Wedding basics

Warning! This is the boring stuff!! However, trust me when I say, if you don’t get this bit right, you won’t have solid foundations for the rest of your planning and you will find it much more stressful!

So firstly, you need to cover off things like your budget, the sort of ceremony you want, the time of year for your wedding, your rough guest numbers. Set-up your spreadsheets and planning documents to get yourselves super organised.

TOP TIP: This is where investing in a wedding planning book can really help you if you aren’t planning on commissioning a professional Wedding Planner.


2. Set your Wedding style

You may want to read our blog about using Pinterest at this point because it’s packed with useful tips for using this tool to help with your planning. Being visual, Pinterest in a really useful way to start to build a picture of how you dream your wedding to be.

Defining your style is really important at this point because it will help you with your decision making. You will have lots of things to think about when planning your wedding, but having a clear vision and focus on what you want the end result to be like is so important. Ask yourself these key questions:

  • What is important to you? Food/music/design?
  • How do you want your wedding to feel?
  • How do you want your guests to feel?

You will find a whole section in The Wedding Blueprint dedicated to creating your own wedding day style, designing your own mood boards and really digging deep to find out how you can create a day which is entirely personal to you both.


3. Pick your Wedding venue

This is a real benchmark in planning your wedding!! You will find that once you have picked your venue so much more of your wedding day will flow from this point.

Hopefully, if you have done your prep work thoroughly you will have picked your venue in line with your style, budget and all the other key wedding criteria.

This is one of the earliest things you should book because then you will have a date and a confirmed location for other suppliers to use to build their costs around. Some venues get booked up two-three years in advance so just be mindful when you are booking your wedding date just how far ahead you may need to be looking to secure your ideal venue and suppliers.


4. pick your Wedding photographer

The reason I have put this next on the list is because Photographers get booked up fairly well in advance. So you need to be researching and shortlisting your photographer at least a year before your wedding date if this is a priority for you and something you are quite particular about.

Finding a great photographer who gets you and the type of wedding day you want to have is so important. A great place to start is to research who has photographed weddings at your chosen venue. You can do this by searching through your venue’s preferred or recommended supplier list. Another way is to search the venue on instagram and you should be able to find out which supplier’s have tagged their wedding work there.


5. Pick your wedding outfits

The reason this is at number 5 on our list of things to do first in your wedding planning is because some outfits can take many months to be produced and it’s not always an easy decision to make. For example, if you are having wedding dress, you may walk into a boutique and find a dress you love, this then needs to be made and shipped, then fitted and altered to you specifically. A large proportion of wedding dresses are manufactured in Australia and can take six months or so to be created. So if you factor this into your planning timeline you can see just what the impact can be if it takes you a while to book a fitting appointment at your chosen boutique and to find THE dress.

Equally, if you are having a suit tailored, there may be a waiting list and it can take many months to get the fitting absolutely spot on.

Then you need to think about all the extra accessories you may need which sometimes need to be matched to your final outfit to make sure you get the right colours, fabrics and textures to coordinate.

You may find this Hitched resource useful if you need more inspiration.

Do I need a wedding planning book?

Do I need a wedding planning book?

If you’ve just got engaged the chances are your brain is buzzing with ideas and you’re getting super excited about your wedding day. As you start collating your Pinterest board, sharing the news of your engagement and researching some ideas, you will soon start to find that there’s A LOT to think about and EVERYONE has an opinion!! The overwhelm will probably start to kick-in and that’s when you need to get organised.

So, how are you going to get organised? There are loads of options, whether you join a website and use their planning tools, something like Bridebook https://bridebook.co.uk is great, it’s completely free, packed with advice and has loads of suppliers on there that you can quickly contact and research. However, sometimes nothing can beat looking at a sheet of paper, I think it’s also an easier way to share information, assuming you aren’t planning this wedding alone!! Jotting down thoughts, sketching out ideas and sticking in magazine cut outs are all part of the wedding planning ritual! Going old-skool is fine to a point but being faced with a blank sheet of paper in a shiny new notebook can be just as daunting as the thoughts of planning your wedding in the first instance! Enter ….. the Wedding Planning Journal.

Getting organised with your wedding planning
Getting organised with your wedding planning.

What makes a good Wedding Planning Journal?

We are obviously a bit biased but having researched the market and used our stacks of experience we do feel ours pretty much ticks all the boxes but we’ll let you be the judge of that!!

  • Budget tracker
  • Guest tracker
  • Timeline of what you need to book and when
  • Space to jot down notes and inspiration
  • Space to keep receipts and loose sheets of paper
  • Allows you to keep all your planning notes in one place

In addition to all those tracking sheets, there can be extra things which are included that can really help you with your planning:

  • checklists
  • calendars
  • on the day timings
  • task lists

A lot of Planning books will have sections to help you keep track of your tasks so you progress through your planning in a logical order and keep organised.

Wedding Planning Book.
The Wedding Blueprint Planner

But what makes the ULTIMATE wedding planning book?

Having a planner book that goes one step further than all the points above can be even more useful! What about a planner that guides you through your wedding planning journey, offers advice, tips and a helping hand with your planning? What about a planner that inspires you, actually give you clear and executable actions to keep your planning focused and on track? What about a planner that provides a solid foundation for the rest of your planning, removing the stress and overwhelm?

Why should I pick the Wedding blueprint?

I like to keep track of everything on my phone, while I’m on the go?

Well, we have downloadable sheets for your planning so you can keep electronic updates to the trackers which are included. You get exclusive access to these once you buy your own planner.

I want to plan while I’m at work and I need to do it discretely.

Well, the benefit of our contemporary design is that the navy and white colour scheme is classy and understated, perfect for blending into all your office paraphernalia on your desk

I am put off buying one because they all talk about brides and girly dresses, we are a same sex couple and want something that we can relate to.

You are in luck, we have kept our planner gender-less, we do mention dresses and suits but not brides or grooms

But there’s loads of advice on the internet .

True, there is but this planner has been created by an experienced wedding planner so it WORKS!! The templates and tips are all tried and tested, plus it will save you bags of time trawling the internet because it’s a complete one-stop shop, from the moment you are engaged, through to post-wedding.

Click here to get your hands on your very own Wedding Blueprint planner, and let us know how you get on!

Top tips for using Pinterest for your wedding

Top tips for using Pinterest for your wedding

The chances are if you are recently engaged you will have already set up your Pinterest account and started fervently pinning some gorgeous wedding pins! If you haven’t set yourself up with some wedding planning boards yet then trust me, it won’t be long!!



Pinterest is a fabulous tool to help with your wedding planning and generating ideas. You can get it as an app on your phone so you can easily pin away whilst on your morning commute or relaxing infront of the TV in the evening. It actually works like a search engine, like google but for images. You type in your inspiration words to the search bar and it will throw back billions of related pins for you to peruse. Each pin has an image or infographic which has been pinned by another user for the public to see.



Using Pinterest is fairly straightforward. You pin what you like onto your own boards for you to then refer back to. It basically becomes a digital, personalized mood board. Most of the time the pin will link back to the original content where the pin was created. I would highly recommend clicking through from the pin to the original website where the pin first came from because you will most likely find even more relevant inspiration.



1. Think about the words that resonate with the type of wedding you want. A great starting place for this will be the inspiration words you highlighted on p5 and p24 of The Wedding Blueprint. Then use these to search with.

2. Break your searches down into key areas e.g. invitations, food, dresses, suits, cake, bouquet, etc. The more specific you are with your search terms to more useful the pins that are thrown back to you will be.

3. Use your key areas as ways to organise your boards so you group together your pins so all the stationery ideas are together, all the food inspiration is together etc.

4. Do follow suppliers on Pinterest if you like their work and also follow UK based blogs on Pinterest, then you can mine them for UK specific suppliers. Think of it like a trail of breadcrumbs!

5. Use the pins you like the best to then start researching the suppliers involved in producing that image. If you find some pins local to where your wedding will be held then it’s a great tool for finding like-minded suppliers who have worked together already.

6. Do search your venue on Pinterest. The chances are you will find images taken at that venue which will show you ways you can best use the space.



Pinterest is a mixture of real-life photos and what is known as ‘styled shoots.’ Styled shoots are where a group of wedding professionals get together to create a mini, mock-up of a wedding to showcase their creativity. As a result you can find that some images are not easily replicated in a real wedding, due to costs, logistics etc. Always critique the images and read the original content to find out if it was a real wedding or not to help you.

Pinterest is global. My clients often show me images of amazing outside wedding set ups on a beach or in a dessert – not exactly possible in the UK with our English summers so don’t get too hung up on creating exactly what you see in an image. Also, given the global element there maybe items featured in the photo which may not be easy to find in the UK, or if you can they may be expensive. This can relate to furniture, flowers and décor.

Understandably the images on Pinterest are showcasing the best work of the supplier so what you don’t know is how much Photoshopping has happened to create that image, how much airbrushing has been needed to create that flawless skin etc. Again, be slightly critical of what you are looking at and don’t take it at face value.

Photographs are subject to editing and on a varying scale. You will find as you skim through wedding pins the variety of ways a photograph can be edited, for example dark and moody or airy and light. It is just something to be mindful of, that you may fall in love with a pin and want to recreate it but overall, the style is not your photographer’s natural style.

Copyright! Photographs are covered by copyright laws. The copyright is owned by the photographer. The item photographed is also the Intellectual property of the supplier who designed it. It is bad form to take another supplier’s work and ask another supplier to copy it exactly! Use it as inspiration to create something unique for you with your supplier’s expert input.



Once you have done your initial collection of pins, in my experience you will find that there is a commonality between them, something that links them. This could be a colour scheme you have been particularly drawn to, a particular wedding design or venue style for example. My advice at this point would be to delete any duplicate pins and create another board to put your most favourite pins onto. You may find that you have only pinned images of tables for example so it will highlight to you that you need to go back and get some more inspiration for the other areas of your wedding.

Your board of favourite pins is then what you focus on. Keep this updated as you will probably find your taste and the trends change slightly as you progress through your planning, especially if you are planning over several years. Once you start to secure your final suppliers you can pull into that final board pins which are more representative of their works and how your wedding will end up looking. This means that you can start to really build up a truer picture of how your exact wedding will look.

Most wedding suppliers will ask to see your Pinterest board so they can get a feel for your wedding design, to see if you would be a good fit for their style and to get to know your priorities a little better. For visual based elements this can be invaluable – think flowers, table layouts, stationery, décor, hair and makeup.


Happy pinning!!

Emily x



Top Tips for planning your wedding on Pinterest

10 Essential Wedding Planning Tips

10 Essential Wedding Planning Tips

1. Set your budget

OK, this may sound obvious but if you don’t know what you are spending then you won’t be able to make sensible, decisions on which suppliers and which services you will commissioning for your wedding.


2. Set your guest list

This may be easier than it sounds, especially when families are involved. Once you know your numbers for ceremony, daytime and evening then you can begin to shortlist venue which are the right capacity. If you need some help with this we have a handy questionnaire in The Wedding Blueprint to help.


3. It’s never too early!

I often get asked when is the right time to start booking suppliers. My answer, ‘It’s never too early!” If you know what you want secure that supplier! Obviously make sure you have done all your due diligence and don’t make an uninformed decision. Some suppliers like venues and photographers will get booked up years in advance.


4. Pick your bridesmaids carefully

Next to families bridesmaids are what cause my clients the biggest headaches! So my top tip would be to pick wisely!


5. Don’t feel constrained by trends

Your wedding should be personal to you both and not dictated by the trends. By all means take influence but above all it has to represent you both. The Wedding Blueprint has nifty little technique for creating your best day!


6. Don’t try and DIY too much

As lovely as it is be to able to create some unique and handcrafted elements for your own day, don’t become a slave to it! If it becomes and chore or stops you enjoying your wedding preps then DON’T DO IT!! Also, it isn’t necessarily the best way to save money!


7. Don’t feel compelled to conform to traditions

This is so important! You day has to feel like YOURS so if you don’t want a top table, don’t have one! If you don’t want your dad to walk you down the aisle (very Megan Markel-esque) then don’t! You can make your day how you want it and anyone who says otherwise isn’t on your team!


8. Use focal points in your design

Rather than feeling like you have to have everything and finding your budget runs away with you, pick one or two key areas which will have the most impact on your day and put your budget to those.


9. Think about your guest experience

Most couples will say that the most important thing about their wedding day is to be able to celebrate with their friends and family. They want their guests to have the best day and leave with fabulous memories of their wedding. Think about how your guests will be experiencing your day as you plan. Keep them fed, hydrated and the right temperature – think of them as plants!!


10. If people offer to help, accept it

Trust me, there is an awful lot to do when you plan a wedding! The average amount of time for a non-pro is about 350 hours so if someone offers to help, let them. However, be specific about what they are actually going to do and discuss a realistic time frame.


Happy Planning!

Emily x



10 essential wedding planning tips