For our wedding I thought the lighting would be really important in creating the right atmosphere and giving the look Sophie wanted.
(Our wedding reception was in a village hall). I explored lots of options including battery powered candles in jars, light strings and glowing paper lanterns. In the end we settled on the paper lanterns – inspired by photos like this one:
I looked at putting individual battery powered lights in each, but I was put off by the idea of turning on each lantern – and it was beginning to cost a lot. I then came up with a very simple solution that I thought I share.
All you have to do is purchase paper lanterns and strings of LED fairy lights (battery powered for convenience and safety). Work out what length you need – then tape bunches of individual LEDs together and hang a lantern over the bunch. Very easy. You do get exposed LEDS between lanterns – but for us this didn’t matter.
If you want to hang anything heavier than a few paper lanterns the LED string itself won’t be strong enough – in this case run some strong garden wire alongside the LED string and make sure the lanterns hang on this. This is something I’ve done in our conservatory with lanterns:
Have you been inspired to make your own lantern strings for your wedding reception?
Check out the paper laterns for sale on Bride2Bride and light strings too!
Or you could try searching Amazon.co.uk for battery LED light strings
If you have a small wedding budget, you need to look for ways to cut costs wherever you can. Cutting the costs on the wedding catering can be done without your guests feeling that they have just been to a cheap wedding!
By changing small things, you can really make a big difference in the cost of your wedding catering.
Timing of your wedding
Having a wedding smack bang in the middle of the day almost guarantees a higher food bill because you may need to serve canapes, dinner, plus a further snack in the evening. Why not consider a mid‐afternoon wedding, have a few light bites with a welcome drink (see below), a main meal at 6pm ish, and then just wedding cake and extra nibbles in the evening.
Don’t feel that you have to have an expensive champagne for both/either of these. I personally don’t like champagne that much, so it would have been wasted on me at our wedding! We opted for a lovely local blush cider for our welcome drink which was a lot cheaper than champagne. For summer weddings, something like Pimms & Lemonade could also be a cheaper alternative. We did go for champagne for toasting, but steer clear of anything too expensive as most people won’t appreciate it having (probably) consumed a fair bit of alcohol by that stage!
Alternatives to canapes
Serving canapes to guests with a welcome drink can really add on the costs. Consider lower cost alternatives such as antipasti, where you serve a selection of cold meats, cheeses, ciabatta type breads and roasted tomatoes etc (we had this at our wedding and it went down very well!)
Don’t serve a traditional three course meal
There are some lovely alternatives to three course meal, including sharing platters, hog roasts & BBQs. And by BBQ, I’m not suggesting you have a few burnt burgers and sorry for themselves sausages – BBQs can still be done in a really stylish way with marinated meats, corn on the cob, salads & freshly baked breads. For the vegetarians haloumi kebabs are also a winner! This can be a great way to save money, as not only do you avoid having to serve a starter, but you cut down on labour costs as people serve themselves rather than paying for extra waiting staff.
Have your wedding cake as dessert
Wedding cakes are a feature of most weddings, so why double up on serving two sweet things! If you want a traditional fruit cake you can keep, consider doing just one layer like this, and the others as a sponge cakes which you can serve with fresh fruit and cream. Doing it this way means that you will not only save money, but people will actually appreciate your wedding cake rather than being to stuffed to manage a piece!
Don’t lay on a full evening buffet
Rather than trying to provide a full evening buffet, why not consider cheaper alternatives such as serving bacon or sausage baps, a cheese and biscuit platter or something totally different (like John and I did) of toasted crumpets! These alternatives can help to reduce your wedding spend and provide something a bit different!
Do you have any top tips to reduce your wedding catering spend? Please share them via Facebook below:
10 top tips for getting value for money from Wedding insurance
Wedding insurance is something that most couples overlook. After all, when planning the biggest day of your lives you don’t want to think about the worst. Wedding insurance should be your first purchase when planning a wedding as you never know what the future holds. It is there to cover the unexpected, such as a vendor going out of business or illness. It helps to put your mind at ease about your big day. We have put together 10 top tips to help you get value for money from your wedding insurance. Wedding insurance isn’t mandatory, but it covers you if your wedding needs to be cancelled, rearranged or if a vendor lets you down.
Buy at the right time
Most wedding insurance providers will allow you to purchase your policy up to two years before the big day. You can buy your wedding insurance as late as the day before the wedding, as long as you have no knowledge of something that might cause you to make a claim.
There are plenty of wedding insurance providers, so be sure to shop around to get the best price for your level of cover – we’ve put together a comparison chart to help you compare wedding insurance and find the best value wedding policy. There are wedding insurance comparison websites that will show you a variety of wedding insurance policies to suit your needs.
Using a cashback website such as Quidco, Topcashback or Fat Cheese can see you earning a small percentage of your wedding insurance back as cashback. This is completely free of charge and signing up to a cashback website takes a few moments. Don’t forget to use them for other wedding purchases you make – you can use the cashback you earn as an extra treat on your honeymoon.
Be careful not to undercover
The level of wedding insurance you require is based on the total cost of your wedding. To ensure that you are fully covered, don’t get an insurance policy that falls below your wedding cost. Being undercovered means you won’t be fully covered for every eventuality.
Similar to undercovering, make sure you don’t spend more money by opting for an insurance policy that covers significantly more than your wedding will cost. This will cost you more money and won’t be of any use.
Check the excess
Most wedding insurance policies come with a small excess to pay in the event of a claim. This is usually around £25, so bear that in mind when you are comparing policies and their prices. Some policies have no excess, but they may cost significantly more than the policies with a low excess.
Free gift card
In order to appeal to more couples, some wedding insurance providers will include a free gift card when you purchase your insurance through them. Debenhams, for example, offer a free £10 gift card to spend when you purchase your wedding insurance with them. The gift card can be used for a special treat, or to help out with your wedding costs – including makeup, bridal shoes and more.
Check what is covered
When choosing a policy, make sure that it fits your needs. As a standard, your wedding insurance policy should cover:
- Losing the wedding rings
- Retaking photographs
- Retaking video
- Damage to the flowers or cake
- Non-receipt of the flowers or cake
- Wedding cars
- Essential documents
- Damage to the wedding attire including the wedding dress, bridesmaids’ or groomsmen’s clothing.
- Cancelling or rearranging the wedding due to supplier failure or due to illness, accident or bereavement within the wedding party.
Check that the policy you are considering purchasing covers all of this as a standard.
Know what isn’t covered
Each policy will vary, but as a general rule there are some things that won’t be covered by the wedding insurance policy. They include either the bride or groom getting cold feet, theft, any damage to the wedding clothing and if you need to cancel or postpone the wedding because you can’t afford to go ahead with the wedding.
Get additional cover
You can choose to get additional cover on your wedding insurance policy. Although this will cost a little bit extra, you can upgrade to cover public liability (if someone gets hurt at your wedding and chooses to make a legal case against you, adding this to your insurance will assist with those costs), marquee cover and even cover for ceremonial swords.
We all like to think that our wedding day will go off without a hitch, but wedding insurance is that security measure that gives you peace of mind. It reassures you that you won’t lose out financially should something go wrong.
This guide from Emma of fromalditoharrods.com helps you with advice to make sure you’re a smart shopper to help you save money when choosing wedding insurance.
Weddings aren’t just expensive for the Bride & Groom, the costs can quickly add up for the guests too! If you are worrying about spending too much money on attending weddings, read our tips on helping you to save money.
A recent study revealed that the cost of attending a wedding can be as high as £400 when you take into account going on hen/stag dos, transport, accommodation, getting a new outfit and of course buying a wedding gift.
If you have several weddings to attend in one year, finding the spare money for this can get very difficult! Here are some ways you can cut the cost of attending a wedding:
1. Plan ahead
When you receive a wedding invitation, get online as soon possible and book your travel and accommodation as you can often get deals for booking early. Remember to also take advantage of any discounts the wedding reception venue might be giving to wedding guests. If you need to book two nights away, think about booking the first night at a budget hotel such as a Travelodge or Premier Inn (where prices start from £19), and then splashing out on a luxury hotel for the night of the wedding.
2. Share the cost
If the rest of your family or friends are all attending the same wedding, consider sharing transport and accommodation. Off season you can often book holiday cottages for short breaks which can be a lot cheaper when split between a large group than individual hotel rooms.
You can sometimes have multiple weddings to attend in a year, but don’t feel the pressure of having to wear a different dress or suit for every event. Buy something quite simple – you can change the look of a dress with different accessories, hat, or jacket. Men may think renting a suit is cheaper, but if you have a lot of weddings to attend, buying a suit could work out cheaper, especially if you plan in advance and hit the sales.
4. Bridesmaids and groomsmen
Sometimes you may be asked to buy your own shoes for the big day. Again, planning ahead is key so that you can take advantage of any end of season sales. You can also find some amazing second hand or never worn items here on Bride2Bride – just make sure you look for something in a neutral colour so they can be worn again.
5. Offer your services
Do you have an interesting car or special skill such as floristry? If you own a vintage car or campervan, or have a talent for flower arranging or cake making, why not offer your services as a wedding gift? Not only will you feel a part of the wedding, it will save both you and the happy couple cash. If you are creative, you could also offer to make wedding decorations or favours.
6. Be smart with wedding gifts
If the Bride &: Groom have specified a gift list, make sure you don’t leave gift buying until the last minute when all the cheaper items might be have been snapped up! Alternatively you can also be creative and get a more personal wedding present. We once got up to take a photo of the sunrise on our friend’s wedding day and got it framed for them. This was a really personal gift, didn’t cost us a huge amount, but sometimes thoughtful gifts like this are priceless! You could also consider making a photo collage of any photos of the couple or perhaps make something to mark their wedding day.
Have you recently attended a wedding? What are your top tips for saving money? We’d love to hear them so please leave your comments on our Facebook page
Wedding favours are an extremely old tradition, and has evolved from a simple sugared almond into, well – almost anything! Read how to keep the cost of wedding favours down with a few simple ideas.
The tradition of giving wedding favours is a very old one. It’s believed that the first wedding favour, common amongst European aristocrats, was known as a bonbonniere. A bonbonniere is a small trinket box generally which generally contained sugar cubes, which symbolised wealth and royalty – remember at this time, sugar was very expensive and was treasured only among the wealthy.
Today, wedding favours are a way for the bride and groom to thank their guests for sharing in their big day. They were also considered as a symbol of good luck, and so by giving wedding favours to their guests, the couple would be sharing their luck and happiness with them. You don’t have to go overboard with wedding favours, have a look at these simple yet effective ideas for wedding favours that won’t break the bank.
Keep it Traditional!
Why not keep with tradition and offer sugared almonds in a pretty bag to match your theme. Sugared almonds can be cheaply sourced from places like Amazon, and take a look at these cheap favour bags for sale on Bride2Bride.
If you don’t fancy sugared almonds, how about jelly bean love hearts or splash out on some Just Married rock. Favour Fairy offers a variety of options, including these complete favours for 50p each:
Personalised wedding favours
If you want to add a personal touch to your wedding favours, have a look at these really pretty personalised chocolate fish and chip cones – so pretty!
Make your own
You could try adding a personal touch to your wedding favours by making your own tasty treat. Have a look at this simple recipe for homemade truffles or how about some tasty fudge.
Decorations as favours
Why not combine table decorations with wedding favours? These little mini buckets would look fab with a led tea light, and could also been given as as a favour after the wedding.
Have you got any great wedding favour ideas?
This week we have some fantastic budget-friendly advice from Genevieve of www.gohen.co.uk.
Great news for all of the stressed maid-of-honour’s and anxious bride-to-be’s: it is possible to plan your hen night on a purse-friendly budget! There are some simple steps you can follow so that your hen party guests have a great time and the financials are kept under wraps. Here are our five top tips!
1. Pick a date early on
This is the best way to get the ball rolling anyway, and you can choose a date around everyone’s budgets. For the best value flights and accommodation choose dates outside of the main summer weeks; often spring and autumn are better times to go away as there are less crowds and usually pleasant weather.
2. Choose a destination asap
If you pick a destination early on then you’re likely to benefit from cheaper flights, more activities to choose from and a lot less stress! As a general rule flights do tend to be cheaper when booked in advance so decide where you want to head with the girls early on. If you’re stuck for ideas then you might like to know that the top hen party destinations at the moment are London, Edinburgh, Marbella, Ibiza, Barcelona and Brighton.
3. Don’t invite too many people
You’re probably also in the process of making a wedding guest list, but be sure to bear in mind that when deciding who to invite to the pre-nuptials you should be fair but firm. It doesn’t matter that Shirley down the road invited you to her hen party in the local pub 10 years ago; don’t feel obliged to invite her to party with you in Prague. There’s a good chance that not everyone will be able to make it no matter when you decide to carry it out so there might be a chance to invite Shirley later on. Stay organised and make a note of who you’ve invited so that if the plans change you can easily let them know.
4. Keep track of your financials
Make sure you note down how much everyone owes and stay on top of this. The sooner you can get the money off of your guests the sooner you can all relax, so make sure everyone’s aware of the situation. Let people know early on the costs of the weekend so that there aren’t any surprises later on and they can commit. It might be a good idea to create a spreadsheet with the name of each guest alongside whether they’ve paid and how much they have left to pay.
5. Have a great time!
You don’t need a massive budget to enjoy yourselves – if you’re with all the girls and have a few fabulous things planned then you’re bound to have a great time! With all the stresses of wedding planning you deserve some quality time to relax, so gather all your best friends and have a wonderful hen weekend!
This is a guest post by Genevieve from hen party organisers GoHen. For hundreds of great ideas and top destinations check out www.gohen.com
This week’s guide from Emma of fromalditoharrods.com gives advice to help you make your own sweet buffet and save you hundreds off your wedding budget.
Sweet buffets are becoming more popular at weddings, and there are many sweet cart companies to choose from. Whilst looking for a sweet cart, I was really unhappy to find that most of them arrive at your wedding plastered with at least the company’s website. Considering that sweet cart hire is approximately £250 (and that is before you add any sweets!), it is a great idea to DIY.
The first point is that it saves you money. In most instances, your venue will have a table that you can convert into your sweet buffet. The items for displaying your sweets in, such as jars, vases and bowls will be a lot cheaper than the hire of a sweet cart. You are also able to completely customise your sweet buffet, adding your own unique touches to tie in with your wedding theme.
Where to locate your items
For your sweet buffet, you will need:
- A selection of jars. IKEA have large 1.8l jars with lids for just 85p.
- A selection of plates and bowls.
- Scoops and/or tongs.
- Table cloth (if not supplied by your venue).
- Bags or pots to put the sweets in. You can use ice cream sundae pots, cardboard cups or paper bags.
- A selection of sweets.
Where to get sweets from
You can get your sweets from almost anywhere. I have already started buying some Double Dips from Home Bargains – 3 for 39p. Poundland is a great place to get a selection of sweets. You could also add a bag of sweets that are on offer each time you do your grocery shopping. That way you won’t miss £1 here and there.
Alternatively, you can bulk order your sweets online. Amazon have a great selection – Giant Strawberries are just £5.50 for 120 (roughly 1.5kg) and a tub of 600 piece tub of Haribo mini jellies (roughly 1.3kg) is £5.50.
When picking your sweets, try to include some that are wrapped. This means that anything left over from your wedding can be taken home with you and eaten at a later date.
DIYing your sweet buffet could save you between £150-£200. For ideas about how to decorate your sweet buffet, there are thousands of ideas on Pinterest. If you are able to check out supermarkets just after Valentine’s Day, you might find a great selection of homewares that you could use towards your sweet buffet.
This is a guest post by Emma who runs the money saving and money making blog From Aldi to Harrods
Have you been inspired to have a go at doing your own wedding flowers? Why not take a look at all the wedding sweets and accessories currently for sale on Bride2Bride!
In a fantastic blog for all you DIY brides, Lindsey Kitchin, of The White Horse Flower Company will be giving your her tops tips for saving money when planning your wedding flowers.
As a florist I see brides almost every day planning their wedding flowers, and it must be said, flowers really do lift any occasion by adding both colour and natural beauty. They set the scene and say so much about you and your day. In this current economic climate I see brides who simply want me to make their bouquets and are keen to roll up their sleeves and have a go at arranging their own reception flowers. Fair play to you I say! Here are my top tips to help you along the way…
Firstly, look through magazines particularly those with wedding flowers in, these will have lots of inspiration to help you formulate ideas and will help you decide which flowers you like and those you don’t. Mock up a few samples at home and ask what friends and family think or perhaps enrol on a florist’s workshop where you can learn how to make a table centre or tie a bouquet This could even be part of your hen celebrations? Lots of florists run classes and you’re sure to glean lots of tips from the professionals!
Not, for one moment, am I suggesting you’re not capable of putting together a complex floral arrangement, but if you’re organising a wedding, there are many facets to the day – flowers being just one of these. Others will also require your attention, so it’s important to bear in mind that your flowers ideally, need to be prepared the day before if possible, so simplicity and speed may be the key – particularly if you have lots tables! Consider using vases or containers which take just a few stems and actually add something to the look themselves. For example, pretty jugs, cut glass vases and little votives (in a myriad of colours) – originally designed for tea lights, these can look lovely with just a single stem, dotted about on the tables, some with flowers in and others with tea lights. Jam jars are very popular at the moment, tied with ribbon or even garden twine, they are cheap and economical and can be given away at the end of the reception as gifts. Check out car boot, jumble sales and charity shops to buy cheaply (and in bulk)!
What colours do you like? What, if any, are the colours running through your wedding wardrobe – bridesmaid’s dresses, invitation details, ribbons and trimmings? All these can tie in with your flowers. A splash of bright colour goes a long way so consider adding bolder colours into the centre pieces. A few single stems of bright coloured flowers such as jewel like anenomes, roses, tulips or dahlias clustered at various heights can look really pretty and won’t eat into your budget too much.
What time of year are you getting married? Seasonal flowers will most likely be in abundance and therefore less expensive than varieties flown in from sunnier climes. What’s locally grown and what’s in yours or your family’s gardens which could be pillaged and picked? Consider blossoms, tulips and daffodils in spring – there are literally hundreds of varieties to choose from. Then there are roses, peonies and sweet peas during summer; dahlias, sweet William, delphiniums and sedums later on in the year to name a few. If you have a year or more to plan, note down who has what growing in their gardens and see what could be realistically grown or cultivated for your wedding day, then, perhaps add to these from your local market. Consider using plenty of greenery amongst the flowers to add body and substance. Often the greenery alone can look stunning, what about using herbs, grasses or even cow parsley or perhaps trails of ivy in winter arrangements?
Lastly and by no means least, what are your talents? Are you more of an organiser than a creative sort? If so, don’t bite off more than you can chew, this will only add unnecessary stress before your big day. Who do you know who would be willing to pick flowers and arrange them for you – family or friends? Keeping the flowers simple, arranging them in simple pretty eye catching containers and not making them too large is crucial. Finally, this is your wedding day – it’s exhausting enough even if you’re not arranging the flowers, so get together with friends and family, share the workload and have some fun along the way!
Lindsey Kitchin is a freelance florist and owns The White Horse Flower Company based in Newbury, Berkshire. A florist for over 10 years, creating and arranging flowers for all occasions; she teaches and runs floral workshops but is mostly known for her beautiful wedding flowers.
The White Horse Flower Company. “Exquisite Flowers – Beautifully Arranged” www.whfco.co.uk
This week we’ve got another guest post from Emma of fromalditoharrods.com where she’ll be giving tips on how enter competitions for your wedding.
I have been “comping” for just over a year now, and in that time I have won some amazing prizes including two holidays and our wedding photography package, saving us over £1,000 on our wedding budget. I find entering competitions a thrill, and I love seeing what turns up at the door next.
Tips for entering competitions:
The first thing to remember is that winning competitions is not a guarantee. The more you enter then the more chance that you have of winning ‐ but even if you can only dedicate an hour a week to entering competitions, it is still worth entering.
- Set up a new email address for entering competitions, that way your inbox won’t be flooded with newsletters. You can also set up a filter to send any mail containing “congratulations” or “winner” to a separate folder.
- Likewise, you may want to set up a new Twitter account, just for entering competitions.
- Look for competitions that are exclusively for soon to be married couples – some honeymoon competitions are valid for genuine newlyweds only, which means a much smaller group of entrants.
- Use a form filler to save having to type out your details again and again. There’s Roboform, or my favourite, LastPass.
I never pay to enter competitions, there are plenty of free websites out there that list competitions. My favourites areMoney Saving Expert and Loquax.
Types of prizes you can win:
- Wedding outfits
- Wine and other alcohol
- Hen/stag parties
Anything that you win that can’t be used directly for the wedding can be given as a gift (and the money you would have spent on the gift then goes towards your wedding budget) or be sold on to add to your wedding funds.
Entering competitions is a time consuming hobby, so although it would be great to win items for your wedding, remember that it is just a hobby.
This is a guest post by Emma who runs the money saving and money making blog From Aldi to Harrods
This week we have Kirsten of The Little Wedding Helper giving some great advice about styling your wedding venue without spending a fortune!
I often say to the couples that I work with (& often anyone else that will listen!) that it really doesn’t cost a ridiculous amount of money to make your wedding reception & celebration look amazing. I love helping couples think outside the box a little when it comes to decorating their receptions and this can often involve using beautiful items that have been loved by past generations or loved by a bride who has used them in her wedding & wants to see them pass onto another to enjoy. I guess it’s a way of recycling decoration and I love this. It’s almost like passing on the love. In these tough financial times I have really noticed couples thinking a lot more about what they are spending their budgets on, what’s important to them & wanting to create a celebration that is meaningful, personal & full of detail.
This wedding reception was held in a local village hall & a venue that I love transforming. The couple wanted a reception that all their guests felt relaxed & comfortable at. Long trestle tables were covered with white tablecloths & the runners were hired from a previous couple that I had worked with & whose mum had handmade these runners. She had also made the bunting so these were also hired.
The centrepieces were collections of vintage china & ornaments that the bride had collected over many months with some pieces being quite sentimental from grandparents & friends.
Flowers were bought from the local flower market & together created a really simple but beautiful look. I loved how a close friend made the cupcakes that doubled up as place names. This wedding didn’t cost ridiculous amounts of money but it did have massive amounts of love, detail and colour! What do you think?
Kirsten provides wedding styling services to couples in the Bristol area and beyond. For more information, visit her website www.littleweddinghelper.co.uk