Thursday, September 11, 2008

5 things to avoid in your Best Man Speech.

I've stood up and delivered 3 best man speeches in my time. The first one I visited the loo 3 times during the meal, my stomach was flipping over, it was the hottest day of the year, and I was terrified.
After the speech the flow of compliments I received from the wedding guests, made me wonder what I had been worrying about. I'm not saying I'm an expert, but here are a few things to consider when you're standing up from a warm seat with a piece of paper in your right hand, and I'm not still talking about the loo. (You can add that one to your best man one liners)

Rushing your speech with your head down.

Bundles of nerves, adrenalin rushing, they creep down the line, from the bride's father to the groom, then down to the best man. You step into the spotlight, and read your script word from word like a verbal charging bull on a mission, barely looking up to even see if the wedding guests are paying any attention.
The trick is, that the best man speech is not solely about good content. You want everyone in the room to know he's your best mate, you've got stories to tell and they should listen. Deliver your speech with a little swagger in it.
The best way to avoid the head down, full steam ahead approach is to practice. In front of a mirror is good, pretend the wedding guests are there and read out loud.

Rude words, or vulgar suggestions.

Nothing better then a badly timed piece of vulgarity to ensure the wedding guests sit and see tumbleweeds blowing past. The truth is, your mates down the pub will of been pulling your leg about the wedding and your speech for some time. You probably came up with some great ideas for speech material whilst with your mates. But whatever you do, please don't make the mistake by thinking a good joke with your mates in the pub will go down well during your best man speech. You really don't want to spoil the wedding day for anyone, least of all the bride and groom.
The best way to avoid this, just ask yourself "Will the bride's mother laugh at this?" If you even think she may not, then best leave it out. Would your speech make a PG rating on a movie ? There'll be young people at the wedding too.

You're a professional stand up comedian.

No you're not. Well, maybe you are, but the likelihood is - you're not.
Don't go throwing in jokes in every paragraph. There is so much more to a best man speech then just cracking joke after joke. "Groom placed an ad in the local paper saying bride wanted, a week later he received several responses all saying the same.... you can have mine" - Mildly amusing, not really funny in a speech though, doubt it would raise a laugh from the wedding guests.
Witty stories, light hearted banter aimed at the groom, embarrassing childhood memories, these are received well by the wedding guests, and enjoyed by the bride and groom.
Avoid joke after joke and opt for sincerity, good humour and a large slice of affection for both the bride and groom.

Badly written speeches

Possibly you've not written anything out since your school exams. The wedding day will be the pinnacle of your duties as best man, don't spoil it by poor grammer in your speech. If you are nervous and fluff your way through it because it was badly written, this may lead to a few wedding guests to throw in the odd heckle, which if you haven't planned for may be your downfall on the day. On that note, get yourself a couple of good come back lines just in case of a heckler - "The chairs are pointing towards me for a reason mate" - "I thought the wall was well plastered, but you're worse"
Avoid bad grammar by getting a trusted friend to proof read your speech.

Don't mention ex-girlfriends

Save discussions of past conquests for the stag party, who cares about previous relationships on someone's wedding day - no one ! The wedding guests will sit there stony faced and the only one squirming with embarrassment will be you.
Number one rule for your best man speech, never, ever, even contemplate mentioning an ex-girlfriend.

Being someone's Best Man is a fun, enjoyable, wonderful occasion and an absolute honor. Ensure you keep it that way by avoiding the pitfalls outlined above - and enjoy the wedding day yourself too.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

10 top tips for successful wedding planning

Wedding Budget.
Only plan for the wedding you can afford. You've got to accept your budget, and always stick to your original plan when out shopping for wedding items. Ensure you create the perfect wedding for you, not for a celebrity magazine.

Get Organised.
Start planning and making wedding decisions as early as possible. This is the secret to stress free wedding planning. Venues, photographers, DJ's and all quality wedding services will accept advance bookings well before your wedding date.

Prioritise your plans.
First things first, last things last. You can't plan a wedding unless you've booked your date and venue - get these done first, and then start working on the rest. Think what is important to your wedding, are the favours more important then getting the right wedding DJ ? Probably not, so book the most important things first, leave the minor details until you're ready.

Consider family members.
Plan your wedding day with you in mind, but consider leaving some room for family input. Both sets of parents will have their ideas on who should be invited, especially if they are helping out with the wedding day costs.
Never fall out with anyone over a wedding, you'll regret it in the future.

Wedding guest list pitfalls.
When writing out your guest list, be sensitive to the thoughts and expectations of your fiancee. There will be people in their lives who are important to them and they'll want them at the wedding, possibly people you don't know very well. Negotiate and comprimise is the key to good wedding list planning.

Every bride and groom will have their jobs to do when it comes to the planning of their wedding. A great way to make family, best man & bridesmaids more involved in your big day is to delegate a few small areas of the wedding planning.

Choosing the Best Man & the bridesmaids.
Your best man doesn't just need to be good are organising the stag party, he'll have responsibilities on your wedding day too. If the first person who pops into your head as potential best man isn't reliable, take a step back and think again.
When it comes to the bridesmaids, ensure you choose girls who'll be just as excited at being your bridesmaid as you are at being the bride.

Hiring wedding services.

Word of mouth is the best form of advertising, if your friends recommend their wedding photographer or wedding DJ, then speak to them first. Never book any wedding service without seeing examples of their work first, ask to taste a sample of a wedding cake, or see a sample of a wedding DVD from the videographer. Try and avoid booking someone just because they are the cheapest, this is your special day, so if you budget well, you needn't cut corners.

Remain calm.

Never get upset if someone lets you down, it's their lose. Don't distance anyone who wants to help with the wedding, you'll need them later on.

Weddings blah blah blah.

Sometimes it will seem like all you ever talk about is wedding plans, ensure you have some time away from it. Have weekends where you don't plan anything, and don't talk about it. By all means be excited about your wedding, just don't bore all your friends by non-stop talk about it.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Do you let your "husband to be" do any wedding planning ?

Some of you have probably seen BBC3's series of "Don't tell the Bride".
The show is a take on the old scenario of would you let your husband-to-be and his mates plan your wedding? Ridiculous of course...!?!

Six brave brides did just that in return for what they hoped to be a dream wedding. The husbands to be were given a budget and just 3 weeks to plan everything from the guest list to the colour and theme of the wedding, the bridesmaid dresses and even the bride's wedding dress.
The couple are barred from seeing one another until the day of the wedding.

Sound like your worst ever nightmare ? So, what would you allow your groom-to-be plan for your wedding day, which of the long list of wedding services do you hand over to him to free up some of your time and reduce stress - the flowers maybe ? No ? Perhaps the booking of the venue ? Not unless you want a pub meal in front of a football screen.

Some guys these days are a lot more hands on when it comes to wedding planning, they'll visit the wedding fayres and will chat with their mates about the forthcoming big day. Other guys, will just say that the wedding is "for women". Either way, you'll want to get your groom to be involved in the wedding planning at least for some areas.

The obvious place to start would be the wedding suit hire, there's no need for the bride to be there for that. Some brides will of been planning their wedding day in their mind since they were at school, the girls will know exactly what colour the bridesmaids are in, what colour the theme of the wedding is too. This means the bride to be can safely pack the groom and his mates off down to the wedding suit hire company, telling him what style jacket she likes, and what colour the waistcoats and ties need to be !
Note to brides, make sure you call the shop immediately after the guys have left and inquire about their choice. Amend if necessary.

Another wedding plan that the girls could burden on the guys is the wedding DJ, guys love to think they could be a DJ, and think they could find a classic DJ from a washed up old waster.
Let the groom contact an few DJ's, discuss what sort of music they play at weddings and picture themselves spinning around the dancefloor to a few classic wedding tunes. Once they're happy they've found the perfect disco man, then allow him to make a deposit and secure his services.
Once your groom has paid up and made the booking, see what info you can find out about the DJ yourself and cancel if necessary. If you do allow the booking to proceed, and the wedding DJ turns out to be a turkey who fails to get a single wedding guest up and boogie - revert to the old "Well, you booked him" blame culture.

The only other thing the groom is capable of organising is his speech. Brides; you'll even need to discuss the best man speech, and make sure that his best man one liners are up to scratch - no rude or insulting comments allowed girls.

At the moment we can't think of anything else wedding related that the groom to be should be trusted with when it comes to leaving him on his own.
The rest girls, is up to you to organise, so if you want to achieve the best wedding day ever - the future rests firmly on your shoulders !

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Avoid the wedding credit crunch !

You can't pick up a paper or magazine at the moment without reading about the "credit crunch".
This leads us to wonder about the effects this credit crunch is having on people's wedding day plans.
Depending on what magazine or publication you read, the average cost of a wedding in the U.K. is something between a staggering £12,000 and an eye-watering £25,000 !
So, can engaged couples remain on track and spend that kind of cash on their perfect wedding day ?

The key to avoiding bankruptcy when planning your wedding day is using a proper wedding budget. Make a full list of everything you want for your wedding day, and we mean a full list. Ensure there is no room at all for last minute add-ons. Plan everything from the dress to the wedding DJ, even down to the last wedding favors or cake-stand hire.

Once you have a comprehensive list of what you both want on your wedding day, then start planning the costs. You'll be able to receive quotes from all of the major wedding services that you'll be using. Speak with the wedding venue, caterers, DJ or band, car hire company, dress makers, suit hire, cake maker, photographer and videographer - get a written quotation from them and ensure you are fully aware of what you are getting for your money.

We're not suggesting any of these wedding services will attempt to rip you off, far from it. But take a couple of examples -

Wedding Venue A - cost of exclusive hire for the day £1,000
Wedding Venue B - cost of exclusive hire for the day £3,000

Wedding Photographer A - £300
Wedding Photographer B - £1,000

At first glance, of course the financial options seem to stand out like a sore thumb.
What we are recommending is that you ensure to ask your wedding service what you get for your cash.
Wedding Venue A may look like it saves you £2,000 of your wedding budget, but ask what you get for your money, do you receive any catering, a wedding DJ, any drinks, tablecloth hire, cake stand ? All these things add up to a small fortune. It may be that Wedding Venue B offers a full package of everything included, and this may save your wedding budget in the long run.

With the example of the wedding photographers, again, ask what the package consists of. You don't want to find yourself in the position of having to buy all your individual wedding photos from photographer A, he may be cheaper because you're only actually getting 20 wedding photos, the rest you'd have to pay for individually if you want copies ?

The same goes for the car hire, or videographer - ask them when they turn up, when they leave, is there an hourly charge etc.

Careful planning of your wedding budget to ensure you get everything you want for your perfect day, and at a price you're comfortable with doesn't mean cutting corners.
Work out your finances and don't book extravagant things just because you feel your wedding guests would expect this.

We all know you can have a fantastic wedding day to remember, even if your budget is £1,000.
Don't let the credit crunch spoil your wedding planning, and certainly don't let your budget run into wild amounts that you simply can't afford.
This is to be the happiest day of your life, so don't walk up the aisle thinking your wedding day is ruining the next few years paying it off !!

Happy wedding planning !

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The wedding DJ - perfect wedding reception entertainment

I've been to some weddings, where the entire evening's entertainment is provided by a wedding DJ.
Infact, wedding DJ's are now much more popular then hiring a band to entertain your guests.

The trouble is, how do you find a great wedding DJ when there are so many around, making wild claims to be the best DJ around ?
You can't really turn up at someone else's wedding day and ask to stand in the corner to listen to their wedding DJ because you are considering hiring them can you ?
A decent DJ can keep the dancefloor packed for hours, ensuring the wedding guests enjoy themselves - continuously playing classic wedding tunes to make even your Great Uncle "shake his thing".
A poor DJ will ruin your reception by playing awful music that no one wants to hear, let alone dance to, leaving all your guests hanging around the bar area and potentially drinking your bar tab instead of partying the night away.

Here's a few things to look for and ask for when booking your wedding DJ :

Are they using Vinyl, CD's or a laptop to work from ?
Basically, vinyl DJ's are old-hat. BUT, having said that, vinyl DJ's make the best mixers and dance DJ's - how to spot the difference is simple - their age.
If you find a young wedding DJ who says he uses vinyl, he's probably a cool funky type who'll bring a good vibe to your wedding. If he's 50 + and has a grey beard, this means his music hasn't been updated since the 80's.
Technology brought CD's to us, they were never perfect to DJ with, but still good. These days, top wedding DJ's will use a laptop, and this means they are guaranteed to be able to play every single song you want at your wedding reception.

How modern is their lighting display ?
Simple question to ask - if the DJ hasn't bought any new equipment for years, this means his lights will be rubbish flashing light bulbs. There are some awesome lighting rigs available to mobile DJ's and a top wedding DJ will want high quality lights.

How many sound systems do they have ?
By this we mean speakers, if they just have one set of speakers, ask yourself why. How many weddings have you been to.....where they all the same ? No. Some weddings have 60 people, some have 400 people. Would you want to listen to the same sound from the same speakers if you had 5 times the amount of wedding guests then the previous wedding that the DJ played at.
Superior DJ's will have at least 2 or 3 sets of speakers and will bring the most suitable ones dependent on the size of the wedding venue.

Finally, ask them for an idea of what music they play.
Don't just let them say "disco classics" or "party tunes" - ask them for which song they play that really gets the crowd on the floor. When they answer, ask yourself "can I see myself dancing at my wedding to that song".

The number one reason not to hire a wedding DJ is this - price. NEVER, ever simply hire the cheapest wedding DJ - you'll regret it I promise.

Hope this helps some of you ....!

David Thurston writes for Essex Wedding Services the online wedding directory containing over 60 different categories of wedding services to help you plan your perfect wedding day.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Wedding Day Madness

Wedding day options - spend more money then you ever have before.

Weddings, we love attending them - but when it's your own wedding day it's even better then you could imagine.
I've spent months reading about how to save money for this, and how to cut corners on that - what is the cheapest entertainment, how to save on the buffet etc etc.
This article will tell you how to blow a fortune on your wedding day, how to spend more money then you ever have before, and how to look back on your wedding and think "All that just for one day.....wasn't it great".

Firstly, whether you're getting married in a church or a wedding venue, make sure it's your favourite. By no means should you choose a wedding venue because it's in a handy location for guests, or has plenty of accommodation for people staying over night. Book the wedding venue that is the best thing you've ever seen. Imagine your photographs in years to come, do you want a local hotel in the background or some stunning 18th century mansion ?
By all means view many wedding venues when you're looking, but choose the one that is the most jaw dropping. You'll be happy with your wedding venue chose for the rest of your life.

Once the wedding venue is booked, you need to think about who is coming to share your special day. Our tip (yes you've guessed it) - invite everyone you know. All the family, right down to cousins and their kids. Invite all your mates, even if it's your partners mate who you've never met before, make sure you invite every one to your wedding. There are several reasons for this, 1) no one can moan behind your back that they weren't invited. 2) It'll be the biggest wedding party they've ever seen and will remember it for years to come. 3) Bonus, you'll get loads of wedding presents.
So, ensure everyone is coming to your wedding - buy the best wedding invitations you can find, and invite them all !

Now it's time to consider what you're wearing on your special day. The all important wedding dresses and formal wear for the gents. Do you consider a charity offering or something from ebay ? Why ? It's the biggest day of your life - ensure you look the part ! Wedding dresses should be made to suit the individual, get the wedding dress maker to not just tweak one off the rack, but to measure you, show you designs, and actually make the perfect wedding dress for your big day. Gents - you can buy a suit if you want, but we prefer the option of hiring one. Well, not actually one, hire loads of them. Both the Dad's need one, the best man, the ushers, your mates - make them all feel special and part of your wedding day - hire them all a quality wedding suit.
Then the bridesmaids, please, no off the shelf numbers for them either. Even if they are little kids - get them measured and have some lovely bridesmaids dresses made for them. They'll feel like princesses themselves and will look stunning beside you on your wedding day.

The wedding cake, it has to be memorable, it'll be in loads of photographs, people are going to eat it - don't cut corners here, buy the best wedding cake money can buy. Whether you opt for a chocolate wedding cake, or a classic fruit cake - find a designer, see examples of their work, taste their best offerings and don't ask how much.

You'll want to capture your wedding forever, so you need at least two photographers, one to be taking photos of the happy couple, the other to be taking the reportage photos of the guests. Again, don't ask the price, see examples of their previous wedding photos, and make sure they are the best. There is a massive difference between cheap wedding photographs and a real high quality snapper. But remember - two wedding photographers, not one.
Along side the photographer will be the wedding video man - the videographer. Ensure he is up to the highest standard latest technology. You want HD wedding DVD not a VHS. You want the wedding video to look like something the BBC would produce about the royal family. You'll need to agree that he will start from the moment you commence getting ready, he'll need to have a friend who is round at the husband-to-be's changing room too. And make sure he is there to film the final goodbye's at the end of the evening.

Ok, so we've got the wedding venue booked, the outfits, wedding cake, photographer and videographer - now all we need is the entertainment for the guests. Just a DJ in the corner ? Forget that.
Splash out, go crazy, ensure that every wedding guest leaves the reception saying "wow that was the best wedding I've ever been to".

Flowers or balloons to decorate the wedding venue ? Both obviously. And plenty of them, get them all to match the colour of the bridesmaids dresses. Flowers for the jackets on all the guys wedding suits, and don't stop there, flowers for all.

You'll need to book a toastmaster, a professional guy in his red jacket. He'll organise the day.
Buy top quality wedding favours for the tables, not just a bag of sweets or a miniture bottle of port, something they'll want to treasure forever.

Hire entertainment to keep the wedding guests amused. A close up magician for when people are sitting at their tables, a childrens entertainer for when the kids are bored during the wedding speeches. Get a harpist or guitarist to play live but subtle background music, alongside a pianist of course - who wants recorded CD's on their wedding day ?

When the sit down part is over, move the guests towards the champagne fountain and the chocolate fountain. Here's a good chance to get that wow factor before the evening wedding entertainment. Hire a fun to play casino for the afternoon, there's always a couple of hours wait between the meal and the party, don't let your wedding guests stand around bored.

Plan the evening's entertainment well, make your wedding guests have the time of their lives, this is the part you can let your hair down so ensure you get everything you want.
Hire the best DJ around, he'll keep the dancefloor packed - don't get some old bloke with a few CD's - that would ruin the wedding. Also, hire a band. Why not. A wedding band can lift the party up another level.
While the wedding guests are taking a break from the dancefloor, arrange for a caricature artist to give them a special memento of the wedding day. Show off with an ice sculpture made to the initials of the bride and groom. Let the kids play on the bouncy castle you hired and that'll keep them from skidding on their knees across the dancefloor.

So that's our suggestion. Stop reading how to save money on your wedding day. Spend a fortune, you'll love every second of the day, and all your wedding guests will too.
Remember, it's YOUR wedding day - make it the best day of your life.

David Thurston writes for Essex Wedding Services the online directory of wedding day services with everything from wedding venues in Essex to your wedding DJ and wedding flowers