Choose a seat not a side wedding seating / Photo by Sophie Oldhamstead photography
How Do You Get Your Wedding Plans Started?

Many congratulations on your recent engagement!

Now the fun really starts. However, first and foremost please take time to enjoy your engagement.

As an experienced and professional wedding planner I meet so many lovely, deliriously happy couples who want to dive head first into planning their wedding without taking the time to breathe, celebrate and enjoy their engagement. I certainly know how magical this time is for you and here are my top tips:

Engagement Ring / Photo: Jeff Turnbull PhotographyGet yourself a manicure – Your hands and nails need to be in tip top condition to show off your sparkling new ring.

Ever practical me, check your insurance. Ensure that this beautiful new diamond ring is covered (God forbid that you should lose it or misplace a stone!)

Celebrate! Shout it from the roof tops if you like but make sure all your important people, especially older family members who don’t use social media, are given the fantastic news.

Now you can truly start planning your wedding.

Many couples have never undertaken such a huge task and although this will be a joyful time for you it can become quite a stressful time for you both. With hectic work schedules and even busier social lives it’s important to clarify a few essentials regarding your special day, so that you are starting on the right foot.

The most important thing to do first is to set your budget. No one really likes to talk about money, but it is important to do this, and do it first.

You may already have an idea of the style of wedding that you wish to have. Whether it be a beautiful, elegant marquee wedding in the countryside or in a London wedding venue, make sure you discuss what you would both really want.

Wedding Car, Essex Church Photo: Weddings By MaryInclude in these discussions whether you are planning a church or civil wedding ceremony, although you probably already know this.

Get your Bridal Party onboard. This may seem like an easy task but don’t underestimate this and remember that this is YOUR wedding and therefore you choose whomever you wish.

There will be an awfully long list of jobs and tasks to be undertaken so purchase yourself a pretty notebook or file to keep your records, ideas and plans neatly together. Pop a notebook by your bedside too for those brainwaves you have in the middle of the night!

Consider hiring a professional and experienced wedding planner. Professional and Experienced wedding planner, London & Essex based / Photo: Douglas FryPlanning a wedding can take over 250 hours which is a huge number of additional hours to find, especially if you are juggling hectic work and social schedules. Many offer different levels of services from Full Wedding Planning to Partial Wedding Planning and Wedding Day Management.

Weddings By Mary has created a FREE GUIDE which provides further tips on getting your wedding plans started. Simply click on the link to receive your copy.

Happy Wedding Planning xXx

Signature of experienced and professional wedding planner Mary Briscoe

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How Much Does a UK Wedding Planner Cost?

This is a good question and one that, as an experienced and professional wedding planner I am often asked. It is universally thought that only those couples getting married who have an above average wedding budget* can afford and benefit from the services of a wedding planner. Not true!

Every experienced and professional wedding planner will charge slightly differently but on the whole most UK wedding planners will charge between 10 – 15% of your total budget spend to fully plan your wedding, with a minimum fee applicable.Bride & Bridesmaids, Essex Marquee Wedding / Photo: Studio Rouge Photography

A Full Wedding Planning service generally includes locating your perfect wedding venue, sourcing high quality, trusted wedding suppliers, organising and attending meetings with florists, photographers, caterers, cake designers, make-up and hair trials and acting as the main point of contact for all those involved in the wedding day.

Having an extensive network and knowledge of professional wedding suppliers, a wedding planner can ensure that they are not only totally confident with the suppliers they recommend to their clients but are also a suitable and a perfect fit for the bride & groom. A wedding planners’ role for a Full Wedding Planning service will also include all the administration, or “wedmin” as it is affectionally known in the industry. The wedmin can be a little mind blowing and time consuming when planning your wedding; juggling every supplier’s specific requests and linking them all altogether can become a logistical nightmare.

What you need to bear in mind is that on average it can take 250 hours to plan your wedding. With today’s busy work schedules and hectic social lives that is a huge amount of additional time to find. If you needed to build an extension on your home you would 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?

With such an important occasion you don’t want to look back and wish you’d done things differently.

Wedding Car Transport / Photo: Studio Rouge PhotographyThe other service wedding planners offer is Partial Wedding Planning. Many couples often wish to plan their big day. But as the months start to tick away, the ever-growing list of tasks, the seemingly endless stream of emails, calls and paperwork from wedding suppliers that planning a wedding entails can suddenly become very overwhelming.

Most wedding planners will take up the reins around 3 months prior to the wedding, enabling the bride & groom to really enjoy the lead up to their special day.

This can be the most difficult wedding planning service to quote for as it will depend on the stage the happy couple are at with their planning and what tasks still need to be completed. Potentially, wedding suppliers may still need to be sourced, guest management compiled along with many other factors. The wedding planner will need to clearly set out not only what aspects of the planning they will undertake but just as importantly what they won’t undertake. They will therefore base their role on the hours they feel it will take to continue with the wedding planning.

Don’t forget that both Full Wedding Planning and Partial Wedding Planning include the wedding planner attending the wedding day itself, usually being the first to arrive and the last to leave.

Finally there is Wedding Day Management or On The Day Wedding Co-ordination as it is also known. The A blushing bride & her bridesmaids, Essex Wedding Venue / Photo: Leah Van Zyl Photographyfee for this wedding planning service usually ranges between £800 – £1,500 and again will be dependent on the hours the wedding planner will be required. Wedding Day Management however doesn’t just include the experienced and professional wedding planner to assist on the wedding day itself. Many wedding planners will meet with the couple a prior to the big day to run through the details, contact all the wedding suppliers to make their introductions as well as put together a comprehensive time plan of the day.

As a member of the UK Alliance of Wedding Planners (UKAWP) Weddings By Mary doesn’t accept commission. Double check with your wedding planner whether they accept commission from the suppliers that they use as this can make a difference to your wedding budget.

Read the UKAWP’s blog on the subject of how much do wedding planners charge for further great advise.

Signature of experienced and professional wedding planner Mary BriscoeUKAWP Logo

(*The average UK wedding costs approximately £30,000)

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Wedding Traditions, Silver Six Pence in Your Shoe / Photo: Studio Rouge Photography
Tips on Creating Your Perfect Wedding Budget

As an experienced and professional wedding planner, I am passionate about weddings. However, I do appreciate that whenever anyone utters the word ‘wedding’ pound signs suddenly appear and someone, usually the bride’s parents or the future Groom, break out into a cold sweat!

Establishing your wedding budget is THE most important task that you should undertake first.

1. Important Conversations
It’s not very romantic and let’s be honest no one likes to talk about money. However, it is very important to have that all-important conversation, not only with each other but also with family members who you feel may wish to offer a financial contribution. Knowing what their financial input will be from the start will assist you in your planning journey.Precious moments, Essex wedding / Photo: Studio Rouge Photography

2. Saving
What monies have you already saved and where could you start to save? We all love a cheeky cappuccino or two, or a weekend away, so why not cut back on these during the wedding planning period? As the saying goes ‘look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves.’

3. Priorities
Prioritise what is important to you as a couple. Remember, this is your day and what is important to you as a couple may not necessarily be important to someone else for their wedding. A key trend for 2019 is making weddings more personal. Adding special personal touches that are an essential part of you, either as a couple or individually. Everyone’s priorities for their wedding are different, so set yours from the start. For you perhaps providing your guests with fabulous unforgettable food and endless flowing drinks is important or maybe you have your heart set on a top professional wedding photographer or an awesome floor-filling band.

4. How do you want your wedding to feel?
What one word would you use to describe your wedding? How do you want the day to feel and, just as importantly, how do you want your guests to feel on your special day?

But why?

Wedding Tablescape, Essex Marquee Wedding / Photo: Studio Rouge PhotographyWhen you are out rather than impulse buy you can think rationally as to whether it will fit in with what you really want for your special day. You may be thinking classic. You may want more a more elegant wedding, or you could be thinking rustic or vintage. It’s very easy to sit on your laptop or mobile phone and scroll through websites and click ‘Buy Now’ just because it looks pretty and it’s only a few pounds. But before you know it those ‘few pounds’ will add up and may well end up with lots of bits and pieces that you don’t really need or actually use.

Be honest with yourself and try not to compare your wedding to something you see on Pinterest.

5. Wedding Day Savings
There are of course plenty of tips and ideas that you can explore to help with your wedding budget. For instance, why not have canapés as your starter and your wedding cake as dessert. Also, remember every guest does have a price tag attached, so be sensible and consider wisely when compiling that all-important guest list. Another 10 guests doesn’t sound many but add into the mix, table, chairs, linen, crockery, china, glassware, floral arrangements, place cards and favours to name but a few. You haven’t, as yet added that fabulous food and drink you are planning to offer. Why not read my blog on creating your guests list https://www.weddingsbymary.co.uk/compile-important-wedding-guest-list/ as your guest numbers will have the greatest impact on your wedding budget?

6. Budget Schedule
Finally, create a budget planner to help you keep track of all your wedding finances. A simple spreadsheet will suffice. List all the wedding items you will need then allocate an amount to each, bearing in mind that approximately 45% of your total budget will be on the reception (venue hire, food & drink) with the remaining 55% towards everything else. Make sure that you all also have a 5% contingency for those unexpected surprises.

Then when you start the planning process you can add in the actual costs as well as keeping a note of when any interim or final payments are due to be made.Time to Celebrate & Party

Clearly, it can be very easy to get carried away in all the excited and lose control of your spending. But hopefully, these tips will help you keep on top of your costs and avoid approaching your special day thinking “how on earth are we going to pay for this?”

Part of my service as an experienced and professional wedding planning is to create a budget planner and keep a close eye on your wedding planning budget therefore helping you spend wisely.

Signature of experienced and professional wedding planner Mary Briscoe

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2019 Wedding Trends

Wow 2018 is so very nearly drawing to a close.

In the year that we were lucky enough to have not one but two royal weddings, we also saw an explosion of floral extravagance. Meghan & Harry along with Eugenie & Jack gave us two very personal weddings, which I believe as an experienced and professional wedding planner, will one of the biggest trends for next year that we will see.

More couples started to think about looking up at the ceiling of their wedding venue or marquee. We saw more hanging floral arrangements and lanterns strung. Throughout 2018 there was the trend of bringing the outdoors in. Think tall trees, greenery and foliage but inside and this will continue into 2019.Mary Briscoe, Experienced & Professional Wedding Planner, Marquee Wedding | Rebecca Farries Photography

Long guest tables were immensely popular; however, I personally prefer the social element of round tables. This was debated over on my Facebook page back in October and there is certainly a number of positives for each option. But what option would you choose?

Every year we have the hype of a new colour theme release and the wedding industry as a whole get very excited. We almost hold our breath in anticipation to know what the colour will be. Pantone’s colour theme for 2018 was Ultra violet (think a certain sweet company’s purple!) It made the perfect partner to gold, but couples also started to step away from the popular rose gold and opt for a more metallic touch in the form of copper.

For 2019 Pantone have given us Living Coral, a bright, sunny, pinky-orange which will certainly add a vibrant pop of colour to any wedding, party or celebration. Dulux however have chosen a complete contrast to Pantone for next year with their choice of Spiced Honey. They say it is sophisticated, warm and elegant – now that sounds like my kind of colour!

Food is probably one of the most talked about elements to a wedding or celebration. No one wants to get it wrong. Not fully breaking away from the traditional sit down wedding breakfast, but perhaps opting for a dessert and coffee station, giving guests the chance to mingle and graze at a more leisurely pace. Wedding food is definitely seeing a change, and this will continue into the 2019 wedding season.

Weddings are also becoming much more reflective of the couple and their personalities. In 2019 couples will be looking for a more relaxed feel to their special day, especially when planning the ceremony element. The use of a wedding celebrant to provide not only a more personal tailored service but also the place in which they marry will be far more reflective of this. Weddings are often steeped in tradition, which of course I love, but I also love it when couples tweak these giving a much more personal feel. This could be from speeches before the wedding breakfast and with the bride and maid of honour also saying a few words. These are ideas that work beautifully, especially when incorporated into the planning schedule.

I am most certainly not a wedding dress designer, but I can see brides opting for more simple and classic wedding dresses in 2019, especially after the beautiful dresses worn by Meghan & Eugenie. Their dresses were simply stunning. Meghan’s gorgeous long veil certainly added that extra wow factor and although Eugenie opted for no veil it truly reflected her style and grace. More brides will also opt for two dresses; day and evening.

Here at Weddings By Mary you know that I love traditions and trends. But first and foremost, I want my clients to express their own vision and own ideas for their wedding day whether it be ‘on trend’ or not.

What every 2019 brings let it be your wedding choice.

Signature of experienced and professional wedding planner Mary Briscoe

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Wedding Planner Mary Briscoe with Happy Couple / Photo by Sophie Oldhamstead Photography

With the 2018 Christmas festivities nearly upon us, like most, I find myself reflecting on the year gone by.

Weddings By Mary has certainly flourished this year and I would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every couple and client for putting their trust in me as their experienced and professional wedding planner for the most special of celebrations.

It is truly a huge honour to be part of any happy couples’ special day and I very much feel a personal connection, even if for a short period of time, and at times feel part of the family. I am immensely proud of the business that I am building and with every wedding, party and celebration that I plan that passion grows.

2018 has seen me present at The National Wedding Show in Birmingham, where I spoke about the importance of wedding budget setting; I instigated Weddings By Mary’s blog stories, which in turn has led to being featured on The English Wedding Blog and Bridal Musings; I have been invited to speak on my local BBC Essex Radio Station several times, and have recently been interviewed for Essex Living Magazines February 2019 issue.

I was also delighted to be nominated as a regional finalist for The Weddings Industry Awards East of England Wedding Planner of the Year category.

UKAWP logoI am also passionate about my own personal development. Although I have a wealth of experience and knowledge, built up over the last 20 or so years in the wedding industry, I believe in continuing to expand that knowledge base. As a member of The UK Alliance of Wedding Planners I have attended several courses as well as assisted with the planning of their annual Mix & Mingle event which included participating in my first styled shoot. I have also had the opportunity to assist fellow wedding planners, expanding my contact base and experiencing and learning from others within the industry.

2018 was also the time to shake up the Weddings By Mary brand. Under the valuable guidance of Nicki from Branding By Nicki my new logo and brand style was created along with a revamped website.

Weddings by Mary is all about authenticity, traditions, romance and a sense of calm which I hope shines through.

Proud owner Mary of Weddings By Mary / Photo by HJ-Photography.co.ukI also stepped out of my comfort zone and held my first personal branding shoot, under the excellent direction of the talented Hiral of HJ-Photography. We had to postpone the shoot once because of really cold, wet weather but we still ended up holding the shoot with snow on the ground.

Visibility has been a key learning factor for me throughout 2018. If you follow Weddings By Mary on Facebook & Instagram you will, I hope, have certainly noticed that I have come out from behind the screen a lot more. With the wedding planning services that I offer, clients are ‘buying’ not only my wealth of experience and knowledge as a professional wedding and events planner but primarily they are buying me. Clients, and wedding suppliers alike, both present and future really need to get to know Mary Briscoe, as a person.

Last, but not least I launched my new wedding service Bridal Sessions. I felt that there was a gap in the wedding industry that with my wealth of knowledge I wanted to be able to share. This new service is especially aimed at couples who may not wish to use the full wedding planning or partial wedding planning services which I offer but at some point, in their own wedding planning journey could benefit from some expert guidance.

I hope that you continue to read Wedding By Mary’s Blogs. There are plenty more exciting and useful articles planned for the coming year. If, however you have any questions that you would like me to answer via a blog piece then please let me know, they are all written with you in mind.

Thank you for being part of Weddings By Mary throughout 2018 and here’s to 2019…. and beyond.

Champagne reception bubblesSignature of experienced and professional wedding planner Mary Briscoe


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Wedding Car Transport / Photo: Studio Rouge Photography
Need some Wedding Planning Guidance?

With so much to do and so much to organise it can be hard to even know where to start or indeed which way to turn to plan your wedding.

Many couples wish to plan their big wedding day. Initially setting out their budget, discussing their ideas, sourcing the perfect wedding venue and team of wedding suppliers, creating and sending out the wedding invitations and keeping an eye on 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 swiftly become somewhat overwhelming.

When you are ready to start your wedding planning grab a coffee, tea or wine, whichever is your preference plus pen and paper. Find a quiet spot then write yourself a wish list. A list of all the things that you would like for your wedding. Getting everything down on paper helps to not only help you to start the planning process but also to relieve your mind of the million and one things rushing through it.

As an experienced, professional and down to earth wedding planner, who has a wealth of knowledge when it comes to planning a wedding or special celebration, I can offer practical advice, guidance, tips and inspiration for any engaged couple.Weddings By Mary, Wedding & Party Celebrations Planner / Photo: HJ-Photography.co.uk

Having been involved in weddings for over 25 years and experienced them from almost every possible angle first hand (I was a wedding venue manager for 10 years, a Sessional Registrar, ran my own outside catering business, as well as being a bride once myself). I can certainly understand that if you have never undertaken planning any type of celebration before it is a massive undertaking and one that you will want to make special, exciting and unforgettable.

There are lots of little things that you won’t even think of or know about, but I will. These will make a difference, not only to your planning, but some might also save you money, time and stress.

Whether you just want to know where to start, have a conversation about a particular idea or perhaps you would like to talk through your plans from beginning to end to make sure that you have got everything covered, Weddings By Mary offers Bridal Sessions. These sessions have been designed to assist you plan your big day with fun, expert guidance and sound, informative advice. They consist of Bridal Burst, The Power Hour or Afternoon Tea Inspiration.

Planning a wedding should be a really fun and enjoyable time. But let’s be honest, at times it will get stressful. So, when this happens identify your concerns and talk together about your anxieties. Any doubts can fester so deal with them head-on as soon as possible. Confronting them and taking action will instantly reduce stress levels. It is also good to acknowledge the smaller niggles and perhaps accept them.

It’s sometimes helpful to take some time out from wedding planning and give yourself a breather. Whether this is a ‘wedding free weekend’ or a weekend away to recharge together, this may be just what you need.

Why not contact me to receive your FREE guide to GETTING YOU WEDDING PLANS STARTED which includes some really useful tips?

Signature of experienced and professional wedding planner Mary Briscoe

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Five Tips On Why You Should Host A Winter Wedding

What images conjure up in your mind when you think of Winter weddings? Cosy log fires, beautiful long velvet capes, a dusting of snow, warming spiced drinks & twinkling candle light?

It all sounds so romantic doesn’t it? So why not have your wedding during the magical winter season?

As an experienced and professional wedding planner here are my five ideas and tips on the benefits of hosting a winter wedding:

One of the bonuses of hosting your wedding in the winter is the cost implication.  A venue you set your heart on may not have availability during the summer but will offer a much more cost-effective rate for the winter months.

Although December may be a slightly more expensive winter month, it will not be nearly as much as in the height of the summer busy wedding season. You could also make use of the venue’s festive decorations, to save even more of your budget on décor.

November is perfect as it is pre-festive season. Why not really get the party ball rolling with a stunning firework display, to add that extra sparkle?

A January wedding mind you does give everyone something to look forward to after all the madness of the New Year has passed, especially if it is later in the month.

#TOP TIP: Double check with your venue that fireworks are permitted and whether you are required to use a specific company

Wedding Rings / Photo: Rebecca Farries Photography2. HAY FEVER & WASP FREE
Everyone immediately thinks of weddings as summer occasions. The thought of hosting the drinks reception outside with the sun shining warm and bright, the sound of children running freely around and lashings of lovely fruity Pimms and buckets of ice-cold beers.

But, then along come the wasps. Your guests start to waft their arms about frantically or shift around constantly, with the odd light-hearted scream and dash. You know who they are and can picture them already can’t you?

Those of you who suffer from Hay Fever will most certainly want to consider avoiding the summer months. Streaming eyes don’t make for the prettiest of photographs, however much your photographer can edit.

#TOP TIP: Don’t forget to check if there is a cloakroom or coat rail available for guests to use as you more than likely don’t want unsightly rain macs spoiling your wedding reception appearance.

Just because you book your wedding in the summer doesn’t mean that you are guaranteed to have beautiful blue skies and the sun shining bright on you and your guests. (Although you would have been very lucky this year, albeit a little too warm at 34 degrees in a three-piece suit).

If you decide upon a winter wedding you know that it will probably be chilly. However you could also be lucky and have a bright crisp winters day. If it does rain at least you knew that could possibly be the case and purchase some umbrellas, perhaps to match your colour theme, just in case. I have however known December weddings to have most of their photographs captured outside as it was such a beautiful, warmish and sunny day.

Imagine a bride not only wrapped up warm and cosy in a stunning white winter cape but also wrapped in her new husband’s arms too. What’s not to love?

#TOP TIP: Don’t skimp on a professional photographer. They will take amazing photographs come rain or shine and will make the most of the winter light


Now I’m not stylist but even I can picture a wonderful, magical winter wedding scene. Crunchy & frosty under foot, twinkling white lights, lots of gorgeous pillar candles, perhaps a delicate dusting of snow, with a warming, crackling log fire…. the enchanted feel good factor is endless.

If you are wanting to embrace the whole Christmas feel for your winter wedding then you can really let your imagination run wild. Why not try either beautiful pale blue, sparkling silver and crisp whites or opt for truly festive rich reds and emerald greens with holly wreaths and mistletoe hung?

You could opt for a mini Christmas tree with gift tags for guests to write a special message to you which they then leave hung on the tree. A gorgeous guest book alternative.Christmas Wedding Wishing Tree, London / Photo by Weddings By Mary

#TOP TIP: Check when the venue put up their festive decorations as well as their choice of colour scheme. You don’t want it to clash. Do also double check that they permit candles.

How about serving spicy mulled wine or warm winter Pimms for your wedding reception? Such enticing smells to tempt your guests and warm their hands! Exactly what winter is all about, tempting and teasing the taste buds (and expanding the waistline!)

During the evening celebrations, as well as serving traditional coffee and tea, why not offer mugs of warming, rich hot chocolate topped with whipped cream and marshmallows. How lovely would this be for adults & children alike?

#TOP TIP: Have the hot drinks served on a separate table station, which will give guests the chance to move about, stretch their legs and mingle with other guests.

If you have always dreamt about a summer wedding, why not switch your thinking and dare to be different!


Signature of experienced and professional wedding planner Mary Briscoe

This Blog was written for and featured on Bridal Musings

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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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