Summer is here and wedding season is in full swing. To help couples plan their wedding, we asked four Starling customers in the wedding business to share their advice.

The flowers

Clare Oliver (pictured above) has arranged flowers for more than 50 weddings and finds that meeting a couple face to face at their venue is key to planning their flowers.

Clare, 46, set up her London-based floristry business in 2017, after training at the Judith Blacklock Flower School. Before meeting a florist, she recommends thinking about your favourite flowers or which colour you want any bridesmaids to wear. She also advises clients to ask the florist whether they require a minimum spend.

“If you want to use seasonal flowers for your wedding, you should ask your florist for their advice and guidance around what is in season around your wedding date. For example, peonies are only available during May and June and will be much more difficult and more expensive to get hold of outside this window. Other summer flowers that are very popular are garden roses, delphiniums and hydrangea.”

The dress

For brides who want a traditional wedding dress, Juliette Toft, owner of The Bridal Gallery, has some firm advice. “I always urge people to be really clear about their budget and know what they want to hold firm on and what they can compromise on. I don’t want brides to fall in love with a dress they can’t afford and end up disappointed.”

The Bridal Gallery, Windsor

To help them find the right dress, she sends a questionnaire as part of their initial 20-minute video consultation. “I ask them when and where their wedding will be and how the bride would describe themselves in three words - I get a real sense of who they are and the words tend to align with the style of gown they end up going for.”

Juliette, 49, opened her shop in Windsor last year after a 19-year career working for John Lewis & Partners. She recommends that brides buy their dress 8-10 months in advance to leave time for adjustments.

The ceremony

If you’re planning a wedding in a garden or pub, you may want to ask a celebrant to perform your wedding ceremony. Their role is to help create and officiate at wedding celebrations, vow renewals, baby naming days and other ceremonies. They don’t belong to any specific religious establishment.

“I ensure that a couple has a ceremony that’s personal, bespoke and tells their love story,” says London-based celebrant Jennifer Patrice. “I’m an independent celebrant, which means the couple can have the choice of as much or as little religion as they like.”

Jennifer, 58, usually meets a couple shortly after they have settled on a date for the wedding. She qualified as a celebrant in 2017 and has done weddings in a pod of the London Eye, Hyde Park, as well as in Rome, Paris and the Caribbean.

Jennifer Patrice, celebrant

“When we first meet, they interview me and I interview them - it’s important that we get on,” she says. “I send them a questionnaire and ask them not to share their answers with each other.” Jennifer aims to incorporate the phrases the couple used in their questionnaire into the ceremony.

The photography

“Don’t feel pressured to book anyone straight away,” says Aidan Francis, a wedding photographer based in Durham. “Speak to a few photographers and pick someone you bounce off - try to think about how the images you will ultimately remember your wedding from come about.”

Aidan, 36, meets with couples two or three times before the wedding, something that he finds makes everyone feel more at ease when being photographed. “The real laughs and expressions you see on my images are because I spend so much time getting to know my couples,” he says.

Photograph by Aidan Francis

A full wedding day of photography for Aidan usually begins with capturing the bridal preparations, dress and venue. He then photographs the ceremony, arranges group shots and two sets of couple shots, and captures the speeches, cutting the cake and dancing.

“Make sure everything you expect to get and be charged for is detailed in your contract before you sign it,” he says.

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