Be optimistic and realistic and it will feel like the right choice.

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Last time we asked the expert, wedding planner Josh Tully how to haggle with wedding suppliers. This week we’re starting right from the very beginning with tips and advice on finding a venue.

So, how many venues should you see before choosing the right one?

Try not to overdo it as you’ll lose sight of what you’re looking for. If you view too many you’ll become confused, think about what matters the most to you whether it’s the location, theme or overall space.

What constraints do you need to think about with venues?

Capacity: How many people can fit for the wedding service, drinks reception, wedding breakfast and evening entertainment? Try and keep your guests together as much as possible, especially if you have small numbers. You don’t want guests wandering around and it’s always better to fill one room than have multiple empty rooms!

Accommodation: Are there rooms on site and if not, is there transport? Are they all of equal standards? You can’t make everyone happy but you can certainly try, especially if you plan on charging guests to stay the night. Make sure that check in and out times are reasonable so guests don’t feel under pressure with timings, especially if they’re travelling far.

Restrictions: Is there a cut off time for music and alcohol? Are there restrictions with live music? Check that the venue has all the capabilities for power with lighting and entertainment and that the kitchen is big enough for catering. One way around this is family-style sharing plates if there’s no room to plate up beforehand.

Vibe: Visit the venue for dinner or drinks beforehand to get a feel of the service, this is a great way of assessing whether the vibe fits with your wedding. Also try to view the venue during day and night to see the lighting, it may be completely different in summer versus winter. (For a winter wedding, ask: Do the lights dim? Can you have candles and exposed flames? And for a summer wedding: Do the doors and windows open? How much natural light is there? Can you use fire pits outside? Can there be live music outside and what are the timings?)

Food & Drink: Ensure the food is to your liking with a menu tasting, and check that you’re happy with the wine they serve – from experience, corkage works out to be more expensive. Ask if you’re allowed to source any of this to bring down costs.


What extra costs could be added onto venue hire?

Request a full cost breakdown so you can work out what is important for you. Some venues will allow to take off some costs but others may not allow your own suppliers within a package. Other hidden costs can include linen hire, cutlery, prop hire, corkage, cleaning afterwards and more.

Many venues include accommodation within the package which is a great way to make some money – it’s totally fair for you to charge guests to stay the night. To keep it simple you can charge a flat rate for similar-sized rooms or ask guests to book directly with the venue. This way those who can afford the bigger rooms can do so and you can always then subsidise rooms for the wedding party.

Are there any legal bits we need to think of?

Venues need a music license, alcohol license and marriage license for specific rooms, not the venue as a whole. Ask which areas of the venue are licensed for marriage and ensure that the alcohol license works with your party plans! See if there’s disabled access (if needed) and, although it’s not something we like to think about, it’s good to know what happens if the wedding doesn’t go ahead. You never know and you’ll want to make sure you’re covered in any case.

What weather constraints could there be?

It’s risky to plan a summer wedding outside for 200 people, when the venue only fits 90 inside. It’s annoying, but it’s best to plan two weddings – one for outdoors in the sun, and a rainy indoors one. Check that whatever you plan outside can be moved indoors if it’s a wash out. We do get amazingly hot summer days so don’t forget about shade – especially for gents in suits – it’s uncomfortable to stand in the blazing sun with that much clothing!


What can I do if the venue isn’t licensed for ceremonies?

You can take care of the legalities elsewhere beforehand at a courthouse or town hall, and then hold a blessing anywhere you like for friends and family. This can be a beautiful way of sharing your love with guests as it’s totally customised to the couple.

What are the main questions I need to ask with a venue?

– What’s included in the wedding package and what do I need to organise?
– Can we use our own suppliers?
– Can we customise the menu options?
– Is there a corkage charge?
– Are these prices including VAT?
– How does the room booking process work? What are the individual room rates?
– Are these prices estimates or minimum spends quoted? E.g. Bar tab – if you don’t spend this much is it deducted, refunded, lost?

If the venue doesn’t offer a package, make sure you’re fully aware of supplier restrictions to try and keep costs down. Check if you’re able to hang fairy lights as this may not be allowed. It’s always best to have a rough idea of what you’d like to do with the space to know whether it will work.

I’m in love with a venue but there are so many constraints, I’m not sure it’s the right decision – what do I do?

The venue should simply fit with what you imagine it to be. Don’t change what you want otherwise you’ll jeopardise what’s important to you. That said, you should be able to compromise at the same time. Before visiting venues, have an idea of guest numbers, style and theme so you can make an informed choice – you won’t want a glitzy hotel room if you’re planning a rustic festival wedding.

The right venue will simply fit with your plans and vision, changing too much of the venue only costs you money. Everyone worries about the venue and whether guests will like it… but if you love it, so will they.

Remember that this is your day and with enough notice your loved ones will make it no matter what – they won’t want to miss your big day! Be optimistic and realistic and it will feel like the right choice.

When is it OK to haggle with wedding suppliers?

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When is it OK to haggle with wedding suppliers?

It’s always OK to at least try and haggle with your suppliers, however you don’t want to seem pushy and offend them before your big day. Keep them on your side and positive to make the big day amazing.

When is it OK to ask for a discount with suppliers?

We all want the best deal to save money when planning a wedding, but really think about the product. For example, a bespoke wedding gown requires hours of time, professional skill and material so there probably isn’t much wiggle room. There are ways that isn’t necessarily asking for a huge discount (and therefore respected) such as asking for free alterations or veil to go with the dress. The worst that could happen is hearing “No”.


If I can’t haggle, should I look elsewhere?

Not necessarily, think about how you can use something more than once, for example, re-use the flowers and candles for the church in the reception venue. You can ask a friend or someone at the venue to take care of this and no one will notice. All ceremony decorations are only required for a short amount of time so you may as well make the most of it.

Other ways to save money can be achieved at home such as making stationery, the favours or decorations and it adds a personal touch. Ultimately it’s about striking the balance of what you’ll enjoy doing yourself and how much time you have. You don’t want to add stress so starting earlier is always better!

Who can you haggle with and who shouldn’t you try it with?

Be respectful. If something is handmade then it might be pricey but it’s their livelihood, but if it’s a bigger company then they’ll mark up things like booking a band or ordering food and drink. Will your guests know the difference between prosecco or champagne? Can you buy larger quantities at cheaper prices and pour them into pretty dispensers? Think about where you can save – it all adds up!

Wedding photography prices can usually be haggled (they will hate me for saying that!) but the big one is venues, there’s always room for movement with bedrooms and venue hire. Research discounts at different times of the year to know whether they may be able to budge and ask if the hotel offers bulk room booking discounts.


How much can you haggle? What discount can you get away with?

It really depends on the supplier but if a middle man is involved, there will always be room for a cheeky 10% off. Also remember that prices differ based on region (suppliers will be more expensive in London), the time of year (summer weddings are very popular) and the amount of time before your wedding – some might want a quick sale if it’s soon, others might charge more to work quickly.

Build relationships with your suppliers as soon as possible, you can build up a good rapport and they’ll be more likely to help ease the stress. Don’t be surprised how much weddings can cost, but always keep in mind questions like ‘Will my guests notice this?’ and ‘Will this be something they remember forever?’. If the answer is yes, you’ll know that it’s worth every penny.

Delivery distance means higher costs but sometimes you won’t be able to find someone closer to your venue so bear this in mind. Suppliers will charge to make it worth their while, especially if it’s more than an hour’s drive.

So in summary…

  • Be respectful
  • Try not to break ties if they say no
  • Think about other ways you can save if a discount isn’t available
  • Bear in mind how something is priced
  • It doesn’t hurt to ask!

Step into Christmas: where to go & what to do in Bath


This is my favourite time of year in Bath – it was during this season that I made the decision to move here. With so much going on, catering to all ages and tastes, it can be tricky to experience the best that Bath has to offer within your hectic schedule.

To help, here are some of my favourite activities to do over the festive period:

Bath Christmas Market – 24
th November – 11th December

It’s such fun to wander amongst the beautiful chalets with the abbey as a backdrop – it doesn’t get much better.

Top Tip – Avoid visiting on the weekends, instead head there in the week and post-5pm.


Bath Christmas Markets

Carols on the Circus – Friday 16th December

One of my favourite things to do – hundreds of people stand around the Circus singing Christmas carols. You can buy mulled wine to feel festive and keep warm. There is a brass band and choir to guide everyone. It’s a very special evening and, better still, it’s all for charity, so take some change!

Top Tip – Take a torch or candle for reading the song sheets.

Bath On Ice – 18th November – 3rd January

I love ice-skating. I also seem to think I’m good at it, which is not the case! This is such a great evening out with friends -you can eat pizza, drink champagne and ice-skate – what’s not to love?!

Top Tip – Book in advance, also the Trashy Fries are a must


Bath On Ice

The Apre Ski Bar at The Abbey Hotel – 24th November – 8th January

A fab place for meeting friends and having a good night. It’s so cosy inside, but also sitting outside with the fur blankets and heaters is also a personal favourite.

Top Tip – You have to try the hot chocolate with Disaronno.


The Apre Ski Bar at The Abbey Hotel

Secret Top Tip!

New to Bath this year is ‘Embrace at Brissi’ – the stunning space on Milsom Street is opening their terrace up for a very simple but effective offering of hot drinks, glamorous winter cosiness and an escape from the madness that is Christmas in Bath. It’s a space where people can meet with friends, sit comfortably on their own, or use as a private event space.

Think Brissi, winter glamour, great coffee – and you have ‘Embrace’.

I’m sure I will see you at one of the many venues or events across the city this Christmas – enjoy!

Best wishes,





Not only do I have the immense pleasure of planning weddings for a living, this year I have been busy organising wedding anniversary celebrations – 40 & 50 years respectively. They really are quite something. At a certain time in our lives, many of us reach a point where we think: “I’ve made it, and now I want to celebrate this moment with my loved one and everyone that has played a vital part in our relationship, every step of the way”.

The love between two people that have been together for 40-50 years is both remarkable and tangible, and the way they choose to celebrate is something very special that I’ve been lucky enough to organise. The styling is kept simple (as there is no need to impress), the wine is as constant as the laughter, the music is soft and beautiful, and the speeches made by family and friends simply express heartfelt gratitude and love. Last month I organised a lunch event for a beautiful couple who had been married for 50 years. Their love was stronger than ever, and they were surrounded by their closest friends and family – all solid, genuine relationships. The whole day was brimming with laughter, joyful nostalgia, and plenty of happy tears!

As I chatted to my client (who was thrilled with the day’s outcome), he described feeling overwhelmed that he and his wife still enjoyed so much support after all these years. We discussed how different this is to many of today’s more transient friendships: I am now 26 and have such great friends, but it made me wonder who might celebrate with me 40 years from now. This lucky gentleman also explained how everyone at his event were such solid friends as they had been through it all together –  no need to create drama, no need to impress, no need to manufacture the perfect shot for Instagram. In short, no need for being anything but your true self. The conversations I had with the guests are conversations I could only have had with people that have lived life, and experienced all that it has to offer – together. 

After such events, I can only hope to be lucky enough to share the next 40 years with my partner and still feel as happy as I do now – what a wonderful thought!

It’s times like this I love my job!


What a fantastic summer we have had at JT Management. We had the pleasure of working with some amazing people. The summer started with the launch of Freedog, Bristol, an Urban Activity Centre opening in Temple Meads after the hugely successful opening of Swindon, We were asked to be involved with everything from organising the opening night to promoting the brand. The launch party was such fun- there were about 250 people, 80% of which were kids, essentially organised chaos. Kids were running between the trampoline park, parkour area and trick zone. We had some amazing performances by OK Worldwide, and Angels Dance Academy. We ensured there was a great mix of people on the guest list, even the mayor of Bristol showed up to have a bounce! A hectic but truly successful launch!

Freedog Event Management

Freedog Launch Party Event

Photography by Paolo Ferla:

We then turned our attention to our biggest event of the year so far, and it was such good fun! We started working with a lovely couple at the beginning of the year; they wanted to throw a huge party for all their friends and family to celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary. The guest list started at 250 people, over the months this kept growing, and then one day the client called me and said ‘I have something to tell you, please don’t hate me but I think the numbers are more likely to be 500!’ I took a deep breath and calmly responded ‘No problem at all’. We set straight to work on doubling the quantities from the teaspoons to the prosecco. The whole process was such a joy as the couple were so excited by every concept we took them through, they requested that we organise Russian coassack dancers on horseback- so we did exactly that! The event took place in July, outside and with expectations of a gorgeous sunny day. However, typical England it poured for 48 hours pre-event which led to all sorts of nightmares as we had set up marquees in the field which were slowly flooding – the venue started to look like Glastonbury! It was the morning of the event, and I have to say I was extremely nervous about whether it was going to stay dry. The guests started to arrive across the lawns in their hundreds and were met with glasses of bubbly, the sounds of the jazz band in the background and to everyone’s joy the most beautiful blue sky! One of the guests remarked ‘I had no doubt regarding the weather as the sun will always shine on the righteous’. Contrary to the forecast that day was one of the summer’s hottest, beautiful days and the guests danced outside well into the night.




To finish off a great summer, much to my excitement, I was asked to orchestrate a wedding in Cornwall. It was truly beautiful. In keeping with all my summer events so far, there had been a storm the night before, and even the local farmer had said it was going to rain on the day but the sun shone, and the guests were treated to the most amazing sunset melting into the sea behind the tipis. They started with a blessing on the beach, where the guests ran into the sea following the bride, and then they came back to Roscarrock perched on a hill overlooking the sea. There were balloons, cocktails made by Cecil (a vintage ice cream van), fire pits, acoustic music and then just when the guests thought they were done a pizza oven in a van arrived! The whole experience was fantastic, family and friends were there to celebrate two lovely people, kids everywhere and nothing but laughter throughout the day!




Throwback Thursday!

This time last week Josh Tully Management had the great pleasure of organising the launch of Jo Emerson’s debut book – ‘Flying for beginners’

The great and good of Bath turned out in their finery to support Jo at The Huntsman in Bath; the Host spent the night laughing and beaming with joy. Her lovely daughters ran the bookshop which was a huge success! Ed Haddon then interviewed Jo where she discussed the book and was open to questions from her guests. The whole evening was honest and fun!

We are a huge supporter of Jo Emerson ( so please head to Amazon and buy her book- it’s an excellent read!

Click here- to view the promo video captured by the brilliant Paolo (





Top Tips For A Winter Wedding

 With the last days of summer coming to an end we’re packing up our lawn games and vintage ice cream trucks, and looking ahead to the beauty and elegance that is a winter wedding. More than just being a cheaper time of year to get married, winter weddings pack an abundance of charm and magic with glistening candles, cosy fireplaces and delicious hearty foods. Wedding planning professional, Josh Tully, is a firm advocate of a winter wedding, and today he gives us his top tips for how to get it just right…

“The beauty of a winter wedding; the perfect excuse for your guests to wear long gowns and the men to dust off their tuxedos. In my opinion, the dress code should always be black tie for a wedding at this time of year.
winter wedding inspiration, black tie wedding

When looking for a venue for your big day, ask to view the space in the evening for an accurate reflection of how it will look on your day. Ask whether they have restrictions on candles, can their fires be lit? Also one of my essential elements- are the lights on dimmers? During a winter wedding, low lighting is key to creating the right ambience along with lots of candles and roaring fires. It’s very easy to forget the most important elements when viewing a venue on a bright summer’s day.

winter wedding inpsiration

Avoid the temptation to deck the venue out in Christmas decorations and play Christmas songs, give everyone a break; there are only so many versions of ‘We wish you a Merry Christmas’ we can handle. I planned a wedding last year where the décor was white, silver and glass – it was stunning. Hundreds of candles and bright white floral arrangements. Mixing glass with silver reflects the candlelight and creates a magical shimmer in the room. On this occasion, the venue was not allowed to light their fires due to health & safety, so we decided to fill the fireplaces with a collection of different shaped pillar candles to give the same effect and create a wow factor. The table arrangements differed on every table with some having glass fish bowls or silver mirrored cubes filled with white flowers, tall skinny candle holders and tea lights; this created a striking talking point for the guests.

winter wedding inspiration

You can never have enough candle light at a winter wedding, try to be creative and add it in spaces which could look dark and cold. For example, we hung globe t-lights in the windows of a venue and the reflection of the candles in the dark, cold windows looked like a starry winter’s night!

winter wedding inspiration

When looking for your photographer, it is vital you insist on seeing examples of a previous winter wedding in their portfolio as it can go very wrong, for instance, using a flash can kill the ambience you are trying to achieve. These photos are your only memory of the day so it’s important to get it right.

winter wedding inspiration

If your wedding is close to Christmas, it is nice to give a gentle nod to this festive time of year but as I said before don’t overdo it! One of my weddings was held three days before Christmas; the name places were handmade Christmas tree decorations with the guest’s name on- something original, thoughtful and your guests can take it away and keep them as a memory. Or you can use the drinks reception to introduce some fun seasonal drinks such as mulled wine or winter Pimms, always goes down a storm.

winter wedding favour ideas, christmas tree decoration favours

One last thing, don’t forget your guests who may want to pop outside on a cold winters night, a nice touch is having a basket of blankets by the door or arranging a fire pit for the naughty ones to huddle around.”

Winter weddings are beautiful and my personal favourite style of wedding. To summarise my top tips are:


  • Book a photographer who has experience of winter weddings.
  • Candles, candles and more candles.
  • Don’t overdo it on the Christmas theme.
  • Go for Black tie.

Happy planning!”

Photography: Wayne Godwin Reid

Flowers: Flowers By Passion

About Josh…

Josh Tully has a genuine passion for organising weddings. Honing his planning skills while orchestrating the weddings at Babington House. Josh has established a reputation for planning and executing elegant, stylish, beautiful weddings across all seasons and budgets ranging from low-key- intimate ceremonies to lavish extravaganzas.

top tips for a winter wedding