Planning With The Professionals – Practical Planning Tips With The Principal Hotel Company & De Vere

principal hotel

I’m going to be honest – wedding planning can be tough. You’re balancing one hundred and one things and keeping the rest of your life together too. There’s just so much going on AND, if you’re like the vast majority of couples, you’ll never have planned a big event like this.

No wonder it can be stressful – you’re about a far from your comfort zone as it’s possible to be. That’s why, when super experienced professionals offer you advice, you should take it with both hands because you just know they want to help. Today, I’m so happy to welcome one of my all-time fave wedding pros, the amazing Kelly, Director of Weddings at the Principal Hotel Company and De Vere, to share her top tips. Favourite this page right now and read on.

But just hold on my one moment because I just have to tell you a little bit about the Principal Hotel Company. Principal looks after some of the most iconic city centre hotels in landmarks locations across the UK while De Vere is all about modern, country estate hotels with stunning mansion houses at their hearts. Both brands are currently undergoing a massive £300m revamp and the improvements to the company’s amazing portfolio are our fantastic. What I love is that the Principal Hotel Company and De Vere are all about personality. The properties are all different, each has its own story to tell and whatever your style, you’ll find your dream wedding venue amongst this gorgeous selection.

Now, let’s get on with the tips shall we? Here’s Kelly with all you need to know:

“A recent UK survey revealed that today’s couples are spending, on average, £27,000 on their wedding! With this in mind, and no matter what your budget, we want to make sure you get the best day possible. I’d like to offer you some practical and cost-free tips on managing your wedding. I’ve picked on areas that will have a big impact on your day – logistics!”

“Before we get started, please delete the phrase ‘I presume’ from your vocabulary and promise yourself that if you’re not clear on something, make a note to confirm it. For example ‘I presume that canapes are served on trays by waiters’ is a reasonable thought but perhaps at your venue, they’re served from a station and guests help themselves. As long as you know what’s happening, you’ll limit the chance of any surprises on the day.”

“Also, remember that you more you plan, the better your day will be BUT if you don’t, there will still be a wedding and you’ll marry the person you love and live happily ever after! So, let’s get started!”

“For me, timing and logistics are the MOST important areas to focus on if you want to ensure a smooth wedding. You can have stunning flowers and on-trend chairs, but if the day doesn’t flow well, that’s what your guests will really remember. The key here is to go through each section of the wedding and really breakdown the detail in each step. Your day will likely divide neatly into three main sections – the ceremony, the pre-dinner reception and then the dinner and after party. Here’s my guide to what you need to consider for each section:”

The ceremony

  • Start time – too early (pre-lunch) and guests might be hungry and have to rush to get to the ceremony, too late and you might be leaving yourselves short on time. Remember to consider any travelling time between your ceremony location and reception venue.
  • Seating – have a seating plan for VIPs and readers to ensure all the key family members and the bridal party get to the right seats. This takes the heat off your ushers and saves and embarrassment. Small printed cards or slips of paper for each person works really well. Entrance – is this easy to find? Can groomsmen be positioned to welcome people in front of the church or hotel or at the end of a long driveway to ensure no one misses the turning!
  • Music – if this is recorded, who has the USB, iPod or CD and who’s going to be pressing play? If you’ve booked musicians, what do they need? Armless chairs and water are common requests.
  • Buttonholes – designate one person to be responsible for attaching the buttonholes to all the boys. This makes sure that all the buttonholes are in the same position and so gives a neater, more uniform look to the group.
  • Unplugged? – consider having a ‘no photo’ policy for your ceremony. You’ve probably paid a professional photographer so let them get the great shots and not photos of people taking photos. This also really helps your guests to be in the moment rather than just watching things through a screen.
  • Top tip – brides and bridesmaids should hold bouquets over their belly buttons! This shows off gowns really well and, when you stand like this, your shoulders go back and drop down, making you look relaxed and confident as you glide down the aisle!

The pre-dinner reception

  • Time – allow too long here and guests will get bored. Plan for 1-2 hours here maximum. Ensure there’s seating available because ladies in heels and older guests will be grateful to have somewhere to perch!
  • Beverages – be realistic about the amounts you’re providing. If one glass of bubbles per person is included in your package, that one glass won’t last for two hours. If you can’t add more to your package, ensure there’s a pay bay available for guests to get drinks as they wish.
  • Photos – during this time, you’ll be having your family photos and portrait shots. Make this as efficient as possible by creating a photos list and hand copies to two or three members of the bridal party who can find family members and make sure that everyone’s available for the shots you want. This can drag on and make the rest of you wedding late if you’re not organised here so photo lists really are a wedding must-have.
  • Seating plan – have you seating chart, or escort cards, in the pre-dinner reception so that during the drinks, guests can find out what table they’re on. If the chart is placed outside the door to dinner, you’ll create a queue as people try to find their seating assignment.

The dinner and after party

  • Music – have upbeat music playing as your guests enter the dinner. This really helps increase the atmosphere as your lovely wedding set-up is revealed!
  • Announcement – who’s calling you into dinner? If you’ve not booked a toastmaster, your best man can definitely do this. Remember to confirm how you want to be announced. Do you want to be ‘bride and groom’ or ‘Mr and Mrs’ or would you prefer that only your first names are used?
  • Speeches – consider breaking up the speeches? It’s no longer necessary to have an hour of speeches over coffee! Keep the momentum going and guests interested by placing your speeches in between courses. For example, the Father of the Bride speech works well as an opener, before the starter. Let your groom take the floor after the main course and finish with the best man over coffee.
  • Keepsakes – make a list of everything you want to save such as top table place cards, seating chart, left over favours etc. and make sure that your venue has a copy of this list in advance of the big day. If they don’t know what to keep, it’s likely everything will be cleared down after the celebrations and in the morning, it’ll be too late to ask for your keepsakes.

Kelly, I can’t thank you enough for that super comprehensive guide. If you’re feeling more organised and much more in control, remember to raise a glass to the Principal Hotel Company and De Vere on your wedding day.

To find out more about the Principal Hotel Company and De Vere’s utterly fabulous venues, just visit the website to browse the portfolio and check out their brilliant wedding offerings.

Tamryn x

Tamryn Settle

Tamryn Settle View all Tamryn's articles

Self-confessed wedding addict Tamryn spends her days in her Berkshire studio writing about all things beautiful and romantic with her black Labrador for company.

2 thoughts on “Planning With The Professionals – Practical Planning Tips With The Principal Hotel Company & De Vere

  1. Some great tips – but a little disappointed in the focus on male speeches for such a forward thinking and female led publication.

    1. Hi Emma! We take on board your point! And because we take it seriously, we’re going to publish a piece soon that focusses on women making speeches at their own wedding (like I did, waaaaaay back in 2009!).
      Thanks so much for your honest feedback.
      Love Annabel x

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