Bernadette Chapman is one of the UK’s foremost wedding planners with 8 years’ of experience as Director of Dream Occasions, her wedding planning business in Essex. She is the founding director of the UK Alliance of Wedding Planners and alongside her fellow directors, trains up to 100 wedding planners a year.
She’s shared her top tips exclusively with English Wedding — if you want the best advice the industry can give to help you plan your wedding, it’s here.
Bernadette Chapman’s essential wedding planning advice
Create a realistic budget and stick to it (for more advice on creating your budget read Stay on track with your wedding budget)
Don’t try and do everything yourself, delegate some tasks to family members or friends who would love to be involved leaving you the fun tasks, you can then act as ‘project manager’ for all delegated menial tasks!
Involve your fiance, it’s their wedding too! Talk about the areas of the wedding which are important to each of you and split up the duties.
Make a pledge to spend one evening per week NOT talking about the wedding, you dont want to get to the wedding night with a deathly silence as you no longer know how to communicate to each other.
Remember less is more, do you really need favours, cameras, napkin decorations, wine charms and trivia cards on the table?!
Keep your sanity, do you really have to match the favour ribbon to the bridesmaid dresses? Stop trying to match everything, sometimes using similar tones is more effective.
Forward plan, check with your suppliers when they need confirmed information from you, i.e when is the latest date for the table plan to be printed, when do caterers need dietary choices — use this to then work out when invites need to be posted, allow enough time to print labels and get stamps (don’t forget to check with the post office if it is a regular or large stamp).
Remember you are not superheroes, if you become frantic at work or family health issues are making it difficult to organise the wedding, get a professional wedding planner in. Most will offer partial planning services so you are still in control. I cover the East Anglia region, please review my website for further details or for planners in different areas try the UKAWP.
Don’t be bullied, you may find family, suppliers and venues will try to enforce their opinions on you. Listen to what they are saying but remember it is YOUR wedding, do what you think is right for your wedding.
And finally have fun! It’s not often you get the chance to plan a fabulous event with all your friends and family present so don’t get too stressed. If you have a budget and sensible timeline of when tasks need completing you can enjoy planning your wedding.
About Bernadette Chapman
Bernadette launched Dream Occasions at the end of 2002 following a successful 10 year corporate career in London. She had a dream of providing a personal event service to couples marrying in East Anglia and has concentrated on building up her brand since then. There isn’t much Bernadette doesn’t know about weddings, and as such she is well known throughout the industry for her down to earth personality and practical advice.
Client weddings have been featured on TV in a series on wedding planners in May 2006. Bernadette was also proud to have been a finalist in a prestigious industry award for ‘best planner’ 2007 & 2008.
A Pioneering Wedding Planner
Recognising the need for a professional organisation of wedding planners in an unregulated industry, Bernadette is the founding director of the UK Alliance of Wedding Planners. The UKAWP actively promotes professionalism within the industry and all members comply with a code of ethics. More information can be found via www.ukawp.com.
Bernadette is the training director and alongside her fellow directors, trains approximately 80–100 planners a year. Bernadette was also approached to write a training course for ICS Home Learning which was completed in 2008.
Why wedding planners admire Bernadette Chapman
“We call Bernadette a dynamo as she shows the most incredible energy, enthusiasm and manages to get through an astonishing amount of work. She has a great vision for our company and comes up with inspirational ideas (we sometimes struggle to keep up!) which she is skilled and determined to put into action. She is an amazing business partner and along with Sandy (the third of our trio) we have made great changes in the wedding planning industry and have exciting plans for the future.” Kelly Chandler, UKAWP
“Since before I even launched my wedding planning business Bernadette has provided me with great business advice and support. As the owner of Dream Occasions and the founding director of UK Alliance of Wedding Planners she is an inspiration to all aspiring wedding planners for all her hard work and commitment to the profession. With the establishment of the Wedding Planning Excellence Conferences she has also provided wedding planners a great resource for continued learning and development in keeping with UKAWP’s dedication to improve professionalism in the wedding planning industry.” Andri Benson
More great advice from a top UK wedding planner
Getting started with your wedding budget. Practical tips to give you perspective and advice to help you stay on track with budgeting
Marquee design for a wedding at home. Bernadette is known for her expertise with marquee weddings and has some fantastic ideas for personalising your marquee
Catering for a marquee wedding. Practical expert advice and what to ask your caterers if you’re planning a wedding at home
Children at weddings: angels or demons? A great article focusing on creative ways to keep children entertained at your wedding. With this, they’ll be angels!
Emergency kit for your wedding day. A handy list of essentials to have on standby — from plasters to wellies and pants — this is what planners have: will you?
Booking Dream Occasions to plan your wedding
The clients who hire Dream Occasions are those wishing to have a beautifully designed function by someone they can trust. They are busy professionals with little time to plan their events. Bernadette always works to a client’s desire and not her own; clients have the final decision always. Every client hiring Dream Occasions is guaranteed to have Bernadette, not an assistant, with them on the day.
UKAWP Code of Ethics
- I agree to respond to enquiries within 48 hours
- I agree to respect client confidentiality
- I will disclose any suppliers I have a vested interest in
- I always pass discounts and/or commission onto clients
- I will ensure my Public Liability insurance is up to date
- I will never give client details to any third party not involved with the wedding
- I agree to respect copyright from fellow wedding professionals
- I agree to represent each client fairly and honestly
As an English Wedding Expert, Bernadette Chapman is here to help you with tips and advice. If you have a question for Bernadette please email English Wedding and we’ll pass it on and post Bernadette’s answer on the blog!