Expert advice from Wedding Planner Jenny Wren

In the current climate, the wedding industry has had to put weddings on hold for now following regulation from the government. Obviously this is a difficult time for those who have had to postpone their special day, and also for those who were looking to put plans into place for the coming months and years. We got in touch with wedding planner Jenny Wren to ask a few questions about what you can do during lockdown. Although it is a unpredictable time, the hiatus does provide couples the time to stop, think and plan for the future, whilst also giving them and their families and friends a much anticipated celebration to look forward to once we are all safe to be together with our loved ones again.

For those who don’t know you, tell us a bit about what you do and the service you offer to couples.

I’m Jenny, a detail obsessed wedding planner & stylist. I work with couples to bring their wedding vision to life and ease wedding planning stress. Planning with my couples from the very early stages right up to the day itself (we even take care of the tidy up the day after) allowing them to relax, enjoy and truly immerse themselves in every moment.

Having lived in Cornwall all my life, my couples, who are often based outside of the county or country, find having local feet and knowledge on the ground invaluable.

I thrive on delivering breathtaking weddings with challenging briefs that are creatively styled and impeccably organised that leave a lasting impression on every guest, exceed my clients expectations and gift a lifetime of memories.

The best things in life are the people you care about, the places you go and the memories you make, unique ingredients wholly reflective of the couple at the heart of each celebration. I like to think I capture this individuality and the tiny details of who my couples are; their very own love story told, shared and savoured. The result is a multi-sensory celebration overflowing with love and laughter.

Why do you love weddings?

A wedding is an occasion which confirms the very concept of family, a joyous day full of love and laughter, who wouldn’t love being surrounded by that at work! People are at the heart of what I do, and getting to know my clients, understanding their dreams and sharing in these countless, precious moments is a true privilege.

I believe the key to creating an incredibly special wedding lies in the blend of infusing personality and thoughtful preparation. Nothing brings me more joy than after months of planning together, seeing how relaxed and at ease my couples are on the day, enjoying every precious moment. In the gaze between a couple, the proud dad holding back tears, on the faces of open-mouthed little flower-girls and in the eyes of newlyweds who’ve just said, I do, lies something so special and meaningful. It’s an honour to help couples capture these priceless moments in time and that’s what I love the most. It’s my raison d’être, my purpose, my passion!

What words of wisdom do you have for couples who have had to postpone their wedding this year?

Contact your venue and suppliers as soon as possible. If you have a wedding planner they will do this for you. Many couples will be postponing resulting in 2021 & 2022 dates filing up fast, so make this a priority.

Send out a message to your guests. Your invites may have gone out already so email to save time informing them of the new date. Your stationer could design something pretty and in keeping you can email then rather than just text. Some guests who could not make it previously may now be able to come, so factor that into your plans and ask them to RSVP again if their status has changed with the new date. Remind them to rearrange their accommodation if they booked direct.

Church weddings
Contact the church or registrars department to see if you are required to do your residency period again.

Hopefully you took out wedding insurance. If any of your suppliers cannot transfer to the new date and you need to cancel them your insurance should cover their deposit charge. The insurers may need copies of invoices so ensure you have these ready.

Supplier payments
Some suppliers may ask for another payment instalment before your wedding date to help with their cash flow. It’s nice to help them out if you can, after all you want their business to be in a healthy position still by the time your wedding comes.

If you are having childcare at the wedding, ensure you update the childcare team of the ages of the children for your new date.

Use the extra time productively
You now have all this extra time for any finishing touches which you may have not thought of or had time or budget to organise previously. But be careful to not get carried away and just add things on for the sake of it. Remember your wedding budget and the vision you had for your day and stay true to that.

Finally, try not to get disheartened and remember this:

Your day will come.
You will wear that dress.
You will walk down the aisle to your love.

You will dance until you can’t stand.

You will cry at their speech.

Your face will hurt from smiling so much.

You will have that day you have been dreaming of and have planned for years. Although it will now happen later, it will happen and it will be amazing.

How should I allocate my budget?

The budget needs time spent on it early on as no decisions can be made until you know how much money you have to work with. Once you have added any contributions from family to your own money, allocate it sensibly to all of the elements (venue, catering, flowers etc). If you have a wedding planner they will be able to create a budget breakdown based on their experience and your priorities (e.g. food may be really important but flowers not so much). If not there are many tools online that can help. Remember to leave 10% for contingency to give room for changes. Create an excel spreadsheet with two columns, predicted and actual so you can keep track of everything that has been spent. If you are anything like me you will enjoy watching the numbers change as you add things in and it is so satisfying when things come in under budget!

How can I get to know venues and suppliers and know they are right for me during lockdown?

Many venues are offering virtual tours online, either live if the owners are based on site, or pre recorded films. You could book a planner to help you, many planners offer a venue sourcing service. They should know an abundance of venues in the county and often have had experience working at them previously, so their advice is priceless.

With regards to suppliers, again a planner can help, but if you don’t have one then really do your research. Look at reviews (not just on their website but facebook and Google too), join wedding planning forums to ask advice. You could even ask the supplier if they could put you in touch with one of their previous couples to speak to them direct. Ask the supplier for a face time call, you need to like them as a person as well as the product or service they offer, an informal chat can help you get to know them a little.

What things could couples be doing during lockdown to prepare and plan for a wedding?

Keep in communication with your venue and suppliers, but do keep in mind they are probably dealing with lots of couples at the moment so try not to get frustrated if there is a delay in their response. Please consider postponing before cancelling. The wedding industry has been hit hard and suppliers need clients support just as clients need their suppliers support. We are all in this together and we all want the best possible outcome for all.

A few things you could be working on:

Creating playlists.
These always take much longer than you think. You may want to consider them for:
– The morning when you are getting ready
– The drinks reception (between sets if you have a live musician)
– During dinner for background music
– The evening (between the bands sets and after they end).

Drafting your table plan.
One of the hardest tasks my couples often say! Add in dietaries information for your caterers.

Photography list
Think about any particular shots you want your photographer to capture. This list does not need to be extensive (we encourage it not to be) half a dozen or so important shots you want is perfect.

Wedding favours
Perhaps you planned to make your own personalised ones? Now is a good time to get crafty and prepare them. You will thank yourself later on when the wedding draws near and you have lots of other things to think about. It’s also a nice time to do something creative while at home.

What is your advice to couples who are nervous about booking any suppliers at the moment?

Ask them about their Covid19 policy if you were to book them now and need to postpone later down the line. Some may be happy to agree to take the booking then change the date if needed. Ask them to put this in writing and include on their contract so you are covered.

Do you think it’s a good idea to celebrate your original wedding date in some way?

Absolutely! I have seen this online a lot recently and I think it’s wonderful. Get dressed up, have a champagne breakfast, cook what you would have had for your wedding meal (or order in!), dance your first dance in your living room and zoom in family or friends! You can even have an online ceremony. It will build the excitement again rather than focusing on what would have been.

Should I take out wedding insurance to cover myself?

Yes! It’s the first thing we advise our couples to do.

What policy do most venues have at the moment with regards to booking future dates?

These vary depending on the venue. Some are simply agreeing to transfer the date over to the new desired date (subject to availability), some are adding an additional fee to cover the price increase for next year, some are only offering off season dates for reschedules or charging a fee if you want to transfer to a peak summer date.

Finally, why should someone choose Boconnoc as their wedding venue?

Boconnoc is one of my favourite venues to plan a wedding for many reasons, too many to list them all, but here are my top 4.

1) It is a venue that typically attracts couples that want something different, they don’t want a tick box wedding that you may find in a hotel for example. I spend a lot of time getting to know my clients personalities and take joy in helping to create a wedding that both defines and delights them as a couple. Boconnoc is a venue that allows me to do this, with the flexibility to plan a day unique to them.

2) The variation of spaces available gives such choice. From a traditional church ceremony to a woodland wedding in the Pinetum, an elegant reception in the Garden Room, to a festival style feast in the Stable Yard.

3) Exclusive use, meaning Boconnoc is yours for several days. Its feels like you are in a Boconnoc bubble when you are there and I love that!

4) The history of the house is fascinating, it has a story to tell and the guests often love hearing all about it. Family owned, you can really tell the care, attention and love that’s gone into it.

Thank you Jenny for sharing your invaluable knowledge with us. We know this is an unpredictable time for a lot of couples, but with the help and guidance from professionals like Jenny, you can feel confident that your day will come, and when it does, what a day it will be.

Image credits: Debs Alexander Photography & Ben Selway