The Secret to a Magical Wedding is all in the Planning | St Giles House

Getting engaged is one of the most exciting milestones a couple will achieve in their relationship. Soon after the magical proposal and celebrations with family and friends, all thoughts and energy are channelled into planning the wedding day itself.


From deciding on the guest list to the flowers, ceremony, accommodation, suits, dress, rings and more, there is a long list of things to think about. 

Initially, you may feel overwhelmed with everything you need to organise, and despite setting out a time period to plan for your special day, it will come round quicker than you think.


What’s more, the key to a successful wedding which runs smoothly and complements your personalities, is all in the planning.


We contacted some of our favourite wedding planners from the local area for their suggestions and worldly wisdom on some of the most widely debated wedding topics:



First of all, how far in advance do we need to start planning our wedding?


Whether you have always dreamt of a summertime wedding surrounded by beautifully manicured gardens, or envisioned saying your vows in a church with the autumnal leaves for an enchanting backdrop, setting a date is important.

As well as letting your family and friends know to save the special date, you will also want to start planning to ensure that your favourite suppliers are available to help make your wedding an unforgettable occasion.

The first wedding planner we spoke to was Melanie Kiani – founder, proprietor and Senior Planner of Bellissimo Weddings; a talented team based in Dorset with experience in organising stunning weddings in a diverse range of venues.

From intimate ceremonies on the golden sands of Bournemouth beach, to sophisticated and elegant affairs at our very own St Giles House, Bellissimo have made many couples’ dreams come true. 

Melanie at Bellissimo Weddings says:

“Typically, couples plan their wedding 18 months to two years before the big day. However, this summer we have seen a shift in bookings and many more late notice weddings with a much shorter lead time. With this, we have found that couples tend to be more focused on the wedding itself and the fact they are getting married and a little less on the details”.

Bellissimo Weddings are an award-winning wedding planning company based in Dorset, Hampshire, Wiltshire and Devon.


Weddings with a shorter lead time don’t faze experienced wedding planners such as Bellissimo; with their contacts, professional approach and commitment to your special day, you can still rely on Bellissimo to ensure your wedding is everything you hoped for:


“The more established wedding planning companies with larger teams have the resources to respond quickly to short notice weddings. Being full time planners, we can dedicate effectively 80 hours of work on a wedding in two weeks – something a typical bride (or groom!) can’t do when they are also working full time.


“We use reliable suppliers which we have worked with in the past where we can but, in the event of the suppliers already being booked up, we will be able to use our experience and knowledge to ask the right questions of new suppliers to ensure we are still sourcing and building a reliable network of professionals to fulfil the needs of the bride and groom.”

Next, we put the question to Lindy Dowling, who offers a discreet, professional service for time pressed clients, creating timeless elegant and seamless events with passion. By choosing Lindy to plan your special day, you can expect meticulous attention to detail, creative ideas and a professional, stress-free service. This will ensure you are left to enjoy the magical build up to your big day.

“Most approach us with less than a year until the date itself, and we sometimes receive requests for planning with just three to four months to go. Luckily, we have lots of trusted contacts and can find suitable venues at short notice.”

We also spoke to the wonderful team at Sienna Grace, founded by Director Cyan McClumpha, who has more than 14 years of experience in planning weddings. The team has arranged hundreds of weddings and built up lots of close relationships with reliable, local wedding suppliers. Cyan says:

“Couples still generally allow a year to plan their weddings, however we have noticed a slight shift in couples waiting until they are older before getting married. While around 12 months is our average time period in which we work with a couple, we have had a handful of extreme cases in which we assisted with a wedding the following month.”

What day of the week should we be looking to get married on? 


Traditionally, Saturday has been the most popular day of the week to take your partner’s hand in marriage. However, in recent years other days of the week have been more attractive for numerous reasons as pinpointed by our wedding planners below:


 Lindy Dowling says:

“Fortunately, people are much more flexible now, especially those with larger budgets. A lot of weddings are now on Thursdays and Fridays, with guests coming from overseas so the wedding doesn’t necessarily have to be on weekends. The family and friends tend to enjoy a short holiday in the UK when they come from abroad to attend the wedding.”

What’s more, Melanie at Bellissimo Weddings says: "Most venues welcome weddings seven days a week, which is why we are seeing less people choosing to get married on a Saturday.”

We also spoke to the wonderful team at Sienna Grace, founded by Director Cyan McClumpha, who has more than 14 years of experience in planning weddings.

The team has arranged hundreds of weddings and built up lots of close relationships with reliable, local wedding suppliers. Cyan says:


"Another reason why couples are opting for week days as opposed to the weekend, is because depending on the venue, you can make considerable savings." 


Melanie from Bellissimo Weddings discusses the rise in mid week weddings in recent years.

As the biggest wedding planning company in the South West, the marvellous team at West Country Wedding Planners have organised countless picturesque weddings at a variety of venues, up and down the West Country in Devon, Dorset and Somerset.

West Country Wedding Planners had this to say:


“Although most couples still choose to have their weddings on a Saturday, couples can take advantage of the large discounts as well as increased availability in the higher seasons and let's face it who doesn't want an excuse for a day off work!”

Speaking of saving, this is one of the many benefits which couples can enjoy when using the services of a wedding planner as we discovered with our next question.


 How can we benefit from using a wedding planner?


Below, our contributors have outlined exactly how using a wedding planner can help couples make fantastic savings and ultimately see their money go that little bit further when it comes to the tiny details.


Lindy says:


"Couples can actually save money, because wedding planners have great contacts in the supplier industry. For example, one of our beautiful couples wanted a videographer to capture every moment of their day, with only weeks to go until their big day.


Fortunately, we were able to negotiate a big saving on their behalf because we referred them to a company we use on a regular basis and have built a strong relationship with.”


Sienna Grace Weddings have 14 years worth of experience in the wedding industry. 

The talented team at Sienna Grace start the planning process with an initial Creative Ideas session – the perfect start to putting your wedding plans together if you have just got engaged.


The team also have a variety of packages so that you they can be involved as little or as much as you desire. Ultimately Sienna Grace will make your wedding truly sparkle, working with you to create the most unique and magical day.


Here Cyan explains how a wedding planner is the key to a stress-free and happy day, as they can help save precious time so that you can enjoy every single second:


“Did you know the average wedding takes about 250 hours to arrange?  This is a lot of planning. Our most popular package is wedding co-ordination on the day, which ensures everything and everyone are in the right places at the right time.


“For example, we ensure that the music is played at the right time when it’s time to walk down the aisle and the photographer doesn’t take an hour too long to take the pictures etc... Basically, a large part of a planner’s job is to make certain that the guests and most importantly, the newlyweds, have a great time and do not have to worry about anything.


“We are a personal assistant to the bride and groom, so just tell us what needs doing and we will be there for you”.


The lovely ladies at Bellissimo Weddings, who have worked with us at St Giles House before, explain how their services are extremely useful to those who are not from the local area:


“St Giles House is a high end venue and attracts people from London and out of the area, which means more often than not, the couples seek our services as a local wedding planner because they are not familiar with the area.


“We also find that a lot of couples attracted to venues like St Giles House will have a larger budget and are keen to include a number of extras and special touches to personalise their day, often leading to the feeling of needing a bit of extra help with managing all the logistics of the day, especially if they are from out of the area.”


Lindy Dowling has experience working with high profile clients, including royalty - at some of London's most prestigious venues.


West Country Wedding Planner is a unique service, as due to the team’s reputable relationships with recommended suppliers and venues, they are able to offer their customers a complimentary wedding service. They explain how you will not need to part with a penny when you choose them to support you with your wedding planning:

“As we are the largest wedding only planning company in the south west and we have a select group of recommended professionals we can rely on, we can offer our customers a complimentary wedding planning service using the difference between the normal price the clients to the suppliers and venues and our trade discount with to cover the cost of their planning.”   



They continued to add:


“Using a wedding planner from the start can actually save couples more money than they may realise. Advice like marrying later in the day so they only have to provide one significant meal for their guests can save a huge amount of money. A good wedding planner will highlight these industry hacks from the start potentially saving the couple thousands and ensuring a smooth running of the day.”


Where do we begin searching for a venue? 

Whether you have your heart set on a traditional church wedding, or are seeking something a little different, placing emphasis on the venue and its facilities is a fundamental part of the wedding planning.


Shortlisting your venues and arranging viewings with your other half is one of the very first items on your list of things to organise.


What’s more, while you can browse online for a venue, contacting a wedding planner for their advice is an excellent way to find a location perfect for your wedding and aspirations as a couple.


Bellissimo founder, Melanie Kiani is the winner of the 2016 National Wedding Industry Awards.


Melanie at Bellissimo Weddings says:


“While working in the industry we have become very familiar with many of the venues within our local area and only work with the very best of suppliers in the surrounding location. We can therefore match our clients with a venue suited to their hopes and dreams. Some are looking for country weddings, others opt for more modern choices by the sea or even on rooftops. Every couple is different and wants their day to be personalised to them.”



Born and bred in Verwood Dorset, Cyan has expert knowledge of the Hampshire area.  


Sienna Grace Weddings explains the important role a wedding planner plays in helping couples achieve their dream venue while overseas:


“Many of our clients who are living abroad, request our services because they cannot organise things themselves. In many cases, they are looking for castles and grand venues to be married. Our job is to support our couples with booking and communicating with the venue so that they can relax and focus on other aspects of their magnificent day.”


Finally, have you had any strange but fabulous requests from your clients?


Once the formalities of saying, ‘I do’ have been arranged, your attention will undoubtedly turn to how you can make your wedding reflect your personalities as individuals and love as a couple.


From fun touches such as sweet stands, flower walls and quirky table favours to surprise first dance routines and sparklers, there are so many ways couples can express themselves.


Below our wedding planners have highlighted some of their most unique requests from clients:



Bellissimo Weddings is the South Coast's leading wedding planning company.


Bellissimo Weddings reveal how they put together a show-stopping wedding in just 10 weeks!


“We were asked to plan an extremely complex and detailed wedding for a client a couple of years ago, which on the surface sounded like it was going to be an amazing day as it was to be set in the garden of the family home, over-looking Sandbanks and Brownsea Island.


“On the surface, not all that strange but we very quickly realised that in order to pull off everything they wanted, it was going to involve probably the longest list of suppliers we had ever worked with and just to add to the fun, we were then advised that the couple wanted to wedding to take place in just 10 weeks’ time!


“Over the next few weeks we pulled together a network of our most trusted and highly-skilled supplier contacts to create one of the most visually impressive weddings, jam-packed with little details and special touches and it was totally fabulous. It was certainly a day we’ll never forget.”


The use of drones to capture your wedding day, are becoming increasingly more common, Lindy Dowling says. 


Lindy Dowling has also received obscure requests when it comes to featuring unusual guests:


“A couple wanted zebras drawing their carriage, this wasn’t possible so they did settle for horses. We can also reveal that petting zoos are becoming quite popular too.


“When it comes to new technology, drones are very in at the moment. Some people want drone footage to capture their guests, the venue and the grounds. It’s a technique popular with the more exclusive weddings at the moment, but it is definitely something which we will see on the rise in the months and years to come.”


Animals seem to be a recurring theme for Sienna Grace Weddings too:


“We have had requests of owls to be flown in carrying the rings, paper flying butterflies and believe it or not one couple were hoping for a unicorn. We have also organised fire eaters in the grounds to perform for the guests, and one client had their sights set on a medieval wedding where the bride was a redhead and dressed as Lady Macbeth. This went down really well and all of the guests got into the spirit with fancy dress too!”



 West Country Wedding Planners has 11 years worth of experience planning hundreds of weddings up and down the West Country.


West Country Wedding Planner say:


“Hmmm this is a hard one because we have some really imaginative couples but my personal favourite is probably when a couple with a carnival themed wedding asked us for silk trapeze artists and fire eaters! That was a fabulous day!”


Finally, we hope this article has set your imagination alight and given you plenty of ideas to consider for your spectacular day. Whatever type of wedding you choose to organise, we sincerely hope you cherish every moment as you make your commitment to your partner in front of all your family and friends.



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