Epic Elopment


I am delighted to bring you an interview with Carly, the wonderful lady who runs epicelopement.co.uk helping you fulfill your dream of eloping.

carlyepicelopeI met Carly during a twitter chat hour, and as some of you may know, I’ve always been a fan of the idea of eloping. When my husband and I started early stages of wedding planning I showed him my own personal favourite location to elope to – Gretna Green – but he was dead set against the idea much to my disappointment.

Over the years I’ve known many couples who have chosen to elope, friends of mine have gotten married in Cyprus, Gretna Green and Las Vegas, and another friend is planning her own elopement to Venice.

If you’re toying with the idea of eloping, or struggling to get your plans off the ground read on for Carly’s experience, hints and tips…

Once you’d made the decision to elope, how did you find the planning? 

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My Planning So Far


Venue

Back in November last year I started to look at venues with my Maid of Honour. In the month since getting engaged I had narrowed down the venues I wanted to look at to just 3 purely from internet research, emails and telephone calls.YourDayYourWay

When you’re looking at venues you don’t have to traipse around multiple places to figure out if you like them and if the costs will fit into your budget. Sometimes it can be obvious if a venue is going to be out of your budget or if the setting won’t suit your couple style!

I emailed and phoned a few venues to see if they would discuss pricing with me; the ones that wouldn’t were instantly crossed off the list. Once I’d figured out I liked the venue enough to view it I arranged appointments on weekday evenings.

The first venue my MOH and I looked at was Pitt Hall Barn and was rather quickly scrubbed from the list due to the cost of hiring the barn being a couple of grand by itself! The other disadvantages were no accommodation or any accommodation near by. Accommodation is very iportant to my H2B and I due to our family being spread far and wide.

The second venue we went to see was Donnington Valley Hotel & Spa which really impressed the both of
us. The wedding co-coordinator at Donnington was unbelievably helpful and so personable I knew I’d feel happy discussing my plans with her as time went on. With a semi-rural location and plenty of affordable rooms for family and friends it really was a winner.

The third and final venue we viewed was Elcott Park Hotel. For about 10 years I have regularly driven past the sign for Elcott Park Hotel dreaming of getting married there. The key selling points for Elcott Park is the rural location and the neutral decor throughout meaning any colour theme you choose would work well in every room.

After discussing numbers however, Elcott Park came up a few thousand pound more expensive than Donnington Valley and the overall feel I got from the venue and the staff at Donnington was more welcoming. So Donnington Valley was my number 1 choice.

 Now to see if the H2B agrees with me. EEK!

Funnily, my work Christmas party a few months beforehand was at Donning Valley Hotel & Spa, so he had seen the venue before, but I wanted him to view it again with sober eyes. There was a wedding fair on the day I took the H2B, which was actually beneficial as it helped us see how the ceremony and receptions rooms could be laid out and we had a brilliant sit down chat with the wedding coordinator who helped us to realise our vision and budget.
The H2B said yes, so we provisionally booked in our date and agreed to pay the deposit in two payments.

April 2015 – 50% of deposit paid
August 2015 – 50% of deposit paid
No more payments until April 2016

Wedding Date = Saturday 8th October 2016

Photographer

I’ve got to be honest, finding a photographer scared the hell out of me. Even now that we’ve found and booked our photographer I’m still scared. We all know only too well that the photos are the only lasting thing from your wedding that you will have, which makes the search so daunting. Each photographer has their own style and so many styles are wonderful! Narrowing down a search is just so dam hard!

I registered on Trusted Local and continued to search for photographers during Twitter wedding chat hours. Once I had received a few responses through Trusted Local and had favourited a few people found during Twitter wedding chats the H2B and I sat down one Saturday and looked through each one. Without any input from me as to whom I liked best the H2B chose the same photographer that would have been my first choice. A phone call later and we had booked Natalie Moore!

One of things that scared me most about wedding planning had been ticked off the list! oh my goodness I could have fallen over with relief once the deposit was paid.

Alternative Bouquet

I always had the vision that there won’t be any flowers anywhere on my big day. Alternatives to flowers are so much more ME. Back in 2012 I made a bouquet, two wrist corsages and 5 button holes using woolen pompoms. My vision was to bring Autumn into the non-floral pieces (hehe, see what I did there? ;-P ) with the use of pine cones or acorns. I really wasn’t sure how to search for someone to create the pieces for me so was pleasantly surprised when Hazel Walshaw contacted me following a Twitter chat hour. Discussing my ideas with Hazel for the Bridal bouquet, Bridesmaids wrist corsages and the 5 button holes was so easy (Pinterest definitely helped give vision to my ideas!). Hazel is such an expert in the wedding industry I am overjoyed to have her making my alternative accessories.

Dress

I’m going to be looking at dresses very soon and can not wait to report back to you on how my first shopping trips go.

Bridal Garters


Planning your wedding day on a budget does not mean you always buy the cheapest option. Creating your big day for less is about carefully selecting where to save and where to spend. Most of the things you will decide to spend on will be big, but sometimes high quality small items give your day that extra special feeling.

There are some suppliers that provide exactly this – high quality small items that could be the difference between simply feeling good & feeling better than you’ve ever felt before on the day you say “I Do”.

I would like to start sharing these suppliers with you starting off with…

Truly I Do – bespoke handmade garters
I’d never given much thought to garters in the past. I’ve especially not given much thought to what separates a standard garter from a truly personal one. I have bought garters for friends, and I have to admit they have always been purchased from eBay or Amazon.

I’d never stopped to think that the garter may not fit. Why are garters ‘one size fits all’ and how can this really be possible? legs differ in size greatly. No bride wants to be tripping over her own garter half way down the aisle or to lift her dress for a garter picture only for it to seem as though it is cutting off her circulation.

When you place your order with ‘Truly I Doyou can provide your thigh measurement or your dress size for Charlie to create your bespoke, hand-sewn garter that will fit you beautifully.

You can choose to have one of Charlies designs, make some changes to one of her designs or discuss a completely custom idea for her to create. Here are a couple of my favourites from her standard range which are both under £20.00…

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All garters from ‘Truly I Do’ can be customised. Choose the colour you would like the garter to be, and the colour of any ribbons then for a small fee you can add personalised touches such as charms and trinkets.

Here are some stunning custom garters created by Charlie..

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As a budget bride it is likely your dress will be from a high street shop, from a sample sale or will be a pre-loved dress. Hopefully irrelevant of where your dress comes from you will love your chosen dress and feel every inch the perfect bride in it. I will likely be wearing a sample sale dress on my wedding, which means that it won’t have been created to my measurements even though i’ll choose one that fits. Wearing one of Charlies garters would give me that special feeling that I have something truly bespoke and made just for me.

 I will definitely be wearing one of Charlies creations on my wedding day; and I can’t wait to buy a garter from Truly I Do as a gift for the next person in my friendship group who gets engaged.

Invites for Less


I’ve had a love for stationary ever since I can remember, from the days of buying nice letter paper for writing to pen-pals to finding great joy in an exceptional wedding invite. When someone hands me a business card, I instantly want to keep it if the text is raised or if the paper is textured.

This very love for all things made from paper means I don’t want to have mediocre wedding stationary just because I’m on a budget. So how can I have invites my guests will proudly display in their homes without breaking my budget?

For the answer to that question I have asked two industry professionals.

Suzanne is the mastermind behind ‘Paper Tree Design‘ with 15 years experience in retail buying and product development she created her business over 3 years ago. Rosie at ‘Little Vixen Designs‘ had 5 years of experience working with couples designing wedding stationary, before creating her ‘Little Vixen Designs’ business 4 years ago.

This experience makes Rosie and Suzanne the perfect people to provide hints and tips on how you can still have professional invites within budget.

No doubt you will have found a couple of companies you are thinking of ordering your wedding day stationary from, perhaps you’ve seen them at a wedding fayre, or you found them in some way online. If your initial chat with them about costs left you feeling they may be slightly out of your budget, don’t be put off.

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Arrange meetings with your preferred suppliers, or if this isn’t possible arrange a telephone call with them to let them know you love their designs but you have £x budget to work with. The stationers will then recommend what can be done within your set budget.
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“It is the time it takes to apply all the tiny details that add to the cost of bespoke, luxury stationary but without them you loose that feeling of quality and luxury”, therefore…

If you feel happy doing some of the assembling yourself then you can definitely make savings. This may be as simple as gluing the ribbon and diamonte decorations onto the front of the invite, or could be as complicated as gluing multiple layers of laser cut designs together that create one 3D effect design.

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Irrelevant or whom you are thinking of ordering your invites from, or how good their work appears to be, make sure that you get physical samples of your chosen design on the chosen paper type before committing to a full order. Even though you may have seen physical examples of other work of theirs, the paper and printing type you’ve chosen may be different to what you’ve been before, which may mean disappointment with the final product.

Companies such as basicinvite.com who offer a fully custom service with a vast range of beautiful designs, plus an instant online preview of the design as you customise it, can lure you into not ordering a physical sample, but it is still really important to do so you know you will be 100% happy with your order when it arrives.

Even if you have to pay for a sample, it is better to do so than to be disappointed when your full order arrives.

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It is easy to forget this as we have to calculate costs per guests for food, drink, favors and other stationary types such as place cards.

Also, a charge that some stationers include in the amount you pay is postage to YOU, but money can be saved here too…

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This is something that would never have occurred to me if it wasn’t for Suzanne.

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Consider hand delivering your invites rather than posting them. Live close to friends and family and see them regularly? Just hand them their invite next time you see them. Do your parents or siblings see other family member more regularly than you do? Perhaps ask them to pass invites on for you.

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A wedding website I have used before is ‘gettingmarried.co.uk‘ but there are a couple others including ‘theknot.com‘, both of which offer a range of templates you can customise with all of your wedding information.

I hope that you find these amazing tips contributed by Suzanne and Rosie helpful. I’m looking forward to hearing your budget wedding stationary success stories, and would love you to share you story if one of these tips helped you to come in on budget.

Photographer Comparison


Finding a wedding photographer can feel like a minefield! From deciding on what style of photography you want, to trying to traverse the maze of photographers in your area, the style of photography they offer, not to mention trying to compare their different packages and the costs for each.

Wouldn’t it be lovely if you could input what you want and the photographers come to you?

Well, believe it or not, this is possible! The website ‘Trusted Local‘ provides a service where you can request quotes from local photographers to your area, and all you have to do is fill in a few details about what you require.

I’ve just filled in my details, and am now waiting to receive quotes. I’ll let you know how I get on.

1st Things 1st


1stthings1stThe search for a venue was a long and difficult one. I was aware that the average cost of a wedding at the time was over 20k, and I knew I didn’t even have half of that to play with for my own wedding, so I needed to make sure I could afford the venue.

The very first thing any bride should do is work out what budget you have. One of the ways to do this is to work out how much you think you can sensibly save every month, and when your ideal date to get married would be. For example, if you think between you, you can save £100 a month, and your ideal wedding date is in 2 years time, then 100 x 48 (months) is £4800.

With this figure in mind you may then decide to up how much you save each month, push the wedding back/forward, or if you haven’t already done so approach your parents to see if they would like to contribute towards your wedding. Some brides feel comfortable doing this, and others don’t, some parents offer to contribute towards the wedding as soon as you tell them you are engaged. However, few say at this point HOW MUCH they will contribute, maybe because they don’t know themselves. The conversation can be difficult, but it is important for budgeting reasons if you are going to ask them, to ask them if they plan to give you a certain amount, or if they want to pay for certain things such as the venue, or flowers and transportation for example.

A wedding can be done on a budget of £4800, I know brides who have done it. With a budget like this in mind it is important to think about what is important to you. For some brides the most important thing is to have all your family and friends at their wedding, for others it is to have a lovely dress and an intimate relaxed day. Figuring out what is important to you, will help you greatly with your budget, as it will enable you to work out what you can live without on your wedding day and what you can’t.

With your budget in mind you can then start to look at venues. The venue for your wedding will be the setting for your day; it is what provides the background and the feel to your day, so it has to suit you. If you want a laid back day, you will want a less formal venue and if you are having a small number of guests you will want a venue that size wont drown your guests. So this is one of the biggest wedding decisions you will make. Don’t feel pressured to stick to a ‘traditional’ wedding venue, if Don’t Tell The Bride has taught us anything, the venue should reflect you as a couple, so if that means you want the reception in a night club or a museum then do it!

One of the easiest ways to save money is to choose your venue wisely. Start off looking on the internet to find venues in your area that you like. If they don’t have prices on their website (and many don’t) then contact them to arrange a viewing. Take your fiancé, a friend or your mum along with you as it can be very overwhelming and it is easy to jump to a decision that isn’t best for you due to how emotionally charged the whole wedding planning can be. Looking around different venues will give you a good indication of what you like and what you don’t like. Make sure that the questions you ask include:

  • Availability of the venue on the dates you have in mind
  • If you would get exclusive use of the venue or not (for some people having exclusive use is very important, but not so much for others). If you wont have exclusive use of the venue on your wedding day, ask who will be using the venue, what facilities would be used, and if they would be able to go freely into the areas you are in.
  • If they have accommodation for you and your guests. A venue may seem nice but it can be a nightmare if it doesn’t have rooms for you to stay in the night before or after the wedding.
  • Ask if you will have access the day before the wedding so you can set the venu up with decorations etc. If you do not have access the day before the wedding, you will have to think about who is going to set up the decorations (table centrepieces, bunting, sweetie buffet). Some venues will set your table decorations up for you.
  • And finally how much. They will most likely ask you how many guests you would be having to the day and evening among other things, so go with a rough idea of numbers in mind. My venue were amazing and drew up a cost sheet for me, of the room hire, how much food and drink would cost etc, so ask if they can do a similar thing for you.

Make sure you take a note pad and pen, for writing down key information about the venue, as it can be really hard to remember all the details once you’ve seen a few different venues, and the notes you make when visiting each venue will really help you when making your decision about which one is the right one for you. When I first visited my wedding venue with my Chief Bridesmaid I made notes such as: Plenty of rooms for guests to stay in, good disability access, want the L-shaped room. When I then went over the pros and cons of the venues I had viewed my notes really helped to keep clarity.

Lastly – HAGGLE!
(read my haggling tips here)

Don’t be afraid to ask them for a reduction in the price, see if you can work out a deal with them. Tell them what your budget for your venue is (usually, roughly half of your overall budget) and ask them what they could give you for that. A booking is better than no booking, so venues are often happy to work something out with you within reason.

Going for cheaper menu options for the wedding breakfast can massively reduce the cost, soup and chicken are often the cheaper options, and venues will sometimes give you a discount if you have a certain number of guests booking rooms at the hotel for the night of the wedding.

The months from September/October to April/May are cheaper months, and in recent years September, October and April have been fabulous weather wise! So definitely think about going for one of these months instead of the traditional summer months which can be much more expensive. Another way to save a lot of money is to have your wedding on a week day, Monday –Thursday weddings can massively reduce the overall cost. So a Thursday in October = cha ching!

I hope you find this helpful, and I’d love to hear from you about how you chose your venue and whats tips you’d give on what you do first on the road to planning your wedding.

Hen Party – Oxford


Hello All!

So the hen party I have been blogging about was on Saturday!!!!  After all the planning I got quite nervous on Saturday morning thinking about everything that could possibly go wrong. The plan for the day had been sent to all the girls, I had researched where to park, printed off a map to show how to get from one venue to the next, and I had the confirmations of booking printed off too. One of my fears was that I’d forget the hen party bags, but alas I put them in my car hours before I was due to leave.

Unfortunately all the planning in the world couldn’t prepare me for one of the girls dropping out at 2PM when she was supposed to be at my house at 3:40PM. So from 7 down to 6 we went.

Upon arriving in Oxford and entering Lava & Ignite I handed out the hen party bags and gave the Hen her veil. The sweets wpid-imag0992.jpgwere gobbled up, diamontes were stuck on faces, foot cushions inserted into heels, and willy straws taken with great gusto. Some of the girls struggled with their sashes so I helped them fasten their sashes in the right place before we bounced over to the bar to begin our cocktail making master class.

If you are planning a hen party I would definitely consider buying hen party bags. Some of the items really came in handy, such as the foot cushions and the girls really loved finding all the different items that wpid-imag0991.jpghad been put in their bags.

The cocktail class at Lava & Ignite was well planned by the club and thoroughly interactive. The tools we had to create our cocktails with were three plastic jam jars, a spoon and a shot glass. We each made three cocktails that included jam. Yes jam! Odd I know, but strangely the jam in the cocktails was really good. The thought behind this was that they wanted us to learn how to make cocktails we could easily make at home. Three generous cocktails and liberal portions of prosecco later we were all feeling a little giddy and definitely ready for a burger before laughing our socks off.

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Coming out in to the daylight after being inside a dark windowless club was a rather disorientating experience.

The outside of the Glee Club is quite nice, plenty of clean looking decking and large wooden benches and tables and most importantly, clearly visible for slightly tipsy hens. The Glee Club in Oxford is second to none as far as local comedy clubs go. The staff were incredibly friendly throughout our evening and I couldn’t recommend the venue enough!

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Planning the hen was so enjoyable. I would love to plan a hen again in the future. Even if I don’t get to plan another hen party at least I’ve got my hen party next year to look forward to!