With the average cost of a wedding in the UK at an all time high of around twenty-seven-thousand pounds (Independent, September 2017), I thought it might be useful to share some of the tips I used when planning my own wedding costing less than half of that. This is a very different sort of post for me so I would love to know whether or not this interests you. Although it was stressful at times, I absolutely loved planning our wedding and I hope these tips make the process more enjoyable for you. Or if you are reading this because you love a good nosy at a wedding, I am right there with you!
G and I got married on the twenty-fifth of March 2016 in a little church on the outskirts of a tiny village near Wellington Barn, Wiltshire. We had been together just over five years and it was the second best day of my life, second to the day Freddie was born. We were engaged for around eighteen months giving us plenty of time to save and to plan. If time is no object, a long engagement is worth considering! I have narrowed down my tips to the six I feel are most important, hopefully they help you to plan your big day.
1 | PRIORITISE WHAT IS IMPORTANT TO YOU
When planning a wedding it is very easy to get caught up in what other people feel should be a priority and forgetting about what is actually important to you. It is one of the few times I think you can truly be a little bit selfish because after all the day is a celebration of you as a couple. My top tip would be to think carefully about you want and ignore the recommendations from well-meaning (read interfering…) others!
For us, it was food, venue and photographer in that order. Photographs last a lifetime so making sure we chose a photographer whose style we loved and who we felt comfortable with was really important to us. *If you are near Gloucestershire I highly recommend Rob Tarren Photography. He is so talented and a genuinely lovely guy.
Deciding on our priorities made it much easier to allocate our budget accordingly which gave us an idea on what we would have left over for everything else.
2 | DON’T COMPROMISE YOUR VISION
During the planning process there were many moments where I felt I should compromise our vision/ideas for other people. One of those areas was alcohol. My husband is not a big drinker and although I enjoy a good cocktail, I am not hugely keen on wine (aside from in my drunken university days…). I did want to make sure we had some alcoholic options and something we both like is cider- specifically Redkorderlig. We decided to have a selection of Redkorderlig ciders, beer and lager out on the tables during the meal instead as well as welcome cocktails and a cash bar.
Another area we felt really passionate about was the food. Our vision for the day was for it to feel like a big family party so a normal three-course wedding breakfast wouldn’t have the desired impact. Instead we worked with our lovely caterers Sweetpea Catering to design a ‘family-style’ menu. We served hearty canape platters after the ceremony and then a variety of mains and sides during the meal. For dessert, each guest had their own trio served on a wooden platter. Although it was quite different to the usual wedding breakfast, the food was the most complimented aspect of the whole day and relatives and friends still talk about it. It was certainly worth the risk and the investment.
I also felt a lot of pressure to provide each guest with a ‘wedding favour’. After exploring various options I realised that providing everybody with a gift was going to mean giving something fairly generic. Instead, we opted for a tasty sweet and biscuit table that guests could help themselves to. Our lovely local sweet shop The Candy Man sourced various sweets in pink, gold and white to fit our theme which was incredible. We also ordered different heart shaped biscuits from Waitrose and displayed everything in copper wire baskets, glass sweet jars and striped paper bags. It was a firm favourite with our guests and by thinking creatively we provided everyone with a favour that was fun and economical too!
3 | THINK ABOUT WHERE YOU SHOP
Whenever you add the word ‘wedding’ to something, the price seems to jump up straight away. Our venue was a beautiful, but very blank canvas so I had to source and arrange all of the decor myself. I began by looking at wedding decor websites but quickly realised that was going to be far too expensive. Instead I browsed in various bargain stores around Christmas time. All of the copper and gold tea lights that you can see in the shots above were from B&M and cost £2.99 for a pack of six. An absolute bargain! The gold mercury glass bottles were bought from a supermarket for around £3 each, the frames from B&M for around £4 and the large vases cost less than £5. They looked so beautiful together and nobody would have known they cost so little. I actually sold the decor on afterwards which is another good way of making a little money back.
Bridesmaid dresses can be another big expense but I really do not think you need to spend hundreds of pounds to find beautiful dresses. All of our bridesmaid dresses were purchased from ASOS and their Bridal section just seems to get better and better. Extra points for their brilliant returns policy which made it easy to swap around sizes too. I am sure you will agree that all of my girls looked utterly gorgeous and their dresses were less than one hundred pounds each.
4 | ENLIST FRIENDS AND FAMILY
Our biggest saving was our flowers and that was all down to my lovely mother who did them herself. I am so thankful she did because they were so, so beautiful and looked really professional too. It helps to have someone who has a bit of knowledge about putting flower arrangements together but if not, you can learn yourself. It is worth it for being able to have the blooms of your dreams within budget. After a few trial runs, Mum made a big order through an online wholesaler and assembled everything a day or two before the wedding. For our church flowers, she ordered real confetti from Shropshire Petals and combined this with gypsophila and eucalyptus all encased in a giant, transparent baubles. As well as smelling amazing, this was a really budget conscious option and it looked so whimsical and pretty.
My very talented sister designed our invitations and various other bits and I printed and assembled everything myself using pale pink lace and gold twine bought on Ebay. My little sister created also created a playlist for our drinks reception that included a range of songs that were meaningful to G and I.
5 | BE REALISTIC ABOUT WHAT YOU CAN ACHIEVE
Something I would do differently if I could go back to the planning process again, would be to be more realistic about what I could achieve on my own. Although our long engagement meant plenty of time to shop and plan, the last few weeks were still very stressful because I tried to do too much myself. Let your friends and your family help you, people love a good wedding and love to feel involved and I wish i had delegated more!
Having said that, if you are a bit of a control freak like me I would suggest making yourself monthly lists from the time you begin planning until three months or so before the wedding. Then move to weekly lists until a fortnight before the big day when I would move onto daily lists instead. That way, you have a clear idea of what needs to be done and when.
Something else that worked well for us was to write a document for every supplier or person involved in the wedding with a timeline of when everything was going to happen, everyones names and contact information and any extra information. That way, if something does go wrong then every member of the bridal party and your suppliers know who to contact and what the plan should be. This was something our venue appreciated and it helped keep things clear in ours mind too.
If you are currently planning your wedding then I really hope this was helpful. Remember this is your day. Prioritise what is important to you, be creative about where you shop and do not feel pressured to do or buy things just because everyone else feels you need too. Most of all, enjoy the day because it really does fly by and you will wake up the next morning wishing you could do it all over again.
If you are already married, what is your top tip for the wedding planning process? Let me know if you want to see more wedding related posts, I would be more than happy to share!
Thanks for reading,
P.s If you enjoyed this post you may enjoy ‘Six Ways Having A Baby Changes Your Relationship’.
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