Last year I married my best friend on a sunny Saturday in June at The Barn at Bury Court, Bentley nr Farnham. Having worked in the wedding industry for a number of years, I thought I knew what I was entering into when planning a wedding but sure enough I made a few mistakes along the way! I therefore thought it would be worth putting together some helpful advice from my wedding planning experience as well as a few DIY wedding tips which can easily be adapted to suit your own decor and theme. Our wedding was also featured on the wonderful Love My Dress blog a few weeks ago so do head over and read the full article there too!
1). Once you start a job, try and see it through to the end
This might seem like an obvious one, but it is so important to stick to as it is the key to efficient wedding planning. You wouldn’t believe the amount of time I wasted on certain jobs getting half way there and then abandoning it only to have to start again from the beginning when I came back to it. This is especially true of sourcing that “perfect” decor item online for the right price. You have to put the work in to find the bargains but I would advise taking a systematic approach rather than blindly googling.
2). Decide what’s most important to you and spend a bit more in that area
It’s no secret that weddings aren’t cheap but I do think it is worth spending more on the elements that are particularly important to you. After all, you can try and save on another aspect of the wedding to balance it out. For us the photographer was extremely important as we wanted someone who could capture the day the way we wanted to remember it. I had been aware of Anushé Low‘s work even before we were engaged and knew that she would be the perfect wedding photographer for us and our venue. She captures the light so beautifully in her photography without losing any richness of colour. Her minimalist style also perfectly suited our simply styled wedding.
3). Be realistic and fair to your suppliers
If you’ve seen that 3 tiered sugar flower masterpiece on Pinterest and MUST have it as your wedding cake then be prepared to pay a fair price for it. You may think I am being biased here as a cake designer but it is true in all aspects of the wedding industry and I know that plenty of my florist friends feel my pain on this one! If you choose small businesses (which I recommend) then the price quoted will reflect the amount of man hours put in. For example as a sole trading cake designer, I only receive money for the cakes that I sell. However the basic price of my cakes has to reflect the general running cost of the business: from the hours spent answering client emails, baking samples, meeting clients and coming up with designs, to keeping a website up to date, advertorial listings, styled shoots, purchasing and maintaining equipment. Add to that the cost of quality ingredients and the careful time spent making sure your cake is nothing short of perfection. When it comes to design and sugar craft, you will always receive more time spent crafting than what you are actually paying for.
4). Source small and local where possible
Help the UK wedding business thrive by sourcing small and local. That way you can ensure your money is well-spent and that you are getting value for money. Whether that be your main suppliers such as a florist or smaller decor elements. Etsy is a fantastic catalogue of small businesses where every sale counts. I bought my bridesmaid’s hexagon necklaces (lilabelledesign), my diamond headpiece (TheAlteredChain), our table number holders (SnakeInChest), the cake table terrarium (AugustGlassDesigns) and our guest book (LovingFamilyDesigns) all on Etsy. Our bouquets and buttonholes were made by my florist friend Sarah, The Flower Bird. We also had bespoke wedding rings made by a friend of a friend, Tessa Metcalfe who is a fantastic and unique local jewellery designer.
5). Choose decor that you can decorate your home with afterwards
If you are sourcing your own decor, then you will be getting more value for money if you can use it afterwards. We bought our own self-contained candle glasses, terrariums, made hanging geometrics, silk poppies, vases, cacti and succulents, all of which have now found a place in our home.
DIY details add a real personal touch to your wedding. Not only can it often save you money but it also provides a fun build up to the big day. I designed all of the decor details myself and enlisted friends and family to help bring it all to life. For the geometric table decorations, I had Darren cutting the lengths of brass to size whilst I threaded them together using a Pinterest tutorial as a guide. The succulents and cacti were potted by Darren, his best men and his mum. I made the hanging geometrics and my dad’s cousin plus one of my bridesmaids helped wire in the flowers and foliage. The main flower arrangements were done by my dad’s cousin and she helped secure the silk poppies in the vases for the tables. My bridesmaid, Jennie, who is a very talented illustrator, designed the beautiful wedding stationery with the help of another graphic designer friend Nick. They very kindly donated their time and creativity as our wedding gift so we only had to foot the printing costs. My mum made the amazing hand-smocked flower girl dresses for my nieces using a Liberty print fabric which made them so special! I made the table runners out of fabric bought online and my future mother-in-law helped to cut them out. Go on, give it a go! Just remember that DIY may stand for “do it yourself” but don’t be afraid to delegate a few small jobs to willing family and friends.
7). Make some money back after the wedding
If you don’t have room (or need!) in your home for all of your purchased wedding decor then why not sell them? We have no use for the single stem vases that we used for the silk poppies so we will be selling them online. Not only does this make some of your money back but it also can help someone else out with a cheap set of vases for their own wedding or event. Table runners can be turned into cushions or other sewing projects.
8). Reuse items within your day
Flowers and decor from the ceremony can be reused for the reception. We lined the aisle with candles, succulents and cacti which were then moved to the tables for the wedding breakfast. At the end of the day, we also gave the cacti and succulents away to close friends and family as wedding favours as well as a few silk poppies.
9). Consider a dress-maker
This is a great way to get a value-for-money dress that is totally unique. I knew the style of dress I wanted but after scouring the internet, couldn’t find anything that I liked that was even close to my budget. Thankfully a friend of my mum’s recommended a dress-maker named Eileen Prior. Before visiting Eileen I went to two bridal boutiques with my mum to try on dresses and work out what shapes worked and were most flattering for me. This was definitely a sensible move as even though it was the shape that I would chosen for myself initially anyway, it eradicated any doubts in my mind so I knew that I could go to Eileen with conviction. When I therefore went for my first consultation with Eileen, the process was incredibly straightforward. I told her the shape that I wanted, showed her pictures of design elements I would like to include and we discussed fabrics to make it fall just so. She then drew a sketch of the exact dress I had in mind, took some measurements and that was that! After that I only had 2 further fittings: the fitting of the toile and then the final fitting. Not only was the dress a lot more affordable than others I had looked at, but as the dress is fitted to you from the word go, you save on potentially expensive alterations too.
Darren also had a bespoke suit made by Austin Reed after I found an excellent value special offer online. Again, this ended up saving him money as the price of his suit included any alterations.
10). Relax and enjoy the day!
Plenty of good organisation ahead of the day will ensure a relaxed wedding day. However, when it comes to it, it is up to you to let go and just take the day as it comes and enjoy yourself. Little things might not go exactly according to plan but it’s not worth sweating the small stuff. The chances are that you or your guests won’t even notice any little mishaps anyway and the most important thing is to enjoy your special day with your friends and family.
I hope this post has given you some food for thought when planning your own wedding. You’ll find a pretty comprehensive list of all suppliers below but if you have any questions, just post me a comment and I’d be happy to help!
Photographer: Anushé Low
Venue: The Barn at Bury Court
Florist: The Flower Bird
Cake: Little Bear Cakery
Bride’s Dress: Bespoke by Eileen Prior
Bride’s Headpiece: The Altered Chain via Etsy
Bride’s Shoes: John Lewis
Wedding Rings: Tessa Metcalfe
Bride’s Bracelet and Earrings: Pamela Love
Groom’s Suit: Bespoke by Austin Reed
Groom’s Shirt: Reiss
Groomsmen’s Ties: Frederick Thomas via Amazon
Groom’s Shoes: Loake
Groom’s Collar bar: Kasun London
Groom’s Arm Bands: John Lewis
Groom’s Tie Clip: Moss Bros
Bridesmaid’s Dresses: Monsoon
Bridesmaid’s Necklaces: Lilabelle Design via Etsy
Flower Girl’s Dresses: made by Bride’s mum using Liberty print fabric
Best Men’s Suits: River Island
Silk Ribbon (Cake & Bouquet): Lancaster & Cornish
Stationery Design: Jennie Webber & Nick Cobby
Guest Book: Loving Family Designs via Etsy
Geo Terrarium: August Glass Designs via Etsy
Cake Table Geo Candle Holders: Anthropologie
Main Arrangement Vases: The Other Duckling
Single Stem Vases: Britannia Direct
Cacti & Succulent Vases: Inspirations Wholesale
Table Runner Fabric: Ada & Ina
Bamboo Bee Tubes for Hanging Geometrics: eBay
Brass Tubing for Table Geometrics: Hobby’s
Hair & Makeup: Suzanne Dusek