If you've found your dream venue, but are worrying about how you're going to turn the empty room into a gorgeous reception space, then fret not. I can't supply you with a fairy godmother, but here's the next best thing: my little black - or rather white - book of great contacts that will help you to create a space you'll want to party in.
- Jones Hire is the perfect one-stop shop for the reception-planning girl with style. Log onto www.joneshire.co.uk and pore over their huge range of furniture, china and glassware. Be brave and break away from tradition. Had you considered square tables rather than the predicatable round shape? Why not bring a hint of colour to otherwise plain tables by adding coloured glassware? And for an instant shot of glamour, place one of their antique gold chargers under each plate. Jones Hire offer a brilliant service and can deliver anywhere in the UK, phew!
- If you're a design-conscious bride, or just like the idea of making a statement, then check out www.greathire.co.uk. They stock a selection of Philippe Starck chairs which work well in modern settings, and if you're short of space, choose the clear perspex design as they won't take up much space visually. Decorate each table with a single Bourgie Lamp rather than a floral arrangement and for a striking bar, look no further than the purple mirrored number, available to hire.
- It's a good idea to give some thought to lighting your reception space. Soft lighting coupled with fairy lights makes for a really romantic setting, and is easy to create with the help of a specialist lighting company. I love Hawthorns Hire (www.hawthorns.uk.com) who advised and installed the lighting at the location of my latest photoshoot. They have a brilliant "can do" attitude, and know all the ways to add "wow" factor to a venue. I love the idea of adding colour to plain white walls with up-lighters, and using pinspot lights to draw attention to dramatic table centre arrangements.
Finally, if you're looking for quirky props - anything from unusual cake tables, screens to divide space, unusual ornaments to match your theme - then browse the eclectic collection at www.grangerhertzog.com. If you haven't anything particular in mind then pop along to their London showroom, and I guarantee you'll pick up inspiration along the way.
One last word of advice, there are bound to be photographs of your reception space dressed for past weddings. Ask the venue manager if you can see these so that you can visualise the room with furniture, recreate the best bits and avoid the not-so-tasteful touches!