My Wedding Breakfast

How we reduced the cost of catering our wedding by opting for cheaper options for drinks and choosing 2 courses instead of 3

I’ve shared many details about my wedding, I’ve shared with you some of the decorations and entertainment we created, how the husband and I made our invitations, I gave you 14 ways how we reduced costs, I’ve divulged a breakdown of the wedding day and I let you in our own very own personal vows!

But in none of these posts have I ever gone into detail about our catering, what food and drink we chose for our wedding breakfast, how we went about making the decisions we did and what our reasons were for those decisions. In this post I will finally share these details with you.

It’s probably quite evident from everything else I’ve shared in the past 2-3 years on this blog that the Husband and I wanted our wedding planning to go as smoothly as possible, and we really didn’t want to be spending all our spare time planning the wedding. We also didn’t want to cause ourselves any more stress or grief than was necessary, so if there was a way we could cut out any potential stress we would.

From previous experience (of when I was first engaged) and from watching friends and family plan their weddings we knew that catering was not only one of the most expensive elements to a wedding but was also something that could cause a lot of problems.

Problems that often arise from catering:

  • The pressure of trying to choose a menu that will wow your guests
  • Whilst also trying to ensure the menu you choose will meet all the guests fussiness and food allergies/intolerances
  • And if it does meet guests’ allergies, intolerances and fussiness requirements the stress of then trying to get that menu within your budget
  • let alone then selecting the right wine that everyone will like, the best bubbles and a welcome drink that will “really compliment your couple style”
  • If you manage to make it past all of these hurdles the last and most stressful part of the whole endeavour is chasing your guests for their menu choices, especially Aunt Mable who doesn’t have email nor is able to text and who is wary of answering the phone so makes it go to the answer machine and will only pick up if she recognises your voice. That is if she gets to the phone before you’ve hung up after leaving a brief message as to the fact you’re calling to just check (again!) if she has had a chance to look over the menu options part of the invitation you’re sure she received months ago…

Oh Gosh! I went into a bit of a world of my own there, poor (pretend) Aunt Mable. As you can tell from my above little made up rant, I just could not bare the stress of chasing people for their menu choices. Even though I’ve been married a year I come out in theoretical sweats just thinking about it.

One of the reasons the Husband and I decided to book with Donnington Valley Hotel was because of their flexible approach to catering. Having researched venues online and over the phone I went to view 3 venues with one of my Bridesmaids and to be honest Donnington just really stood out to me for lots of reasons, but it was their flexibility and happiness to work to our budget that really swung the decision.

Back in January 2015 when we first reserved the date of 8th October 2016 for our wedding at Donnington Valley Hotel they emailed me a quotation for 2 catering options for the wedding breakfast, one quote was based on having a 3 course sit down wedding breakfast and the other was based on having a 2 course hot buffet. The 2 course hot buffet option worked out as £12 per head cheaper than the 3 course served to the tables option and I tell you what, a £12 a head saving really works out as quite a bit when you multiply that by the number of guests you plan on inviting.

How to cater your wedding less. How we reduced the cost of feeding our wedding guests and how you could too

Children’s Menu as chosen by our Best Man’s little girl who was 6 years old at the time of the wedding:
Starter: Bread sticks with melted cheese dip
Main: Popcorn chicken with fries
Dessert: Ice cream sundae (mix of ice cream)
The children’s menu cost us £15 per head and we had 5 children attending the wedding that were eating from the children’s menu.

Adults hot buffet menu for guests to choose from on the day
Main: Beef Lasagna and Vegetable Cannelloni (both served hot) with Broccoli and Stilton Quiche (served cold), new potatoes and chives, green beans and red onion, mixed leaves and coleslaw
Desserts: Rich Chocolate Tart and Vanilla Cheesecake

Let’s rewind to the “welcome drinks”. The usual choice for the welcome drinks is Champagne or the slightly cheaper Cava. As we were having an autumnal wedding, and wanted to be a little different, at the same time as reducing costs we opted for
Hot Toddy Cider and Winter Pimms which were £5 each.

Ok, back to the wedding breakfast, we put 1 bottle of red and 1 bottle white wine on each table. We were charged £20 per bottle which was a lot less than many other venues quoted us for bottles of wine. We kept to the tradition of bubbles for toasting the speeches with but opted for Prosecco which worked out as much less then champagne at just £5 per drink.

Many friends advised us that a full evening buffet was quite a waste of money as at their own weddings they noticed most of it was left untouched by the end of the evening. With this advice in mind in opted for bacon, egg and sausage sandwiches to be served around 9pm.

This equates to all the food and drink we paid for for our guests coming to £2,090 which was a significant percentage of our £6.5k budget.


What is a Celebrant and why would I have one conduct my wedding ceremony?

Why Should I consider a Celebrant

Have you considered who will be conducting your wedding ceremony? 
Do you know what your options are regarding your wedding ceremony? 

I’ve got to be honest, even though I’ve been a member of the wedding blogging world since 2011 I never considered my options regarding who I could have conducting my ceremony. This may be because I did stick to looking at licensed wedding venues which meant I didn’t consider anything other than booking to have Registrars from the local registry office. 

In England and Wales for a wedding to be legally recognised the ceremony needs to be conducted in a licensed and registered venue by a registered registrar. 

However, if you want to have your wedding at a venue that is not a licensed wedding venue or if you want to have a more personalised ceremony than the registrar conducted ceremonies are able to offer than you can opt to have your ceremony conducted by a Celebrant. 

In England and Wales a Celebrant led wedding in not legally recognised, meaning couples opting to have their ceremony conducted by a Celebrant often have to have their legal ceremony conducted at their local Registry Office before or after their wedding day.

This leads me to a question that was posed by Linda on the SayIDoOnABudget Facebook page. Linda, who writes ‘Boots, Shoes and Fasion‘ asked “is there a way to make the legalities part of the Celebrant led wedding?”

To answer this question and others we have three wonderful Celebrants who offered to help us understand what a Celebrant is, how they’re different to Registrars and why you may want to consider hiring one for your wedding ceremony. 

So “is there a way to make the legalities part of the Celebrant led wedding?” – Linda
YvonneA celebrant ceremony is totally unique and personal and can incorporate any and all your ideas and wishes without any restrictions. A celebrant ceremony allows you to use any venue or even your family home and outdoor spaces like parkland or beach mountain or woodland. The one thing we cannot do is legalise the marriage as it would need the marriage law to be changed to allow us to do this. Humanist celebrants in Scotland and now Northern Ireland are able to do so as they don’t include any religious or spiritual or cultural content which conforms to the civil marriage rules. They will of course provide a personally written non religious ceremony that’s personalised.
LisaThese are two separate ceremonies and aren’t included in the same ceremony. Many couples do the legal part a couple of days in advance or on the morning, then celebrate their wedding with their celebrant led ceremony
SueAs the law stands in England & Wales a celebrant cannot carry out the legal aspect of your marriage. It’s a simple 10 minute appointment in casual clothes, with 2 witnesses when you register your marriage, repeating the legally required vows, and signing the register – in exactly the same way you would register a birth for example. There is no legal requirement to exchange your personal vows or your rings – save these for your celebrant-led celebration wedding with your loved ones – if you choose not to tell them that you carried out the legal vows the day before then no-one will know.

An interview with 3 wedding celebrants to help you understand the difference between a Celebrant led wedding ceremony and a Registrar led ceremony. Blog by

Before we carrying on hearing their answers to our burning questions, lets find out a bit more about them.

Sue is based in Hartford, near Northwich in Cheshire and has been qualified as a diploma trained Celebrant since 2014.

Lisa in based in the North East of England and this is her first year working with clients although she has led many ceremonies for friends and family in the past.

And Yvonne is based in London but also travels to Berlin and has been a Celebrant since 2011 when she completed her training with the UK college of Celebrancy in Worthing. Yvonne is also a member of the Fellowship of Professional Celebrants.

Do Celebrants have to be registered and qualified or go through any training before they can work as a Celebrant?
YvonneNo. However I recommend that you find a celebrant who is not only trained but has both public liability and professional indemnity insurance.
Lisa:  In England which is where I am based, there are no requirements to be registered or qualified.  I did choose to train with Civil Ceremonies Limited; this was a personal choice so I could be the best possible celebrant I could be for my clients. The training was excellent, we practised everything from hand fasting and reciting poetry to studying the history of marriage and the legal requirements involved in conducting ceremonies. I am also registered with the Association of  Independent Celebrants, a wonderful collection of celebrants offering mentoring support and awareness of the independent celebrant movement.
SueIdeally yes, as there are some Celebrants operating who are not trained, insured or qualified, so, like any other supplier you hire, you should choose a qualified one.

I’m on a really small budget and I’ve heard a Celebrant is more expensive than a Registrar, is this true?
YvonneI recommend checking prices and services within your local area or the area that you’re getting married in. Registrars charge around £50-£60 for a simple civil ceremony at their offices or up to £600-£700 if asked to attend at a venue where they will officiate in exactly the same way as they do at their office. A celebrant will meet you and get to know you and your story ideas and beliefs and create a totally personal and tailored ceremony that has no restrictions on time format or content. We can include religious or cultural or spiritual content and many different and lovely rituals that a registrar cannot. Working with a couple may take several months and lots of emails or Skype calls or drafting along with a rehearsal too and therefore the cost is usually reflective of the time and skills that a celebrant will use. Celebrants arrive early and help with the final touches and don’t have to rush to another venue as most celebrants will only perform one ceremony on any day so as to give their couples a stress free occasion.
LisaIt would depend on your requirements, you may find a celebrant is a very cost effective option.
SueNot very much more and in some areas, even less! But, the service you receive more than justifies any small extra cost.

If you could put your Wedding Celebrant service into a price bracket which if the following would be correct for you and your charges? a) under £500 b) £500-£1000 c) Over £1000
Yvonne: A. My fees are £450 for a wedding.
Lisa: A. under £500
Sue: Currently B.  £500-1000

So, if I book you to be my Celebrant, what tends to happen between us agreeing the booking and the wedding day?
YvonneI like to meet in person or over Skype and have a good long chat about your plans and ideas and answer any questions. I then send you a booking form and ask you to pay me your booking fee if you decide I’m the right celebrant for you. After that I will ask you more questions about the style and type of ceremony you’re looking for and begin drafting. I can provide advice and suggestions on readings or poetry or internal rituals and on writing vows and promises. I can suggest ideas for the inclusion of your guests if you would like to involve them. I like to have drafts approved at least four weeks before your big day so we have no stress over the heart of your wedding day!
LisaWe would have an initial telephone conversation to establish what you would like from your ceremony, these conversations capture details like date and time of ceremony and venue as well as understanding how you would like your ceremony to feel. We would discuss your relationship and style, your likes and dislikes, values and personality and if you’d like a traditional or none traditional day. Approx. 6 months before your day we would meet face to face to discuss in more details your wishes for the ceremony, all of the 

An interview with 3 wedding Celebrants on what a wedding celebrant is. Blog by

ceremonies I write are bespoke to the couple so we would refine what and who is important to include in the ceremony. Two weeks before the ceremony I will send across the draft script for the couple to approve, edits can be made and if requested a dress rehearsal. In the meantime I will be in touch with the venue, suppli

ers and your readers to ensure things run smoothly. On the big day I arrive early to check everything is in place, say hello to the happy couple and make the ceremony happen. It’s a privilege to deliver the ceremony and play a part in making the client’s dreams come true.
SueWe work closely together whilst I create your bespoke ceremony, tailored to be about the two of you. You will have unlimited email and phone contact, a rehearsal is always offered if it’s feasible and you wish to have one, and I arrive in plenty of time on the day to conduct the ceremony for you.

Another question posed on the SayIDoOnABudget Facebook page came from Shaun. Shaun who is a wedding photographer (and is also recently engaged) wanted to know what the benefits are of using a Celebrant and why we (as customers) should opt for a Celebrant instead of a Registrar. So to answer Shaun’s question I posed this to Lisa, Yvonne and Sue…
Being as honest as you can, please name 2 pro’s to having a celebrant lead your wedding ceremony and 1 con

Lisa’s 2 Pro’s and a Con: 

Pro 1 = Your celebrant wedding ceremony can be held anywhere. From your garden to art galleries your choice of venue is limitless, your venue doesn’t have to be licensed nor do you need to marry at a certain time of day.  Imagine a ceremony at midnight under the stars!
Pro 2 = You have huge flexibility on content and style, there are no rules. You can include religious content, traditional vows, dancing and music or perhaps even symbolic actions. It‘s your day have it your way.
Con =  It’s not legally binding so it does require a short legal ceremony which can be completed in advance of your celebrant led ceremony.

Sue’s 2 Pros and a Con

Pro 1 = Meeting with your celebrant months ahead of your special day and getting to know her/him means that it feels relaxed and comfortable having her/him officiating on the day.  Whereas it is extremely unlikely that you would meet your registrar until a few minutes before the ceremony.
Pro 2 =  Good celebrants book only 1 ceremony a day – there is no clock-watching if things don’t run to plan, or if the Bride is late/delayed. A registrar has more than one ceremony a day and will rush you if you are late.
Con = an in demand Celebrant gets booked up way ahead, so if this type of ceremony appeals to you, then don’t hang around! 

Yvonne’s 2 Pros and a Con:

Pro 1 = A celebrant ceremony is totally unique and personal and can incorporate any and all your ideas and wishes without any restrictions.
Pro 2 = A celebrant ceremony allows you to use any venue or even your family home and outdoor spaces like parkland or beach mountain or woodland.
Con = The one thing we cannot do is legalise the marriage as it would need the marriage law to be changed to allow us to do this. Humanist celebrants in Scotland and now Northern Ireland are able to do so as they don’t include any religious or spiritual or cultural content which conforms to the civil marriage rules. They will of course provide a personally written non religious ceremony that’s personalised.
 Wedding Celebrant Post


When talking with some friends about celebrant led weddings some seemed confused about the fact you would usually have to have the legalities done on a separate day to the day you would be having your ‘wedding’ on. If this is something that you’ve been struggling with during this post then I may have a way to help you. Think of it like this: 

The day you are born on is the day you class as your birthday and therefore the day you celebrate each year as the anniversary of your birth. Your birth will be registered sometimes up to a few weeks after your birth, but you don’t celebrate your birthday on the date your birth was registered. 
It can be the same for your wedding. Think of the legal ceremony as you registering your marriage. You may ‘register’ your marriage days/weeks before or after your wedding, but you will still celebrate your anniversary each year from the day you had your wedding day. 

If you wish to find out more about Lisa, Yvonne and Sue I have provided links to their Facebook pages, Twitter profiles and their websites below:

Sue’s Website, Twitter profile and Facebook page

Lisa’s Website, Twitter profile and Facebook page

Yvonne’s Website, Twitter profile and Facebook page

#BrideHour – A Twitter Chat Hour


A few years ago when I first started participating in Twitter chat hours, #Bridehour was a very popular and busy chat, filled with tweets from wedding vendors and engaged couples alike. It was one of my favourite twitter chat hours, but sadly the chat died away. I’m not sure why, I can only presume because the person who hosted the chats stopped using twitter, which meant without a host the chat slowly got less and less popular.

Often it is the case that chat hours need someone who hosts the hours and tweets about the chat throughout the week to keep people interested in joining in and to serve as a reminder. If there is no one hosting and promoting the chat it is unlikely to keep going.

Well, a few weeks ago Bridal Bay decided to get the #BrideHour chat going again, and as soon as I found out they were trying to re-start #BrideHour I decided to join in with helping to promote the hour.

It will still be on the same day and at the same time it has always been; Every Thursday from 8pm to 9pm (UK time). #BrideHour long (1)

But don’t forget that there is also #weddingdaychat

Every Sunday 8pm-9pm too. 

Real Budget Wedding: Chris and Emma’s 2k Purple July Wedding

Real Budget Wedding 2k Crafty

Bride and Groom: Chris & Emma.
Emma works as a teacher and artist and Chris is a Graphic Designer

Ceremony Venue: Ashton Memorial, Lancaster
Reception Venue: Ribble Cruising Club, Lytham

Wedding Date: 25th July 2015

Wedding Colour Scheme and Theme: Purple with the subtle inclusion of their love for Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings.

Total Wedding Budget: £2,200

How did you decide on your budget? We knew we wanted a small wedding and didn’t want to spend a fortune, but most importantly we wanted it to be very us. We were also moving in to our new home a few months before we were due to get married so we knew that the budget had to be small.

What elements of planning were the hardest with your budget? There were so many ‘extra’ things that we would have liked to have but just couldn’t afford within the budget. Though these really didn’t matter on the day.

Chris and Emma’s fabulous wedding suppliers:
The paper flowers and table décor were created by Emma herself.
For their catering they had Hot Pot and Cheese and Potato Pie from a local vendor.
Their wedding cake was a small white cake from Tesco which they added to with home made cupcakes.
As a way to cut costs Chris and Emma forewent a DJ and instead they made a playlist full of their favourite songs and songs from their guests suggestions and played these through the sound system at the venue.

Victoria was Emma’s MUA and nail tech and Emma’s aunt did her hair for her on the wedding say as her present to them

Tell us all about your Bridal outfit? My Wedding Dress was from Debenhams in the sale and cost £60. I spent a while looking for the ‘perfect’ dress but knew that this could take a massive amount from our budget. When I saw this dress in the online sale at Debenhams two months after we got engaged and nearly 2 years before we got married I took the risk and ordered, it fitted perfectly.


What about your beautiful Bridesmaids? We had 2 Bridesmaids and one ‘Lady of Flowers’. Our two Bridesmaids wore black and white dresses from Miss Selfridge which cost £40 each and was a dress they could wear again and my friend who was the ‘Lady of Flowers’ bought her own black maxi dress to wear. Their dresses were teamed with purple pashminas from eBay at approximately £6 each. They also wore their own shoes so they were comfy.

And the Groovy Groomsmen? We had 5 Groomsmen altogether. We didn’t buy their outfits, just asked that they wore what they would like with a grey tie. This way they all looked like themselves and where comfortable in what they were wearing.

What about the bling bling? My ring was from H.Samuel and was about £60 and Chris’ ring was his Grandad’s wedding ring which we had cleaned and re-sized.

What was your Old/New/Borrowed/Blue? My old was a photo of me and my Grandad which was attached to my bouquet. My new was my shoes, my borrowed was a bracelet from my mum and my blue was my garter which one of my bridesmaids made.

Did you get your DIY on? I think the majority of our wedding was DIY. We made our own invites for the wedding, I made the bouquets, buttonholes, table decorations, along with a 3 tier wedding cake all from paper (which is where C&E Designs started).

I spent months drying out flowers for the confetti, I even made over 100 cupcakes for the evening do. We made the table plan, place names, we decorated the wedding car (my dad’s Land Rover) with bunting and flowers and we decorated the Reception Venue and the Ceremony Venue ourselves (with help from family and friends). Although this all took a massive amount of time it really helped to keep to our budget.


What was the biggest hurdle you ran into when planning your wedding? My main hurdle was how to get everything to come together at the end, particularly decorating the venue for the ceremony without me being there. My brother, his girlfriend and Chris had instructions of what to do and not knowing if it would be how I had imagined until I got there was a little stressful.

What was/were your best budget buy/s? I think my dress was the best budget buy as this really helped us keep to our budget.

What was your biggest blowout spend for the wedding? As it got nearer to the day for the wedding we decided we would spend a bit extra on things that weren’t really that important or necessary in the grand scheme of things, for example, the light up ‘LOVE’ letters which we borrowed from a friend. They were lovely but they weren’t a necessity.

Was there anything that didn’t go as planned? I arrived at the Ceremony about 40Chris and Emma's 2k purple wedding details. Real Budget Wedding Feature on minutes before I needed to be there and had to sit in the car. We’d left earlier than planned originally as the traffic was really bad but it didn’t take as long as first thought and guests were still arriving.

Most memorable part/s of the day? Obviously just ‘being married’ but I think knowing that everyone had a really good time and enjoyed the day was amazing. We had tried really hard for it to be a relaxed, no pressure day and this paid off.

Any tips or advice you’d give to others planning on a small budget? Start planning early if you can, we started planning two years before our big day and this really took the stress off, particularly when you are doing most of it yourselves. We also spent time putting together a scrapbook right at the start of all the things we wanted (and didn’t want) and this really helped us to narrow down exactly what was important and what would be nice but that we didn’t really need.

Final Thoughts and Feelings:
Right from the start of discussing what we wanted our wedding to be like we knew we wanted a relaxed and stress free day surrounded by our family and close friends. We asked our guests to not wear formal suits, hats or fascinators and to wear clothes they felt comfortable in and this fitted with our ‘informal’ approach to the day.

We really wanted the day just to be about ‘us’ and it to really show who we are as a couple, so we included a lot of our favourite things, for example, all the paper flowers were made from Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings books, my wedding car was my dads Land Rover which we decorated and our wedding outfits, my dress and Chris’ outfit where very us. Nothing about the day felt forced, just relaxed and fun.

We were also very lucky that my best friend is a Photographer and her Wedding present to us was being our Photographer.

Chris & Emma's 2k Craft packed wedding in July 2015. Real Budget Wedding Feature on

C&E Designs was set up by myself following my wedding. I realised their was a niche market for those people who, like myself and Chris didn’t want traditional flowers. Paper Flowers offer a fantastic alternative, as well as tending to be much more cost effective, they also last as a memento of your special day.
“At C&E Designs we are bespoke paper specialists offering a range of exciting alternative paper items for your special day with Wedding Packages starting from £170. Everything is made by hand in our studio in Lancashire using your paper choice. Our items are a perfect keepsake for your day too!
From bouquets to boutonnieres to table decorations to wedding favours and paper confetti all created to fit with your wedding.”
 To find out more about Emma and her fabulous paper flowers business visit her website, like her Facebook page, or follow her on Twitter or Instagram 

In 2 Sunday’s Time it’ll be my 1st Anniversary

1st Anniversary Gift

So today is Sunday, albeit, Sunday rapidly drawing to a close. On Sunday 8th October 2017 I will have been married for 1 year.

Last time I posted about my anniversary coming up it was when I was in a quandary about what to get the Husband as a first anniversary gift. We decided to get each other paper gifts as per the traditional anniversary gift list.

Sounds pretty easy doesn’t it? And it is easy to find paper anniversary gifts. What is hard is narrowing down the ideas.

Some of the wonderful ideas I had and some that were suggested to me included: 

  • Having our wedding vows typed up in pretty fonts and colours and framed
  • Getting a personalised song written and produced for us and having the lyrics to the song printed off and framed
  • Crafting a map of the location where we got married into a rose
  • Someone tweeted me with the suggestion of a personalised toilet roll! 
  • Hand writing a love letter to my husband

All of those ideas are rather awesome, and some of those suggestions are near enough free, while others would cost quite a bit!

We currently are living with my sister as we save very hard to try and buy our own house in 12 months (or a little more) time. For this reason I didn’t really want to get anything that would take up space, nor anything that would cost too much.

What I decided to go with isn’t in the above list of ideas. And although I was very tempted to tell you now what I’ve bought for him, I think I’m going to wait to reveal that until after our anniversary.

What do you think I’ve bought him? I’d love to see your guesses in the comments below. Then if any of you are right I will let you know and try to tag you in my post telling all, after our anniversary.

Real Budget Wedding: Matt & Monika’s

Matt & Monika's Real Budget Wedding Feature. Matt & Monika got married in Slovakia in August 2015 for just 12k all in.

Bride and Groom: Monika & Matthew Holmes live in Berkshire
and both work as Account Managers

Wedding Venue: Chateau Mignon Castle, Slovakia
Wedding date: 22.08.2015
Number of Guests: 90 (60 day guests plus an additional 30 evening guests)

Wedding colour Scheme: Pink, Cream & Gold
Videographer: Radko Janis  
Photographer: Lubko Durica

Total wedding budget: £12, 000

Matt and Monika met at work. After Matt joined Kosnic their romance blossomed over their computer screens. Matt proposed to Monika in front of all her family during a holiday to Slovakia. Their engagement lasted 1 year as they married nearly exactly 1 year after getting engaged. 

How’d you decide on your budget? We didn’t set one. We just did it bit by bit. Didn’t think about money. We didn’t go too mad of course, but when we liked something we just went for it!

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3 Great Wedding Discoveries

3 New Wedding Ideas You will love

Here are 3 very different wedding ideas I have discovered recently that I think are definitely worth sharing with you.

1) A fabulous recycling idea…
Recycle your wedding dress to make a christening gown. 

Previously I discussed my reasons for donating my wedding dress to charity. One of my reasons for not keeping my gown was because I couldn’t see the logic behind keeping the dress when most people store their dress away never to be looked at again, or to be pulled out once a decade or so.

But instead of simply storing, selling or donating your dress why not turn it into something else?

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