Friday, 26 October 2012

E-Bay Addiction

As part of slipping in to my role of budget bride I had to get used to 'bargain hunting'. Normally I would go to town and hit the shops, or browse on-line and pay the full retail price for whatever it is I wanted. Which is fine if you need a pair of jeans or something. But when it comes to sticking to your wedding budget it soon becomes a problem paying full retail price of everything.

With things like the venue, apart from shopping around, or asking your venue to chuck in a few freebies there is very little you can do to save money. It is better to pay full price for the venue and wedding breakfast and save your money on other things such as decorations, invites, table centres. One of the best sites or tools at your disposal is Provided you know what you are looking for, check the seller before you purchase, and on most occasions look for a seller with the "Buy Now" option, you should be OK. 

The sellers on-line reputation is important. If they have sold long term and have a perfect or near perfect score then you know you will be pretty safe purchasing from them. Make sure you read the fine print in the object description though. If they don't accept returns or give refunds then you are taking a risk.

A Few Examples Of Things I bought off E-bay

Organza chair bows - The venue offered to provide these @ £1.50 per head which came to £82.50. I bought 100 for £39.99 (free p&p) and had plenty spare to use for other wedding crafty ideas I had.

Gold Fish Bowls - I bought these for my table centre pieces. These can be quite expensive at around £8 per bowl, I needed 10 i.e. £80 worth. I managed to get 10 of the 7" bowls for £29.99 with free p&p.

20 Decorative pew bows - £5 plus £2.99 p&p - I saw these in shops for about £14 for 10, and decoration companies were charging slightly more again, although I understand they are charging for their time and for putting the decorations up for you as well.

Ivory Silk, Bridal clutch handbag - £7.50 free p&p - seen similar handbags for £20 in shops, same hand bag is now £10 on ebay so I got myself a bargain.

Ivory and Pearl 2 Tier veil - £4.99 free p&p - Was around £20 in bridal shops, cheapest seen online at the time was £10. So ebay bargain won and the quality is the same as the shop one.

Things I cant remember prices of: Guest Book Pen set, Exploding balloon for first dance, cake table & top table swags, Gifts for bridesmaids & groomsmen, Silk flower Bouquets and Buttonholes and tons more. I spent a lot of time on E-bay!

Things to Remember While E-Bay shopping

I always searched for "Buy Now" items. You may be able to get things cheaper by auction but you may loose your auction or may not be able to get the number of items you need. "Buy Now" is still usually a lot cheaper than stores, so for peace of mind I would avoid auctions for wedding shopping.

P&P - Be very careful to check the P&P price. Some sellers don't charge at all, some do but if you buy more than one item they discount the P&P others sell their items very cheap but make their money on P&P. 

Anything slightly personalised or with a choice of colour make sure you know how to let the seller know your choice. Usually you can select different colours/designs on a drop down box when entering the amount you want to purchase. However we had a few things personalised or with extra information needed. Make sure you read in the item description how the seller wants to receive this information. I.E. Email, Ebay message, or if you are paying via pay pal, in the comments box. Make sure you give all the information they ask for or some sellers will send you a random choice. 

Read any item descriptions to make sure you are buying new items, that the seller will take returns and to check the size/quantity you are purchasing. If your item arrives and it is not what was in the description you can complain to e-bay. If in the description it clearly states used (for example) you can't return it for not being new.

Always check the sellers reputation/score and read some of their comments. If other buyers recommend them this is great, but if all they get is complaints... DONT RISK IT!

Check estimated date of arrival. If coming from abroad, custom made, or personalised then items may take longer to arrive. This isn't such a problem if you still have months to go, but for last minute purchases you need to be sure you will have them on time.


Shopping on E-bay or any other cheap/bargain site you find is a smart move to make. Weddings are an expensive business and even when doing it on the "cheap" you are still going to spend thousands of pounds on your big day. Be smart and save money where you can, every penny you save on the smaller things, the more money you have for your venue or even your honeymoon.

Most of all just enjoy. Every purchase that arrives is one less thing to buy, and one step closer to your big day. 

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Three Days To Go - Chocolate Mousse

With only three days to go I am on the busy train to marital life and it's all very exciting!!
With so much going on it's not likely I will be able to blog as much as I have done the past few days since I started this blog. So I thought I would give you all a final little treat from me to keep you all happy.

This easy recipe for Chocolate Mousse is so delicious and I absolutely adore it as a treat on the odd occasion. So now I shall share it with you!

For 2 people you will require:

1 egg
1/2 oz of caster sugar
2 1/2 oz of plain chocolate (I use Bournville chocolate, but any 75% cocoa or higher chocolate will be just as good)

Melt the chocolate. A lot of people do this in a glass bowl above a boiling pan of water, but I'm a fan of 30 second blitz in the microwave, stir, blitz again until it has thoroughly melted with no lumps and it is glossy. Which ever way you prefer make sure it doesn't burn! Put the chocolate to one side for 2-3 minutes to cool down.

While the chocolate is cooling separate your egg white from the egg yolk. Working over a glass bowl crack the egg in to two halves and gently drop the yolk back and fore the two shell sections allowing the white to drop out in to the bowl. Place the yolk in to a separate bowl. If there is any shell in your white, use the larger section of shell to scoop as this is the easiest method. Once the chocolate has cooled put the yolk into the chocolate and stir until thoroughly mixed. The chocolate must still be melted but not be hot or else the yolk will cook. So make sure it has cooled and is not hot but hasn't started to set either.

Take the egg whites and mix with either a whisk, or an electric hand mixer until it reaches the soft peak stage i.e. when you lift the beater out of the egg mix it forms peaks which will fall back on it self. At this stage add a third of the sugar and whisk, add the next third and so on. Continue to mix all of the sugar and keep beating the eggs until they are glossy and can hold their peak shape.

Spoon a tablespoon of the egg white mixture in to the chocolate mix and fold in to loosen the mixture. Add the rest of the egg white mixture gradually, folding it in to the chocolate with patience and care. You don't want to beat out the air as this is what will give the mousse consistency. Divide the mixture in to two ramekins and chill for at least two hours in the fridge.

Check the mixture has set before serving. Serve with whipped cream (which incidentally tastes better with a bit of icing sugar beaten in to it) and tuck in!!

Will try to blog soon, but wedding duties call :) !!!!!

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Yummy Treats - Packed Potato Skins

We all have those days where we just need a bit of comfort food, and after over 12 months of dieting I have been thinking about all the yummy naughtiness I used to eat! While spending some time with my mum this weekend we discussed one of our old favourites and I decided that I would share this yummy treat with you all. Bit of a break from the wedding theme and I can drool over my keyboard instead of all over my kitchen! 

Packed Potato Skins

You will need one Baking potato per person.
You can pick several different fillings. I will give you 3 of my favourites - but first how to cook your potato!

Preheat your oven to 220C  (if fan oven go for about 190/200C)
Take your potato and prick the skin all over with a fork. Put some oil and salt on the potato and rub in well with your hands.
Cook for about 45 minutes to an hour in the oven. Until the skin is starting to crisp and the inside of the potato is easy to push a fork in to.
Take potato out of oven and cut in half. Scoop as much of the potato in to a mixing bowl  as you can with out ripping the skins.

Filling one - ham, mushroom and pickle

Fry some sliced mushroom and any precooked ham in a pan. Add a tablespoon of pickle  and cook for a few minutes until mixture is heated through and the pickle is beginning to bubble.
Add mixture in to potatoes with a dollop of marg/butter and mix together. Spoon filling back in to the skins and put back in oven for 15 minutes or until potato mixture starts to crisp up.

Filling two - bacon and mozzarella

Cook your bacon under the grill and then chop up. mix with the scooped out potato and about 40g of mozzarella. 
Spoon back in to potato skins. Put in oven for 10 minutes. Sprinkle a small amount of mozzarella over the potato and cook for a further 5 minutes or until the cheese starts to go golden brown.

Filling three - Ham and mustard.

Dice some ham and add with a teaspoon of mustard to the potato.
Spoon in to the skins and cook for 15 minutes.


Chicken & mushroom
Spring onion &  cheese
Tomato sauce and diced sausage

There are so many things you can add. It is all down to taste. But give it a go and see what you think. It's yummy comfort food for the winter and not too difficult! :) 

Monday, 22 October 2012

Guest List Dramas

Personally this was the part of wedding planning I was dreading the most. Not because it was particularly difficult but because I was terrified of offending anyone and because I didn't have a clue where to start. However after doing my guest list, save the dates, sending invites, doing my table plan I can assure you that this can be done painlessly and with minimal offence caused. Although my first tip would be - Don't be afraid to offend anyone. Once I got used to the idea that it was my wedding, my budget and that I couldn't afford to invite the world and his wife (nor did I want to), I soon realised that so long as me and my fiancé were happy with our choices then offending people wasn't the end of the world. If you need advice on how to get your guest list completed read on ... Please feel free to comment at the end of this post with any hints and tips you have or with any questions you'd like me to answer on my next post. I will do a separate post at some point on what to do when you have your guest list and people have to be removed or added, but this is just the initial guest list guide.

Top Tips To Avoid Wedding List Nightmares

  • My first tip is to get some price lists/brochures from various venues in your area. Get an idea of how much it is for the wedding breakfast, drinks package, evening buffet etc per guest. This will help you assign a proportion of your budget to the venue (mine was about 1/3 or 1/2 of the budget) and work out how many people (or heads) this is.
  • As strange as this sounds I advise you to write a list where budget and venue restrictions are no cause for concern. Write a list of all the people you would like to invite. I had a list initially with well over 200 people, which isn't do-able with my budget. But it was a good place to start and I found it helped me get to grips with who was in my fiancés family that I hadn't met yet. We both wrote down every one we could think of and had both sets of parents give us names of any family we had forgotten.
  • Then put this list away for a week. I'm serious! Don't worry about it for a week. Come back to it after some time has passed and read back over it making sure there aren't any glaringly obvious exclusions. 
  • Separate your list in to "Must Invite" and "Not Essential". The must invite list should be your grandparents, Favourite Aunts and Uncles, best friends etc. These are the people you have to invite.  The not essential should be work colleagues who won't be offended if they are only invited to the evening, friends you haven't seen in years etc.
  • Once your must invite list is complete you can add people from the not essential list who you would like to invite to the day. Try to stick to your numbers. After the Day list is complete begin your evening list. There will be cuts so don't be scared to remove your third cousin twice removed you haven't seen since you were 6. Make sure you stick to your budget and that you are both happy with the resulting list.
  • Bear in mind inviting 60 people doesn't mean 60 will turn up so you may have to invite an extra 10/15 guests. This requires a bit of sneaky inviting, you need to know who is likely to say no to make sure that you have enough people who will probably say yes to cover your minimum guest requirement (For most venues this is 50 people. If only 48 people are at the wedding the venue will usually still take your booking but will charge you a room hire charge. So it is better to try and have more guests than the minimum). Go through your list and put 'N' next to all your suspected no shows and make sure that you still have the amount of guests required for your budget.
  • Once all the numbers are tallied up, you are sure your budget all adds up and you are happy you both have the important people in your lives as part of your special day then your job is done. People will be offended, you can't invite everyone and no doubt your Uncle will be offended you haven't invited his 5 kids, and 8 grand kids but stick to your guns. Be polite and know you have every right to pick your own guest list. 
  1. If your friends & family have a lot of children, consider not inviting children. Or limit it to a certain amount of children per family. If you don't invite children, make sure your family & friends know in advance so they can get babysitters.
  2. If you have a lot of cousins, invite your aunts and uncles to the main event and ask cousins to the evening only. With larger families it will be difficult and expensive to invite everyone. So long as you both follow the same rules for both families so it is fair, there is no reason why you can't invite certain people to the evening only.
  3. Give you and your partner a certain amount of "friend" places on your list. Once filled with your closest friends explain politely to your other friends that weddings are expensive and move them on to your evening list.
  4. Don't be offended if people can't come. Especially if you don't invite children, people may find it difficult to get babysitters. Just accept that not everyone will be available.
  5. DON'T BE AFRAID TO OFFEND. DON'T BE AFRAID TO MAKE "CUTS". Unless you are rich or some one else is paying for the wedding, you will need to be brutal to get through the guest list drama. 

If you've got through it with out offending then well done!! Send your save the dates once everything is booked, and send your invites in plenty of time to get your exact numbers for your venue/caterer. Be prepared for last minute cancellations, or no shows on the day. It will happen, such is life! Hopefully these tips and guide on what I did will help you when it comes to guest lists. I will eventually get around to tips to stay calm during cancellations, declines and friends falling out... Don't panic though, if I can do it, anyone can! :) 

Thanks for reading!!

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Dress Shopping - Part 2 - Wedding Dresses

The Wedding Dress - the all important dress that most girls will have dreamt about since they were little and will have a fair idea of what they do and don't like before they even get asked the question. This is usually one of the larger purchases of the wedding with a lot of brides spending 1/6th of their budget on the dress with prices varying between £600 & £1800 in Bridal Shops. If you read my previous post you will already know that I paid nowhere near what I consider to be an extortionate amount of money for a dress you will only wear for one day. 

To start I think most people would advise you to go to a bridal shop and try dresses on. I won't be a hypocrite and claim that is what I did, but it is very sound advice. Once again plan a day with your Mum, your Maid of Honour and maybe your bridesmaids too. Go and try on dresses and keep an open mind. 22 months ago I would never have picked the dress I will be wearing in 6 days time. But what you think will suit or what you think looks good on the hanger doesn't always look good on you. I saw mine when looking through a bridal mag and then went to then filtered the dresses to my specifications to find the dress I wanted. 

I personally opted out of dress shopping which many of you may find strange, but I knew I loved the dress I eventually chose and stubbornly did not allow myself to be tempted by other dresses. I was very lucky that my dress is perfect but I do not recommend you taking the same risk I did. The day my dress was delivered was so stressful, I felt sick waiting to go home and try it on... don't put yourself through that!

I did try on a few dresses (although not wedding ones) in local shops to get an idea of necklines and dress shapes that would suit and to ensure the dress I had picked would suit me. I ordered it via JJS. Please see my previous Blog Post "Dress Shopping - Part 1 - Bridesmaids" for my advice regarding ordering dresses online, customs, shipping & to see how much I saved ordering my dresses online.

My personal advice to all brides is, don't order a neckline or dress shape you wouldn't normally wear. There is a reason you don't wear it! I chose a neckline that I wear a lot (although jazzed up of course!) because the reason I wear that neckline is that it suits my body shape. I would never, for example, wear a strapless bustier because I don't like my upper arms and because I would be pulling it up worrying all the time that I would fall out. So I would never pick that for my wedding dress. Just keep that in mind, you want to look beautiful on your day, but you also want to be comfortable and not worrying all day.

I know the temptation is to spend £1000 pounds or more on this gorgeous dress you tried in a shop, but what would you say if your Mr wanted a £1000 suit? 

The dress is only for one day, and the dress is not your marriage so don't throw money you don't have at a dress. If you can afford the more expensive dresses or would prefer to buy from a shop then that is OK too. It just wasn't a choice I would have made as a budget bride. I spent less than £8000 on my wedding and everything I have booked or bought is good quality and beautiful. Cheap isn't always bad quality, sometimes cheap just means it cost you less. Sometimes even a £1000 dress can be a rip off. So my advice is save the money and get something just as good for less money. Use the money you save for a better venue, or a honeymoon, something you will both benefit from.

Lastly my advice is, enjoy! Every bride is a princess in her dress. There is something magical about a bride, how happy she is, the way she glows and it makes her so beautiful. Enjoy wearing your dress and enjoy marrying the man of your dreams... doesn't get much better than that!!

Dress Shopping - Part 1 - Bridesmaids

There are a few decisions to be made when it comes to bridesmaids and their dresses. One of the first decisions is whether or not you are paying for the dress or whether you are going to ask your bridesmaids to buy their own. There is nothing wrong with asking your bridesmaids to buy their own dresses if money is tight, but if like me you wanted to choose the dress yourself or if you don't feel comfortable asking them to pay then it's time to check the bank balance as you need to pay for the dresses your self.

If you are asking the bridesmaids to buy the dresses themselves then you need to be a little flexible and allow the bridesmaids to have a say in the dress. For example you may pick a style of dress, or length of dress you like, tell them which colour and then give them free reign to choose the dress within your set parameters.

If like me you pay for the dresses you could still do the above suggestion, but as you are paying you do have more control over the choice. I picked the same dress for all my bridesmaids, but I chose a dress flattering to all my bridesmaids shapes and sizes. Just remember these are your girls and you want them to look good. OK so you don't want them to outshine you, but they won't. Being the bride you will be centre of attention, so don't sabotage your bridesmaids. No ugly puffy dresses!! If you feel comfortable sabotaging them you may want to reconsider having them as part of your bridal party... chances are you don't actually like them all that much!

Once you have chosen who your bridesmaids are, who is paying for the dress and the style of dress/colour you want it is time to go dress shopping. This is a great opportunity for all the bridesmaids to get to know each other so make a day of it. Get familiar with the bridal shops in your area and plan a route around these shops to avoid time wasting. Once you get to the shops let your bridesmaids flick through the rails with you and start looking for various dresses they can try on. Get every one involved trying them on and let them tell you what the think about the quality, shape etc. If you have plenty of money in the wedding pot then by all means order the dress and pay the prices in the shops.

If however you too would like to be a budget bride, enjoy the day of trying on dresses, making sure the style you choose fits and then go home sit down in front of your computer and open up  Find the dress you wanted in their extensive collection, pick the colour you want and have them custom made to your bridesmaids measurements. It's a lot cheaper and the quality of these dresses are absolutely incredible!


  • I 100% recommend you invest in the £3.89 swatch book. Make sure the colour is what you want before you order and take it along to the suit place and anywhere else you go to buy things in the colour of your choice. You want to avoid too many variations of the same colour if possible.
  • Pay the extra for the custom size (I think it's £11 for this) It is well worth it to have the dresses perfectly fitted.
  • Get someone to help with the measurements and confirm them, follow their measurement guide to make sure you are measuring the right areas.
  • Shipping - this is usually around £15 to the UK on expedited shipping. Due to the 70% off they usually have on the shipping it works out cheaper than normal shipping.
  • Their dresses are constantly on offer, so do not rush to buy it because of the countdown in the corner... I love JJS dresses and have been on and off this site constantly for 22 months and have only seen dresses fluctuate by £10/£20, they never go up to the full price!
  • Please bare in mind these are coming from China and so you will have to pay customs on the parcel. To give you an idea of shipping costs, my very large and very heavy wedding dress was about £17. Four floor length heavy bridesmaids dresses was £65. So add this on to your overall cost to avoid nasty surprises. In the UK the courier is DHL, they have a tracking service and when the dress reaches the UK your customs fee should be payable via the web page.
  • If you can leave it until about 6 months prior to the wedding to order the bridesmaid dresses and 4 months to order yours. Otherwise you will pay a fortune getting them altered. Try to maintain your weight and dress size once the dress is ordered.
  • As soon as the arrive try them on without taking off the labels. You should be over the moon with your dress, they are amazing quality. If not do not be afraid to send them back. Hang them up safe and avoid creasing if possible!

Another similar site is I am making it clear though, I have never purchased a dress from lightinthebox but I have heard good things.

In terms of JJS dresses, they are so beautiful and well made. So much so that after buying my bridesmaid dresses I went on to buy my wedding dress. I am not ashamed to say it saved me a fortune!!! The dresses I liked for my bridesmaids were £250 each in the bridal shop (excluding alterations), which would have cost me £1000 for all of my bridesmaids. I had all four, including customs and shipping for £370 of the website, and the dresses are identical. £97 each for custom made dresses is an absolute steal. 

My wedding dress is identical to a dress I saw for just shy of £800. I paid including customs and shipping £178 for my dress. The quality is amazing and I am delighted with my dress and the bridesmaids dresses. I have the exact dresses I wanted so I haven't compromised. If you want to pay £800 or even £1000 in some shops for the dress then that is entirely your choice, but as a budget bride it made no sense to pay the extra when it didn't compromise the quality or beauty of the dresses.

So that's my bridesmaid dress tips. Up next wedding dress tips, which I have started to cover here but have plenty more to share. Thanks for reading Bloggers!! :)

Saturday, 20 October 2012

20 Things To Do Once You Say Yes

Ok, so this isn't necessarily in the correct order. But it's 20 things I think should help you get the ball rolling on your wedding planning and get you organised.

  1. Set a budget, and personally I would do this before anything else, so it is my official number one item. Mainly because it is pointless giving yourselves six months to plan a £20k wedding if you have no money. The budget will help you set a date, decide on the number of bridesmaids and has a huge effect on the venue and catering. So first off set a budget of what you feel is reasonable and that you can afford. Always save at least £1k more than your budget just in case you fall in love with a slightly more expensive venue, dress, cake etc.
  2. Set a date. Try to be mindful of any relatives coming from out of town if you can. Try to avoid big dates such as Valentines Day. It sounds sweet, romantic and lovely but these dates costs more: Valentines, Christmas, New Years etc. Unless the date is worth the extra money to you both then pick another day!! Sit down with your fiancé and discuss what season/month you prefer and any dates that are an absolute no no. Consider your budget once again at this point. Do not pick a date in 12 months if you will need 18 months to save. Write down two or three dates but do not announce any of these yet, you need to get this date locked down with your church/venue before you announce it. More things to consider: If you want a Church Wedding check with your chosen church what days their services are. We initially wanted a Sunday wedding but due to Sunday Service and Sunday school it would have been too rushed and chaotic. Registry Office, if you think this is the cheap option that is not always the case. You have to hire the room, pay for a wedding licence and pay for the registrar. Find out your local fees before you commit. Also for Registry Office or at venues where a registrar would be required please note you normally can not book until 12 months before. So if you get the date you want with cars, reception, caterers etc this does not guarantee you will get the Registrar for the date you want. 
  3. Pick your wedding party. This can be a bit of a mine field but if you take your time and consult with your fiancé this should be painless. Posts to consider: Maid of Honour, Bridesmaids, Flower girl, Page boy, Ushers, Best Man, Ring Bearer. Girls chose your own bridesmaids/flower girls/maid of honour but do not forget any female relatives of his. Be mindful of your fiancés and his family's feelings and boys the best men and ushers are your choice but you must consider her family too. Sit down together and discuss your choices and make sure you are both on the same page before you announce your choices. What I didn't do but have since heard of people doing, and think its a lovely idea, is to formally ask my bridesmaids. There are plenty of websites where you can buy a novelty card or keepsake for the occasion. So long as you don't have 20 bridesmaids I would suggest a formal request. Check out for some cute ideas.
  4. Colour and/or theme. This is really important to pick as early as possible to make sure everything you buy ties in with the theme/colour in one way or another. Discuss with your partner colours you both like or dislike, take in to consideration the time of year e.g. Yellow is a fabulous summer colour, but may be an odd choice for a winter wedding. It's your wedding and therefore your choice so try not to let anyone affect the choice you make. Themes - this can be tricky but here are some ideas of themes that tend to work well although some can be a bit cliché if not done right: Hearts, Doves, Vintage, Rustic, Butterflies, Tea Party, Shabby Chic, Victorian, Seaside/Beach. Make sure your theme goes with your colour choice, i.e. florescent pink will not work with Victorian... you get my drift. The world is your oyster when it comes to colours and themes, have fun looking at different stationary, table centre pieces etc. It will all come to you!
  5. Wedding Fayre - Attend at least one. The amount of bumph they give you, you may only need to attend one. What I did was pick one of the larger wedding fayres, with the majority of wedding companies from the area attending. It required a bit of patience visiting all the stalls but I didn't need to go to anymore after that one. There is nothing to stop you researching on line, but a fayre will definitely give you a good idea of what you do and what you definitely don't want. Plus you get to see a lot of products in the flesh so to say, which shows you the quality and can give you good ideas if you plan to DIY it.
  6. Write a list. I lovingly named mine "the dummies list to what I need". I literally wrote down everything I needed to buy. You don't need to do this all in one go, you can do it slowly as and when the ideas come to you. I chose to do mine about 3 months after we got engaged. I knew what I wanted and had a good idea of what I needed, I wrote everything from my dress to hair bobbles for my bridesmaids, from Card for making invitations to socks for the groom to wear. It was about 4 sides of A4 long but I didn't forget a single thing and felt pretty smug when I was able to tick the last item off the list about 2 weeks ago! It's a must. If you are lucky enough to have a wedding planner you can pass the list on to them knowing that they have a detailed list of what you want. If you are doing it yourself, and on a budget, it can be a very helpful tool to avoid panic buying and costs that could be avoided.
  7. Before you start booking or paying for cakes or photographers make sure you give family friends, distant relatives etc a chance to advise you of anyone who may be willing and able to do some of these jobs on the cheap or even as a wedding gift. I know it sounds cheeky but just mentioning that wedding cakes are expensive on your Facebook can lead to offers of friendly discounts. Your friends and family will suddenly have contacts you've never even heard of until now, but it is worth the wait. We managed to save on our wedding cake, our invites/stationary, photographer and cars in this way. DON'T BE AFRAID TO TAKE FREEBIES!! Every little helps... as Tesco as that sounds!
  8. Do your research. As simple as this sounds the best thing you can do is research every option you have. I've always wanted a church wedding and contacted my local church, but I also contacted the local registry office and various local venues for their price list/packages, which came in handy when picking the reception venue also. It helps to shop around, and to go and see venues. Don't limit yourself to venues just down the road, as sometimes the perfect venue is a little further a field. Also on the opposite side of the scale, unless you want a wedding abroad, don't go too far away as this will add on costs when it comes to cars/taxis etc. 
  9. Start a guest list. Of course this will be subject to change, especially if you are planning a year or two in advance. People move away, grow apart etc. However it help to make a list of all the people you would like to invite as numbers will be needed when looking at venues. It is no good booking a room for 100 people if you only have 50 people coming as this will incur room charges at most venues, but also a 50 people room is too small for a larger wedding. Make a list, and be blunt with yourself. I wrote a list of everyone we would invite, put a "N" next to all the people we suspected would say no, and then worked out if we could afford the amount of people we had invited at any of the venues we wanted to go and see. Once you have your guest list and approximate numbers it is a lot easier to pick a venue.
  10. Decide on what to DIY, and what to let the professionals do. Once you have picked theme, colours, how many people and who can do a friendly favour now is the time to write down what you think you can do yourself and what you will hand over to the professionals. I am pretty much the DIY bride, and if you are organised there is no reason why it can't be done. However if you are a panicker or not very good at organising you may want to delegate some of your "jobs". Make a list. Just remember: DIY is cheaper, but time consuming and if you get it wrong you have no one to blame but your self. Professional is more expensive, but saves time, and there is someone accountable if it goes wrong.
  11. Pick a venue. You may only need one if you decide on a hotel or country home, but if you go for a church or registry office, you will also need to pick a venue for the wedding breakfast/evening reception. Shop around and visit the venues. Get an idea of how big the room is, what shape it is, how it can be set up. Once you find THE venue. Get your date booked and the deposit paid. Lock it down!
  12. Dress shopping. Anyone who knows me, will know I didn't buy my dress until 6 weeks before the wedding. I was living on the edge... or driving people crazy! However, I had picked my dress almost 12 months prior to buying it. Take your bridesmaids out for the day and get their dresses separately  Make them feel special by giving them their very own dress shop day. Before you go shopping get a clear idea in your mind of what you do or don't want, how much you are willing to compromise with your bridesmaids if they dislike your choices and make sure you know what does or doesn't suit the body shape of all of your bridesmaids. I will do a separate blog on the wedding dress as this is a big choice to make and shouldn't really be stuffed in to the 20 things to do.
  13. Engagement Party/Family Meal - only for the long engagement. If you set a date almost immediately and are getting married in say 1-2 years, do not waste pennies on a party. A meal might be a nice idea for everyone to get to know each other if they don't already, but a party is too much cost. However if you are planning on a long engagement, why not have a party to celebrate the occasion. Just remember what ever you spend on the party should be no where near the price of a wedding... sounds obvious but you'd be surprised!
  14. Little details - Put thought in to the little details early on, as closer to the wedding you will be too involved with larger, more obvious projects and the little details will get forgotten. For example, start thinking of favours, it is easy to chuck some sweets in a box, but add something personal to thank your guests that shows you really thought about what you wanted. Can't reveal my little idea as my wedding day is next Saturday, but I will spill all after the big day! :) Think of things like table confetti, top table swags, cake table decorations, guest books etc. No one will let you forget the big things like the rings, the dress or the suits, but people rarely ask you if you have picked a guest book! 
  15. Make it legal - This isn't as obvious as it should be. Every type of wedding has its hoops to jump through and things to consider to make it legal. If you are getting married in a church of England or Church of Wales then usually the Vicar/Priest will arrange all the legalities for you, and tell you if you need to attend any sermons or services for the calling of the Banns. However, baptist or community churches, and probably a lot of other churches will require you to obtain a marriage licence via the Registry Office. Make sure you do this or your wedding will not be legal. Other weddings that may need you to consider legalities are back garden weddings, you may need to have a legal service at a Registry Office, and then a blessing as opposed to a wedding in the garden/outdoor area you have chosen. Manor House/Hotels. Alot of these will have a licence to hold weddings but will not have a registrar. So you will need to get a registrar booked via your Registry Office and it will cost to have them attend your venue... Do your research. Make sure its legal.
  16. Gift List... I feel bad this has made my top 20 when so many things haven't. I'm not materialistic honestly but trust me this is the best thing ever! Not only is it fun to pick somewhere to register but you get to tell people what you would like as a gift! My fiancé and I have lived together for just over a year so we have most of what we need, the usual wedding gifts. So using a gift list we can pick the things we don't have or need to replace and have also opted for gift vouchers from our chosen store so people don't have to bring a gift with them. It also avoids duplication of gifts and ensures you get things you like. It feels cheeky at first, but as you realise it just avoids unwanted gifts and awkward "how lovely" moments you grow to love your list.
  17. Suits. This to me was a very painless experience as me and my fiancé both had a clear idea of what we wanted and where to get it from. But for those you have no idea then firstly decide on a suit colour (i.e. black or grey) then shirt colour (white/ivory, I went with the same colour as my dress if this helps) then waistcoat colour. This should be easy if you have picked your colours already. Cravat/Tie, colour should also be easy, but to decide between a cravat or tie try looking at photos or go to a suit hire place and get the groom to try on both. It really is more about what he is comfortable wearing. Then you have to decide whether to hire or buy. Personally I think hire is better for a wedding as they aren't likely to be worn again. But look around and decide what you'd prefer. At the wedding fayre I suggested at number 5 there is bound to be at least one suit hire company in attendance. Go along to their shop take a look and get the groom to try a suit on. If you don't like it don't be afraid to ask for other choices or options.
  18. Stationary. This is one of the things I would rank as quite important. Once your colour/theme is decided and you know how many people you are inviting it's time to pick a style of stationary. It all needs to tie in together so your save the dates, invites, RSVP's, Place Cards, Table Plan, Table number, order of services etc, should all look rather similar and incorporate the main themes and ideas for your day. At Wedding Fayres there are usually 3 or 4 stationary tables, take the opportunity to look at different styles, shapes, folds etc. Even if you make them your self or order from someone else, it helps to get ideas. Get all your stationary at the same time to make sure it all has a running theme. If you are inviting 50 people, order enough for 60 people in case of mistakes.
  19. Flowers. This was so easy for me, because I am not a flower person. I can't stand flowers everywhere which coincidentally saved me a fortune! Decide what flowers you do want and make sure they will be in season if you want fresh flowers. If you want silk then make sure you can find the type you want in the colour you want. If like me you only want button holes and bouquets then now is the time to consider alternative decorations. For example, instead of flowers you can have candles, or decorative bowls, or martini glasses etc as centre pieces. Balloon arches in stead of large flower arrangements near the cake or as an entrance to the room at the venue. Its all personal choice, but it helps to know well in advance what you want as decoration, and what is do-able.
  20. Last tip. Although not by any means the last thing to do when arranging a wedding. But start thinking early on about a gift for your loved one, and for the bridesmaids, best men, ushers etc. It gives you time to look around and set budgets. Put some thought in to how you want to thank your wedding party and fiancé.
Thanks for reading if you managed to get through all of that! Will be back tomorrow with a post all about wedding dress shopping! :) 

Welcome & Introduction

Welcome to anyone reading this. I will start with a small intro. I'm Rachel, I'm 26 and in a weeks time I will be getting married. Very happy about that of course and extremely excited!

It occurred to me that I could share some of my hints and tips on this blog, as I have rather lovingly named my self a budget bride and managed to get our entire wedding done for less than £8k. It's not for everyone, budget brides need to have a lot of time on their hands, and need to persevere looking for what they want at low prices. But if you want some help planning, budget wedding planning or just want to hear what I did then read on!

Hopefully I can help people as they plan their weddings and if not you can all have fun laughing at some of my exploits trying to get our dream wedding at cut price.

Also I love make-up, books, cooking/food, clothes and you-tube so will probably find me ranting/reviewing various things as we go along. Let me know what you love, love to hate or just plain hate and I will try not to bore you all!

Will start my next post later, and will start with Top 20 things to do once you get engaged. Get the ball rolling and all that! Hope you enjoy!