Another wonderful guest post for you today. This time, it’s Jill Hanby Penn, whose wedding I photographed…wow…seven years ago! Jill and Andy planned their wedding whilst they were living in France, and their venue was also some distance from any of their families back home. So if you’re planning a wedding far from home, then there’s bound to be some gold in here for you! Over to Jill.
As I sit here and write this my memory is already drifting back to my wedding in 2013, the last time I saw the man behind the camera that is Chris Seddon. Where does the time go? I’m guessing if you have sat down to read Chris’ blog you probably have a wedding on the cards, so a BIG congratulations to you. What an exciting time.
And whilst I am here I had better tell you what a great choice in photographer you have made. Chris is fantastic, he put us at ease, he made us laugh and he gave us a precious gift, the best photographs of our wedding that mean today, 7 years on, I can immediately go back to the best party and afternoon I’ve had, all through the images he captured.
We didn’t live anywhere near our wedding venue, which for some could be stressful or a simple no go, but for us it wasn’t optional. At the time, we lived in France but were getting married back in the UK and on top of that, our final wedding venue was not near any of our families. So if you are considering (or maybe like us, you don’t have much choice) a wedding at a distance, here are some of the lessons we learnt and tips that we found really helpful in making our wedding as good as it was!
Your Contact at the Venue
We were very lucky; we had an amazing contact at our wedding venue, Great Hallingbury Manor. The Wedding Coordinator there was wonderful and on top of that, she didn’t just organise the weddings she was also there on the day – which for me, as an ex hotel employee – is a big selling point. She made us feel confident in the venue and the plans for the day. She was also great at dealing with email promptly, a big bonus when you live far away and need to know the venue recognise the importance in your wedding.
The biggest tip I can give for a wedding being organised at a distance is finding that one contact at your venue, someone who will be there to answer your questions, put your ideas into reality and really KNOW your wedding. This should reduce your stress or uncertainty but also give you a better relationship with your wedding venue and organiser.
Knowing Your Suppliers & Communication
It’s important to really know and like your suppliers. From wedding photographer (with Chris, it’s very easy to like him!) to suppliers of food, furniture, decor, and entertainment. If you really know them and like them, you will trust them so much more, trust is a big thing with planning a wedding but for me, it was even more critical due to distance. I needed to know that when we had discussed plans or actions they were being carried out; I really needed to know and trust the suppliers.
We were lucky that our wedding venue pretty much provided all we needed so we didn’t have a huge list of suppliers, but that said the ones we had I needed to know would meet their side of my wedding bargain.
I think the key to this is to communicate well with suppliers. This could mean regular communication, catch up calls/emails to review progress or ensuring that you check in every so often with them in the build up to your big day.
We had one supplier, who was good and did provide some of what we asked for but on the morning of our wedding couldn’t provide absolutely everything we had discussed and asked for. A bit of a letdown at the last minute and for some brides might have been upsetting. I realised that had I done a little more check-ins with this supplier, just to remind her of what we were expecting, maybe we wouldn’t have been let down or maybe we would have been informed in advance and a solution could have been found. It wasn’t a big deal, in fact I’m pretty sure my hubby doesn’t even know what I’m talking about (!) but after all the wedmin I did, it was a small frustration to find a supplier didn’t have the same understanding as me.
Visiting the Venue More Than Once
I’m sure this is probably the norm for most wedding organisers, regardless of location, but for me, being away from the venue meant I really needed to review it whenever I could. So when we were back in the UK we would often find ourselves going for a coffee or meeting a friend there. This was a good opportunity to talk to the wedding coordinator face to face, but it was also great to review the venue’s set up. Planning a wedding is a task for anyone, and I found sometimes sitting in my living room trying to work out a table plan when I couldn’t really remember the space available to us a hard task. The visits back to the venue helped me to really grasp the space we had, the set up for the day and to take photos/videos of the venue to have at home when I was putting my wedding on paper.
Don’t Feel Pressured by Family & Friends
This really should be a rule that all future brides and grooms consider, but I know it is much easier to say than do. That said, it really is important, this is YOUR wedding you are planning, of course, your family and friends are critical to that but never forget, this is YOUR day.
A few of our guests and even my Dad made comments about our choice of venue as it did mean that all guests needed to have accommodation nearby because no-one lived locally, but we had our reasons for choosing the venue and stuck with it. My Dad even wrote it into his wedding speech, noting the ‘inconvenience of the wedding location to all here today’… but I didn’t take it to heart, we were happy with the venue and the location had a meaning for us, so that is what mattered. If you find family or friends are being too pushy or involved, take a step back, remember what you are doing, this is one day in the rest of your future, involve them where you can, but if it’s not possible, don’t worry about it. Your friends and family care for you and that is their most important role in your wedmin and your wedding.
The dreaded word ‘wedmin’. Please don’t let it scare you. I quite enjoyed my wedmin, it made me feel involved in something that wasn’t happening at home. I would do my planning and admin in bursts so it didn’t feel like it was overwhelming or too much. I think when you are planning a wedding from afar this is possibly easier to do, we certainly didn’t feel any pressure in organising the details of our day, it was a pleasure. As I’ve said, having suppliers and a wedding venue that supported and engaged made a big difference, constant communication throughout the process with all involved really made the process of wedmin enjoyable.
I hope you all have a fantastic wedding with everything you want, whether you live near or far to your wedding venue. I know if you’ve chosen Chris as your photographer you will already have some great photos to look back on…even 7 years later!