Weddings on a budget

It’s easier than you think to save money on your big day. Here’s the first part with those easy peasy ways to keep to your budget during the wedding planning process…

Set yourself a budget

It’s essential to have a clear idea of what you can and can’t afford before you even begin any planning. With a strict, set budget you’ll be able to keep track of where your money’s going and you won’t end up overspending!


Before you start planning, think about what’s most important to your on the day. Plan to splurge only on the things that are really meaningful to you and your h2b, and save on everything else.


It’s important that your day reflects you. Don’t try to plan an extravagant wedding if you don’t have the funds! Simple, elegant weddings can still be perfect and you won’t blow the budget. Remember – your wedding day is about sharing and showing your love for your partner, not showing off.

Shop around

Don’t rush into buying anything as soon as you’re engaged. Dress shopping is definitely a planning highlight, and it’s so easy to get carried away and end up buying the first dress you fall in love with. Make sure you keep your eyes peeled for the best offers and get an idea of different styles that are available. Likewise, get several quotes to make sure you’re getting the best price and research carefully so you don’t end up being overcharged.

Hunt for bargains

You don’t have to splash out on a designer gown if you don’t have the money. The high street has a great selection of wedding gowns and if you search vintage shops you may discover quirky and original finds for a fraction of the price.

Let your bridesmaids wear their own dresses

It can be a nightmare finding bridesmaid dresses that your girls all agree on. If you let your maids choose their own, not only will you cut out any dress shopping drama, but they’re also more likely to foot the bill at the end!

Create a salon at home!

You can still look and feel fab if you do your own hair and make-up. While getting styled by the professionals is a definite luxury on the day, if you’re used to doing your own make up, you’ll still be able to create a natural, beautiful look as well as saving money.

Just remember that it’s important to practise a few different styles before the big day to avoid any beauty mishaps! Why not book an appointment with a beauty consultant in a department store or go to a masterclass as party of your hen do?

Don’t turn into a Bridezilla!!!

We’re sure you already know that wedding planning has its ups, and its downs. Here are the signs that wedding planning has got a bit too much for you (it’s only temporary, promise!)…

Taking over your life

With it being a day that most brides-to-be have dreamed about since they were a little girl, it’s no wonder that it planning your wedding will take up a lot of your time. Even if you’re not actively out shopping for it or actively getting those DIY tasks done, you’ll find yourself subconsciously ‘favouriting’ all sorts of articles and shopping searches so you can come back to them later. Even your iPod that you plug in on the way to work is filled with ceremony classics to help you pick out your playlist.

The one becomes not the one

If you’re starting to question the magical feeling you had when you found ‘the one’, you’ve been thinking too much about it. When the dream-dress-doubt creeps in, it’s time to get a grip! It’s a common thing for brides to feel in the run up to their wedding – they want to look and feel their best after all – but get yourself through the doubting stage, and that magical feeling will return when you put it on. Then you’ll be wondering how on earth you ever thought it wasn’t the one!

Goodbye wedding diet

Sometimes brides and grooms-to-be fancy going on a diet or a mission to get into shape before their big day, and that’s okay! Healthy eating and taking up jogging is all around good for you and we totally recommend it to not only look your best, but also feel and be your best (but no ridiculous dieting please!). But when the stress kicks in, so do the carb and sugar cravings, and before you know it: your head is lodged in the back of the cupboard trying the find that secret stash of Mars Bars you hid away from the healthy-you. Oops.

Your friends stop contacting

Suddenly, conversation becomes just you talking. Why aren’t they replying your WhatsApp’s, texts, phone calls, Facebook messages, emails or tweets? Just why? Because maybe, just maybe, your predominant conversation topic – your wedding – is getting a little too much. Linking to the first point, just because it’s taking over your life (to a degree if you’re careful!), doesn’t mean it has to take over theirs. If you can’t think back to what you and your best girls spoke about before you got engaged, you’ve gone a step too far.

OR they’re constantly asking if you’re okay

Or perhaps you’ve got to the stage where you don’t want to talk about your wedding, in fact, you don’t want to do anything. Like any good friend, they will all be worried about the fact you’re not getting out of bed due to wedding-meltdown. When you actually do make it out of your dressing gown and slippers and go out, you’ll be jumped on with incessant questions like, ‘Are you okay?’, ‘I’m always here for you, you know that, right?’ and ‘If there’s anything I can do, will you tell me?’. If you’re at either of these stages with your friends – them either outright ignoring you or them overly anxious about you, it’s probably a good time to have a little break from planning, we think…

Can the honeymoon hurry up?

Talking of a little break: the honeymoon! You just cannot stop thinking about the honeymoon. The happiness of the thought of just utter relaxation and having nothing to worry about is so much that you even start to curse the wedding because it’s getting in the way of it! It’s the one obstacle between you and that sunbed.

You’re ticking all the boxes.

If you’re ticking any of these boxes of 10 signs that you are an un-cool bride to be, you only need a quick reality check and you’ll see the monster you’re turning into!

Bridesmaid dress dislikes

Being asked to be a bridesmaid for a close friend or relative is an honour. Being asked to publicly wear a bridesmaid dress you hate is not! Here’s how to decide on your bridesmaid dress and ensure everyone is happy on the big day!

Compromise is all about communication. Discussing the colours, styles, and costs in advance and then hitting the stores together goes a long way to making sure everything goes smoothly and both bride and bridesmaids are happy.

Safety in numbers

If you are really unhappy with what the bride wants you to wear, try talking to the other bridesmaids to get their view. If they are all happy, then you will probably have to grin and bear it. If not, try to find a gentle way to talk to the bride, and have alternative suggestions ready. Present possible solutions, not just problems. If you do get together with the others, make sure that the bride doesn’t feel as if you are ganging up on her.

Problems can arise if one bridesmaid is being difficult about the dress. It’s then up to the others, particularly the chief bridesmaid, to find out what the problem is and use some diplomacy to get things back on track.

Something to suit everyone

Choosing outfits to suit you all can be tricky if there are lots of bridesmaids, or a large age range. Adults won’t want to be dressed the same as children, and hopefully your bride will also bear in mind that the outfit(s) she picks need to flatter people of different ages (and sizes!) If she doesn’t, you have the option of dropping a few helpful hints.

It’s just one day…

While being a bridesmaid is a big deal, it is after all just one day. Before you risk falling out with the bride over her choice of outfit, you should ask yourself whether it is really worth upsetting her.

Friends help each other

Let’s face it, most brides want everybody to be happy on their special day, so it is unlikely that she will want you to wear something completely hideous. However, if you feel there is likely to be a clash then maybe you should think very carefully before you agree to be a bridesmaid in the first place.

On the other hand, if you think she is deliberately trying to make you look terrible, maybe she’s not quite the friend you thought she was…

While there are no hard-and-fast rules about bridesmaids’ outfits, the bottom line is that it is the bride’s day and it is likely that she will have some pretty clear ideas on the subject. So, how do you keep her happy and still get your point across?

Get involved

If you are worried that the bride might dress you like a meringue, get involved in the process from the outset. This doesn’t mean forcing your ideas on her, but why not suggest a girls’ night in with some wine and wedding magazines, and gently let her know what delights (and horrifies) you?

If there are to be several of you, arrange a shopping day early on (with the bride of course!) and try on a wide range of outfits. It will soon become clear what does and doesn’t work for you all. If one bridesmaid lives a long way away, email or text her pictures of different styles and get her opinion.

Another alternative you could suggest to the bride if you all live a long way apart is that she provides the material and you have dresses made in the same fabric, but different styles, which is actually the way bridesmaids’ outfits were traditionally made.

Be constructive

Think carefully about any objections before voicing them to the bride, and consider whether they are actually valid.

For example, a lifelong aversion to peach taffeta is really not a good enough reason to upset the bride. On the other hand, if you are allergic to a certain fabric it’s reasonable that you avoid an outfit that is going to cause you discomfort.

Equally, just because you live in trainers it doesn’t mean you should complain at having to sport stilettos for the day. However, if you really hate your legs but the bride wants you in a mini skirt, then it’s worth trying to reach some compromise.

Bridesmaids tips for the day

The bridesmaid’s role at a wedding might not be as clearly defined as the best man’s, but it’s just as vital. And from emotional support to practical assistance, your duties start long before the big day.

1) Check the Venue

You might be asked to help set up or make sure the placing is correct on the morning itself. Don’t worry about losing out on “getting ready time” — remember the bride is the only one who needs to look perfect, your help and support is much more valuable.

2) Getting Ready

Get dressed as quickly, quietly and efficiently as you can (the bride won’t thank you for hogging the GHDs or having a tantrum over a bad hair day) and take charge of any younger bridesmaids to ensure everyone’s dressed with hair and make-up done.

3) Act as Photographer’s Assistant

Before the ceremony, liaise with the wedding photographer as well as rounding groups of guests up later on.

4) Attend the Bride

As well as walking down the aisle, hold the bouquet as she says her vows and arrange her train. Later, check she and the groom have champagne and canapés.

5) Public Speaking

More and more bridesmaids are making a speech, They’re also often asked to give a reading and the chief bridesmaid may be a witness. So be prepared to show the best man how it’s done.

6) Be Ready for Emergencies

Have a kit prepared, including lipstick, sewing essentials, tissues, baby wipes and blister plasters.

7) Get the Party Started

Make sure guests go in to the wedding breakfast when they should, and be one of the first onto the dance floor later.

8) Don’t Forget the Details

Check everyone has confetti, remind the bride to throw her bouquet (and make sure there are people to catch it!) — you can even help to distribute the cake.

9) Go the Extra Mile

One idea is to take the brides mobile phone on the morning of the wedding and not let her have to deal with any phone calls. Let her enjoy her morning and get ready without the hassle of having to answer calls.

African Wedding

There is something special about African weddings with celebrations from jumping the broom to tasting four elements. To make it memorable and happy, here are some traditions that you can include in your wedding to personalize it so that it pleases everyone with unique experiences.

Jumping the Broom

This tradition reaches all the way back to slavery times. Today, this game consists of the bride and the groom jumping over a beautifully decorated handmade broom to publicly signify their commitment to one another. The newlyweds can hang the broom in their home as a reminder of their wedding day and commitment to one another.

Libation Ceremony

As a way to honour the elders in your families and to honour your ancestors, this ceremony has lots of meaning. To perform the Libation ceremony, use holy water or alcohol to pour on the ground in east, west, north and south respectively. Someone should be designated to learn and recite the prayers to say during the ceremony.

Kola Nuts

The Kola nut is given to the couple during an African wedding. With the nut symbolizing the happy couple and extended family, it means the couple is willing to help heal together as one. The Kola nut should be shared between the newlyweds and their parents.

Tying the Knot

With this ceremony, the bride and groom are tied around the wrists with a cloth or grass that has been braided for the ceremony. The braided grass symbolizes the unity of marriage. The ceremony is conducted while the wrists are tied.

Crossing Sticks

Use two tall wood sticks that represent life force among the trees and the couple will cross the sticks to represent the unity of their love and start their marriage on the right foot.

Knocking the Door

In this ceremony, the groom will knock on the door of his future in-laws and bring them gifts and requests permission to marry. This ceremony brings the families closer together.

Purple and Gold

Choosing these colours for your wedding colours not only adds fabulous and modern feeling, but it is also an African American wedding tradition because they represent royalty in many African cultures.

Feeding the Family

After the four elements tasting, it’s time to sit down and share a meal with the family. Joining the families is important in the African wedding ceremonies.

Ditching the Diamond

Because many diamonds have been mined in Africa, some brides choose to use a different stone as a symbol of their marriage instead. Ditching the diamond is becoming more popular today.

Kente Cloth

All brides want to have the Kente cloth as part of their wedding. This bright fabric is gold, green, and red in color and is made in Ghana. The groom’s vest can be made from this material or you may see it in the bridesmaid dresses.


Bridesmaid Planning

Assembling the dream team

When organising a wedding It can be tricky enough rallying the team together to find your dream dress, so how do you start shopping for them? We suggest a dedicated girls night in to begin the wedding planning.

We love an excuse to get together so what better way to shop than online at home with your faves and a few bottles of fizz?

Start with the flip of a laptop

Options online are now so vast; yes, even for bridesmaid dresses, even our favourite high street brands are releasing bridesmaid dresses. Make sure you shop them all, including Monsoon, ASOS and so many more.

Gathering the bridal party

Make this night a hen-initiation night. An evening of friendship, laughter and of course decisions. This is also an opportunity to discuss with your bridesmaids what it is you expect from them and what they can offer you in the build-up to the big day. And if you have ordered your bridal gown already, don’t forget to request a swatch of fabric for your dress to compare to the bridesmaids.

Make your other half scarce for the evening, get the team over, whack Bridesmaids the movie on and let the games/ dress trials begin.

Making the final selection

The day is, of course, yours so the theme and feel to the attire is ultimately your vision. However, don’t forget to listen to your bridesmaids too. The wedding photos from the day are going to last a lifetime and you want your bridesmaids to feel fabulous with you.

Each person is an individual and combining style, cut and colour is all the trend at the moment so don’t be afraid to mix things up a bit. Trust that you can work together as a team to create that beautiful look you’ve envisaged.


The history of the Bridesmaid

It is the maid of honor’s responsibility to attend to the bride in the days leading up to the wedding. The usual duties of grooming, making sure the bride looks her best and helping with this process. (as we all know the phenomenon that is females always doing things in pairs).

But joking aside, other duties or responsibilities of the bridesmaids might be to assist with decorating, and making sure the wedding is carried out in accordance with the brides wishes.

But it wasn’t always the case. They were always dressed in similar attire to the bride too, but this had a more sinister legend behind it. It was believed that evil spirits might try to curse the marriage. And so it was the bridesmaids role to confuse these evil spirits by looking and acting as the bride did on the wedding day.

This tradition continued through the dark ages, and became particularly cunning around the time of Edward Longshanks reign, where a lord taking the bride into his bedroom on the first night of her marriage was also good reason to confuse the lords with bridesmaids.

In modern times, the roles are equally important. Support, love and caring are all the qualities required of good Groomsmen and Bridesmaids. Support for those in which you love and care about enough to assist them on their day of marriage.


How to annoy the bride

Being impossible to contact

Bridesmaids being difficult or impossible to contact is a huge problem. We’re not saying it’s compulsory for your bridesmaids’ phones to be in their hands at all times, and kept on loud on their pillow whilst they sleep, but the role comes with certain responsibilities and one of them is being contactable at certain times.

Being fussy about dresses

Choosing a dress style that suits lots of different body shapes is a hard enough task by itself without adding a fussy bridesmaid into the equation. Don’t put your bridesmaids in dresses that don’t suit them or they don’t feel comfortable in, but don’t succumb to a moody best friend just because you didn’t get the dress she wanted most.

Not getting on with other bridesmaids

You want the whole of the bridal party to get on! Through the planning process, through to the wedding day, you’re all going to be spending a lot of time with each other. Maybe one of your maids hasn’t taken a liking to one of your other maids? This causes tension within the bridal party, whether it’s kept quiet or seen through out-right arguments. Resolution? At the end of the day, it’s your wedding and you’ve chosen your best girls to be right next to you the whole way through it, so let her know and realise her mistakes! Arranging ‘get-to-know-each-other’ activities is a great idea to get the bonding started.

Making a mess

Girls are well known for being a bit messy when it comes to getting ready. Clothes scattered across the floor, make-up all over the place and so on. Whilst this is ok in their own bedrooms no one wants a messy bridesmaid in the bridal suite! Each girl should bring a little bag with everything they need for the big day and get ready as soon as possible, leaving a calm and tidy room where the bride can relax before her big entrance.

Not listening

Having your bridesmaids ask you the same details over and over again is not ideal when you’ve got so much to do. You don’t want to be bombarded by questions because your bridesmaids didn’t listen to you in the first place! We’re sure that you’ll have a to-do list for your wedding planning and for your big day – hand one over to each of your bridesmaids, or assign them specific tasks, and make sure they

Uploading photos on social media

Everyone loves a good bride and bridesmaids photograph – but wait! Your bride may not want unofficial shots plastered all over instagram even before she’s cut her cake! Make sure you let your maids know about how you feel about your wedding photos on Facebook. Have an acceptable social media plan in mind, and tell your chief bridesmaid who can spread the word.

We hope you don’t have any of these problems!


What To Ask Your Bridal Boutique

What happens after you’ve chosen your dress and paid your deposit? Read this expert wedding dress shopping guide to ensure you have the best bridal experience possible!

  1. Will you be the only bride in the boutique?

Do you want an exclusive, special experience or would you prefer a slightly more ‘high street’ approach? If there is more than one bride-to-be trying dresses, will you get to see the entire range?

The experience that you have will be quite different from shop to shop. Some boutiques are small and only have one bride at a time out of necessity, others have ample space but to offer the entire boutique exclusively to just one bride at a time. Then there are others that can have two or more brides-to-be in at the same time choosing a wedding dress. Consider the kind of experience that you want.

  1. What is the boutique and its location like?

Is the location private and exclusive for you to try on dresses without being disturbed by prying eyes or passers by looking in? Like a lot of brides, you’ll want to keep your chosen dress a secret until the big day!

What kind of mirror do they have, will you be able to see yourself from all angles? With such pretty backs on some dresses, are you going to be able to see the detail when you are trying them on? Always consider the size, facilities and location of your chosen boutique.

  1. What are the online reviews like?

Don’t just look at the ‘star’ rating invest time and have a read of what the real brides say. If a boutique gives a really exceptional experience their brides will go out of their way to let others know and that boutique will have a lot of favourable reviews. You will spend quite a few hours with your dress shop, choosing and then having your dress fitted, so devote a little time to reading the reviews.

It’s probably the only truly impartial view that you will get from a cross-section of brides that have been through every step of the journey. It should give you a realistic idea of what you can expect and it will help you choose the boutiques that you would like to visit.

  1. Is there a large and varied range?

What’s your budget? Does the boutique stock a range of dresses from designers that are within your budget?

What’s your style? From boho bride to city chic and pretty princess, does your chosen boutique have dresses that match your style?

  1. Is there parking available?

If you choose a busy city centre boutique leave enough time and take enough change for parking. Also think about when the time comes to pick up your dress, will you be able to get parked nearby? What if it is raining and you need to dash to the car with your wedding dress?

  1. Can in-house alterations be done at the boutique?

Does the boutique offer a seamstress service in house or do you have to take your dress elsewhere? What does the seamstress charge, ask to see a price list? Even with a made-to-measure dress it’s likely some alterations will be needed, even if it’s just a bustle to enable you to tuck your train up so you can dance the night away! Where are the alterations done? In the boutique? In front of the main mirror? In the main dressing room? Will the bridal consultant who sold you the dress be involved in your fittings to ensure continuity? Does the boutique add a % onto the seamstress’s costs or do they charge the seamstress to work with them?

  1. Does the boutique offer to store your dress for you?

What happens when your dress arrives? Imagine taking it home and your groom stumbling across it! With most brides shopping for their dress well in advance of their big day there can be months of

storage needed. Does the boutique offer this service and if so do they charge for it?

  1. Does the boutique charge for any extras?

Will you be given a dress bag and a sturdy hanger when you pick up your dress? Does the boutique charge for steaming your dress? It’s wise to check these things so there are no surprise charges for you.

  1. Can accessories and bridesmaids dresses be bought at the boutique too?

Does the boutique stock a wide range of accessories such as veils, hair accessories, shoes and earrings? They all go together to build up your complete look for your big day and it’s helpful to be able to try various options with your dress and experiment a little.

Think about your girls too, will you be able to get bridesmaids dresses and flower girl dresses from your chosen shop. This can make fittings easier for you all, and also a lot of fun!

  1. Does the boutique get paid for recommending other suppliers?

Word of mouth is really important in the wedding industry and lots of brides will ask for recommendations. It might be a good idea to ask if suppliers are recommending other suppliers because they think they are really brilliant at their job, or whether it’s because they are getting paid a fee on every booking.


Bridesmaid dress shopping

When you’re looking for bridesmaid dresses, take all your bridesmaids along. Brides often opt to allow the bridesmaids to pick their own style from a selection, but keep slight restrictions of colour, length or fabrication to keep some uniformity. Telling the girls to choose a style that they feel most comfortable in means that they are more likely to jump at the next chance to wear it again.

Choose a colour that is more of a neutral one, or a colour that is on-trend for the season. Popular choices at the moment are soft pinks, nudes, navy and black in the perfect neutral colour, palomino – there’s no doubt your girls would love to wear these again.

Plain dresses can easily be dressed up for the wedding and after the wedding, but in different ways. How about adding a sash, brooch or a bling necklace? Simple wedding accessories will make the dress wearable on so many occasions, and it won’t even look like you’ve worn it before!

Don’t pick something that is outdated, or will go out-of-date quickly. Go for something timeless, or a trend you know will stick around for time to come because that way, the dress is much easier to wear again. The maxi just never seems to go out of trend, no matter what season. Team with a fab pair of shoes and some glitzy wedding accessories for a formal do, or just pop on a pair of sandals for a holiday look. You might even want one yourself for your honeymoon!

If you find your bridesmaids just won’t agree on one dress, consider different styles for each of them. It’s important to bear in mind that not all colours suit all skin-tones, so be flexible. And hey, mismatched bridesmaids is a top trend set for 2018 anyway.

Short dresses can be seen as more practical when thinking about reusing bridesmaid dresses; whether a formal occasion like another wedding where you’re not the bridesmaid, or a more casual one like a Saturday night out. But long, chiffon dresses do make great evening wear provided there is little to bling!

Bridesmaid dress shopping can sometimes be a bit of a nightmare with your girls not agreeing, or being grumpy about what you’ve chosen, but we know the ways to keep them happy to make wedding shopping a breeze!


Bridesmaid Dress ideas

The rules for dressing your bridesmaids have changed. They no longer expect to be asked to all wear the same bridesmaids dress, in the same style, in the same colour.

We think that’s a real step ahead. At the end of the day, you want your maids to look happy and smiley in the wedding photographs, not awkward and pulling down their skirt to cover their knees or pulling up the strapless frock they’re having trouble keeping in place.

Mix it up!

Keeping girls over ten happy when it comes to picking the best bridesmaid dresses can be tricky. They don’t want to look ‘girly’ but grown up styles are not right for teenage figures. Involve them in your decision-making and they’ll love you for it! Choose a matching or coordinating fabric that will sit well with the flowergirls’ dresses.”

When planning a wedding there’s no rule any longer that says bridesmaids have to wear exactly the same shade. We love it when brides mix it up a bit. It’s telling that the promotional poster for the comedy film ‘Bridesmaids’ showed all the girls awkwardly dressed in one size fits all hot pink taffeta, with ruffles.

There’s no one style suits all you can see that different styles of neckline feature – strapless and one shouldered. If one of your girls has a small bust she might feel uncomfortable wearing a strapless dress and a sweetheart neckline would be more suitable (actually a sweetheart neckline suits all busts). Or if one of your maids is better endowed then choose a dress with straps.

The same goes for lengths. Some of your girls might be happy with the shape of their legs, others would rather wear something below the knee. It’s always best to talk your ideas through with them and give them some options.