06
Jul 12

10 Tips to Cut Catering Costs

You should budget around 45%-50% of your overall wedding budget on catering. No matter what type of wedding you have or what time of day it’s held at, guests will expect food and beverages.  Most couples opt for a 3-course sit down meal but I’ve also seen buffets, stand up cocktail receptions, and more informal versions of the sit down meal. Most couples are now offering canapes, a main meal, and an evening buffet so this can really blow the budget if you’re trying to spend wisely. Catering is not cheap so see my 10 tips on saving catering fees below.

luxury wedding planner london

Lloyd Dobbie Photography

Top 10

1. Save your meat for the main dish and serve vegetarian canapes and starters. Try risotto served in shot glasses, vegetarian rice rolls, or a trio of asparagus

2. Cut out the starter course by offering more canapes during the drinks reception and this will save on crockery, cutlery, equipment, and staff.

3. Unless you and your guests are champagne connoisseurs, opt for cava, prosecco, or English sparkling wine to add a bit of luxury without the price tag. Most guests won’t know the difference. I personally prefer cava over the other two (when champagne isn’t offered, of course!).

4. Replace the first course with a selection of breads and dipping oils

5. Serve wedding cake as your dessert. You will save so much money doing this, and guests will actually eat your cake! If you serve a dessert and then offer wedding cake, you will have a lot of leftovers.

6. Serve your food “family style” meaning 3-4 dishes come out for the starter in which guests serve themselves, then you see the same for the main course. This allows for a formal seated dinner with an informal service and cheaper price tag.

7. If you’re having an evening buffet, you don’t need to cater to all your guests as only a small percentage will eat at that time. I normally see less than half of guests touch the evening buffet.

8. Serve the expensive drinks (bubbly, specialty cocktails) early in the day so guests can remember them and enjoy the taste. Towards the end of the evening I always see half full glasses being left around the room which always go to waste. Guests leave their glass on a table then forget which one is theirs, or they set it down to use the loo then a waiter picks it up before they return. To avoid waste on expensive items, serve these early on.

9. Add a bit of luxury to your presentation by dropping raspberries into your bubbly, or adding small slices of cucumber and orange into each water glass. Presentation is everything and a small touch makes a major impact.

10. Serve cold canapes and a cold starter. Hot dishes require more equipment which means more cost. Also, if you’re running behind on time, you don’t need to worry about food coming out cold. Win/win!

luxury wedding planner in London

 

Happy planning!

Erika xo

 


14
Jun 12

Total Guest Experience

When you hear the word “wedding” you think of a bride and groom. However, weddings are nothing without the guests. You need to plan your wedding with your guests in mind as they want to have a fantastic experience too. I’m not saying to design your wedding to their style or taste, no way it’s your day, but plan each and every move as if you were a guest.

From the moment guests arrive, it should feel like every detail has been thought of with your guests in mind. It’s not just about making the room look pretty, it’s about making your guests feel welcome, letting them know where they’re supposed to be, making sure they have transportation to and from the venue, and giving them something special, treat them like royalty. To give your guests a great experience you must tap into psychology.

stephanie and matthew etherington wedding

Before the wedding even begins, I encourage couples to write a “welcome letter” for out of town guests. This letter will include information on local transportation, the best coffee shops, museums, pubs, cocktail bars, shopping, information on the wedding and any pre/post wedding events, etc. It’s a great way for guests to explore the town without having to do their own research.

To really turn up the heat on your guests’ experience, provide transportation to and from the venue. If you’re having a London wedding then consider shuttling your guests on an iconic red doubledecker bus. Providing transportation helps your guests relax as they won’t be stressing about traffic, parking, and who’s going to be the sober driver. It’s a wonderful gesture and is greatly appreciated. If your budget doesn’t allow this then consider printing off the name and number for two local cab numbers and placing a stack of these near the bar for guests to grab.

steph and matthew etherington wedding

There are dozens of ways to make guests feel special and welcomed. I’m not going to give away all my tips (!) but lastly, if you’re giving out guest favours, then have a strolling musician (like a strolling violin) go from table to table during dinner while a waiter personally hands a favour to each guests. Now that’s love!

luxury wedding planner london

 


29
May 12

Top Wedding Planning Tips for a Full Dance Floor

I always ask my clients what their biggest priority is. More times then not they want their guests to have fun and the dance floor to be crowded! To get the ushers whipping their bow ties around their heads like a helicopter blade, and the elderly guests doing the two step shuffle, then careful attention must be put into your evening reception. See my top wedding planning tips below for a fun and unique evening that has your guests asking when your next party is.

Top wedding planning tips for a fabulous evening reception

1) Hire the best possible band or DJ for your budget. Music is no place to cut corners so you should splurge on a reliable and talented band/DJ to get the dance floor moving and bring the atmosphere to life. Bad vocals and bad music equate a disaster and your guests will head home early.  Music truly is the soul of the event.

top wedding planning tips 2

Neil Walker

2) Place the bar in the same room as the dance floor. Guests tend to linger around the bar so if the two are together your guests will remain in the same room. If they are apart, the group will be separated.

3) Hire a lighting company to transform the room. Coloured lighting instantly changes the atmosphere and will take your guests into a whole new world. Top Tip: Use a different colour to the one used for the dinner. Give your guests a complete transformation from day to night.

4) Have your first dance at the beginning of the band’s first set (or when the DJ starts), so all guests are in the room and can join you for the following songs.

5) Hire a beautiful dance floor to complement your colour scheme and design. Guests love dancing on beautiful/unique dance floors rather than the traditional wooden floors. They look great in pictures too!

top wedding planning tips

6) Consider hiring a live band and a DJ. Band’s are great at getting the dance floor filled but if you want to move over to today’s hottest hits, or even music that’s not on the band’s repertoire then a DJ is a perfect fit. If this isn’t possible, pop in a iPod and dance the night away to your favourite tunes.

wedding planner london

Lloyd Dobbie


17
May 12

Wedding at Claridges, London

Last weekend we had an incredible wedding at Claridges in London. We had one of our favourite videographers take a behind the scenes video of the set up.

You can see from the video (below) that a lot of work goes into a single event. I can give you tips on working with specific vendors, but today I’m giving you a fire round of wedding planning tips for managing vendors in the run up to the wedding and on the wedding day:

Fire Round Wedding Tip

1. Contact all your vendors at least two weeks in advance of the wedding to confirm details, delivery/arrival times, collection/departure times, logistics, meals required and dietary requirements. At this time, provide them with information about venue access time, parking, and collection times.

2. Create a Table in a word document with all your vendor contact details and information. I like to have 5 columns; the first column for the vendor category, the second for arrival time, third for departure time, fourth for details such as what they’re bring and where they’re to be place, and fifth contact name and details. If you don’t have a wedding planner, give this document to a trusted bridesmaid and your venue in case there are problems on the day

3. Send your itinerary to each vendor in advance of the wedding. This will ensure they know what’s happening at what times so they can be in position when required. For an itinerary template, write a comment below and I’ll email you with my professional template

4. Let vendors know who the main contact is on the wedding day. If it’s your wedding planner then make sure they have her/his number. If it’s the venue then give them a mobile number for your contact. Vendors will look to one person for key moments throughout the day and when they have questions. There needs to be one leader

5. Make sure there is a room where vendors can rest and eat. Vendors are working hard to make your day seamless and perfect so providing them with food and sit down space will give you extra smiley vendors!

6. Contact your again two days before the wedding to double check everything is ready to go. Make sure you have the mobile numbers for all vendors as they won’t be reachable on their office phone

Happy Wedding Day!

 

Click on the link below and let me know what you think!

VIDEO: Claridge’s Ballroom 05|05|12. Password, if required: erika

wedding at claridges

wedding at claridges, uk

wedding at claridges, london


09
May 12

Budgeting: The Essentials and the Extras

Everyone knows that weddings are expensive, but not everyone knows how to allocate their budget for a great wedding. To begin, there are certain items and vendors that must be booked in order to have a fabulous wedding and happy guests. If you have any leftover money in your budget, refer to the extras guide below for some added luxury and an even more show stopping and jaw dropping day.

 

Please note that the below refers to a traditional wedding with a sit down meal. Many couples are planning unconventional weddings these days so if you have any questions about your budget or how to allocate funds, please leave a comment and I’ll be in touch. Please also note that the essential list is made up of the minimum items/vendors that are necessary for having a wedding celebration. If you’re like me and love your luxury, save up for your extra items! :

 

Essentials

Ceremony and reception Venue

Ceremony Officiant

Photographer

Stationery: invitations, table plan or escort cards, and place cards

Food and beverages caterer

Music for ceremony, cocktail reception, dinner, and evening reception

Rings

Bride’s outfit

Groom’s outfit

Bridesmaids outfits, if paying

Best man and ushers outfits, if paying

Flowers for bridal party

Wedding cake

Table centrepieces

Tables, banqueting chairs, linen, china, stemware (usually provided by venue or caterer)

Transportation, if required (often dictated by venue)

Dance floor (normally required but check with your venue)

Guest book

Gifts for wedding party

Insurance

Microphone and PA for speeches and band

*** Marquee weddings require a lot more in the essentials list***

 

wedding budget

Peggy Porschen

 

Extras

Hair and make-up

Videographer

Ceremony decorations

Ceremony aisle runner

Transportation for bride and groom

Transportation for wedding party and parents

Transportation for guests

Lighting, lighting, and more lighting

Live music

Special cocktails

Statement floral arrangements

Decorations

Evening buffet

Personalised dance floor

Charger plates and upgraded table ware (linen, stemware, china, salt and pepper shakers, etc)

Specialty banqueting chairs

Draping

Toastmaster

Wedding day stationery, including; dinner menus and personalised table names

Fireworks

First night hotel

Gifts for guests

And much, much more

luxury wedding cakes

Grace Ormonde

 

 

 


25
Apr 12

The Seating Plan, Top Wedding Planning Tips

Creating a seating plan is often the height of stress for many couples. You must think about family relationships, friends who may or may not get along, age groups, elderly who can’t be seated near the loud speakers, Children who may be disruptive, and so on…

I suggest tackling the seating plan two weeks before your wedding. Any earlier you risk guests RSVP’ing at the last minute and having to re-do the entire plan, waiting any later will cause more stress as the wedding nears. Plus, you need to leave time for the printers to get the table plans printed.

There are no rules when it comes to seating your guests, however, etiquette suggests seating female, male, female, male, etc., and seating couples opposite of each other rather than next to one another. I rarely see a traditional top table as many parents are divorced and/or remarried, so the modern approach is for each set of parents to host their own table with the bride and groom doing the same.

FlutterFly Events

FlutterFly Events, photography by Lloyd Dobbie

Below are some of my top wedding planning tips for your seating plan:

~ Elderly guests should be seated further away from the band/DJ and any speakers

~ If children are attending, their table should be at the back of the room near the door so they have easy access to the restrooms and can be escorted out if there are disruptions

~ When you handover the seating plan to your wedding planner, put a star by the people that should be facing the head table. As a planner, I often receive seating plans that tell me the order in which guests should sit around the table, but I don’t know where on the table they should be positioned. To help me out, let me know who should have the best view of the new Mr. and Mrs.

~ Put a single guest who knows nobody on a table with a talkative friend of a similar age/interest

~ Seat work colleagues together

~ If you’re truly afraid of offending guests, consider offering “Zones”.  Set up 3-5 zones and assign each guest to a zone where they choose their own table and own seat. It’s on a first come first serve so if they get the table in the corner they can’t bicker to their friends after the wedding!

If you’d like to have the traditional top table, see the seating plan below:
top-table-seating-plan
Happy planning!
Erika

 


24
Apr 12

Receptions On a Loan

Rental equipment has the power to transform your reception into something magical and personalised. From stylish china to chic sofas, consider a visit to your nearest equipment showroom to find pieces that will make your event über glamorous.

Examples of pieces you can hire:
Banqueting chairs
Luxurious linen
China/glassware
Table accessories
Candelabras
Storm lanterns
Sofas, ottomans, decorative pillows, side tables, etc
Rugs
Antiques
Chandeliers
Lamps
Large parasols
ans so much more!

Tip: Hire a lighting professional to spotlight special pieces and add colour and warmth to your reception.

erika unbehaunerika unbehaun 2Hello BlogErika Unbehaun 4Glasswareluxury wedding planner london

Glass_SilverBeads4_LR

black-chandelier


06
Apr 12

Top Tips for First Dance

The first dance is one of the wedding memories you’ll never forget. Five years after my own wedding, I can still remember every moment from my first dance to Alison Krauss’ song, “When you say nothing at all”.  If you’re thinking about skipping this tradition and heading straight for the dance floor, just remember that this is your only shot at a special dance in front of your loved ones so think twice before ditching it!

Below are three top tips for a memorable first dance:

1) Make it meaningful. Almost every couple has a song that makes them think of one another. If the song is suitable for a first dance, give it a shot as after all the first dance is for the two of you, not for your guests. If you struggle trying to find a meaningful song, consider doing a traditional dance from your home country. Think line dancing for Americans, Bollywood for Indians, etc.

2) Listen to the lyrics. It’s important to listen to the lyrics in a song before making the decision on your first dance. Some songs seem sentimental and romantic but the lyrics portray a different image.

3) Don’t stop dancing. If you have a rehearsed dance routine that doesn’t go to plan on the day, don’t stop dancing! Either start the routine from the beginning or bust your own moves- either way have a back up plan in case this happens.

top-tips-for-first-dance
Lloyd Dobbie Photography

 


25
Mar 12

Ruffled wedding gowns

Ruffled wedding gowns have been spotted on the bridal runways for the past few seasons. My eyes always burn then turn into joyful waterworks when I see designs this beautiful. So gorgeous, in fact, that I have a ruffled Oscar de la Renta bride framed in my office.

 

Oscar de la Renta

                                       Oscar de la Renta

Angel Sanchez

                                       Angel Sanchez

Oscar de la Renta

                                       Oscar de la Renta

Ines de Santo

                                       Ines di Santo

 

Melissa Sweet

Melissa Sweet

 


25
Mar 12

Escort Cards vs Table Plan

It’s a good idea to have a seating plan at your wedding- especially if your guest list is over 15. Many couples stress about the seating plan as they’re afraid they might upset family and friends. As long as everyone gets a seat, no real disasters are likely to occur.  The seating plan should be finalised when you submit final numbers to your caterer however, the reality is that seating plans will not be completely finalised until the actual wedding day. Guests fall ill, unexpected guests show and Uncle Joe insists on sitting at table 8.

You may have heard or seen the words “Escort Cards” thrown around but what exactly are these and what’s the difference between Escort Cards and Table Plans?  The escort card is a more modern approach to assigning a table to your guests, the trend starting in American weddings. These are generally handed out at the cocktail reception and assign guests to a specific table for the meal. Once they find their table they will have a place card and seat waiting for them. Escort cards are a great ice breaker as guests tend to walk around with a card in hand asking other guests what table they’re sitting at! They make beautiful decorations as well- see below.

wedding escort cards

escort cards

escort cards

A table plan is mounted onto an easel and visually shows guests which table they will be seated at. They can look beautiful but the flaw with the table plan is that you will need to cross guests off the board who didn’t show up and you will need to add names for those unexpected guests. It’s not something I would recommend if you are a perfectionist. You can create additional escort cards for unexpected cards, or pull them for those that did not show, which is a much cleaner look.

table plans for weddings

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