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What’s wrong with the wedding industry – and how YOU can fix it

This is what English Wedding blog is all about. As well as lots of lovely real weddings, the blog was born because of my deep-rooted annoyance at our little industry. Brides, grooms: welcome to our twisted and sometimes beautiful little world. Wedding suppliers: you’ve heard bits of this before – but never quite so publicly. Awareness of the issues in the wedding industry is the first step towards change, and we need to start looking at and fixing problems before the financial and emotional pressures get too much.

Let me add a little qualifier here before I get stuck in. There are lots of fabulous, amazing, honest, genuine, creative, professional, dedicated, wonderful people in this industry. I love it – I work full time as a wedding supplier. I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t love it. I have met many brilliant people – brides, grooms, suppliers – through my work. This blog post doesn’t define my world. It just sets out the wonky bits so we can all help put them straight. And I’n not criticising weddings themselves: it’s your choice to celebrate however you choose, and to spend however much you want to and can afford. But I’d love to see that choice become freer, with no outside pressures from a £5.5 billion industry…

What’s wrong with the wedding industry?

1. The wedding industry is a circus made of your money

Top of my list for a reason – the wedding industry is a great big merry old roundabout made of fifty pound notes held together with gold dust and dreams. Average wedding budgets, pressure to spend, worries about money… why should being in love cost so much?

It’s as if an engagement ring flicks a switch in our minds, and suddenly we’re cajoled into throwing caution and half our brain cells aside to spend thousands of pounds on a party. We’re encouraged to spend an insane amount of that on a dress, food and drink, and hiring an aristocrat’s house for a few hours. Fine if it’s what you’ve always dreamed of. But if you’ve been in love for a while and haven’t thought about weddings, suddenly being thrown into the world of weddings can be quite an experience.

royal weddingMoney is at the centre of everything in the wedding industry. When and where did this happen… surely the focus of the wedding industry should be love? Love is old-fashioned, but it’s affordable to everyone. It doesn’t take £20k to show you’re in love – but the wedding industry makes you think it will.

We’re pressured to spend, spend, spend. Wedding magazines have pages and pages of adverts and ideas-with-prices-on. Even wedding blogs full of wedding ideas can be taken the wrong way: I always try and write English Wedding blogs as ideas – without any pressure to get / spend / buy.  But when you see the wedding press and TV it’s easy to see why brides and grooms think they need to spend to have a ‘proper’ wedding.

It makes me sad that couples who can’t afford a wedding like this feel they have to live up to the industry’s own standards.

Fix it!

Only spend what you can afford, not what your venue / friends / suppliers think you can afford. Don’t get into debt. Keep track of your finances and focus your spend on what’s important to the two of you. Decide your wedding priorities and make your wedding a personal celebration of your love.

And whenever you pick up a wedding magazine, remember it’s a business – wedding publications, press and events are all designed to make you spend money!

2. The boredom factor

Just ask your guy about this one. Weddings have the potential to be pretty samey – much as we try to set ours apart by being just a little bit bigger, better, quirkier. The expectations we have for weddings: that the venue will be decorated, that you’ll wear an expensive dress, that there’ll be a nice meal for everyone – are limiting. These are nice things to have – but there’s nothing wrong with a wedding that doesn’t have all of this, is there?

And wedding planning can be a chore. That’s why men steer clear! Few grooms choose to spend endless weekends ordering stationery, flowers, favours and the hundreds of little things we’re pressured to organise. For a couple of weeks I imagine it’s fun. But every weekend for a year or more… must be a killer, and post-wedding stress is the proof.

Have your colleagues told you to stop talking about the wedding yet? Has your fiance asked the same thing? Sometimes stress can get too much for brides – it’s no-one’s fault. Just don’t let wedding planning stress kill the romance. Take time out and forget about your wedding plans every once in a while!

Why do people think weddings are all a bit samey? Because we’re not looking past the decorations. Weddings can be so dolled-up we can hardly see the loving couple behind all the ribbons and tulle. They might look  samey. But really they’re not! We want to see you, share in your love, enjoy your personalities. Guests don’t come for the favours or the band: guests come to your wedding for YOU. So don’t hide yourself behind frills and frivolities – it’s not what weddings are about: they’re about being in love. And that’s something we all do in our own unique way.

Fix it!

Focus on your love, not your decorations.

photo credit: Mark Tierney

Get creative with your thinking as well as with your wedding invitations. My cousin’s friend had a night time wedding (handfasting) in December. Get married at night, and suddenly the usual formulas don’t apply: you get to do whatever you like with the food, the dancing, the order of the day. And planning is more fun if it’s creative.

You don’t need to get married at night to make things interesting, but knowing that someone did should open your eyes to the possibilities: break a few wedding rules. Even your fiance might be keen to plan with you, if it’s going to be fun!

3. Being judged on your wedding

I watched ‘4 weddings’ – but only once. The premise: four brides go to each other’s weddings, award marks out of ten and win a prize. The most disgusting concept in the wedding industry of today, if you ask me!

It’s a reflection of how people can be, though, and real pressure comes from wanting people to like your wedding. The sad fact is that people do judge: is your wedding smaller, more ostentatious, busier, more traditional than your friend’s was last year? Will your aunty be telling her neighbours, “I didn’t think much of the cake”?!

We’re all too quick to judge. Part of the problem is being fed so many real weddings, in the press, via wedding blogs and on telly. We’re supposed to say ‘I like that one, love her dress, what a lovely theme’ – fine.

Fix it!

Just don’t be tempted to say ‘Her dress is dull, I don’t like her hair, such-and-such looks cheap.’ Because that’s NOT an ok thing to do. If you’re in the habit of judging other weddings (as the wedding tv companies want you to!) you’ll expect yours to be judged, and you’ll worry about it.

And if you have a particular guest who you think will judge or criticise your wedding, scratch their name off your list right now!

4. Weddings are for girls

Can you imagine walking into WHSmiths and seeing the wedding magazine section – and it being blue instead of pink? No? Ever seen grooms jostling for the latest issue of Wedding Ideas? Been on a mainstream wedding forum full of grooms? No. Me neither.

Why is the wedding industry so horribly pink? Why do we alienate grooms from everything weddingy? They’re just as in love as we are, aren’t they? Is the industry putting them off?

That’s a big fat YES from me. And it leaves me feeling so frustrated. It might even be a subconscious thing, this overuse of lipgloss colour schemes – but it appears as if the groom shouldn’t be involved. And that’s so wrong!

By excluding the boys with our magazines, our marketing campaigns, our blogs and promotions – pretty much everything we do – we’re piling everything onto girls. And here’s where a lot more pressure comes into it.

The modern wedding is a pink-fest, a celebration of making things pretty rather than a celebration of being in love, which is the one bit which does include the groom. And grooms step right away from the planning: after a wedding fair or two it’s no surprise if they think “I’m not welcome in pink-land, I’ll come back for the bit where I can be in love again.”

– Interestingly, if you go to a wedding show this month you might notice the overall decor of the show is pink and flowery, yet exhibitors’ stands are less so. I’ve often got the impression that it’s the organisers of shows, and not individual wedding suppliers who want everything to look pretty in pink. Exhibitors and suppliers welcome grooms… but pink ads for shows, pink covers on wedding magazines don’t!

Meanwhile brides have the world heaped on their shoulders. Without the groom to share wedding planning 50/50 all the responsibilities for booking, planning, crafting and budgeting fall to the bride. Is it any surprise some girls turn into bridezillas, and others suffer from depression both before and after the wedding day?

Fix it!

Start your planning together, and it’ll be easier to keep on working as a team. It’s not about involving your groom in decisions; it’s about appreciating they’re his decisions as much as they are yours to make.

Remember you’re a couple and your wedding should be about you both. If he doesn’t like pink, don’t use any. If he doesn’t care about colour schemes at all, work out what is important to him and make that a priority instead. Who says the napkins have to match the bridesmaids’ knickers anyway?

Most of all, neither of you should feel excluded from your wedding – and you should both want to be involved. If he doesn’t, try and understand why, then work out between you what will fix it for you.

5. Wedding professionals are rubbish

(I’d better just explain that one!) Some of us are lovely. But if you’ve been to a wedding show you’ll have met some of the same slimy, false, smooth-talking professional salespeople I’ve had the pleasure of meeting. There’s at least one at every local hotel-based wedding show. There are many of these frankly scary people at the major wedding shows.

I heard a story about a bridal store owner discussing options for wedding shows. There are two major shows in the Cheshire / Manchester area. Tatton Park is seen as the posh one, and this bridal store owner was keen to exhibit. Her charming views on the wedding show at Manchester G-Mex? “Too many fat brides.”

I wish I could publish her business name without being sued. Suffice it to say this is the kind of professionalism which lurks behind some of the flimsy smiles at wedding shows. We really should be past prejudice and discrimination like this – but we’re not. And while money is driving the wedding industry relentlessly along, smarmy salespeople will stay in the game and take advantage as much as they can.

It’s not just the big shiny companies who carelessly chase your spendy-buttons. It’s guys with cameras who think  it’s easy to be a wedding photographer, brides who decide to set up shop on eBay making cheap, flimsy invites because Aunty Joan said theirs were pretty. But a business requires dedication, training, talent and commitment to customers as well as to a long term strategy.

There really are people in the wedding industry who will take you for a ride and shake you upside down until all your money’s fallen out. Beware startup businesses who don’t seem professional – many aren’t. It’s really, really easy to set up a wedding business. Websites are free. Anyone can set up something that looks a little bit good, and get enquiries from forums, blogs, magazine ads and wedding shows. But what if the business folds? What if the workload is too much alongside a full time job? Because it does happen.

The dodgy businesses make the rest of us look bad. It makes me angry because some startup businesses are the most dedicated, honourable and inspiring people you could ever meet. And every one of us in the wedding industry began somewhere – we weren’t born with experience and business skills. For a genuine, devoted designer starting out in business, it doesn’t get much worse than standing next to a smarmy, patronising suit salesman at a wedding show – trust me! Starting out and becoming a success is hard.

Fix it!

Use your instincts. Meet suppliers. Use your heart to find suppliers you trust and get along with, someone who listens to you and inspires you, someone who cares about their business and appreciates how important your wedding is.

Use your head. Investigate your photographer’s background and experience; ask on wedding forums for genuine recommendations for stationers and jewellers. Find online reviews of your wedding suppliers before you book – if anything doesn’t ring true, ask!

Contracts for wedding suppliers are essential. If a photographer doesn’t have one, warning bells should ring. The same goes for your major suppliers: cake designers, florists, wedding planners, bands and venues.

Talk about what happens after the wedding day. Photographers, for example, will still be working on your images and albums to show you. How long will it take? How good are they at customer service?

Cheap can mean nasty. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. A professional business won’t undersell their product – if they believe in what they’re trying to sell you, the price will reflect that.

The solution is simple – though perhaps easier said than done. If we stop buying from unprofessional wedding suppliers, they’ll go away. The wedding industry has a lot of work to do in raising standards. Perhaps the rise of social media, the importance of publicly Liking things and the ease of sharing online reviews will help towards getting shot of the bad guys.

A final word on this one: if you’ve had fantastic service from a wedding supplier, if someone deserves to be publicly praised, if you can help other brides by telling them about your florist / cake designer / photographer then please: write an online review. Whether it’s on their blog, facebook page or google place page, every review will help someone out there.

6. The wedding magazines are wrong

Where do I begin with wedding magazines? I don’t like them. I’ve read plenty, advertised in a handful, been criticised for slagging them off, and reviewed them in detail to see if I was being overly critical. Turns out, while they have a few good points I still don’t like what they stand for, how they operate, or the influence they have on brides and the wedding industry.

Wedding magazines make an absolute fortune from advertising. They have a huge proportion of advertising space (on average, 139 pages of ads per wedding magazine!) – and that’s not counting the product ‘ideas’, most of which are provided by their advertisers and show prices. Like catalogues. How do they justify the cover price for what’s essentially a very pretty wedding industry sales brochure?

I’ve advertised with wedding magazines. It’s expensive. You pay your money, you get your (small) ad, you can submit your product images for features. Alongside the other hundred or so advertisers. There’s no guarantee it will work – and for many wedding suppliers, it doesn’t. Often their advertising teams are sales teams: they’re given the stats they need to sell advertising space, but if your advertising doesn’t work for you they can’t help other than by giving you more space (at a price!).

There’s also criticism of the wedding magazines for being bland, uninspiring and expensive to buy. I’m more hesitant to agree with that: in the issues I reviewed for English Wedding there were features by Rock My Wedding and some quirky ideas in there. But overwhelmingly, the wedding magazines are about how your wedding will LOOK and what you should buy to achieve a certain look. There’s no balance with advice, emotional support, discussion or articles about marriage.

The last thing I dislike about wedding magazines is that they’re seen as required reading by so many brides. In the age of the internet I’d love to see more brides saving their money and finding free wedding inspiration and advice online: not just from blogs, but from local wedding websites, even the magazines’ own sites (which in my opinion are better than their printed pages!) and wedding forums.

Fix it!

This wedding industry issue’s an easy one to fix: only buy wedding magazines selectively. Don’t subscribe! They’re great for occasionally curling up on your sofa with, especially at the dress-shopping stage. But if you ask me, one issue is all you ever really need.

7. Wedding shows and fairs / fayres are so dull!

It’s a rare bride who’ll enjoy more than a handful of wedding shows. Don’t get me wrong, the shows do serve a purpose – but if the organisers extracted their heads from their bottoms most of the shows would improve.

Again it’s about money: every exhibitor at a big show will have paid thousands for the privilege. Even at a small fayre (a word we invented – it wasn’t used in the olden days, fact-fans!) exhibitors will have paid over £100 for their table for the day. As a bride, don’t think you’re the focus of wedding show organisers: you’re far from the most important person to visit a show because you don’t bring the money.

So wedding shows are big business. They should be all about inspiring the bride; instead they’re all about persuading you to spend. It’s not all bad though: there’s no better place to meet potential wedding suppliers. You can peruse photographers’ albums, chat to planners, get to know essential suppliers who’ll be there on your wedding day. And it’s hugely important to meet these people.

Unfortunately you’ll meet some smarmy wedding suppliers at shows. Never feel pressured into buying on the day: make appointments, not promises. And while some wedding shows are great, forward-thinking and genuinely inspiring, others can be dull, drab and depressing. Be warned!

Fix it!

Have realistic expectations when you visit a wedding show! Find out who’ll be there, decide your budget and priorities before you go. Aim to make appointments if you like the suppliers you see: never buy on the day.

Research wedding shows before you go. The big arena events will be insanely busy, especially on Saturday afternoons. You’ll at least get a chance to talk to people if you go early. If a wedding show looks a bit old fashioned and you don’t think that’s really you, don’t go unless there’s an exhibitor you really want to meet.

If a wedding show has a feedback form, fill it in honestly. It’s often a nice little trick for the organisers to give you a competition entry form so they can get your contact details. If they ask for your opinion on the show too, let them know what you think!

8. The truth about wedding industry events and awards

2012 should be a great year for the wedding industry with the launch of the 2012 Wedding Industry Awards. Previously awards have been dished out by the industry, to the industry – like a great big slap on the back / pat on the head (depending how you see them) from other suppliers.

It’s quite a novelty for brides to be the key decision makers where wedding awards are concerned! Previously the major wedding award ceremonies (remaining nameless ;-)) have been open to votes from suppliers. And if twitter is anything to go by, suppliers have cast the vast majority of votes. For each other, based on friendships and social networking.

What this all means for brides is a bit of a misleading picture. The ‘best’ businesses as identified by major award-givers are just the most popular. An award might mean they spend more time on facebook and twitter than anyone else. It’s no indication of quality, customer service, experience, or anything else that you’d think would make a business worthy of a pink rosette. (oops.)

Fix it!

Support the 2012 Wedding Industry Awards. They’re based on genuine customer feedback. The voting process was rigorous, and businesses made the shortlist on the strength of fabulous customer reviews.

Look for the winners when you’re searching for wedding suppliers. They will be genuinely respected by brides for their commitment, customer service and dedication to what they do.

As for the rest: don’t believe the hype.

9. Wedding planning stress and depression

Wedding planning stress is a serious issue, and one I don’t want to treat lightly. The combination of money worries, planning dilemmas, family arguments and no me-time can cause depression – and it does, all too often.

It’s very much down to our lovely little wedding industry: the pressures on brides are just too much. Most brides have never planned anything on such a grand scale, and with so much emotional importance: The Best Day Of Your Life carries such responsibility.

Arguments in the run up to a wedding are common. You might grow apart because you’re so busy – you won’t be the first couple to struggle with this and there should be more support out there.

I’ve heard on the grapevine there’s major research being done into post-wedding stress: it’s so common for a bride to focus all her attentions and energy on the big day, and to end up feeling empty and disappointed the day after the wedding. It’s understandable – and if you’re feeling this way there is plenty of help with stress to be found.

Fix it!

Firstly, watch out for each other. If you or your fiance are showing signs of stress, be there for each other. Help. Be understanding. If you’re living with a bride- or groomzilla, think about what’s changed their behaviour.

I went to the NHS (via google) for some advice. These are common signs of stress:

  • tiredness, headaches, aching muscles
  • indigestion and nausea
  • palpitations, sweating, fainting
  • lack of concentration
  • being muddled or forgetful
  • feeling inadequate or having low self esteem
  • becoming irritable or angry
  • feeling anxious or numb
  • being oversensitive

Any of these could be perceived as ‘normal’ but it’s still important to take care of yourself: these are your body’s warning signs to slow down a bit. You should.

It’s not for me to tell you how to cope with wedding-related stress. There’s plenty of advice online – I’ll share a few links below. Consider talking to your doctor as well.

www.stress.org.uk/Dealing-with-stress

www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Stress/Pages/Treatment

http://www.bbc.co.uk/health/emotional_health/mental_health/mind_stress

Is the wedding industry a lost cause?

Awareness of the issues and speaking openly about some of the industry’s problems has to be the first step towards fixing all that’s wrong with the wedding industry. It’s certainly not all champagne and roses!

It frustrates me that there’s so much money associated with weddings. It makes me sad to hear about all the pressures the wedding industry heaps onto brides.

I’m disappointed when I read reviews of bland wedding fairs, pushy suppliers and dull wedding magazines.

We can all help to bring change to this industry: brides, grooms, suppliers, editors and bloggers alike. Personally I love to help promote small, creative businesses on my blog. And as I’ve been writing this post I’ve looked at English Wedding’s colour scheme, and changed some pink bits to blue! (little things can help!)

If we say what we really think, have open discussions about the bits we don’t like, dare to criticise Wedding TV and revel in just being in love – I think we can make the wedding industry a nicer place.

What do you think?

Claire Gould

Claire spends her days writing - either in beautiful calligraphy or online. She lives on the edge of the English Lake District only minutes away from the beach, where she loves to escape and unwind. Claire's calligraphy can be found at www.byMoonandTide.com. Claire launched the English Wedding Blog in November 2009 - it's been a top 10 UK wedding blog ever since, with a regional focus we hope you LOVE.

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101 COMMENTS
  • Emma
    8 years ago

    Brilliant post! There’s so much there that we agree with – as new suppliers to the industry there’s been a lot to learn (and sometimes to shudder at!) – so much stuff seems to be about what the bride and groom SHOULD do, and we’re all for a more relaxed approach.

    • Claire
      8 years ago
      AUTHOR

      Thank you Emma. Glad it’s not just me! (and glad the article came across right too).
      Claire x

  • Rebecca Banfield
    8 years ago

    This article is brilliant. Especially the part that said “Who says the nap­kins have to match the brides­maids’ knick­ers anyway?” Haha! Seriously this is exactly how I see the wedding industry, but unfortunately as I purchased a package deal from a venue I am being forced into certain aspects of the wedding being traditional as that’s the only way t0 save money with them. We are trying to handmake the things that many guests will ‘expect’ but also leaving some things out altogether! I also feel there is pressure to create a ‘different’ wedding, not just the traditional day. Although me wedding planning is still fun for me I can see cracks forming…
    Thanks for this. Good read.
    Becky

    • Claire
      8 years ago
      AUTHOR

      Thanks Becky – the napkins and the bridesmaids knickers was an old saying from Hitched wedding forum I must admit. But I loved it and it’s stuck with me for 5 years and more!
      You make a brilliant point about pressure to create a ‘different’ wedding – one I missed entirely. I’ll save that up for a whole new blog post for another day. Thanks for the inspiration.
      And good luck with the wedding planning too. Enjoy it, and watch out for those cracks forming: if you see them coming you can sidestep them I hope 🙂
      Claire xx

      • Rebecca Banfield
        8 years ago

        I think that saying will stick with me too! Brilliant! 🙂
        I’m quite a laid back person so I’ll most likely skip over the cracks (I’m getting married in January so the weather’s not going to be amazing for a start) as marrying my man is the most important.
        Keep up the amazing work and I look forward to your article on being pressured into creating a different wedding! 🙂
        Becky xx

  • Well done Claire! You know my story about the photographer so I won’t bore everyone again but if someone had told me about getting a contract or looking for reviews then we may have booked someone else! We didn’t see a single review online and for some reason didn’t see that as odd…?!

    I too have met those suppliers and it just makes me work even harder to prove that we’re not all like that. I hate sounding like a sales person and I do worry some things I say sound ‘sales-y’ but I’m being genuine and the couples that book us see that, thank god! I am even doing Tatton and hope that we get a lot of different Brides planning different things. Our films are all about personality so I’m all for Brides who want to make weddings personal again!

    I also hate four weddings. OK, I too have only seen one, but the girls on there gave guests a bad name! Who on earth would be so mean about someones special day? It’s about them, not about what you would’ve done differently. Grrr. Rant over! haha.

    And finally, I love the Wedding Industry Awards! I wish they’d been around when I was planning! Being a very small business-just me and a freelancer for filming and my poor husband helping out around a full time job-I would never stand a chance in an awards that was based on the amount of votes! I made it on to the shortlist thanks to the votes from my amazing couples and I can’t thank them enough for taking the time to vote. The comments they made about me made me realise that my passion and hard work shines through so I don’t need to rely of being a slimy sales person to be the best I can be 🙂

    I wish you all luck with your wedding plans and hope that the above post has inspired you! Don’t make the same mistakes we did! xx

    • Claire
      8 years ago
      AUTHOR

      Charlene, thank you. I’ve just been quoting you this morning, putting finishing touches to a blog post for next week about wedding photography. Another long one – this time with lots of the facebook comments people gave on that thread.

      I know what you mean about being sales-y at a wedding fair and not meaning to. Even saying “hiya” to a couple walking past can feel uncomfortable – or “I love your scarf” or something… I always felt self-conscious as an exhibitor when I was being friendly and just trying to enjoy my day out!

      (Lol perhaps that’s another point I should make: brides & grooms, please don’t think the worst of wedding suppliers at shows and events. Many of us work alone and only have the cats to talk to… we just want a chat with a real person)

      Good luck with Tatton Park – wrap up warm!
      Claire xx

  • Celia
    8 years ago

    Hur­rah! It’s so refresh­ing to read your thoughts Claire — there’s a great deal of sugar-coating and unfor­tu­nate penny pinch­ing rolling around inside this indus­try (and I’m rel­a­tively new to it, too!). I fully sup­port the quest for break­ing a few of those stuffy rules and ulti­mately doing things the way you want!

  • Shan
    8 years ago

    You’re an angry young woman and I *like* it! I don’t agree with every point you make (I think with the magazines you could argue that it’s the demand that’s created the magazines the way they are rather than the other way around) but it’s good to have someone kicking up the confetti.

    Incidentally, I believe that weddings are primarily marketed at women because that’s what companies know and it takes energy to change what you’re doing. It is changing though, not because Staggered exists, but because the grooms are out there who want to be involved and slowly companies are coming round to seeing that they have to include them in the marketing too.

    True story – I spoke to [large suit hire place] when Staggered first started. They wouldn’t advertise with us because they said they focused their marketing at the bride. How wrong is that? They still do FWIW, but they advertise with us too now.

    Now chillax Claire before some dress designer puts a hit on you 🙂

    • Claire
      8 years ago
      AUTHOR

      Thank you Shan. I shall be careful when roaming the streets of [ooh! actually, let’s say ‘undisclosed county’] later on.

      Interesting thought about the wedding mags. I’d love to look at the balance sheets of one of the big ones and see just how much profit they make and whether there’s any room for change. In a big publishing house like Conde Nast (just for example) I wonder if the wedding mags provide a massive profit relative to their sales figures compared with say fashion titles or men’s mags. Then again… (my mind wanders off) perhaps it’s a lot cheaper to advertise at the front of a wedding mag than a mainstream men’s magazine, becasue of circulation figures. Hmm.

      Great anecdote about the suits. Jesus. And now I’m thinking that it’s all very 1950s – perhaps all the ladies will be settling down now, cooking dinners every evening and buying (and ironing) their hubbies’ socks and pants too. Round of very slow applause for that suit hire place. Brilliant work.

      Claire x

      • Shan
        8 years ago

        Actually, I think the point I meant about the mags is that most brides do see beyond them and the blogs are definitely doing their thing. Most of them have site stats that dwarf the monthly circulation of the paper mags.

        Oh and by the way – there are men’s wedding magazines 🙂 http://www.iamstaggered.com/buy-the-staggered-groom-guide

  • Starstruck Designs
    8 years ago

    As always – a fantastic post. There aren’t many blogs that I read regularly, but yours is definitely one of them!

    • Claire
      8 years ago
      AUTHOR

      Thanks Kerri 🙂
      I bet the napkins & bridesmaids knickers rang a bell with you from Hitched?!
      xx

  • Lara Lewis
    8 years ago

    Brilliant post. It’s great to see someone telling the truth about the wedding industry.

    My sister is trying to plan a wedding, and she and her fiancee keep coming up against people’s ideas of what a wedding should be.

    • Claire
      8 years ago
      AUTHOR

      Thank you Lara 🙂
      Tell your sister and her fiancee about English Wedding blog – and I’d love to hear more about those ideas of what a wedding ‘should’ be.
      I have another blog post about wedding photography coming up next week – so if she hasn’t booked her photographer yet, it might be worth sharing with her too.
      Claire xx

  • MrsS2b17
    8 years ago

    I absolutely 100% agree with point 6 on wedding magazines!

    I wish I had saved the money I have spent on these samey mags in the months when I first got engaged, they have all the same articles and information month in month out, the best help/advice/information I have got is from other b2b’s on forums/Facebook and reading blogs like this and many others!

    Dont get me wrong its exciting to buy your first wedding mag, but in hind sight we should all do just that, buy one and look for the free and helpful info out there on the web!

  • Jenny McAvoy
    8 years ago

    Fabulous post Claire. Would think of something vaguely intelligent to say but my brain is now physically aching.
    Would just say do it your way, don’t sweat the little things, spend more on the things that matter to you and sod the rest, NEVER worry about what other people think-if you are worried about people’s reactions to your day they should not even be on the guest list. Remember WHY you are getting married and that this is life outside wedding planning.
    In relation to choosing wedding suppliers, there is no substitute to meeting people-we have heard some horror stories about rude, ignorant or incompetent wedding photographers and we have been to wedding shows where visitors have been chased down aisles by suppliers brandishing leaflets, or the opposite-being ignored by apathetic exhibitors. Talking to suppliers over a cuppa or at a wedding show will give you a very good idea of whether you “click” with them and if they offer a free sample/try out service grab it with two hands-it shows they have confidence in their product 🙂

    • Claire
      8 years ago
      AUTHOR

      Thanks Jenny – and I think that’s a great comment too!
      Definitely don’t sweat the little things. And – I’ve seen forum threads saying it’s not that easy to do it your way & ignore what other people think – but I think it has to be done. Perhaps it needs to be said that while you should try very, very hard to persuade your mum / gran / aunties that traditions are changing and they can trust your plans & shouldn’t interfere, it’s more important to put your foot down when the magazines / suppliers are telling you how your wedding should / shouldn’t be.
      (I hope that makes sense!)
      Chasing wedding show visitors down the aisles and ignoring them? You know, I can well believe it. Desperation is not a good look; neither is apathy. Having met you in person I can imagine meeting you at a show for a chat would be really lovely – the highlight of a bride and groom’s day, even.
      Claire xx

  • melanie
    8 years ago

    Hello Claire. What a fabulous article! I loved it! like a breath of fresh air. I am new to the ‘wedding’ industry as such,although my new business is not solely confined to that market. I so agree with the networking/social media comments re:other awards. I see people giving great advertising to their mates, and awards so one has to ask how valid are these awards really. That’s why the WIA2012 looked so good to me,as you think maybe one day you/we/me/us might just stand a chance :).

    I have always been a believer in doing your thing your way and it depresses me when I see those who are supposed to support that by being shall we say a bit more assertive in the wedding world accusing others of being dull or boring.
    Each to their own I say,personally I am not a fan of the overly aggressive wedding ‘expert’ :).

    Love the blog ~ sorry for rambling
    Mel
    x

    • Claire
      8 years ago
      AUTHOR

      Thanks for your comment Melanie. You’re right about the wedding awards – the small businesses genuinely do stand a chance – as much as the big businesses, if not more. (They look at how many weddings you provide for, and compare that to how many positive comments you get. So if you’re Moss Bross, for example, and you provide for 10,000 weddings but only get 500 reviews… doesn’t count for as much as a small business with 100 weddings per year and 80 good reviews.
      Sign up on their website to be first to hear about the 2013 awards – there’s a link here 2012 Wedding Awards
      Claire xx

  • Ruth
    8 years ago

    Hi Claire interesting read and I agree on most points especially advertising . My only comment would be on wedding exibitions. From the perspective of the small business, who is genuine, and cares alot for their customers. I do occasional wedding fayres (on recommendation) because they do bring in business and all the brides from these fayres have been lovely, creative ladies. You also have to think about the perspective from say my business which is stationery that you get people clearly looking for ideas, wanting to do it themselves, and clearly make it obvious that they are doing so..
    So while you say dont commit to anything on the day, there are some of us trying to make it and are not smarmy sales people, just people who are passionate about what they do. So at Fayres brides cut us some slack… and give us a chance…! Like you say we work alone I dont talk to the cat but the kids get an earful!.
    Ruth x

    • Claire
      8 years ago
      AUTHOR

      Hi Ruth,
      Sorry yes – if it wasn’t clear, I’ll reiterate that point about wedding fairs. Don’t hand over any money on the day unless you’ve had time to think about a wedding supplier before the show. But do – please – make appointments with suppliers you love. Give them your email address, ask for a sample, arrange to meet and take things further.
      Claire xx

  • It’s refreshing to see someone with the confidence to go against the grain and to say what I feel a lot of people believe but feel they can’t really say it. I think somewhere along the lines the whole point of a wedding has got totally lost which is really sad.
    Good work Claire! Xx

  • Femke
    8 years ago

    What a great read! I’m very pleased I’ve found a venue where I didn’t have to buy a package and I’m able to pick and choose what we want. My fiance is very involved and has chosen bits for him to sort out. So far, it’s been stress free, because we’re in it together and I’m not too fussed about the details. We have the main bits sorted and the rest is just not worth stressing over!

    • Claire
      8 years ago
      AUTHOR

      Thank you Femke – it’s great to hear your fiance is so involved in your wedding planning. Your comment made me smile.

      • Femke
        8 years ago

        I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s *our* day, and it should reflect both of us. He’s Scottish, I’m Dutch and we both ensure elements of our cultures are incorporated. He’s picked the Ceilidh band and we’re toasting with whisky and a Dutch liqueur instead of Champagne. We’re both playing around with the invite design, which is something we both care about and we’re very much on the same wave length. It’s *our* wedding and it’s great fun discussing ideas together. I’m making the cake, so we can have flavours we both like, etc. It’s about the partnership!

  • Andrea Swift
    8 years ago

    Claire, what a fantastic article! You really get to the heart of the issues within our industry! Some of it makes me so sad, when brides/couples feel press ganged into having a day they think they should have, not what they want to have! You hit the nail on the head too about spending your money in the right places, involving the groom and researching your suppliers.

    There are some amazing suppliers out there, who deliver outstanding service and always go the extra mile and just want to be paid fairly for a job they do well and with passion.

    You can imagine how I am cringing at the moment at Celebrity Wedding planner -as now every Tom, Dick and Harry think they can be a planner!! Having people set up and then disappear within a year dies so much damage to those of us who are professional and reputable.

    I was lucky enough to win my Region for the wedding industry awards, and so proud that my clients voted for me.

    Best of luck with your planning

    Andrea xx

  • Kay McEllin - Wrapor
    8 years ago

    Fantastic blog Claire I have to agree with most of it, especially: “The wed­ding mag­a­zines are wrong” “Being judged on your wedding” and “The truth about wed­ding indus­try events and awards” You have put in to words, exactly how I feel about these subjects.

  • Danny O'Neill
    8 years ago

    We dont do wedding shows. They are just too many of them and everyone is doing one. They also tend to be a place where the cheapest wins. But as you say, cheap isnt always better. Its often a risk. Sometimes you get lucky. For us we spent £600 when we got married many years ago. I regret it 🙁

    Meet those people who will be spending the day with you. Your photographer, DJ, Videographer, venue events manager. You wouldn’t invite someone from work who you dislike to your wedding so why spend it with a vendor who gives you the same feeling. For us its essential that we meet each of our couples before hand, no exceptions.

    Another thing to look out for. Is the vendor your venue or other suppliers recommending actually recommended or are they paying for the privilege and therefore just a sponsored vendor? We only recommend others whos work we actually like and who we respect. So many venues will promote those who paid for their brochure to be printed. Find out how they select their suppliers and why they recommend them. Often the answer is simply money.

  • Brilliant post Claire – everything we have been wanting to say and more! There seems to be so much pressure on couples now and it is a bit sad. It’s lovely when I get to meet couples who are so in love that that is all that matters – and their pictures reflect that. Thanks for writing the post – it will be interesting to see who will comment 🙂 x

  • Natalie Roderick
    8 years ago

    What a fab article. It’s so refreshing to read the “other” perspective! I agree with you fully on your comments. I get very frustrated with brides that think that because they created their own stationery for their wedding, they can make a business out of it and the quality I have seen produced has been awful! It’s these kind of suppliers that really do give stationers a bad reputation.

    The 2012 Wedding Industry Awards were great and really got the bride and grooms involved in making the decisions. It was such an honor to be shortlisted in the Special Touches Category for the South East. Knowing that my clients took the time to vote for me filled me with pride.

    I hear all too often about the supplier that bumped their prices up because the booking was for a wedding. Really? Is there any need for this? Couples are budget conscious now and it’s so disheatening when I hear stories like this.

    I go to a lot of consultations and on a one to one basis I see the grooms are just as involved as the brides which is just fantastic. However, they also tell me they feel quite left out when it comes to wedding fairs etc as it’s too “fluffy”.

  • Sam B
    8 years ago

    Thank you so much for writing this! I am a suffering bridezilla. My wedding is 18 months away and I am that stressed trying to think of every little thing that my heart hurts! I go to bed thinking of weddings, I wake up thinking of things I’d forgot to think about weddings, In work I get nothing done because I remember I need to research hiring random things I don’t really need for the wedding. My other half is fed up with me stressing. I stressed that much about picking a wedding dress that my bridesmaids pretty much gave up hope on finding one! I still don’t have one and the growing pressure to pick a nice one…. aka ‘THE ONE’ is killing me!….. and breathe.
    As for wedding suppliers, so far I have had nothing but being made to feel like I’m planning too early or being too self opinionated. I would say 8 out of 10 florists contacted were not interested in talking to me because it was too soon, even though I was ready to book there and then.
    Me and my partner have to come up with secret identities and contact info to survive wedding fayres, we learnt this very quickly after the first wedding fayre we went to we used our real email address’s to get quotes from suppliers and enter competitions (being far too trustworthy). Afterwards I was inundated with hundreds of wedding junk mails from rubbish wedding suppliers… I was on the wedding mailing list of doom! It got worse after it was somehow hacked into and normal people were emailing me telling me to stop emailing them junk mail… tangled nightmare and a breach of security! Hate wedding fayres now. I’m always really suspicious of everyone.
    Anyway… sorry to blab. Really feeling the wedding stress. Let’s not get started on money! I mean really… 15K on a wedding, who can honestly afford a honey moon after that? We are regular folk, not millionaires. For some reason since I’ve been engaged I thought it gave me the right to blow ridiculous amounts of money on trivial things. Wedding suppliers whack the prices up on normal every day things and then pressure you into paying it because its ‘your wedding day!’ Prime example…. tiered birthday cake approx £80… tiered wedding cake approx £400!!! What kind of crazy wedding marking up is that?!
    Wedding blogs are bad for kicking up bouts of stress, I’m my own worse enemy and subscribe to them all. Don’t get me wrong I love reading them, its almost a hobby now. But the amount of near heart attacks I’ve had from seeing a really well decorated wedding and panicking that mine will never match up to it. Like ‘Well I need books in a birdcage!!!’ Cue me trawling the internet and ebay in a mad panic.
    The DIY/budget blogs are great, really inspiring. More of that please – to sooth my soul!
    I think brides are very fragile, they want the very best day and mean well… but often push a step too far. No one understands because its all swirling around being generated in a brides head 24/7. If anything suppliers just need to be more understanding and supportive, ok a bride might be a pain in the ass asking questions and emailing idea’s constantly but hey… guess what? They are paying you for your service and expertise… so help them.
    Rant over! I could go on forever. Bridezilla signing out 🙂 xx

    • Claire
      8 years ago
      AUTHOR

      Oh Sam, bless you and thanks for the comment.
      It’s so difficult to understand stress if you haven’t experienced it yourself. Things pick you up and you find yourself whirling along, caught up and anxious that you have to do things ‘right’. It can be a cycle that is so difficult to escape from.
      One of my closest friends suffers from anxiety and depression, and while she doesn’t always show her feelings I can see how hard she tries to do things right: and it chimes with your comment here. My friend has new pets, and she feels pressure to always have the right books, the latest food from the vets, the best toys to keep them happy, every issue of every magazine.
      One thing these comments haven’t considered until now is stress. As a person I always try to look at people and understand – if they’re abrupt, or behaving a certain way which doesn’t seem like them. My step-kids for example – an “I hate you” outburst can be more to do with a boyfriend than with anything we’ve done! But there’s always a reason, and understanding people is so, so important.
      As a wedding supplier, I can’t think of an occasion where I’ve worked with a very stressed bride (or groom) but I hope I’d be understanding. I hope I’d see the reasons behind it.
      You’re not a bridezilla, Sam – you’re a stressed-out girl planning a wedding and I think your comment is far braver than anything I’ve said today.
      Focus on putting the ring on his finger. Think about waking up the morning after your wedding, a married woman, someone’s wife, with your husband there next to you. Look forward to that moment. And maybe look into stress a little – just take care of yourself (and make sure he does too!)
      Thank you for sharing your experiences on English Wedding.
      Claire xxx

    • Femke
      8 years ago

      Sam, *breathe*. This is meant in the kindest possible way. You have 18 months to go, you don’t need to order your dress for another year. It’s not worth yet stressing about it. You’ll find a dress you like, probably when you least expect it. We’re organising our wedding in just over 12 months in total on about half of the average budget. Have you figured out what you and your fiance find most important for the day? Once you’ve decided on that, everything else is secondary, really. A wedding is not worth being that stressed out over. Allow yourself time to take a breather, step away from the blogs and magazines, and don’t think about the wedding for a week. You still have so much time, I fear for your health if you’re already so stressed.

  • Claire
    8 years ago
    AUTHOR

    Loving “fluffy” from Natalie… that’s a great word! The mags are fluffy too 🙂

    I wish I could reply to every comment here – Andrea, Kay, Danny, thank you for your words too. You’re all giving me lots to think about and there are a few more blog posts in the making as a result of everyone’s comments.

    I’m going to stop replying to everything (and leave you a chance to comment without my wittering on!) Plus, I’ll be in trouble if I don’t buy any food this afternoon.

    Your support means a lot. That doesn’t mean I’m not prepared to listen to opposite views on anything I’ve said above – so please keep the comments coming everyone 🙂
    Claire xx

  • Fantastic post Claire, straight from the heart and honest.
    Having just started in this industry, I have already met (and been stung by) those supplier-types that you have mentioned and would hate that to happen to other new, dedicated suppliers or worse, to those over-whelmed brides-to-be.
    The wedding industry has been moving in a more commercially driven way for years, adding a terrible amount of pressure and strain to what should just be a day about how much the couple love each other. I tell all my bries-to-be that it’s about the couple and what they want, not what everyone else thinks they should want.
    I totally agree with your post, and it’s so reassuring and refreshing to hear it from a prominent wedding blog that I scour and recommend to brides.
    Keep up the good work and thank you for your honesty and insight.
    Laura x

  • Katie Mills
    8 years ago

    Hi

    There are some very interesting points in the article, as a trained planner and now a wedding blogger I see some great suppliers and talent in the industry, yet more often or not I see shoddy products and dull ‘wedding packages’ from venues. I really want brides and grooms to create a loving day that reflects ‘them’ and not the standard wedding ideal.

    As for shows and magazines, they are there for a reason but they can improve. I find the National Wedding Show very uninspiring and just too manic for brides to get any real help for planning/inspiration of their day. Katie

    • Claire
      8 years ago
      AUTHOR

      Thanks Katie,
      You made an interesting point about the National Wedding Show. In my opinion it’s all about being prepared: a bride and groom looking to have a nice day out, find out some stuff, see what they might like to book in a vague way could easily find it overwhelming. But my ‘fix it’ response to the wedding shows is to go with a plan. Know who’s exhibiting. Make a bee-line for their stands. Make appointments. I think going to a wedding show with three or four specific goals / suppliers in mind turns the experience from a scary wedding overkill experience into a really productive and worthwhile day.
      Takes a bit of assertiveness to say no to all the leaflets though! Here’s a thought: brides and grooms, take a red bag and a green bag with you. When you can’t say no to a leaflet, put it in your red bag (for recycling) and when you really want to read it later, pop it in the green one!

      • Harriet
        8 years ago

        As an exhibitor at the National Wedding Show I am full of mixed feelings, I understand peoples criticisms but at the same time it provides me with the opportunity to meet brides and diplay my products to interested brides whereas those I met at local shows just wanted me to copy designs they’d torn out of magazines but for half the price. I know girls travel a distance to the show specifically to visit me and I try and advise them of the best times to meet as the stand gets very fraught. I also don’t believe in handing out details unless a customer expresses interest, I have better things to spend my hard earned money on than landfill and recycling fodder. If your product doesn’t sell itself to a bride I don’t believe that it is the right thing for that
        bride so assisting rather than selling is definately my approach.

  • Zoe
    8 years ago

    You’ve raised some very good points and I agree that there is alot of stress on the bride to make her wedding wrthy of an oscar, which is a shame as it’s the day she gets to tell the world how much she loves her partner. Surely the focus should be on the couple, not the colour of the napkins or if it is worthy of being featured on certain weddings blogs!

  • Steven
    8 years ago

    Thie is a great post Claire, you are very brave. Brides and Grooms take heed. Don’t get sucked in by money hungry vendors who don’t care little about your wedding but seem to know what you want. There’s no right or wrong way to plan a wedding, only your way. It’s a real breath of resh air to see weddings planned the right way for the right reasons.
    I may dare to say that the wedding industry awards are no better than any other awards for the reasons that you have already mentioned. (Some vendors encourage their clients to vote and comment, others don’t so it may not reflect the ‘best’). Intrigued by the pending wedding photography post, but may have to raign in my opinions on that so I don’t upset anyone;)

    • Claire
      8 years ago
      AUTHOR

      Another good point, Steven. From what I saw of the wedding suppliers who were nominated for an award, most did promote the awards by mentioning they were nominated and asking for votes on facebook, email signatures, blogs etc. I don’t know how many actively emailed customers to ask if they’d like to vote.

      I think – off the top of my head – I’m ok with that. There’s a big difference between asking customers for their support and asking mates in the industry. Ideally I suppose there’d be guidelines / etiquette about asking for votes. An interesting thought.

      As for the photography post, the gist of it is already on my facebook page from a few days ago if you want a peek!

  • Anna MacDougall
    8 years ago

    Oh Claire,

    We told you we’d love it – and not because we’re quaking in our wellington boots. Thank you for being so candid and speaking for those of us who wholeheartedly agree. Our collective ears are ringing!

    You’re absolutely right, the wedding industry should be about love, not how far couples are prepared to stretch their overdraft. The scariest thing we ever heard was a wedding planner (on BBC news) say something along the lines of: “Oh, I always tell my couples that, if they really really want it, what’s an extra two grand on the credit card”. So wrong!

    We didn’t start our business because we love weddings but because our corporate events background made us appreciate just how much hard work it is to plan any event, never mind your wedding day. And that’s before you add being guest of honour on the day, unexpected arguments over chair covers, emotional blackmail (by family & friends, sadly) and the pressure to ‘trump’ everyone else.

    There are 5 people necessary to get married: bride & groom, an officiant of some sort and two witnesses. Everything else is just icing on the (not literal) cake.

    We’re so excited about your post, we could literally go on and on but we’ll stop – for now.

    Thank you and hooray to English Wedding!

    Anna

    • Claire
      8 years ago
      AUTHOR

      Hi Anna! Oh no – I’m cringing at those words from the wedding planner. She must be loaded to have that attitude… just goes to show!

      I’ll hold you to the “for now”. x

  • Lizi
    8 years ago

    Great article, good to hear some reality for once! I’d be interested to hear any advice you’d give to a new business. I do stationery and am working my butt off to get it going. I’m totally committed be building up a reputable business and like to design stationery that would appeal to the guys as well as the girls (slightly worried about the pink on my website now though!”). I actually hate wedding fayres, feeling like you’re competing to “catch your prey” as they get more and more overwhelmed walking round the room struggling to balance all the literature being thrust upon them! However, you feel obliged to exhibit as orders obviously don’t come out of thin air. I’m also getting sick of advertising packages that promise you much whislt sucking away all your budget like a vampire. Any bright ideas on alternative options?

    • Claire
      8 years ago
      AUTHOR

      Hi Lizi,
      I’m all for using the internet to promote a business. For my calligraphy sites it works a treat – but it is such hard work and with social media becoming so much more important I’m having to look into it in a lot more detail to keep my sites up to speed.
      My philosophy is that you shouldn’t have to pay to advertise: if you have the time to invest in promoting your business in other ways.
      Quick ideas would be to get involved in creative shoots which often get blogged; to optimise your website and blog as much as you can; to use facebook cleverly; to link to other social sharing sites – flickr, YouTube, etc. I made my first Google plus page last night… there are a lot of free things to try which can all boost your online presence. The trick is to make sure your business has enough of a presence for brides and grooms who are actively looking for products like yours to find it. Then they have to love it.
      That any help?

      • Lizi
        8 years ago

        Thanks for your time and advice Claire, its much appreciated. Unfortunately, I’ve got 2 small girls to look after so time is pretty limited. You have reinforced what I’m aware I need to do more of, so I probably need to re-prioritise and get to grips with all the social media.
        Thanks again, you’re a star!

        • Claire
          8 years ago
          AUTHOR

          No worries Lizi. Google some advice about using social media wisely. I’m beginning to use twitter less and less: facebook is better because it has more users and richer content (images, links etc.). As for Google plus… Google are working so hard to compete socially so keep an eye on those as well.
          x

  • Nice post Claire – lots of honesty in there that I reckon a lot of people would be scared to talk about.
    I just think brides and grooms should do what’s right for them, whatever that may be. Though I do understand how difficult and pressured it is for them as they start their planning, especially if they are the first in a family/group of friends to be getting married and haven’t got a clue how to get things moving. Where do they start? Mags and blogs offer ideas and inspirations and as you say, you can end up spending a fortune trying to emulate or replicate other people’s weddings just because you think that’s what you’re ‘supposed’ to do.

    Though don’t go on about how expensive weddings and their component parts are too much please…some of us have to charge a fortune to keep our swimming pools heated… 😉

    xxx

  • Lina - Liquid Photo
    8 years ago

    Thanks for a honest and informative post – you speak so much truth!

    As photographers we decided to specialise in weddings because we were fed up of meeting the slimy guys who lived up to the stereotype as opposed to genuinely wanting to provide beautiful images! We recently chatted to a fellow wedding photographer at a fair who questioned our all day package as he said “Urgh no, after the first dance I’m outta there!” We specifically wanted to challenge the stereotypes and hopefully we do. It’s always great to see different and individual weddings – although I would say the vintage style which used to be quite unique has almost become the norm to all the pink now too! (Would be interested to hear your view there too…)

    We always tell our couples there are no ‘rules’ to how their wedding should be, it is their day and it should reflect them, have some fun! We’ll definitely tune in to your photography post with interest, it’s such a hot topic right now.

    • Claire
      8 years ago
      AUTHOR

      Hi Lina,
      It’s a good point about the vintage look being as prominent as pink – but I’d say vintage is a trend which encompasses so much more than weddings: home styling, for example. So it’s a bit different in that way.
      Just quickly, I did write a post talking about the vintage style – specifically photography. It’s here if you fancy a peek: what next for vintage wedding photographers
      Claire x

  • Gail
    8 years ago

    Hi Claire,

    I,ve just come across your blog and wow, it’s great! What a breath of fresh air. I agree so much with many of the points you make in this post. I shall definitely keep reading!

    Gail

  • Anneli Marinovich
    8 years ago

    Well said Claire…you hit the ‘wedding nail’ on the head so many times in your post. I’ve lost track the amount of times I have told my couples to remember that their wedding day should be about the promise to each other, and that it shouldn’t turn into a circus to try and impress friends & family / try and follow trends. I also agree very strongly that couples should not get into debt to afford their wedding day. We started saving the minute we got engaged and this meant no additional debt stress after the wedding was done! I also think it’s a great idea to write down a priority list of what is important to you. If you want amazing photography to remember all the wonderful details & hard work you put into your day, you have to make sure that finding the right photographer for your budget is at the top of the list, and yes you will not regret spending more to get a quality photographer. Thank you Claire for writing such a frank, thorough post, the wedding industry will benefit from brides being more knowledgeable about what they want and what to look out for, and the wonderful open & honest wedding suppliers in this industry, will be able to help them make their dream weddings come true!

  • Lynette
    8 years ago

    When planning our wedding last year, I wanted to make our wedding move relaxed and fun and show how much my husband and I loved each other, we had a very tight budget for our wedding, and there was so many things I personally did not see as important, but I wanted our guest to join in with the love of us together. Little things made our wedding just the most fabulose day of our lives, and that would never of come about if we had not shared our day with the most important people in our lives, people who have watch us grown, into the people we are today. They were there to see us as a couple committed to each other for the rest of our lives not to see how much prettiness we had. I broke a lot of rules, we did not cut the cake, we had no formual group shoots, we found a venue which was very reasonably priced who let us choose what we wanted to serve instead of having a fix menu, we found a DJ who was happy to play the music we wanted (all 50’s music). The three most stressful things I found during planning our venue, was finding a venue who was not going to eat our whole budget in one go, florist who was not going to turn their nose up at me for not wanting flowers on every table, and not wanting roses, or a massive bouquet, boy that was hard, every florist I went to their choice was rose, rose or rose, I don’t want rose, or I had to commit to a minim spend for a saturday wedding.

    And thirdly dress shopping I hated it, I did not want a strapless dress ball gown dress, and unless I had at least £700 to spend most bridal shops were not interested in letting me through the door, in the end I got my dress from a high street shop and cost £225 and was just what I wanted and not at a price I did not want to pay. And this meant I could spend more on the things that were going to remind us of our special day such as our wedding photography, Being a wedding photographer myself, I surprised myself when I said I did not want a wedding album, six months down the line my husband keep going on about us having an album he really wanted one, so I produce an album which I gave him on christmas day and now so glad I did, because when ever I have a low day I can sit back and look at the wonderful day we had and remember all the love and joy there was on our wedding day, which is reflected in each and every photo taken at our wedding, No we did not have lots and lots of details but we sure had a wedding filled with love, joy and happiness. But areas I think we are focused to pay far to much for is the venue with the minim venue in my area being £8000, we just could not afford this, so we looked and looked until we found a venue which was halve this price, it had a lot of bad reviews on line but we went with our gut and so glad we did, because not only did we get a venue which did not break the bank, we also got to have our day our way, guest are still saying how fabulose it was that bacon rolls came out at 10pm instead of the normal evening buffett. And the dress, yes there is so many lovely dresses out there, but I just could not justify spending that much money on a dress I would wear once, instead we cut back on the dress and the venue, but I don’t think we had any less of a wedding than I have attended as a photographer because of this, and our guest loved the day and still saying so now. And I have the memories both in print and in my mind of the most wonderful day of our lives, you will never experience such love and happiness like that again in your lives.

    • Claire
      8 years ago
      AUTHOR

      Lynette, I feel like jumping out of my chair and giving you a standing ovation. I could reply to every point you made, and your comment is so overwhelmingly positive about your day that I love every line you’ve written. What a wonderful memory to have – what a fantastic way to remember your wedding day. Thank you for shining a big beam of sunshine onto this little blog post 🙂

  • Julie Dawson
    8 years ago

    I really love your work! You are the speaker for so many of us and you make me die of laughing whilst getting your point over. I have to agree with Anna, it is all about the couple and what they want, more of less is fine if they truly want it. The rest of us should offer services that help them achieve just that. The poor bride who is so stressed perhaps does not know that there are people ready to help her without costing the earth or up selling her! For me as a wedding planner it would be my job to make her believe that their guests come to the wedding to see them not the bloody birdcages! Great post can’t wait for the photographer one next week.

    • Claire
      8 years ago
      AUTHOR

      I love it when you swear Julie 🙂
      Thanks for a great comment! xx

  • chris hanley
    8 years ago

    The UK wedding industry is one of the finest in the world. The issue is, it is largely unregulated and allows far too many people to set themselves up as professionals. If the taxman had a wander around every wedding fair in the next month or two taking vendor details, the UK economy would be a lot richer, the industry a bit lighter of opportunists and amateurs trading as professionals. We are a creative industry. T-shirts and suits don’t sit comfortably together, but there is no reason why they shouldn’t. Sometimes business stifles the creativity.
    Magazines, wedding fairs, social media, and blogs have a HUGE influence on our industry. Yes they are businesses, but they are also what makes us have an industry. Without media (in any form) we die.
    Chris H http://bit.ly/y8Iegg

    • Claire
      8 years ago
      AUTHOR

      Beautifully put, Chris – and tactful too. T-shirts and suits is a great comparison.
      I think responsibility comes with the level of influence you mention. Responsibility is something different businesses take more or less seriously. Thank you… more thoughts in my little tumble-drier-brain for a later blog post or two.

      ps. Loving the icons blog post you linked to (words and pics – god those are lovely images)

      pps. I promise I’ll look at the pink borders on here again! I was discussing blog colours with Beth from Cakes by Beth and Julie from Ice Maiden Cakes only this afternoon. Will try and find something more macho. 😉

      • chris hanley
        8 years ago

        purple 🙂 mix of pink and blue 🙂 thanks for the comment re my link, inspiration for every engaged couple planning their weddings 🙂

  • A great post Claire, it is clear to everyone who reads this post and your fab blog how passionate you are about weddings, and providing inspiration for brides and grooms to be. I think this certainly provides an eye opener for anyone involved with weddings, be it a supplier or a bride or groom. Thanks for being so brave. 😀 T x

    • Claire
      8 years ago
      AUTHOR

      Thank you Tory 🙂
      I didn’t feel brave this morning, I can promise you! But I’m glad I posted this – the comments and discussion have been a great read.

      I’ve also got rid of a bit of the pink… happy with my new background now, and here’s hoping it’s more boy-friendly.

      Claire x

  • Mrsbride2be
    8 years ago

    I am stunned at some of the unscrupulous traders around, everyone who has ever had a hobby is starting a business selling goods for riduculous prices, someone already mentioned cakes and having had cakes made for other occasions I can’t believe the price hike even on a fondant covered sponge 🙁
    More frustratingly I recently bought my gorgeous accessories from a reputable bespoke designer only for my bridesmaid to show me the same piece on a cheap chinese import website for a fifth of the price’!!!!!!! Do people think brides are gullible and deserve to be ripped off??

    Erin

    • Claire
      8 years ago
      AUTHOR

      Now that’s a really interesting comment, Erin. I’m not quite sure what you mean about the prices: I’ve seen wedding invitation designers on eBay selling their wares for such low prices it really worries me: knowing what’s involved in a good design, I worry they’re using flimsy materials and not providing the levels of customer service a bride and groom deserve; either that, or they’re underselling themselves and working way too hard for too little.
      I rarely see a start-up business charging too much. (In my mind as I type this I’m thinking about stationery because that’s my real area of expertise.) The fact is that a handmade, bespoke product is labour intensive. Look at the prices at craft fairs as an example – they might be lower because the crafters are part-time. If a craft business is someone’s full time job, then they need to charge the right price so their business won’t fail. That’s not exploitation; rather it’s placing value in your own work. The danger is that sites like eBay devalue crafts (while on the other side, sites like Etsy do us proud).

      Your point about accessories raises a couple of points – probably discussions I should have on the blog another time. Bespoke accessory designers have huge issues with copyright. Bespoke pieces take dedication and care to create. They’re well made and – I would expect – a certain level of customer service is guaranteed.

      Your bridesmaid probably meant well showing you the same piece on a cheap import website – but for me, alarm bells would ring at that. It’s more than likely they’ve seen the design, copied it illegally, moved it to factory production and are selling poorly-made copies.

      It’s the cheap websites copying designs who are ripping brides off – definitely be careful and order from a trusted supplier if you can.

      Claire x

  • A really interesting article. I try to see all our weddings, but every wedding I watch, I find deeply personal and beautiful. Nothing can make any couple’s wedding samey, because it’s the distinct differences in individuals that makes them all FEEL so different. Not one of our many weddings has even looked the same decorations wise. Sure, there are loads of wedding suppliers out there after a quick buck, but I don’t add them to my recommended list at Gaynes Park. I love the wedding magazines and blogs for the ideas, inspiration and sheer magic and excitement they can create, especially when you first get engaged! It is a thought provoking article and I agree, check out who are the award winners in The 2012 Wedding Industry Awards. Our wedding couples and the hugely credible judges voted for best venue – it was us! We are super thrilled!
    Thanks for this article. I am going to print it off and read it again! Thank you also to Love My Dress for sending us to you to read it as well. I shared it from there on our FB wall.
    I’ll have to read more of your thoughts.
    Best wishes
    Liselle

  • Hannah Webster
    8 years ago

    Love you, lady! Such a candid post and really well written. I agree on almost all counts, I’d say. I’m lucky (and very thankful) that most of the clients I am attracting are determined to make their wedding about them, their love story, their family and their friends. They are the lucky ones, though. The ones who realise that it is their choice to make. Their wedding, their way. It saddens me to see how some wedding industry peeps treat their customers (and potential customers). I personally quite like wedding fairs in that I get to meet and chat with a whole bunch of lovely people, and you know how much I like to chat! I am wary of coming across too salesy though, I think most of us are. And I bloody hate the way some of the other photographers in my area act around me. Lordy. It’s just RUDE. And if that’s how they are with me, all cocky and full of themselves, I dread to think how superior they act with the poor brides and grooms they’re selling themselves to.

    Anyways…yay you for writing this and opening a very important can of worms. I would love to think that the changes you’ve highlighted will come about. That couples will take the industry on and make sure they get the weddings they want without succumbing to pressure from mags, suppliers, well meaning friends and family… It’s about making a commitment to the person you love and celebrating your love for them with your nearest and dearest. End of. Enjoy it. Enjoy each other. And live happily ever after. x

  • Dawn Taylor
    8 years ago

    I am relatively new to this in a professional capacity. I work extremely hard, keep my prices reasonable, whilst obviously needing to earn a crust and do what I do because I looooooove my job with a passion. I’m just going to say “I’m with you all the way” – brilliantly written! x

  • Julie Morgan
    8 years ago

    A great article and very, very, true. As a new Supplier in the industry I get “advice” from experienced suppliers about how I should do this, that, and the other, which goes against everything I believe in. I remember being told what I should and shouldn’t have for my wedding and I am determined not to inflict this on my customers. Weddings should be a joyful and very personal experience and I strive to make sure the couple can have something truly amazing, and more importantly whatever design they want for their wedding cake. i am happy to work with whatever budget someone has and hope that I treat everone with the same respect, interest, and quality service regardless of who they are and where they come from. There are genuine suppliers out there who do it for the love of being involved in someone’s special day, you just have to find the right ones.x.

  • Kirsten Butler
    8 years ago

    A great post – thank you!! I was just discussing with a fellow wedding business owner last night how I’m tired of the same old wedding fairs to exhibit at – the market is saturated with them (especially in Bristol) & the organisers have become greedy. It’s all about getting money rather than really looking at the businesses & what they’re about. There are exceptions (like Bristol Vintage’s wedding fair – stylish, beautiful & full of creative small busineses with a big passion for what they do) As a styling company I have always tried to stand out & be a little different. I always say to coupes that it doesn’t cost a stupid amount of money to make your celebration personal & beautiful. Think outside the box!! Don’t fall into this huge wedding bubble that tries to persuade you what you ought to have to make your wedding amazing. Does your day reflect you or the recent wedding in OK magazine? I LOVE being in the wedding world & felt very lucky to be part of The Wedding Industry Awards & be a regional winner. My couples testimonials made me cry & reminds me how thinking outside the box is a good thing. Enough rambling!! 🙂

  • Georgia
    8 years ago

    Absolutely brilliant, thank you Claire! You have just put into words exactly how I have been feeling about this industry since I became a wedding supplier in 2008. There are so many genuine professionals who really care about making a couples wedding day their dream come true and work so hard to help them achieve that but my goodness, there are some real stinking suppliers out there exploiting couples! As the singer of a wedding band, I am usually the first person to arrive in the morning to set up and the last person to leave! So we see everything that goes on and nine times out of ten, the suppliers are fantastic and caring but every now and again we come across a greedy, selfish individual who will be looking to make the most money for the least input! Sometimes it’s not even about money… It’s just their bad attitude! I get so upset as I always feel really protective over my couples and even as a non confrontational person, I’ve had to say something on more than one occasion because I have been so outraged!!!

    • Claire
      8 years ago
      AUTHOR

      Good for you, Georgia!!! That’s what I like to hear. 🙂

  • Julie Boyd
    8 years ago

    Great blog post Claire. Well done, you are very brave! I’ve read it and will go back to read it again. Comments are just as interesting too. I’d be interested to find out what suppliers think of wedding fairs (a whole new can of worms to open) I have been considering doing my first one this year. I’ve heard good and bad about wedding fairs. I like to chat to my brides about details ( I can talk for England) The most important thing for me is to give the couple exactly what they want, it’s their special day. I’m not sure about venue packages. I get so many calls about table plans etc being a basic piece of A4 card. The bride then calls me last minute distraught to see if I can help. It seems a lot of packages are “your day, our way” take it or leave it. I think brides take a package because of limited budgets. A wedding doesn’t have to be expensive. There is so much to be found on www these days. As for price hikes because it’s a wedding. I would charge the same price whether it be a wedding, christening or birthday party. I think some people see a price and they think, how can they charge x amount of pounds. I can do that for half the price. They don’t think of cost of materials,labour etc and for a lot of us, it’s a living just like any other person gets paid for their job. I’ve heard it said about photographers. A photographer spends a lot of hours at a wedding and many many more afterwards editing, resizing photos etc to present the couple with a lasting memory of their day. It’s a skill most of us don’t have ( yes, Claire I know you are smiling, ok so I don’t have it either lol) they should be paid for their work accordingly.
    Can’t wait to read the photographers blog xx

    • Claire
      8 years ago
      AUTHOR

      Thanks Julie,
      Ha… I don’t know what you’re talking about with the photography, you’re a whizz with your camera 😉
      I’d love to write about wedding fairs – the thing that puts me off is the research. I’d have to at least visit a few, and it’s been a few years since I have. But watch this space – perhaps I can do my research by asking everyone to share their experiences!
      Lovely comment about table plans being a basic piece of A4 card. If only! Plenty of wedding table plans are works of art – they’re not an essential thing (I always think an usher with a list could do the same job) but if you have the budget and you want to make an impact they’re really special, and beautiful, and a lovely talking point for guests too.
      Claire x

  • Marie Haverly
    8 years ago

    Great blog, brave and informed. I really enjoyed it! I totally agree with you, when I started out alone it took years before anyone took me seriously and trusted me as a dedicated planner. I had to earn my trust and now thankfully I have this from many brides and suppliers. I try to keep my couples grounded, to make the day about them and to enjoy what they love most. I am a planner who saves money rather than spends it but the pre-conception of a wedding planner is one of controlling, expensive, pretentious and demanding, this is so not the case with us and when new planners start up hoping to spend thousands of someone’s money on the wedding of the century I shudder. I have a nice network of wonderful suppliers and I like to support them as best I can, I feel sad when couples feel lost and fed up, after all this is supposed to be a party right! Well done for such great words, I’m off to post it for my friends and family on fb x

    • Claire
      8 years ago
      AUTHOR

      Oh wow Marie – that’s a brilliant comment. One I wouldn’t have dared to say myself – but yes, there are preconceptions of wedding planners and they’re not good! Wedding TV seems to be pulling out all the stops to find the worst of the bunch as well, which doesn’t help.
      But I’ve met some wonderful wedding planners, like yourself, who’ve used their previous experiences, skills and genuine caring natures to build a successful business. With a planner I think it’s all about trust – you really have to find someone honest and who knows their job inside out.
      Great comment – well done yourself for being so frank about those preconceptions! Hats off to you 🙂

  • Wendy Bell
    8 years ago

    Wow! Excellent blog post. A lot of food for thought and an enormous amount that I 100% agree with. As someone who has recently got married as well as setting up my own wedding industry business I can see both sides; the consumer and the supplier. I went to a couple of wedding fairs when I was organising my wedding and frankly found it quite irritating when I was being “harassed” by the smarmy business people you speak of. Whilst I realise that they have spent a lot of money to exhibit, a product and some personal, friendly service go a long way to selling themselves. I loathe pushy salespeople, no matter which industry. If I want to buy something I will, because I love it, not because I’ve been pressured. Unfortunately not everyone is able to be that strong willed and many are easily swayed into having someone else’s vision of their wedding day…
    From my own point of view, having been acutely aware of how people try to get you to spend, spend, spend when it comes to organising a wedding, I now pride myself on being a supplier who listens to what clients want. Who tries to help solve issues like budget limitations in order to provide them with a high quality product they’re happy with, at a price they can afford. If I know they won’t be able to afford something I will explain why it costs what it does, and I will offer alternatives. If they don’t wish to buy from me after I have given them every possible option, that’s entirely their prerogative. After all, no one is going to give you a good review if you’ve forced them into buying a product they’re not 100% happy with!!!
    Claire, I truly enjoyed this post…you’ve inspired me!

    • Claire
      8 years ago
      AUTHOR

      Thanks Wendy 🙂
      The value of listening… now there’s something I didn’t mention that I should have done: and I’m glad you did.
      It’s that flexibility and willingness to discuss the ins and outs of a business like ours (stationery – I know exactly where you’re coming from) that sets the best aside. Calligraphy is the same: I mainly work with couples who have quite big budgets, but sometimes I get enquiries from people who just don’t like their own handwriting and want envelopes addressing. They’re sometimes shocked at the cost and I always try to explain how long it takes… writing an envelope in calligraphy takes 10 minutes; at a rate of 6 per hour it does cost a bit… but I honestly believe that an envelope printed in a beautiful calligraphy font has almost as much impact. (Totally going off on a tangent here!)
      Getting back to your point – flexibility, willingness to listen and being able to think about creative solutions is really important in a wedding supplier. A great comment, thank you!

  • Kerry farr
    8 years ago

    I love this blog! I think your comments are spot on, unfortunately a lot of companies/venues hear ‘wedding’ & get out a different price list! I started out designing invites over 15 years ago for my 2 best friends to save them £s to use on other important wedding plans.  I still keep them in mind every time I speak to a bride/groom.  If there is any aspect where I see they can save £s I’ll tell them, even if it means I won’t get their business, I’ll never be rich running my company this way, but I’m happy! My policy is to assist and help make the wedding of their dreams, but stay within the reality if their bank account! Keep the blogs coming …. Ure the only blog writer I find interesting to read xxx 

  • Jenni - Bespoken For
    8 years ago

    Claire, Thank you so much for putting into words the truth and just what I have felt for so long. As a wedding industry supplier and 2012 wedding industry regional award winner, I can’t agree more about the circus of spin, popularity contests, bankrupting advertising and fair fees. It is such a tough industry to work in because we are all tarred with that bad image brush, the bad suppliers and money grabbers have given us. I agree that some wedding store owners are snooty and prejudice I hear this so often from my brides and have experienced it myself, even at wedding fairs! But many are not and hopefully they will stand out from the crowd. The main issue is that running the business is big bucks because of the extorsionate fees which we all fall into the trap of at one point or another! I had one shop owner look at my products, she said she loved them but there was no way I could compete with her imported designs! without even seeing what my wholesale prices were or asking her brides what they wanted? It hurt me to think her priority was her pocket and not giving her brides choice! Many in the industry are motivated by money and not passion and love for what they do, there is no joy in that for the brides (or the suppliers). Thank you again so much amazing post ! Lets work on FIXING IT NOW!!! xxx Much Love xx Jenni

  • Two by Two Weddings
    8 years ago

    Dear Claire,
    I always read your blog posts with great interest. This post is of particular interest because I am both a wedding supplier and a bride-to-be.

    In the course of my planning I’ve had to defend my “style” with a florist because I didn’t want a certain type of bouquet. We went to one wedding show and were literally pounced on, told I SIMPLY MUST have a chocolate fountain / dance lesson / chair covers WITH diamantes and on our way out the door a guy hugged us so tightly I thought he must be a long lost relation.

    I would pass on three gems of advice to any couple about to plan their weddings:
    Firstly, decide your budget and stick to it. Consider it as one pot of money and if you overspend on one part you cut back on another.

    Secondly, a bit like finding Mr Right, keep going until you find the right suppliers. For example I almost picked a florist, who was lovely, but her style wasn’t “us”; I almost ended up with triangular martini glass displays when really I wanted driftwood. Eventually I found “the one” and he is brilliant.

    Thirdly, get yourself a planner. I’ve got Isabella Weddings and Marie has bought sanity. I’ve got loads of creative ideas, after all that’s what I do for a living, but I’m not used to coordinating an event. Marie is a professional; she’ll pull it all together.

    In terms of being a supplier, it’s crucial to understand that couples have many elements to consider, plan, book and pay for and as suppliers we have a duty to make the process simple, not over complicate it or thrust “our ways” on them. I had an experience with a lighting technician who not only turned his nose up at our venue because it wasn’t “usual”, he then wanted to charge us £20 for an up lighter, whereas our local hire place charges £3. A caterer sent in a quot ethat was 50% greater than their advertised prices because it was “a wedding”. How are these businesses ever going to succeed? As a supplier, running a small business might be our life’s ambition, we might consider the wedding industry to be our family, we might think we charge what we like, we might have 4000 twitter followers, but seriously, we’re just one element in a special day. It’s not really about us.

    I have thoroughly enjoyed our wedding planning, most of all I’ve enjoyed the insight it has given me and I hope this will feed into our business processes to help serve our customers better.

    Again, a great blog Claire!

    • Claire
      8 years ago
      AUTHOR

      Natalie, thank you! I won’t reply to every point you’ve made – just: brilliantly put, every one. The hug at the wedding fair – yikes!!
      The bit that’s going to stick with me from this comment is, “it’s not really about us.” That’s set off a fascinating train of thought in my little head. Love it. Will see if another blog post comes out of that one… and it’s very true. For us, it’s about us. But we’re tiny cogs in a big day – must be very interesting for you to be seeing both sides.
      I get the impression you haven’t got long to go before your wedding – so have a wonderful day. And I hope you wake up the next morning with a huge smile on your married face. 🙂
      Claire xx

  • Katie Last
    8 years ago

    This is a really good article!

    I work for a venue and to be honest never ever wanted to do weddings when I started in the events industry. I had the image of lot’s of bridezilla’s but do you know what none of the brides I have worked with or are currently working with are like this but maybe it’s because I don’t see them as needy/stressed but see them as knowing what they want and trust me when I say it really helps if a bride and groom know what they want to achieve! I see myself as being there to help them along the way with any issues or questions or if they want to run anything past me that’s fine.

    The real trouble I have is that I have to sell the venue and I hate all the sales talk, I can usually tell with in five minutes of the clients walking into the venue whether it is right for them or not but unfortunatly due to the nature of the business I still have to go through all the sales talk to promote ourselves! It is stupid really but it sometimes has to be that way. I personally think that if the clients walk in and they feel it is right then it is.

    As for Wedding Fayre’s don’t get me started! We organise 2 each year as more of an open day than a wedding fayre but the most trouble I have is getting local competent suppliers to attend as soon as I turn around and say I am organising a Wedding Fayre that’s it I might aswell give up! It drives me mad trying to get decent suppliers to attend and each time I try and think of different ways to make it less like a Wedding Fayre, (the first one I did I followed the normal format and it just didn’t work) this time I am making sure we have four tables set-up with different themes on and with food displayed to give Brides and Grooms the chance to see what we can do whilst giving them ideas. But trying to get suppliers to understand what I am trying to achieve and persuading them that it won’t be the same as every other one is a nightmare.

    When I started in this role the previous co-ordinator had just randomly gone through a wedding guide and picked suppliers who unfortunatly were not up to the standard I expect so I had to start again looking for local suppliers with good reviews or who had been recommended because it is my reputation on the line if recommend someone and they are not fantastic!

    The magazine bit in the blog was spot on, we currently advertise in a big magazine and the feedback we get back for that is barely anything! It really isn’t worth it but unfortunatly we are signed up another few months before I can pull the plug! However that wasn’t the point of this comment it was to say that they send me a copy of the magazine each month free of charge and because of where we are based on a border of two counties we are in two of the magazines and I pick them up and read them sometimes and think thank god I didn’t have to buy that because there was only one item that was useful in the magazine and the rest is ads but the thing that really gets me about this is that you look at both copies and they will have exactly the same articles in but with different front covers and different ads how is that helping anyone!

    The best inspiration I find is reading the blogs from time to time and looking at different wedding websites you get more help advice and ideas from them and it doesn’t cost.

    Thank you Claire for writing this article, you summed up perfectly everything that drives me insane about the Wedding industry and how some of us are trying to do things differently and to look out for them.

  • Janet
    8 years ago

    Hello!
    I’m new to this blog (found it today) but am commenting already as really relatated to this post! I’m getting married in May, and since getting engaged in September 2011 I’ve only bought 2 bridal magazines. I realised after looking at a few more on the shelves that they all have the same things in them month after month, and nothing changed very much except what was on the front cover.

    When I was looking for my dress a couple of shops were really pushy, and really piled the pressure on to order one of their dresses there and then, and were telling me everything looked ‘amazing’, and I’d get 10% off if I ordered on the spot. Needless to say I got my dress from a fabulous shop who only had a small range of dresses but put absolutely no pressure on me to buy at all, and were very honest in what flattered me and suggesting styles to try on.

    When I was phoning around florists as well, I hadn’t yet got my bridesmaids dresses sorted out or decided on colours, but wanted an idea of price using the rough ideas I had. The first florists I phoned (one of my venues preferred suppliers) I spoke to the florists assistant who told me (in a very prim and proper voice) that she wouldn’t see me until I had my colours chosen and bridesmaids dresses ordered! The second lady I phoned was incredibly helpful and was happy to meet with me and discuss the ideas I’d had so far – needless to say she was the one I went with.

    Loving this blog!

  • Liz Finch
    8 years ago

    Such an interesting read. I agree with so many of the comments and replies from suppliers too. I do hope we see change and that couples see beyond the glossy magazines and pushy sales people out for a quick buck. There is a wealth of amazing talent in the wedding industry and a lot of it is now from small home based businesses who offer fantastic value for money to couples as they aren’t adding huge overheads to the cost of their products. It’s these individuals who are more likely to offer bespoke products to reflect the couple and what they want from their day. You don’t have to have “mass produced” to keep within budget if you seek out the true gems in the Wedding Industry.
    I deal with couples from all walks of life, young and old, those having small weddings for 30 guest and others catering for 300. It doesn’t matter if the reception is in the local pub or stately home. The important thing is they all share the fact they are making a commitment to one another. Our job is to reassure them they have placed their faith in good hands, provide them with excellent service and treat each and everyone of them as an individual.

    I’ve left the wedding fairs behind. There are too many, they are hugely expensive once you factor in promotional material and fresh baked cake samples (in my case). They are far too “hit and miss” in terms of numbers of brides through the door and potential bookings too. I figured if I don’t “waste” money in that area I can keep the cost of my product down and absorb some of the huge price increases in raw materials so that my clients get true value for money from my cakes. I don’t like “hard sell” either and you can tell couples are wary of approaching you for fear they won’t escape your grasp unless they sign on the dotted line. Neither person’s needs are met in that situation.

    My grandparents ran a florist business from home in the 1950’s/60’s. Everything then would have been dealt with more locally – no wedding fairs or glossy mags, no websites, just word of mouth recommendation. It does make you wonder are we “all caught up in the fluff”? I think it does build in huge stress, can promote us all in a bad light and tar us with the same brush as being “rip off merchants”.
    Deep down the majority of us are creative individuals with a passion for what we do and our greatest satisfaction comes from delivering clients the service and products they want whilst earning a modest living. There is no greater satisfaction than knowing you were part of making the biggest day of someone’s life that extra bit special. I was lucky to be shortlisted in the 2012 Wedding Industry Awards and truly thankful to all the clients who took time to vote for me leaving such wonderful feedback and comments. They are awards that count and not based on “popularity contests”. A great starting point for bringing about change in our industry for the better.

    Well done Claire – great Blog post!

  • Karrie
    8 years ago

    Some really good common sense advice here – and that’s before you even touch on the so-called professionals who bad-mouth others in same profession. Totally agree that lots of award winners are just Twitter and Facebook junkies t00. Keep up the good work!

  • Alison Walker
    8 years ago

    That is a great piece – so much it says is spot on. Yes your budget can spiral out of control if you let it. Yes you can meet some dodgy characters at wedding fairs – though as a florist I find them invaluable to let people see some of your work first hand – photos don’t always do them justice. Yes it is a very ‘bride’ orientated environment. With one of my couples last year the groom had a lot of input into the flowers which is a very girly side of the day and it was like a breath of fresh air. And i remember from my own wedding how full of adverts the magazines are and how especially with flowers the same things kept cropping up month after month.
    Great Blog Claire

    • Claire
      8 years ago
      AUTHOR

      Thanks Alison. It’s interesting about the flowers: I’ve only met a couple of wedding florists to have a real chat to, but with flowers as well as other wedding bits and pieces suppliers always love it when a groom gets involved. Flowers especially, it seems – but cakes, colour schemes, the lot. It really brings a twinkle to a wedding supplier’s eye! (Grooms take note: we want to see more of you!)
      Interestingly for calligraphy I get about 30% of my orders from the grooms. I’m not sure if it’s delegated in many cases as a bit of a dull thing to organise? I hope not – but I love dealing with grooms as well. They tend to be really keen, really excited to see their orders and over the moon when they do. 🙂

  • Emma Lawson
    8 years ago

    I definitely agree the industry needs to make changes. Raising standards professionally is essential. It really scares me to think that there are business being operated by totally unqualified wedding professionals. Even though the operators may have some on the job experience which I do recognise is essential, I still personally believe they should hold an accredited qualification in wedding or event planning to show they have recieved some quality training which coupled with on the job experience will equip them to be able to handle the most important day of someone’s life in a highly professional manor. There are plenty of accredited courses these days, and I really do believe that if someone wants a career in events, or wants to show how professional their company is then they will invest in themselves and use their qualification as a mark of their professionalism & dedication to the industry. A regulatory body would also go some way to raising standards and weeding out the rogue traders. It would also help if event management companies and wedding planners looking to hire new members of staff insisted on only taking on staff with industry related accredited qualifications or even better put them through the training themselves, that way we are helping to secure a more professional future for our industry.

    • Claire
      8 years ago
      AUTHOR

      Hi Emma, thanks for your comment too.
      It’s an interesting point, and the question of qualifications is going to come up in a separate blog post next week, although focusing on wedding photographers. I think you’ll be surprised by that one!
      As for wedding planners – I agree that for such an important (and expensive) service as full planning and co-ordination there should be something to show brides a planner is qualified and trained. The UKAWP (and I believe there are similar associations) have taken steps to do this so they’re always a reliable place to find a great wedding planner. However – informal on-the-job experience – and plenty of it – is just as valuable in my opinion.
      As for other wedding professionals (and that’s a term that’ll also come up next week) – qualifications aren’t the most important thing. I’m not qualified – but I’ll offer anyone a sample of my calligraphy, for free, before they make a booking. Because I’m experienced and I’m good! The same applies with stationery and accessories. It’d be interesting to hear what other people think about this… perhaps yet another good blog post in the making?!

  • Sally Young
    8 years ago

    Hi – what a great article and so passionately written. The fact is that there are crappy people just out to make money in all fields of life and the Wedding Industry is no different. When something becomes an industry it becomes about cash and less about providing a service. IT’S MY WEDDING – I’LL DO WHAT I WANT! This should be the mantra of all Brides & Grooms – there are some great people and brilliant companies out there who can help you make your day your own, and if you’re not happy, then look for someone else – doing that will make all suppliers have to be better. We are not ‘wedding-y’ people here in The Real Flower Petal Confetti office – we’re just normal women, working in a great little business, offering something that we just want to share with all couples who are getting married – we are just here to help and are really happy to do so. It’s great to work with Brides & Grooms – they are the happiest of customers – for obvious reasons! We won a 2012 Wedding Award and it has been lovely reading our customers’ feedback – it’s not difficult to provide a good service – just do what you promise to, promptly, politely and try to make it all a little bit special! Keep up your good work Claire!

    • Claire
      8 years ago
      AUTHOR

      Great comment Sally – and a lovely point about not being ‘wedding-y’ people but taking pride in your business. There are lots of people out there doing the same, running a business they’re passionate about without it being all about weddings. I’m imagining anyone with an old letterpress machine making gorgeous paper products; jewellers, bands and musicians. Any business can be fiercely proud of what they do, and I can tell from your comment that you are.
      Lovely to read. Thank you! x

  • Shane Young
    8 years ago

    You’re speaking my language!!!!
    Re. ‘wedding professionals are rubbish’ :
    At a recent meeting with a couple-to-be (let’s call them couple X), I had a realisation that made me feel quite sad. They were being cagey, interrogating me very seriously, maintaining their distance, almost trying to catch me out with their questions. Their overly-wary approach depressed me – as if I was a slimey salesman trying to dupe them into spending a fortune on something cheap and nasty.
    It was a far cry from the meeting I had had two days earlier (let’s call them couple A) which had resulted in a booking and which had felt like the early stages of a long-term friendship. Indeed we had hit it off so well that I thanked my stars for the fact that my job had brought me in touch with such terrific people. I knew very quickly that I would make them very happy and they, in turn, would make me love my job even more.
    But back to couple X. They may well have been just as lovely – but at some point they have either read about, heard about or witnessed something that made them quite plainly suspicious of wedding photographers. Now I am not the smoothest talker, nor the most vociferous at self-promotion, and I used to think that was a weakness. Initial meetings can be difficult as each party finds its way with the other, but this one made me feel a bit like a dodgy dealer, a crook even. And yet I know that the service I offer is beyond reproach, both in the standard of work I produce and the standard of customer care. If you are looking for a wedding photographer and you are reading this, I am upset that you may have had to wade through a minefield of less-than honourable suppliers before reaching this point, for they have tainted the experience for you, and in turn, for me. Ultimately, let the images you see and the attention you receive guide you in your final choice. I know this is a massive decision. Make sure you have a contract, a clear set of terms and conditions, and that the photographer is fully insured. Don’t assume expensive must mean high quality, but conversely, steer well clear of the cheapest option if you possibly can.
    Overall, forget about sales pitch, and let the pictures do the talking!

    xxx

    • Claire
      8 years ago
      AUTHOR

      A fantastic comment Shane – and I don’t think I need to reply other than to say thank you for sharing. I imagine a few people know exactly what you mean. It’s easy to find yourself on the defensive after a couple of bad experiences.
      Great advice, thank you.

  • Fiona Campbell
    8 years ago

    Dear Claire

    Good for you for being a force for the good and for challenging the wedding industry. I think it’s unfair, though, to diss the wedding industry so badly. Generally I am blown away by what a wonderful industry it is. At least I prefer it to the media! There is an amazing amount of creativity within the industry for a start. Secondly there are some amazing people out there who go all out to make sure that the happy couple have a memorable time. Also, and I speak particularly for photographers here but the same thing applies to many other suppliers too, we get a lot of flak for charging more than seemingly other industries, but at the end of the day our job has to be 100% right every single time. We work weekends, we have high overheads. We cannot have an off day, because our off day is someone else’s big day. The main problem the wedding industry has is that it is continually dealing with couples who have never organised weddings before and have no idea of what is involved. They don’t know what they want or how to get it. How many brides think it’s reasonable to expect fantastic wedding photographs for £1000? When the majority of experienced photographers know they can’t get out the door for much under £2k. There is a terrible lack of education. Really the wedding planners need to play a big role in ensuring that clients book the right suppliers and that the right suppliers get paid right. I think it is only by strengthening the role of the planners that you will strengthen the industry. Planners can educate couples in how to get what is right for them, what to expect and how much they should expect to pay for it. Awards don’t really work, because it is only certain brides who will have time to review their suppliers – many will be too busy and that isn’t the fault of the supplier. But a planner knows who they like to work with and who will do a good job, and they know what is reasonable to pay them. Planning a wedding is a skilled job but you don’t get a chance to practice!

    anyway, here’s to a wedding industry which really delivers!

    • Claire
      8 years ago
      AUTHOR

      Hi Fiona,
      First let me point you back towards my opening paragraphs, “There are lots of fab­u­lous, amaz­ing, hon­est, gen­uine, cre­ative, pro­fes­sional, ded­i­cated, won­der­ful peo­ple in this indus­try. I love it — I work full time as a wed­ding sup­plier. I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t love it. I have met many bril­liant peo­ple — brides, grooms, sup­pli­ers — through my work. This blog post doesn’t define my world. It just sets out the wonky bits so we can all help put them straight. ” – I’m trying to only ‘diss’ (I’m so not cool enough to use that word) the bad bits of the industry. And there are plenty.

      But I’m intrigued by your comment about strengthening the role of wedding planners. That’s a really good point, and a fascinating one. Every wedding supplier has a right to charge what they feel their time and experience is worth. High prices are not silly prices – high prices are usually justified, but not always easy to explain. I’d always advocate getting the best supplier you can afford, prioritising and spending more to get a great quality photographer / string quartet / caterer if that’s the most important thing to you as a couple. The issue is when people have all three thrust in their faces as ‘must-haves’ and end up stretching their budgets.

      Wedding planners as educaters (educators? sounds American) is definitely something I need to think more about. On my list of things to investigate next – thank you.

      Claire

  • Amy
    8 years ago

    Hi Claire, this post has opened my eyes a little bit. My partner proposed last June, and we have finally seen our way clear to book the church and start planning on a meagre (by industry standards) budget of 5k. I know we can have the day we want, especially if we don’t pay attention to stereotypes or media driven expectation. Two things really rang true in this post: 1. that the industry puts grooms off so the bride does all the planning and suffers from it, and 2. the mantra ‘It’s our day, we’ll do it how we want.’ I think my fiance and I share the planning 60/40 but I think that’s better than most! We know what we want – a day to celebrate in front of God, and wih our family and friends. My partner wants good food and I want a location that’ll accommodate our variety of guests happily. Finally, thanks for your advice on suppliers, I had not thought about the prospect that there might be some individuals (the few that spoil it for the many I reckon) that are not in it to help us make our day special, but just wanted to do as little as possible for as much as possible! Although I will ensure we don’t become like couple X in the reply above, I will make sure we do our research and background checks. 🙂
    One last thing I want to say is that, although we only stepped in for a few minutes to make a brief enquiry, Jodi Bridals in Canterbury made both myself and my fiance feel very welcome!

    Here’s to getting the men involved!

    • Claire
      8 years ago
      AUTHOR

      Hello Amy 🙂
      Thanks for the little nod to Jodi Bridals – I hope some Canterbury brides are reading too.
      It sounds to me as though you’re setting out on the right track: you have your priorities as a couple, you’re planning as a couple (and yes the impression I get from my inbox is that 60/40 is better than most!) and you have your feet on the ground… while I still detect a bit of happy excitement in your comment.
      Here’s to you getting married and living happily ever after!

      Claire xx

  • Moomin
    8 years ago

    You make some good points in here, but I don’t agree with all of them. Particularly about wedding magazines. I think you’ve missed the point of them. Most brides I know have bought a few because they’re fun, simple as.

    You say: overwhelmingly, the wed­ding magazines are about how your wedding will LOOK and what you should buy to achieve a certain look. There’s no balance with advice, emotional support, discussion or articles about marriage.” I’ve seen plenty of articles about emotional support and marriage in Wedding, Brides, You & Your Wedding, so that’s definitely wrong.

    Also, the criticism about how your wedding looks is an odd one. Isn’t that what a lot of blogs are about, too? And don’t you realise normal people who don’t work in the wedding industry actually need some help to get our weddings to look how we want? Is it so terrible to buy a magazine or read a blog to do that? It really irks me when people try to pretend it’s superficial to care how your wedding looks while simultaneously writing or blogging about it – if it didn’t matter we’d all go down the pub in jeans. I’m not ashamed of wanting some inspiration!

    The mags are no more required reading than cupcakes are required eating. They’re just fun, a nice indulgence. What bugs me more than anything, however, and I am writing as a journalist (not a wedding one, I should add) is you talking about “free inspiration” online, as if it’s a crime for a wedding magazine to charge a cover price. Nothing is free. Free at the point of use, maybe, but it still takes time to write and take photos and it still costs money to run a server and all the rest of it.

    What you’re saying is that you wish all brides would just get everything for nothing by finding all their ideas online instead of paying a few pounds for some of the inspiration they get. I know this is a piece about weddings, not print, but this is the kind of attitude that’s killing off the printed word. Some of us like to turn off our computers and read on paper once in a while!

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