Top tips for planning your wedding

Just engaged? Thinking out loud about wedding plans? If your ‘big day’ is all you can think about, we’ve come up with suggestions about how to make it stand out. Find out top tips on your wedding menu, getting married abroad and advice for Irish emigrants trying to plan a wedding at home from abroad. Photo: iStock/Jirsak Want something different? How do you imagine your big day? According to wedding caterer Eunice Power of Eunice Power Catering, these days couples are looking for something different – and she welcomed the announcement by the Government to open up a number of Ireland’s historic sites for civil ceremonies. Current trends include weddings with smaller guest numbers, with a focus on quality. One of the main trends Eunice is seeing is winter weddings at Christmas time with the amount of Irish Diaspora coming home. Bláithín O’Reilly Murphy who operates under the name The Wedding Expert, specialises in planning weddings nationwide for couples living abroad wanting to return to Ireland to tie the knot. In the last couple of years she has seen a surge in Irish people living in Australia, Canada and Dubai in particular returning to Ireland to get married. Rosie Meleady of The Wedding Planner has been helping couples escape Ireland for Catholic church and civil ceremonies and far-flung destinations such as Italy and New York. When they get engaged, most people consider a destination wedding, says Rosie. One of the reasons it can be easier than having one at home is that you’re not blitzed by options – people getting married abroad tend to work with a wedding planner. New York is proving popular for couples who want to get married without a fuss or an audience. Putting food on the table Traditional desserts and starters We spoke to Eunice of Eunice Power Catering to get some ideas about the “wedding breakfast” itself. It may be a long time since wedding receptions were held at breakfast time; this doesn’t mean tradition is out the window. According to Eunice, trifle is making a comeback, along with Baked Alaska and apple tart (in a big way). Something fishy The jokes about beef or salmon might be long gone if you’ve noticed sea bass on wedding menus. Both, explains Eunice are mostly farmed. Sustainable Irish fish you can consider include: Hake Some cod Monkfish Turbot (although expensive) Prawn cocktail is making a return to starters menus in the form of Dublin Bay Prawns and langoustines. Squid/calamari is increasing in popularity too though difficult for large numbers as it has to be cooked to order. The main meal A nice addition to the main course staples such as fillet of beef and rack of lamb, says Eunice, are pots of currant jelly and salsa verde. Sides such as potato gratin and asparagus are a way to brighten up the vegetables on offer. Think that having everything plated up is a good idea? Think again, passing sides around is a good conversation starter and very convivial at the table, suggests Eunice. Top tips for couples with a food focus If the food is important (it’s not for some) Choose your venue Choose your caterer Do tasting and get the menu right Draw a line and don’t try to micromanage Keep your cards close to your chest, don’t give away too much information to enquiring friends and family Wedding planning for returning Irish emigrants The elements of a wedding for people living abroad stay the same, says wedding expert Bláithín, however one of the options is for couples to consider getting married somewhere else in Ireland apart from the usual haunts. Challenges The main difficulties couples living abroad face, without the assistance of a wedding planner, she says are: they can’t meet with suppliers and can’t see products they’re relying on friends, family and parents to co-ordinate there are time zone differences they are bringing home friends and co-workers who have to be entertained they are trying to marry different cultural traditions Looking after overseas guests Bláithín’s top tips for a successful Diaspora wedding include seeing it as wedding event and organising activities for guests visiting from overseas. She suggests: Organise small touristic things in place they fly into eg Shannon region or Dublin Arrange for transfers to the venue Do outings and events Put more of a focus on day after and day before gatherings Top tip: Bláithín’s top tip is to remember why you’re getting married. It’s not about spending loads of money on a dress of visual expectations, she says. “Remember why you’re getting married… and everything else is the icing on the cake,” she says. Getting away from it all Here’s some tips from Rosie the Wedding Planner on what to keep in mind for overseas weddings. Service providers Make sure service providers are legitimate and genuinely exist. Anybody can put together a flashy website If planning a church wedding you will still need to do the pre-marriage course and paperwork Beach weddings Not the most practical for the elderly or the very young (eg buggies) Be prepared for the fact there will be very little shade Choose a private beach rather than a public beach which could have sunbathers, people playing beach volleyball and so on. Photography Make sure your photographer does destination shots ie something that portrays your location like a shot by a big yellow taxi in New York. Invites If you want your guests to come along, give them a year’s notice Assume if you invite 200, 200 will turn up – and more as some will treat it as a family holiday (yes people can afford to go away and will want to bring the kids) If planning ahead, talk to the guests you really want there first Choose a wedding destination that has plenty of accommodation (and transport) options Do your research Include the Wedding section on DoneDeal on your research list – and keep in mind you can sell anything from your wedding dress to surplus favours after here. For more inspiration, see our recent wedding photo shoot with Darren Kennedy. #Wedding