Wedding Bible Planner Photography Experts: Barker Evans
Your photographer is probably the most important professional you will hire on your wedding day. Top of the list when you've set the date is finding a good one. If you try and save money here you are likely to be disappointed. Your photographs, and a wedding film if you have one, are the only visual memento of your day.
Susie Barker and Harley Evans have between them four decades experience photographing weddings (including my own!). They created and compiled the real-weddings imagery in the original Wedding Bible Planner as well as the all-new edition - and made both just that little bit more gorgeous with their fantastic photography! They are also the featured experts in the Photography section of the book.
Renowned for their beautiful, magazine-style wedding imagery, Susie and Harley’s natural, glamorous style has grown out of a background in fashion, true old-style photojournalism and fine art photography. They are the only UK wedding photographers with a range of greetings cards, which are available in conjunction with Woodmansterne.
Barker Evans Photography Top Tips
And if Susie and Harley could only offer one piece of advice, it would be this: “When choosing a photographer it is important to have the right balance between loving the style of images and feeling the person behind the lens will bring out the best in you on the day.” Please do make time to visit the Barker Evans Blog to see just how they deliver on this – and time after time.
I’ve been asked to credit our wedding planning colleagues at Isobel Weddings who coordinated a wedding Susie and Harley chose to feature within their 'Expert' pages in the Wedding Bible Planner (the beautiful bride is the image above). We are grateful too to all the couples who so generously allowed us to share elements of their weddings with you alongside the advice from myself and my expert industry colleagues, and who are featured throughout the book.
(For your copy of the Wedding Bible Planner I can guarantee today’s best price is via Amazon.)
© Sarah Haywood
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'Big 5' Checklist for the newly engaged
Congratulations on your engagement! We know that as well as being an exciting time, when you actually start to look at the planning of your big day the prospect can be quite daunting and you might be wondering where to start. I've planned more weddings than I can count and know from experience that it is crucial not to get too carried away with the detail of your day until a few key options have been explored.
First up for the recently engaged is our 'Big 5' of wedding planning: these are the five key elements that need to be considered before you can get down to the detail of planning your wedding. Crucial is that everyone who is involved in planning and eventually paying for the celebration should ideally be consulted when considering these key Big 5 elements (this will save arguments later on).
1. HOW will you get married? Will it be in a civil or a religious ceremony?
2. WHERE would you like to be married? Have a rough geographic area in mind - narrow it down to county/state.
3. WHEN will you get married? The more flexible you can be, the more options you'll have. So spring, summer, autumn winter: this year, next year - just approximately and ideally when.
4. WHO? That's whom you'll invite. This could be dictated by budget or how many guests a must-have reception venue can accommodate. But sit down and compile a considered guest list so you can accurately assess guest numbers. Do this with everyone who reasonably needs to have a say in it.
5. BUDGET - the million-dollar question: how much can you AFFORD to spend?
You might want to defer some 'Big 5' decisions until other key elements have been put in place and you will need to take a flexible approach. But the 'Big 5' are your wedding road map, and until they have been agreed upon you can't get down to the nitty-gritty details of planning your day. If you do you'll in all likelihood tie yourselves into things and services you don't want, are inappropriate or are outside the budget.
So complete the 'Big 5' checklist together and know you're agreed upon it. And do check out my 10 Top Wedding Planning Tips on the blog too.
For more help with your big day don't forget our range of wedding plannning smartphone apps and books (and the gorgeous image above is by the hugley talented Edoardo Agresti).
Top 10 Wedding Planning Tips
Although Wedding planning isn't rocket science there's a lot to do and that's why it can be stressful. To survive and thrive in the build up to your big day keep a sense of perspective, stay organized, delegate what tasks you can and never lose sight of why you are planning this fabulous celebration in the first place.
Here are my Top 10 Wedding Planning Tips (and do take note of the last tip which I am told has saved relationships!):1. MONEY MANAGEMENT Plan only for the type of wedding you can afford. Accept what you've got to spend and always shop with this in mind. 2. BE TRUE TO WHO YOU ARE Create your perfect wedding, not an international footballers dream day. Ensure your celebration truly reflects you, your values and your shared sense of style.
3. BE ORGANIZED It's the key to successful and stress free wedding planning. 4. PRIORITIZE Don't waste time getting carried away with the detail of your day until you have put in place the key elements: where and when you'll be married and how much you can spend.
5. PRESENT A UNITED FRONT Create your day together and present a united front to your families. Leave some room for family input - especially if they are contributing financially. But be sensitive to the desires and expectations of your families, respect their point of view and listen - even if you eventually reject their ideas (as people sometimes just like to be heard!).6. DELEGATE Behind every blooming bride and gorgeous groom is a fabulous and efficient team, so delegate what you can to friends and family who have skills in areas you need help with.
7. BRIDESMAIDS & BEST MAN Have a reliable best man and chief bridesmaid. If your closest friends are not competent, confident, reliable individuals, give them something else to do!8. HIRING & FIRING Do not hire anyone or anything until you have seen or sampled their wares. Get every detail in writing. Before signing a contract ask: "is this your best price?" And read the small print: are taxes and service charges included - if not, you need to budget for them.
9. KEEP COOL, CALM & COLLECTED - especially with your nearest and dearest. Don't alienate anyone you'll need later on (I'm thinking mother-in-law!).10. WEDDING FREE ZONES Have wedding free zones in your home(s) and wedding free evenings with your intended. Then you'll remember why you are doing this…For more help with your big day don't forget our range of Wedding Planning Apps and Wedding Planning Books.Happy Wedding Planing!
Images: Mood Board By Sarah Haywood on Pinterest. Other images © Carlo Carletti (2,4), ContreJour (3), Barker Evans (5)
Don't Rain On My (Wedding Day) Parade!
We love talking about the weather here in Britain. Today I was a guest on Sky News who were discussing how this terrible (and seemingly never-ending) wet spell is spoiling weddings. It got me thinking - has rain ever in my experience really spoiled a wedding day?
images © AlexandreWeddings.com
The answer is a resounding no (even in the floods a few years back: it was challenging but no days were spoiled - they were just different to how we'd planned). And don't just take my word for it as here's proof from a few of our fabulous photographer friends:
If you are getting married this or any other wet week-end, then unless you let it, rain is extremely unlikely to dampen your nuptials. But I also know that we in the wedding industry have spent the build up to your big day promising you perfection. We have promoted our businesses with gorgeous imagery of what we claim a perfect day looks like - and rarely do we show the bit where we enveloped you in umbrellas, when the bride changed from her wellies into her shoes in the car, or when the groom gave his jacket to his chilly granny.
images © SpinningYourDreams.co.uk
The bridal magazines are full of sunshine and (sometimes fake) fabulousness. In the real world however, on perfect days the sun does not necessarily shine and also it sometimes rains...
image © SarahVivienne.co.uk
I also know that we have allowed you (especially if you are a bride) to believe that you are the axis around which the world is now spinning (if you are my client you are for your special day the axis around which my world spins - it's just that the elements and world at large have not got to grips with this). You may well have been lulled into a sense of security that encourages you to think and truly believe that the perfect day you have planned will not and cannot be anything other than the way you envisaged and dreamed of (believe me I know how this feels: I was once a bride too - and ready to kill over the wrong shade of ivory table napkins).
images © SegeriusBruceBlog.com
So if you have been dreaming of a sunny day and a balmy British summer evening then it is time for a deep breath. Do not let something as commonplace and regular as rain spoil your moment in the sunshine. Remember what this day is really meant to be about. All you have been planning is the backdrop (because people make great weddings when the day eventually arrives). Your wedding is an occasion to share with those you love the commitment you are making and then together to celebrate: come rain or shine.
images © GlenMitchellPhotography.com
images © SarahVivienne.co.uk
Be prepared (all it takes is umbrellas and a change of shoes), work with your suppliers and listen to their advice (as we have all worked in wet weather before) and do not believe that just because you don't want it to, it will not rain. The lesson today is: never, ever plan for great weather (even at the All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon they finally put a cover over the Centre Court)!
Special thanks to photographers Polly Alexandre, Sarah Vivienne, Segerius Bruce, Julia & Martin at Spinning Your Dreams, Nicki & Glen at Glen Mitchell Photography and especially the couples you see here who did not let the rain spoil their parades! (And if you are a guest at a wet weather wedding, please do not keep stating: "it's a shame about the weather!")
image © AlexandreWeddings.com
I have a 'Wedding Planning Golden Rule' that even when planning celebrations with generous budgets I try to keep at the forefront of my mind: How much money you spend celebrating your commitment to one another is not a measure of its strength. Weddings are about people, not the pounds and pence. I know that the celebrity weddings featured weekly in glossy magazines can frighten the average couple into thinking that weddings are all about how much you spend impressing your friends and relatives. They are not. A wedding should reflect who you are and say something about your own sense of style and values - not those of a soap star, glamour model or Hollywood A-lister.
If you are nervous about tying the knot in the current financial climate don't be scared into postponing your plans before considering that now is the time to secure yourselves a bargain. But never, ever get yourself into debt by spending more than you can afford on your dream day. Do not borrow, do not put it all on a credit card. Plan only for what you can afford: starting your married life in debt is a recipe for disaster...
But if you have put a pot of money aside for your wedding then there has never been a better time to get married. The money is not earning you much interest in the bank and now is the time to bag yourself a serious bridal bargain. If you are willing to be flexible there are last minute deals to be had at hotels and wedding venues up and down the country. If you'll consider a weekday wedding then you could shave up to 25% off the costs.
Don't be afraid of planning a last minute wedding. If key suppliers such as photographers, florists, entertainers and honeymoon tour operators have spaces in their diaries over the next three months, then there is serious room for negotiation. Those dates are unlikely to be filled so they should be far more open to offering a deal.
Money Management: Plan only for he type of wedding you can afford. Create your perfect day not a premier league footballer (or future King of England's) dream day. Set a realistic budget and prioritize the main areas of spending: if flowers are more important than the cake for example, then budget for a simple cake and spend more on flowers.
Keep overspending in check: if you overspend in one area of your wedding then immediately claw it back from another. So if the photographer was £/$/€150 more than budgeted, immediately cut that amount from the spend elsewhere.
Keep control of your guest list: Around 50% of the budget goes on the venue hire food and drink. If the cost per head is £/$/€75 for example, then it is easy to see how inviting an extra 5 people will add a significant amount to the overall spend.
Beware of fixed price packages: check what is included and what you actually want. Negotiate and do not be bamboozled into signing a contract until you are happy with what you are agreeing to.
Read the small print: are taxes and service charges included? If not, then an extra 10% service charge for food and beverages plus 20 tax/VAT on the total bill could mean hundreds if not thousands more than budgeted. So do the sums.
Don't be over-generous! 'Favors' are sometimes just table clutter. You do not need to buy your guests a gift and unless it is really worth having it will be left behind. And if you are offering a free bar you do not have to include spirits. Wine and beer is sufficient and often all people expect.
Borrow what you can and hire expensive items. Who has recently married and could lend you a veil or jewelery? And many items can be hired such as vases, topiary, linens and decorations.
Enlist the help of talented friends. If someone can bake then they can do the cake!
Do not spend to alleviate pre-wedding nerves! In those final weeks before the wedding when it is all planned the bride-to-be especially feels she should be doing something. This is when the evil cosmetic companies get to girls and play on their nerves telling them that in order to radiate gorgeousness on their wedding day they need to spend £/$/€75 on a pot of face cream and buy hundreds of pounds worth of make-up. You do not.
(For more help with your big day don't forget our range of wedding plannning smartphone apps and books)
Compiling your Guest List
Today the invitations go out for the Royal Wedding. The guest list is the one area of wedding planning that rarely passes without incident between a couple and their immediate families. Spare a thought for poor William and Kate: as well as the usual 'advisors' we all have, they have Royal protocol and diplomatic relations to consider, one of them has a list of extended family that were they to invite them all, would fill Wembley Arena, and then they've a whole department of 'experts' advising them how to compile their guest list.
The modern wedding is often funded by the couple and both sets of parents who might all have strong views on who should and should not be included on the final list. Respect, compromise and diplomacy are therefore key. Do remember that weddings are occasions when we affirm the very concept of family and friendship. Those you surround yourself with on your wedding day should be those who have supported you to this point in your lives, who want your marriage to work and who will be with you as your embark upon the next chapter of your lives together. When planning your day all you are doing is creating the backdrop. I know for sure that it is great guests who make great weddings: it is all about the people.
Very early on numbers (and not necessarily at this stage names) need to be agreed. Your guest numbers may be restricted by your budget, or by how many guests your dream venue can accommodate. But there is little point in looking for a venue until you have agreed approximate guest numbers and how much you can spend - and that involves compiling a realistic guest list.
Here are my top tips on compiling a Guest List:
• Begin with a wish list and then start pruning.
• Divide you list into categories: immediate family from both sides, distant relatives, close friends who you must invite, friends you would like to include and 'optionals' (such as work colleagues).
• Consider who is and has been important to you and supported you on life's journey thus far, who is likely to remain in your life and whom you want to share the day with.
• If you are not sure whether to invite someone consider whether you would be offended to discover you were not invited to their wedding. If the answer is 'no': then there is no requirement for them to be included in yours.
• Your list might be an amalgamation of several smaller lists to include parents' guests. Do not start the process without a discussion about numbers and agree a realistic figure for them to work with.
• It is reasonable to ask parents to restrict their lists to people you actually know. But avoid causing them discomfort or embarrassment by insisting they offend or hurt those closest to them.
• If invites to family becomes the bone of contention with parents, fast forward thirty years: will you be ok with your children one day telling you your sibling's children cannot come to their weddings?
• Etiquette dictates you need only include partners of guests in committed relationships (married, engaged, living together). Be clear on the invitation who is invited and speak to people in advance to soften the blow.
• Not inviting children is a contentious issue, but could significantly reduce your guest numbers. Warn parents in advance if you choose not to invite their children. The only exceptions can be nieces and nephews, godchildren and of course nursing mothers.
• If budget is an issue remember to keep hold of the 'price per head' figure. This will inject a dose of reality to the task.
• Be prepared to negotiate and compromise - especially if family are contributing financially. Be sensitive to the desires and expectations of one another and your families and respect their views (even if you reject them).
© Sarah Haywood, 2011
Wedding Planning Stress
I was today a guest on one of my favourite programme's: BBC Radio 2's Jeremy Vine Show. The topic was 'Wedding Stress' and we took calls - some of them shocking and sad - from couples who had, or are experiencing family conflict in the build up to their big day. What came through loud and clear is that issues or resentments that might be bubbling beneath the surface within families are likely boil over if you are planning a wedding.
It is not called 'the biggest day of your life' for no reason: weddings are joyous occasions but the months leading up to them are a busy time simply because there is lot to do. It can also be a time parents have to face up to the fact their children are grown up - and letting them go can be hard. Your intention to get married is in itself a declaration that someone else is now Number One in your life. Relating to parents in this new way can be unsettling for both parties. And getting married is in itself a statement that you are an independent adult (and you do have to behave like one now!). So be sensitive to one another and ensure that if there is tension you deal with the root cause. If you really are arguing over the colour of tablecloths or chair covers, it is likely to be about something else!
There is also the financial aspect: weddings are costly occasions and loaded with expectation. Everyone with a vested interest in the day has an expectation - and it might not be the same as yours. Also remember that those paying for the day might reasonably expect to get some say in how it will be: if this is the case you night need to demonstrate a degree of flexibility. In the modern world often the couple and both sets of parents are paying for the celebration: so establish who is paying for what and allow others to tell you what they have in mind for their money: if you don't agree, negotiate.
Delegating key tasks to people who want to be involved might be a solution to demonstrating your appreciation. And it is always sensible to have a second-in-command for each area of the wedding. But if you know there is an issue lurking beneath the surface it's best not to ignore it: sooner or later it will manifest itself. Some people avoid confrontation and others like to clear the air. If you opt for the latter remain calm when you bring up the subject, otherwise tempers already stressed, will fray. Also remember that mothers will have had a dream about their daughter's wedding for years and the groom's mother often complains she feels left out. So allocate them jobs that will keep them busy! And remember not to alienate anyone you'll need later on (like your mother-in-law).
The Guest List is the number one cause of conflict in wedding planning. Who to invite is tricky, restricting the list is trickier still: we've a blog dedicated to it if you are having trouble either compiling yours, or accommodating guests you would not have included yourself.
To survive and thrive as a bride and groom keep a sense of perspective, stay organised, delegate and remember why you are doing this in the first place. The phone-in referred to above also revealed that sometimes you just have to either go with it, or let go altogether, as the issues are just too complicated and too deep. Being married is all about compromise, understanding and loving one another just for who and what you are. If that means you or your intended come with 'baggage' then embrace it (and welcome to the world the rest of us inhabit)...