Everyone knows that your wedding is the most expensive day of your life, regardless of how budget you attempt to make it.
But for me, planning and budgeting for our wedding was a case of balance. Saving where we could allowed me to spend a bit more on the things that meant the most to me. Basically, if you don’t want to live in debt for the next 10 years and fancy a holiday before you retire, something’s got to give. And you’ll probably regret spending £500 on wedding favours when your boiler packs in, no matter how pretty they looked on the day!
I thought I’d give you brides-to-be the low down on my spending for our wedding day; where I splurged and where I managed to pull things back a bit.
1. VIDEOGRAPHY AND PHOTOGRAPHY
I’ve spoken before about the investment we made in photography and video for our wedding in a previous blog and how it was one the best financial decisions we made. Aside from the practical investments you have to make in getting married, like a marriage licence, for me, this is the most important investment of them all. Yes, even more than your dress.
This is the investment that will allow you to look back on your wedding for years to come, to show your grand children, that will take you back there every time you look at it. My advice would be to invest as much as you can in this element of your day, don’t scrimp on it. You can make savings elsewhere.
Put it this way, if you’re investing heavily in the visual elements of your day – decorations, flowers and your dress, don’t you want them captured in the best way? That means investing in your photographer and if you can, a videographer.
2. MY PAPER FLOWERS
I’m a really visual person; I love making things look pretty and appreciate beautiful things. Our wedding day was the ultimate opportunity for pretty. The white drapery at the back of our reception room was simply crying out for something to make it pop and having always been in love with Chanel-esque paperflowers, I knew I had to have them for my wedding.
I discovered Sophie and Laura at Strange Case, two lovely girls with a real talent for crafts and a super brilliant business idea in providing styling and props for weddings and other events. The girls hand crafted these beautiful paper flowers in shades of peach, pink and white and then decorated the venue with them personally the morning of the wedding.
This was an expensive luxury and something really frivolous, but they just made the room. For me, the detail of the day was really important and these were such a beautiful detail that everyone noticed and comment on. No, this wasn’t the cheaper option, but let’s remember, this took two girls many hours of handcrafting to produce these works of art, which I’ve kept and I’m planning on using in a nursery if we’re ever lucky enough to have a baby girl (and if we have a baby boy, well, let’s hope he likes flowers!).
If it makes you happy, invest in one or two luxuries that just make you think, ‘fuck it, I’m having them!’. One or two mind, seven or eight and you’re in serious financial trouble!
3. MY DRESS
This is another area I’ve spoken about on La Lux.
In other areas of my life, I tend to go for the cheaper option. If I’m shopping, I often compromise on what I really want to have the cheaper option; I’m not rolling in cash so it’s a sacrifice I have to make. But not when it came to my wedding dress.
There are always cheaper options; get the one you want. I know spending upwards of £1,000 on a dress you’ll wear once can make your toes curl, but this is THE dress. The dress to end all dresses. And when you put on the dress on the morning of your wedding, you’ll not even think of the money, trust me.
Be realistic in your budget for your dress; expect to pay more and always factor in alterations. I could go for my dream dress partly because I went for high-street shoes and borrowed my friend’s beautiful veil. Again, it’s about compromise and making savings where you can to have the things you want.
4. OUR BAND
We sourced our band and DJ through a great Liverpool-based company called Wedding Jam, who were brilliant in helping us through the process and organised everything.
Our DJ was a brilliant guy called Martin, who also did a special mix for our first dance, and our band was the insane Xander and the Peace Pirates. It was our best man who got us on to Keith and his band because he’d loved them and turns out, we loved them too.
Having only expected a duo, we were delighted when a four piece band turned up and the lads were insane, completely rocking the dancefloor all. Night. Long. We got the best comments from people who absolutely buzzed off them. These are the elements you want your guests to remember for the right reasons, so for me it was worth investing in them.
Maz and I have been to see the band play since and it always takes up back to raving on the dancefloor in our trainers, glow sticks round our necks, happy as anything!
4. FOOD AND DRINK
I’ve been to weddings where you’re literally left starving all day and there’s nothing worse. Weddings are long days for guests, particularly if people don’t know each other; stuffing your face with canapés gives you something to do at the very least!
Please, please keep your guests fed and watered throughout the day, this isn’t the area to scrimp on. The food and drink were a huge priority for us, mostly because we wanted our guests to be full and happy, but also because food is a huge part of our lives and we wanted our wedding breakfast to be an extension of us and reflect our favourite things. The team at Hinderton Hall were amazing and Gareth who looked after us went above and beyond with our menu, which included a classic Loz and Maz ‘picky tea’ starter and a Sunday Roast with all the sides served ‘family style’ in big bowls on the tables.
We also made a bit of a spectacle of pudding, putting chefs hats and aprons under people’s chairs and having them serve the pudding to their table. It was so much fun and helped us involve a few extra people in the day and make them feel special (if a bit silly!)
There are ways to cut back a little on the food. If your guests have only just had canapés at the drinks reception, you could skip the starter. Or cut your wedding cake early and serve it for pudding with big jugs of cream, I love that idea. I also wouldn’t bother with too much of an evening buffet; we had pizza slices going around on big trays and a sweetie buffet to keep people going in the evenings. No one goes to a wedding expecting their dinner, something to nibble on over a couple of glasses of wine is great, as far as I’m concerned.
BRIDESMAIDS DRESS AND GROOMSMEN SUITS
I’ve witnessed people spend hundreds on outfits for their Team Bride and Team Groom and if you have a lot of them, that is really going to add up.
I’m a huge, huge fan of dressing your wedding besties in high street. Not only is it going to help save you some money, I actually think it’s more unexpected; how many bridesmaids do you see in long, samey dresses? As beautiful as they are, I wanted something different. My girls both wore dresses by Ted Baker and I’m not ashamed to say we bought them in the January sales, which meant I got both dresses with loads of change from £200. And they looked so beautiful. We went halves on their shoes, something I don’t think the girls minded doing as they’ve worn them 100 times since (in fact, some of our mates have borrowed them so they’ve definitely had their wear!). You can get so many beautiful options on the high street and ASOS even has it’s own wedding section. Please do have a look before heading straight to a bridal shop thinking it’s your only option.
For the boys, we went to Matalan. Yes, that’s right, Matalan. And with all the vouchers and 10% codes, we dressed my dad, two ushers and two best men for about £60 each for a three piece suit (The groom wore Marks and Spencer). I’m not a fan of morning suits, and neither is Maz, just personal preference, and whilst they’re not quite Armani, the lads looked pretty dapper. Granted, we had a split trouser leg by the end of the night but I think that was a combination of the suit and the energetic dance moves!
Aside from bouquets and buttonholes, my family and I did all the flowers ourselves.
Mum and headed to the (slightly eerie!) Geraud Market on Edge Lane in Liverpool about a week before the wedding and just picked loads of things we liked. We picked them up a week later and whilst I don’t have the receipt to hand, I think we made eight table centres, 30-odd pew ends and countless jars of flowers for about £120. Not only that, we had the best fun doing it, with me, Mum, my Mother-In-Law, bridesmaid and a helpful friend bouncing around the kitchen to Michael Buble, drinking processco and arranging flowers. It was glorious.
If you’re a bride on a budget, I can’t recommend this option enough. The guys at the market are really helpful but I would definitely advise a reckie in the weeks before your wedding to suss it out and then ordering a week in advance. Have confidence to give it a try; as long as all your favourite blooms are in there, who really cares how well they’re arranged? And even if you’re not on a budget, give it a go anyway because some of my favourite memories are putting those flowers together with my mum.
Why in God’s name would anyone spend hundreds of quid on a cake? I mean, it’s a cake! And I guarantee you, it won’t get eaten so each slice will cost you more than an entire afternoon tea! As long as it looks nice in the photos and your Auntie can have a bit with her coffee, that for me, is the definition of a good wedding cake.
A lovely local lady called Judith made our cake and it was perfect. It cost us £60 and she even delivered it to the venue and set it all up on the table with the cloth and the flowers. We were both delighted with it.
Marks and Spencer do a lovely plain one you could decorate with flowers or fresh fruit and you can get the most amazing cake toppers on Etsy (I love this one and this one). If cost is an issue, if you’re asking me (and I know you’re not but you’re reading this blog so you’re as good as asking me!) the cake is not a priority, spend the extra £150 you’ve been quoted on taking your new husband on a weekend away and eating as much cake as you can whilst lying in bed!
I’m the first to admit, I wasn’t too fussed on a car. I drive a white Vauxhall Astra and could see nothing wrong with giving it a wash, sticking some ribbon on the front and voila! This was mostly because there wasn’t a cat in hells chance I was paying £800 to be ferried three miles up the road, no matter how nice the car driving me was.
It was my wonderful mum who found the company we went for (she wasn’t having me arrive in a Vauxhall Astra!) and my lovely in-laws got us the car journey as a wedding present. And I’m so glad they did.
I didn’t want the huge black and white things and this beautiful gold Armstrong Sidley 234 Baby Sapphire was beautiful. The company we hired it from was Sapphire Wedding Cars, a wonderful, local father and son business. The dad, now in his 80s and still polishing the chrome on his beloved classic cars, used to drive this car to work at the Post Office in the 1960’s, that was what sold it for me! Our driver John was the most lovely man and ferried Mum and the girls to the Church before returning for me and Dad. If you have a supplier than can do that, I’d recommend it over hiring two cars. And for £250 it was a bargain compared to most other quotes I’d been given.
Despite my initial reluctance, I’m so glad I took my last journey as Miss Knights with my Dad in this car, and not the Astra!
I really hope this has been helpful to all you brides to be. If you’re already a Mrs, I’d love to hear how you budgeted for your big day and if there are any more tips you can give. Please just comment below.