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Practical Wedding Guide >  

The Practical Guide to Weddings


From traditions you just have to follow to items you just have to have every second website you visit will tell you what to do now that you are going to get married. In reality there are very few essential ingredients to a wedding and while all the bits and pieces are what make the day special it is important you get the basics right first.  This guide therefore serves to help couples get off to the right start without missing any of the essentials.  Suggestions for improvements are welcome.

Choosing good service providers:  It’s your wedding day and every Tom, Dick and Harry out there has some sort of service to offer.  What do you need and who do you choose:

Our suggestion is to get the basics right first.  Identify what the key elements of your wedding are and make sure you have the right people to take care of these, worry about the small things latter. Remember all the best service providers generally get booked up first, so it's important to start contacting them as soon as possible.

The golden rules when choosing a service provider
 

  • If a service provider is always too busy for you and disorganised when you meet them, they will probably be the same on your wedding day.  
  • If they do not seem or act professional in your initial dealings with them, you can probably expect unprofessional service from them on your wedding day.
  • Ask lots of questions, if you don’t get straight informed answers, your service provider probably doesn’t know what they are doing.
  • Are you the only customer being serviced on your wedding day or is your service provider splitting their time across several functions.

Questions to ask and things to do

Wedding planner/organiser: Not every bride makes use of a wedding planner but they can certainly lighten the load and make a positive contribution to your special day.
  • Make sure you have meetings with a few wedding planners.  You are likely to spend a lot of time communicating with your wedding planner, so ensure you will be able to get along and that the wedding planner shares your vision for the wedding.
  • Many wedding planners also offer additional services or receive a commission for using a preferred service provider.  This may not necessarily be a bad thing as wedding planners will know which service providers have worked well in the past. That said you should separately evaluate all the additional services offered to ensure that they are up to standard and that your wedding planner is not profiteering.  If you are not happy with any proposed service ask if your wedding planner would be comfortable working with your preferred service provider.

Ceremony venue/officiator/minister:
  • Will all your guests fit in the ceremony venue?  
  • How boring is your officiator/minister/priest likely to be?
  • Will you use a secular or religious marriage practitioner?
  • Ask questions about the type of sermon you can expect? Identify any ideological/religious differences you may have with your officiator/minister/priest and ask if he/she is willing to avoid certain topics (e.g. some ministers are known to regularly refer to the submissive roles of women in a marriage)

Reception venue: The first thing that most couples look at when choosing a venue is the ambiance and setting of the venue.  However it is also important to remember the practicalities:
  • Are the size and dimensions of the venue suitable for your wedding?
  • What sort of additional services are offered at your reception venue i.e. catering, décor, bar etc. and are these also up to your standards.  If not will they allow you to use a different service provider for certain functions e.g. your own décor.
  • If you have to bring in service providers what facilities are available for these e.g. a suitable kitchen or space with sufficient equipment or power points for your caterer.
  • How will your envisaged décor fit in with the look and feel of the venue?
  • What items and facilities within the venue are you allowed to make use of and what undesirable items can be moved/put away?
  • Don’t worry if your ideal venue in a scenic part of the country is a bit rustic or informal, draping and the correct lighting can make almost any venue look stunning.

Catering:
  • Do you want a set menu or a buffet?
  • Are your caterers good at making the type of food you want? Also ask your caterer to recommend food items which they do well and are popular at other functions.
  • How flexible is your caterer if you receive late cancelations i.e. when do they need to know your numbers by.

Bar:
  • You can save a lot of money by stocking the bar yourself and having an arrangement whereby you can return unopened stock to a bottle store for a refund.
  • Use experienced barmen to avoid bottlenecks at the bar.
  • If you don’t want wedding guests drinking Absinth or some other shooter, just don’t stock it or ask the bar to remove it for the night.

Wedding Dress/Attire:
  • Go and try on a few hire dresses/suits before ordering a new one, you may find that your tastes and preferences change once you see how you look in different types of attire.

Photographer/video:
  • Don’t be shy to shop around a bit.  Compare the portfolios of your various photographic/video service providers. You will find there is a vast difference in quality.  Do not book a photographer without seeing a portfolio!!!
  • Being a good photographer does not make someone a good wedding photographer.
  • Is your preferred photographer someone who is unobtrusive but also has a friendly disposition?  Are you comfortable around your photographer?  If not he/she will not take good photographs of you.
  • Do you have a special idea/vision for your photographs?  How does your photographer interpret this vision and are they creative, offering fresh insight and ideas.

Entertainment:
  • It’s simple book East Cape DJs.  You won’t be disappointed. Not sure? Browse our site.  If your alternative DJ is not offering you the same service as we are you have to ask, what you are paying for.

Now that you have made the important decisions don’t worry about it.  If you have made the right choices you will be able to trust your service providers and move on to planning the small things.

Additional suggestions

Send your invitations in good time. If they are not ready ask people to reserve the date.

Make a schedule and distribute it to everyone involved in the wedding. Don’t worry if you don’t stay exactly on schedule though, most weddings don’t.

Make a backup plan for bad weather. Sometimes it just rains regardless of what the weatherman says. Make sure you have several umbrellas on hand on your wedding day and have a backup indoor venue to replace any outdoor ceremony or reception location.

Avoid family politics: While help from and support from family members is invaluable it is common for couples to complain that preparing their wedding is a source of conflict within their family.  Here are some common items that families disagree on:
  • Budget: who is paying for what and how much is each individual willing to spend?
  • Guest list: How do you balance your limited guest list between inviting your friends/distant relatives/friends of the family etc.?
  • Interfering mother/mother in law: She takes control of all preparations and sees it as her time to shine.
  • Placement of guests: Who gets to sit in the front row at the church, at the main table for the reception, closest the main table at the reception etc?
  • Ceremonial appointments: Who will be the best man/men, bridesmaid(s), MC, give a speech at the reception, witness the signing of the wedding contract etc?
  • Step parents/divorced parents: Your have a complex family who either don’t get along or feel offended if they are left out in some or other way.

Try to anticipate which of these items are likely to cause problems within your family and handle these sensitively.  Even the happiest family can fight over the smallest of matters when a wedding comes around.  At the end of the day however it is your wedding.  Try to accommodate your family but not at your own expense.

Speeches:
The internet is full of good and bad suggestions for speeches however choosing words that come from the heart will always be more meaningful than going through a traditional list of thank yous.  

Your choice of MC can be quite important as some MCs can make a wedding dull.  Try to choose someone who is a good public speaker but is also close to you, as it is likely they will make more of an effort to prepare.

Avoid inappropriate speeches (e.g. the antics at the bachelor party or a past breakup with your fiancé) by making sure your speakers know what is acceptable and unacceptable.

Don’t plan a bachelors/hen party the night before the wedding. We have all heard the horror stories of grooms being handcuffed to a pole inside the train to Harare in the early hours of their wedding day.  These sometimes mythical tales do happen, but there is something else simpler to remember…getting married with a hangover is just no fun at all!!!

Finaly and most importantly.... Remember to have fun: Once you get going the day will fly by before you know it so remember to enjoy it.  If you have planned everything properly you will be fine, don’t spend your wedding worrying about the details.   Don’t feel too obliged to spend time talking to every person who has attended the wedding.  If they are close friends and family you will talk to them again and if you don’t…well then you may not have been too close to them in the first place.   Have a few drinks but try not to drink in excess.  You have likely spent a long time preparing for this day, best you remember it.