Monday, 31 March 2014

The Naked Cake

Morning thrifsters!!
Ever heard of a naked cake? Well it's become a bit of a trend over the past year and it happens to be a great money saving option. A lot of the cost of your great big wedding cake will go on the amazing skill of the cake maker in the decoration {that smooth white iced finish is not easy to achieve I tell you!}
But if you want to have a beautiful big cake and shave off some of the cost, ditch the icing and those painstakingly crafted sugar flowers and go for something naked!

They look beautiful dusted in icing sugar and garnished with either fresh fruit or some gorgeous blooms {for extra thriftyness you could pick wild fruit or grab flowers from your garden}

Here are some awesome examples:

{image: Juliet McKee Photography}
{image: Diamonds & Doodles Sheffield Wedding Photography}
{image: A Coastal bride}
{image: Peter Loves Jane}
{image: One Fine Day Event Styling}
{image: A Divine Moment Events}
Want to make your own? Follow this brilliant {and very pretty}  tutorial!

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Real Wedding: John & Juliet

John & Juliet married last summer at Bakewell Town Hall followed by a reception an awesome place in Derbyshire called Hargate Hall. Hargate is a brilliant thrifty venue, it's a huge Victorian house with enough accommodation to fit pretty much everyone you've ever met! You can rent this entire place for a whole weekend for less than 5k which gives you accommodation for the full weekend and exclusive use of the venue, plus if your guests chip in for the accommodation, which can work out at as little as £14 per night per person then you and your spouse to be are only looking at paying around £2000. One of the best things about a venue like Hargate Hall is that you can do pretty much anything you like, bring in your own caterers, and more importantly, your own booze!

Juliet bought her dress online for just a couple of hundred pounds, her friend made a gorgeous cake for her which was the centerpiece for a very sweet vintage tea party

I LOVE this place, its so laid back and cool, its like having your own massive mansion for a house party weekend.

{Photography: Diamonds & Doodles Sheffield Wedding Photographer}

Friday, 28 March 2014

Renting a wedding dress

Today I want to tell you all about an option that it seems many don't know about. Renting a wedding dress. Guys rent suits right? I know that often they seem to be a bit ill fitting and the material can be a little questionable but it's pretty common place.

Financially speaking this seem a bit arse about face, I mean when are you ever going to wear that ginormous Sassi Holford dress again? whereas I'm sure that Mr newlywed will find plenty of opportunities to wear that dapper looking new Paul Smith suit.

On average brides spend more than grooms on clothing for a wedding and are much much less likely to wear what they have bought again, so it makes perfect sense to me that a bride might rent her dress and a groom might buy his suit.

So I wanted to introduce you to one of the services out there for renting a wedding dress; Girl Meets Dress is an online store where you can rent designer dresses at a fraction of the price. (I will be sampling their services for a very awesome wedding I'll be attending later this year). They have some absolute beauts in their store that I know I could never afford to buy and when you wear something that show stopping to an event, chances are you might only really want to wear it once anyway.

They have a specific wedding dress section on their site, but I honestly think that many of the other dresses are just as lovely for a wedding and for bridesmaids too. So I got in touch with them to ask them a few questions about the process and Bryony very kindly answered...

What would you say are the benefits for a bride renting a dress for her wedding? 
"We all have those pieces at the back of the wardrobe, bought for yet another wedding/party/job interview but then not worn more than once! Hiring a wedding dress allows you to very easily wear your dream designer dress of choice with minimum hassle. We take care of everything, the dry cleaning and delivery, so it’s a weight off your mind whilst you’re trying to plan the biggest day of your life! Renting is ideal for a bride on a budget – why start your life together in debt? Our prices start from just £29 and you can try on a few dresses because we refund for anything unsuitable. Returning the dresses is free with our pre-paid postage label and very easy. Simply drop off at your local post office after the wedding day!"

What about fit? Can a bride try on in advance prior to the wedding, or would they have to rent twice?
"We have an extremely popular service called the Advance Try on, where, if your wedding is over 1 month away you can receive and try on the dresses now to choose your favourite. That dress is then re-delivered for the wedding date free of charge. You can choose up to 2 long or 3 short dresses to try on. We’ve also just launched Showroom Appointments in our offices in Battersea, London. Customers can now come into our showroom and try on as many dresses as they like. This has been very popular with brides and bridesmaids!"

What happens if it gets a bit *mucky* on the day? White(ish) dresses + fake tan + dragging hems...
"We understand that some wear and tear may be inevitable and beyond your control. You shouldn’t have to worry about this on your wedding day. Our dry cleaner and seamstress can take care of most minor damage. And the £7 insurance charge on each dress you rent will cover these types of situations."

I am totally sold on this idea and I think more brides should consider it. There are many other places out there that rent wedding/ prom/ vintage dresses another lovely site (but a little more pricey & high end is To Have & To Hire, based in Cardiff

If you hired a dress for your wedding I would love to hear from you about your experience so get in touch

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Alternative wedding venues

Camp & Furnase wedding by S6 Photography

The venue will likely be the biggest cost that you incur whilst planning your wedding. There are some absolutely beautiful venues out there and the appeal of finding somewhere that takes care of pretty much everything is huge to some people.
But just as with a package holiday, if you want to get a better deal, you'll save money buy booking things seperatley.

A lot of venues will offer a per head price and this on average tends to be around £40 to £80. The majority of this cost tends to be food based. For that price per head you usually (but not always) get the following:

A seat at the ceremony
A glass or two of champers
A seat at the reception
Half a bottle of wine each
Evening buffet

If you invite say 100 guests (for ease of maths - not my strong point) this can add up to between 4k and 8k (many venues are much more expensive than this)

Let me stress this, some venues are brilliant, the service they offer and the quality is impeccable... but some ore a little less so. Some offer very mediocre food for that price. Next time you go to a wedding, find out how much it is per head and as you're eating your dinner ask yourself, would I pay that much if this were a restaurant? Mass catering often diminishes quality but it really doesn't have to.

Village Hall Wedding by Diamonds & Doodles

Whats the alternative?
Many non-traditional wedding venues like bars, clubs and pubs have function rooms that are available for free (yes free) if you can guarantee a certain number of people will spend a certain minimum amount at the bar.  A lot of these types of places serve food too.

Pub Wedding Reception by Diamonds & Doodles

But what if you want to offer a free bar (my absolute favorite thing at a wedding) so that you can buy booze cheap or even let guests bring their own! This is where you really need to think outside the proverbial wedding box.

Look at Village Halls, School Halls and Community Halls in towns & cities; you can book a hall or a couple of hundred quid usually and they will often have a kitchen, tables, chairs and table wear that you can use. Set you relatives to buffet production and you'll be looking at costs of closer to £10 per head.

Want something a bit livelier?
Try a nightclubs, seriously, often they will rent out a room, there's a ready made bar and awesome sound systems & lighting built in. Get creative with your Googling, look for party or gig venues here's an example of the kind of thing I'm talking about

Paint Works Events Bristol

Want to go even more left field?
If you're a bit of a party person how about a warehouse? There are loads of unused warehouses and interesting spaces across the country and all you need to make it legal is to apply for a TENs licence (Temporary Event Notice) The best way to find a venue like this is to ask around. Most of these places won't advertise like a traditional wedding venue, so get on local forums and ask on Twitter. These kinds of spaces can also usually be rented for a few hundred pounds (much cheaper than a marquee and you don't need to pay land hire either)

Asylum, London

I would LOVE to hear about unusual, affordable, non-traditional venues that you know about so I can list them in my directory, so if you know somewhere get in touch!

Monday, 24 March 2014

5 Thrifty Favour Ideas

Okay so the obvious way to save money here is to just not have favours {but that could be said of most of the things/ services available for a wedding}

But if you like the idea of having little gifts for your guests, and your bored of little boxes of sweets {honestly, who wants to eat sugared almonds/ jelly beans before a 3 course meal?} then read on for some delightfully budget friendly ideas...

image from etsy via onewed

1. Sparklers!
These can make for some awesome pictures later on, especially for a winter wedding when it gets good and dark nice and early. Sparklers are super cheap and all you need to personalise them is some paper and a printer. Print out you labels cut a couple of slits and poke 'em through, et voila!

image from Bespoke Bride with step by step tutorial!

2. Matches
These super cute personalised matches are pretty easy to make too, again paper and a printer required and you can pick up match boxes or matchbooks from ebay for pennies not pounds!

image from Pinterest

3. Tea Bags
Who doesn't love a cup of tea? Choose your favourite tea, personalise them with your own tags pop a couple in a cello bag seal up and add a personalised printed tag, fasten with double sided tape or a stapler.

image from Style Me Pretty via Pinterest

4. Festive Baubles
Perfect for a Christmas Time wedding, personalise some super cheap baubles with letterset {which you might remember from your childhood - you can pick it up on ebay super cheap} or collect varied baubles from charity shops and attach luggage tags to double up as placenames. For a virtually free alternative, get out pine cone collecting, dip them in pva then glitter and attach some ribbon or pretty thread

image from Martha Stewart via Pinterest

5. English Cherries (This one is practically FREE)
We get some propper delicious cherries growing in the UK and if you know where to look they are COMPLETELY FREE many of those beautiful blossom trees that you see in early spring will turn into lucious fruit bearing beauties in the summer {perfect for a July/ August wedding} but the ripe fruit is only available for a short window and there isn't always a good harvest. Alternatives are blackberries {available late summer/ early autumn} and they are literally everywhere. Or why not try making your own apple crisps from the abundance of free wild apples these fair isles have to offer?

Got some other thrifty favour ideas you'd like to share? comment away or get in touch!

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Real Wedding: Liam & Cassie

A two day wedding extravaganza for £8500!
– that includes two whole days of celebration, three meals, two venues and a band! 

We married at Weston Park Bandstand in Sheffield. I used to work in the museum in the park and both Liam and I were keen on a fairly ‘outdoorsy’ wedding. The bandstand and the park are beautiful and we liked that it was quite a public, relaxed environment too. Going for a Thursday afternoon saved us about £100 on venue hire – I think it was £700 for a weekday booking – and as we did it at 2pm, a few people took a late lunch break to come and watch. We used the chairs that belonged to the City Council team who manage the ceremonies there, and any overspill just stood around the bandstand – which provided 360 degree views with its glass, retractable walls.

Luckily, it was sunny all through the day as we might have had difficulties otherwise, and this made the park the perfect venue to sit and drink fizz all afternoon. We were allowed to bring our own drinks and just hired glasses (free from Tesco when Liam’s parents bought some wine there – and only £1 per glass for any breakages). We took our own speakers which the best men (yes men plural – there were five of them!) set up for us, along with décor around the bandstand, before we arrived, and we just made playlists of our favourite songs on my tablet to play through the afternoon.

Tell us about the reception venue... 
On the Thursday evening, we went to The Milestone in Kelham Island, Sheffield for a sit down meal for 60 of our closest friends and family. The Milestone were amazing – the food is fantastic, and they stuck to their regular Early Bird deal despite knowing it was a wedding, and we got the whole upstairs room to ourselves for no extra cost. It worked out at £16.50 per person for three courses and a glass of wine or beer. Beyond that, guests bought their own drinks at the bar which worked well I think. After we’d eaten, they moved the tables to the sides and put on our music – and didn’t even mind the loud singing and dancing on tables (well – they were very tolerant about it anyway!) We hired Shatton Hall’s Townfield Barn in Shatton, Hope Valley for three days (midday Friday to midday Sunday) at a cost of £1200. It was just such a beautiful environment and we were keen to show the Peak District around Sheffield to our friends and family from further afield. We hired out two of the farm cottages up the track – one for Liam and I and one for my sisters and their children – which was treat but mega helpful if you have guests with kids coming who want a drink! It was wonderful being somewhere that didn’t have a ‘wedding team’ – it meant we could do what we wanted and we saved so much money on catering, bringing some booze ourselves and then asking guests to bring some too, and just generally being able to shop around on everything. The fields around the barn allowed for camping for about 50 people too, and provided space for rounders, wheelbarrow racing and dog racing (with our pets – no animals were harmed, I promise).  It was great having Friday afternoon as downtime with a few friends and relatives to set up décor and drink champagne in the sun, and having the camp space for those who wanted to stay over either of the two nights. We had a total of 120 guests at the ceremony and reception.

So what did you wear?
My dress came from Blissful Daze in Sheffield; I bought it in the Sample Sale although it was a size too small and got it altered for £100. This was a massive saving overall as it was reduced from £1400 to £700

My shoes were Vivienne Westwood Melissa's in dove blue, cherry scented, rubber heels with pink, metallic hearts. They were seconds from eBay – I think I paid about £70 (RRP £130ish) My veil also came from Blissful Daze and it was about £60. I restrung my Nana’s pearls to wear as my ‘something old’ for the ceremony, which I really enjoyed wearing. I did get quotes to get them done professionally but it was quite last minute on my part and as soon as they sniffed out it was under pressure and for a wedding, I knew I wasn’t going to get a bargain. I just did it with a needle and thick thread myself one afternoon and saved £50!

For the party day on the Saturday, my sister bought me an anatomical heart necklace from Lady Muck of Whitstable - whose jewellery I love anyway - and I thought this was a great, playful twist on a romantic look for a wedding!

‘A Suit that Fits’ made Liam’s suit to measure, and he basically got to design it himself, with some expert advice on what would work well. He had a really strong idea about the powder blue colour, which led our visual theme really, so it was great to find somewhere that would make that to measure, and quite affordably.

As we couldn’t afford to buy the bridesmaids’ dresses (I had 10!) and they ranged from six to forty something, I decided it was best to let them be fairly free about what they wore! They were advised to choose from soft blues to soft purples and I think it worked really well. Bridesmaid's Accessories: Their own May and Emily of Homemade by Thelma’s in Nether Edge, Sheffield made ours on a very reasonable budget. We had five delicious chocolate Guinness cakes (our fave) and we bought second-hand toy Playmobil figures to go on top as the bride and groom!

Liam’s Mum did our reception flowers with a mixture of some she’d grown and some bought ones which was brilliant, and arranged formal bouquets from Swallows and Damsons on Abbeydale Rd in Sheffield.

One of my bridesmaids’ Mum is a hairdresser (the wonderful Sue Cunningham) so she trimmed my hair for me in the months before the wedding then came to the house and styled it for me on the day of the ceremony. It was fab having someone I knew as the morning was full of friends, family and laughter and having a stranger there would have felt weird to me!

I did my own make up both days. In fact, I hardly wore any the party day, which was one of the lovely things about having a countryside party – it felt relaxed and very informal.

We used playlists and sports day games on the field (run by Liam’s extremely enthusiastic Dad Pat) to keep things going in the afternoon of the Saturday party. Then my sister (known as The Duchess when she DJs!) and our friend Howard did a warm-up set of Northern Soul, Motown ad Disco. The Emergency Band played at about 8pm, including a couple of our favourite songs they’d learnt specially for the day. Finally, my niece, Ruby Copland-Kill played her first ever public DJ set at around midnight! She’s got a bit of a following amongst my friends now…

Liam hand drew our invite design and I Photoshopped the colours and text and sent it to print with DS Print in Crookes, Sheffield. I think 150 A5 postcards came to about £40. We bought a pack of gold envelopes online and wrote further instructions which were photocopied and added. Finally, Liam made a Wix website with all the key info on for those annoying moments when people lose the directions, taxi numbers etc you sent out months before!

Whirlow Hall Farm (local farm and charity we were keen to support) provided a barbecue of sausages and veggie/vegan kebabs, plus salads and rolls for lunch on the Saturday. It was affordable and we told friends to feel free to bring a buffet dish or pudding too if they wanted to, which worked really well. My brother-in-law runs Homage2Fromage ( and he provided an amazing cheeseboard for people to tuck into through the afternoon. Later on, The Artisan Pizza Co arrived in their vintage Citroen campervan with a wood-fired oven and baked a selection of amazing pizzas, including making a vegan version to order when asked. All this food did add up, but as two massive foodies, catering was a priority!!

What was your vision for the day? 
A relaxed, personal three day celebration, with different aspects that everyone could enjoy…and for nobody to ever feel underfed or bored! My Dad collects antiques so gave or lent us a lot of décor which saved a fortune, as the barn comes in a fairly natural state, ready for you to dress. I also bought lots of blue balloons off Amazon, and a few weeks before the wedding a troupe of bridesmaids and friends spent a day of hard labour in our sunny garden making bunting and planting old wooden boxes. Dad had stenciled with our initials with lavender, strawberries, herbs and salad leaves as table decorations. That was a lovely day and other than the bottle of gin and snacks I laid on, it hardly cost us anything to produce 50 metres of bunting and lots of beautiful plant boxes.

Did you have a honeymoon? 
We went to Berlin, Prague, Budapest and Croatia, using trains to get between them all. It was three weeks of bliss. We went the Monday after clearing up the wedding party on Sunday and were so exhausted for most of Berlin! If I’d planned it again, I might have given us an extra day or two at home first to catch up on sleep.

Tell us about the proposal!
We were up in Ringinglow, overlooking the city on a walk that we went on when we first met. Very romantic! What was the inspiration behind your ideas? We just chose things we like anyway (we have quite flamboyant style!) and brought in talented friends and relatives. I looked at regularly but never bought a wedding magazine!

How would you describe your wedding theme? 
Powder blue rustic vintage farmhouse – that’s a thing, right?

What was your first dance and why? 
We didn’t really have a traditional first dance but our aisle song was Zebra by Beach House and the band played a couple of songs that were special to us as well.

What was your favourite moment of the day? 
Arrggghhhh! With three days there’s so much to choose from! The moment I arrived at Weston Park to see Liam waiting for me was pretty special, as was Liam and I coming down the aisle together (well, across the park…) and seeing all our friends and family looking at us walking in.

Do you have any advice for couples planning their wedding day? 
Don’t worry about other people too much – they ultimately just want you to be happy. Relax and enjoy the day, if you can. Finally, don’t drink ‘breakfast wine’ on the party day…or do, depending on what sort of a day you want to have.

What was your best wedding bargain? 
Making our own wedding rings with Abi Makin ( which cost about £350 but was a whole day of loveliness with an amazing and sweet jeweller in a gorgeous country studio including lunch and all the materials and finishing and boxes and transport! Plus, we are the only people in the world with rings quite like ours (smug much?)! So overall, I think they were amazing value.

What’s your top tip for saving money whilst planning your wedding?
Look at the skills you have in your networks and plan in advance on making things as it takes time.

Want to share your wedding and thrifty tips? Submit here and remember you don't need professional photos and it doesn't matter if you've had your wedding blogged elsewhere before!
- Shelley