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Kind Of A Downside Of Wedding Planning… For Me At Least…

I spend weeks after each wedding analysing the event in minute detail!

I have a file that I keep notes in- for myself and for future clients- to refer to when planning all kinds of different weddings.
Its for me to make sure I can avoid or leap over any possible hurdle, and make contingency plans that are easy on the venue and the bride, whilst at the same time not ruining the couple’s vision of their perfect day.

A postmortem of the event is productive and yields results and I can give constructive feedback to the venue and the service providers to aid them in the future, but I find I beat myself up a little over things I should have done differently… Woulda-coulda-shoulda and all that.

In essence, I don’t sleep well for a few days before the wedding as I go over my plans and schedule again and again, and then for several days after the wedding as well!

Its just as well I love what I do! Even if I am a guest at a wedding my inner coordinator comes out and I find myself wanting to straighten candles and all sorts of things!

Just call me co-ordi-zilla!

#GingerGooseWedding at River Place

After more than a year in planning, with both of them living in Cape Town for most of that year, Heidi and Shaun’s wedding was simply wonderful, and with a bride as beautiful and as happy as Heidi, it couldn’t possibly have been any other way.

In case you’re wondering, their wedding is hashtagged in social media as #GingerGooseWedding because Shaun is a ginger, and Heidi’s maiden name means she’s been called “Snowgoose” for at least as long as I’ve known her. They even had a special ginger and gooseberry jam made up as their wedding favour!

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Planning this wedding with Heidi was extra special for me as Heidi and I have been friends for a few years, and my husband and I were guests at the wedding so I got to the bridal shower as well. Seeing Heidi in her gown for the first time gave me goosebumps! She looked incredible!

Heidi and Shaun both wanted a relaxed, easy going vibe for their guests, and they decided on a picnic with an exquisite choral and seafoam colour scheme lending itself beautifully to the spring weather!
During her planning, Heidi had several Pinterest boards that she used to document her inspiration for her wedding, and when we spoke to potential suppliers for decor, make up, hair styling and clothing, she included links to her Pinterest boards so that everyone could see what she had in mind. It was really helpful and I think there may be a few new Pinterest users as a result. 

Heidi and Shaun carried a Scrabble theme throughout their wedding, from their engagement announcement and their save-the-date, to their wedding favours, and even the wedding cupcakes! And they very cleverly saved themselves a lot of money by using electronic invitations, only making up traditional invitations for special family members.
Heidi also sourced several items herself while on a business trip in the UK, like the suits worn by the groom and his entourage, the tutu worn by her little niece and her divine seafoam green, Chantilly lace covered, high heel shoes!

The search for the right venue was over quite quickly. It couldn’t be too too far away, it had to be pretty, have good food, be able to do a picnic wedding and of course- fit their budget. Heidi loved River Place the first time she saw it, and as soon as Shaun was in Gauteng again they went to see it together and that was it. They didn’t look at another venue!

There was only one person Heidi wanted to see about making her and her bridesmaids’ dresses and as always, Marieks’ work was beyond reproach! There is never a stitch out of place and I am sure you will agree that the bride and her entourage look incredible! 

Then we started talking to decor suppliers, hairstylists and make up artists. Scheduling appointments for Heidi for her dress fittings, meetings, make up and hair trials, decor mock ups and so on was tricky as she was only in Gauteng once a month for a week – and she had  lot of work to do in that week as well so it wasn’t easy for her to get time off. But we did it!

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The ceremony took place outside, with a backdrop of origami geese framing the couple as they said their vows. From there the guests went to a huge lawn next to the Hennops River, set with picnic blankets, scatter cushions, bean bag chairs, picnic baskets, vintage decor, and cocktails in mason jars!

Heidi changed out of her gorgeous lace high heels into a pair of seafoam green Converse sneakers so that she could be comfortable on the picnic lawn and then the newlyweds were seated on a couch – which was how they met – and all the family and group portraits took place on and around the couch.

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As usual, when I am running around on the wedding day, I didn’t get around to taking many pictures at all, but you must click through to photographer Jeanette Verster’s blog and Facebook page to see how she captured the day. 

Second Shooter: Nicole du Toit
Venue: River Place
Cake and cupcakes: The Cupcake Lady
Bride’s gown and bridesmaids dresses: Marietjie Oelofse Couture
Decor and flowers: Authentic Events
Bride’s hair: Lasting Reflections
Bride and bridesmaids make up: Godiva
Ginger and Gooseberry jam wedding favours: The Good Food Company

Good To Know

The majority of venues you visit will provide you with a list of preferred suppliers and service providers.

These suppliers and service providers however, are not necessarily the best in the business. They may also not have been vetted by your venue as reliable or efficient.

In many cases, the people on a venue’s “preferred supplier” list have paid to be there, so do not assume that a “preferred supplier” list contains your best options.

Surprising Hidden Costs…

If you are planning on having a wedding cake with lots of tiers that looks gawjiss and divine and is just the most fabulous thing on earth, you may want to keep the following in mind.

Check with your venue whether they will charge you to cut it into pieces for you after you’ve done the cake cutting ceremony and had pictures taken! Some venues will charge you for this service.

This is one of the reasons cupcakes continue to grow in popularity.

Looking At A Venue?

As a wedding planner I am beyond particular, so when I am looking at a wedding venue I have a long list of questions I ask. Many of these questions will be answered in conversation with the venue staff, and some will be non-applicable for your wedding.

I must stress that if a wedding venue can not find the time to have you visit with a set appointment and someone to meet with, then you should remove them from your “potential venue” list. Any venue that claims to be too busy to be able to make an appointment to see you and show you around their premises clearly doesn’t need your money.

Here are the questions I ask when viewing a venue:

  • Are the candelabra included in the venue hire (check what is available for look and quality)?
  • Are there adequate bathroom facilities?
  • Are there enough chairs for the ceremony venue or will you need to hire more?
  • Are there other weddings taking place on the same day?
  • Are there restrictions for photography?
  • Are waiters and barmen included in the venue hire?
  • Can you get dressed on the premises, is this room included in the venue hire (if you’re doing everything in one location) and what time can you get there to begin preparation?
  • Can you spend your wedding night on the premises and is it included in the venue hire?
  • Can you use your own suppliers and vendors?
  • Do you allow candles and open flames (this also applies to fireworks, flying Chinese lanterns, candle-lit walkways)?
  • Do you have noise restrictions (this sometimes happens if residences have been built up around a venue since it was opened)?
  • Does the venue have a a problem with you bringing a coordinator with you (keep in mind that a wedding venue’s own coordinators are looking after the venue, not the bride)?
  • Does the venue have a coordinator you can work with (keep in mind that a wedding venue’s own coordinators are looking after the venue, not the bride)?
  • Does the venue supply a PA system?
  • How far is it from the ceremony venue from the reception venue?
  • How far is the parking from the ceremony venue?
  • How far is the parking from the reception venue?
  • If you’re thinking of an outdoor ceremony and reception, is there an adequate back-up plan at the venue?
  • Is confetti/ rice/ streamers allowed after the ceremony?
  • Is cutlery and crockery included in the venue hire (check what is available for look and quality)?
  • Is decorative draping included in the venue hire (check what is available for look and quality)?
  • Is it pretty enough to take photographs (try to visit the venue at the same time of year and time of day as you plan to get married, summer flowers and greenery are often gone in winter)?
  • Is it wheelchair accessible?
  • Is table linen included in the venue hire (check what is available for look and quality)?
  • Is the clean-up fee included in the venue hire?
  • Is the dance floor big enough once the tables have been set up (5mx5m is usually enough)?
  • Is the venue available for your date?Is the venue big enough for your wedding (or too big)?
  • Is the venue easy to find?
  • Is there a generator?
  • Is there a minimum requirement for food and beverages, and are there consequences for not fulfilling the minimum?
  • Is there a payment schedule option?
  • Is there enough secure parking on the premises and is it included in the venue hire?
  • Is there space for the band/ DJ in the reception venue after the tables are set up?
  • What is the cancellation policy?
  • What is the corkage fee (a bottle of wine per table can be costly as you pay for each one opened and not everyone drinks wine, consider letting people order it if they want it)?
  • What is the expected turn-around time for communication during the planning process?
  • What time can set up begin?
  • What time does the venue close at night and are there overtime charges?

Apart from this long list, I suggest you ask for a sample contract to read through before they draw one up for you.