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It’s not every day I get excited about a train. Well actually I’ve never got excited about a train until now. I’ve been chatting with the lovely Russell of Lake and Land Train Hire who has a super cute land train that can be hired for weddings and events.

wedding train_ the wedding dolls

Russell tells me “the train is fully road legal so it can go on public highway” (you just need to get a vehicle special order) meaning you can get guests from Church to reception in the most fun and unique way ever. The Land Train has two carriages which can seat around 36 passengers.

The cost of hire is £1995 for one day with an additional £900 for an extra day. This cost includes delivery, all fuel, insurance and a qualified Driver plus your very own Conductor. The cost is slightly less if you just need one carriage. For a full quote email the man himself at russell.lakeandland@gmail.com.

Happy Planning!

Emma x

  

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So most of our lovely blog readers will know by now that we were at the Wedding Fair, Bluewater a few weeks ago and were awestruck by just how many of you have a secret desire to be a wedding planner. Now we know what a fabulous job it is but we also know just how hard it is to establish yourself in a very competitive industry. So whilst we can’t profess to know the best route to achieving your dream job, to help those of you out there who want to get into the wonderful world of weddings, here are our top tips.

1. Get some experience

Easier said than done I know. Between myself and Joanne we have nearly 20 years experience working at and managing events (god that makes us sound ancient) but experience is what counts. You’ll always learn with every event you do but the basics will give you a good idea as to what it takes. We would love to be able to give work experience to everyone that asks, but as a small business our time is spent directly with clients or doing really boring admin stuff. See tip 4!

We have two wedding assistants that work with us when we need an extra pair of hands, and we have spent time and lots of energy training them for exactly what we need. Most small companies will be the same but it doesn’t mean you can’t get good experience elsewhere. See tip 2!

 

Joanne at Hever Castle

2.Look for alternatives

From jobs in catering, to floristry and window dressing we both had Saturday jobs that filled our passion for creativity and fuelled our desire to work in marketing and events. Going straight in as a wedding planner might not be an option but waitressing or working behind a bar can give you a basic insight into customer behaviour, what makes a good party and how to deal with the demands of a busy crowd.

3. Paid Experience Counts

Lots of you have the wedding planning bug from organising your own wedding and its a great start on the experience ladder. However paying clients will tell you exactly where you’ve gone wrong, one of your own wedding guests is unlikely too.

4. You’ll have to learn how to run your own business

This means delving the murky depths of excel spreadsheets, invoicing, the dreaded HMRC and managing sales projections and expenses claims. You’ll also need basic marketing, SEO and PR skills, lots of creativity and live in the knowledge that you won’t be earning enough to buy a Mulberry handbag each payslip for the foreseeable future.

 

mac

 

5. Start talking

You will need the major desire to tell everyone about your business at every opportunity you get. Bar staff, the gym instructor, your hairdresser (very important) the sales assistant in Topshop, Mrs Goggins at the Post Office and the delivery blokes from Ocado are just the tip of the iceberg. So when I say everyone I really do mean everyone. You’ll need to spread the word far and wide.

6. Try before you buy

You won’t be able to afford to hire in services to begin with so until you earn enough to be able to pay a professional to do the bits you can’t, you’ll have to do it yourself, learn as you go and die trying. Quick it isn’t.

All we can say really is don’t give up. There are so many brilliant suppliers who we work with who have struggled to establish their businesses and like any other industry there really is no quick route or substitute to experience and good old fashioned hard work.

If you want more info about being a wedding planner than read Joannes interview here.

Good luck and let us know how you get on!

Emma x

 

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Wedding Planning

Wow what a week! We had an absolutely brilliant weekend at the Wedding Fair, Bluewater. It was lovely to meet so many new Brides plus heaps of excited Bridesmaids, Mother of the Brides and many a happy Groom too! Over the three days we also got the chance to catch up with many of our Facebook and blog followers who also came to say hello.

We ran a competition over the weekend to win our services and have picked our lucky winner. We’re so looking forward to working with them to plan a fabulous wedding. Plus if you asked us for a quote and haven’t received it yet do drop us an email. Joanne is always telling me off about my terrible handwriting and it seems I’m not alone as we’re having trouble reading a few email addresses given to us. We haven’t forgotten you, we just can’t reach you, so please drop us a line!

All that leaves us to say is a huge thanks to the organisers of the fair especially Matt, Jenna and Laura who were absolutely fantastic and went all out to give happy couples a brilliant show.

Happy Planning!

Emma x

 

 

Do you need a little bit of extra planning help? If the answer is yes then our Dolly Hours are the perfect way to pay as you plan. You simply buy our expertise by the hour and use the hours whenever you them, whatever you need them for. They are great for busy couples who want to do most of the planning themselves but just need a little bit of professional advice here and there.

Dolly Hours can be used for things like sourcing suppliers, obtaining quotes, creating styling boards and setting up planning schedules. It’s completely up to you – it’s like your very own wedding pick and mix!

Each Dolly Hour costs £35 but if you book your Dolly Hours before the end of March 2014 we’ll give you an extra hour FREE for every three hours you book. Simply quote “HelloFreeHour” when you drop us a line.

We think they make great presents for recently engaged couples! Just ask us for a gift card when booking.

Happy Planning!

Emma & Joanne x

It’s nearly here!!

We are back at The Wedding Fair, Bluewater from the 7th to 9th February, where we’ll be offering our wedding advice completely free of charge to all that come and visit our stand.

You can either book a slot with us prior to the fair by calling Joanne direct or look out for our wedding planning wall on Stand L18, simply turn up and we’ll do our very best to answer any wedding worries or queries you have there and then! 

CHALKBOARD the_wedding_dolls

Design by Pretty Wild Wed

At the fair you’ll find so many ideas for wedding inspiration as well as lots of fabulous suppliers – many of whom we have worked with before. A brilliant new addition to the fair are our fabulous friends over at Creative Brides, who are running a Vintage Village so you can get your fix of all things DIY.

If you wasn’t lucky enough to win a pair of tickets in our Facebook competition last week don’t forget you can still save 25% by quoting WB28 when buying your tickets online.

We’ll see you there!

Emma & Joanne x

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Earlier this week we shared a post from Rock n Roll Bride on Facebook about using inexperienced friends and family as your official wedding photographer. From the issues this post raises we thought it would be the perfect time to share with you a guest post by photographer Rebecca Douglas (first shown this time last year).

Here the very lovely and talented Rebecca gives you the low down on what you need to look for when booking your wedding photographer. Let’s find out more from the gal herself…….

Rebecca Douglas guests on the_wedding_dolls

Rebecca Douglas – In front of the camera for once!

 

”Hi Everyone, I hope that this quick tutorial will give you enough info to confidently pick your photographer but before we get onto us photographer types remember that to start with its all about you…

What do you want from your wedding photography?

Start by asking yourself some simple questions.

What’s your style? Do you like traditional, documentary, modern and edgy or retro and vintage?

What do you want captured on the day? Is it from arrival at the ceremony until the last dance, longer or less?

Do you want an album or DVD only with all of the images, or both?

What is your budget? Photography is the only lasting reminder of your day so think carefully about what have you budgeted. Is it realistic?

wedding_blog_rebecca_douglas_photography_The_Great_Barn_Rolvenden062



Let the Research Begin

Start by searching for photographers on Google and look at review websites, blogs and social media.

If you see a photographer you like what is your gut reaction to their images? Do you love, like or just think ok? You should LOVE LOVE LOVE!

Draw up a short list of possibles, then try pinning their images (Pinterest is a great research tool) and keep comparing. Contact them to see if they are free on your wedding date. It’s also a good chance to see what their speed of response is like. Are they efficient and good at getting back to you as the customer?

Cath & Craig's Wedding at Ratsbury Barn & The George at Cranbrook by Rebecca Douglas Photography 0330
The Images

When you’ve done enough pinning take a good look at the photos and ask yourself the following questions:

Can you see yourself in the images? Are the key moments captured? Are the images sharp? Do the images look well lit? Do the people look comfortable and relaxed? Are the images taken from flattering angles? Hint: all the answers should be YES!

Meeting your Photographer

When you meet with the photographer have a checklist of questions that link to your list of priorities. It’s also important that you strike up an instant rapport and you’re happy that they are focused on you and your day.

Cath & Craig's Wedding at Ratsbury Barn & The George at Cranbrook by Rebecca Douglas Photography 0106

The Essentials

Lastly you need to do a bit of admin! Make sure your photographer has public liability and public indemnity insurance as well as professional (full-frame cameras) and back up gear. Read their terms and condition carefully. Also check they have back up on and off site for images so they are not lost forever! It’s also helpful at this point to see what images you will get (how many and what resolution) and your rights to print and upload. It’s worth asking how they will use them and will they Photoshop and edit images, plus you need to find out how quickly you will get the images and/or albums after the wedding.

It’s really important too that you can see yourself smiling at your photographer for the whole of your wedding day and you are super comfortable with them. If so, the experience will be so much more enjoyable especially if you are a bit camera shy. It’s also a great idea to have an engagement shoot to get comfortable as a couple in front of the camera and work with your photographer prior to the day.

Good luck with your photographer and have a fantastic wedding day!”

Massive thanks Rebecca and if you’re just starting out on your wedding planning, pop over to this post that gives you more advice on picking your suppliers.

All images: Rebecca Douglas Photography

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Wedding Planning

In 2013 Dolly on the Day become our most popular service and with bookings flying in for 2014 it’s set to become even more in demand as many couples realise they want all their careful planning to go without a hitch.

When we get planning enquiries we’re always asked what the benefits are of hiring an independent wedding planner rather than just using the in-house venue planner. Well in a little nutshell – the venue coordinator works for the venue and the wedding planner works for YOU.

Still thinking “why would I need to pay out for someone else to oversee my wedding day when the venue has someone for free” right? Well here’s our quick five point guide for some extra info…

1. Save Time

We spend the majority of our time sourcing and working with different wedding suppliers. We know who to go to, why and what their areas of expertise are.  This saves one heck of a lot of time in researching and getting samples and quotes. If you’re a busy couple research time is the biggest bug bear but it’s definitely the one area you need to get right. Taking time off work to look at venues or chasing down quotes can become really stressful. We can cut down on serious pavement pounding or internet trawling hours for you both so you can concentrate of other areas of your planning (and life!).

2. Save Money

Yes we know it sounds a bit weird saying you’ll need to pay a wedding planner but you’ll save money. Huh? How’s that? Well just like in our saving time example we also secure discounts with other suppliers to get the best deal for our clients. The suppliers are also happy to reduce the cost as they’re dealing with us and know that we’ll be able to give them quick answers to their questions and have a full brief to get on with the task in hand. This means with less for them to organise directly they’ll reduce the cost of their service (sometimes considerably!)

joannemaltawedding

3. Personalised Service

By using a planner couples are able to stay in complete control of their wedding planning. With one point of contact totally dedicated to them and their plans they can make changes or get updates in one quick phone call. No need to ring five suppliers or wait for calls back from various sources. It’s also easy to share problems and worries with a planner rather than family as they’re not involved in any of the emotional pulls and stresses. They can give you an independent view to help you deal with some of those issues and make a decision that’s right for you. Depending on your level of planning they will always be there on the end of the phone.

Joanne at Hever Castle

4. Budget Control

A planner is there to make sure you don’t go mad with your budget. Once it’s been set they will ensure you are keeping to target and can advise where changes may need to be made. They can also advise on where you can make savings and what DIY elements you can easily add in to save some pennies. In-house planners won’t manage the holistic budget process and will only look after costs associated with catering (if part of the venue service).

5. Full Planning Overview

Some venues will offer a planner as part of their venue hire package. Just make sure though you are clear that an in-house planner will only be managing what happens at the venue. They won’t have an overall view of your wedding and won’t be there as an assistant to you and your wedding party on the day.

If you think you’ll be okay with an in-house venue planner just be sure that you are clear on what they will and won’t do. Check little requirements you have like laying out favours and name places, getting presents for the bridal party and making sure guests are in the right place at the right time. Also check that the wedding planner will actually be working on your day of the wedding (surprising but we’ve been called in at the last minute when the couple finds the in-house planner isn’t actually there on the big day).

There are of course many outstanding venue coordinators who go above and beyond the call of duty to ensure their clients have a perfect day. We have worked alongside some fabulous ones in Kent and together we have formed a great team. Nonetheless, it’s important to remember that the venue coordinator will manage the venue including its own staff, the catering, service and the room changes but us wedding planners have a bigger priority. We make sure your whole wedding runs smoothly and we manage the entire day from start to finish.

If you think you might need some extra help then give us a call for your free consultation.

Emma & Joanne  x

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It is a total privilege helping couples create the wedding of their dreams – if this wasn’t special enough, meeting and working with so many amazing suppliers in the industry is the icing on the (wedding) cake – sorry couldn’t resist!

Without awesome suppliers we wouldn’t be able to give our couples the best day of their lives. So we choose who we work with very carefully and a lot of time and effort goes into building relationships with like-minded suppliers that have the same ethos about weddings as we do. Each supplier gives 100% to every couple, 100% of the time, and so we have loved working with them all.

Recommendation is really key to finding and being able to trust your wedding suppliers. Ask around and make sure you have done your research carefully. Although lots of you tell us you hate going, visiting a few wedding fairs really does give you the chance to meet suppliers face-to-face and get a feel for them and their work. Vital in building a good relationship.

Just like us other suppliers will in turn be happy to recommend other companies you might need and you can gradually grow your network of possibles. Make sure you get quotes before you jump in so you are clear what you are paying for and then contrast and compare carefully. Most suppliers we will  be happy to give you a free consultation before you decide 100% too.

Here are a few snapshots of work created for The Wedding Dolls couples by just some of our fabulous wedding suppliers over the last year and our little chance to thank them all.

Oh and how can we not thank the brilliant photographers who captured our suppliers amazing work!

Kay Young PhotographyRebecca Douglas PhotographyJackson and CoDanni Beach and Martin Briggs

Enjoy and happy researching!

J. x

 

 

 

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Your Beautiful Day and Pamela Brise Floristry

 

 

 

Don’t miss Joanne’s wedding advice featured in the January 2014 edition of Your Kent Wedding.

your kent wedding the_wedding_dolls Screen Shot 2014-01-05 at 18.26.52

She gives you her top tips for planning the perfect day including advice on dealing with difficult relatives and making sure you’ve got a timed wedding plan worthy of a professional! You can download the magazine direct from County Wedding Magazines.

Happy Reading!

Emma x

Images: thanks to County Wedding Magazines

We’re so excited to be back at The Wedding Fair, Bluewater in February, where we’ll be offering our wedding advice completely free of charge to all that come and visit our stand. You can either book a slot with us prior to the event by calling Joanne direct or just turn up and we’ll do our very best to answer any wedding worries or queries you have there and then.

At the fair you’ll find so many ideas for wedding inspiration as well as lots of fabulous suppliers – many of whom we have worked with before. A brilliant new addition to the fair are our fabulous friends over at Creative Brides, who are running a Vintage Village so you can get your fix of all things DIY.

The Wedding Fair at Glow, Bluewater

The Wedding Fair at Glow, Bluewater

We can’t wait for the fair and as usual we’ll be running our ticket giveaway in the next few weeks so pop back soon for more details.

Happy Planning

Emma x

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