There's no time to be a wedding wallflower on your big day - here’s everything you need to take the blush out of your bride
Secret social skill: party organiser
You’ve frequented the wedding fairs, you’ve pinned the moodboard, you’ve scoured the net and your day is taking shape. Now it’s time to start calling suppliers to discuss your ideas, talk details and organise quotes. So, which comes first? And where does one start?
Up-skill: The most important element of your wedding will be the venue, so make this your starting point, says wedding planner Ruth Hunter from Finesse Planning. “The whole wedding day will revolve around this, from the timings to the food and drink, and the décor,” she says. “Speak to the venue about your ideas and ensure the staff can help make them a reality; some venues will insist you use its own catering team, while others don’t allow items such as candles or bunting.”
When you’ve agreed this, you’ll be ready to contact your suppliers. “Remember the best suppliers get booked up a year or more in advance, so call your photographer, food and entertainment as soon as possible,” adds Ruth. Invest in a planning notebook to keep all your contact numbers. And you’re off the starting block...
Secret social skill: Friend matchmaker
You want your two bridesmaids, who have barely met, to form a bridal team, and as for your friends who are poles apart, you’d give anything for them to put their differences
aside on your big day. Because you can’t quite shake the vision of a friendship tug-of-war – with one very stretched bride at the centre.
Up-skill: As lovely as it sounds, don’t try and turn your friends into some kind of bridal team, says social behaviour specialist Judi James (Being Confident, £10.99, Vermillion). “As long as you introduce them, your friends will be more than able to cope, but overorganising people always ends in tears and dropping hints that they should play together nicely, or even showing you’re worried they won’t, can get their backs up, meaning a lack of cooperation.”
Judi recommends a few fun meet-ups before the main event: “Make sure they are fun and not too formal,” she says. “Allow them to be adults who can get on with as much or as little bonding as they want. In short, don’t match-make, because when people feel they are being pushed they will always resist.” Lucky we checked...
Secret social skill: guest list manager
Here’s the conundrum: You’ve got 140 friends and family and 100 invites, so how can one kind-hearted couple assign 40 of their nearest and dearest to the social scrap heap? Add to this the issue of whether to include plus-ones (most of whom you’ve never even met) and you’ve got bridal brain-ache.
Up-skill: “Most couples will have to limit their numbers in some form, even with a big budget you still have to deal with venue restrictions,” says Ruth “I try to help couples prioritise people by asking them who they really want to share their day with, and to think about how much contact they’ve had with people over the last couple of years.”
If you do have to make a tough decision with regards to distant relatives or friends, just make sure you explain your reasons. “If you’ve exchanged little more than a Christmas card then they should understand,” says Ruth. Tackle the plus-one issue by organising to meet in the run-up to the big day. You might even find you meet a new BFF through a loved-one and it’s a great opportunity to start the celebrations early!
Secret social skill: counsellor
From the best friend who is suddenly single to your great aunt who is grieving the loss of her husband, there will be some guests on your big day who have smiles on their faces and tears behind their eyes. Yes, this is one day which is all about you, but where does that leave them?
Up-skill: The last thing they will want is to cause you worry on your big day, so most of your work will be done behind the scenes, says Judi. “Ask someone who is sympathetic to keep an eye on them and make sure they’re not left sitting alone. It’s also a good idea to speak to them close to the day to let them know that although you realise it might be difficult for them, how happy you will be to see them there.”
Just be careful you don’t go too far by bombarding them with other guests, or by drawing too much attention to them. “On the day do the normal greeting rituals, but the addition of an arm squeeze or hug will speak more than words will.”
Secret social skill: Peacemaker
Your recently divorced uncle and aunt can’t bear to be in the same room, but you’ve invited them to share a pew on your big day. Now you just need to make sure your
wedding is as easy as possible for both of them, and that the only sparks which fly are from the (organised) fireworks display.
Up-skill: “It’s not going to be easy to bring two people together who are finding it hard to get along, but avoid placing yourself in the role of peace-keeping force,” suggests Judi. “Ask for advice on where they would like to sit before you organise the seating plan, as you’ll usually get more cooperation. Be wary of asking them to sit apart in case they react defensively, you don’t want to find you are fending complaints from both sides. Above all, give them the chance to take responsibility for their own behaviour, because then they should make more effort to call a truce on the day.”
After all, you don’t want to feel like a UN peacekeeper on your day...
Secret social skill: Speech maker
You’ve always said you’ll give a speech on the day, but with no public speaking experience on your CV you’re starting to panic.
Up-skill: “Think of it more as a way of thanking your guests all in one go,” says Judi. “Avoid the advice to ‘just be yourself ’ as it will leave you unprepared and nervous, but don’t go the other way and deliver a formal speech worthy of a Powerpoint presentation which doesn’t show the real you.” Instead, try to draw on other experiences you may have had, you’d be surprised how often you make mini speeches in everyday life.
“Write some key points down, making sure they are in large writing so you can keep your notes on the table. Take a moment before you speak, roll your shoulders back, breathe out and smile, and avoid scripted jokes or long-winded paragraphs.” Although this isn’t the right moment for your favourite ‘chicken crossed the road’ joke, the truth is you can’t really go wrong on your big day, so relax and have fun!