Eight Top Tips from an expert Wedding Planner

Working in the Wedding Industry since 1995, Dawn Marie, of Dawn Marie Wedding & Event Design, is the longest established, independent wedding planner in our region. With so much wedding planning experience her helpful advice when starting to plan your celebrations, is invaluable. Dawn has successfully helped almost 580 couples find their perfect venue and suppliers, as well as and planning and coordinating all elements of their day from keeping everything on time to announcing the happy couple in to dine!

Having worked with the best suppliers, venues and registrars in the North East for so long, Dawn Marie knows the industry inside out and her reputation for the highest standards in professionalism, attention to detail and patience along with her sense of humour make her the perfect planner. Here are eight of Dawn’s top tips to help couples navigate through the wedding planning process…


The first decision is about what kind of marriage ceremony you both want.  Church, Civil or Celebrant-led.  This will help you with the next, very important decision: the venue for your wedding. If you choose to marry in your local or family Church, look for a venue within a 30-minute travel radius.  No-one wants to spend hours travelling on their wedding day.  If a Civil Ceremony is for you, the venue will need to be licensed. However, if a Celebrant-led ceremony is right for you both, you can look at any venue, marquee site or even hosting your day at home.  Do take into account that with a Celebrant-led service, you will need a separate, legal ceremony to make the marriage official.


Think about what other factors are important to you both: on-site accommodation, exclusive-use (only your wedding guests onsite), exclusive wedding use (one-wedding policy but where other guests may be using the venue such as a hotel, or golf club house) and travelling time for the majority of your guests.  These factors will all help you narrow down the suitable venues to view.  I offer a 2-hour consultation with couples to discuss these, and other, important decisions to help you find the perfect venue.  It is a really popular service and can help couples massively in narrowing down their search.  You can see more about the wedding planning services I offer here.


When visiting venues, make sure you have a list of questions ready.  Every venue has its own Terms & Conditions, restrictions, minimum / maximum guest numbers for different parts of your day, minimum spend requirements, decibel limit for evening entertainment, rules around candles and confetti and even pet-policies.  Make sure you keep comprehensive notes; it is easy to forget what was said in all the excitement especially if you are visiting lots of places.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the financial side either. What deposit is required?  What are the payments terms?  When is the final balance due?  Everyone works to a budget, no matter how big or small, and it’s good to be clear about these things from the start.


Once your venue is booked, start to look around for the best suppliers. The best florists, cake makers, photographers, entertainers etc. get booked up years in advance but all will take bookings on basic information e.g. table centres for approximately 8 round tables and roughly 3 bridesmaids’ bouquets or a cake to serve around 80 day-guests. They don’t need finer details – flower type, colours, cake flavours – until nearer the event. Couples don’t realise you can reserve suppliers time without knowing the full details of your day and I have seen many couples disappointed because of this.


Visit lots of good quality wedding fairs. Suppliers and venues often have special offers available if you book them at, or just after, a wedding fair. At my Elite Wedding Fairs, I like to showcase smaller, local companies that can be more flexible and can offer a really personal touch. Before booking, ALWAYS confirm special deals, discounts and full descriptions of what you have agreed, with prices, in writing. This is invaluable, especially if your wedding is 2 or 3 years away.


Take help when offered. As long as you trust them, people contributing to your day in lieu of a present can create very personal touches and save you a fortune.  A lot of couples already have an established home together before they get married, and guests can find it difficult to choose a wedding gift; not everyone is comfortable giving cash. Asking guests to help with your day not only helps you but can also save a lot of ‘what do I get them’ gift stress for your guests. So, the aunty who wants to make your cake, the friend who loves making stationery, the neighbour who has a beautiful car…accept the help.


If you can, view your venue at the time you are getting married – height of summer, mid-autumn, depths of winter!  This will help with all sorts of things such as how the gardens look, which areas need more decoration, where outside drinks receptions could be, good places for photographs…even if your venue could be snowbound!!


Finally, CHECK AND DOUBLE CHECK. This is where a good planner will be invaluable. My ‘Final Check’ service includes contacting all suppliers to ensure they have the right timings, names, delivery addresses, quantities, sizes, special request information, etc, etc. ALWAYS get a mobile/emergency number for suppliers in case of any difficulties. Once done, sit back, relax and trust that you have done everything possible to make your day fantastic!”

If you want to find out more about a wedding planner can do for you, contact Dawn Marie direct.

Dawn Marie Wedding & Event Design

T: 07717 220 556

E: [email protected]