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 www.ebay.co.uk. 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.