Thursday, 24 July 2014

Being a Reverse Brizezilla | Budget Wedding Blog

I think I was one...

That term "Bridezilla" upsets me greatly, it's used a LOT, and too often to describe actually very reasonable behaviour to the point where any brides-to-be worry about making so much as a squeek of disapproval for fear of being labelled one.

In any other situation you wouldn't get labelled as some sort of overly emotional, irrational and intolerant monsterous beast for having strong ideas and opinions... "hey WORKzilla calm down about those spreadsheets!"... "All right FOODzilla... you can have new potatoes instead of chips..."

See what I mean

If you want purple bridesmaids dresses and you're paying for bridesmaids dresses... get purple bridesmaid dresses and don't let anyone name call you for doing so!

Anyway, the REVERSE Bridezilla (RVB) ie me, is so scared of being labelled that she will be laid back to the point of horizontal, constantly say "hey, it's fine... do what you like", leave everything to the very last minute and never, ever, ask for help. They are scared that any amount of nay-saying will lead to the inevitable branding and that no measure of protesting will have anyone hearing otherwise.

Should you find yourself dealing with one of these impossible creatures (the RVB) be mindful of the fact that she probably does want help, but she doesn't want to ask for it, she probably does want things done a certain way but doesn't want to come over as bossy... so you might have to be a bit stealthy in wheedling out the ideas and opinions.

If you think you too are a RVB fear not! Be honest about what you'd like, don't bury your head in the sand and don't convince yourself you can just do it all yourself later, ask people to help, make it fun, have a craft party if you're making invites or decorations; play to the strengths of your friends, don't ask none-crafters to stitch 150 meters of bunting and get cross because they did it wrong.

Being organised isn't being bossy; make a spreadsheet. It will make everything easier.
Don't bark out orders; ask people if they would like to be involved (they'll probably say yes) and ask them what they would like to do; listen to their opinions but stick to your guns if you have something in mind.

People will have an opinion about your wedding, they just will. This is something you need to get over. You can't please all of the people all of the time, and with weddings, on average, hosting 80 - 100 guests from multiple generations, there are going to be plenty of people who dissaprove of something in one way or another. Don't let this concern you or you will quickly stop enjoying the planning process which is supposed to be fun after all!


Tuesday, 15 July 2014

DIY Tutorial: Bargain Birdcage Veil | Budget Wedding Blog

Today I've got a little crafty tutorial for you so get your glue guns at the ready!

I have always thought that veils are very expensive for what they are so I'm going to be making a few and sharing the tutorials with you as I go. First off it's the birdcage veil. This was really easy to make and took me about 40 minutes. The materials cost a total of about £8.

I've decorated mine with shells and a few shiny bits that I've had for a while but you could use anything; beads; buttons; old brooches or broken jewellery; shells you found on the beach; sequins; fake flowers, the options are pretty endless...

What you'll need:

50cm (ish) netting - best place to buy this is on Etsy
A hair comb, plastic or metal (you can pick these up in poundshops or chemists or online)
A needle and thread (similar colour to your netting)
A hot glue gun (a life essential)
Shells, beads and gems  (or decorative bits of your choice)

Step 1
Trim 2 of the corners of your netting so they are rounded off like this

Step 2
Take a length of thread and tie it to on of the top corners, then weave it back and forth through the netting along the top so that you can gather it up.

Step 3
You now need to attach this to the comb. Thread a needle onto the end of the thread and start loosely sewing the gathered up edge onto the top of the comb.

Step 4
Now take your piece of felt, you want to cut an oval-ish shape that will cover the whole of the comb

Step 5
This is the fun bit, set your veil aside and start gluing your decorative bits to your felt piece until it's completely covered

Step 6
Now you need to sew your decorative patch onto your comb, just a few stitches at either side will hold it on without hindering the comb from doing it's job, et voila!

Friday, 11 July 2014

An honest guide to wedding planning: Part 2: Making stuff | Budget Wedding Blog

Jess is back on the blog today with part 2 of her guide to wedding planning (read part 1 here) today it's all about making stuff and her 2 fabulously unconventional wedding dresses...

Giant Bear and I organised a two-day wedding, hen party, stag do and honeymoon in less than four months, for just under £6k. And it was so much fun! Here’s how we did it: i. prioritising; ii. making stuff; iii. letting people help. In this post, I’m going to talk about making stuff.

Think about what will ‘show’ Table decorations will be right in front of every guest all night, so they’re worth spending time on, but there are lots of other things that your guests will see for a few fleeting moments and probably won’t remember. For example, we got married in Holy Week and so were only allowed to have decorations in church for the few hours we were in the building. Moreover, the church roof was in the process of being replaced and the building was covered in scaffolding (and the organ swathed in crime scene plastic). There was no point in trying to decorate very much, so we asked our guests to wear bright colours and borrowed some brightly-coloured bunting to just decorate the main aisle and the choir stalls (i.e. the bits everybody is actually looking at).  

Make stuff yourself Make stuff! Make all the stuff! 

This is only a good idea if you actually know what you’re doing. For example, for wedding favours I made four different kinds of marmalade (seventy-two jars and labels from the Jam Jar Shop, £60; fruit and sugar from my local grocer, £30). I love making marmalade and already own a jam pan, so this was quick and fun, and the end results both pretty and delicious. 

If I hadn’t known what I was doing, however, it would have been a sticky orange-based nightmare. My point is that there are lots of things you can really enjoy making yourselves, and that will save you lots of money – but choose carefully! 

For example, I made ties for all the men at the civil ceremony. I found an online tutorial that helped me cut the shapes accurately, and then I personalised each one with a different linings.

 With the help of Giant Bear’s mother each one only took a couple of hours. This was a simple project that anyone could do. 

If you want to make something you’ve never attempted before, that’s great and I applaud you, but do your homework (and/or get someone to help you). 

Having stuff made just for you

You wouldn’t think this would save money, but it does. For example, our jeweller made five rings as a stacking set for me (two engagement rings, three wedding rings) and a matching single ring for Giant Bear, £110 including tax and postage from the US). 

We also had handmade cufflinks made for our best man and my friend, who gave me away, (£22 per pair). If you buy something really personal that shows a lot of thought and time has gone into it, nobody cares how much you have spent. 

Making your own wedding dress 

If you’ve made a dress before, this is the golden ticket when it comes to saving money and getting *exactly* what you want. I had two dresses (one for each day!). I used the same pattern for both, using a pattern I’ve made before a couple of times

I changed small details to make them feel different, like the collar shape and the buttons. My civil ceremony dress had tiny heart-shaped buttons down the side and a pointed collar.  

I wore it with a fascinator which cost me £21, made just for me and trimmed to match my dress; Mary-Janes that I already owned (charity shop, £4); and a second-hand jacket (Ebay, £3). I did my hair and makeup myself. 

Including the thread, fabric, pattern (a vintage one, bought on Ebay for £7), petticoat (Ebay, £15) and all the accessories, the total cost of this outfit was £82. My church dress had giant buttons down the back so that the congregation had something to look at during the ceremony; I also changed the straps and made the collar round (I drew a sketch first).  

The main feature was a deep border hem, which I originally cut from a Japanese print with giraffes on it (I know. It seemed like a good idea at the time). 

This was completely hideous when I sewed it up and it took me a couple of days to figure out what to do. In the end I used a polka-dot print on the back of the dress (I sewed a bead into the centre of every single dot!) and birds and flowers on the front, also heavily beaded. The beading made the hem heavy, which helped the dress hang better and made it really lovely to wear. Once I finished the hem, I trimmed the hell out of the whole dress. 

I bought a bolero (Etsy, £20, made just for me) and some second-hand shoes (Ebay, £35), which my mother-in-law decorated with beads to match my dress.  

My usual hairdresser did my hair (£12) and I bought a pair of vintage earrings to match my wedding rings (Etsy, £16). All in, this outfit cost just over £140. 

Even if you have never made a dress before, if you have a sewing machine and a simple pattern in mind, just give it a go. Making a simple practice dress is the quickest way to find out if you’re going to be able to make something you’ll be happy to wear on your wedding day. You’ll discover your limitations as a seamstress, too. I, for example, suck at zips. I’ve made lots of dresses and skirts, and only one of them has a zip because zips hate me. I just do buttons and rouleaux loops (I also suck at blind buttonholes) and that works fine. It’s useful to know this kind of thing so that you can make sensible choices about patterns and so forth. 

You can find dressmaking inspiration and tutorials online from places like Julia Bobbin and most modern patterns such as Colette and Sewaholic come with detailed instructions. Village Haberdashery has a great selection or there is always Ebay if you’re feeling more adventurous. Cut out the pattern (a size too big if you’re anxious) and make it up in a fabric you like. Don’t choose a cheap fabric (even if you make the dress perfectly, it will look like crap) and make sure to line your dress (it will hang better and last longer), even if the pattern doesn’t tell you to (it should). 

The first time you put it on, it will look appalling – they always do! Put it on inside out and get a friend to help you pin the necessary darts and other alterations. Pretty soon you’ll have something that fits you better than anything else you’ve ever worn, that cost a tenth of what you could have spent, and that *you* made, by yourself, for yourself. 
Good enough for your wedding day, I’d say.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

In the news...

Today my own wedding has been featured in The Daily Mail of all places, with a lovely article about how we planned a big 3 day wedding on a small budget. I'm so happy that I've managed to get a bit of national press for my little corner the internet and I hope this brings many more readers and fills them with thrifty budget friendly inspiration for their wedding! x

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

The Package vs DIY: Part 1 | Budget Wedding Blog

When planning my own wedding I wondered, which is cheaper a DIY do or a package deal at a venue? In this 4 part series, I'll be investigating this very subject

Part 1:The Budget Package Hotel Wedding


There are numerous hotel chains out there that offer very low cost package weddings, Holiday Inns, Britannia Hotels, Mercure, Marriott; all the big ones have wedding deals, the cheapest of which seems to be Britannia Hotels, offering weddings from £999.

But what do you get for this?
Well whats listed is: Bucks Fizz welcome & 3 course meal for 50 guests, evening buffet & reception for 100 guests, room hire, red carpet.

I'm going to take this package as my example for the purpose of working out the details, because every hotel offers a different package but this (as far as I can find) seems to be the cheapest.

Doing the maths that price works out at about £15 per head for the daytime guests and about £5 per head for those coming to the evening reception only. That seems like really good value, it's really important to remember that not only are you getting the room hire, you're also getting the plates, the glasses, the cutlery, the table cloths and more importantly the staff to cook and serve your food, and perhaps even more importantly than that, the lack of hassle that comes

What you're not getting however is very much personal choice, high bar prices and overpriced table wine. Quite often the food is not exactly Michelin starred either, its usually a pate or soup starter, roast dinner and a choice of 2 deserts.

Here's a quick comparison, all costs are estimates based on my experience of how these things are broken down.

So you can see that it's really the convenience and the staff that you're paying for when you book a hotel venue. they will set it all up for you, they will cook and serve your dinner, and more importantly they will clean up after you, so that you don't have to do it tomorrow with the mother of all hangovers.  so if it's a hassle free convenient do you're after you're best bet is on a good budget hotel deal.

If you're after more of a personal touch you can cut these costs right down but I promise you it will be a LOT more work, rope everyone in, because there is a tonne of stuff to do...

Friday, 4 July 2014

An honest guide to wedding planning: Part 1: Priorities | Budget Wedding Blog

A few weeks ago I blogged the images from this wedding. Jess and Phil got married at Hestercombe Gardens in Somerset, Jess made her own dress as well as many many other aspects of the two day celebration that I had the privilege to photograph back in April. In this 3 part blog post Jess is sharing her experience of planning their wedding on a tight budget in less than 4 months. I should also say that her nickname for her husband is Giant Bear, before you get confused...

"Giant Bear and I got engaged at Christmas and were married in April. We organised a two-day wedding, hen party, stag do and honeymoon in less than four months, for just under £6k (£3k if you take off all the money we managed to raise or were given!). And it was so much fun! Here’s how we did it: i. prioritising; ii. making stuff; iii. letting people help.

In this post, I’m going to talk about priorities. 

Decide what matters *to you* If you’re paying for your own wedding, decide what matters to you, and spend money and time on that. There are certain things you can’t and shouldn’t do in church (e.g. I know of a girl who had to walk down the aisle to ‘Mr. Boombastic when the best man pressed the wrong button on the sound system, and then had to endure being told off by the vicar afterwards), but otherwise, you do you
If you want the whole thing to be themed around the films of Sydney Poitier, or your bridesmaids to carry albino bunnies instead of flowers, good for you. We made a bunch of non-traditional decisions, the biggest of which was to spread the whole thing over two days. Day One was our civil ceremony (tiny, intimate), followed by the stag do (yes, the stag do was after the civil ceremony. Nobody cared). 

Day Two was our blessing in church (people, music, afternoon tea) and reception. The extra day cost us £375 in venue hire, but it was the best decision we made. 

One friend wrote afterwards that it couldn’t have been anyone else’s wedding and that was the nicest thing anyone could have said about it. We didn’t have a theme: just lots of things we love. For example, we met singing in the choir, so we included lots of lovely music and went to the two-hour rehearsal on the day (we took a packed lunch and I did my hair and makeup in about ten minutes, using a borrowed mirror!). Choir: important. Hair and makeup: not so much.  

We also love cake and cheese. We’d seen the fashionable towers o’ cheese, but didn’t want to miss out on cake (cake-based hen party and afternoon tea-and-cake notwithstanding. MORE CAKE). I called a local cheese shop and ordered £100-worth of local cheeses, and we took string and greaseproof paper to the reception so that our guests could take some home with them (we also took some on our honeymoon!). 

Our traditional three-tier wedding cake was made and decorated by Giant Bear’s mother (free, gorgeous, and gave her something useful to do). 

Each layer was a different flavour (carrot, ginger and lemon drizzle) and we served this with the cheeseboard as pudding (i.e. dessert for sixty people for less than £2 per head). Giant Bear also loves trains, so rather than traumatising the inhabitants of some unfortunate European capital with his drunken antics, his stag do was a trip on the West Somerset steam railway (£15 per head) and then dinner at our house. We also built circular tracks on the tables at the reception for tiny model trains (they went round and round – we covered the battery boxes with leftover invitations!).  

My point is this: your guests remember the quirky stuff. They won’t remember the £400 tiara the sales lady thinks you look great in and that you’ll never wear again. 

Decide what is not important to you, and spend exactly no time or money on that 
Can’t see the point of bridesmaids? Me neither. I didn’t have any and nobody cared. Don’t want the stress of organising a complicated holiday at the same time as your wedding? Good for you. We had three days in Cornwall (Lowendra £35 pp/ night) and then a week on a narrowboat (it belongs to Giant Bear’s parents, so free!).  

This required virtually no organisation, and we didn’t waste a single moment hanging about in an airport or worrying we hadn’t packed the passports. Also, that there is no rule that says you *must* take your honeymoon immediately after your wedding. If you want to put it off while you save up/lie down in a darkened room with a cool flannel over your face, fine. 

Invest in your memories 
Getting a really good photographer who will capture the day (not just document the fact that yes, you were definitely in a room with those people) is well worth investing in, because you’ll be showing these pictures to people for decades! 

I also recommend the following: 

i. Wear clothes you can wear again. I’ll talk more about my (two!) wedding dresses in another post. They are both simple, knee-length silhouettes and I didn’t wear white, so I can wear them again whenever I like. *I* know I’m wearing my wedding dress, and Giant Bear knows, and it’s a lovely little secret to share, sitting in restaurant somewhere when nobody else knows. I wore my church dress to dinner on our honeymoon, and it was ace. Similarly, Giant Bear wore a tweed three-piece suit for our wedding, which he loves and can wear again (sale at Victor Valentine £299). He wore shoes he already owned and my mother-in-law and I made ties for all the men (Giant Bear regularly wears his to work). In other words, it doesn’t matter how much you spend on an individual item of clothing, but how much wear you are going to get out of it. If you can wear things again, it’s worth spending money and time on them; if you can’t, make sure you can sell or donate them afterwards, rather than giving houseroom to (say) a morning suit and a top hat for the next forty years.

ii. Make a wedding album of music from the day. Giant Bear made ours in advance and played it in the car on the way to our reception. It brings the day back so vividly, and it was simple and fun to do. Our album starts with the song I walked down the aisle to ; the song we walked out to ; all the music we sang in church (we also made an audio recording of the entire service, readings and all); and then all the songs that remind us of each other, and that now remind us of our wedding day, too."

So there you have it folks, do what's right for you, don't let tradition, convention or opinionated relatives take charge of your wedding, you're in charge, you do what you want to do...

Jess will be back in part 2 next week, all about making stuff!