So you’re engaged, and probably have hundreds of questions swirling around your mind. From guest lists to budgeting, there is so much to prepare and plan! Our wedding experts provide solutions to some of the most common questions we often hear.

Should I have the ceremony and reception in the same venue?

The answer to this question will be based on whether you want to have a religious or a civil ceremony. This decision is usually down to personal choice.  Religious weddings usually take place in a church, chapel or other registered religious buildings so a reception venue would have to be found elsewhere.   Civil ceremonies can take place in any licenced venue so, as with Old Down Manor, you can choose to spend the whole day in one place.

Who should be on the top table?

Traditionally, top tables seat 8 people; including the bride and groom, parents, maid of honour and the best man. The bride’s party should sit directly to the right of the groom, with his family to the left of his bride. However, don’t be afraid to organise a seating plan that goes against the ‘rules’. You could try one of the following:

  • Have your parents and chief bridesmaid seated on one side, with the grooms parents and best-man on the other. Or – consider just having the parents seated at the head table with you.
  • Have everyone on a round table.
  • Have all of your bridesmaids/ushers on the top table, with both sets of parents sitting with each other or other guests. Doing it this way means that they have the freedom to chat to guests.

At what time should I get married?

A good place to start is to think about the time of year, the type of light you want in your photographs and your locations.

  • Season:The sun sets in the late afternoon in Winter, so you’ll want to make sure you get married early afternoon – around 1pm. This means that you’ll be able to have some day light during your drinks reception and have your photographs whilst it’s still light and the sun is setting. In the Summer however, there is no restriction on light, so you can choose anytime during the day: although, you might want to steer clear of midday due to the very strong sun.
  • Location: If you are getting married in a church, or location away from your reception/evening venue, venue availability might dictate your timings. You need to make sure that, if the wedding site and the venue are different, you can match up the availability of both.  You will also want to think about travel times. If you have an early ceremony, you and your bridal party will have to get up very early in the morning to get ready and travel to the venue.

How long to do things take?

We’ve outlined a rough guide to allow you to map out your day:

  • Civil Ceremony – 30 mins
  • Church of England Church Ceremony – 45 mins
  • Catholic Church Ceremony –  1 hour
  • Drinks reception – usually 1.5 hours but can be an hour or 2 hours depending on your venue
  • Meal – a three course meal is usually just over 2 hours. A buffet is usually an hour.
  • Speeches – can be as short as 5 mins or as long as 2 hours. It really depends on how many people talking and what they have to say.

Should you buy gifts for your bridal party and what should you get them?

Our wedding planner, Katie, who got married at the Manor was unsure about who they should get gifts for and what to give them. She decided to get gifts for the best men, ushers, bridesmaid, parents and people who helped them leading up to the wedding. It’s completely up to you whether you want to give people gifts but it can be a nice gesture; especially as a thank you to people who were a big part of making your day special. You could chose something that you can do all together, like a spa day or a racing weekend, or something personal, like an engraved gift, or even something simple like flowers or chocolates.

If you have any questions that we haven’t answered here, please get in touch