We are delighted to share with you our first ‘real wedding’ feature. The gorgeous bride, Susan Foster, wanted to share her top tips from arranging her own wedding so together with her photographer – and sister Jen from our registered supplier PhotoJenic Life registered on our Oxfordshire regional site – they have created the amazing article below for us. Sit back and take notes – this article may save you time and money in planning your special day.
Wedding Planning – How cutting cost shouldn’t mean cutting corners
When Ben proposed in Christmas 2012 we almost instantly agreed that the venue should be Caerphilly Castle, it had been the back drop throughout our relationship and made perfect sense to make it part of our special day as well.
We set to planning our special day but as soon as someone mentioned the ‘W’ word it can felt like some companies use it as a license to print money. It can feel difficult to see how your pot of money is going to go the distance, so here are my suggestions and experience from my wedding day …..
Break it down
The first thing you should do it create the budget and set about spending it wisely – to be honest I was terrified of doing this at first but these costs aren’t going to go away. Researching and getting rough prices helped us allocate our budget and ensure we focused on what was really important to us and that these things didn’t have to be comprised.
Think about your venue, catering, photography, videography, entertainment, hair, makeup, dress, bridesmaids, accommodation, honeymoon, transport (especially if ceremony and reception in different places), flowers, favours, stationery, centre pieces and venue styling, photo booths, grooms wear, wedding rings, jewellery and accessories ….. just to get you started!
Cross the T’s and dot the I’s
Insurance – lots of larger venues (and castles!) wont let you book without it and after searching around on the internet the initial quotes where coming in at £250 (gulp). We did have second thoughts about our dream venue. Luckily my MOH (Maid of Honour) was a super event organiser who plans multi million pound events. She had the contact list to assist with the insurance issue. Her tip was to search for event insurance instead of Wedding Insurance and call the company up directly to make sure everything is covered. Our wedding was fully covered for £60 including £2.5 million liability insurance in case my niece really did think she was Mike the Knight and inflict damage on a historical building.
Get by with a little help from your friends
Leading on from the circle of friends theme, I was also very lucky to have my sister (Jen at Photojenic Life) as the photographer at our wedding. Alongside saving a pretty penny, I had photos with a personal touch as we texted, ‘pinned’ and obsessed about the tiny details. Nothing felt cheesy and Jen knew the guests that needed to be centre stage. To make sure that Jen wasn’t missed from all the important photographs we had a bit in the pot for a wedding videographer as well, to have both is a real treat and capture more memories and moments of your special day.
If your names not down…
Be ruthless and honest with your guest list. Are you inviting a friend from school because you went to their wedding? If you haven’t heard from them since then they shouldn’t be on it or at a push evening only. It feels harsh AND horrible but just be honest with yourself, you have never met Great Aunty Dorothy, and she is always in bed by 8 so sorry Dot, your off the list.
Now you have whittled down the number of people have a think about the invites. Do you really need the save the date, the day invite, the evening invite, the envelopes, the stamps, the RSVP, the stamp for the RSVP – it all adds up! Be clear about your budget and then prioritise. Could you send digital save the dates? Could you set up an online website for replies to save on the RSVP stamp? Their are lots of options so do your research and decide what works for you within your budget.
Personally, I opted to design my own. This saved £££ even though we had to put the time in to make them however it mean they were completely personal to us with our own medieval themed crest and wax seal!
Waste not, Want not
Flowers are essential for the big day and are also a great way to tie your colour scheme together. I couldn’t bear the thought of just chucking them after the big day, so again opted for a personal handmade route. I made 12 personalised paper roses where combined into my bouquet by my florist Pip at Rolfes Florist and I still have them to this day, this has also turned into a small business for me called Thankyou Muchly, where we provide the same service for others (excuse the shameless plug!).
In season flowers will also make a difference and after discussions with our florist and we opted for hydrangea as the centre pieces as the heads are quite sufficient and worked perfectly with our look and feel. All our guests were offered the centre pieces as wedding favours and because there was no way I was going to throw my hand made bouquet then no one was left out.
Food for thought
A significant part of your budget could be spent on food – some venues will offer ‘packages’ with a per head cost for set menus, others will offer you individual catering prices.
We had to think carefully about our timing as the wedding was at 2 and we wanted speeches before dinner so that our Top Table speakers could enjoy it. After fantastic sample of the food (its great getting to eat your wedding food twice) with Colin at Capital Cuisine we opted for Canapés on the lawn with cocktails and everyone was told there wasn’t going to be a starter so they weren’t “saving themselves” for food and could tuck in.
This worked wonderfully and gave the guest time to absorb their surrounding and something to do while we had our photographs taken.
…and finally …
These are just a few things that we did to make our wedding personal to us.
Our Flower girls dresses and accessories came from Monsoon and Accessories, co ordinated beautifully with our wedding theme and where a fraction of the cost.
Bridesmaid all chose their own wedding dresses to express their own styles and all came in under budget and I think they were grateful do not having to wear matching outfits.
Groomsmen did not have top hats which saved surprising amount and also meant no midnight hunt
Having been there and don’t that, I would suggest that your wedding savings should be satisfactory and the key is to plan within the budget you have and make sure you don’t feel like you are going without anything.
Your big day should be everything you want and more, and cutting cost shouldn’t mean cutting corners when dreaming of you happy ever after.