A Daydream Idea for a new Budget Wedding Service


A few mornings ago whilst going about my normal getting ready routine I had a proper detailed day dream that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about.

direct budget wedding planning service idea

During my years writing this blog, I have met countless couples that feel completely lost in the maze of wedding planning. As soon as you’re engaged you start getting questions thrown at you – when is your date, what venue have you chosen, what colour scheme are you having…. and often you don’t know the answers to any of these questions.

What does a newly engaged person normally do? Go out and purchase some wonderful wedding magazines to peruse for inspiration. Wedding magazines are great, I personally love flicking through the glossy pages, but they’re not exactly well known for having products and services aimed at the small budget wedding.

Sadly, I’ve also spoken to couples who have ended up feel pushed by well meaning but over assertive relatives into having a certain venue, or into booking services and suppliers that they wouldn’t really have wanted to have if they’d been left to their own devices. And we’ve all heard of a couple who have ended up inviting people to their wedding they don’t even know because their parent/grandparent/aunt told them they have to.

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My Super Budget Bridal Accessories


As promised here is my post on my Bridal Accessories I had for my wedding on 8th October 2016. 

I  don’t tend to wear a lot of jewellery day to day. Occasionally I’ll put earrings in and every now and then I’ll wear a necklace, however generally the only piece of jewellery I’d wear before getting married was my engagement ring (now it’s engagement ring and wedding ring).

For months before the wedding I was pinning bridal accessories such as the below. I had my mind set on a leafy gold hair piece of some kind and pearl earrings.

accessoriesblogWhat I’d imagined for my Bridal accessories

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Home Bake – Wedding Cake


My favourite You Tube ‘How To’ for making your own  wedding cake at home. Over these two videos Chef Alan Tetreault, owner of Global Sugar Art shows you have to create your own three tiered wedding cake.

I would say only people who enjoy baking and who bake regularly should even contemplate making their own cake, so do approach this with caution. If you are determined to go down the DIY route for your cake but aren’t great at baking, you could either ask a friend/family member to bake it and you decorate it.

 

All White Wedding on a Budget


Going all white can seem scary, but as long as you use a mix of different textures and fabrics your wedding will look expensively elegant for a very small amount without any stresses that come with a mixed colour theme. In this post I would like to show you some ways you can achieve an all white wedding without it costing the earth.

Decorations

Fairy lights can be bought from pretty much anywhere, but bare in mind that you will need to select battery operated fairy lights for use throughout your venue. The three orbs and the rose garland are from NotOnThehighstreet.com for £26 and £22 respectively. The hanging birdcage is £12 from Matalans home range, which would look lovely holding either real tea light candles or LED tea lights if your venue has restrictions on naked flames.

NOTH set-of-three-fairy-light-orbs NOTH white-rose-fairy-light-garland Matalan vintage-wire-hanging-birdcage

Wedding Stationary

The number of places where you can get wedding invitations from is endless, from high street card shops or print shops to a never ending list of websites. BHS sell a range of wedding stationary that can be personalised, such as their Damask wedding invitation design which starts at £2.08 each.

basicinvitebasicinvite.com allows you to design your own invites for as little as 59p each. As you change the design of your invite, using the extensive array of colour options, you can see instant previews and a sample can be ordered before you commit to your purchase. For simple designs upgrading to their shimmer paper would finish your invites off with a truly professional feel for just pence.

Hobby Craft sell all manner of ready made wedding decorations as well as all the supplies you could need to create yourhobby craft place cards own wedding stationary and décor such as these butterfly place cards. Hobby Craft do tend to come up more expensive than other suppliers, so make sure you check around to get the best price. I’m a big fan of looking on eBay or wedding forums for the same products at lowers prices.

Bridesmaids and Groomsmen whiteBM

Both of the Bridesmaid dresses pictured on my previous post, ‘It’ll be All White on the Day’ are from ASOS. Both are a steal at less than half the price of BM dresses from bridal shops; the one shoulder dress is currently at £75.00 and the lace bardot neckline dress is currently £67.00. Light grey or soft sand coloured suits can be picked up from your favourite mens clothing shop along with crisp white shirts and a white tie with an embroidered pattern. Finding white bridesmaids dresses and pale suits for the groomsmen will be easiest in Spring so plan your shopping trip carefully. Remember even though you are styling your wedding day with an all white theme, that doesn’t mean you can’t add a touch of sparkle or splash of metallic with the BM shoes and accessories.

White Wedding Cake

High street food shops such as M&S and Waitrose do premium wedding cakes perfect for an all white wedding theme at cM&S wedding cakecompetitive prices, such as this three tier from M&S for just £249.

A cheaper option would be to pick up three plain iced cakes from your chosen supermarket, position on top of each other or use pillars to separate each layer before decorating.

If you do decide to commission someone to make your cake for you, ensure you get a few different quotes and check their reviews. Wedding fairs and wedding twitter chats are both great ways to find bakers.

If in doubt follow my golden rules:

Shop on the high street
Don’t forget about eBay and Amazon
Join wedding forums and facebook groups for the chance to buy from other brides/newly-weds
up-scale cheaper products by customising them yourself.

Cheaper Weddings = Better Marriages


It has long been my observation that those who put a lot of focus on the wedding day are more likely to have a short marriage.

Usually the 12-24 months from engagement to the wedding day is a very exciting time. There are magazines to be read, suppliers to be booked and copious amounts of shopping to me done; not to mention lots of little details to be decided upon. Wedding planning creates a whirlwind of exhilaration that is hard to sustain once the dress has been dry cleaned and the thank you cards have been delivered.

I urge couples to bear in mind that married life will be exactly the same as your pre-engagement life was plus extra bling. Similar to post-natal depression I have seen many a woman show signs of post-wedding depression. Usually post-wedding depression kicks in about 3 months after the wedding. 3 months into martial life the dress has been dry cleaned, the photographer has come back with your pictures, thank you cards have been sent and no one wants to talk about the wedding with you oie_oie_trim_imageanymore. Your friends are no longer on permanent stand-by to avert any wedding related crisis and it all feels lackluster and flat. It is perfectly normal and OK to put great effort and time into planning your wedding day, but remember that life will not instantly change when your marital status does.

For many couples in the midst of planning an expensive celebration date nights falls to the way-side as every weekend is taken up with browsing, shopping and tasting, meaning a couple can feel distanced from each other as planning progresses. The engagement stage is one of the most-important times in a couples life to carry-on dating each other. If the cost allocated to the wedding far exceeds an affordable saving level then finances wont be the only thing to suffer. Stress will get the better of you at some stage during the planning; and it is at this time when you really need to be connected with your partner and remember why you fell in love with them in the first place. It is my advice to budget your wedding planning schedule so that you still have the ability to “date” each other once a month.

So is this observation of mine true? Can the cost of a wedding have an impact on the longevity of a marriage?

In September 2014 a study on the correlation between wedding expenses and marriage duration was completed by two Economics professors at Emory University. The study was done on more than 3,000 people (an admittedly small study group) asking them about their first marriage. Some of the results of the study are in bullet below:

  • Men who spent between $2,000 and $4,000 on an engagement ring were 1.3 times more likely to divorce than those who spent between $500 and $2,000 (USD)
  • Those who spent more than $20,000 on their wedding day were 3.5 time more likely to divorce than those who spent between $5,000 and $10,000
  • Those who spent less on their wedding were 82-93% less likely to experience wedding-debt related stress post wedding.

Given the fact the study size was small, and the write up is short with few definite conclusions the validity of the study is questionable at best. It would be good for a study to be done on a much larger group, spread across more than one developed country. The best platforms to complete these surveys are the ones who wouldn’t want to do so because the results could be negative towards their business model.

With the above aside, the study does show a correlation between lower wedding expenditure and longevity of marriage.

So you’ve never had a better reason to cut that wedding budget down and knock off those unnecessary wedding expenses off the list. Worried about what your friends and family will think of your parred back nuptials? Just tell them it is all for the good of your resulting marriage.

Cheaper Weddings = Better Marriages

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.

The Art Of Haggling


My first experience of haggling was on holiday in Turkey. The markets can be very busy, loud, and claustrophobic. Ignoring this however, they are also hugely entertaining, as market stall workers hold up a pair of shoes and say “Buy One (raising the left shoe), Get One Free (raising the right shoe)”, or shouting “Asda Price”. It’s a great place to practice your haggling skills because at these markets you have to haggle. If you don’t haggle you’ll just end up paying way over the odds, as the custom is to haggle, so the stall workers start the price high knowing you’ll haggle them down.

Haggling does not come naturally to the British, but for the bride and groom on a budget haggling can really help you to save big money.

To master the art of negotiating you have to overcome the usual factors that hold people back:

  • Not thinking you can
  • Fear
  • Pride
  • Embarrassment.

Tips on How to Master the Art of Haggling

Getting the Most out of Haggling
The times when you will experience the highest rate of success when haggling for your wedding is if you are planning 8 months or less prior to the intended date or if you are planning for an off peak date. Venues and suppliers are less likely to have other people wishing to book that date, and in a bid to have a booking over no booking they are often prepared to compromise on price or add extras. When buying a product, such as a wedding dress or wedding rings, buying “off the shelf” will also increase your power to negotiate on the price. Unless you have your heart set on a particular date, being flexible with the venue on the date date and time will prove advantageous to your budget.

Decide on what you want to ask for and then prepare how you are going to ask for it.

Research

Do Remember haggling isn’t all about asking for a discount off of the cost, it can be about getting added extras for no extra charge, or can be removing something from the package to reduce the cost.

Do keep your request within the realms of possibility! Think about asking for 10% off the overall cost or requesting a substitution that will make the package cheaper or better for your needs such as removing canapés from the package to have more wine on the table during the wedding breakfast.

The venue my fiancé and I have booked provide a pedestal of flowers and an arrangement for the register table in the ceremony room, a seating plan, table numbers, place name cards and flower centrepieces for the wedding breakfast as part of the package cost. I asked the events co-ordinator how much she could take off the package if we removed these items. Removing these items saved us £250, which is great as I was going to do my own place cards, table plan and table names anyway.

Do find out where the venue makes their money – is it on the food? Or is their main earning from the venue hire? Once you’ve established this, research if taking off the food or alcohol and bringing in external caterers would work out cheaper overall. If you are contemplating bringing in your own alcohol make sure you know if they charge corkage and if they do how much.

The venue my fiancé and I have chosen does not rely on weddings for their income. They host business conferences and make good money from business Christmas functions. As the venue does not make their money from weddings in general we were able to negotiate a cheap package that met all of our needs. To reduce the cost of room hire (we have exclusive use of a room within the hotel) we are having the whole wedding within the one room. There was the option of having the ceremony in a different room to the wedding breakfast, but by choosing to have the ceremony, wedding breakfast and reception in one room we are only paying one room hire charge rather than two. The wedding package usually includes canapés, but after discussing our budget with the events co-ordinator we were able to take the canapés out of the package to reduce the cost.

Do research other venues/suppliers. Even if you think you know what venue/supplier you want you will be in a much stronger position when negotiating if you know what other venues/suppliers in the area charge and what packages they provide. For example, if you have found your dream wedding dress, find out who stocks it locally as well as online then gain information on price, delivery time and any additional costs such as if alternations are included or not.

Preparing How to Negotiate
There are a couple of different ways you can negotiate pricing which I will briefly outline:

  • Putting the ball in their court – say how much you have in your budget, how much you are happy to pay and how much their competitor down the road has offered then ask what they can do. Usually their first offer will not be their best offer.
  • Power in your corner – state how much you would like to pay and see if they accept. This method gives you more room to haggle up and down from your starting point. If you are going to employ this method make sure your starting figure is not unreasonable.

Don’t be afraid of long pauses. When they have given you a price, if it is too high, make a noise indicating it is too much and then just stay quiet. No one likes silence but you must avoid the temptation to fill the silence. This silence is one of the best things you have in your haggling arsenal, as they will want to fill the silence – hopefully with a better offer. If it is you who is telling them how much you would like to pay, state the amount you are happy to pay then stay quiet. Resist the temptation to say anything. Remember that if they are staying quiet they are contemplating accepting the amount you have offered to pay. If they weren’t going to accept the amount they would quickly say so.

When we were half way through deciding on our wedding package details with the venue, we stumbled across the cost of the drinks package. The arrival drinks in the package was Bucks Fizz and the toasting drink was champagne. I’ve never been too fussed on champagne so I was not going to pay a lot of money for it! My H2B said we thought the drinks package was out of budget. We asked the wedding coordinator what drinks we could have instead to reduce the cost of the drinks package. The wedding coordinator showed us some alternatives drinks that were cheaper and gave us the total cost of the new package which instead included a winter Pimms and sparkling wine. I bit my lip and made a “ummhh” noise and just look back at the lady, and quite quickly she knocked off an extra £50 off the overall drinks package cost.

Practice, Practice, Practice


If after all the research you’re still feeling unsure practice what you are going to say with your partner, a parent or a bridesmaid. Practicing asking them for the discount/substitution will give you confidence as the more you ask them, the more normal the request will feel.

When you are practicing try out different ways of asking until you find a way that feels most natural for you. Give some of the these questions a try:
What’s the best price you can give me?
What is the best price you will take for this?
I’m ready to buy now, if I pay in cash now, what can you do for me?
Can you provide your own food for the day?
If you are getting more than one thing from the same supplier ask if they can do a bulk deal “As I am getting the dance floor through you what can you do on the chair covers?” or “as my whole order comes to over £x can you knock off 10%?”

Play it cool – even if you have your heart set on a particular venue, photographer or dress do not show this during the stages of agreeing costs. The more you show how much you want what they have to offer the less likely they are to reduce their charge. Practicing how to keep calm in an exciting situation will help with this. Therefore if you have found your dream dress in three different places, but you have a preferred place to buy it from, practice haggling in the other two places first, so that you have got over the excitement and will be better able to play it cool when negotiating with your preferred supplier.

Towards the end of the negotiations try not to ask open ended questions that will give them room to manoeuvre. Instead of asking “If I buy the dress will you throw in the hair piece and shoes?” state “I’ll buy the dress if you throw in the hairpiece and shoes”. This is much stronger and gives them less room to manoeuvre. They will either accept or reject the offer or provide their own counter offer.


Remember


Once you have agreed a figure make sure you get it in writing, detailing the charges for each area such as room hire, catering, drinks, entertainment, decorations, bridal suite (if the venue has rooms) etc. When you have agreed a price with a service provider such as a photographer ensure that you have from them in writing, what time they will be attending the wedding from and to, the type of photographs they are going to take, if you are providing them with a meal or not, how and when payments will be made, and the time frame you will have the completed photography by.

Regardless of what you are negotiating for, whether it be for a discount off of your venue, a reduced photography package, or a bulk deal on your wedding rings, you must be prepared to walk away. Remember that the shop does not have to haggle, price match or throw in extras for free.

Have a haggling success story? Please share it in the comments below.