Blog: My guide for future brides and grooms

All photography by Sara Elin Photography.

To add to the randomness of my blog, I thought I owed it to future brides and grooms to pass on my wedding prep tips. I got married this summer in a small ceremony of 48 guests and another 50 or so for the evening. For what’s it’s worth, here’s my advice for future brides and grooms…

When it comes to getting ideas…

Pinterest really is your best friend. It has a wealth of ideas that can be easily collated into separate pinboards, so it’s easy to refer back or share with friends.

Wedding fairs are also an excellent source of ideas. I acquired loads of ideas that I then created for cheaper myself – for example I found the design I wanted for my headdress and then my mum made it for me. I also found out the shop I wanted to buy my dress from –  Aurora Bride in North Cheam – was exhibiting at The London Bridal Show in Olympia. I attended the show and negotiated a show discount of £200!

My best advice probably is…

heidi-neil-234

Rope as many people in to helping you as possible. The feel good factor of a wedding  means you’ll be surprised how willing your friends and family will be to help you out with organising the big day – as long as you’re not a bridezilla/groomzilla and buy them lots of drinks in the pub. They’ll also likely know friends, and friends of friends, willing to offer their services for mates rates, so don’t be shy to ask!

My auntie made our wedding cake – see above – my mum made my headdress and belts and headdresses for all the bridesmaids. My mother-in-law’s best friend decorated the venue with elegant draping, handmade chair covers and personalised pictures of my husband and I. My bridesmaid’s boyfriend designed our invitations and name place cards. My mother-in-law collected bottles and jars for the decorations.Friends and family helped us make some of the decorations and my other auntie, through her connections, organised for me to have a wonderful make-up artist and hair stylist (who’d worked on 24 and the upcoming Cinderella film) at a very reasonable price.

Not only did this save us a shed load of money but it also added a very personal touch to the day. We owe them a lot! Note: if you’re going to take up their kind offers don’t forget to thank them profusely in your speech.

Don’t worry too much about entertaining your guests…

heidi-neil-364
Booze is all most people need.

This is something people have ask me quite a lot – how do we entertain our guests after the ceremony, when we’re having our photos done, and throughout the night? I know some people hire photo booths and mini-casinos and other things, however, we found these all to be very expensive. In the end we thought, knowing our friends and family, as long as they have a drink in their hand and someone to chat to, they’ll be fine – and we were right.

We got married at 3pm and sat down for dinner at about 5:30pm. We put on a prosecco reception followed by a free bar and everyone was happy chatting and milling around catching up with people they hadn’t seen in a while. In fact, getting them to sit down was the challenge.

The only thing we did have was two piñatas for the children, which were really popular, and a scratch card sat on everyone’s place mat which went down a storm, though no one won much money! My friend also sang a song in the evening, which was lovely.

Homemade decorations save you loads of money…

heidi-neil-175

If you Google and look on Pinterest you’ll find loads of ideas for home made decorations. We had a summer wedding and I loved the idea of using jars and bottles to decorate the tables, aisle and garden area. This required collecting a lot of bottles and jars and roping friends into helping us decorate them, but we loved the end effect.

We also went down to New Covent Garden Market in Vauxhall before work one morning to order all our flowers instead of going through a florist. This saved us a considerable amount of money. Obviously, you won’t be getting formal flower arrangements but flowers in bunches that will need trimming, thorns cut off etc. This was fine for us as we wanted a more rustic look anyway and they looked great in the jars. It does take some effort putting them in the jars and bottles the night before, but again, that’s what you have mates and family for!

For materials the shops in Southall are an invaluable source – you can get everything there and it’s all very reasonably priced. For example, if you’re brave enough to make your own seat covers, as one of our friends was, you can buy the materials here easily.  Don’t forget to barter.

heidi-neil-174

Bridesmaid dresses don’t have to cost a fortune

heidi-neil-385
My hot bridesmaids.

Or at least I don’t think so. We got ours from Boo Hoo for £36 each and dressed them up with accessories made from materials purchased in Southall. My bridesmaids loved them.

My photographer was lovely and very talented…

So I’m going to recommend her. She’s a very friendly Swedish lady called Sara Elin. She was so genuine she even shed a tear at a particularly emotional best man’s speech. I really loved her work and I think, especially compared to the cost of some photographers out there, she is great value for money.

One of my biggest extravagances (apart from the dress) was…

heidi-neil-155
Made by Muscari Whites

A handmade brooch bouquet. Completely not necessary but I fell in love with the idea, plus it will be a family heirloom (any future daughter of mine will be taking it down the aisle!) and it will be displayed lovingly on my dressing room table (as soon as I get rid of the other crap that is on there). Michele from Muscari Whites made mine, as well as providing us with the most beautiful wedding arch.

One thing I wish I had splashed out on…

A half decent car to take my bridesmaids and I to the venue. Instead, I asked hotel reception to order one. This resulted in me squeezing myself into the front seat of a dusty old people carrier with a bewildered driver who ended up having a row with a white van man at some traffic lights halfway to the venue. It wasn’t quite the graceful arrival I’d hoped for.

Lastly…

Everyone will say this because it’s so true, but don’t forget to chill out and enjoy your big day. Don’t rush anything! It comes around only once, we hope, and really does fly by! I really wish the day was longer.

 Some useful links:

Mint DJ Services 

Useful website Hitched.co.uk

Etsy for ideas

Vintage Wedding Style Book by Elizabeth Demos – a gift that was great for ideas.

Advertisements