The idea of planning your own wedding sounds like fun to the uninitiated. But unless you feel confidently creative, are commercially savvy and regularly manage complex projects, it can be a daunting task. Wedding planning can be stressful, especially when you’re not sure where to start.

As professional wedding planners we are often asked for our top wedding planning tips. We have distilled it down to four golden rules:

  • Set a budget and stick to it by negotiating hard with suppliers, especially if they were recommended by your venue; they will often be paying commission on your booking.
  • Don’t copy ideas from a magazine or pick a colour and stick to it; instead think about how to reflect your own personalities and interests in the styling of your day.
  • On your wedding day you are the host, so plan the whole day from your guests’ perspective. This means making sure that it flows naturally, that they are not left standing around without a drink while you have pictures taken – and that guests get to spend time with you both.
  • Appoint someone as the coordinator on the day. This could be a friend, or ideally, a professional. Without a coordinator, you will spend the whole day sweating the details yourself, which will significantly reduce your enjoyment of the day. They need to reconfirm all the details with suppliers, create a detailed running order and oversee the day.

As a rough guide, you should spend about 40 per cent of your budget on catering and approximately ten per cent each on venue hire, clothes, entertainment, photography and flowers.

Everything else should be covered by the remaining ten per cent.

If you are getting married in Oxfordshire, then why not add a touch of some of its heritage?

Some locally-grown flowers spilling out of old wicker baskets and hearty gastro food, perhaps?

Spring heralds an abundance of beautiful fresh food. Rhubarb and pink champagne is a match made in heaven and allows your food to fit in with a delicate colour scheme. Marinated spring
lamb, the first peas, young broad beans, carrots and asparagus promise a break from the heaviness of winter food.

Whatever you do, make it seasonal, local and as fresh as possible!

Do make the most of Oxfordshire suppliers but, depending on what you want, you may also need to go further afield. Book caterers, your venue or marquee and anything else that is key as soon as you are clear on what you want. The earlier the better.

Styling a wedding is much more difficult than just copying a magazine idea or adhering to conventional traditions. I often start by asking couples what impression they want to leave their guests with and how we can incorporate elements of their personality into the design
scheme. Other considerations include the season, the location, the size of the guest list, favourite colours, the level of formality desired, and the budget.

Think macro and micro in terms of dressing a venue. Macro styling means lighting the outside of a building, transforming the interior space and fusing the venue’s character with the nature of your event.

Micro styling means the way you dress the tables, the folding of napkins and your choice of china, glassware, place cards and favours. Work with the venue, Blenheim Palace needs very little dressing as it’s stunning, but if you are using a quaint converted barn – of which there are several in Oxfordshire – then styling will be more important.

Don’t just concentrate on colour schemes; think about how to surprise and engage your guests to enable them to feel connected to your personalities.

Whether you’re a talented gardener, love vintage or have an ultra-modern home, try to think of ways to reflect some of this in the choices you make when styling your wedding.

Really talented florists will happily interpret your concepts with flowers, candles, feathers, wood, glass or foliage.

Different florists have very different styles and ideas, so don’t just select the first florist you come across.

Lighting is as important at creating an effect as flowers, especially during darker winter months.

From miraculous transformations by production to the magical effect of candles, even the most
ordinary spaces can look beautiful bathed in light.

We’re often asked about how to fuse traditional with modern customs. A good example is favours; favours are a relatively recent American import to the UK, and whilst no means a necessity, if you do choose to have favours make them a personal gift. Small scented candles that match the smell of your roses, handmade confectionery or beautiful artistry on unusual materials as place cards; a favour should be something special that your guests will really want to keep.

When you think about the flow of the day, make sure your guests are never standing around waiting for you, such as when you are having your pictures taken. Planning the flow through your guests’ eyes will make sure that there is always something going on and a glass
of champagne close by.

Finally, consider using a professional wedding planner.

Chances are that they will largely pay for themselves through a combination of reduced stress and in the deals they can get. An experienced wedding planner will know how to get excellent quality at lower costs from suppliers you are unlikely to find.

Everyone wants their wedding to be memorable and the easiest way to do this is to make it as unique as you are.