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Expert Tips from Irish Wedding Planners

Wedding planning can be tough going – there are so many elements to organise that it can be hard to even know where to begin. To help you get started, we asked three Irish wedding planners to share some of their expert tips. Check out some useful advice and tips from To Have & To Hold, The Wedding Experience and Samantha Harding Events below…

Sandra from To Have & To Hold – View Profile

Whether your wedding is an intimate gathering of a few friends and family or a larger celebration, it’s important that every couple enjoys the build up to the big day as much as the day itself! Let’s face it, wedding planning can be a bit of an ordeal, coordinating all of the different elements of the wedding, so the best place to start is with a checklist! The list should be developed together so that you both understand what’s involved and the decisions that need to be made collectively. Firstly it’s important to discuss the type of wedding that you want: potential dates, location and size of wedding. You need to do this before you do anything else as it’s important to make sure that you’re both on the same page. Believe it or not, the most important part of the planning is… talking. Some couples that I’ve worked with find themselves having these discussions well into the process – causing stress and upset as they realise that they have completely different views of their ideal wedding. For example, one of the biggest decisions for many couples is whether to have a church ceremony or a civil ceremony.


Photo from Linda & Cormac’s real wedding by Julie Cummins Photograhy

Once you’ve discussed what you both want, it’s then really important that you build a realistic budget. The budget should be the foundation for your decision making and allows you to focus your spend on the areas that are most important to you both. How much do you want to spend – what you spend really comes down to the priorities of each couple. You should think about your circumstances and the type of wedding that you want as you develop your budget – maybe it’s the venue, maybe the number of guests, or maybe it’s the honeymoon, you need to prioritise the things that are important and then begin to develop the budget. At this stage there are often more questions than answers, as you are trying to figure out what to spend with very little information! However, the following are the big ticket items that need to be considered

Number of guests

Location & venue

Wedding date

Style & theme for the wedding

Once you’ve answered all of the above you have the basis of a strong plan – enough at least to begin shaping your ideal wedding!

Samantha from Samantha Harding Events – View Profile

Couples can put a lot of pressure on themselves as the months and weeks pass and it gets closer to their wedding day. The wedding day becomes the culmination of many hours of research and work with their planner and their friends and family and I think what happens is that the wedding day becomes the end of something as opposed to the beginning!


Photo from Amy & Shane’s real wedding by Insight Photography

I would advise couples to see their wedding day as a celebration of something truly extraordinary – finding each other and falling in love and making a commitment. I think if they look at the day as a tribute to themselves, as opposed to an ‘event’ – then the day will evolve naturally and be amazing because of that love and esteem.

I find it an honour to be part of that celebration and I am always moved by the intimacy of the day and I always advise couples to keep this in mind when creating a guest list. For grooms and for brides as well, don’t invite anyone you wouldn’t feel comfortable getting tearful in front of. Happy planning!

Alexandra from The Wedding Experience – View Profile

Where to begin: I always advise my couples to start by picking a time of year that they want to get married and then try to narrow down the date as soon as they can. There is no point in trying to look further at suppliers without a date in mind. When they have a venue in mind and the date narrowed down I would confirm it as soon as possible. The time of year and venue will also help to determine the colour scheme and décor options so it really is the best place to start. You would be surprised how many people go ahead and book a band or florists etc. without having a definite venue in mind, only to find out that the band might be too big for the venue or the flower package they booked might not even be needed because the venue supply a lot of the flowers.

The dreaded budget: Give yourself time to sit down and make out a realistic and affordable budget for both of you. I highly recommend looking at forums such as those on weddingsonline to get a rough idea of how much things cost. You may have friends and family members who have already gotten married so you’re aware of the costs, but if you are very new to all things weddings then definitely seek advice. If you are using a Wedding Planner then they will be able to go through your budget with you and advise you on how much everything will cost so you will have a clear starting point. Keep in mind that you will more than likely go over your budget at the last minute by making some last minute decisions during the wedding buzz so just allow yourself some leeway.

Philippa & Conor wedding day

Photo from Philippa & Conor’s real wedding by Massafelli Photography

DIY wedding: A personal touch is always so lovely in a wedding but I often get called in last minute to either fix or finish a project that was left trailing behind as soon as other wedding jobs became priority. I advise couples who want to add elements of DIY to first of all give themselves plenty of time. But also, just because it is a DIY job doesn’t mean you will save money. You will more than likely go over budget on this as it’s very easy to pick up bits and pieces as you are going along, and a year or more of “bits and pieces” can really add up. My office is filled with trinkets that my couples have accumulated during their planning and they have no use or want for them any more. There really is no harm in calling in a wedding stylist who can very easily put these personal touches together for you and can help save you time and money.

Marquee wedding: People assume that having a wedding at home will be budget friendly and easier. I have to admit that this can either be just as much as going to an established venue, if not more. The cost of hiring a marquee, flooring, decorating, heating, lighting, generators for electricity, catering, bar hire, tables and chairs, waiting staff… the list goes on. A marquee or home wedding is an amazing alternative to a venue and it is definitely something I love working on but be aware that it’s not the cheaper route if that is what you’re looking for.

Main image from real wedding by Michelle Prunty Photography

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Pamela Mahon

Pamela Mahon

Pamela enjoys writing about all things decor (she loves buying it too) and has a not so secret addiction to stationery.

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