Wedding Planner Bernadette Chapman Shares Her Secrets….

I love sitting down with the country’s top wedding planners to pick their brains and ask them to spill the beans on all their tips and secrets. Today I interviewed the fabulous Bernadette Chapman of www.dream-occasions.co.uk

What is the best way to start your day when you wake up on the morning of the wedding?
Ensure you have a good breakfast as it will be many hours before you eat, we don’t want brides fainting!
Also ensure only people that are calming are with you, I know some brides have banned their Mothers from their room because they were getting too stressed with each other.

What are your best tips to ensure the big day runs smoothly?
Forward planning, ensure everyone knows what they are doing and when. On the day delegate to a wedding planner or good friend that has all contacts details, the schedule and design set up so they can fix any problems on the day without disturbing you.

What is the most common thing to go wrong on a wedding day?
If a bride is late for her ceremony by just 15 minutes then it has a knock on effect for the rest of the day, it can also be quite usual to have a 10 min delay starting the wedding breakfast if guests are slow taking their seats. This could mean evening guests arrive during the speeches or that the band has to reduce their set lengths as there is not enough time. If you PLAN to be late, then incorporate this into the schedule from the start!
The other element that can go wrong is the wedding cake, especially if it has been made by a relative. I have had cakes collapse before which I have to fix and camouflage so the bride isn’t aware!

When things get stressful what is your best advice to stay calm?
Delegate and trust those that love you to take the task you have given them with respect. Don’t try to do everything, either hire a wedding planner or project manage the wedding so others feel involved in the process.

Any nice ideas of how couples can make their guests feel more involved in the wedding?
Use talents of friends and family, you would be amazed at how creative people are. Maybe someone can help with the flowers, make favours or does someone have a nice car that could transport the bridesmaids perhaps? People are always happy to help.

Couple can sometimes feel like their wedding day goes by in a blur. What advice can you give a couple to avoid this and for them to have wonderful memories they ca look back on?
Firstly please ensure you have a GOOD photographer, this isn’t an area that should be scrimped on. I’ve lost count of number of brides who were disappointed with the photos, after the wedding it is too late to fix it. You also don’t want someone that is expecting you to stand during the whole drinks reception having photos taken without spending time with guests.
Secondly schedule some time for just the 2 of you, maybe go for a little walk as the sun is setting?

Any tips for a bride to look gorgeous on her big day?
Start your beauty routine well in advance. Have a professional help with the makeup & hair, this is a time for pampering after all! And most importantly have a trial for both hair & makeup so there are no surprises on the day

How can a couple ensure they stick to their budget?
To begin with make sure a budget is created, so many brides don’t even have a budget. Also don’t follow the budgets in the magazines as invariably they are not realistic. Create a spreadsheet with a estimate cost for each item then add an actual column next to it, this way you can track any under/over spend.  Also have a contingency as there is always something you didn’t think you would need want!

If a couple want to save money on a venue what alternatives could you recommend?
Obviously the cheapest option is probably a village hall, you can ask a design company to help transform it like http://www.weddingcreative.co.uk/ . Or look around the farms in your area, many are now opening their *barns for weddings for a fraction of a regular wedding venue.
* don’t forget you might need to bring in outside caterers, furniture and linen yourself.

For couples with a small budget, what are your top tricks for making the day appear as fabulous as possible?
First of all try and keep numbers down so the budget will stretch further. Be creative and make elements like favours & reception stationery yourself (but have wedding invites professional printed). Instead of elaborate floral displays hire items like candelabras www.dreamoccasions-hire.co.uk for a fraction of the cost. Call in favours as mentioned earlier. Grow flowers from seed/bulbs in advance and line pathways with them to create a big impact, or do lots of little pots and place on tables, perhaps as favours? Instead of a seating plan do seating cards (AKA escort cards) which you can print at home, search on google for imaginative ways to do this whilst fitting in with your theme.

What are the pros and cons of renting a wedding dress?
The downside is that it wont be the latest style, the upside is that provided it has been dry cleaned, is in good condition and a dressmaker takes it in – you have a beautiful dress for a fraction of the cost!

What makes a truly memorable wedding?
ATMOSPHERE – guests wont remember if the napkin ribbon was the same shade of pink as the place card… yes it does happen….but they will remember if they had a good time. Equally they will remember if they were bored/tired/hungry so my top tip is plan the day so guests are fed & watered well, are not kept hanging around for long and are entertained at all times!

What is your favourite thing about weddings?
Watching guests on the day having fun and especially seeing their faces when we organise surprises. I also love listening to their opinions when they enter the reception room and see all the amazing little touches we put together.

NAME: Bernadette Chapman
EMAIL: post@dream-occasions.co.uk
PHONE NUMBER: 01376 561 544
WEBSITE ADDRESS: www.dream-occasions.co.uk

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