Picking a wedding venue can be a daunting experience.  Your venue sets the tone for your entire wedding, and it’s a huge commitment in terms of cost.  Speaking as someone who booked a venue then had a complete change of heart, the best advice I can give is to really do your research.  What are you prepared to spend?  What’s important to you in a venue?  Have all of this in mind before you start looking, but be open to new suggestions as well.

Here are a few helpful things to bear in mind when making your decision:

  1. Are there any restrictions in terms of timing?  What time can your evening reception run to?  Does the music need to be turned down by a certain time?  What time will you have the function room from in the morning?
  2. When you’re close to picking your venue and booking a date, make sure you speak to your local registrars first. Check availability and cost before you sign anything, and I would recommend that you book them before the venue.
  3. Find out exactly what’s included in the package. Be sure to ask about extra costs, such as a price per head for extra guests etc.
  4. If you want something quirky, like your cat to walk you down the aisle (believe it or not, a genuine request I had when I was a wedding coordinator!), make sure you discuss this before signing a contract.  Make sure any special requests that the venue agrees to are written into your contract, in case your wedding coordinator leaves, or the management team changes.
  5. Maximum capacities. There’s no point falling in love with a small, cozy venue, if you want a huge wedding for 300 people.
  6. Don’t book anything without seeing the venue first. Pictures can look a lot different, and a good wedding coordinator will not press you to pay a deposit before you’ve had a face-to-face meeting.
  7. Do you like the staff? You will work closely with your wedding coordinator for several months, and the overall feel of the place will play a very big part in your enjoyment on the day.  If you’re torn between two venues, why not book a meal at both and compare your experiences?  Trust your gut with this one.
  8. Ask about the flow and layout of the day. For example, will the whole day take place in one function room?  If so, how much time will be needed to transform the room between the ceremony and the wedding breakfast?  This will influence how long (and where) your drinks reception will be, and it’s important to be realistic about this.  Is there a private bar in your function room, or will guests have to go to the main bar?  If any part of the day takes place outside, what is the contingency plan for rain?
  9. The best advice I can offer is to see as many venues as possible. Chances are you’ll find that they all offer similar things in terms of packages and prices, but seeing all your options will give you a very clear idea of what you want (and what you don’t).
  10. If you’re flexible on your date look into midweek and off-season discounts. Bear in mind that big dates (Valentine’s Day and NYE for example) will be a lot more expensive.
  11. Ask about fun little extras that will personalise your day, like having signature his ‘n’ hers cocktails on sale at the bar.  Chances are the venue will be excited to try something new.
  12. Accommodation is an important one to think about.  If your venue is a hotel, can they offer a group discount for some of your wedding guests?  Is the bridal suite included in the package?  Make sure you ask to see it as well.  If your venue is not a hotel, look into nearby accommodation and check out prices.
  13. Make sure you factor transport into your budget if your wedding is taking place in more than one location.  To travel from the ceremony to our reception we hired a coach for our guests, and asked a family member to drive us in his vintage VW camper van (which we decorated with bunting, and poly ribbon).

bunting inside camper van

Please let me know in the comments if there’s anything I haven’t covered.  I’m happy to answer any questions!

Table plan

Spreadsheets.  The side of wedding planning you don’t see on Pinterest, but they will be your new best friend!

If you have found this post, the chances are you’re planning your wedding.  Congratulations!  Everyone’s experience of planning a wedding will be different, but I wanted this post go into some of the minutiae of the process.

As a former wedding co-ordinator for several well-known hotel chains, I can guarantee these tips will make everyone’s life so much easier.  Please bear in mind however, that my experience is limited only to hotel weddings, and every wedding co-ordinator does things differently, so not all of these points will apply to you.

This will be the first of many wedding-related posts, and I will share some details about the experience of planning my own wedding as well.  I hope you find them useful, and please feel free to ask any questions in the comments below.  Most importantly, please remember that planning a wedding should be a joyful time, so as hard as it may seem, try not to sweat the small stuff.

Know that you have a team of people supporting you (the staff at your venue, as well as your loved ones), and make sure you take a step back if it all gets a bit much.  If things start getting a bit intense, take your other half out for a date night, and make it a wedding-talk free evening.  It will do you both the world of good, I promise.

Know that everything will come together, and enjoy every minute!  Without further ado, here are my top tips to minimise stress:

  1. Please, please, for the love of everything be consistent with your names. Your wedding co-ordinator will most likely do your place cards and table plan for you (subject to the package you choose), but she will not know that your Grandmother’s name is Flo, or that your best man’s nickname is Spuds.  Please stick to one name on any lists you provide, or in correspondence, otherwise a frantic process of elimination will ensue.
  2. When you give your co-ordinator your guest list, my recommended format is a spreadsheet (please not handwritten!). It will be so much easier for you to put together as you can cut and paste people to move them around, plus spreadsheets are basically porn to events co-ordinators.  Trust me.  Divide your list into each table, and ideally write down the names in the order you’d like them to be sat.  Put a note by the person’s name if they are a wheelchair user, or need a highchair as this will help with the overall layout of the room and make sure your guests are as comfortable as possible.  From that the place cards and table plan will be a piece of cake for them to make, and it eliminates any risk of error.
  3. Maximum capacities are there for a reason. No you cannot sneak just one more person in.  No, you cannot put a child on someone’s lap, and yes, babies count as people too.  They may be small, but they have to sit somewhere.  So count everyone, and don’t think you can smuggle extras in on the day.
  4. If you have the choice between picking one food option for everyone, or collecting pre-orders from your guests, definitely do the former. Ask your guests to specify meat or veggie, and to make you aware of any special dietary requirements when they RSVP, but keep it simple.  Believe me, it will make your life so much easier.  For some reason people find it impossible to choose what they’re going to eat 6 months ahead of time, and chasing last minute menus is more of a headache than it’s worth.
  5. Your wedding co-ordinator and the staff at the hotel will do a lot for you, so try not to get stressed over small details as you get close to the wedding. With centerpieces and decorations, as hard as it may be to hand over, you will not have the time to do setup yourself on the day, and you don’t want your bridal party distracted with it in the morning.  You will have a ‘final details’ meeting with your co-ordinator near the wedding, when you will be able to hand over all your decorations etc. and go through, in detail how you want the room to look.
  6. Your wedding co-ordinator will create a function sheet for your big day, which is essentially all the information about your wedding, and a full timeline, including instructions for the waiting staff. A good function sheet will cover all bases, so give as much information as you can, as well as contact information for all the key people (suppliers, best man etc.).
  7. Be honest about any concerns or questions you have. That’s what your wedding co-ordinator is there for, and chances are they will have dealt with it all before.
  8. Buy them a thank-you card. They will have spent hours working behind the scenes to make your vision come to life and will think of almost nothing else in the week leading up to it.  If they’re anything like me they will come to feel personally invested, so it will mean the world to them if you give them a small gesture of your thanks.

gilmore3

As much as I tip my (top) hat to Amy Sherman-Palladino, there are many things I wish we’d seen during the show.  Here’s just a short list:

  1. Rory and Lorelai going wedding dress shopping in ‘Hammers and Veils’.  This would have been a great scene, plus, y’know, we’d get to see Lorelai in pretty wedding dresses.  Enough said.
  2. More of the Jess/Rory relationship. So much build-up.  So much chemistry.  Then they finally get together and it’s all rather anti-climactic and over fairly quickly.
  3. Rory’s lovely ‘tangerine’ bridesmaid dress.
  4. More of a rock ‘n’ roll story-line for Lane. I know she ends up happily married with a lovely family, but I still can’t help but wish we’d seen Hep Alien become a big success.  Which leads me to…
  5. …the Hep Alien album. $9,000 on recording equipment and they never recorded an album?
  6. Kirk’s mother. Because there’s no doubt Mama Gleason would have been hilarious.
  7. Much, much more of the fabled Gilmore birthday hoopla we hear so much about. Sure, we get glimpses, but I wanted more dammit!  Perhaps Lorelai could have thrown an off the charts party for Luke (which he would have grumbled about, but secretly loved, obvs).
  8. Some sort of Jess/Liz resolution. Just one scene where Jess meets Doula, and there’s a suggestion of some kind of relationship between them as a family would have been great.
  9. While we’re at it, a bit more Rory/Jess closure (and by closure I obviously mean them getting back together). The kiss at Truncheon, and Jess’ whole ‘it is what it is…you, me…’ malarky?  What’s that?  Oh right, the sound of my heart breaking.  Not cool ASP, not cool.
  10. Dean sorting himself out, going back to college, and actually getting over Rory. Love him or hate him, he deserved more than to become a bitter loser, pining after his high-school sweetheart.
  11. Lorelai’s ‘American Traveller’ interview, in all its cringe-worthy glory.
  12. Mia visiting Lorelai at the Dragonfly. It feels like something she would have wanted to see, and would have made for a nice episode.  I probably would have preferred this to the episode with her wedding, but maybe that’s just me.
  13. Some more background on Sookie. She was by far one of the best characters of the show, and yet we know so little about her.
  14. Drunk Sookie. Because her drunken misery in ‘A Deep Fried Korean Thanksgiving’ was definitely a highlight of the whole episode.   Can you just imagine what her bachelorette party would have been like…
    MELISSA DANCE
  15. Lorelai finally snatching Dance Marathon victory away from Kirk. What song would she have done her victory lap to though?  Suggestions in the comments please!
  16. And perhaps the biggest one of all: Luke and Lorelai’s wedding. The perfect dress, the s’mores wedding cake, the vintage carousel, the cake topper with Luke’s EXACT butt.  Let’s face it, the Gilmore-Danes wedding would have been pretty spectacular.

Have I missed anything?  Was there anything on this list you don’t agree with?  If so, come chat to me in the comments, or over on Twitter!

lorelai
There are rumours flying around that a GG movie/new series is going to be announced at the upcoming ATX television festival. Crosses fingers and toes, and prays daily #bringbackGilmoreGirls

EDIT: Klaxons IT’S HAPPENING, PEOPLE. IT’S HAPPENING. WE WILL BE HEARING THOSE FAMOUS FINAL FOUR WORDS.

champagne

Because 10am probably isn’t Pimms o’clock…

  1. Jazzing up any meal with grated cheese. That ancient proverb we all lived by, that cheese makes everything better?  Well, sometimes it just doesn’t.
  2. Sometimes, after a fancy dinner (no grated cheese in sight), friends will suggest a nice glass of Port. You must not, under any circumstances, add WKD blue to this, as delicious as it may be.
  3. Fancy dress used to be something you’d refined to a serious art-form.  It required planning, time, effort, and a large chunk of your student loan.  And you did this for EVERY SINGLE NIGHT OUT.  Now Halloween rolls around and it’s a black dress you already own, some cat ears, and make-up that’s a bit darker than you’d normally wear (if you’re feeling adventurous).
  4. All-nighters. I especially find that, working from home, it’s ever so tempting to revert back to my old nocturnal ways.  Except the rest of the world expects me to answer my emails at a sensible hour, and if I stay up all night now I feel like I might actually die.
  5. Drinking ANYTHING. No more Jaegerbombs/Apple Sourz/whatever’s 3-for-a-fiver at the Student Union.  Because the objective isn’t to get as trollied as possible for under a tenner any more, you’ve probably found you can afford to be a bit more selective.
  6. On a similar note, you’ve also learnt that a pint is not the standard measure for all alcoholic drinks.
  7. Stealing.  From the unnecessary and ridiculous (traffic cones, odd shoes…) to the entirely practical (bar glasses, toilet roll…) stealing is almost a rite of passage at university.  But your kleptomania stopped the day you graduated.  Now you’re a responsible adult (or at least pretending to be).
  8. Kebabs.  You swore you’d start being sensible and trade in your end of the night grease-fest for something a little less horrifying.  Except that you haven’t. Oh, and now, occasionally, when you can’t be bothered to cook, you order one for dinner.  This decision is made while completely sober.  And you’re not even a little bit ashamed.
  9. Mid-week nights out. Because while it was perfectly fine to roll into your 9am lecture at 10, in your pyjamas, take notes for 5 minutes then fall asleep, this is somewhat frowned upon in the workplace.  Plus, no-one enjoys having, what I like to call, an “Executive Hangover” (aka trying not to throw up on your keyboard, and congratulating yourself for responding to one email every 2 hours).
  10. Listening to ’90s pop music to be ironic. Now we just listen to it because we like it.
  11. Choosing dining experiences based on quantity, not quality. As a student, if it didn’t have ‘all you can eat’ in the name, you just weren’t having any of it.
  12. Buying the cheapest versions of everything. Sponges that disintegrated after one use?  Toilet roll that you had to wrap around your hand 20 times before wiping?  It’s a false economy.  And it literally took you your entire time at university to figure that out.
  13. Breakfast boozing. Oh for the days when mornings looked like this: roll out of bed, find housemates in the kitchen, glance around shiftily and wait for someone else to open the beers, so you don’t feel like the boozehound of the group.
  14. “Cocktails.” AKA the last dregs of every spirit left in the cupboard, mixed with the last dregs of juice/milk/lemonade/whatever you can find in the fridge.  Well hello there delicious Malibu-Sourz-Capri-Suntini.  Served on the rocks with a twist, obviously.
  15. Referencing.  Because footnotes on a Facebook status are the work of a crazy-person.