Every bride and groom in the land wants their wedding day to be perfect, but does perfection come at a cost? As my feet haven’t found their way down the church aisle (yet!), I asked a married friend how much she spent on her wedding and if there was anything she would do differently if she could go back and do it all again. I wasn’t expecting her list to be quite as long as it was, so I thought I’d hand the reins over to her today so she could tell you all about it. Here’s Elaine’s list of what she did wrong, where she overspent, where she under spent, and a little bit of advice so hopefully you won’t make the same mistakes that she did.
So, over to you Elaine!
1 . Wedding Favours
Before we decided to get married, I’d never heard of the word ‘bomboniere’ (that’s Wedding Favours to the uninitiated). But as soon as Wikipedia informed me that five sugared almonds symbolised health, wealth, happiness, fertility and long life, I’d located several boxes of them on Ebay and then spent the next few hours searching for cute little organza bags to put them in. Then, of course, I needed coordinating rose buds and ribbon to tuck into the top to tie in with our colour scheme. It took three nights to make 100 of them up, a two hour return trip to the venue to hand them over, and about 70 seconds for the waitresses to discard the 70 bags left on the table at the end of the day. It was a complete waste of time, money and effort. The time and effort I can live with, but that £100 we wasted could have been much better spent elsewhere. So, for brides to be I would say: Ask yourself ‘how important is this?’ before you spend a single penny.
2. Wedding Stationary
Wow. We got this so wrong. We chose a company that specialise in wedding stationary and we ordered the following, all in the same style: Save the Date cards, Wedding Invitations, RSVP cards, Order of Service cards, Evening Invitation cards, Name Place cards and Thank You cards. Total cost: £650. First of all, those Save the Date cards were a complete waste of time. If your friends / family want to be there they will be there, regardless of the date. If you still wanted to let them know about the wedding before sending the formal invitation, there are so many other options available – phone call, email, text message and even Facebook. Actually, most of our RSVPs reached us like that, so the printed RSVPs were a waste of money too! The majority of the Order of Service cards were left on the church pews (I thought people may have taken them home for a keepsake), so a simple printed-at-home sheet would have sufficed. We never actually got around to sending out the thank you cards, responding to most people by email and telephone instead. More to the point, I was so intent on buying matching stationary, yet not a single guest would have been able to remember the style of the Wedding Invitation to see if it matched the rest of the stuff we ordered. My advice? Stick to the basics. If I could do it all again I’d forgo the RSVPs, Save the Date, Order of Service and Thank you cards. It would cut that bill in half and save £325.
3. The Wedding Cake
The wedding cake took a significant slice of our budget. Everyone needs one – or at least some kind of centrepiece – but here’s the thing. I had close to 100 guests at my wedding and if, the day after our wedding, you asked them to describe the cake, 90 of those people would not be able to tell you what it looked like. If I could go back and do it again, I’d have a fake cake. Apparently, they’re made from rice-crispies (or a similar cereal) and decorated to look like the real deal. After you’ve sliced into it for the obligatory photo shot, the whole cake is taken to the kitchen to be carved up. Supermarkets do a great range of plain wedding cakes at a fraction of the cost, that can then be given to the guests who’ll be none the wiser. I appreciate this may not be for everyone, and any cake makers reading this will want to drag me to the slaughter house for suggesting such a thing, but I spent the best part of £400 on my cake which was disproportionate to the enjoyment and memories that came with it. This could easily have been halved and we’d have saved £200. If you don’t want to choose the ‘fake-cake’ option, what about a cupcake tower? You’d save even more and they look super fun!
4. The Wedding Breakfast
A hundred guests at £40 a head is a lot of money. Four thousand pounds to be precise. And that’s how much we spent on our wedding breakfast. Once the invitations had been sent out, I played the waiting game, desperate to get the RSVPs back and confirm my numbers with the venue. And in the process, I learned an important lesson. My wedding was not as important to the majority of our guests as it was to us and our families which meant we had to chase quite a few people for their responses. There were five people who didn’t make it to our wedding, but because I assumed they wouldn’t miss it for the world (and that they were just too busy to respond) , I gave the venue my final figures, including them. It was a big mistake that cost us £200 along with some awkward, empty seats to deal with. So, be brutal. If they can’t take the time to actually respond, don’t expect them to take the time to actually show up!
My last point regarding wedding guests is this. It is YOUR day, not your parents’ day. If you don’t want Great Aunt Maud at the wedding because you haven’t seen her since you were thirteen, then don’t invite her! I realise it’s not always easy to put your foot down and say no, but I did realise after my wedding how ridiculous it was to invite people I hadn’t seen for years (and haven’t seen since). If we’d invited 90 people instead of 100, we’d have saved ourselves £400.
5. The Wedding Flowers
The bill for our wedding flowers was ridiculous. We had my bridal bouquet, one for each of the three bridesmaids, church flowers, a centre-piece for ten tables, a garland on the head table, flowers on the cake, flowers for the Mums and the button-holes. The total cost was almost £700. if I could get married again I’d swap the ten elaborate table arrangements for simple bud vases, completely forget about the church flowers (they really weren’t needed) and replace the garland on the head table with my own bouquet (that spent the majority of the day on the floor behind me). If we’d done this, we’d have saved ourselves £350.
Part 1 of 2…. the second half of this post will be up shortly