Behind the big day

The people who make couples’ dreams come true

‘You can’t choose a vicar the way you pick a caterer’

Sally Hitchiner, 33, is an Anglican priest. She performs weddings and is senior chaplain at Brunel University

‘Weddings are a real celebration of love and one of the few times family and friends can get together, so it’s a privilege to be part of one.

‘I meet a couple before their big day to help them relax and enjoy it. I guide them through their vows, picking out ways they might want to personalise their service.

‘Weddings don’t have to stick to tradition: one couple had Home and Away’s theme tune read as a poem. It was a bit of work to fit it in, but it meant a lot to them so I had to be creative.

‘I encourage couples to talk to each other about what marriage means to them. It’s a great way to help start a marriage off on firm foundations.

‘Some couples ask me to do their wedding but you can’t really choose a vicar as you would a florist or caterer. The best thing is to meet with the vicar of the church you’d like to get married in and start planning your dream day.’

Sally’s tips

  1. Have as many of your wedding party at the rehearsal as possible, and have a get-together afterwards to reassure you about the mechanics!
  2. Planning a wedding can be overwhelming. Find ways to stay connected to your fiancé as the day approaches, even watching a box set counts
  3. Don’t be afraid to talk to your vicar. We’re friendly and want to help you have a wonderful day.
  4. is a brilliant resource to help couples plan weddings – and gives you an idea of what to expect.

‘I like working with demanding brides’

Roz West, 32, is one half of Rae and Rose, a florist specialising in weddings

‘I’ve always had a passion for flowers so running Rae and Rose with my friend Sam is my dream job. We don’t have a shop, so usually the bride comes to us to brainstorm.

‘We’ll talk about her dress and venue; everything has to be in proportion. A massive bouquet would dwarf a tiny woman in a slinky dress; same goes for little tables or huge vases.

‘I like working with demanding brides. We once had a request for royal blue roses – an unusual colour. The bride wanted them the next day - I love a challenge.

‘We suggest seasonal blooms - imported flowers don’t last as well. We keep quick-wilting flowers (like hydrangeas) fresh by hiding cups of water in arrangements.

‘We arrange the flowers the day before or on the day itself. Then we deliver buttonholes to the groom and bridal party. Brides always ask how their fiancé is feeling. I have to say, the grooms are always more relaxed.’

Roz’s tips

  1. Be clear on your budget. If you know what you want to spend then the florist can give you a more accurate idea of what will be possible.
  2. Make sure your florist knows your venue. The scale of the rooms and tables will affect how big the flower arrangements should be.
  3. Bring a sample of your dress fabric. Colour can be subjective so it’s better to be clear
  4. Bring lots of pictures for inspiration. Websites like can help you create moodboards where you can save your favourite ideas.

‘It’s a huge responsibility’

Ann-Louise Roswald, 39, is a wedding dress designer based in Whitby. She’s been dressing brides since 2007

‘There’s no dress more special in a woman’s life than her wedding dress – being the person who creates that dress is a huge responsibility.

‘Each bride is individual; some come in with a very clear idea of what they want, while others need guidance.

‘We discuss every element of the wedding with the bride – it’s important to get a feel of what the day is going to be like to ensure the dress is perfect.

‘The quirkiest wedding dress I’ve made was a gorgeous deep purple – a real show-stopper. I’ve also made some in red (the traditional wedding dress colour in India) which looked fabulous. Mainly, though, we’re the go-to company for 50s-style wedding dresses.

‘We spend so much time with dresses it’s hard not to get attached. It’s lovely to see the bride looking so happy with her dress, knowing you played such a big part in it.’

Ann-Louise’s tips

  1. If you want to lose weight, try to do it before you go dress shopping – it changes the fit, and can affect your opinion about the style you want.
  2. Hold a sample of the fabric next to your skin. Ivory can be more flattering than pure white, which can really drain the colour from your complexion.
  3. Dress to your assets – pick your favourite feature and find a dress that shows it off. It’s the best approach to be sure your dress will flatter you.
  4. Bring shoes with the same heel height you’ll be wearing - and underwear -to the first fitting. Different bras affect your bust size so bring a selection.

‘We’ve made a cake in the shape of a carousel horse’

Henry Everett, 27, from Brighton, is a bespoke cake designer for cake makers Choccywoccydoodah

‘The most exciting moment for me is when a bride collects her cake. Seeing the look on her face is just magical.

‘The process usually starts six months before with a consultation. I’m the senior cake designer and manage a couple’s whole experience with us.

‘Our artists create sketches for the couple - we’ve got display cakes and a portfolio for inspiration. Flavours range from chocolate, lemon and praline to Champagne truffle – they have to be tasted, of course.

‘We made the cake for McFly drummer Harry Judd - a real show-stopper with a glitterball on top of a tree filled with symbols representing important moments in their lives – all sculpted out of chocolate.

‘Cakes are a centrepiece at any wedding, so getting it right is important. We recently made one in the shape of a carousel horse, which took a lot of practice.’

Henry’s tips

  1. Make sure you have a tasting. A cake that looks amazing is one thing, but you want people to enjoy eating it, too! Taste it at the consultation.
  2. Think about the broader themes of your wedding when planning your cake. It’s nice if it can coordinate with things like your flowers or colour theme.
  3. Save money by serving your cake as dessert. With so many different flavours around these days, your cake can make the perfect pudding.
  4. Remember people will want to take pictures of you cutting the cake, so when you’re choosing where to display the cake, have that in mind.