Time is moving on and it’s that bit nearer your wedding now. If you’ve followed our tips for what to plan at 12 – 10 months, you’ll be well ahead with your plans, having sorted your budget, venue, wedding dress, photographer and florist.
Now it’s time for the other wedding players to enter onto your big day stage.
Choose your bridesmaids
Bridesmaids used to be thought to protect the bride from evil spirits on her big day. Well, we’re not sure about that, but carefully chosen bridesmaids can certainly help you to maintain your composure and keep everything running smoothly – and at the very least hold an umbrella over you to protect you from wet weather!
‘Carefully chosen’ are the key words here. Just because somebody’s your best friend from school doesn’t mean she’ll make a great chief bridesmaid – she may live abroad, be busy with a young family or be extremely disorganised!
So think hard about who you ask. You can have as many, or as few, bridesmaids as you wish. If you’re struggling to make a decision, then read our tips on how to choose bridesmaids for your big day. We’d recommend a chief bridesmaid who you feel you can hand the reins over to from time to time, and who you can trust to deal with your venue, suppliers and wedding plans, as all these are an essential part of the bridesmaids duties.
When it comes to choosing bridesmaids dresses, consult your girls first. They should have a say in the style of the dress, especially if you’ve picked girls that are all different shapes and sizes. Ask them which styles they like and what would make them feel comfortable. Longer length skirts? Boleros, perhaps? Consider having different styles in the same colour, so every bridesmaid gets a gown that suits her individual shape. Or you could choose different shades of the same base colour – say blue – for an ombre effect or go for autumn colours or dazzling brights. Different skin tones suit different colours, so bear that in mind!
So who pays? We feel that the bride should foot the bill for the dresses, but if you’re working with a tight budget, you could buy your girls their dresses as a thank you gift, or ask them to finance their shoes and accessories. Have a look at our Forum for what other brides are saying on the subject of bridesmaids.
Here come the guys!
Men should get their suits organised early on – particularly if they all need to get together and go to a menswear shop for fittings.
Traditionally, men’s accessories (ties, cravats, waistcoats) follow the colour scheme of the wedding, but that’s not a hard and fast rule. Just like your wedding dress, a groom’s suit should reflect his personality and the style of ceremony you’re having. If your groom is never out of trainers, for example, maybe he could wear Vans or Converse with his suit. He might also prefer to wear a bow tie rather than a regular tie, or choose a funky suit lining to show off in the wedding photographs.
Three key things to remember when choosing the suits
- The groom needs to stand out from the crowd – this might be with a different coloured waistcoat, tie or cravat. He’s the lead character in that group and needs to be recognised as such.
- Match the menswear to the type of wedding. Top hat and tails won’t look right at an informal registry office do.
- Bear the season in mind. A professional menswear shop like Stephen Bishop Suiting, Hugh Harris Formalwear or Moss Bros will be able to advise you on the type of suit fabrics you should consider.
The golden rule is that all hired suits should be tried on BEFORE the wedding day. Missing cufflinks, trousers that are too short in the leg… these are all very real wedding day dilemmas that can be avoided if you check, check and check again!
Sort your stationery
Wedding stationery is a very personal and individual part of your big day, and includes more items than you might think! By stationery we generally mean the following:
- Save the date cards
- Invitations and RSVPs
- Orders of service
- Place cards
- Table numbers or names
- Thank you cards
Save the date cards should be sent out as soon as you’ve set a date. This could be 12 months in advance of the wedding – which is a particularly good idea if you’re planning on getting married abroad, as friends and family will need to book flights, time off work and may also like to build a holiday around your wedding.
Don’t feel your save the dates have to be traditional postcards – you could also print fridge magnets, tea towels or stamps.
Invitations should be sent out six to eight weeks before the wedding, but if you want these designs personalised in any way (say, with your wedding colours, initials or pictures) it’s best to give your designer as much time as possible to produce them. In most cases your invitations popping through the letterbox will give your guests their first inkling of what lies ahead – a colourful, relaxed celebration or a more formal affair? You’ll be setting the tone of the day, right from the start. Are you having a dress code? Do you want all your male guests to wear black tie? If so, you need to make that clear in your invitations. We think it’s always good to specify lounge suits, black tie or morning coats – then every man knows how he is expected to dress and nobody will feel out of place or embarrassed by wearing the wrong thing.
Invitation packs should include hotel or B&B ideas for out-of-town guests, directions to the venue with postcode for sat navs, a request for any special dietary requirements and details of your gift list. Some brides prefer to exclude their gift list details from the evening-only invitations but generally all guests will want to give you a little something, so have an idea in mind before they ask you.
When it comes to wording your invitations, you can be as formal or as relaxed as you like. Traditionally the wedding invitation comes from the people who are hosting (paying for) the day. In years gone by, the bride’s parents would have been named first, like so:
Mr and Mrs Baker request the pleasure of the company of … at the marriage of their daughter ….
If you’ve paid the majority of the bill, we would suggest:
Miss Smith and Mr Jones request the pleasure of the company of …. at their marriage ….
You’ll find more handy hints and tips for invitation wording in our planning section.
Remember that larger invitations cost more to send and very small envelopes can get lost in the mail. Hopefully you’ll get all RSVPs back from your guests at least two weeks before the big day, so that you can finalise numbers with your venue.
Stationery is one easy area to save a bit of money and show your creativity. We’re seeing more and more brides DIY-ing their own wedding stationery. If you’re thinking of giving it a go, why not ask other real brides about their experiences on our Forum?
How to get there
Wedding transport comes in all sorts of weird, wonderful and classic styles. We’ve seen tractors and trailers as well as Rolls Royces and royal carriages here at Wedding Ideas. There are loads of ways to get to the aisle in style – one of our favourites was the bride who arrived at her Thailand beach wedding on top of an elephant!
One major rule is to consider the time of year. Will a classic car be able to make it down a snow-covered country lane? Or will you look to arrive in style in a sporty wedding car that’s in your budget. Maybe ask a friend with a beautiful vehicle to do the honours? If you’re holding your ceremony and reception in the same place (so you don’t need transport to arrive in), you could just hire a classic car a la William and Kate and leave the celebrations in style instead!
Our top tips for booking wedding transport
- See the actual vehicle BEFORE you book or pay a deposit, so you can’t be blamed for scratches or dents after collection.
- The car may well be the backdrop to your photos, so make sure it’s in keeping with your colour scheme and wedding theme.
- Think about how many people need to travel to the venue. You may need two or three vehicles depending on how many bridesmaids, pageboys and flowergirls you’ve got.
- Ask for a bottle of champagne to be chilling in the back of the car so you and your new husband can have a celebratory drink on the way to the reception.
- As with all suppliers, double check your booking a couple of days before so you’re not left in the lurch!
A piece of cake
Your wedding cake will be a key feature at your reception and in your wedding pictures. Whether you have traditional tiers, cool cupcakes, or even a cake made of cheese, you should start planning what it’s going to look like now!
We can help you find the right wedding cake for you. Budget options include making it yourself – satisfying but very stressful unless you fancy yourself as the next Deila Smith – or buying a high street design. Waitrose, Marks and Spencer and most major supermarkets offer their own plain iced versions of wedding cakes, which you can decorate at home. In most cases, these will do the job splendidly – just add some ribbon and fresh flowers and you have a tasty take-home treat for your guests.
Cheese cakes are big news at country weddings, doubling up as a late-evening snack for guests or the final course of the main meal instead of dessert.
In recent years fruity (passionfruit, lemon and raspberry) and floral (rose, lavender) flavours have become increasingly popular, as are cake pops, cookies, and personalised biscuits. All of this shows that you don’t have to stick with traditional fruit cake. For more inspiration, check out our Wedding Cakes board on Pinterest!