07711 321907
01473 823185

Hints and Tips

Making the right choice of venue

Bear two things in mind......there are many lovely places but not all will fit your idea of your wedding.  Shortlist your favourite venues and then sit down away from them all and work out which ones best suit your plans. Most decent venues will allow you to pencil in a date and decide without pressure.

Second, don't go wildly over budget.  You will go slightly over, but be tough and don't go mad.  It will cause major stress, many rows and spoil your day.  Try and get the basics you want and only add extras if your budget allows it.  You really don't need a lot extra at Priory Hall.


It's costly enough feeding people once, so avoid a double whammy.  Set your ceremony around 2.30; the wedding breakfast at about 5pm, with a few canapes during the afternoon.  This way the meal finishes 7 to 7.30 just in time for the evening party and late enough not to need a second meal, apart from a cheeseboard or bacon butties etc (we had a wonderful crepe van here earlier this year) which can be served in the hall area.

If your ceremony is much before 1pm then people won't remember to lunch and you run the risk of getting your guests inebriated from reception drinks or even succumbing to the vapours, as they used to say, or, more explicitly, fainting.  Much angst, much embarrassment but nothing a jam sandwich can't sort out. Stress, heat and low blood sugar.  Not a great combination!

A further acceptable and increasingly popular move is to have your wedding cake as pudding.  If you cut it after a three-course meal people are too full to enjoy it and most of the cake will be wasted.  The alternative is to make it a feature during the evening party. You could even have a cheeses 'cake'. One couple last year had one real cake and two fake tiers.  No-one noticed!

Of course, if you can't get a registrar at a sensible time, there are ways to make the day work.  One couple decided to have the legal ceremony first at midday with just close family and then a blessing later with all their guests.  This worked really well.  It was a special moment for the close family and did not affect the public occasion. 


Priory Hall is a great place for the dove releasing ceremony....but the doves don't always play fair.  The last time we had them here the bride and groom held them long enough to risk a whoopsie down the dress and then, when they let them go there was no gentle and romantic circling side by side but a supersonic dash for Norwich and home.   And Ipswich registrars ban birds during the ceremony, so no swooping Potter-type owls.

Sky lanterns

They may look pretty but last time there were sky lanterns at Priory Hall three trees were burned and the grass scorched. They are hard enough to light when you're sober but a dangerous nightmare after drinking. Plus of course it has to be dark, dry and virtually wind free and you have to let the local police etc know.  With a great sigh of relief we decided to ban them especially as they are known to kill livestock, and we keep horses.

Reception lines

Just leave enough time.  100 guests will take about 30 minutes to get through, which means you may be leaving aged people or young families standing in line for an uncomfortably long time, possibly in the heat of a summer's day...or worse... And remember, you do need to be announced into the wedding breakfast...this can be done by your best man, caterer or someone from Priory Hall. Me.


If you have a civil ceremony at Priory Hall you may want flowers in the hall. You won't want these in the hall for the party, so ask the florist and/or caterer to move them to the marquee for the wedding breakfast.  You could do the same thing if you have a church ceremony though do check that you are allowed to remove church flowers.  One local vicar last year claimed they were a gift from God (all £500 worth) and refused to let the bride take them, even though she promised to return them for Sunday services.  A very Christian sentiment.......But this aside, there simply is no need to double up on flowers. And simplicity is the key in the marquee; very lavish (and expensive) arrangements do not suit it as well as simple arrangements, even pots of herbs! (I think it's because of its curved shape....)


It's really tempting to do without the official photographs and get friends to snap.  Everyone I know who has done this has wished they hadn't.  Perhaps let friends take informal photos but the formal groups, romantic couple shots are definitely best done by a professional. You could cut costs by dispensing with the professional once the formalities are over but just remember; you can't repeat the day.

And, if you don't ask your guests not to you, might find that social media is featuring you before you've even walked back down the aisle.  If this doesn't bother you, fine, if it does then ask the registrar to suggest that either guests don't take photos during the ceremony (your photographer will) or that they don't put them up for public viewing until you've seen them, or the next day, or something other than immediately.  Perhaps organise a site where all these photos can be sent.

Fiddly bits

Be wise....don't get sucked into doing lots of fiddly bits which need last-minute attention.  You do not want to be faffing around Priory Hall for hours the day before your wedding.  If you have last minute things, delegate. Even better, don't have last minute things...they cause many tetchy arguments and make little difference to the day.

Wedding music

We do have an i-pod player you can use for the ceremony but it may be best to have one that the person delegated as music supremo can have worked with before.  Also i-pods have been known to freeze.  Always wise to bring a fully prepared back up!

Organising the day...

There's a lot of setting up, taking down, and collecting during the day.....reception drinks,   plates for this and that, evening food to put out and then remove.  If your caterer is not going to do this (and we've discovered some this year that really don't, that's why they appear to be cheaper than others) then you need to find someone who will, or you're going to be knee deep in dirty glasses.  Steve Laing, who runs the evening cash bar, can organise staff to do this if you need them.  This is not a job for guests....they won't do it on the day....


Caterers normally bring in refrigeration and will happily chill your reception drinks and wine.  If they don't, you'll need to hire in refrigeration. Warm wine is not a happy option. Yet again, barman Steve Laing can come to the rescue with his mini fridge trailer, but you'll have to talk to him about it.

Guest limits

Our limits are shown all over the place - 120 for the ceremony; 150 for the marquee and evening party.  We've had people go over this, but please don't.  It breaks out insurance conditions, it is too many for our cloakroom facilities, it is too many for the size of our bar.  It is certainly too many to be in the hall if rains. Lots of good reasons to stick to the limit.  Please. Because of the implications of breaking this, Priory Hall reserves the right to refuse entry over the limit level.  And that could be horribly embarrassing for us all!


Don't struggle.  If you need to sort something out, just call or email Cyndy at Priory Hall - 07711 321907   cyndy.hilton@prioryhall.com  I'm always happy to help!

Anniversary visits

There's a bonus for Priory Hall brides....you can come back for your anniversaries at no extra charge.  Just the two of you .... bottle of bubbly and a picnic.... and lots of memories.