The official blog for Harlow Garland Weddings and Events. To search for posts or view all posts, head over to our library which is searchable and categorised! 

Choosing your Wedding Theme

A wedding theme as we've previously discussed, is not a necessity, the only thing you need to factor in is 'Rhonnie's rule of cohesion' (a rule our director speaks passionately about.) but if you will opt for a theme or you need help working to that rule of cohesion, we have put together a list to make sure you both choose the perfect theme that reflects you both. Right from the start, it is good to have an idea of what your wedding vision is. This can help with planning from the beginning and avoid any finer details issues.

The season

Knowing what season you want to be married in can help with the colour palettes, flowers and venue. If you have always dreamed of being married in the summer where guests can use umbrellas to shade from the sun, or in the winter where a large fire can warm the reception area for guests. Choosing the right season can have an effect on many things such as venue bookings and weather. Just like any part of the wedding, but organised is key.

The couple

Because the wedding is celebrating both the bride and groom, drawing on something that you both share can make your day even more special and individual. This could be anything from something simple like a favourite colour you both share, to your favourite restaurant or a hobby that you both love. Whatever it is, it can be incorporated through the table settings, props for photos, colours and even dresses and outfit.

The wedding venue

Venues can be seen as inspiration for other details of the wedding. Sometimes it is best to have the wedding venue decided before taking the next steps, it is easier to work with it rather than not. Similar to choosing a season, once a venue is chosen, the colours and additional features fall into place so they can compliment the venue.

Personal connection

Having a culture that is close to both your hearts, whether is be a religion, tradition, or even a language, drawing on that can be a powerful addition to the wedding. This can be drawn on anywhere, from the ceremony style and vows, to the type of food or outfits. Culture can be a visual impact such as colours and flowers too.


Once you have chosen, or even just thought of, a theme, research. Making sure you have the right food for the right theme, or the correct phrase from a religious reading can be vital on the day. You don’t want to look foolish for using the wrong details within the theme of your perfect day.

Tips For Planning An Extended Wedding

Image by Kate Little Photography for Harlow Garland & Bride and Groom Magazine

Image by Kate Little Photography for Harlow Garland & Bride and Groom Magazine

Sometimes couples decide to plan an extended wedding to help the celebrations span over days rather than just a few hours. Whether your having a destination wedding or a wedding in your home town, you too can make it last the weekend or longer! To help you with the planning process, here are some of our top tips and ideas for planning an extended wedding.

Holiday Weekends

When planning when to have your extended wedding, don’t be afraid to take advantage of long holiday weekends. This will give you extra days to celebrate and provide your guests with a mini vacation.

Save The Dates

Whether your wedding is near or far away, keep in mind that for an extended wedding affair it is best to send out your save the date cards at least eight months prior to the wedding. This will give your guests enough time to plan for it - especially if it includes travel and accommodation.

The Welcoming

We recommend easing into your wedding celebrations with a casual welcoming party. You may want to opt for an informal cocktail party or dinner. This will encourage your guests to relax and will also give everyone a chance to meet each other in a comfortable environment prior to the main wedding.

Plan Activities

Over your extended wedding, you may want to arrange a couple of activities for your guests to take part in – especially if you are having a destination wedding. If you are somewhere tropical you may want to take your guests snorkelling. If you are having your weekend wedding from home, a good option is to have morning or afternoon games in your own backyard – croquet is the perfect game for this!

Allow For Down Time

While it is always fun to have activities, be sure to also allow for leisure time – not only for your guests, but for you too! We recommend keeping the day of the main wedding free of any other activities. This will give you and your guests time to relax and will ensure everyone has energy for your ceremony and reception.

Saying Goodbye

When it comes to saying goodbye to your guests, brunch is always a good option. It will give everyone a chance to recuperate and talk about the amazing time they have had celebrating your nuptials. You may want to keep this occasion informal and relaxed to allow for your guests to come and go as the please so that they have the opportunity to sleep in. Keep in mind that this is also the perfect option to thank your guests for attending your wedding.

Modern Day Wedding Etiquette

Wedding etiquette has drastically changed over the years - especially with the rise of social media. There are many questions that the engaged couple and wedding guests can find themselves wondering. To help you, we have put together some of our favourite aspects of modern day wedding etiquette that we have watched develop over the years.

Announcing Your Engagement

When it comes to announcing your engagement, many couples find that now the easiest way to do it is via Facebook. Although, before you do this, we recommend telling your family and close friends either in person or over the phone. Your family and close friends will appreciate you taking the time to the share your exciting news with them first.

The Groom Can See His Bride Prior To The Ceremony

An old superstition says that it is bad luck for the groom to see the bride before the ceremony. Today, many couples disregard this and take it as an opportunity to take photos beforehand. Photographers will often encourage this also because not only does it allow for more photos, but the brides hair and makeup will also still be fresh and flawless.

Guests Should Stay Off Of Their Phones

Whether or not it is an unplugged wedding, as a guest it is always best to stay off your phone. It is respectful to the bride and groom as they have invited you to celebrate their special day with them. Phones can also often get in the way of professional photos.

Sharing Pictures Of The Newlyweds

Today, it is common that the bride and groom will ask their guests not to share any photos of the day to social media. This gives the newlyweds the opportunity to post professional photos to social media first. If you are not sure whether or not you can post photos, it is always best to check first with a member of the bridal party.

Wedding Registries

Today many couples already have a home and everything they need prior to their wedding day, so a traditional wedding registry can often seem pointless. Instead, receiving money in lieu of a gift has become common. We recommend to always inform your guests of what the money will be going towards. Whether it is your honeymoon, a home renovation or even a charity.

Ceremony Seating

During the ceremony, traditionally the brides family will sit on the left of the aisle and the grooms family to the right with family sitting in the front rows. Although in today’s modern times, the trend of ‘choose a seat, not a side’ is becoming increasingly popular. This can be an especially popular option for more complex family situations.

Creating Your Wedding Reception Seating Plan

Image by Danielle Bohane for a Harlow Garland real wedding

Image by Danielle Bohane for a Harlow Garland real wedding

Arranging your friends and family into a seating plan for your wedding can be a tricky task – especially because it can only be done once you have received all your RSVPs and finalised the guest list. There are many different things to think about, should you have a table dedicated to children? Do certain family members not get along? To help you with the process, follow our basic guide to creating your seating plan.

Formal Seating Plans

Typically couples opt for a formal seating plan for their reception to create ease. Guests like to know where they will be sitting and it will take away their anxiety over everyone having to find a seat. A seating plan is also helpful for caterers. If you have guests with dietary requirements, having a seating plan will help to get their specific meal to them with ease.

Bridal Table

The bridal table is usually a long, rectangular head table that is situated at the focal point of the venue. The Bridal table seats the bridal party. Traditionally, the bride will sit to the groom’s right, the maid of honour on his left and the best man to the bride's right. The rest of the party follows, alternating male and female. Although, you can configure this table how you please. Quite often, couples opt to have the bride's party to the right and the groom's party to the left.

Parents Of The Bride And Groom

Traditionally the parents of the bride and groom are seated together at a table along with any grandparents. However, couples with divorced or separated parents would not be comfortable with this arrangement. Instead, you could seat each set of parents at different tables with their parents and any other close family or even friends.

Create A Mixture

For your remaining friends and family, it is always best to mix and match people around. Try to seat people with others they are comfortable around, as well as adding in people they may not know as well. If you have a few guests that don’t know anyone else attending the wedding, try seating them near people that might have similar interests to them.

Children’s Table

If you have a number of children attending your wedding you may want to seat them all together at a children’s table. If you have only a few children attending, it is best to seat them next to their parents.

Seating Chart and Place Cards

A seating chart is usually placed near the entrance of your reception. Here your guests will be able to see a list of all guests with their designated table. Place cards with everyone’s names are to be arranged on each table to show the guests designated seats at the table.

Rehearsal Dinner Etiquette

It is the eve of your wedding and all the planning is complete, which means it is time for your rehearsal dinner. The rehearsal dinner for your wedding provides you with a chance to relax with your nearest and dearest before the excitement follows for the big day - it is also a wonderful opportunity to thank your wedding party for their participation in your big day. Keep reading for everything you need to know about your pre-wedding soiree.

When Is It?

Typically rehearsal dinners take place the night prior to the wedding and after the wedding rehearsal although, it can take place whenever suits you best. Despite its name, it could also be a rehearsal lunch or brunch – these are often more informal.

Wedding Rehearsal

Prior to the dinner taking place, all that are involved in the ceremony should attend the wedding rehearsal. The wedding rehearsal will involve a walk through of the ceremony to establish timing and to ensure everyone knows his or her own responsibilities. We recommend having copies of ceremony programs for the rehearsal so that everyone can easily follow along with what is happening.

Who Is Invited?

The people that are needed at the rehearsal dinner include the bride and groom, their parents, the wedding party, the officiant and anyone who may be doing any readings. Although, many couples also choose to invite grandparents and other immediate family members, close friends and anyone who has travelled from out of town as a way of making the dinner also a welcoming party.

The Hosts

Traditionally, general etiquette says that the groom’s parents should host the rehearsal dinner. Although, with modern times couples often decide to plan and pay for the event themselves or, sometimes the parents of both the bride and groom will arrange the planning and payment between themselves. Whoever hosts the rehearsal dinner should always keep in mind the desires of the bride and groom and communicate with them to avoid any conflict or misunderstandings.

Location And Style

The rehearsal dinner can be anything from a formal dinner to a casual outdoor event - these aspects often largely depend on the guest list and budget. Couples often opt for a restaurant although, a casual backyard barbeque is a great option too. The style of the rehearsal dinner often compliments the wedding – although be careful not to overshadow it. You may want to opt for a complete style contrast with a casual dinner and black tie wedding.

Click here for a timeline on planning your rehearsal dinner.