Find me Guest Blogging For…


You can now find me guest blogging for Pink Wedding Venues with brand new posts not seen on IDoOnABudget. I am really proud to be working with pinkweddingvenues.co.uk who help same-sex couples find the perfect wedding or civil partnership venue.

The mission of Pink Wedding Venues is to ensure pinkvenuethat all LGBT couples have the most positive and comprehensive resource
for choosing their wedding venue or civil partnership venue by featuring every UK venue who welcomes the LGBT community.

As a strong believer in marriage and as an LGBT ally I couldn’t be happier to be guest blogging for pinkweddingvenues.co.uk.

My first blog contribution was published on 16th September with my next post due to be published within the next couple of weeks.

[…] It is a very exciting time for the LGBT community right now. Same sex marriage became legal in England and Wales in March 2014 (same-sex marriage in Scotland took effect from December 2014) then we all celebrated as the US passed their same-sex marriage equality law in June 2015. Why am I telling you what you already know?

The reason I find all this very exciting is because it means the decisions you make now could be traditions that are followed by future couples. The wedding traditions same-sex couples follow were set out for them 100’s of years ago, such as the Bride being walked down the aisle by her father. You may decide to walk down the aisle together, or to walk down the aisle one after the other, or to throw the isle out of the equation all together. Imagine the choice you make now is written in LGBT wedding planning books in a couple hundred years. What could be more thrilling than that?With this in mind, there are a lot of decisions for the same-sex couple to make when planning their wedding day which the heterosexual couple may not have to make. Which traditions, if any, do you follow, and which do you do differently? For me, the ceremony IS the wedding, the rest is just the “fluff”; enjoyable, beautiful fluff! Because the ceremony is when you become married, and therefore the most important part of the whole day, I am completely obsessed with ways to create a more memorable and personal ceremony. The ultimate way to do this (IMO) is with a Time Capsule […]

To read the rest of my first blog contribution for Pink Wedding Venues click here.

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!

Budget Table Decorations


For your wedding guests the table decorations are the ones they will have the most time to view so it is important to take time to think about how your table decorations will fit within your chosen theme and style AND within your BUDGET.

There are a lot of companies out there who sell or hire everything you can possibly need to decorate your reception tables. Buying or hiring the full table detailing may not be the best idea for the couple getting married on a budget. As a person I would not be described as crafty by others nor by myself; however DIY reception table decorations are easily do-able by even the most inept crafter.

Work With The Season
Autumn is my favourite month. The colours of the turning trees and plants, the falling of the leaves, the fresh crisp mornings and the bounty of free beauties.
Bring the autumn in to your autumnal wedding
Name cards just got fun..... spray leaves with gold paint. When dry use a soft tip black permanent marker to write names. Autumn wedding perfection!Leaves make perfect place names for your reception tables. I love the look of them sprayed gold with guests names hand written on to them in sharpie.

When choosing your leaves it is best to take them early in the season on a dry day. If need be you could take them while they are still on the trees and even before they start to turn.

You could forgo the spraying and write place names on them as is for a more natural and earthy look.

leaf shapes can even be attached to a natural favour such as an apple or pear for a spring wedding. Attach the leaf shape with the guests name written on it to the fruit of your choice with a pin or tooth pick.

15 Leaf Ideas for Fall Weddings | Bridal Musings Wedding Blog 4
Other autumnal items to bring in to your wedding are pine cones, acorns and conkers.

Fill the bottom of your jar with acorns, conkers or pinecones, stick in some small branches that still have leaves attached and then add your own touches. The examples here utilises gold bell strings and tiny battery operated fairy lights.
For a December wedding you could add fill the bottom on the jar with small tree decorations and stick in thin branches sprayed white or silver and hang Christmas decorations and fairy lights from the branches.
The battery pack of the fairy lights could be hidden in the base of the jar to keep everything tidy.

Rustic Natural Influence
For a Spring or Summer wedding bring the outdoors in with rustic influences.
Wedding centerpiece ideas Forget-me-nots!!
Team un-decorated glass jars and pots with wild flowers, short pillar candles and a narrow un-treated log circle.

Keeping the center of gravity of your table decorations low enables better communication between the guests at each table; which will create a better atmosphere – what more could a bride want than a buzzing conversational and relaxed atmosphere on her wedding day.
Baby's Breath and Mason jar. Simple and beautiful. Wedding decorations

Babys Breath is BIG at the moment and simply stunning when teamed with simple jars, and works well for any wedding theme!

Go simple and rustic with babys breath or glitz things up by putting clumps in jars that have been customised with glitter or spray painted in the your wedding colour/s.

Spray painted bottles

I’m going to end this post with the elegance of spray painted bottles. The bottles need cost you nothing, just save up some spray painted old glass bottles with gold metallic paint. Used shower curtain rings as bottle decor.wine bottles or even nice olive oil bottles, glass coke bottles or even glass water bottles. You can even ask friends and family to save some interesting shapes bottles for you. The variety of bottle shapes and heights only adds to the effect.

Clean the bottles out thoroughly and  spray paint them your chosen colour. I think metallic colours look amazing!

Add glitz with bangles (the attached picture uses shower curtain rings!), or wrap strings of “pearls” about the thin part of the neck. Put a mix of bottle shapes and heights on each table and stick flowers or feather in the top of the bottles to create height and interest.

These bottles could be stood on mirror plates or complimented with table crystals.

So there you have it; some interesting ways you can create budget table decorations that look anything but cheap!

Elopement


The idea of eloping, or at the most taking purely parents and siblings with you when you get married has always intrigued me. The romance of it, the pure focus on just you and the other person when you make your life long commitment to each other. This thought is always followed by thinking wouldn’t it be sad to break from all the traditions related to a conventional wedding;

  • Being walked down the isle
  • The Speeches
  • Having your first dance surrounded by your loved ones…

How would you look back on your wedding photos? What about your near and dear ones, how would they react to you eloping?

All these questions and more, especially the last one will no doubt come to the mind of the eloping couple; they all came in to my mind when I was obsessed with the idea of getting married in Gretna Green.

However if you have considered all these questions and still believe eloping is the right thing for you a few venues and locations where you can go to fulfill your dream in the UK are… 

Gretna Green

When I was dreaming of a Gretna wedding I knew I couldn’t do it if I didn’t have my parents and sister there. My fiance and I did a “wreckie” of Gretna, looking at the venues such as The Blacksmiths, The Anvil Hall, The Gretna Old Parish Church and many others! One of the key benefits to getting married at Gretna Green is the simple and very cost effective wedding packages that make eloping to Gretna beautifully simple.

Gretna became a famous place for runaway wedddings over 250 years ago when the marriage laws in England changed but the new law did not effect Scotland, so loved up young couples eloped to Gretna Green to get married (find out more here). Gretna not only caters for eloping couples but for any wedding party size!

There are many other places in the UK that are designed for eloping couples…

BoHo Cornwall

BoHo Cornwall specialise in elopements, with a truly unique venue where they help couples to create the intimate wedding day they thought they wouldn’t be able to have, click here to see an example. This venue is purely for eloping couples.

Millbrook Estate

I only found out about Millbrook Estate from a wedding forum where to B2B was asking for suggestions of where she could elope and another B2B posted the link to the website saying she was getting married there in a months time. Millbrook Estate help the couple to create their perfect day by organising a lot for them. Plus you don’t have to elope! You can bring up to four guests. For eloping couples this venue is one of my favourites. Everything from the summer house, to the styling of the cottages and the Devonshire countryside is just divine.

Not to mention there is Bracken Bank in Cumbria

Are you thinking of eloping, or have you eloped already? Not UK based? I’d love to know what country you are from and the venues where couples can elope within your country.

Budget Sheet


The Ivy Hotel Budget Sheet

^^The attached sheet is the spreadsheet sent to us by the wedding coordinator at The Ivy Hotel providing the costs of the wedding including room hire, the wedding breakfast, alcohol etc.

Even if your wedding venue does not provide the costs as clearly as this, it is a good idea to draw up a spreadsheet of your own. Doing the spread sheet per guest for things such as the drinks and food will enable you to see exactly how much each of your guests is going to cost you. Guests = expenditure, so you may after looking at the costs per guest decide to limit your number of guests, or not, it depends on what you have chosen as the most important things to you as a couple.

When creating your budget, bear in mind all the things that you will need to/may want to pay for.

  1. Venue – ceremony, wedding breakfast and evening reception
  2. Room to stay in the night of the wedding
  3. Transportation
  4. Church/Registra fees
  5. Wedding Dress, shoes, veil, tiara and other jewellery
  6. Bridesmaid dress/es, shoes, and other accessories
  7. Hair and Makeup
  8. Groom and Groomsmens suits, shoes and accessories
  9. Flowers – bridal bouquet, BM bouquets, Button Holes for Groom and Groomsmen, corsarges for other women (Mother of the Bride etc)
  10. Photographer
  11. DJ/Band and other entertainements
  12. Rings
  13. Invtiations, table place names, table numbers, seating plan, order of service and other stationary
  14. Food and drink (wedding breakfast, evening buffet, arrival drinks, wine for the tables, toasting drink etc)
  15. Wedding cake
  16. Decorations
  17. Wedding favours and thank you presents for the main people who contributed to the wedding (bride and grooms parents, BMs and groomsmen etc)
  18. Wedding insurance

My first things first


As I write about certain areas of the wedding planning process and how money can be saved, I will also write about my own experiences and how I came to make certain decisions.

My budget amounted to 6k, which to be honest, at first felt like enough, until I started to look at how much a venue would cost, and then it started to feel smaller than it had to begin with. My family has a history of small weddings, and to be honest, my parents thought that the 6k budget was huge and a ridiculous amount of money to spend on a wedding. The difference is in the past 27 years since my parents married the cost of a wedding has gone through the roof. It seems that no matter what, if you want a cake made, or want to hire a venue the price doubles as soon as the word wedding is mentioned.

The first thing I did in the whole wedding planning if I am honest was buy my dress. I hadn’t meant to buy it so early in the planning, but I started to look around different bridal shops, and was looking on line, and then one day my mum and I popped into a bridal shop and found a dress that looked perfect, tried it on and loved it, so went back the next day to try it on again with my dad and sister there to see it too and bought it. We thought it was a better bargain than it was due to a misleading price tag. However, this then gave the first expense of £700 – a little over the 10% that should usually be budgeted for the wedding dress.

In September of 2010 I started looking at wedding venues. (I got engaged in April 2008 at the tender age of 18, and booked the venue in November 2010). I decided I would look for venues in Berkshire and Wiltshire. Some of the venues I looked at online include:

  • Mill Hall

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Old Luxters Barn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Elcott Park Hotel

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Wellington Barn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Templars Barn

 

 

 

 

 

 

I loved the idea of having the wedding in a barn as we’re both really out-doorsy and thought it would give the perfect romantic yet relaxed vibe that I longed for. I started to email the venues I’d looked at online to ask them about prices and availability for the months that we had in mind. Some venues never got back to me, and other got back to me with rather vague responses. The venue that came back with the best response was The Ivy Hotel in Wroughton. Their website looked lovely and Wroughton was a perfect location for us, only half an hour’s drive from where we were living.

I arranged three viewings, The Ivy Hotel, Templars barn and Old Luxters Barn. The first viewing was The Ivy Hotel, and after having that viewing I was in love, not only with the venue, but the location, the price and the wedding planner who was so open and honest in answering all of our questions, that I then cancelled the viewings of the barns as I felt I didn’t need to see any more venues than that one.

The other reason I cancelled the viewings of the barns was that in my research I found out that barns can work out rather expensive. You have to hire in the furniture (tables, chairs, cutlery etc)  in many cases, along with a caterer, entertainment, decorations…everything. So even though the hire of the barn worked out nicely, all the extras would have come above our budget.

So The Ivy Hotel was chosen and we put down our deposit, which was the second expense to add to our expenses for the wedding.