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Ireland’s leading wedding planner gives us her top tips to plan your perfect big day

Organising any party is stressful, with endless decisions to make from dates, food and locations to choose from, so given that your wedding day is arguably the biggest party you’ll ever have to organise (and one of the most special days of your life) it’s no wonder that people find themselves not even knowing where to start. 

We caught up with top wedding planner Tara O’Connor who is the woman behind the weddings of well known Irish faces like Lauren Arthurs and Glenda Gilson. She shares with us some of her top tips from what to prioritise, where to spend versus where to save and what people underestimate when it comes to planning their perfect big day.

Planning a wedding can be really overwhelming to begin with, where is the best place to start for a newly engaged couple?
The venue and a band, they would be my two things to say to any bride because I think entertainment is one of the most important parts of the day. People don’t remember what flowers you had, but they remember what band you had! It’s also a big part of your budget, so I think it’s important to get right because it’s a memorable thing for guests.

How important is it for a couple to have a finalised budget before planning their reception?
It is important, but it’s always like a target I’d say. Generally when you go to a hotel and a set venue your budget won’t change that much once you have all your costs like what you’re going to spend on flowers, what you’re going to spend on music, etc. But if you’re going to go out and build a marquee your budget will change, and it will change a lot particularly in the weeks running up to it because a lot of it could be weather dependent.

Is there any aspect of wedding planning that you find people underestimate?
Well the cost of everything has gone up globally, like even the cost of fuel. So flowers come in weekly from Rotterdam to Ireland and what they are like now versus 10/15 years ago have doubled in price I think for events. So it kind of depends if flowers are important to you, and they do look beautiful but so does greenery. A lot of the time you could do flowers yourself go to a wholesaler. This is the thing with smaller weddings, you can do things like that but for bigger weddings you can’t really.It’s the most shock you see on people’s face,  is when you give them a flower budget!

Also, things like stationery is very expensive and the cost has gone up, so a lot of people are going down the route of using an app like’ Appy Ever After’ or ‘Paperless Post’ because everything has gone digital.

Lauren Arthurs
PIC: Tina Vedrines of The Vedrines Photography; www.thevedrines.com @thevedrinesphoto

Do you think more and more people are moving away from big weddings and gravitating towards a smaller more intimate day, do you think this trend will continue?
Like a lot of people are not necessarily doing church weddings, but are getting married in the venue and there are so many amazing venues like Luttrelstown House and Tankardstown Castle and so many all over the country.

Also during the pandemic we didn’t see a lot of people for two years, so are social circles have decreased and we all pick up with our friends where we we left off, but gatherings have become smaller. I do think just from working in the hospitality industry that brides and grooms are quite happy to keep it below 100.

But the bride and groom are still spending as much on the wedding, they’re just upgrading their flowers, upgrading their music, where most brides will only have one dress now they’re having two or a rehearsal dinner outfit, you know it’s all becoming very Instagram friendly.

Which part of the planning process do people find most stressful and how to make it less so?
I think the table plan, so again there’s lots of good apps out there that you can use. I just love working off One Drive Docs/Google Docs with a bride and groom and it’s a live document so you can keep everything there and you know what’s done and what needs to be done.

Then, lists! I always say lists, lists, lists so buy yourself a really nice diary or a journal and write down things you have to do each week. And just enjoy the time, don’t let it overtake your life but let it be fun because the day is to be fun it’s not to stress you out.

And if unforeseen things happen like rain, thunderstorms, you know someone can’t make it last minute, I always say just take a deep breath and it’ll work itself out.

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