It’s wedding season and here our girl Vix gives you her top tips on where to make the cuts and when to splash the cash based on direct experience of the most expensive, most exciting day of her life…
Don’t rule out fixed price options if you want to go a la carte for venue
Our hotel allocated us an events manager who was absolutely desperate to do something different to the ‘out of the box’ they typically offered so we were able to lift out things we didn’t want, and sub in things we did. We swapped champagne toasts for Prosecco because I really wanted cocktails for after the ceremony without the extra cash. With the saving from the downgrade, we got an extra set of Cosmos and beer buckets for our guests to enjoy while we were pottering around doing photos. I also asked if they could get the fairy lights to dress up some of the darker corners, and they were happy to oblige.
Food glorious food
Some hotels will try to charge you for menu and wine testing so get that agreed up front at the time of booking, it might be a bargaining chip they’re willing to compromise on to close the sale. We’re foodies/greedies and the food was really important to us so to give our guests extra choices, we gave them the full menu of meat and veggie options to mix and match. I have no doubt this was not the normal, ‘done’ thing but we submitted the ‘dietary requirements’ and everyone got what they wanted. It was just one more little detail we really cared about.
Identify what is important early on, and invest your money there
I did not care about flowers. I literally could not have cared less. I like sunflowers, which are the simplest flowers in the world so I initially was just going to give everyone one each. With a little bit of a review, it was clear that sunflowers were actually pretty damn cheap to buy wholesale so we just bought 100 of them and made the bouquets ourselves. The internet is full of tutorials and my expectations/care level was so low that I was really laid back about cocking it up. Florists were a bit frosty with us for not investing in their expertise, and muttered a lot about us making a big mistake but we wouldn’t be bullied. We bought florist pins and tape and had a good laugh bundling them up. The money we saved more than covered the cost of the bridesmaids’ dresses. I also did not care about a wedding cake, would have been happy to pile up a load of Colin The Caterpillars, and maybe put a doily veil on one. My Male of Honour’s friend was trying to move into showstopper baking so we booked him to do our cake to boost his portfolio. It was BEAUTIFUL, and a fraction of the price of if we’d gone to a wedding baker. He now has his own gorgeous bakery in Bristol so odds are you won’t get that kind of deal again but, if you want to take a look at some of Greg’s other work then you can check him out at https://www.instagram.com/stickyfingerscake/
So I both spent and saved when it came to dresses. We got engaged two years before the wedding and in the excitement I bought a 1920s-style satin dress online. I waived my right to a refund and had it sent to my house in my haste to have it, and I bought it in an ambitious size too small. The good news is around the time of the wedding, I got it to fit. The bad news is that was the only good thing I could say about it – it fit. At a basic level, it zipped up. I looked like a sack of potatoes in it. Me, a stocky, reubenesque character, had bought a dress for Keira Knightley. I had to sell the dress on ebay, at a quite depressing loss. In the end I went high street. And I would recommend keeping an open mind. I didn’t have a ‘dream dress’ and operating on a limited budget with no ‘vision’, I was staggered by the lack of variation in the dresses in the designated wedding shops. I also had a terrible experience at David’s Bridal that did not carry many stylish dresses above a size 14 – and they forced me into them anyway, despite me protesting that they were not going to fit. At one point the salesperson had one foot in the small of my back dragging on the zip, not quite the cinematic ‘say yes to the dress’ experience I was hoping for. There was one that I quite liked but they refused to order it in for me to try unless I paid a deposit, so they lost my sale. I came out in tears, had cocktails with my friend Beth, then hit the high street, they had a MUCH better range of realistic sizes (not to mention prices) and weren’t so shackled to a traditional meringue. Even if you think you know what you want, it’s worth going to a good department store and raid it from top to bottom, from prom upwards. I had so much fun doing that. The dress I eventually got was Phase Eight (bought with cashback from Quidco for extra value), and I absolutely loved it.
Do not scrimp on the scaffolding underneath
Get the right underwear – I would have rather fried my own head than stand all vulnerable in a changing room in my pants in front of strangers under normal circumstances, but after my experience in David’s Bridal being shoved into dresses and instructed to do things like ‘jump’ into them, I lost all sense of shame. I had read hundreds of articles about Spanx etc. but I had no idea what was going to work and what wasn’t. Not only did I find out I was wearing the wrong bra size, but the amazing assistant in House of Fraser completely remodelled my figure with shape wear (or, as I called it ‘scaffolding’), and the dress (that I already liked) became absolutely amazing. It’s worth the blushes.
I had 6 bridesmaids and a Male of honour; apparently I went through such a mad excited phase that I was practically stopping people in the street to invite them to accompany me down the aisle. They all have very different looks so putting them in the same dress (particularly the boy) was never going to work. I set a budget and a colour palette and asked for suggestions and the result was stunning, all the girls felt like themselves on their best day, and they actually do have (cliches aside) dresses they can wear again. Was one of the best decisions I made and, again, some of them I even got cashback on. My Male of Honour had a suit to match the wedding party – and we also went high street for those, with a view to having them fitted by a tailor as though they were couture.
The present was your presence – but cash was quite nice as well
We took a deep breath and made the brave decision to ask our family and friends for cash towards the honeymoon as a gift. There are some really cool tools that help you turn asking for cold, hard dollar into an actual legitimate wedding list, like honeyfund, that allows your guests to buy ‘items’ from your itinerary online. Things we asked for included rounds of drinks, books for our Kindles, to bigger things like dinners out and trips to local attractions. We then made sure we photographed us doing all the things on the list so people knew we massively appreciated them.
We also squeezed even more value out of our honeymoon by booking via Quidco. SecretEscapes was on there at the time offering a mighty 10% cashback, which was a really nice rebate to have at a later date.
Do it your way
Above all, the thing to remember is that it is your day. Do not fall into the trap of feeling like you have to care about things you don’t care about. You do you. It’ll be the best day of your life anywhere, because you’ll have everyone you care about at that moment in one room together.