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Last-Minute Wedding Guide


Friday 28, September 2018

Last-Minute Wedding Guide

Why wait?Picking the perfect last-minute wedding venue | Type of Ceremony | Dress to Impress| Suppliers

If you are reading this, chances are your wonderful other half has just popped the question! Huge congratulations, we can’t wait to help you start planning your upcoming nuptials.

One thing we have learnt from years in the wedding business is that there are generally two different types of wedding prep; the planners and the last-minute couple.

The planners look into every little detail, from the specific date to décor in the venue’s toilets.

The last-minute couple just wants to get married, for everything to go smoothly, and to just say ‘I do’! This wedding guide is for you… the last-minute couple.

We want to celebrate everything that’s last-minute, from the excitement and the care-free decisions to the savings and little extras that can come with this style of wedding.

Why Wait?

armed forces wedding

There are many reasons to book your wedding last-minute. It may be circumstantial, personal or financial. Whatever the reason, we can help you plan to every detail.

Financial reasons to book a last-minute wedding

One of the most popular reasons for booking a last-minute wedding is restrictions within the wedding budget. It may be that your budget won’t stretch far, or you may decide that you don’t want to spend all of your savings on a wedding.

The fantastic thing with last-minute weddings is that they can come with amazing special offers. Not only with your chosen venue, but also with the suppliers you are working with.

Chances are if your preferred suppliers are still available at short notice, they are unlikely to be booked by anyone else. This is when you can enjoy an amazing discount or some special little extras.

Always talk to your venue, suppliers or travel agent about discounts, deals and offers when booking your wedding so close to the date. If you don’t ask, you might not get.

Personal reasons for booking a last-minute wedding

Last-minute wedding guide

Timing and circumstance can have a huge impact on when a couple decides to get married. Pending new members to the family can be one of them.

It might be a case of tradition or personal choice, but some couples want to get married before the newest member of the family joins us in this wonderful world.

Another reason may be the type of job that either one or each of you have. Teachers, armed forces and NHS staff struggle with time off and they are sometimes restricted with days, weeks or months.

If you want to have full input into planning, you may have a couple of months when you know you will be available, whether it’s time off from service or school holidays. Take advantage of this time and book your special day.

It might be a personality thing…

As we’ve said before, some couples just don’t like the intricate planning that some weddings can involve. Last-minute weddings are perfect for snap decisions, spontaneous moments and care-free planning. It really is the ultimate way to plan a wedding without sweating the small stuff.

If you’re an anxious person or find yourself getting easily stressed, prolonging your special day might also make it worse. Last-minute weddings may involve quicker planning, but if you follow each step, then it also takes so much of the worry out of your wedding day.

Have a happy honeymoon…

Honeymoon destination ideas

Last-minute holidays also come with great discounts. If you want to go on your honeymoon straight after your wedding, this can also be somewhere you save money from your wedding budget.

Once you have set the date, you can also look into great deals on your honeymoon.

It can also be a seasonal thing if there is a specific location you want to visit for your break away, and that location is currently ‘in’, or leading into peak season, you don’t have to wait the full year. Get it booked up, so you can get away as a married couple ASAP.

Picking the perfect last-minute wedding venue

Last Minute Wedding at Woodhall Manor

Credit Jonny MP Photography

Does the mere thought of planning every aspect of your wedding day months in advance fill you with dread? One of the joys of planning a last-minute wedding is the minimal amount of planning involved; perfect for the spur-of-the-moment couple who just want to tie the knot without any of the hassle! Picking the perfect venue can make organising your wedding a piece of cake, so we have some hints and tips to make sure where you tie the knot is the ideal place for you and your partner.

Leave it with the pros

Pink spring flowers at a last minute wedding at Woodhall Manor

Credit Jonny MP Photography

If your chosen venue specialises in events, they will be no stranger to organising your big day in a small time-frame. These types of venues will also most likely have a dedicated weddings team with plenty of experience in everything from planning to delivering the perfect wedding day. Wedding planning teams will also be able to inspire you and guide you through the entire planning process and make sure every angle is covered, right down to the most intricate details.

Most venues will also have collections available, which include decorations, food, drink; all the basics you will need for your big day. This means that you can easily lay the foundations for your wedding day and build it up using your own personal touches to make it truly unique and tailored to you and your partner.

Everything under one roof

Wedding breakfast table names at Woodhall Manor

Credit Jonny MP Photography

Choosing a venue that is licenced to hold ceremonies can also take a lot of stress out of planning your wedding, as you won’t have to worry about hiring wedding cars or finding a church at short notice. By finding an all-in-one venue, you can save yourself from splashing out over your budget, and you can spend more time making your one chosen venue look incredible. Finding an all-in-one venue is also ideal for those who have guests who may not be familiar with the area or have travelled a long way to join you for your special day, as this prevents them from getting lost between venues.

Fancy a sleepover?

Four poster bed at Woodhall Manor

Staying over the night before and/or the night after your wedding can also be a huge stress-reliever. No need to book the late-night taxis, shoo your guests out of the building and check into a hotel at stupid-o’clock in the morning. Staying over the night before can also save you valuable time in the morning for hair, makeup, and calming those big day nerves with a glass of prosecco or two… or three…

Keeping up with the Joneses

White cutout decoration at Woodhall Manor

Credit Jonny MP Photography

Imagine planning your wedding well in advance, having all the latest colours and trends, thinking you have every angle covered, only for your ideas to become out of style and “totally last year”. Pretty disappointing, huh? One of the many advantages of a last-minute wedding is that they allow you to stay up to date with the latest trends and themes with no time for them to go out of fashion.

Last-minute weddings also give you the opportunity to adapt your theme and your décor to the time of year. So, if keeping up with the modern and popular trends is a deal-maker, then maybe a last-minute wedding is for you!

Something to make the taste buds tingle

Stir fried veg at Woodhall Manor

A venue that has their own internal caterers can be a huge stress reliever when it comes to planning a last-minute wedding. Trying to arrange external suppliers at short notice can be nigh-on-impossible, especially when it comes to food, so finding a venue that can cater for your wedding is a huge bonus.

This can save you money, and you can rest assured that the professionals will have it covered. A vast majority of venues with internal caterers will give you the opportunity to sample their different menu options before you make your final decision. For many people, food is one of the main priorities for their wedding day.

In recent years, traditional dining has become rarer and rarer, and has moved over to make way for the more out-of-the-box ideas. From live cooking and food carts to a new range of delicious canapes, there are so many opportunities to make your wedding day completely unique and personalised.

What wedding ceremony suits you?

Modern day weddings offer so much variety when it comes to the types of service and ceremonies that are available. You can find a ceremony that suits your beliefs, style and requirements.

To have a ceremony which legally registers you as married, 28 days is the shortest lead time you can work with. You can have a non-legal ceremony and register it later, but if you want a legal wedding that’s shorter than 28 days, Vegas it is!

Each type of ceremony comes with its own difficulties when it comes to last-minute weddings, mainly because of availability. However, if you book your registrar or celebrant as soon as you have set a date/month then you will hopefully find the date of your dreams.

So what ceremony would suit you and your soon-to-be spouse? Let us talk you through the options…

Celebrant at a last-minute wedding held at Woodhall Manor in Suffolk

Last-Minute Religious Ceremony

Religious ceremonies are held in your local church and taken by your local vicar. To have a church ceremony, you must have some sort of association with the services that they provide.

This connection could be that you live in the local village, your family live within their catchment area or you regularly go to that church. If you’re not a churchgoer, then you could start regularly going to one of your chosen church’s services 6 months beforehand. This does, however, eliminate the last-minute nature of your wedding.

To signify that you wish to get married in the church, you will need to attend three weeks of consecutive Sunday services to have your banns read. If you’re not a regular member of the church, they may also ask you to attend a preparation class in advance of your wedding.

Church ceremonies may hold more regulations and protocols than other types of ceremonies, but what you will end up with is a beautifully traditional celebration.

Last-minute Church wedding Suffolk UK

What is a Civil Ceremony?

If you and your other half are not of religious belief, why not pick somewhere else and have a civil ceremony? You could choose a hotel, a beautiful manor house or even a rustic barn.

A civil ceremony is a non-religious wedding, which is taken by a registrar. To have a civil ceremony, the location you choose needs to be registered. You can find this out via your wedding planner at the venue itself.

Once you have confirmed that the area or building you have requested is registered, you can book your registrar.

Registrars are government or civil officials and are registered to legally marry a couple on their wedding day. They are keepers of the wedding registration book and have all rights to read the wedding vows.

No hymns, prayers or religious readings will be part of the ceremony, leaving room for your favourite songs and readings from the heart.

Last-minute civil ceremony held at Woodhall Manor in Suffolk UK

Is a Celebrant Ceremony Legal?

The freedom that comes with a celebrant ceremony is fantastic. You can get married practically anywhere (with permission), your ceremony can include anything you want it to and can be as long or as short as you want it to be.

The main restriction is booking your celebrant before anyone else. However, as there are no time restrictions, you could have a morning or evening ceremony if you wish.

Celebrant ceremonies aren’t legal however, so you will need to attend a signing of the register at your local registry office with two witnesses. This can be done before or after your wedding day.

Dress to impress – Bridal wear in a hurry

Visiting wedding boutiques in the lead up to your wedding is always fun, trying on fabulous dresses, getting tailor made suits and accessorising to the max. However, ordering from these types of stores isn’t the most time effective.

There are alternative ways of ordering your wedding attire which will not only save you time but can also save you money.

Get to the high street…

Phase Eight wedding dresses

Dresses from Phase Eight

Huge high street retailers offer ready-to-wear wedding fashion. From beautiful high street wedding dresses to stylish suits. The beauty about shopping in the high street is that you don’t have to wait for your outfit to be created, but they can easily be altered by a local seamstress.

Phase Eight have a style very similar to wedding dress designers. Their romantic designs, intricate detailing and delicate lace offer everything you need for the ultimate dress, all priced from about £250.

When looking for a dress for a special occasion, people flock to Monsoon. Why not do the same when looking for your wedding dress? Their range offers a stunning selection of styles from Grecian beauties to three-quarter length cuties.

They also offer beautiful bridesmaid dresses and page boy outfits, so your wedding party can be a Monsoon party!

If we’re talking high street occasional wear, we can’t ignore Debenhams. They feature many beautiful brands including Phase Eight, Chi Chi London, Debut, Sistaglam and Scarlett & Jo.

Dress styles vary so beautifully, giving you many stunning styles to choose from. Whether you’re a boho bride or traditionally classic, there is something for everyone.

Wedding fashion used to be all about the bride, not the case anymore! Grooms suits have taken a turn from dull to designer, with high street stores bringing out stylish and sophisticated tailoring to suit and boot the grooms of today.

Wedding suits from Moss Bros

Suits from Moss Bros

The likes of Next, Moss Bros and Suit Direct all offer amazing designs for wedding suits, from the classic three-piece to more contemporary fitted two-piece. The hottest trends in suit wear all reside in this fantastic high street stores, giving you all the choice, minus the hassle of visiting a tailor.

If you’re not looking to buy a suit, you could always hire one. Many high street retailers offer a formal hire service including Moss Bros, Debenhams, Burton, Slaters, plus many more. All the style, less fuss and easy on the budget. This service couldn’t be more perfect for a last-minute wedding.

Destined for designer?

If you’re still aiming for that designer gown, get online. Many designers can be found when searching the net, giving you that designer style but off the rack. It may not be made for you specifically, but they still hold all the glamour of a designer dress.

The Wedding Shop wedding dresses

Dresses from The Wedding Shop

The Outnet is one of the most popular ways to buy a designer dress at discount. You will find some of the biggest names from Halston Heritage and Roberto Cavalli to Stella McCartney and Oscar De La Renta, giving you that statement dress that you’ve always dreamed of.

Other options for a designer wedding dress can include The Wedding Shop, JJ’s House and The Bridal Village.

Put your feet up…

If you’re a regular online shopper you will have seen that bridal fashion has been sneaking into our favourite online retailers.

Wedding dresses from ASOS

Wedding dresses from ASOS

The likes of ASOS, Missguided, Boohoo and Lipsy have all created their own bridal range. Giving all the choice, in the latest styles for a fraction of the cost.

You can order your dream dress online, next day delivery and if you’re not 100% happy with it, send it back in the post. Quick, easy and perfect for a last-minute wedding.

Which ever way you go about buying for your special day, we are sure you will look incredible. Enjoy!

Last-minute Wedding Suppliers

When it comes to booking bands, DJs, photographers, florists and cake makers, it’s always better to go on recommendations if you possibly can.

First stop? Your trusted wedding planner. Many of them will have lists of recommended suppliers to help with all the specialist elements that will form part of your day.

If you’re ordering floral arrangements, a florist that is familiar with the venue is always a bonus as they’ll know the layout and have an idea of what you’ll need to fill the space. They should also be able to quickly give you a ballpark figure which will help with budgeting.

Florist suppliers last-minute weddings

Photography credit: Bride & Bridesmaid – Tommy Reynolds Flowers – Sharon Cudworth

Your venue should also be able to help recommend locally based entertainers such as bands, DJs and magicians which will save you trawling endless websites looking for good options. By booking locally based suppliers you’ll also save heaps on travel expenses which you’d otherwise be charged for.

Last-minute suppliers at Woodhall Manor

Photography Credit:
Harpist – Mark Ewels Photography
Saxophonist – Tommy Reynolds Photography

Don’t be put off by thinking that short notice means limited choice, particularly if you’re marrying midweek. Most good entertainers will be booked for months in advance at weekends but are often available during the week and for a lower fee.

The same applies to wedding photographers who will normally be booked up in advance for weekend events. If you’ve got someone in mind, then just give them a call; you’ve got nothing to lose! Even if they can’t help, they’ll almost certainly be able to recommend some others to try.

Don’t forget the trusty High Street for your floristry and cake requirements. All the major supermarkets offer special occasion cakes that are available off the shelf and for a more traditional wedding cake, head to Marks & Spencer who have a fabulous range of show stopping options, most of which require just seven days’ notice and can be personalised just for you.

Photography credit: Cake 1 – Mark Ewels Photography Cake 2 – Tommy Reynolds Photography

Whether you want a traditional tiered fruit cake or a fashionable naked sponge, you’ll find something to delight you and guests. They even do tiered cheese cakes!

Marks & Spencer are also a great option for no-fuss wedding flowers with a range of affordable packages that include bouquets, buttonholes and table decorations. Or, if you or one of the wedding party are creative, another option is to order wholesale flowers direct and create your own floral arrangements. Hand tied posies can be easily created as can buttonholes so don’t be afraid to investigate this as a cost-effective option to save both time and money.

Coming soon… Last-minute wedding gifts


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