Help! Wedding Planning SOS

With over 10 years of experience in the events and PR industry, owner and founder, Jules Illing opened the doors of Blue Bird Events in February 2017 after a life long dream of creating and seeing beautiful events to fruition.

With a keen eye for detail and a passion for working with people, these qualities ensure that every event organised by Blue Bird Events is of a high standard, with the client always coming first.

We asked Jules to answer some real wedding dilemmas, faced by real brides-to-be:

If my venue offers a wedding co-ordinator service, should I still hire my own Wedding Planner?

It depends how much of the wedding you plan on organising yourself. The venue’s coordinator will only organise things that apply to the venue and be there on the day so if you are happy to organise the whole wedding yourself then there is no need for a wedding planner too. If you would like someone to hold your hand through the process then a wedding planner is a must as they will liaise with the venue and deal with all the logistics around the wedding, not just the venue.

I am really worried about rain on my wedding day. What if my dress, hair and make-up get wet? Am I stressing unnecessarily?

It is essential to have a Rain Plan, especially if you plan on having the ceremony or reception outside. Do not just think you can make a plan up on the day if it rains, but rather speak to your venue about what they suggest as well as your wedding planner if you have one. I always suggest to brides to buy some big umbrellas before the wedding just in case and also have an emergency kit with make-up/hair products for touch ups. It is important to remember though that even if it rains, it is not the end of the world. The point of the day is to marry the person of your dreams so if you end up getting your dress a bit muddy, just have fun with it. Rainy weather makes for great photos too!

My fiancé is uncomfortable with being photographed. How do I convince him to just be himself?

I would suggest then hiring a photographer who takes more informal, ‘unposed’ photos then as this will alleviate some of the awkwardness on the day. An engagement shoot then is also a great idea to meet the photographer beforehand and get a feel for them and how they work. If all else fails, a small glass of bubbly to calm the nerves always helps!

Are destination weddings a done thing in South Africa?

More and more couples are getting married outside of the city so it is quite common to have a wedding over a weekend. What I suggest is that you make a weekend of it and send your guests lists of accommodation in the area to make it as easy as possible for them to book their weekend.

We have a limited budget. What do you think is a good number of guests, and should we include children at the Reception?

If budget is limited I would only invite close family and friends. If you haven’t seen someone in over a year and they live in the same country then maybe leave them off the list. Having children at a reception is such a personal thing and differs from each couple. Children might interrupt the speeches or throw a tantrum during the cake cutting so if sophisticated and elegant is what you are aiming for maybe ask your friends to leave the children at home for the night with a nanny but if you are more laid back and don’t mind having spirited guests at your reception then go for it. Just be sure you cater for them with kid friendly food, as well fed children are more likely to behave.

I am a traditionalist at heart, however I want just one unusual element on my Big Day. Any ideas? 

While most brides have their father walk them down the aisle which is traditional, many brides are close to their moms and want to include them too. A sweet idea is to stop when you get to the last pew (where your mom can sit at the end) and to give her a big hug and kiss on the cheek as you hug “goodbye”, before your father gives you away to your future partner. This way, you keep the tradition but also include your mom.

My partner and I have discussed eloping, to avoid the whole shebang and expense. Will we regret it? 

This depends how close you are to your family and friends. Eloping can avoid big expensive weddings but it also denies your friends and family the chance to celebrate your and your partner’s love for one another and can end up being quite hurtful to those left behind. If you really want to elope, maybe have a braai or party at your house where you invite friends and family over to celebrate with you as this is a win/win. You save money and get to have your special ceremony for just the two of you but your friends and family also feel included which is great too.

My bridesmaids want to organise a wild night out. How do I convince them that I want something sophisticated and low key?

It is absolutely important to have a maid of honour or head bridesmaid as they will make the final decisions on what is done for your bachelorette party. It might be tempting just to say there is no maid of honour to avoid hurting feelings but it will make it so much easier when it comes to the decision making process as everyone will have an opinion and it is important that your head bridesmaid knows what you want and is on board with it so she can guide the others. Hopefully you have picked friends or family who have your best interests at heart and will be true to what you want to do on the day and not just try and impose their own agenda. It is absolutely fine to send some suggestions and things you like as well as things you don’t like. Remember, this day is not supposed to humiliate or upset you but should rather be a day to celebrate your friendships with people who care about you before you embark on this next big chapter in your life. Choose people who will honour this.

I do not see eye to eye with my future mom-in-law or her sister, but they both want to be involved in my wedding details. How should we allow them to help without giving them enough rope that will allow them to interfere? 

This one can be tricky but if handled carefully it can end up bringing you closer. Remember that if they want to be involved, it’s normally because they care and want to help, however, if they start being pushy and trying to get their own way, it is perfectly acceptable to gently remind them that while you appreciate their opinion and will take it in to consideration, it is your and your partner’s special day and ultimately the decisions will be yours. What I find helps, is to give them projects or tasks that they can handle from beginning to end. Give them some direction as to what you like and then let them organise the rest as it will take things off your plate and make them feel included. A good one for this is something like transport or accommodation for guests, it’s a lot of responsibility and it vital to the day but isn’t something you’ve been dreaming about organising since you were a little girl!

What red flags should I be aware of when contracting any wedding services, and how can I guard against non-delivery of services by unscrupulous vendors, for example when deposit payments are required? 

I would always do research, look at their website and Facebook page (if they don’t have a website or Facebook page that is always a big red flag for me – even if it is a basic page that’s okay but having a social media presence is key to running a business so I would be weary if they didn’t have one). Google them, if they have bad reviews on websites such as Hello Peter etc that will come up. Try not to get hung up on one bad review, as you can’t always make everyone happy but if there are several bad reviews then I would stay away. I would phone the supplier first to talk before booking them. If they never answer the phone or sound unprofessional that is a red flag. Chat to other suppliers you are using and ask their opinion before booking. The wedding industry is not that big and most suppliers at least know of other companies and what their reputation is like. Always make sure they send you a contract or a terms and conditions to sign because if they don’t, you will have no legal foot to stand on if something goes wrong. Be sure to get a copy of the contract that both you and the supplier have signed. Deposits are completely normal and necessary so don’t let that put you off. It safe guards you and the supplier because remember if you don’t pay a deposit, there’s nothing stopping you from cancelling last minute with your supplier and they would have then lost out on other potential business or already put many others of work into something with nothing to show for it. Lastly, this is where a wedding planner is great if your budget extends that far, as they will recommend people they have worked with before or people they know who are reputable suppliers who won’t let you down.

If you want a personalised service where every client is the most important client then send Blue Bird Events an enquiry today!

Specialising in corporate and private events such as weddings, milestone birthdays, anniversaries and special occasions, Blue Bird Events also organises brand launches as well as social media content creation and management.

Photos by Greg Lumley

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