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  • Why We Didn't Hire a Wedding Planner... But Wish We Had

    In the early stages of preparing for our big day, we decided not to employ the services of a wedding planner... but in hindsight, oh, how I wish we had!

    Why we didn't

    We had very little debate about whether or not to bring a wedding planner on board. Quite simply, I wanted us to handle all the preparations and vendor research ourselves. I thought it would be fun to do the research, and also felt that us looking into the suppliers was the only way to know all the options... so that we could make a truly informed decision and ensure we got the style we liked at the most reasonable price -- not simply a wedding planner's "usual" contacts. My groom was more than happy with this conclusion, since it saved us an extra line item in our bridal budget... and we were indeed worried that a wedding planner would be quite expensive.

    Why we wish we had

    • Wedding tasks aren't always fun. Sure, it's a ball to ooh and aah over cake designs, but there's nothing enjoyable about researching mini-buses for guest transport or making seating charts. There isn't much joy in reviewing vendor contracts or keeping track of payments, either. Contrary to what I had thought, hiring a wedding planner doesn't mean outsourcing your entire wedding; a wedding planner only handles what you want them to (support at the start to get you on the right track, on-the-day coordination only, or indeed the whole shebang) so won't take over and choose your final bouquet design for you. So if do you want to drive your wedding planning, you can focus on the fun parts... and leave the boring bits to someone else.

    WEDDING TO DO LIST
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    • Wedding planning is stressful. Wedding planning is not the romantic experience one expects it to be. There are many details to take care of, meddling family and friends might drive you crazy and vendors can be a source of drama. During our engagement, several recently married friends told me that in the final month before the wedding they had been so exhausted that they just wanted the day to be over. This ended up being true for me: in the final week I lost five pounds from stress, burst into tears a few times and my groom and I were snapping at each other. This is not how anyone's planning should be. Bringing on board a professional planner to help and take some of the workload off our hands definitely would have made sense (and they probably could have given advice on managing family drama).

    • We weren't that great at choosing vendors after all. Despite thinking that researching vendors ourselves was the only way to ensure we could make the best supplier decisions, this didn't work out so swimmingly. Out of 15 or so wedding day vendors, there were only three that we were actually totally happy with... and some others we were extremely unhappy with. When we started out planning, we had organized less than one wedding... why did we think our judgment would be better than that of a professional, who has seen these vendors in action at more than one (and perhaps several, and perhaps many!) weddings? Why did I think a planner would force us into choosing a vendor we weren't completely happy with?

    • We didn't know what to look for in a vendor. Other than a little Google research before interrogating potential vendors via email, we really had no idea what to ask. For example, after contacting 20 different hairdressers for quotes, I realized I had to specify if I was planning an up- or down-do to get accurate pricing... so had to email them all over again. We asked cake makers for price quotes for a three-tier cake, but it didn't occur to us to ask about the height of the tiers... until two months before the wedding, when we found out the "magnificent" wedding cake we were paying hundreds of dollars for was only nine inches tall, and we'd now have to shell out twice as much money to get it to the grandeur that we wanted.

    • Wedding planning takes time. Until you really get into the preparations for your big day, it is impossible to fathom how much work is involved and how many details need to be taken care of. I know brides who have taken leave from work in order to have more time to prepare their weddings. If you work long hours, have lots of hobbies or have children to look after, and don't want to be completely drowning in to-do lists during your engagement, a wedding planner handling some of those tasks for you could be a real lifesaver. Also, you really don't want to get in trouble at the office by getting caught doing wedding planning on company time!

    • Things do go wrong at the last minute. The day before the wedding, the baker for our cake buffet claimed they never received our order, and our dance floor provider phoned halfway through our bridal party lunch claiming they hadn't been paid. That night while setting up the reception room, we realized one table setting was missing, so had to frantically call the decorator for extra chair decorations, and re-confirm guest numbers with the kitchen. Tiny things, but they were unnecessary and brought a general feeling of stress on a day my groom and I had planned to be lovely and relaxing. Someone to handle those details for us would have been amazing. We were lucky nothing went wrong on the wedding day itself, but -- yikes! -- what if something had?

    • A wedding planner can help with costs. The imagined price for a wedding planner was a reason we decided against hiring one. However, here are two things that I realized in hindsight: 1) Planners know what different services cost, and can better spot when a vendor price is exorbitantly high or too good to be true. They know most local wedding vendors, and can help you get the best value for your budget. 2) As with any other wedding vendor, you will agree in advance what services you want from your planner and how much that will cost. It is not in their interest to hand you a bill at the end of the wedding that you can't afford to pay. Wish we'd realized all that earlier!

    • It can be difficult to find help elsewhere. There is much to do in preparing your special day, so without a planner you either must ask help from others or handle everything yourselves. Occasionally we asked our family or bridal party to help, but none actually themselves offered assistance, so we soon felt awkward asking. On the wedding day, when my groom should have chilling out, he was driving all over town picking up cakes and buttonholes, and when he arrived at the ceremony had to set up our refreshments table. We asked one friend to reach the ceremony early so she could SMS us that the officiant, musicians and decorator had arrived on time. These are all tasks that an on-the-day wedding planner could have coordinated for us, rather than burdening ourselves or our guests.

    At the beginning of your wedding planning, sit down as a couple and consider how much time, how much budget and how many helpers you have available for big-day preparations. Consider which areas you could do with professional support, and which planning areas you're less interested in and happy to outsource to someone. Look into wedding planners in your local area; even if you're hesitant, it won't cost you anything to give them a call and find out the range and price of their services. It could be your best way to a smoother, less stressful and more romantic wedding planning experience.

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  • Diamond wedding pair who are avid users of iPads

    ARTHUR and Ruth Tinkler, from Kirkby Stephen, celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary by revisiting the chapel in which they were married and places which brought back memories to them of their courting days.

    Arthur was born in 1928, at Middleton-in-Teesdale, the son of William and Tamar Tinkler, having two sisters and two brothers, Betty, John, Chris and Margaret, all deceased. His eldest brother, John, died from food poisoning as a prisoner of war, on 28th April, 1945, a matter of days before the war ended and his release.

    Both Arthur and Ruth made the journey to Germany to visit his grave about 10 years ago, which was a very emotional time. After completing his national service, Arthur worked for a local business and trained as a mechanical and electrical engineer — skills which he utilised throughout his working life. The business also introduced him to public address installations at local shows.

    Arthur and Ruth Tinkler
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    Ruth was born in 1929 at Eggleston, to Fred and Mabel Watson, and had one brother, Frank, who died when he was only 58. Ruth’s first job was as a nanny, which involved her leaving home at the age of 14 and moving to Sunderland to take up her position. Later she became a laboratory technician at the Glaxo laboratories, Barnard Castle, where she worked until she was married.

    Although they grew up only four miles apart, the couple did not meet until the 25th January, 1947, when a butcher friend of Arthur visited Ruth on his butchery round and set up a blind date for them. They tell how their first date was spent visiting the Cosy Cinema, in Middleton-in-Teesdale. They saw each other again the following week, but the week after that Arthur set of to visit Ruth by cycling the four miles to Eggleston — however the great storm of 1947 set in that night and he got stopped in his tracks at Whistler Crag, where a drift had formed in a hollow which was almost as high as the telephone wires. This did not stop Arthur, who scaled the crag and continued his journey to see Ruth. This was the last time they saw each other for a while as the storm made it impossible to make the journey again until the road had reopened.

    The original story in the Teesdale Mercury was entitled “Sun shines on the ring at Eggleston” and goes on to report on the wedding which took place at Eggleston Methodist Chapel, where Ruth was given away by her brother Frank and had four bridesmaids, and the best man was Arthur’s brother Chris. The reception was held in the adjoining Sunday school rooms which had been decorated with lilies grown by Arthur’s father. They spent their honeymoon in Edinburgh before returning to Gordon Bank, Eggleston, where they made their first home. Within a few years they moved to Kirkby Stephen, where they lived in Park Terrace and were surrounded by many good neighbours who also become good friends. They moved in 2002 to Fletcher Hill Park, where they are still living, and once again are surrounded by good neighbours and friends.

    Arthur carried on his profession as an electrician and by providing public address equipment for events across the north of England, including for many years the Great North Run, many local shows and various runs, including events at Balmoral and even a run around the streets of London. Ruth worked alongside Arthur, accompanying him to the events and helping him. Their son Stephen, who worked with Arthur for several years, has taken this over, but Arthur and Ruth still go to many events, the most recent of which was Appleby show on Saturday.

    They have been active members at Kirkby Stephen Baptist Church, which they have attended since moving to the area in 1960. Ruth is well known by many for the years she spent with the young children running Sunshine Corner, which was held on a Monday afternoon after school.

    They had three children Kathleen Fearon, Stephen and Andrew, who is a well-known Cumbrian business man. They have seven grandchildren and four great grandchildren, with another due to be born in October.

    They have enjoyed many holidays together in latter years and have visited many places in Europe on Shearing bus trips and P&O cruises. They say the secret to their good marriage is “loving, caring, sharing and understanding each other” and their shared faith in God.

    They have received almost 100 anniversary cards and were thrilled to receive a message from the Queen and also one from X Factor competitor Chico, who put a message on Facebook congratulating them on their great achievement. They are both avid users of their iPads and keep up to date with what is going on with both families, friends and what is in the news.

    They celebrated their anniversary at Shap Wells on Sunday and were joined by family members, friends, neighbours and one of their bridesmaids, Daphne, who is Arthur’s niece, and her husband Chris. In lieu of gifts they requested donations for two chosen charities, Cancer Research and Multiple Sclerosis Society, and have so far raised £900, being thankful to all who donated.

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  • Weddings are more expensive than ever, but they don't need to be

    The expected cost of a wedding makes many people resentful toward the idea of marriage, but the ceremony doesn't have to be a costly affair.

    According to top wedding websiteTheKnot.com, the cost of the average American wedding is now $30,000. With 70 percent of college graduates having an average of $29,000 in student loan debt, according to CNN, the added cost of an extravagant wedding can be daunting for young couples.

    For those couples who choose to go ahead and get married, they face social pressure to have a large and entertaining party.

    Weddings are more expensive than ever, but they don't need to be
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    Huffington Post reported: "Couples are more focused than ever on creating a unique, personalized and once-in-a-lifetime experience for their guests — plus they're doing so in a modern way, by planning from their smartphones, publicizing details on social media and more," Carley Roney, co-founder of The Knot, said in a statement.

    The media is partly to blame for the bloated wedding price, according to Deseret News.

    “Every time some pop star gets married and it’s all over the cover of People Magazine, it inspires more girls to have destination weddings," said Sandy Malone, a destination wedding planner. "Just like little girls emulate what they see, so do young women who are watching the stars.”

    Guests are also beginning to dread attending weddings because of the high expected costs, according to MarketWatch. The article referenced an American Express survey that found "this year, guests are expected to spend an average of $592 per wedding, up 10 percent from $539 per wedding last year and a 75 percent jump in just two years."

    Being a member of a wedding party, which was once considered an honor, is becoming more of a burden, Financial Post reported.

    "Julianne Taskey, a 31-year-old Toronto resident who works in fundraising has been in six wedding parties; she spends about $1,000 to fulfill her bridal party duties," the report stated.

    While Taskey may be an extreme example, pressure for the couple to put on a lavish show for their friends and relatives and pressure for the guests to prove their affection by buying expensive presents and paying their own way to a huge destination wedding create a vicious circle. What if we collectively decided to say no more?

    "Weddings are not expensive. Whims are expensive," wrote Albert Burneko of The Concourse. "'Wedding, A' is not some discrete thing that you buy, but rather an agglomeration of discrete things that you heap or do not heap, entirely of your own volition, onto the performance of a fairly simple ceremony."

    Rachel Lu, a writer for The Federalist, has proposed what she calls the "cubic zirconia principle:" Instead of creating a magical and completely original wedding, which are generally more expensive, it should be acceptable to hold a simple and traditional ceremony. It should be socially acceptable to get a cubic zirconium ring instead of a diamond.

    "In order to make this work, it’s not just bridal couples who have to be reasonable. It’s guests, too," Lu continues.

    She suggested that guests not expect to be treated to a banquet at the reception, and to refrain from making critical comments of the wedding or the couple.

    "In the long run," she says, "it doesn’t matter that much what flavor the cake is, or whether the bridesmaids’ dresses make their ankles look puffy," she said. "Celebrate love. Give the bridal couple a good 'welcome to adult life' sendoff."

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