We spoke to our very own wedding planner and bride-to-be, Tracey, and her fiancé Ross, about the first steps she has taken in organising her big day at Stoke Place. With endless experience in planning beautiful weddings for other couples at Stoke Place, she knows better than anyone how to create a magical day that’ll go off without a hitch (or with one in this case!)

Read on to find out how Tracey is allocating her budget, what’s taking top planning priority, and take advantage of her little black book of trusted Stoke Place suppliers.

Background to you both as a couple – how you met? Where you met? Who proposed and how etc

I met Ross on a night out in a bar in Maidenhead 6 years ago. I’d love to say it was love at first sight, but I initially turned him down! It didn’t take long for him to turn on the charm and win me over.

He knew that I didn’t want the proposal to be in public, so had to think outside the box for something special, memorable, and private, and he did just that.

I arrived home to find the house filled with candles and a note asking me to take a “walk down memory lane”. Our song was playing, and he had scattered memorabilia along the corridor to the kitchen. There were tickets from events we’d been to together, photos, the first birthday card I ever bought him and so much more.

The first Christmas present I ever got Ross was a tagine pot after a recent holiday in Morocco with a card saying, “Hey good looking, what’ve you got cooking?” and inside the pot was another gift. The last stop on our memory lane was the tagine pot, with the same card, and the engagement ring hidden inside.

The Planning begins – where did you start? What elements are most important to you? What insights did your role as a wedding coordinator bring? How did you set your budget (may include a breakdown e.g. 50% spent on food / 20% on outfits / 25% on venue etc).

We started by putting together a list of guests and started to calculate our budget. We allocated

how much we wanted to spend on each aspect and allocated the most budget to the aspects we perceived as being the most important.

For us, the most important elements were the venue, food, and entertainment, as these are the most memorable things for guests. We also wanted to place emphasis on finding the perfect photographer. We will look back on our wedding photographs for the rest of our lives, as will our family for generations to come, so they’re really important to us.

Within the budget allocation for the venue, the top three things that were most important to us are ensuring the bar and dancefloor are within the same room (to keep everyone together and enhance the atmosphere in the evening reception), a venue that could host dogs for our furry family members, and a venue that with accommodation onsite for family tavelling from further afield.

The way we allocated our budget was:

  • Venue & food: 50%
  • Flowers and décor: 10%
  • Outfits: 10%
  • Photographer: 7%
  • Rings: 5%
  • DJ: 4%
  • Favours & gifts: 4%
  • Cake: 3%
  • Ceremony: 3%
  • Extras (arcade games & mini golf): 3%
  • Hair & Makeup: 1%

Themes and choices – do you have a theme? How did you make the choices on dresses, colours, food, guests etc?

We wanted a smaller wedding with just our immediate family and friends. I chose my bridal party to be my sisters, niece, and Ross’s sister. We’re quite traditional in that sense that we wanted a sit-down meal for the wedding breakfast, but I was quite adamant I wanted hot dogs in the evening!

Ross’s family are from Scotland, so it was particularly important to wear the kilt and incorporate tartan. We chose a neutral colour scheme for the flowers and a complimentary colour for the bridal party that would work well with the tartan for the photos.

DIY vs suppliers – what are you doing yourself and what are you leaving to the professionals? Which companies are you using?

I wanted to try and create stress-free planning and a stress-free wedding day, so the majority of things will be via suppliers. The only thing I’m doing myself is the stationery. For any brides in the planning stages, here’s a list of suppliers I’ve worked with for a number of years and know and trust:

  • Lighting: RedCat Lighting
  • Photographer: Lisa Payne Photography
  • Croquembouche: Dolce Lusso Cakes
  • DJ: Mighty Fine Events
  • Chair hire: Rosetone Event Furniture
  • Make up: Louise Jackson Make-Up
  • Florist: Lily’s Flowers

One thing I was quite keen on doing myself was the stationery. I designed the invites and stationery and had quite a unique idea for the table plan. Ross and I are big on movies, so we’ve named our table names after our favourite films.

I’ve asked guests to pre-order their first drink and when they leave the ceremony, each table will be dressed with a large floral arrangement, their drinks, and an envelope printed with their names. Inside the envelopes will be a quote from a movie and they must match that quote to the movie their table is named after. It will create a great talking point for the guests as an icebreaker.

A view from the other side – a post from your fiancée on the planning from his side – how is

he contributing? What elements are most important to him?

When you marry someone who’s a wedding coordinator, your planning experience is very streamlined. I want our day to be perfect, but the most important thing is that I get to marry Tracey.

I really wanted arcade machines, mini golf and an open bar at the wedding, so these are the things I’m organising for the big day.

The biggest decision I had to make was who the best man would be, I have a close-knit group of friends as groomsmen, but couldn’t quite decide on the best man. Traditionally the best man was your best swordsman and so I arranged for an ex-Olympic fencing champion to run a mini training session and competition and they fought for the honour!

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