How to plan a wedding for £10,000! – A Guest post from Polly May


Polly May Blogs Guest blog post for SayIDoOnABudget.com
Polly May started her blog, ‘Polly May Blogs‘ after her fiance popped the question on 12th December 2017.  Through her blog, Polly May shares with her readers her planning journey, whilst sharing her tips & tricks to help others plan their perfect day… without unleashing the inner Bridezilla!
A wonderful Yorkshire based, 20 something Bride-to-be, who loves colour, performing arts and her career as a events and wedding planner, I know you’re going to love her!
As Polly May is an events and wedding planner by profession I thought she was definitely qualified to create a guest post for Say “I do” on a Budget on how you can plan your wedding for £10,000. In the blow post, Polly gives you an indication of how to allocate the £10,000 budget and provides some advice on what to consider to help you achieve your wedding for £10,000.
How to plan a wedding for 10k by Polly May. A guest for sayidoonabudget.com

Wedding budgets come in all shapes and sizes; whatever yours looks like there are loads of tips and tricks to use to make sure you don’t spend a penny more than planned. Here’s a few ideas to help make sure you stay on track to an affordable but perfect wedding day.

Venue – £2,400

Now, a lot of couples get caught in the idea that hiring a ‘room only’ venue is the best way to save money, but this isn’t always the case. Don’t get me wrong it could be the best option for you however, make sure you get the total costings of everything. Be sure to take all aspects into consideration like catering, drinks, furniture, table linen, cutlery and perhaps even a portable toilet if you have hired an outside space! Alternatively, why not look at hotels or other specialised wedding venues that offer affordable packages that suit all price points. Think about having a mid-week wedding because (trust me) from personal experience, this can save thousands!

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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.

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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.

Choose Hire


thchoose hire not buy

In Slovakia (and right across East Europe) hiring your wedding dress is common. In fact more brides hire their wedding dress in Slovakia than buy. I think this custom should come to the UK. There are a few bridal shops that either specialise in or offer a hire service, but they are few and far between.

The cost of wedding dresses can be quite a shock to a newly engaged lady, I know it was a shock to me! The cost of high-end designer wedding dresses, can mean that a bride-to-be will lower her expectations and look at cheaper designers, look on the high street or buy a second hand dress. I am an advocate for all of these options as great ways to save money. But what do you do if you want a wedding dress from this season made by a top designer but you don’t want to spend thousands for it? Hire is the answer.

Think how many weddings you’ve been too where the groom and grooms-men are wearing hired suits. If you’re planning your own wedding or have recently got married it is most likely that your groom will be wearing/did wear a hired suit. If a hired suit is good enough for the groom why not a hired gown for the bride?

One of the massive benefits of hiring your dress is that you can wear a designer you may not have been able to afford to have if you were buying the dress. Many bridal shops have to make difficult decisions about what stock to carry; often choosing not to carry high-end designer dresses due to fear they will sit on the shelves for a long time before being bought. A bridal dress hire shop is more likely to carry a high-end designer gown because they can hire it out a number of times at £500 much more easily than a conventional bridal shop could sell at £3,000.

By renting a dress you will not only gain budget savings and have the dress of your dreams but you will also save on the stress of caring for the dress and the worry of storing it.

Bridal shops with a Hire service across the UK
Cardiff: To Have & To Hire Ltd
London (Tottenham): Vonlee Bridal Hire
Surrey: From Me To You Hire
UK wide: Chic-By-Choice

If you know of any other bridal shops that offer a hire service please do let me know, either by commenting or my emailing me at idoonabudget@yahoo.com so I can add them on to this list.

Monika hired her wedding dress in this Real Budget Wedding Feature published on 19th September 2017

Choose Hire

Save By Using Facebook Groups


Anyone who is on Facebook knows of and maybe uses Facebook groups. We all know that buying ‘second hand’/’once used’ is one of the best ways to save money on your big day, but how do you go about purchasing them?

One of the ways to find wedding items ‘once used’ is to find Facebook groups that have been set up for people to sell wedding paraphernalia. Some groups will be regional while others are set up for the selling of wedding items across the whole country. The groups with the most traffic will be the open groups as opposed to closed/private groups. A quick search for ‘wedding items’ in the Facebook search function will bring up a number of groups, however be careful not to join ones that are inactive.

Many Newlyweds choose to sell everything from table centerpieces, sweetie buffet jars and tools, to outdoor venue decorations and the little extras they’d bought after their big day to recoup some money. Some Newlyweds will even choose to sell bridal accessories, bridesmaid dresses and some even choose to sell their wedding dress. Most people who are selling off their decorations etc will do so a within the first year of marriage.

My favourite thing to look for in these groups is decorations. If you haven’t already, join/like the Facebook groups/pages in your area that are dedicated to selling wedding items. Sometimes people post wedding items for sale on generic selling pages too so make sure you are on those as well. Unless you’ve chosen a very unconventional colour scheme you will be able to pick up, ribbons, decorations, outfits etc in your wedding colour scheme and suiting your theme. Even if you can’t find items for sale that suit your theme/scheme you will still be able to buy things that don’t need to fit a theme or colour scheme such as bubbles for the table, diamanté table scatters, glass jars etc.

Big popular items can be bought and sold dozens of times – think big glass jars and scoops for a sweetie buffet, candle sticks, table number holders and photo booth props to name a few.

No one will know these items weren’t bought brand new by you, so why pay over the odds? Decorate your venue and add finishing touches to your day at a fraction of the cost of buying everything new.

Not to mention you can feel good twice – saving money and recycling!

Big Day PostBox


Something I have always wanted to have for my wedding day is a post box for guests to put cards in positioned near the ‘gift table’. When I say post box I don’t mean the cardboard post box you can readily get from eBay such as this:


But an actual vintage or real looking post box; although I can never make up my mind as to if I would keep traditional with the royal red post box or go for an ivory one. The one thing for sure is I WILL be having one for my wedding.

I would ask either a bridesmaid or an usher to empty the post box at the end of the evening and look after the cards and gifts for the H2B and I. The designated person would then bring the cards/presents to us the day after the wedding once we’re back at home or once we are back from honeymoon.

A company I found on Twitter recently called ‘Big Day Postbox’ sell a range of unique and vintage post boxes you can hire for your wedding at very reasonable prices. Key small decorations that people will want to take a picture of, and that will get guests chatting is always a winner to me. If you had one of the post boxes from Big Day Postbox on/near your gift table you wouldn’t need to decorate the gift table with anything else!

Go truly unique with a milk churn sourced from a dairy and upcycled into a beautiful wedding post box for your guests to fill with cards. Small gifts could even be put in this.Or go Traditional with a small high standing royal red post box.

Depending on the post box you choose you can hire these from Big Day Postbox for between £45 and £85 plus a small delivery charge.

What do you think? Do you love these as much as I do?

Lessons Learnt from Attending a Wedding


10 days ago I published a post about how I choose a wedding guest outfit as I had bought a dress to wear to a wedding I attended on Saturday. Below I have reviewed each element of the wedding and given the lessons I have learnt.

The Venue
Newbury Manor Hotel

The Ceremony
The ceremony was at 3:30PM. The Bride who was wearing a cream mid length straight cut lace dress looked a picture of pure happiness walking down the isle with her father. The vows were short and sweet with two heartfelt readings given, one by a daughter of the bride and the other by the grooms daughter. Decorating a narrow shelf that went the whole way round the room at about chest height was a synthetic vine and candles with the only other decoration being chair covers finished with gold bows. The pictures after the ceremony were taken outside by one of the Brides daughters. Between the ceremony ending and the wedding breakfast beginning was about 1 hour.

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The Wedding Breakfast
The couple decided not to do a receiving line, instead opting to enter the room together once all guests were seated. The wpid-imag0880_1.jpgstationary theme was birds and bird cages with simply elegant laser cut style bird cage place cards and favour boxes housing three foiled wrapped chocolates. Generally the food served at weddings isn’t the best, however all three courses were incredibly enjoyable.

I am also glad to report that the happy couple arranged the seating plan so that guests were sat with people they already knew. Lets just say I am not an advocate for seating guests from the brides side on the same table as guests from the grooms side if they do not know each other. Although when two people get married it is two families becoming one, in the modern world the reality of the two families ever spending any time together after the wedding is slim; so why sit them together under the pretense of it being important for them to get to know each other.
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The decorations for the wedding breakfast seemed to be usual package wedding decorations with a classic floral display atop a mirror plate and scattered table sparkles.

disappointment arrived in the form of the speeches. The father of the bride (TFOTB) gave a succinct speech hitting all the key points; memory of the bride, sentiment about the groom and welcoming the grooms parents to the family ending in a toast. Despite the good start to the speeches made by TFOTB the Grooms speech bored everyone to tears by bring ridiculously long. He hardly mentioned his wife, opting to talk mostly about his sister, which was sweet but odd. After the longest speech in the history of wedding speeches it was the turn of the best man. Unfortunately the Best man did not give a good speech either. In total contract to the groom who loved the sound of his own voice the best man shook like a baby in snow, spoke as quietly as a door mouse and did not include even one joke or story about the groom. NOT EVEN ONE!

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The Reception
The reception was held in the same room as the wedding breakfast, so after a quick turn around where everyone mingled outside or by the bar we re-entered the room for the reception. The newly weds cut the cake and had their first dance. I left with the people I arrived with at about 23:00.
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A buffet was served during the reception and even though the buffet was smaller than average more than half was left untouched.

What I’ve learnt from attending this wedding
If you are planning on a budget you will come across times when you have to make a decisions on what is more important to include such as whether or not to include favours or whether or not to get that entertainer. Therefore I have included below things that people really wont notice if you decide to cut them from your day.

  • Decorations in the ceremony room – choose one or two decorations only, such as flowers on the register table and bows on the back on the chairs. The ceremony room doesn’t need loads of decorations as people will be concentrating on you and the commitment you are making to each other.
  • If yours and your partners families don’t get together much you can forego any entertainment as your guests will be more than occupied catching up with each other. The wedding mentioned above was a family wedding where there was no entertainment provided and to be honest it wasn’t needed because we were all enjoying chatting to each other because we rarely all get together.
  • You may decide not to do thank you gifts for a range of reasons; possibly because you have planned the day without any financial support from anyone else, or because you have decided not to have bridesmaids and groomsmen or because you simply can’t find the room in your budget. Thank you gifts have become customary for the couple to give to parents and the bridal party plus other people who have been especially helpful. Usually the thank you gifts are flowers, a bottle of alcohol or a personalised gift. If you still want to thank people but don’t have the budget for gifts then you can thank them in the grooms speech and out cards and a heart felt personal thank you written inside, or just thank them verbally without handing out gifts. It is a relatively new customer so people wont mind if the gifts are absent.
  • Forgoing the expensive evening buffet is a very good idea for the couple on a budget. So much of an evening buffet goes to waste, but people do still like to have a nibble to help absorb some of the merry drinking. Consider serving just your cake and some bacon rolls/small cones of fish and chips as this will give your guests the much needed nibble in the evening while reducing the cost of the evening catering by about half!


Things To Try and Include
One of the most important things I have learnt from the wedding on Saturday is when looking at venues consider how the reception room will impact on your day. If the reception room does not have a bar within the room this will mean that about half of your guests will be where the bar is, which will mean the reception could feel empty. The reception room at Newbury Manor Hotel did not have a bar which did mean half the guests were in the room the bar was in. If you feel this would negatively impact on the feel of your reception try to find a venue where there is a bar within the reception room.

You don’t choose a best man based on their ability to give a speech, you choose them because they are important to you. But if your best man is incredibly shy or extremely under confident with public speaking bear in mind the possibility of having two best men, each given separate duties; one could be in charge of the rings while the other is given the responsibility of giving the best man speech.

Weddings Bands – How to Save


I have discussed in a previous post ideas for how to save money on your wedding rings which included buying the bands online, buying second hand or changing Tesco club card points to Goldsmiths vouchers.

Since writing that post I have discovered another, much more appealing way to get quality wedding bands at a cut price.

When browsing wedding forums such as ‘youandyourwedding‘ I have seen brides gladly sharing news about them getting their wedding rings from ‘Jewellery Quarter‘, one example of such forum posters is Jolene who shared her budgeting success…

Wedding rings: We went to Jewellery Quarter. We had agreed a modest budget of around £350 each for our rings because I tried a ring on in that price region after we got engaged.

I thought we were being a bit tight because we decided that we wanted palladium (stronger than the white gold of my engagement ring and less likely to tarnish as I’ve had to get it replated already) and we didn’t want plain bands. Well, I don’t and my fiancé wants them to match. We’re also getting an infinity symbol engraved inside of both.

I chose a 3mm palladium band, with diamonds halfway round the band. It looks lovely behind my engagement ring because the stones go round my engagement band too so they match. £205!!!  I couldn’t believe it! OH’s in a 6mm studded palladium band came to £385. They’re exactly what we wanted and I couldn’t believe our luck to be coming away under budget,

We looked up the retail prices for equivalent bands on the high street when we got back and the £590 total we’d spent suddenly became £3000! 

I’d recommend JQ to anyone – can’t wait to go collect them in 3 weeks!

Jewellery Quarter is about a 2.5 – 3 hour drive from where I am in the UK, which is nothing if it means that the H2B and I get our perfect wedding rings within our budget from a trusted source.

1920’s Wedding


Although a 1920’s themed wedding is not for me, I really love looking at wedding pictures from couples who have chosen 1920’s styling for their big day. Pearls and feathers are my favourite ways to subtly or elaborately bring a touch of the 1920’s in to the celebrations. The sleek dress silhouettes are simple and flattering on most figures but especially boyish figures, adorned with beads, peals and thin pleats, lace and ‘visible stitching’.


Other features of the 1920’s brides style is statement headpieces or long, draping veils, that cap the head and drape from in front of the ears and around the back of the head. When re-styling the 1920’s look, the modern bride often opts for no veil and instead having a lace or beaded headdress.

The Groom can also style himself in a real dapper 1920’s suit. Think pinstriped wide leg trousers, club collared shirts, and for the brave, contrasting jackets, with brogues to really finish off the look.

Choosing 1920’s inspired bridesmaid dresses is as easy as 1, 2, 3 by following these key ideas:

  • drop waists
  • beading
  • tassels
  • cap sleeves (beaded is lovely!)
  • Accessorize with long pearl necklaces

The great news is metallics are perfect for 1920’s inspired weddings, and gold is used in pretty much every 20’s styled wedding. Think gold leaf decorated wedding cake, gold shoes, metallic writing on the stationary, and vintage, art deco brooches, watches etc as wedding favours.

This wedding theme does not tend to lend itself to the budget savvy, however, 1920’s style bridesmaid dresses and wedding dresses are easily found on the high street, and affordable online retailers even now, a couple of years after the infamous Gatsby film release. Plus gold beads/ ‘diamond’ gems scattered around vintage glasses/empty vintage perfume bottles can all be sourced very cheaply and create beautiful table decorations.

For a budget favour why not dip the tip of white feather in glitter and insert the inside of a cheap pen into the end? In my opinion there is nothing better than a usual wedding favour as people are more likely to take them home.

String gold- and glitter-dipped feathers around the ceremony for an ethereal feel: | 24 DIY Decorations That Will Make Any Wedding Look Like A Million Bucks

Irrelevant of your budget a 1920’s style wedding is achievable for all – remember rationing and frugality was around in the 20’s so a Great Gatsby style wedding celebration was very rare. Have you had a 1920’s inspired wedding, or are you planning one? If so what is/was your budget? What budgeting tips would you give to fellow Bs2B?

Could you spot the Highstreet dress?


Can YOU tell which is which? Left: Debut at Debenhams £199 Ivory embellished Grecian wedding dress

Debenhams – £199

Back on one of my favourite topics – High street wedding dresses. Wedding gowns from high street retailers are getting better every year, so much so I bet you couldn’t tell they were from high street retailers at all.
The dress to the left from Debenhams is described as a “Grecian inspired gown that is crafted from satin with beautiful chiffon straps and waterfall detail to the centre front and back. It has a fitted, boned bodice with stone, bead and sequin floral embellishment to the waist and rear straps and an elegantly flared skirt.” and costs just £199

Many designer dresses give you a fuller skirt or longer train, but not every bride wants a full skirt or David’s Bridal Jewel Collection tulle over satin trumpet gown with south detailing and sweep train, left, £1,895long train, so why pay over £1,000 for a dress just because of the designer tag attached to it? The  dress to the right from David’s Bridal collection costs £1,895 and is described as being a “tulle over satin trumpet gown with south detailing and sweep train”, and I don’t think it is worth the price tag when compared to some of the high street dresses on the market.

Another high street store that is seriously impressing me with its Bridal Collection is Phase Eight. Phase Eight have been a favourite of mine when it comes to looking for occasion ware for a long time now, as I’ve bought two dresses to wear as a wedding guest and the first time I was engaged my mum bought her MOTB dress from Phase Eight.

Phase Eight aren’t going anywhere in my list of favourite formal ware high street shops any time soon as they have now wowed me with their new Bridal Collection for 2015.

Phase Eights ‘Hope’ is a dress many brides longing for the designer look would Phase Eight's Hope Twenties inspired wedding dress heavily embellished with shimmering beads and sequins, right, which, at £595, is less than half the pricefall in love with. A 20’s inspired gown with heavy embellishment using beads and sequins, featuring a sheer blouson top with a sweetheart lining and embellished waist detail. Styled with a delicate train with finger loop, keyhole back and concealed centre back zip at a steal £595.00 – still at least half the price of a designer version!

If you’re worried that perhaps the high street dress may not fit as well as you’d want you can always arrange for a dress maker to do alternations to pinch in more here, shorten the give on the straps etc to make it just right. Even with small alternations done the cost would still be less than the designer alternative.

I have struggled to find a high street gown with a train, and I think I would quite like a train. If you also would like a train but have fallen in love with a high street dress have two options here:
1) Buy a cathedral length veil to create the illusion of a train

2) Have a separate train piece created

A separate train can be attached at the waist or the shoulder (weaubleau train) depending on the style of your dress. A detachable/separate train attached at the waist could be sewn between the layers of the skirt, or over the top of the skirt. For brides with sewing experience there is help and advice online for how to create a train for your trainless wedding dress yourself, such as here and here.

If you are a bride on a budget there has never been a better time to get out on the highstreet for all your wedding needs, including your wedding dress.

Say Yes To The Dress


TV shows such as ‘Say Yes To The Dress’ have made wonder: What is the best number of people to take with you when trying on dresses?

Many Brides-2-B on the show take huge entourages with them when they try on wedding dresses. Although I can see the sentimental reason for having, both your mother and the mother in-law-2-be, sisters, grand mothers, bridesmaids etc with you, it is also worth baring in mind that everyone has their own idea about what the perfect wedding dress may be, and their ideas could well differ greatly from your own.

I always feel sorry for brides when they come out in the type of dress they have their heart set on only to have their entourage dismiss the dress or say that they don’t like it. I feel even more for the Bride when she then dismisses a dress, that had she be on her own she would have chosen as ‘The Dress’ because her family and friends don’t like it.

Of course women decide to have these people with them because they’re the brides nearest and dearest and their opinion is important. From watching more episodes than I care to admit, my advice to any Bride-2-B, would be to advise your entourage what you are looking for, or what type of style you wish to achieve from your dress, so that they may be more considerate of YOUR opinion of the dress you have on before voicing their own opinion.

Lastly I would say that if your guests do voice opinions on the dress/es you are trying on that differ vastly from yours, remember this is your dress, your wedding day and ultimately you should choose a dress YOU love, because all that matters is you love it! When you look back at your wedding photos over the years to come you should be able to smile knowing that the dress you wore on your wedding day was the dress of your dreams.

What do you think?
How many people did you take with you or how many people are you thinking of taking?
Do you regret the number of people you took with you when trying on dresses?

Budget Decorations – String Balloons


In previous posts I have shared my passion for bunting; that passion for bunting refuses to fade, however I also have a new ‘amare’ in my life – cotton string balloons!

Cotton String Balloons are just as versatile as bunting but have been less over-used in the wedding industry to date.

First of all, before I get too carried away with myself, let me introduce you to what a string balloon is: It is a balloon that has had PVA solutuon string wrapped around it; once the string has dried/set the balloon is popped and removed so that all that you have left is the string in the shape of a balloon. Click Here for a good ‘How To’.

The look of your string balloons can be changed depending on how thickly the string is wrapped around the balloon, the type of string used, the size of the balloon used, whether you spray paint the string afterwards or not and how you use the string balloon within your wedding decorations.
Winter Wedding Decorations | Winter Wedding DIY - Craft Ideaslove this DIY idea using string, glue, and a balloon. could stick things into the mesh and have a couple of candles. Cheap but effective!

If you are going to use the string balloons on your reception tables, how about sticking flowers in the top of them? Or cut a hole in the bottom and position the string balloon over the top of flowers.

For a extra twist on this, you could put things inside the balloon before tying it off, so that when you pop the balloon certain items are then trapped inside the sting ball.

String balls look fantastic teamed with pompoms when hung together – thinking about having some hung over the gift table, or hung outside where you’ll have your pictures taken, or even hung as pews ends for the ceremony.
Pink and Purple Pom-Poms with Snowy Cotton Balloons: Pink and Purple Shower/Party DecorationYou don’t just have to wrap string/wool around the balloons, using a similar method, other fantastic results can be achieved! How about PVA pasting paper doilies to the balloon? This gives an UBER unique way to decorate your venue for a sake of a few quid.
DIY project: Spray glue the dollies/twine to a blown up balloon and allow to dry. Then pop the balloon!! MUST do this for my reception!
You could either team the string balloons with the doilies balloons or have one or the other.

As mentioned previously I am the most artistically challenged person I know, but I think that these string balloons are very achievable for a budget bride/groom to create.
Have you seen these before? What are your thoughts on them? 

If you choose to go for the string balloon theme for your wedding decorations, you can continue the theme through the wedding by incorporating this idea on a smaller scale for your wedding favours. Your guests wont care what your wedding favours are if they are trapped inside a string cage like this!

You could put wrapped chocolate/fudge etc inside the small balloon, or other small wedding favours, the larger the favour the large the balloon!

My wedding colour scheme is glue and gold so I like the idea of putting two Ferrero Rochers in the balloon. Your guests will think of all sorts of ways to try and get to their favours, and are much more likely to take the favour home.

Can you think of a cheaper and easier way to create the most memorable wedding favours ever?

What would you put inside the string ball for your wedding favours? 

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!