|Ben & Claudia tied the knot in 2013|
2014 has proven to be a popular year for weddings at Dartmoor Zoo with over twenty couples saying, "I do" at the zoo in the company of over 2000 guests.
We started the year with Sarah and David who tied the knot on a surprisingly sunny March afternoon. They had a selection of their closest friends celebrate their special day using the Manor House as the backdrop for their ceremony and the restaurant for their reception.
In August with much better weather, Matt and Gail had their ceremony outside the Manor House allowing their guests to top up their tan in the open air. The celebration continued in the marquee situated in the heart of the zoo amongst the tigers, cheetah and monkeys.
Our two remaining weddings are in October, but there’s no time to rest with the calendar for 2015 already looking much busier! What have we learnt from the experiences of 2014?
Prepare, prepare, prepare. Many of our wedding couples across the years have thought planning a wedding was easy, until it came to their special day. Planning a wedding is like a military operation, everything must be planned to perfection, and when I say everything, I mean everything. Here are our top tips when planning your wedding:
- Know the date: It sounds obvious but be sure when contacting a venue that you know the exact date you are looking for. Good venues fill up very fast and their prices depend specifically on the day and date you are looking for. The venue won't be able to give you an accurate idea of costs without a date.
- TIP: Weekdays outside of school holidays tend to be cheaper.
- TIP: Give guests a strict deadline; normally venues will say 6 weeks prior to the wedding so tell your guests you need to know eight weeks before your big day. At the end of the day you are paying for it, so don’t be afraid to push!
|Claire & Paul tied the knot in 2014|
- TIP: keeps costs and complications to a minimum, only offer your guests one option for their main meal.
- TIP: Shop around with companies, sometimes they throw in table runners or sweet carts which can really improve the ambiance of your wedding. Your venue should have good contacts and will normally offer a reduced rate.
- TIP: Ask the venue if they have an easel or something similar. This will save you a few quid and will make the room look much more sophisticated.
- TIP: Ask the venue if they have an in-house photographer. Chances are they do and this photographer knows the venue inside out. They know where the best photo opportunities are and chances are they are given more freedom than someone the staff don’t know, meaning your photos will be that little bit more special.
|Sadie and Chris met Vlad on their special day in 2014|
- TIP: As above shop around and use your contacts. There must be a friend out there who knows a sweet shop. Use them, you’ll save bundles. But remember, make sure you let the venue know well in advance, they will need the boring, necessary stuff like Public Liability Insurance.
- TIP. Arrange a ceremony rehearsal a few days before the wedding or if this isn’t possible, practice at home. Make all your mistakes before the big day!
- TIP: Ask the venue in advance if they have signs to use around their venue. If not jump on EBay, ‘Wedding ceremony this way’ signs can be as cheap as £3.
- TIP. Make sure you plan your itinerary with your guests in mind – leaving a big gap between the ceremony and the food is not a good idea, throw in a bouncy castle or a photo booth here, and trust us it works!
Finally, help the venue as much as possible: At the end of the day the venue are the people making sure your wedding goes exactly as you planned. If you don’t tell them what you’ve planned, how are they going to ensure it happens?
So follow the above steps to ensure your wedding runs smoothly and that all your guests leave with memories as cherished as yours.
For more handy tips follow @DZPEvents on twitter.