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Wedding Essentials

There are a number of wedding essentials you need to consider when planning your big day, and here we give you the low down on ordering and choosing a wedding cake, wedding cars, a wedding photographer, wedding flowers, stationery, entertainment, wedding gift list, and wedding caterers.

Wedding Cake

The wedding cake is one of the great traditions of a wedding day, and you’ll want to make sure you choose a cake that complements your wedding theme, colouring and your personal taste. There are many different types of wedding cakes to choose from, ranging from single-tiered heart-shaped wedding sponge cakes to four-tier square fruitcakes.

When choosing a wedding cake you’ll probably want to make your local bakeries and cake specialists your first port of call, although many supermarkets now sell a variety of basic cakes in different sizes that you can decorate yourself. The style of wedding cake you choose will probably depend on the number of guests you are inviting, for example a traditional three or four-tier design is probably best for larger weddings.

If you decide to get a wedding cake from a professional baker, ask to see their portfolio before deciding which kind of wedding cake you want. If you have specific requirements for your cake, make sure you inform the baker of these as soon as possible and most cake makers can incorporate this into their design. They will also offer you the opportunity to taste their products before you make a final decision.

Wedding Cars

The wedding cars you choose can make all the difference to the theme of your wedding, so make sure you take your time when deciding and opt for cars that will complement the desired look of your wedding. If you follow tradition then you’ll probably want a vintage car such as a 1960s Bentley or 1970s Daimler Limousine, alternatively if you want to add a modern twist to the arrangements then you might opt for a luxury Mercedes or BMW.

However, many couples like to arrive at the ceremony in an unusual car, so bright red Ferraris, 1970s Mini Coopers and even yellow New York taxi cabs are all acceptable at weddings these days.

Whatever wedding theme and wedding car you go for, there are number of things you should consider before signing an agreement, such as will you get a chauffeur as part of the service, and how many cars will you need for the bridesmaids, flower girls, and bride’s mother.

It is important to book your wedding cars as early as possible to avoid disappointment. Most couples book them as soon as they’ve set the date, particularly if they want to use a rare or vintage wedding car because these are snapped up very quickly, especially on Saturdays and in the summer months.

Wedding Photography

When choosing a wedding photographer for your wedding, you will probably find that each photography firm offers a different wedding photography package and you should therefore think carefully about what you want before agreeing to a certain package.

Wedding photography packages usually offer varying numbers of photographs in a range of sizes and a choice of colours, such as black and white, colour or sepia. Although it is hard to generalise what to expect in each wedding photography package because they differ between photographers, here are some examples of what to expect:

A standard photography package will usually include 20 or more photographs from your wedding day presented in a special wedding album in either black and white or colour. The package may also include a large print that can be framed and put on your wall at home.

A deluxe package will probably offer you much the same as the standard but with more photographs in the album and two family albums for the parents of the bride and groom. In both cases you will be able to choose whether the photographs take the form of photojournalism shots, formal pictures or artistic photographs.

Finally, a digital wedding photograph package offers all the photographs from your wedding on a CD-Rom or DVD, and this allows you to make unlimited prints for yourself or any of your guests.

Wedding Flowers

Your choice of wedding flowers can make all the difference and that is why it’s so important to pick a floral display that will enhance the theme of your wedding. There are a number of aspects to consider including church flowers, decoration for the cake, the bridesmaids’ bouquets, and, perhaps most importantly, the bride's bouquet. Historically the bride chooses white flowers to symbolise purity, and although some still do, these days women usually opt for colours to complement her own or the bridesmaids' dresses.

When choosing wedding flowers it is worth taking along a sample of fabric from the bride's dress to the florist, as this helps when matching colours, even if you want a white bouquet to match a white dress, because whites can vary.

Among the wedding flowers that brides tend to go for in their bouquet are roses, lilies, carnations, chrysanthemums and tulips, but the type of flower will depend on the shape of the bouquet. There are a number of shapes to consider; the cascade, which is a large, tear-shaped arrangement that spills down; the nosegay, a round, tightly bound cluster of small flowers; a hand-tied bouquet, a simple cluster of long stems tied with a ribbon; and a spray bouquet, which is a triangular shaped bunch of flowers.

Wedding Stationery

You can buy wedding stationery from a number of different places, such as mail order, stationers and stationery designers. There is a huge range of items and styles to choose from, such as invitations, response cards, envelope seals, cake boxes, place cards, order of service sheets, matchbooks, serviettes, serviette rings, coasters, bridal favour boxes, guest scrolls, menus, thank you cards, guest autograph albums, adhesive bottle labels, personalised ribbon, and even after dinner mints with personalised wrappers.

However, most couples are working to a tight budget and so they just choose a few of these items – the essential ones being invitations and place cards. The special stationery you choose for your wedding also offers a great way to continue the colour theme for your wedding. All good stationers will have catalogues of their stationery range, and you should look through these before making your final decision.

Entertainment

When booking your wedding reception venue, you must also consider what type of wedding entertainment you want. These days you can choose from a wide range of entertainment, such as a live band, DJ, ballroom dancing, comedian, magician, or even an orchestra. The type of entertainment you choose should reflect your personal taste and the wedding theme you have chosen.

Wedding Gift List

The best way to ensure you only receive useful gifts, and that you do not get duplicate ones is to prepare a wedding list for your guests. Once you have a wedding gift list, your guests can choose a wedding gift for you that they know will be appreciated.

Generally, wedding lists take one of two forms. The first is a list you make yourself and distribute it to those guests who ask to see it. When they have chosen a gift to buy you, the list is returned to the hosts with that item crossed off. To ensure the correct items are chosen you should include the manufacturer's name, model and colour. The other choice for a wedding list, which is very popular with couples today, is where a certain shop or department store holds your gift list. These days, most major stores such as Marks & Spencer, Debenhams, Next and House of Fraser provide a wedding list service where you make up your list from their stock. The store manages your wedding list on your behalf so when your guests telephone or visit the store, the item chosen is removed from your list.

Wedding Caterers

The type of food and drink you serve at your wedding reception will depend on your budget and the number of people you want to invite. For some bride and grooms, the best wines and delicacies are worth splashing out on, while others prefer to put food secondary in their budget to entertainment, bridal wear and wedding flowers.

It is advised that around 40% of the entire wedding budget is spent on the wedding reception, which includes the meal, drinks, buffet, venue and entertainment. These days many wedding venues have in-house caterers to provide all the food and drink services for the wedding, while other wedding venues will expect you to hire an outside caterer to do the job.

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