We chat all things big-day with internationally-renowned wedding and events planner, Bruce Russell...
You’ve announced your engagement and are ready to start planning your W-Day. What should be the first thing a bride does now?
This is one of the most exciting times for a couple when their dreams start to become a reality. The most important thing – once you’ve stopped to enjoy your engagement ‘moment’ – is to work out a realistic budget and look at the most important elements of the day for you as a couple.
From there you can start to approximate the number of guests and explore other elements to the day. Once you’ve got a clear idea in your heads as to what matters most to you (and how much you are able to spend) then you’ll find that your options are naturally ‘shortlisted’ and you can start to get in to the details of the planning process.
Often the options that a couple are confronted with can be overwhelming and it’s hard to know where to start. When we set up The Bridal Room at the end of last year, it was designed to offer a carefully curated marketplace of handpicked products, suppliers and experiences that together encompass every aspect of the wedding planning process to create a magical wedding day. It is designed to not only inspire couples as they embark on the planning process but also offer a practical platform from which they can realise their dreams.
Why might a couple want to hire a wedding planner?
Planners are often an invaluable part of the run-up to any wedding. In essence, their role is to inspire, counsel and undertake a lot of the logistical legwork. They will save couples a huge amount of time and will also be able to bring their experience to bear in ensuring that the budget is well spent.
A planner can also dramatically reduce the pressure on the bride and groom, providing a reassuring sounding board throughout so that couples know that they are making the right decisions for their very special day.
What advice would you give a couple who can't decide on a theme of their wedding day?
As far as I’m concerned, the most important factor to consider when choosing any theme or styling for the wedding day is to ensure that it reflects the bride – or the couple’s – personality. This is their special day and the more personal touches that can be included, the more special it will be both for them and any attending friends and family.
It’s also important to look at various other contributing factors that might affect the chosen theme – the time of year (comfort should always be a priority), the venue, whether they have chosen to have a very formal or more relaxed affair – all of which will help to shape the way the wedding day unfolds.
How will a bride know if her dress is ‘the one’?
I’ve spent years accompanying brides shopping for the perfect dress and the feeling that they’ve found it is very hard to explain, an almost intangible buzz. Almost immediately I can see something in her face that tells me she’s fallen in love – and invariably, even if she may not realise it then and there, she’ll come back to it and it’ll be ‘the one’.
It’s all about the details! Other than fabulous flowers and a delicious cake, how else can you wow your wedding guests?
It’s really important to look at the theatre of the wedding day – whether this is a carefully crafted speech from the groom, the art of tablescaping to complement or enhance the aesthetic of your chosen venue or the selection of really personal wedding favours for your friends and family.
It’s the smallest touches and a keen attention to details that, when combined, will have the greatest impact and create an unforgettable day for the happy couple and their guests.
When it comes to planning the wedding reception, which three factors are the most important?
First and foremost I always say that good and plentiful food and drink must be a priority. It’s important to ensure that your guests are kept well fed and watered and don’t need to go in search of food!
Entertainment is another priority. Keep your guests engaged by punctuating the reception with music or performances at regular intervals – it’ll provide fresh points of conversation and ensures that there aren’t any awkward silences!
Timing is also key – and it’s worth taking the time to develop a really detailed timeline as part of the planning process. The reception should flow seamlessly, without any obvious gaps in the entertainment or food service – and try to keep speeches short and sweet so that they don’t overrun either!
How can a couple ensure that they stick to their wedding budget?
It’s important here to be honest right from the get-go in terms of what you want from your wedding day and how best to financially manage these expectations. Where possible try to make sound, practical decisions – and stick to them!
A wedding day is very personal and emotional, and letting your heart rule your head can quickly lead to overspending. This is an area where a wedding planner – or another third party – can be an invaluable asset, offering objective advice and support.
The destination wedding: what should couples consider before deciding to marry overseas?
Every wedding is different and for some a destination wedding is the perfect way to mark this auspicious occasion. But there are some important factors to bear in mind before you commit to anything abroad and it’s paramount that enough time is dedicated to researching your options.
First and foremost you should look at the impact that a destination wedding may have on attending guests – you are asking them to take holiday and bear a not inconsiderable expense to join you not just on the day itself but often two or three days either side. Accessibility and travel/accommodation options will need to be scoped out and there are other considerations too – such as the need for any particular travel jabs, the climate at that time of year etc.
If you have chosen an exotic destination, then be sure to explain to guests why it’s so important to you as a couple that you are married there and why it matters that they are with you on the big day – this should put paid to any resentment over the additional cost or lengthy travel involved.
Another area that is frequently overlooked by couples are the legalities around wedding ceremonies in different countries and cultures – this is where an experienced planner or local point of contact can be particularly helpful, clarifying the details and working closely with the venue to ensure that they are on your side. The last thing you want is to jet off to the destination of your dreams only to be disappointed!
Although destination weddings are increasingly popular, I’m also seeing more couples incorporate travel into the run-up to their big day. These can take the form of Bridal Retreats and Vernissage Weekends for couples (who may also be joined by a small group of their nearest and dearest) to take some time out and spend quality time together planning their big day.
Finally: your favourite celebrity wedding from the last 12 months has been...?
There have been some truly spectacular weddings this year. The Clooney nuptials were, of course, a real highlight – a masterclass in the ultimate destination wedding, spread across three indulgent days but with a leitmotif of understated elegance running throughout.
Then at the other extreme we saw the intimate and truly personal ceremony between Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie which saw them celebrate not only their union as a couple but also the pivotal role that their children play in their happy partnership. Simply magical.