Bridal 101

Things I didn’t know but do now!

We tried on wedding rings the day we set our date, not really seriously – just looking, and I found the salesman in one shop a bit condescending, he seemed surprised I didn’t know anything about wedding rings... Why would I?? I’m not a jeweller and I’ve not been married yet! Huh! Anyway, this and a few other similar experiences inspired me to compile a little advice log of things I’ve learnt in the process of wedding planning.
Unless you’ve helped a friend plan a wedding or work in the bridal industry, why would you already know these things!
So, as and when I pick up these little snippits of 'Bridal Knowledge' I'll share them and collect them all up in the Bridal 101 page!

Hope you find all this helpful, please share any hints/ tips you might have too!

#1) That your wedding ring should be the made metal and carat as your engagement ring

This one the obnoxious jewellery salesman taught me. My engagement ring is 18ct yellow gold, a beautiful solitaire diamond and platinum feet. I didn’t know whether I wanted a yellow gold, white gold, or platinum wedding ring, I wanted to try lots on and see!

When I asked to try a white gold band the salesman stared at me in horror... apparently if your rings are not the same metal and carat, the stronger/ harder metal will wear down the other one over time. It may not seem a problem to you, especially if your rings are quite robust, but if one of the rings is finer and softer it could be worn by the other.

So; best practice is to have your wedding ring match your engagement ring in metal and carat.
My advice when looking at wedding ring is;
· Shop around – don’t just look at fancy big brand names, look in smaller local stores too, it will give you a better idea of what is available and for what price.
· Try lots on – rings look very different in a shop window than on your hand! Different metals look different against different skin tones, see what suits you.
· Have clean hands and nice nails – might sound silly but we tried rings on for the first time on a whim, I had a note written on the back of my hand and chipped, flaky nail varnish... it made me feel a bit trampy!
· Ask questions and don’t feel stupid not knowing your stuff – why would you know about wedding rings unless you’ve owned or sold them??! Just ask them!

#2) Finding a venue
We were quite lucky really, as we knew even before we were engaged that we would love to marry in mount Stewart, we’d been on walks around the grounds loads of times over the years and walked up the hill to the Temple of The Winds one day whenever it just happened to be set up for a wedding and just thought it was gorgeous.
Then Ross took me to Mt Stewart for a picnic for my birthday and we sat under a willow tree by the lake, feeding the ducks, looking out for little fish and dragonflies, and Ross got down on one nervous knee and proposed – Mount Stewart just seemed like such a special place to us and we couldn’t imagine marrying anywhere else!
A week later I requested information through the National trust website on hiring Mount Stewart as a venue, there was a lot of information, which seemed a little overwhelming but was needed!
We arranged to view the Temple and a wonderful girl showed us around, she was so passionate about the place and so friendly and open, it was a great help!
Mount Stewart suits us as a ceremony venue but we need somewhere else as a reception venue, this is where things got a little tricky!
I spent weeks looking online at all the different Hotel packages on offer, and there were some great deals, but as a crafty / DIY kinda girl I really wanted somewhere where I could have a bit more control over decor and how things are done.
A few of my friends were marrying last summer and could give me good advice on the packages they received, the deals some of them got seemed fantastic, but when I looked at the venues I just couldn’t see it being for us! Ross wasn’t as opinionated as me but agreed.
My mum works part time in the yacht club and suggested we take a look there, we met her one day when it was quiet and had a good nosey about... and loved it!
So we’ve just booked that too!
We’ve really been very lucky, we’ve only viewed two venues and loved and booked them both! Although hats not to say I didn’t shop around, I think I currently have 50-60 wedding package brochures downloaded on my laptop or in a pile under my desk!

My advice when looking at potential venues is;
· Visit places that aren’t necessarily your first choice, it will give you a good idea of what the competition are offering, and something to compare other place to.
· Ask to view venues while they are set up for a wedding, it can be hard to imagine a big empty space as anything else! Plus it may give you ideas of how you want/ don’t want things set up for your big day!
· Print out as much info as you can before you view, do your homework and you’ll know the right questions to ask and what to expect.
· Don’t put all your eggs in one basket – somewhere you’ve been dreaming of might just turn out to be unsuitable, make sure you won’t feel too disappointed if this happens!
· Take notes, wedding and event co-ordinators show couples around all the time, you may only visit a place once – make sure you get all the info you can and get them to confirm what you write - it will mean you can show prices/ sizes/ offers they quote if you decide to book!

This all started six months ago nearly and in the very early days of our engagement so a bit overwhelming and it wasn’t a great time to focus and take in a lot of info, now we are planning properly; we have booked Mount Stewart and the Yacht club, but not yet finalised the details, so I’m sure I’ve still a lot to learn!!

#3) Booking a venue
Once you have viewed and picked your venue there comes the daunting step of confirming the booking and paying a deposit! :O
Venue conditions – boring but very important!
Whenever you book a venue they are likely to give you a list of conditions along with a contract, if you are very lucky they will give you this before you confirm your booking – READ THIS CAREFULLY!
I first experienced this when we held our engagement party in a local sports club; clubs especially will have quite specific rules and conditions of use of the venue. I was surprised by some of them really, things I hadn’t really considered like which areas of the venue could and could not be used and what decorations we could and couldn’t use and where. As we are having our wedding reception in a club too there are similarly specific conditions of use.

One condition many venues, including churches and registry offices, have now is about confetti – many places totally disallow it, which I think is quite sad! I remember seeing boxes of paper confetti in our local shop as a little girl and thinking about when I was grown up ad people throwing all those pastel coloured hearts, stars and horseshoes over me.
One of my favourite childhood memories is of my little sister and I taking turns to stand under the big old cherry blossom tree in my granny’s garden, spinning around while the other one shook the tree to make the ‘confetti petals’ fall.
But! Many venues will not allow confetti at all now; some will only allow eco-friendly or natural confetti, which is fine by me! (Guess what I want to have??) Make sure guests are aware of this and do not bring confetti or expect it to be there on the day.
Other common conditions include things like; late licences’, completion of payment, use of areas, decorations, the timing of arrival and departure for all guests, parking etc. Some venues even have rules about the kinds of flowers that can and cannot be used! (Lilies are poisonous to some animals and stain; sap on peonies is harmful etc!)
These may somewhat shatter the pretty little dream you’ve had in your head about how your day will be – don’t let them! Be prepared for rules, don’t expect everything to be just as you imagine, remember what is one of the biggest days of your life is just another working day for the staff at the venue, they need to run as a business and businesses have rules!
My advice on conditions of hire for wedding venues;
· When possible ask to see the conditions of hire before confirming your booking, if not possible, ask some specific questions regarding your plans; i.e. ‘Do you have regulations on the types of decorations allowed?’
· Make sure that you keep the conditions in mind when dreaming about your big day to avoid disappointment, one venue I looked at disallowed peonies – my favourite flower! I would have been heartbroken if I’d booked it without knowing.
· Don’t try to negotiate on conditions, but do politely ask what they advise and what there couples have done – this will give you an idea of flexibility and compromise on conditions. (E.g. lilies can be used sometimes if the stamen is removed.)
· If there are strict rules on guest conduct etc make sure you politely let your guests know – you don’t want to be spending your day running after guests making sure you don’t get in trouble!

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