How to choose your wedding suit

How to choose your wedding suit

Grooms, we’ve got you! You’d be forgiven if you thought that grooms didn’t even shop for their wedding outfit – there’s hardly any literature out there for grooms who want and need some support in the suit domain. However, we totally understand that grooms also worry about looking and feeling great on their wedding day – and many people forget, it is your day too! – so we’ve chatted to some our favourite tailors to bring you a wedding suit guide.

Whether you’re going faaaancy or super-lowkey, here’s our guide on how to choose your wedding suit:

What should clients look for when choosing a suit?

Karlus, co-owner of Karlus G. Tailor, says the first thing to think about is where you’ll be wearing the suit. As this is a wedding blog, you may think this has been pretty conclusively covered, but there’s more to it than you think: “Whereabouts in the world will you be wearing the suit, and how regularly will it be worn?’ he asks. “These are important questions as the fabric here will be very important. I would always recommend choosing a natural fabric, like wool, cotton, linen, silk or a blend of them – they’ll allow your body to breathe in the warmth but can also help keep you warm in the cold. There’s nothing worse than feeling hot and clammy in your suit on your wedding day!”

Vintage wedding suit from Vintage Suit Hire. Image by Nicki Shea Photography.

Grey Harrogate Suit from The Vintage Suit Hire Co. Image by Nicki Shea Photography

Jessica from The Vintage Suit Hire Co. also notes that it’s good to think about what your priorities are with your suit. “Is there a group of you? Do you want to match your groomsmen, compliment them or contrast against them? Our customers like how the hire suits we offer are the same design as our purchase suits so grooms can buy theirs to keep and groomsmen don’t have to make the same investment, but that they’re also in complementary shades so there’s always the option to mix and match colours.”

Karlus also says looking at elements of wedding suit styles you like and want to emulate is handy. “A typical conversation we have with a new client goes like this: “So what type of suit would you like?” “Black, blue, or grey.” “So what style do you like?” “Erm…what do you mean?!” Things to think about are lapel type – peak, notch or shawl? Wide or narrow? Pocketswise, do you want jetted or patch? Do you want vents (splits) in the side or centre? Patterned or plain?” There’s loads of ways you can personalise your wedding style so you can end up with a GQ-worthy wedding suit!

Navy tweed wedding suit from Bridgewater Menswear.

Navy tweed wedding suit from Bridgewater Menswear.

How far in advance do you need to buy/hire a suit?

The sweet spot for suit buying or hiring is about 6 months before, according to our top tailors. “This gives us enough time to get all party members in to be sized up, and to make sure we can get all sizes in stock.” Vanessa at The Bridgewater Menswear explains. However, for peace of mind, you can secure your slot earlier: “We find that we can get fully booked at least 3 months ahead for popular wedding dates during Spring to Autumn, so some clients first come to see us a year or more ahead of their wedding date for peace of mind,” Jessica notes. This isn’t to say that you’ll have your in-depth fittings done then though, just to secure your date: “It’s best to have the work started on a wedding suit about 3 to 6 months from when you’d like to wear it,” Karlus says. “Any longer, and your body may go through changes, so a shorter time period tends to avoid these extra fittings.”

What happens if you don’t want to wear a really formal suit?

One of the downsides to not having much wedding suit guidance out there is that a lot of the time, grooms still feel like they have to dress super formally, even when there’s a proliferation of alternative wedding advice for brides. However, suit shops won’t be stumped if you go in looking for a less formal suit style for your wedding – in fact, they’ll be positively delighted! “Creating a bespoke suit that eschews the formal suit is what whets our appetite as creative tailors who like to give our clients choices!” Karlus says.

Vanessa suggests no waistcoat or an open shirt with no neckwear is a good starting point to making a more relaxed wedding suit. Jessica also recommends: “tweed suits are great for a more relaxed, rustic vibe, and are really versatile. For something less formal, think about the style of shirt you wear underneath – it doesn’t necessarily have to be a stiff collar and double cuff. Maybe look at swapping the trousers for dark chinos – we’ve even had a couple of grooms buy an extra pair of trousers to get made into shorts! Even something as simple as the fabric a tie is made from can instantly relax a suit – instead of formal fabrics such as satin and silk head towards cotton and knitted ties. These are great for softening a look down.”

What happens if you’re a groom who struggles with body confidence and self-esteem issues?

If you deal with body confidence issues and self-esteem worries, the wedding suit shopping experience may be particularly daunting – but try not to worry too much. If you pick your tailor or hire shop right, you’ll be in safe hands (Especially with the gems we’ve featured in this blog post, as it was a non-negotiable requirement that they were a welcoming space for all!)

With suits ranging from size 34 to size 52, Vanessa points out: “We deal with grooms and groomsmen of all different shapes and sizes, so we will make you feel comfortable – don’t worry chaps!”

Three piece wedding suit from Bridgewater Menswear

Three piece wedding suit from Bridgewater Menswear

“Remember – there is no normal body shape.” Karlus says. He highlights how a tailor can cut and fit a suit bespoke to your shape, so you will look amazing regardless of your body shape: “You don’t need to be slim to be a slick groom. If you want to feel slick in your suit, what matters is something that fits really well and compliments your body. And something that you feel amazing in too – my big tip is to be an individual, and stand out from everyone else in your wedding party. Don’t dress the same as your groomsmen – the bride doesn’t dress the same as her bridesmaids! It’s a big day for the groom too, so make sure you look and feel special too.”

Wedding day shoes for men from Bridgewater Menswear

Wedding day shoes from Bridgewater Menswear.

And finally, know you’re not alone in having body confidence issues! “It’s so hard to be body confident with today’s media pressures,” Jessica says, “but our best advice is to be yourself and work with your best assets. Different colours flatter people in different ways, so don’t be put off if you don’t feel instantly comfortable in the first suit you try.”

What makes a fun wedding?

Unsurprisingly, when we asked these paragons of wedding styling what made a fun wedding, they all said the key was to be true to your own style. When the days reflect your personalities, are filled with love and celebrated by those who love you, what can go wrong?

The Vintage Suit Hire Co. was born out of owners Tom and Jessica’s desire to find Tom’s suit for their own wedding. Something a little off-beat and personal was either eye-wateringly expensive or non-existent, so they set up their own collection of beautiful suits to reflect grooms’ personalities to both hire and buy. They have a super useful measuring guide online for grooms who can’t make it to the shop (https://www.vintagesuithire.co.uk/a-guide-to-measuring), and their blog is a minefield of useful info: (https://www.vintagesuithire.co.uk/blog)

Karlus G. Tailor is one of the few bespoke Birmingham tailors, and is run by Karlus and Hilary who have over 50 years experience between them. All their garments are lovingly cut, stitched and finished in house in their studio. Your involvement in the process is key to them, as they LOVE to create bespoke pieces – by arrangement you can even come in and see some of the process that goes into the creation of your bespoke tailored garment.

The Bridgewater Menswear are a Lancashire-based family-owned business who specialise in making grooms look dapper for the big day. Their showroom has a vintage feel, like a traditional gentleman’s outfitters, with a wide range of styles from full tweed to sleek traditional suits.

Looking for a wedding dress? Check out my previous blog post all about everything you need to think about when choosing your wedding dress 😀

 

Want to know who’s writing these awesome posts? Find out more about me here.

 

Still looking for a fun, informal, wedding photographer? Check out my portfolio here and my prices here.

 

 

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My pledge to you, as a feminist wedding photographer

My pledge to you, as a feminist wedding photographer

I’m a feminist. A raging snowflake feminist. The empowerment of women is incredibly important to me. And I want this to be absolutely central to what I do as a wedding photographer. While feminism and weddings isn’t a natural intersection, I find that the two play with each other all the time. Lots of the couples that I photograph also identify as feminists. And here’s my promise to you as your wedding photographer.

I love working with clients from a diverse background

Bride and groom during their wedding ceremony. By feminist wedding photographer Parrot & PIneapple.

It’s 2019 and thankfully anyone can get married! But if you browse mainstream bridal magazines, you would be forgiven for thinking that marriage is only bestowed upon white, pretty, 20 something, cis-gendered, heterosexual, able bodied women. Any kind of diversity seems to be completely missing from the front pages of the big bridal magazines. And it’s not good enough. Thankfully there are people in the wedding industry leading the charge to make significant change. Nova Reid and her multi-award winning wedding blog Nu Bride is dedicated to adding a splash of diversity to the UK wedding industry. Catalyst Wedding Co. is the only online and print wedding publication with intersectional feminist values, featuring couples of all races, gender identities, cultures, religions, bodies, abilities, and sexualities.

When you get in contact with me to enquire about shooting your wedding, It doesn’t matter to me what you might look like, or how you might identify, or who you are getting married to. I believe that all love is love, and as long as you are in love and planning a mega fun filled party wedding – I’m down with shooting your wedding!

I will photograph you without feeding the princess complex

Bride dancing with her friends at her wedding. Fun informal feminist wedding photography by Parrot and Pineapple.

This is a big one for me. I want my clients to see themselves at their very best in the images I take. I appreciate that not all women planning a wedding want to be a princess on their wedding day. Again, a lot of mainstream wedding media wrongly assumes this, and pumps it out as the only acceptable intention for any woman planning a wedding. But it doesn’t suit all women to be a princess. The most important thing to me is capturing you in a way that reflects who you are a person and reflecting all the joy and love on your wedding day.

Bride giving a speech at her Brunswick House wedding reception. Image by Parrot & Pineapple.

I will defend your right to be a bridezilla

I really hate the term bridezilla. I don’t think that bridezillas even exist. It’s yet another word that’s used to demonise a woman showing her emotions or taking charge. Planning a wedding is STRESSFUL. It’s essentially organising a day long, fully catered, and entertainment filled, event for approximately 50-150 people. When you get engaged, no one sits you down and teaches you the fundamentals of event management. So why are women expected to plan a wedding, most often with zero experience of event management, flawlessly and without a single crack of stress?

If you are planning a wedding and finding it overwhelming, that’s completely normal. Feel free to be as emotional as you damn well please. You’re a human with thoughts, feelings and desires. After a lifetime of having your agency denied from you because you’ve grown up in a patriarchal society, quite frankly it’s to be expected that you’re going to get overwhelmed when all of a sudden you are thrust in to front and centre and expected to have the answer on every minutiae of your wedding.

Guilty Feminist Deborah Frances White has a fantastic book with a whole chapter on why planning a wedding is the ultimate feminist statement. I wish I took this image, but I didn’t, it’s from Stylist Magazine. Click here to hear Deborah reading the relevant chapter in her book.

I work and partner with businesses that share my values

I strongly believe that sustainability begins in business. I try to run my business sustainably as possible. I cut down on all unnecessary plastic, I don’t support unfair labour and this year I’ll be offsetting all my carbon. I strive to partner with businesses that also share these values.

I purchase my albums from QT albums – a book binding company that has a female led workforce, pays everyone a fair wage, transports their books in biodegradable packaging and contributes some of their profits to the charity Books for Africa.

I regularly attend Snap Photography Festival for my ongoing professional development – their main focus is inclusivity and diversity and they have a special program to promote marginalised voices from within the community.

I will always choose a small independent business over giving my money to a tax dodging multination (*ahem* amazon *ahem*).

Bride and bridesmaids huddled together at a wedding. Image by informal wedding photographer Parrot & Pineapple.

 

So that’s my pledge to you on International Women’s Day, and every damn day.

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How to choose your wedding dress

How to choose your wedding dress

Wedding attire inspiration right here.

 

It’s one of the things people ask most, whether they know you or not – what are you going to wear?! Or, if you’re speaking to someone straight from the Upper East Side in the 00s – who are you going to wear? People should always feel comfortable to wear what they want and luckily we live in an amazing time where couples finally have a range of outfits available for them on their wedding day – not just the limited options of yesteryear.

We’re talking jumpsuits, trouser suits, separates, kimonos, sequin dresses, coloured dresses… the list goes on. 

You may be feeling a certain pressure on finding the ULTIMATE wedding outfit, and might as well be breaking out in stress-hives at the thought of the shopping experience. Alternatively, you may be feeling super excited at the prospect, but as it’s such new territory you might have not the foggiest where to start. As always, the number one official Parrot & Pineapple advice is to stay true to yourself (I might get that tattooed on my forehead). But also, as always, I’ve got some incredible bridal designers and boutiques to help you with expert, friendly advice that will demystify and de-stress rather than distress the whole bridal shopping experience.

Modern and sleek wedding dress. Wedding planning advice. By Parrot and Pineapple.

Dress by Maggie Sottero and Midgley from Rookery Bridal in Somerset

What should clients be looking for when choosing a bridal outfit?

It may seem obvious that you should be looking for something that makes you feel bloody incredible, but let’s break that down: what particular elements make the winning bridal ensemble?

Alternative and modern bridal style. Asylum Wedding Image by Parrot & Pineapple

Made to measure bridal jumpsuit with faux fur trim by Joanna Roberts Bridal.

Joanna from Joanna Roberts Bridal stresses the importance of finding “something that suits your personality, as well as your body shape. The most important thing for brides is to look for something that suits them, and isn’t just an idea of what they ‘think’ they should look like. You have to feel comfortable to feel confident, so finding a dress should be a good representation of you and not feeling like you’re putting on a costume.”

 

Modern bridal style. Wedding jumpsuit. Rock the Frock.

Image from Rock the Frock

Actual physical comfort on the day is totally key in wedding dresses too. Helen from Rock The Frock Cheshire also advises to think about the day itself: “You’re going to be wearing your dress for between 9-12 hours, and at least 2 of those hours are likely to be sat down. You don’t want your lasting memory of your wedding day to be that your dress was uncomfortable!”

Modern bridal style - lace wedding dress with coloured slip from Lucy Can't Dance.

Lucy Cant Dance alternative Bridal wear designer second collection fashion show. Available from Rock the Frock.

“Your venue will also influence your choice,” Felicity from Jean Jackson Couture in Manchester says, “as well as any particular things you may need to do or encounter. Things like ceilidh dancing, getting on and off a horse, are there cobbles…I realise this is not applicable to everyone, but if your signature dance move is a lunge, it’s going to be a little tricky in a very fitted dress!”

 

 

What’s the wedding dress shopping experience like?

Despite any horror stories you may have heard, boutique owners – or the good ones, at the very least – are as invested in your appointment as you are. They’re committed to making your experience super enjoyable, and helping you make this special time the BEST time. This means that generally, boutiques will ask for you to tell them a bit about what you’re looking for in advance. “We do advise our clients to do their research on our website in advance, and tell us a bit more about their personality, favourite designers, styles, fabrics and shapes, so we can tailor each appointment accordingly.” Cecilia from Heart Aflutter Bridal explains.

Simple and elegant wedding dress from Heart Aflutter Bridal. Image by Parrot and Pineapple.

Simple and elegant wedding dress from Heart Aflutter Bridal

For this research, Felicity recommends: “Look at dresses that you have been pinning or saving on Instagram – find out who the designer is and then find your nearest store. This may mean travelling a little, but from experience it can become very disheartening if you are visiting stores without looking at what they stock, and consequently not finding any dresses that you like.”

Modern bridal style. How to find a wedding dress. By Parrot and Pineapple.

Dress available from Rock the Frock.

Once you’re actually in the appointment, Claire Amelia from The Bridal Emporium Leeds says they like their clients to feel “relaxed and comfortable like you’re just chatting to your friend – we’re just girls too!” Most boutiques will offer you refreshments to get started – this isn’t always alcohol – and then chat you through the details of your wedding and the dresses they offer.

Then, the fun begins! Whilst the dresses you try on will be led by which ones you like best, boutique owners will also offer up some options you may not have thought of before – after all, it’s their job. “Especially if it’s your first time, I recommend trying on all the different shapes in a gown. This is when I start getting funny looks, as brides usually come in with a solid idea of what they want and I’m here saying “Hey let’s try totally different shapes!” But once we have tried them on, 95% of brides are surprised and enjoy the process, as they end up with something they didn’t expect. It doesn’t necessarily bring out a different shape, but it helps to look at details – may it be plain, lace, bling or colour.”

 

Speaking of – how far in advance do you need to buy the dress?

With so many differing opinions out there, wedding planning can be confusing – but luckily, all of our incredible designers and boutiques gave the same timeframe of between 8 to 10 months. This is 8 to 10 months from the date of purchase and payment, to your wedding. They also suggested starting the search between 9 to 12 months before the big day. As Felicity points out, shopping in the same season means you get a good indication of what your wedding will be like with weathers, seasonal flowers and the such, plus it gives you some time to think about your dress before having to order it.

How to find a wedding dress. Modern bridal style. Parrot and Pineapple.

The Sanvin Olivia dress from Gillian Million.

8 to 10 months may seem like a long time, but designers get super busy in peak wedding season. Plus, you need time to to allow it to be shipped, to try it on, and to then arrange alterations – and believe us when we say the last couple of months leading up to a wedding just absolutely vanish, despite how the first few months feel like a slog! According to Helen, your first dress alterations appointment is usually 8-10 weeks ahead of your wedding day, and then your final fitting about 2 weeks beforehand.

 

If, on the other hand, you’re thinking 8-10 months seems like far too short a time, beware of buying your dress too early. As Joanna points out, fashion, your taste, and your body shape could change, so being too keen could be detrimental. It’s also inadvisable to start the dress shopping process only when you’re ready to commit to a dress: “We totally understand that dress shopping is exciting – we’d be lying if we said we didn’t try them on – but I would recommend not booking appointments until you’re ready to fall in love with the dress. If you start your dress search too early for inspiration, you run the risk of styles being discontinued, and price increases that you’ll feel cheated by.” Felicity explains.

How to find a wedding dress. Alternative bridal dress by The Couture Company.

Made to measure alternative bridal gown with pink sequins by The Couture Company

But if you’re past this timeframe and are currently outfit-less, all hope isn’t lost! “We are usually able to accommodate orders with a ‘wear date’ of less than 6-8 months,” Cecilia explains, “but sometimes this may incur an additional fee, and we’d really like to avoid that as much as possible – so plan in advance and save your pennies, that’s what I like to say!”

Claire-Amelia also points out sample sale dresses, which you can buy straight from the rail – keep an eye out for sample sales from your favourite designers.

 

How many people should you bring to appointments with you?

Helen usually suggests bringing no more than 4 people to the appointments. “Although bringing your friends and family means you have their moral support and the memory of an amazing occasion together, too many opinions can be a bit overwhelming!” Of course, if you don’t want to bring anyone, that’s also fine – you do you, boo.

Bride and bridesmaids before the wedding. Image by Parrot and Pineapple Wedding Photography

What happens if you don’t like your body?

I’ve asked this question because I am a curvy, squidgy female that has mental obstacles to deal with when buying and wearing clothes. As a raging feminist I am passionate about body acceptance (read my other rant about the perfect bridal body here), but it’s a daily struggle to keep on top of the constant narrative from society. You don’t need that shit when you’re also planning a wedding.

Me, the curvy squidgy female. George the ginger dog.

Trying on dresses can be a very alien experience to many – it’s not everyday that you stare at yourself nearly naked in a mirror, planning to buy a dress that could be worn to the biggest party in your life. One of our criteria for the amazing boutiques and designers we asked to contribute to this piece – as well as having beautiful designs, obviously – was that they were non-negotiably safe spaces for females to enjoy their bridal experience without any judgement or body-shaming. What’s the point of beautiful exclusive designs if you’ve got an exclusionary ethos?

“Us ladies are far too hard on ourselves,” Claire Amelia notes, “and so we’re committed to working our magic to help brides feel at ease and not conscious of the way they ‘should’ look.”

“As completely unjustified as it may be, there’s always going to be something about your body that you don’t like,” Joanna points out. “To make sure you’re feeling your best on the day, we can either shop to minimise the visibility of the part you don’t like – for example, we can create a bolero if you hate your arms, or choose a non-strapless dress if you’re worried about ‘back fat’ – or accept that it is you and therefore not a negative thing at all. If your partner is marrying you, they love you as you are – so wear what the heck you like!”

Whatever it is that you don’t like, it’s the job of your boutique or designer to put you at ease and help you work through the experience. “I know the dresses in my boutique will make you forget about your body worries and make you feel like a bride,” Helen says.

What if you’re not ‘slim’?

Helen says the slim = pretty narrative is something that desperately needs to change, and we could not agree more if we legally changed our name to it, climbed up Big Ben and shouted it through a megaphone until we lost our voice forever…

“You definitely won’t hear the dreaded weight loss question from us at the boutique,” Cecilia promises, “because guess what? You don’t have to ‘squeeze into the dress’ – the dress needs to fit YOU, and it’s our job to make sure it does! Your body makes you unique, and we constantly celebrate the female body shape in whichever size it is. But we don’t just talk about it and preach inclusivity – we actually put our money where our mouth is. Our samples go up to a size 22, with most styles going up to a size 34 with no extra charge.”

 

What if your style is more ‘alternative’?

If you’re worried about the reception of looking for something slightly out there, Felicity suggests letting your party know your vision ahead of time. “If you’re looking for something a little different, make sure the people you’re bringing along are all on board with what you’re looking for. This way, they’re all in the mindset of shopping for you and for a dress that’s your style.” Plus, they’ll have got rid of the notions of you wearing a white fishtail dress! As we said before, it’s all about feeling like your best version of your most comfortable self, rather than like you’re playing dress-up in someone else’s closet. “There is something for everyone, whether it’s a dress, separates or a jumpsuit.” Felicity continues. “We’ve even had brides wear a beaded topper with culottes for their ceremony! Typically our brides don’t wear “wedding shoes’ either. We’ve had brides that wear trainers, cowboy boots, wellies, and even no shoes with just foot jewellery. The most important thing is to do it your way.”

Alternative bridal style. Bride dancing in iridescent sequin wedding gown. Image by Parrot & Pineapple Wedding Photography.

Kawaii inspired sequin wedding dress made to measure by The Couture Company.

 

Joanna Roberts is a dressmaker and alterations expert based in South East London and covering Kent too. With over 10 years of experience, she offers a personal yet premium service to make your dream dress come true – it’s cliche as hell, but the only limit is your imagination. http://www.joannarobertsbridal.com

 

Rock the Frock Bridal Boutique is a modern, design-led boutique with locations nationwide. They stock ethically-made dresses and co-ordinates. All of their outfits have a conscience, varying from romantic to bohemian to some dip-dye creations too. Their designers are also exclusive to Rock The Frock – so they’re as special as you! https://www.rockthefrockbridalboutique.co.uk 

 

Jean Jackson Couture is a Manchester-based boutique that offers dreamy bohemian designers, specialising in international designers. Their stores have a very relaxed atmosphere with a similar decor to the style of wedding that their brides enjoy – think greenery, macrame and pampas grass. Dream or what? https://www.jeanjacksoncouture.com

 

Based in vibrant East London, Heart Aflutter is an award-winning boutique dedicated to bringing un-traditional bridal looks by independent designers. Most of their collection is priced between £1,500 and £2,000, and every single design is made to order, ensuring every one is totally unique. https://www.heartaflutterbridal.co.uk/

 

The Bridal Emporium is a bridal shop in Leeds for the lovers of fashion, bohemian, vintage and modern brides-to-be. It’s a super quirky space with intriguing decor, run by a trained dressmaker, meaning that they not only help you find the perfect dress, but know how to fit it to you too! All sorts of personalisation can be done in-house, giving every bride the personal touch. Plus, they have an in-house cat called Popeye. https://www.the-bridal-emporium.com/

 

Found this super useful? Why not pin it to your own wedding planning boards? Brill! Go right ahead. You can also follow me on Pinterest too for more inspiration.

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How to set your wedding budget

How to set your wedding budget

Let’s talk money. Let’s talk Wedding Budget.

 

Money, money, money. ABBA was wrong – it’s often not funny at all. Especially in the context of weddings when you may feel like you’re haemorrhaging it left right and centre. There’s a special, stupid aura of secrecy about money when you’re planning your wedding where you don’t feel comfortable discussing it with friends and family for fear of looking brash. But you also are pretty new to the whole wedding planning thang, so don’t know if what you’re paying for is right or good, or even how much things cost! 

And this is before even taking into consideration that ill-advised myth that suppliers whack on a couple of noughts as soon as they hear the word ‘wedding’ – which from my experience of the wedding industry isn’t true. In fact, it was a blog post on that exact subject that made me think of Valentina, the wedding planner extraordinaire behind The Stars Inside. She is the perfect person to talk you through a wedding budget breakdown. Take it away, Valentina!  

wood cut number eleven on wedding breakfast table taken by Parrot & Pineapple Wedding Photography

How can couples start with budgeting? 

Wedding budgets are an inherently difficult and emotional subject for most couples, and the first piece of advice I always give is to exercise complete honesty with one another whenever you’re approaching this topic. Money is the thing arguments are made of, and the healthiest way to prevent that is open communication!

The only things you truly need to get married are a registrar, a licensed premises, each other, and two witnesses. But try to remind yourselves that you are allowed to have fun choosing to spend money on celebrating each other, your love, and your friends and family. Ultimately YOU set the line of comfort.

You may be at a stage of life where you need to be strict about your wedding budget, that’s fine and completely natural – don’t let it be a source of stress, guilt, or shame. Be clear with one another about your maximum spend, and then keep an open mind about the details. Your wedding will be awesome whatever budget you set.

If you feel more flexible about your budget at the moment, that’s also fine – but do keep a finger on the pulse of your why, and of the things that really matter to you. Booking things for the sake of them, because you think you should, or because someone else said you should (or had it at their weddings) is not doing justice to what those elements are worth to YOU. 

Another tip I would give is to be really clear about any money your family may be thinking of giving you – are these coming with strings attached? Contributions are a kind and welcome gift, but they may come back to haunt you if those family members feel that they are “buying” decision power. Whatever you do, keep track of everything as you go, and stay organised – you’ll likely be thankful for those subfolders later.

How should couples divide up their wedding budget?

  1. Start with a spreadsheet, notebook, or app where you can list all the elements of your wedding individually.
  2. Next to those categories, you can prepare columns for the estimate, the actual cost, the difference, and the outstanding balance as you go.
  3. Grab a highlighter and mark the ones that you feel matter the most to you – so for example, you might love music, food, or flowers – and also mark those that don’t instinctively resonate with you as much.
  4. Write down some words about how you want the wedding to feel, and which parts of the day are most important to you. What do you want guests to remember about their experience? This can help you later when you find yourself agonising over a decision that actually isn’t as key as it might seem in that moment, or to realise that maybe you’re including something only because you feel you should.

 

To make a wedding budget template, start with apportioning percentages of your wedding budget to help guide you – you can find some of these online  I would say take everything with a grain of salt and keep numbers flexible while you’re in the stage of researching the suppliers you align with. There are no hard and fast rules, as everything will depend on what you are looking for, but it can be helpful to start creating allocations.

Some general guidelines I would start from, to then reshuffle around as you see fit, would be:

  • Around 5% on flowers
  • Around 10% on photography
  • Around 10% on outfits and grooming
  • Around 5-7% on decor and lighting
  • Around 3-7% on stationery
  • Around 40-50% on venue, food, and alcohol combined
  • Around 10% on entertainment
  • Around 5% on cake or dessert stations
  • Around 12% on miscellaneous elements like transport, officiants, gifts, and a small buffer to keep for those little unexpected things.

Catering and venues vary WILDLY for example, so this will be a major deciding factor for most couples. For example, a three-course meal averages around £45 per head (just food, so not including drinks, staffing, set up, crockery, and so on) – but of course a grazing feast of pizza and cold meats requires an altogether different budget allocation to a synchronised-waiter-delivered five-course meal (and by the way, both are awesome, it’s up to you!).

How much does a wedding cost?

Echoing the previous question, I would say that a wedding should cost what you are happy to spend on it. You can invest a few thousand pounds on a warehouse, beautiful barn or field. Or tens of thousands on exclusive hire of a listed manor. You could provide bedrooms and an open bar all weekend, or you could ask your guests to purchase their own drinks and pay for their own accommodation. You could choose Saturday 5th of August in Capri, or Tuesday 10th of February at your local town hall. My point is – you should do what is right for you, and what is a realistic use of your budget, whatever you choose it to be.

If you’re finding that your budget and your wedding plans are misaligned, don’t be disheartened – you’ve never done this before, and you didn’t know what things cost until now! You’ve likely never organised something this complex, for this many people, this far in advance, and with this many emotional pitfalls hidden within it. Don’t be afraid to discuss the reality of how far your money will go and either adjust the budget or the expectations accordingly. If you do have a strict maximum, stick to it, unless you truly believe in the value and the worth of what you are stretching your budget for. How is it enhancing your guest experience? Is it part of those things you highlighted back on day one? Your wedding day is a once-in-a-lifetime, wonderful experience, of course – but it’s the marriage that comes afterwards that needs your forward-thinking protection.

Why are weddings so expensive?

The difficult truth here is that you are enhancing your planning and wedding day experience by employing professional services, which means you need to be ready to pay a fair and reasonable price for them. The preconception that using the word “wedding” leads to unjustified, arbitrary, and malicious premiums is a very toxic one, and a very destructive one for all of us small businesses that go above and beyond for each and every one of our couples.

A part of your wedding budget will be actual physical “things” of course, but this is smaller than you think – the rest is time, labour, expenses, and specialist skills. You are paying for these businesses to keep running, not just to show up with the 150 roses you asked for – not just the cost of butter and cream, or the camera the photographer is holding. The consumer encounters of your wedding day are simply not applicable to the scale of working a wedding. You are paying for peace of mind, for trust, and for creativity – as well as for growth and stability of the business whose work and professionalism you will be relying on when you get married.

You are also paying for the knowledge and expertise that your supplier has acquired about weddings and their logistical challenges, which will be invaluable to you, though you may not realise it. In fact, it’s entirely credit to the incredible job that wedding suppliers do – they work tirelessly to make the execution look and feel effortless, to the point that you may wonder what you’re paying for.

relaxed fun wedding photographer

Of course, be sensible, follow your instincts, and shop around – like in any industry, it’s inevitable that there will be some suppliers out there that may be overcharging. But the key takeaway here is that weddings are not cheap, and there are good reasons for that.  

Woman in pink dress smiling off camera. Valentina Ring London Wedding Planner

The Stars Inside is a full service wedding design and creative consultancy studio owned and run by Valentina, specialising in bespoke events across the UK and Europe.
 
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Just starting your wedding planning journey? Then why not check out my other blog posts sharing everything you need to know about planning a wedding. You can learn all about

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How to choose your Wedding Caterer

How to choose your Wedding Caterer

Wedding Catering…where to start!

You might feel totally unaware of how to even begin choosing your wedding caterer, and I totally understand and empathise – picking your wedding catering is one of the biggest elements of wedding planning, but it’s hardly talked about in-depth anywhere. What is up with that? Not only is it one of the biggest portions of your budget, but it’s also one of the only elements of your wedding that every single one of your guests will directly experience. Even the invitees with not the faintest idea of wedding trends who’ve wilfully missed the neon lights in the entrance, will experience your wedding food. So you want to make sure it’s top notch. On top of that, your caterers are often the ones who have to ensure your day runs smoothly and to time, keeping things moving at your desired pace – yes, really!

To enable you to feel more empowered in your wedding catering choices, I’ve enlisted the help of some of my favourite caterers across the country to explain how the process works, and what you need to be thinking about when picking one.

What should you be looking for in a wedding caterer?

So let’s start off with the groundwork: what should you be looking for when you’re choosing your caterer? How do you sort the wheat from the chaff in all of those Google and Instagram searches? Firstly, Sarah from Taste The Love – a Manchester-based catering company committed to vibrant celebration food packed with flavour and championing local, eco-friendly produce – says you shouldn’t forget the basics. “You should make sure that your caterers’ food is in line with your ideas for your wedding. Don’t choose a fine dining company if you want Indian street food. Making sure everyone is on the same page from the start is very important!”

Laura from El Kantina, Yorkshire-based purveyors of Mexican and Southern style “sunshine food”, says you should also be on the lookout for a good track record. “Look for an established caterer with a good track record of events – great reviews is a must. They should also be always approachable and responsive with good communication throughout your enquiry process, as that bodes well for the future.”

Clem at Kitchen Party, South London-based caterers who focus on the kind of food that accompanies your best memories, advises that “It’s a personality thing too! You might be working with your caterer for months so really important to find one that you can get on well with and can be flexible to your needs and requirements.”

Delicious Canapes at Ikon Wedding in Birmingham - shot by Parrot and Pineapple Wedding Photography

How far in advance should you book your wedding caterer?

Ideally, you should be looking for your caterer about one to two years before your big day – especially if you’re having a summer wedding, when demand is higher. (A lot of catering companies will also do markets and festivals, which boom in the summer.) Kelly, the Events Director at Michelin-trained Saffron Catering, says they will only cater a maximum of 2 weddings on any one weekend, so it’s always worth booking tasting appointments as soon as you’ve confirmed your date and venue. (This does come with a caveat though – as with everything, if you’re working with a shorter time frame and find a supplier you can’t imagine your day without, it’s always worth popping the question.)

How much will wedding catering cost?

Of course, this fluctuates depending on each brief, but if you’re catering on a budget, don’t fear –  these superstar suppliers have some handy tips on how to budget. “The thing to keep in mind is making sure your guests are well fed.” Sarah advises. (Especially if there’s a lot of booze!) “Things to think about when budgeting for food are: How long is your day? Will people be eating lunch before they arrive? Are you going to have evening food?” And if the answers are out of the ordinary – don’t worry. “It is your wedding and not ours, so if you want to spend a large percentage of money on lots of canapes and then get your guests to bring dessert, go ahead.”

El Kantina suggest having an ‘aspirational menu’ to start off with. “This is the menu you would want if money were no object. Then you can take a look at that and see where the tweaks can be made – i.e which bits you don’t mind losing out on to get nearer to your budget!”

Chicken Curry Wedding Breakfast at Greenwich Yacht Club Wedding - shot by Parrot & Pineapple Wedding Photography

When looking at your quotes, it’s also important to remember that catering prices aren’t just the price per head for the food, as Kelly points out. “It is also subject to staff and equipment costs. Our staff set up and manage the entire day so are always on site a good 3 hours before and then an hour after the event finishes to pack away.” Often, catering staff are the people who set the pace/keep things running to time on the day, so you’re also paying for management costs – especially in a dry hire venue. Equipment hire is also something to consider if you’re getting married in a warehouse or alternative space: “Equipment costs vary with each venue as some venues have very basic (if any!) kitchen facilities and therefore we may need to hire everything in for the event.”

Also, you have to think about the prep work that goes into it beforehand. “It’s not just about getting the on the day service 100% perfectly executed – the build up to event is a finely tuned operation that takes days of planning and prep.” Laura explains. So what we’re saying – politely but firmly – is please don’t expect your wedding catering to be as cheap as your supermarket shop. That’s not what you’re paying for.

As a starting point, Clem says “For a wedding in a dry hire venue for 100 people, you are probably looking at between £70 – 100 + vat per person including 2 – 3 courses, equipment hire, staff & ice.”

reception food at the gipsy queen pub

How do you deal with dietary requirements?

In a time when people are becoming more and more aware of their bodies, dietary requirements are something you need to be aware of – and, more importantly, your caterers need to be aware of. What do you do if you have a wedding guest who’s a celiac, or with a severe nut allergy? Kelly’s first step is to ask couples to get people to RSVP with dietary requirements or allergies. That way, your caterer will have plenty of time to prep. Sarah also asks the couple for said guests’ contact details: “That way, I can speak to them directly. Then I know exactly what their dietary requirements are, and all the bride and groom have to do is make sure they are on the table plan.”

Food is served at the Gipsy Queen pub

Clem points out that “Whilst its nice to think about them, it’s your day so you should choose whatever you like to eat – so you don’t need to base your whole wedding menu on guests with dietaries.” Laura added that “All good caterers should be able to cater for any special requirements by tweaking their dishes or creating new ones so that no guest needs to lose out. If they can’t cater for particular requirements then they should make that 100% clear as part of their consultation process.”

What do you think makes a fun wedding?

Kelly says don’t overdo it. “I believe sometimes less is more, so don’t over complicate the day. Good food and wine, music and friendly staff to host the event go a long way!”

Laura agrees, saying “Out of the LOTS of weddings we’ve attended, and the ones that stick out are those with a personal touch. It’s not about the huge budgets and flashy accessories – its about the thoughtful, personal references that make your guests feel special and make for a memorable day.”

Sarah also came through with a situation so genius, I may have to make it a requirement on my booking form: “My friends had different themed fancy dress for each table at their wedding which was so silly and so fun. I love a game or competition, it brings out the best (and worst) side in people!” (Genius, right?!) “But generally I think most weddings are fun when friends, dancing and a few glasses of Prosecco are involved. What’s not to love?!”

Chicken Tikka BBQ Wedding Breakfast - shot by Parrot & Pineapple Wedding Photography

 

We also asked Clem, Sarah, Laura and Kelly what makes a good caterer, and – aside from great food, obviously – they all said communication. Well, we can personally attest to them all being top of their game in that case! Huge thank you to them all for taking time out of their busy schedules and swapping slaving over a hot stove for slaving over a keyboard for us. Here’s where you can find more about them:

Taste the Love offer bespoke catering in Manchester. Their style is a colourful, vibrant celebration food that is packed with flavour and made with love. All served in a friendly, relaxed and professional manor, you can really Taste the Love! http://tastethelove.co.uk/  

Need a super useful list of questions to ask your wedding caterer?Taste the Love have put together one for you!  Click here 

El Kantina is a fully mobile Street Food catering company based in Yorkshire. They like to keep things relaxed – they love cooking up ‘none fussy’ sharing style food with the wow factor. Their food can be served ‘street food style’ or served direct to your table – but either way, its Mexican and Southern inspired ‘sunshine food’ which your guests will remember for years to come. http://www.elkantina.co.uk/street-food

Saffron Caterers and Events is a family business serving London and the South East. They are passionate about delivering the best quality food and service. Their chefs are Michelin trained and deliver exceptional food and service at very competitive rates. https://saffron-caterers.co.uk

Kitchen Party is a London based biz run by sisters Joss and Clem. Makers and lovers of delicious, seasonal, local food with no waste. Inspired by their greatest memories coming from great company, delicious food and flowing wine, nothing makes them happier than catering the same delight that they experienced growing up. Check their delicious food out here >> https://kitchen-party.co.uk

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All the images in this blog were taken by ME Parrot & Pineapple Wedding Photography 😀 You can read about me here and check out my prices here. Wanna chat more? Get in touch here. 

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