My Planning So Far


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wedding Date = Saturday 8th October 2016


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

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

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

Alternative Bouquet

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


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

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.

Alternative Table Plan

Most brides are looking for unique ways to provide the seating plan for the wedding breakfast to their guests. Gone are the days when couples were happy with the conventional seating plan.
There a lot of options for how to display your table plan, however most stick to the theme of the table plan to the left, by having each table set on a mirror rather than a piece of card.

However as most of you are aware by now I am all about stretching even further into the unconventional and can often be found searching for new and unique ways to display table plans.

Today a unique idea found me when I was taking part in the crazy #weddinghour on Twitter.

The below tree inspired plan was created by ‘Paper Tree Designs‘ who create some of the most gorgeous wedding stationary with natural themes. The below table plan really appeals to me for a number of reasons:
The design has a simple feel about it even though it is a very crafted and unique design
I have never seen a design anything like this before
The mix of the coloured leafs and the black tree is very modern
The nature theme really speaks to me (nature is a big love of mine)

What do you think of this design?
What sort of table plan are you thinking of having?
Where did you get your inspiration from?

This table plan really gives a feel for what the wedding might be life. I imagine a spring wedding with a rainbow colour theme; each bridesmaids in a different coloured dress and each male member of the wedding party with different coloured ties. I can see the wedding being outside or in a marquee with wild flower centerpieces and a bride with a flowy dress and her hair in loose curls.

Your table plan helps to create the feel of your wedding which will last in the memories of your friends and families for a long time to come.

Fantasy Wedding

I’m not going to lie to you, it is perfectly natural to be planning two different weddings – your actual wedding and your fantasy wedding. Most of this blog looks at the real wedding, and how to plan your wedding for your real budget; but I’d like to share with you my fantasy wedding. The wedding dress, decorations etc that I would have if money were no object.

What fantasy wedding are you planning?

My Order From Flutterby Weddings

Has arrived!

The H2B bought it home with him yesterday. I have been very impressed with not only Flutterby Weddings but also Brenda976 on ebay who I bought my veil from. Both of them gave excellent communication, quick despatch and therefore delivery, but also once the product has arrived I’ve been nothing but truely happy with them.

I now have my headband and my two Bms headbands.

It seems the only thing I am struggling with and have had not totally positive experiences about is finding a well priced, quality cake maker that wont let me down and a make-up and hair artist that isn’t going to charge me through the roof.

What things have gone smoothly in your wedding planning? What things haven’t gone quite so well?

Click, Flash, Snap

The uncles have had a few drinks, downing their last one, they make their way outside where one drops his trousers and there is a flash from behind, laughing and celebrating at their idea, another joins him and drops his trousers as another flash goes off. Inside the ceremony room children are running around taking snaps, unsure of what they are actually snapping, and too busy rushing around to stand still long enough to create a steady focus. A few weeks later as the Bride and Groom go to collect the results they begin to laugh but ultimately feel disappointed at what they see in front of them.

This is often the story that is created when disposable cameras are given out at weddings on the tables for guests to use to take pictures. 20/30 years ago, giving out disposable cameras for guests to use at a wedding was a good idea. It meant that the Bride and Groom got some nice, informal pictures of their guests that they wouldn’t have been able to see otherwise. Now a days disposable cameras are nothing but a waste of money for the budget bride.

You are looking at about £2 per disposable camera and then £3.50 ish per camera to process them. To buy and process 10 cameras you’re looking at £55.

Disposable Camera

Aside from the cost there is the point of how useless they are when most people, if not all have either a digital camera or camera phone, that has a zoom, better pixel-ation and different modes they can use depending on the photo conditions, inside, outside, dark etc. Your guests will be able to take much better pictures with their digital cameras than they ever will be able to with disposable point and snaps. Plus they will give you copies for free, emailing them to you and often putting the pictures on Facebook.

Not to mention that the majority of people who use disposable cameras at weddings are children, who run around snapping people, with their fingers over the lens or moving the camera so that it is too fuzzy to make out who is in the picture, or drunk men who take pictures of themselves mooning.

My sister in-law and brother in-law felt pressured into having disposable cameras at their wedding, which they say to this day was a waste of time and money as loads of guests had their own digital cameras that they were using. They never even got them developed.

Therefore I am campaigning for any bride, not just the budget bride to step away from the disposable cameras, and to for once, trust your guests to be able to take some pictures and give them to you after the wedding.

Did you have disposable cameras on the tables at your wedding? Do you regret or are you really glad you decided to provide them? Please comment with your thoughts as I’d love to hear from you.