Monthly Archives: Nov 2018

Mary Briscoe, Experienced & Professional Wedding Planner, Marquee Wedding | Rebecca Farries Photography
Why Hire A Wedding Planner?

This is a question not only clients but even friends ask me. Why would I need to hire a wedding planner?

Let me then ask you a couple of questions. If you needed to build an extension on your home would you do this, or would you call an expert builder? If you needed to discuss and organise your finances and tax return, would you do this, knowing that it would take you much longer than someone with experience? I know I when need an expert I call someone to do the job for me.

Planning a wedding is a complex undertaking and it’s easy to under-estimate the time it actually takes. On average a wedding can take over 250 hours to plan. With longer working hours and hectic social lives it’s not surprising that couples struggle to find the additional hours. So why would you not hire an experienced wedding planner?

With such an important occasion you don’t want to look back and wish you’d done things differently. Many couples often rely upon family and friends to help especially on the day. This sounds great, but the reality is often very different. Jobs can be forgotten as they have, quite understandably, got caught up in the excitement of the day and want to be there as your guest.

An experienced and professional Wedding Planner can make your wedding planning experience fun and enjoyable by taking away the stresses and strains of organising your special day. As well as save you trying to find those many additional hours.

A wedding planner can search for your perfect wedding venue. Source the best suppliers from the wealth of contacts they already have and liaise with them all. A wedding planner will expertly handle all the wedmin that comes with organising a wedding as well as provide guest list management and handle RSVPs.Wedding Invitation Writing / Photo by Weddings By Mary

You will, however, still be very much in control of your wedding. You will make all the final decisions on suppliers, style and overall feel as well as signing those all-important contracts. But an experienced and professional wedding planner will have checked the contracts and  negotiated the best rates. As well as keeping a crucial eye on your wedding budget.

A wedding planner will professionally handle any hiccups or issues along the way. Some of which you will not even know about, until a solution has been found! You are then free to not only enjoy the very special time leading up to your big day, but to also continue with your already hectic work schedule, busy social and family lives.

InWedding Hair & Make Up by Dawn Taylor, Essex based / Photo: Rebecca Farries Photography the final few weeks leading up to your wedding you will have far more important things on your mind. There will no doubt be final wedding dress and suit fittings, stag and hen weekends to enjoy as well has hair and make-up trials to name but a few. You therefore do not need to worry about liaising with suppliers over final arrangement and all those little, but very important finishing touches. A wedding planner will take care of all of this for you.

With the wealth of experience that a professional wedding planner can provide, they can transform your ideas and visions into reality as well as ensure that your wedding really does exceed all expectations, from the initial planning stage through to the last dance of the evening.

So will you now be hiring an experienced and professional wedding planner?

Signature of experienced and professional wedding planner Mary Briscoe

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Why Renew Your Wedding Vows?

My local radio station, BBC Essex, recently asked me, as an experienced & professional wedding planner to speak about why couples wish to renew their wedding vows (listen in around 2.52 www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p06n91j0.) This came about with Jamie Oliver and his lovely wife Jules announced that they were planning to renew their wedding vows after 20 years of marriage in 2020.

There are many reasons why couples decide to renew their vows of marriage and I think it’s a very personal choice as to why they wish to do it.

It’s not a legal ceremony, and therefore it can take place wherever and whenever you wish and can be conducted by whomever you wish. This gives couples a much greater choice than they may have had first time around.

Couples may be more likely to be in a better financial position than when they initially married and possibly had a small, intimate wedding celebration. It has only been since the Marriage Act came into practice in 1994, that the option to marry at approved wedding venues has become available. The choices previously had been either a church service or local registry office. These days, there are so many more wedding venue choices for couples planning their special celebration from hotels, stately homes, rustic barns, and so on, than those marrying 20 or so years ago.

Wedding Anniversary celebration at one of Essex’s premier wedding and party venues, Hylands House / Photo By HN Photography.UKMy brother and his American wife renewed their wedding vows two years ago at Hylands Estate near Chelmsford to celebrate their 25th silver wedding anniversary. They had married in a whirlwind wedding ceremony in Las Vegas when my mother and I visited them in Los Angeles to see my new born nephew. Our arrival and that of my nephew prompted them to take the opportunity to marry and within 24hrs of us landing we were on our way to Vegas! It was a very romantic and special ceremony. I was my brother’s ‘best man’ and my sister in law’s family came too.

However, with the passing of the years it was time for them to be able to really celebrate their marriage and renew their vows, with friends and both families attending this time, including relations who flew in from the States. My sister-in-law had never tried on wedding dresses or had the fun of planning a wedding, so this was her time to savour that experience. It became affectionately known as their NWW…Non Wedding Wedding!

Other couples may have had significant changes in their life which has made them want to reflect and celebrate the specialness of their relationship and be able to party with family and friends to say thank you for their love, kindness and support.Wedding Rings / Photo: Rebecca Farries Photography

Whatever your reasons for wanting to renew your wedding vows, why not do it in style, sharing your milestone with family and friends?

Most importantly, have fun!

Signature of experienced and professional wedding planner Mary Briscoe


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Tips on Winter Wedding Photography

There is something quite magical and quite special about a winter wedding isn’t there?

Cosy log fires, beautiful long velvet capes, a dusting of snow, warming spiced drinks & twinkling candle light. It all sounds so romantic.

However, one big consideration when holding a winter wedding is that you will lose the light early in the day. It is usually dark by 5pm in late December, so ensure that you choose an experienced and knowledgeable wedding photographer to take those romantic winter shots and to capture and express the beauty of your winter wedding.

As an experienced and professional wedding planner I get the opportunity to work with some amazing wedding photographers and London based wedding photographer Douglas Fry has given three great tips for you to talk through with your chosen wedding photographer.

Tip 1: Do They Rely On Flash?
Using flash is absolutely fine but it will fundamentally change the way the photograph looks, especially in the darker months. A candle lit wedding breakfast will look much brighter in the resulting images than you remember from the day itself. Personally, I shoot without flash to maintain the atmosphere and to remain discreet. There is often a concern that the photos will be too dark shot in this way, but there is no issue whatsoever with lighting if the photographer uses very fast lenses and cameras with very good and low noise ISO’s (ISO is a camera setting that will brighten or darken a photo). I use the Leica Noctilux lens (which is the fastest lens currently made, so there is no issue whatsoever with low light, in fact the lens was made for it).

Tip 2: How Do They Light The Group Shots?
This is when flash is vital to get a good clean image of a larger group. As the choice of shooting outside is no longer there, due to either low light or weather conditions, the use of studio lights indoors is vital to get a soft even light and to get the 2 or 3 rows equally in focus.

Tip 3: What Is The Wedding Photographers Plan B?
In case of inclement weather, for example if you are choosing a church service, when you leave the church and it is possibly pouring with rain, remember to ensure that you have discussed with the vicar the idea of shooting some of the family and other groups inside the church before leaving. Also remember to chat through where the best couple shots can take place at your chosen wedding reception venue. If you would like to have some posed shots outside, purchase an unbranded umbrella, just in case. All these details should be discussed and considered by the photographer and you beforehand, to make it run more smoothly, should a Plan B be necessary.

Thank you to Douglas Fry for these helpful tips.

I would also recommend that you ask your photographer to show you some of their own work from previous winter weddings, even better if they have any captured at your chosen wedding venue.

If you get an opportunity visit your wedding venue with your wedding photographer to look at the best options together, especially if the photographer has never shot at your wedding venue.

And remember, S M I L E !


Signature of experienced and professional wedding planner Mary Briscoe

Professional and Experienced wedding planner, London & Essex based / Photo: Douglas Fry


(This photo of me was captured by Douglas whilst in a London coffee shop catching up during the summer)

Mary Briscoe, your experienced and professional wedding planner

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What is Partial Wedding Planning?

I frequently get asked ‘What is Partial Wedding Planning?’

Many couples often wish to plan their big day. Initially setting out their budget, discussing their ideas, sourcing the wedding venue and suppliers, creating and sending out the invitations and monitoring their RSVP list. But as the months start to tick away, the ever-growing list of tasks, the seemingly endless stream of emails, calls and paperwork that planning a wedding entails can suddenly become overwhelming.

Most couples who are juggling planning their big day with stressful or high-powered careers and a hectic family and social life can often be unaware that it can take over 250 hours to plan a wedding.

This is where the services of an experienced and professional wedding planner like myself can really come into their own.

Most wedding planners will take up the reins around 3 months prior to the wedding and offer Partial Wedding Planning services, enabling the bride & groom to really begin to enjoy the lead up to their special day. In these last few months there are likely to be long weekends away for stag & hen parties, wedding dress and suit fittings, thank-you gifts to purchase, bridal hair and make up trials, all of which are the fun and exciting parts that a wedding planner can’t attend for you (although I do love wedding dress shopping and more than happy to have my hair & make up done anytime!!)Wedding Hair & Make Up by Dawn Taylor, Essex based / Photo: Rebecca Farries Photography

Many couples still very much want to be involved in the planning of their big day but need guidance, advice and assistance to move their wedding plans in the right direction. Often, when an experienced and professional wedding planner comes on board at this stage there are lots of ‘To Do’s that just don’t seem to be getting ticked off, so knowing that the stresses and strains have been lessened will make for a far more enjoyable time.

A professional wedding planner will gather up all the paperwork, contact all the suppliers to check the status of the arrangements and get everything in order. There will no doubt be viewings and meetings still to attend, perhaps additional suppliers needing to be sourced or there may be other outstanding issues to take care of. A fresh pair of eyes can usually ensure that anything is quickly resolved, which can make a huge and positive impact on the wedding plans moving forward.

A detailed time plan will be created for the big day which will lay out how the day will run and will also ensure there are no potential issues, hiccups or gaps.

On the wedding day, the planner will be in attendance from start to finish, fielding calls, assisting with setup, checking all the arrangements, directing suppliers and helping guests, but most importantly ensuring that the bride & groom are able to enjoy every single moment of their special day, safe in the knowledge that their initial wedding day plans are now coming to fruition.

Should you wish to have a guiding hand over the final few months of your wedding with my Partial Wedding Service please do not hesitate to contact me.


Signature of experienced and professional wedding planner Mary Briscoe

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Wedding rings the symbol of love & marriage - Wedding & Celebrations venue The Great Lodge, Great Bardfield, Essex / Photo: Kevin Watkin
Civil Wedding Ceremony Legalities

Now I must first point out that I certainly do not know all the ‘ins & outs’ of the legal side of your civil wedding ceremony. However, I do have a little knowledge and understanding of the requirements for a registrar to perform your civil wedding ceremony, as prior to being an experienced and professional wedding planner, I was a Sessional Registrar myself for a period of time.

I was the one sitting quietly at the front whilst my colleague conducted the ceremony. I was writing away, trying to concentrate on what I had to do, not making any mistakes and ensuring that I got it right, preferably first time!

I therefore thought it would be interesting to talk about my experience during this period with a few interesting facts about creating the historic record of your marriage, and what I had to do whilst working at various beautiful Essex wedding venues.

  1. Before the Ceremony – We were required to have a private meeting with the bride & groom just prior to the ceremony. This was usually done individually, as most couples didn’t want to see each other beforehand. I would then ask a series of specific questions, to ensure that the details provided when the couple had given their ‘Notice Of Marriage’ had not changed. It could be that they had moved to a new house, changed jobs and more often than not they had had a birthday and so their age was different. All the information needs to be 100% accurate in order for it to be transferred to the Register and Marriage Certificate
  2. Registrars Ink  – Registrars must write both the marriage certificate and register in a special ink known as ‘registrars ink’. This particular ink doesn’t fade and will last for hundreds of years. So that future generations who want to learn about you will still be able to read the paperwork. Therefore, if you have a special, sentimental pen that you would like to use on your wedding day, you would only be able to have this the for the purpose of the photographs only.
  3. Wedding Photographs  – As the marriage certificate and register are legal documents, they should not be photographed by anyone. Therefore, once the legal signing had taken place we would often call the official photographer forward first to take the ‘staged shots’ with the register open on a blank page. After this the guests would then be welcomed to come forward and snap away.Signing of the wedding register at the wedding & event venue The Great Lodge, Great Bardfield, Essex / Photo By Kevin Watkin
  4. Witnesses – You are required to have a minimum of two witnesses. They must be present for the entire ceremony, so if you choose a friend who is known for never quite making any event on time, you might want to rethink this! They should also be over the age of 18. However, I do believe that if you want someone under 18 to sign, maybe your son or daughter, then as long as you have the two over 18s this would be possible. I suggest not having more than four witnesses as a) there is never quite enough room on the certificate and b) it quite time-consuming transferring all the information. You cannot leave until the Marriage Certificate is completed and given to you before departing the ceremony room!
  5. Home Time? No chance! –  Once the wedding ceremony had taken place, we registrars didn’t just go home, and put our feet up while you partied and enjoyed the rest of your day. In fact, during the busy summer months in particular, we would have maybe another one or even two weddings to conduct.  We then still didn’t go home.  After all the weddings had taken place that we were assigned for that day, we then headed back to the registry office, not only to return the paperwork for very safe keeping, but to also file online with the General Registry Office your marriage.

Look of Love, Wedding church service/ Photo: Jeff Turnball

Currently you are permitted to hold a civil wedding ceremony at a wedding venue that has what is known as an ‘Approved Premise License’. The room in which the ceremony takes place must hold this license, therefore you will often be given a choice of rooms to hold the ceremony as many venues license more than one room. This is also a failsafe if for some reason your chosen room was, say, damaged then another space would be available!

If you wish to marry outside, which under current law, this must be under a permanent structure, such as a pagoda. It is the decision on the day by the Registrar as to whether to ceremony can take place outside, as once the ceremony starts it cannot stop. So, if it looks like the heavens are about to open, not only do you not want your guests to get wet, but the register book and marriage certificate must also not get wet! The two witnesses, yourselves and the registrars must also be sat under the structure.

Early this week Philip Hammond made an announcement during The Budget about changing the law as to where civil wedding ceremonies can take place, in particular to outside wedding ceremonies. It will be interesting to watch how these changes impact weddings.

As a child I had always pictured myself marrying at home, in the garden in the field which during the Spring was awash with beautiful bright daffodils! In fact, I did have a marquee wedding at my parents’ home but during the Autumn and had a church service!! At that time the choice was either a church or my local, very unpretty, registry office!!Wedding Ceremony, Painted Hall, Greenwich, London / Photo: Gomes Photography

You see there is a lot to think about from the legal side that you may or may not have known about and I hope that you have enjoyed this little insight into the world of being a registrar.

I must however reiterate that I don’t know everything about civil wedding ceremonies and you will need to make all the necessary legal arrangements for your wedding day!


Signature of experienced and professional wedding planner Mary Briscoe

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