Let’s be honest, we’d love to make our wedding day a spectacularly lavish affair. We dream of breathtaking styling and luxurious details, but that fantasy can be a little overwhelming if you don’t know what you’re doing. Trends are always changing, so even with advice from friends who have recently gotten hitched, you need a little help from someone who is up to date and in the know. The best person to turn to is a professional luxury wedding planner.
Fiona Deans-Dundas is the director of Couture Wedding Planning, an award winning luxury boutique wedding planning company based in Sydney's North Shore.
Fiona works with a wide range of tastes and visions, catering to each bride’s individual desires perfectly. According to Fiona, “a Couture Wedding couple is a couple who would like to plan an elegant and personalised wedding for them and their guests to enjoy”.
Fiona has years of experience and the foresight to help you avoid forgetting anything important or skipping a part of the process which you may regret. Basically, her advice is worth more than gold in wedding land!
So if you’re dreaming of a luxury wedding, here are some absolute “must-dos” according to the industry’s best.
- Start a Pinterest board
This is a great place to start, as you can quickly and easily get a good idea of what you do and don’t like.
According to Fiona, having a Pinterest board dedicated to your wedding will help you to naturally solidify what style of wedding you’re after. “You will find that you will most likely pin the same things or images that have the same feeling and this may evolve into your wedding’s style and theme.” If you’re looking for some inspiration, check out Couture Wedding Planning’s Pinterest board.
- Follow your heart, not the trends
While there are a whole lot of stunning wedding ideas online, make sure you remember your own individual style.
“It is very easy to get swept up in the wonderful world of wedding styling once you start, but stay true to yourself and go with something that resonates with you and not necessary on trend as after all, this is your wedding (not the person that you found on Instagram) and your wedding should reflect you as a couple and as individuals,” says Fiona.
- Make a wish list and prioritise it
This is where you turn the Pinterest board into a reality. Start with your wish list of items, then get a quotes and start to prioritise items and remove things that are less important to you.
- Create a colour scheme
Consistency in colour and tone adds an elegant and expensive air to any wedding.
This is a common suggestion, but only a professional luxury wedding planner knows how to take it to the next level. Fiona suggests: “contrasting size and texture are a wonderful way to add visual appeal. Take your colour cues from the wedding gown and bouquet and then feed them through the entire wedding palette to ensure it matches up”.
An easy way to do this is to bring a swatch of your bridesmaids dress and your gown if possible to your meeting with your florist and stylist.
- Don’t forget the ceremony
Fiona believes that the ceremony is actually the most important part of any wedding.
“As much as the reception is a wonderful party and a fantastic celebration for the couple and their family and friends, I feel the ceremony where the couple declare their love to each other in front of all the closest family and friends creates the most impact and the things that people will remember the most,” she says. So make sure you pay attention to the aesthetic of the more formal part of the day!
- First impressions count
Think about how you can wow your guests from the moment they lay eyes on your wedding. For Fiona, seeing this reflected in the couple is one of the most rewarding parts of her job.
“I absolutely adore when the couple see each other for the first time at the ceremony and then they declare their love for each other!!”
“I also love when the couples get to see the reception set up for the first time - I try to organise for all my couples to see the reception room before their guests walk in so they can see their complete vision come to life.”
As a professional luxury wedding planner, Fiona loves a good spread sheet!
Couture Wedding Planning prepares a comprehensive timeline for each couple. They also create budget spreadsheets, venue and photography comparison spreadsheets and a RSVP spreadsheet where they collect all the guests’ RSVPs for the couple. This takes the guesswork out of the planning process.
- Ask for help
Couples are so busy in the lead up to their wedding that often they don’t get a chance to enjoy their engagement. Hiring a professional who can guide you and share the load is such a valuable investment. Couture Wedding Planning offers a very boutique and personalised service.
“We only offer our VIP Haute Couture Wedding Planning package to three couples a year so we can provide them with an extremely detailed and personalised service.
“Another lovely feature is we offer our Haute Couture Couples an iPad Mini personalised with their names and wedding date as part of this VIP package,” says Fiona.
Couture Wedding Planning brings seven years of experience to their couple’s wedding planning as well as Award Winning service. They have recently won Wedding Planner of the Year Nationally for 2015 and 2016 awarded by the ABIA - Australian Bridal Industry Academy.
A wedding planner is a great option for multicultural marriages. Fiona explains; “we also offer our couples an extensive knowledge of different cultures and traditions. We are particularly well versed in Chinese Culture and Traditions such as Chinese Tea Ceremonies as well as other culture ceremonies and backgrounds such as Persian, Lebanese, Greek, Italian, African, Korean to name a few.”
If you are an Australian living overseas who wants to return to Sydney for your wedding, it’s also a good idea to employ a wedding planner. That way you have someone located on the ground to meet with suppliers, visit venues and make sure the wedding planning and the day itself will run smoothly.
- Work closely with your wedding planner
While it depends on the couple and their relationship dynamics, Fiona encourages couples to be involved in the planning process.
“Having the couple attend all the meetings with us, allows them to put their own personal stamp on their wedding and interact with the suppliers to create something unique.
Some of our couples are located overseas so they are unable to attend all the meeting but we do our best to either Skype with the suppliers or send comprehensive emails with both images and description to help our couples choose their dream team,” says Fiona.
- Understand the process
Fiona starts by meeting with a couple in a complementary initial consultation at the Couture Wedding Planning studio in Crows Nest.
Be prepared to discuss every element of the wedding from what styling you like, colour scheme, flowers, decorative elements you’d like to hire as well as the feel and mood you want to create.
The next step is to create a mood board of ideas that work with the feel and colour scheme. This is where your Pinterest board and magazine clippings come into play.
After this, the wedding planner meets with two or three florists to see what they can offer. According to Fiona: “it is extremely important to find florist that match the client’s look and feel they would like to create. For example if the couple are after beautiful Rose floral balls then is best to find a florist who is particularly skilled at this and maybe to avoid the rustic/hipster florist for that couple.”
Once the florist is locked in, Fiona will speak with various décor hire companies and get quotes for the remaining items the couples are after such as chandelier, candelabras, white dance floors, custom bridal table, ceremony arbours etc.
- Create an individual motif for styling
A styling motif allows you to create a personal and unique wedding perfect for you. “We love to create a personalised motif for each couple during the invitation stage of the wedding planning and then have this featured through out the wedding such on their ceremony aisle runner, menus, cake table and dance floor” says Fiona.
- Match the cake to your décor
The final piece of the styling puzzle is the wedding cake. Fiona says you want it to suit the rest of your styling: “I like to take each couple to see two or three cake makers, so they can create a custom sketch of a cake unique to the couple and see what ideas they can bring to the table. It is also important to have the couple do a cake tasting, as the cake has to taste as good as it looks”.
- Pay attention to detail
Here are Fiona’s key guidelines to make sure suppliers don’t catch you out:
- Read all the contracts before signing especially paying attention to your venue contract.
- Also ask your photographer how much extra sides cost in your album as this can be a huge cost that a lot of couples don't factor into their budget.
- Always do a final meeting with your key suppliers especially your wedding venue, photographer and florist.
- Always do a floral mock of your guest table centrepiece with your florist. This can often be an additional cost but it is worth its weight in gold.
- Always ask the store you are getting your dress from if the alterations are included or excluded.
- Make an emergency kit
Thinking of everything, Fiona recommends you put together an emergency kit for the wedding day. In it you should find plasters, dry shampoo, needle and thread, deodorant, breath mints etc.
- The little touches make all the difference
Little touches can add something special to your day. Fiona suggests adding some lace from your wedding dress to personalise your bouquet. She also encourages you make a hashtag for your wedding so everyone can see all the photos taken on the day.
A final word from Fiona at Couture Wedding Planning…
"To all the brides out there, good luck with planning your wedding and drop us a line if we can help in any way make your wedding process a stress free process for you."
Anyone who mentions this blog will get $500 off the Couture Wedding Day Coordination package worth $2,500 and includes three face to face meetings and eight hours of coordination on the wedding day. Check out the Couture Wedding Planning portfolio on their website.
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