How to choose your wedding suppliers – tips from a South Yorkshire Wedding Photographer.
It’s no secret that in September I got married. Since then I’ve had lots of questions from couples asking; how did you choose your wedding suppliers?
There’s an assumption that because I’m in the wedding industry, choosing suppliers was a straightforward process. While most of the planning was plain sailing, I wanted to share how we chose the suppliers for our day and the process we went through.
It will come as no surprise that the first thing I booked was my photographer. I chose Seagull Photography from Stoke on Trent for three reasons.
1. Nikki (the photographer) and I went to university together so she knows me well
2. I love her work
3. I trusted that she’d get everything I needed, and tell me to back off if I started to take over!
Until we’d booked a venue it was impossible to book the photographer fully, but the day we got engaged I sent a message to let Nikki know I fully intended to book her. Starting that conversation early meant we could liaise about potential dates. It also meant that I could start obsessively looking at Seagull Photography’s social media posts and get excited about my wedding photographs!
The very first thing we officially booked was the venue. Without this we didn’t have a wedding date, so booking anything else wasn’t possible. We looked at a number of wedding venues in South Yorkshire and this is where my job really helped. I knew where to look for the style of venue we wanted, which venues had enough accommodation for our guests, what the staff were like, which venues offered exclusive use, where the easiest places to get to were and what the bar prices were like.
We knew that we wanted somewhere accessible as we had elderly relatives attending our day, and somewhere that was either less than 30 minutes from my local church or licensed for ceremonies. We also needed a venue that could hold a potential 100 day guests and 200 evening guests.
After a few viewings of venues I knew well, we visited Sneaton Castle in Whitby. It was somewhere I’d never visited before, and during the viewing we knew it was where we had to get married. As a new venue they had 2021 dates available and we reserved ours on the drive home.
Why did we choose Sneaton Castle?
For starters it’s a stunning venue, but we also felt incredibly comfortable there. Every member of staff was friendly, warm, and did what they said they would when they said they would. We trusted that they knew exactly what they were doing and that our wedding would be in good hands. It was also inside our budget!
When we had a date, we started to look at invitations and save the dates. We had quotes from a few companies, but ultimately decided to print these ourselves. I have a good quality printer for work and so we designed some silly save the dates and more sensible invitations and printed them at home. They were very basic, but did exactly what we needed them to do.
Choosing the cake was one of the easiest decisions we made. I’d spoken to Katrina’s Bespoke Cakes at a wedding fayre a few weeks before seeing our venue. I’d worked with her on some styled sessions in the past, and knew her from being on the same wedding fayre circuit. When we had a date set we booked a tasting with her and signed a contract.
She was able to cater for all our dietary requirements and gave us loads of flavour options too. On the day she came and set the cake up at the venue – it looked stunning against the yellow leaved tree.
Our flowers were very kindly made for us by one of our family friends. Fiona made all the bouquets, button holes, centrepieces and a wonderful tree too. We completely trusted that Fiona would make everything look perfect for our day. As she was a family friend, choosing our florist wasn’t really a decision we had to make at all.
We had our wedding rings made by a local jeweller, EVR Made. I’ve known Emily for over ten years and completely trusted that she’d give us both exactly what we were looking for. We had a consultation with her to talk about the ring design and metals we wanted. When the rings were made we went for a fitting, then she stored them for us until closer to our day.
We chose EVR.Made because we knew she’d not deliver anything less than perfection. We trusted her judgement and were confident that she’d give us wedding rings that would last a lifetime.
The Dress, Accessories & Bridesmaids
My goodness, I could write a full blog post about the dress!
A year before our wedding, we were in a full lockdown. I booked appointments to try on dresses at two bridal boutiques in Yorkshire for after the lockdown lifted, one at Limelight Occasions and the other at Cristello Couture. I chose these two boutiques after looking online at their designers, and seeing that they both held a style that I loved.
I also booked an appointment at Beverley’s Beautiful Brides in Barnsley for my sisters to try on bridesmaid dresses. I’d been lucky enough to wear a bridesmaid dress from Bev for my sister’s wedding and knew that her dresses were high quality and her alterations were spot on.
Due to the lockdown being extended our bridesmaid dress appointment happened first. Restrictions were in place, so only two people could enter a boutique at a time. If these restrictions had not been in place, I probably wouldn’t have found my dress.
One of the things Beverley’s Beautiful Brides has is a huge ground floor window. So, with only two people being allowed inside, myself, my sisters, mum, grandma and now mother in law went to the boutique with chairs. We set up camp outside the shop so we could all see the dresses the girls tried on. After we’d chosen their dresses (a rust colour from Morilee) I was asked to try on a wedding dress or two so everyone could share the experience.
Nothing I’d seen online was even remotely what I was looking for, but as this was the only chance I’d have to try on a dress with my family I took it. Bev pulled out a dress and said “this is it”. On the hanger, I completely disagreed. When I put it on I was shocked, but still not sold.
My next appointment was at Limelight Occasions in Huddersfield. They have a huge dress selection, and I was very excited for their Rachel Rose trunk show. While there I tried on a veil that I absolutely loved. While I didn’t find my dress there, I did go back to purchase that veil!
Finally I visited Cristello Couture in Penistone. They had a stunning dress that I almost bought. However, every time I looked at it I thought back to the one I’d seen at Beverley’s Beautiful Brides. What Cristello Couture did have was a range of flat shoes from Perfect Bridal Company – which I bought.
Back at Beverley’s Beautiful Brides I tried on the dress again, this time with straps. It was even better the second time and we bought it. I wasn’t teary eyed, I didn’t feel overwhelmed with emotion or have that ‘bridal moment’ that’s often advertised but I did know that this was a dress I would be happy to get married in. I also purchased my tiara and necklace from Bev too.
Hair & Makeup
Hair and makeup was an easy decision for me. I didn’t want to look too different, and I know that my everyday makeup isn’t traditionally bridal.
I chose to go with Karen at Get Gorgeous for three main reasons.
1. She creates a range of looks, weddings, proms and catwalk makeup, so I knew she’d be able to create anything I asked for.
2. She listens. I’ve seen her work on other brides and she listens and takes on board what they say. If they want huge eyeliner, she’ll do it, even if it’s not ‘bridal’.
3. We get on. Whoever was going to be at my door at 6am on my wedding day needed to be someone I felt relaxed around, I’m not a morning person.
She travelled from Wakefield through to Whitby and created my wedding look, along with my two bridesmaids, Mum, Mother in Law and Grandma. We all looked as fabulous at midnight as we did at 10am.
Suits, Ties and Shoes
We had a lot of men to dress for our day, so we decided that they could all choose their own suit and shoes. The only thing we asked was that their suit was blue. Everyone bought their suits rather than hire them, so they’ll be able to wear them again in future (we have some more family weddings on the horizon).
When it came to the ties, we found some beautiful floral ones in TK Maxx a few weeks before the wedding. Everyone’s tie and buttonhole matched and they looked dapper.
We decided early on that we wouldn’t be booking any entertainment. Most of our guests were adults (only 4 children for the daytime) and after the many months of lockdowns we were confident that they’d be able to pass away the hours catching up with each other.
We did need to book a DJ, and thought that would be straightforward. We were very wrong. In total I contacted 9 DJs. 8 of them were based in the Whitby/Scarborough area, and never responded to any of my emails or calls. The final company I contacted was Johnson & Saunders, who I’ve known for a few years. Allan travelled to Whitby and created an amazing atmosphere for our evening – I was on the dancefloor all night!
Originally we were going to skip the wedding favours. They’re a nice touch, but I’ve been to a lot of weddings where they get lost, put on tables and never collected, or gather dust in people’s homes afterwards. Finally we decided to buy everyone two drinks at the bar. We ordered a cart load of Tazos from eBay to use as bar tokens, and these could be redeemed against a selection of drinks. It worked really well, and none were left behind (shocking!).
I believe that just about covers every supplier we used for the day. If you’re looking for any help choosing any of your wedding suppliers we’re always happy to chat. You’ll find more wedding inspiration here too.