Charlotte Balbier
Brides Up North Wedding Fairs

Up For Discussion: Money Can’t Buy You Love – Bringing It In On Budget

December 9th, 2011 | Julia Braime

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Brides Up North UK Wedding Blog: Love Is Greater Than Money

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Times are hard.  But you still want to have your dream day.  What to do?

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As a I often receive emails from Brides to Be asking for advice on budgeting.

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The first thing to note is that absolutely every couple is different.  A must have for you might be a must not for the girl next door, but the biggest advice that I could give you is make a list of your personal absolute non negotiables, whether those be an amazing live band, a designer frock, individually crafted favours to say thank you to your nearest and dearest, Jimmy Choos, a great photographer, a castle venue, a massive chocolate cake, letterpress stationery, a bouncy castle, whatever. 

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Then work out how the things that don’t feel quite so important can be done without, sourced more cheaply or home made.  That way, you only compromise on the compromisable.

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Be realistic.  Keep some money in the kitty for contingency.  Pray for a lottery win.

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Today our fabulous guest blogger Alison Staples tells us how she balanced her own books to afford the wedding day that she had always dreamed of – Jenny Packham frock included.

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“Why do we have to do all this wedding stuff so far in advance?” asked Tris (my husband to be). I took a deep breath – it was after all 10 months to our big day.

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“So that we can get exactly what we want, at the best possible price,” I replied.

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Hells bells, weddings can be expensive. Especially at this time of year when you’re juggling finances to accommodate Christmas.

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This year the average cost of a wedding is £18,605, with the majority somewhere between £15,000 and £25,000.

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Last week, a TV programme, The Ultimate Guide to Penny Pinching featured bride to be Rebekah organising her £1,500 wedding. While she didn’t quite go to co-star Jonathan’s extremes and feed her guests on ‘usable roadkill’ (honestly, who keeps a heron in their freezer?), she was very creative when it came to saving pennies.

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While I can’t lay claim to Rebekah’s crown, I did manage to bring our wedding in June at Chester Zoo, in on budget and well below the national average.

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I know from experience just how easy it is to get carried away with your credit card when planning a wedding.  I had to be really tough with myself. The ‘biggest day of your life’ can justify anything when it comes to splashing out.

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So Tris and I agreed a total amount and prioritised what was important. This will be different for every couple, but for us it was to have as many guests as possible at a really unusual child friendly venue for a thoroughly fun day. At its height we had 170 guests at Chester Zoo, including 50 children.

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Once we’d agreed priorities, I itemised everything I could think of, set an amount and then tried to beat it. It became a competition – no saving too small. I called in favours, scoured the sales and ebay and embraced my inner craft goddess.

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These are some ideas from my own experience for bringing it in on budget. No one wants to start married life with an overdraft!

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We gave our guests afternoon tea immediately after the ceremony with scones, jam and clotted cream. We saved £54.00 by buying packets of animal biscuits (very zoo wedding appropriate) from the supermarket for the under 7’s – which they all loved.

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I never realised how low maintenance I was until I had to be high maintenance! To cover the costs of manicures, pedicures, facials and body glows, I asked for vouchers from my favourite beauty spa for Christmas and birthday presents, saving £180.00

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We wanted to add a personal touch to the men’s outfits, so instead of hiring the ‘suit package’ for Tris, best man and two dads, we skipped the cravat and hanky and bought our own designs on e-bay, saving £38.00.

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I bought my four bridesmaids dresses, accessories and page boys outfit in end of season sale (Dec 2010), saving £49.50.

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We were very lucky that our wedding venue was already dripping with hanging baskets and surrounded by ornamental gardens. Plus, flowers for the registrars table and big containers of foliage were included in the hire cost. Although I otherwise would have spent on gorgeous flowers, in our case additional flowers would have been lost.

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When it came to choosing a cake, we chose a sacher torte, a full on chocolate extravaganza which we served with cream, meaning that other deserts would have been overkill after our massive BBQ.  This saved £683.00 on desserts.

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Tris and I had already been living together for a couple of years, so didn’t need anything for our house. Instead we asked guests for contributions towards our honeymoon. Our ‘Bliss List’ included everything from whale watching to hotel accommodation and contributions towards flights. Our super generous guests not only sent us to New England for 2 ½ weeks, but on a four day mini-moon to Paris, an incredible saving of £3,500.

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As a result, I saved enough money to pay for 40 extra guests, a wedding bus and a couple of child minders, which made a massive difference to our day. It also paid for an (essential) overspend of on my beautiful Jenny Packham dress and Flo & Percy accessories. Well, it was the most important day of my life after all!

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Are you worried about budgeting for your big day?  What would be your on personal tips? What saves and splurges are you planning?  Would you be having a different wedding if money was no object? 

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Alison writes her own personal blog at http://alison-staples.blogspot.com

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Alison’s latest posts for Brides Up North:

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Up For Discussion- Don’t Tell The Groom! Man Management

Up For Discussion- How To Do “I Do”- Writing Your Own Vows

Up For Discussion- Empty Chairs

Up For Discussion- Achieving The Perfect Level Of Wedding Morning Zen

Up For Discussion- The Name Game (and meet Alison!)

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Would you like to guest blog for Brides Up North? Email julia@bridesupnorth.co.uk

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Brides Up North UK Wedding Blog – Love Is Greater Than Money Image © 2011 deskofbrian.com

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about the author

Julia Braime
Former lawyer and bride to be Julia founded Brides Up North in 2010 with a chip on her shoulder. Frustrated by the poor Northern presence in glossy bridal magazines and online, she decided to do something about it herself. Astounded by the rapid growth of her blog and brand, Julia now manages Brides Up North’s online content alongside their busy wedding exhibition season, industry events and related commissions. And she’s always, always, got a new project on the go…

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