Thursday, 9 January 2014

Whirlwind Wedding - Plan a wedding in just 6 weeks

Holdsworth House in Halifax is no stranger to weddings, and traditionally the average time to plan a wedding is 18 months from start to finish. Yet not all our guests have or need the luxury of years to plan their wedding day. In fact we're seeing a trend of many brides taking the 'chilled' approach, with more and more weddings taking place within a few months of booking.

We asked Holdsworth House's expert wedding coordinator Claire Nicholl (pictured here) to give us her top tips for planning a wedding in no time at all.

HH: Claire, what's the shortest time you've seen a wedding take place from the initial booking?

CN: We've had couples arrange weddings within 6 weeks of walking through the door, it's not that uncommon actually. There are lots of different reasons why, but more recently brides seem a bit more relaxed about the preparations. Couples are very educated and know they can source lots of information and products for their wedding on the internet, so shopping around and making decisions is so much quicker and easier.

Also whilst some couples take the traditional approach of sending out beautiful card invitations, we see some now emailing really inventive and interactive invitations, which also solicits a much faster response if needs be.

The world works much faster than it used to yet expectations are increasing all the time. Just because you fancy tying the knot in a few weeks you don't have to compromise on the quality or standards. They say Rome wasn't built in a day, but just imagine what the Romans could do in a day now?!

HH: What would be your top tips for planning a wedding in 6 weeks?

CN:  OK here we go:

1.   Book your venue and your ceremony

This is your priority and the two go hand in hand (excuse the pun). At Holdsworth House we work closely with the Halifax registrars so once you've checked the date with us, call the Calderdale Register Office on 01422 288080 to book your ceremony. They will talk you through the process of the ceremony and any fees payable to them. If you're getting married in a church or religious venue you can hold your reception with us afterwards. Registrars require at least 15 days notice period for the marriage license, religious venues may be longer.



Use the expert knowledge around you.  Any reputable wedding venue will have a really good wedding coordinator. In fact we have a larger team here at Holdsworth House and over 50 years combined experience of wedding celebrations. You'll have been a guest at a wedding before but this is (probably) the first time you've been through it as a bride or groom - we can talk you through how a really fabulous wedding works and what you can expect on the day.

Be flexible with dates. Civil ceremonies can take place on any day of the week here. As well as Saturdays, popular days are Thursdays, Fridays, Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays. Guests are usually more than happy to take a day off work to help you celebrate and then make a weekend/extended stay of it. 

The easiest way to book a wedding is to go for a package, without lots of complicated working out of costs, numbers or add ons. Ours includes room hire, meals, wine, canapes, toastmaster, disco, evening buffet etc. It means that half of the things that you need to sort out are already done for you.


2. Compile a Gift List

Not all couples have one, but guests often want to buy you a present. If you'd prefer people to buy you what you want (rather than end up with a heap of things you'd prefer not to have) then making a gift list is a good option. Most high street department stores offer this service free but I find many people now ask for travel money, gift vouchers or simply the pleasure of the guests' company at their wedding!


3.  Send out your invitations

Getting the invitations out isn't usually a problem, it's getting responses from everyone. You can buy off the shelf wedding invitations to hand write and most printers (on the high street or online) can turn personalised ones around in a week and offer place cards and menus if you wish. I recommend: 

Pickles Printer Halifax: a local firm that offers a design and print service for any kind of stationery
Gibson Doyle  01422 204408: Another Halifax firm offering wedding stationery, with an online store
Hitched.co.uk has a wealth of wedding stationery suppliers too

Make sure the RSVP date is clear. Allow people to RSVP by text or email. You could set up a Facebook Event page for your wedding where people can RSVP. You can also use this to add images, location maps or link to your wedding venue. On your invite make sure you include:
  • Date and arrival time
  • Whether you're inviting them to the wedding and evening or just the evening party
  • Venue - location map, postcode and telephone number
  • How guests can book accommodation
  • RSVP date and method: phone, letter, Twitter, Facebook... anything goes these days
  • Dress code
  • Gift list


3. Find your dress

Many brides panic that bridal shops won't be able to order in their dresses in a short timeframe and that fittings take weeks. This is untrue - most good retailers will work to your timescales. Or you could buy dresses straight from many department stores like John Lewis, Debenhams or Monsoon.  Bridesmaids and menswear can also be found off the peg or you could opt for a colour theme and have each bridesmaid choose their own outfit to fit the theme.

We like local suppliers: 
Cameo Rose Vintage Inspired Accessories:  07734 821232
Greenwoods Menswear 01422 350645
The Swanky Bride 01422 206640

We've had some ultra-trendy weddings recently where vintage has been big. Dresses available from vintage shops or mums' 1970 pre-worn wedding dresses are seeing a massive come back.

4.  Photographers and Flowers

With the improvements in camera technology you might be tempted to 'do it yourself' but a really good wedding photographer takes the strain off you, gets the all-important brilliant and memorable pictures and is worth their weight in gold. We don't make any commission from the suppliers we recommend so rest assured I'm speaking from the heart!

Holdsworth House looks great at any time of the year but a good photographer will help to get the lighting right for indoor shots of you and your guests so that your fond memories are captured in every picture. A wedding not on a Saturday will give you the best chance for top suppliers to be available.

I recommend local photographers:
Alex Knight Photography 0113 204 9857 
Andy Wade Photography 07970 377567

Flowers are another area where you get what you pay for.  Do you really have time to find your way through the flower markets, source all the necessary vases and decoration? The florists we work with work fast and professionally. You really can't beat their creations, inspiration and quality. A florist can transform your room and bouquet into something that will look stunning and smell amazing.

We love:
Just Jasmine Flowers 07971 475718
Stems Design 07973786570

Professional cakes are something that can be baked and dressed in around 2-3 weeks at a push and can be personalised to your colour scheme or theme. One of our local cake suppliers is Maria Webster Cakes 01274 882020 or try Three Tier Cakes on 01422 330441.

Do you need a cake in a hurry? If you do, then try the ones from Marks and Spencers available to order and collect within a few days.  Think of innovative ways of stacking them e.g. candlesticks between them, small vases filled with dried flowers.

Alternatively opt for a cheese cake, which takes very little preparation at all. Three tiers of different cheeses, which are fabulous for munching on throughout the evening. The one we offer is pictured here.

5. Come for your wedding tasting

I'll keep in touch with the bride and groom in the run up to the wedding and call them if I need to remind them of things that need sorting at the venue. Around 2-3 weeks before your wedding you should give your final numbers. If you've booked at Holdsworth House then you'll be coming for your menu tasting to finalise the menu so that our Chef can begin ordering the correct supplies in.

I'll run through the table layouts and timings. I know the questions to ask so brides and grooms have fun making all the decisions.

6. Buy your wedding ring

Most jewellers have standard wedding rings in stock and resizing takes a matter of hours. So this is really a last on the list job, unless you're after something unusual or bespoke, which might be a bit more tricky.

If you're in West Yorkshire then try Iain Henderson Jewellery on 01274 551224 for something tailor made, or Kingston Gold in Halifax - 01422 252025 - for beautiful traditional rings.

7. Book your honeymoon

Wow, take a pin and stick into a map - there must be somewhere you'd like to go? Any tour operator will help create you a holiday package. Or search online for last minute deals and grab yourself a bargain! 

8. Book your hen/stag party

Now the fun really starts. Some brides ask their chief bridesmaid to make the hen party arrangements, others like to be fully in control and do it themselves. But gone are the days when brides want to go all out on a cheesy (not so memorable) night on the town; sophistication is the name of the game. Holdsworth House offers an overnight hen House Party which lets you take advantage of our private dining rooms with their iPod stations, cocktails and gin menus so you can wine and dine in style. If you're after more of an action packed weekend, we'd recommend Rokt in Brighouse for a complete unique indoor climbing, abseiling, adrenaline-packed time.

For the men, a group golf break is good whether you're beginners or amateurs. We've tied up with West End Golf Club in Halifax to offer some great views, great dining and friendly rivalry for stag parties. 

9. Enjoy it

Everything really can be taken care of quickly and easily. The organising should be as fun as the day itself and with the help of friends and professionals, you're guaranteed the whirlwind wedding of the season.

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