Here is a selection of Q&As from Your South Wales Wedding magazine. If you would like your question answered by our experts, please email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Local experts advise on big-day budgeting
Q. We'd love to hire a wedding planner, but are worried they'll overstretch our limited budget. Is there a way we can give them free rein without breaking the bank?
A. Amy Dowsell says: If you hire a wedding planner, not only will it ease your worries about spending, but they should also be able to find ways to keep you within budget. A wedding planner works with clients to understand their must haves and discuss areas where they're willing to compromise.
They have recommended, tried and tested suppliers that you use, and can help find new ones too. With years of experience in the wedding industry, we know what's a good price and what isn't, so we can offer expert advice on this and explain why some suppliers have to charge what they do.
We also offer on-the-day coordination, where we liaise with all your suppliers and make sure everything runs as smoothly as possible, so you can sit back and enjoy your dream day.
Trusting a wedding planner to have free rein will be worrying initially, but once you've had your first couple of meetings and seen the budget plan, you'll realise it's worth every penny.
Q. There are so many venue packages available, we're not sure which is most cost-effective – venue, catering and entertainment separately or all-inclusive deals. What do you advise?
A. Shakira Obaid says: It all depends on the venue. All-inclusive packages may seem more expensive at fi rst, but by the time you cost everything separately it usually amounts to the same price. In my opinion, a venue that can offer a full service will provide better value for money and help source catering and entertainment suppliers. You can be safe in the knowledge that a reputable wedding venue would only appoint the best food and entertainment experts to work with, ensuring your big day goes without a hitch.
Q. It's important to us that our loved ones are involved in our day. There are nine of my family and friends that I'd like as my bridesmaids. How can I keep the costs down with such a large bridal party?
A. May Pearson says: I'd recommend starting the dress search as early as possible as this will allow you to spread the payments so it doesn't feel like you're spending a lot all at once. Some brides order their bridesmaids' outfits more than a year in advance to benefit from this. As you've chosen so many of your best girls to walk down the aisle with you, don't feel scared to ask the boutique or store you're purchasing the dresses from for a discount. We'd happily give a discount for nine bridesmaids.
Q. We want our whole day caught on camera, from the getting-ready shots to the evening entertainment, but know that a full-day's wedding photography doesn't come cheap. How can we keep costs down without our big-day album suffering?
A. Andrew Davis says: Firstly, and the easiest way of keeping your costs down, is to book early. Booking 18 months in advance of your wedding might seem like a long time, but not only does it give you a bigger choice of photographer, but many will also honour the price offered when you book them.
If this isn't an option or you need to bring your costs down further, you'll need to look at your overall package. Do you need a second photographer? Discuss if they can cover your day on their own as you might be able to save yourself £150 or more.
If you've done all of this and you still need to shave a few pounds off the cost, look at your album selection. A good photographer will be able to offer you a range of styles and covers available at different prices. You might need to sacrifice the leather or acrylic cover to meet your budget.
The one thing I'd say not to do is to choose your photographer based solely on price. Meet a few, find the one you like, and work with them to see if your budget is enough.
Q. I've considered hiring a wedding dress to keep costs down. However, as it's such a special gown I want to cherish it for the rest of my life, so I'm opting to buy one. How can I ensure I preserve it in the best way so it's still beautiful in years to come?
A. Linda Darracott says: The most important thing is to get your gown professionally cleaned by a certified dry cleaner. They'll examine your gown, evaluate the fabric and embellishments and then discuss with you the best methods of cleaning and stain removal – if necessary. If you think there are spills such as champagne or white wine on your dress, be sure to mention this as these will need to be treated too – even if they're invisible to the naked eye, they can discolour over time.
Once your dress has been cleaned, the best way to store it is in acid-free tissue paper in a specialist gown storage box – this will prevent it ageing and fading over the years. Make sure you then keep it in a dry place, out of direct sunlight.
One last thing – try and get your dress to the cleaner as soon as possible. Your gown is precious, and you want to keep it that way.
Q. My fiancé and I have just got engaged and are set to get married next year. We want our stationery to be consistent, from our save-the-dates to thank you cards, including the on-the-day details, so know we need to sort it soon. How do we start to calculate how much we'll need for this, what should we spend most on and do you have any money-saving tips?
A. Kate Lee says: Many brides and grooms are often perplexed about planning their wedding stationery. After all, the invitations will set the tone for such a special occasion, so everything has to be perfect. I'm often asked whether to send out save-the-dates, but it really depends how far away the wedding is. If it's more than two years away, I'd suggest yes – if it's within a year, there's usually no real need.
For us, and many of our customers, the invitations are the most important item. These will include the vital information your guests need, from accommodation to menu choices, gift suggestions to RSVPs. For continuity, why not follow the design through to place cards, seating plans, table cards and even the order of service. These items can bring your vision together beautifully. Often, stationery will be a set price and packages will be available, which makes it easier when budgeting. Packages are a great way to save money as opposed to ordering everything separately.
Making choices can at times be unnerving, as can wondering whether you've made the right decision that'll set the scene for your perfect day, but take your time and enjoy the experience.
Bridal boutique owner
PR agency director and venue representative
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