As most of us aren't rich, nor do we have eccentric, childless millionaire uncles who have always ‘seen us as their kids’, we have to do some seriously clever budgeting to get the wedding day we want.
“Budgeting?” sez you. “Pah! How’s that any craic?” And when I set about planning my own wedding I said much the same. I wanted the day to look like those lush ones you see on wedding blogs or Pinterest. How could I achieve that if I was counting my pennies?
So I set about researching like a maniac and found that not only creating an amazing, chic day be achieved on a budget – but the more you try to save the more creative and personal your ideas become.
So here ye go. I'm givin’ ye all my secrets…
1. Go off-peak.
It can be miles cheaper between October and March and venues often throw in lots of extras as incentives. There’s no rule that says you have to get hitched in the summer – and anyway, summer’s nice.
Why not choose a crappier time of year to get married so your guests will have a party – and you’ll have your wedding anniversary in future years to punctuate the bleakness?
2. Do it on a weekday.
A Wednesday or Thursday wedding is generally cheaper than the weekend. Okay, guests will have to book time off work, but if they love you it’ll be no hassle for them. And if it is they weren’t that bothered to begin with. Take no prisoners!
3. There’s always room for bargaining.
We’re Irish, and it’s easy to feel like eejits when it comes to haggling but trust us, venues will pretty much expect it. If you can’t get the price per person down ask if they’ll throw in the evening munchies, the canapés or the wine with the meal for free.
4. Ask and thou shalt receive...
Many venues offers free accommodation for the bride and groom’s parents. Even if they don’t state it in their package ask if they’ll include it.
5. Up Cork!
Wine can be a big extra cost, and there’s really no way around it – if you don’t give your guests a choice of red or white with the meal you’ll be considered a stingy bastard. Choose a venue that offers corkage so you can bring your own wine in from Lidl or Aldi.
6. Get creative.
Could you do it in your back garden? Do you know a cool space available for hire that you can dress up? I’m not going to tell you to think outside the box (‘cos that would be annoying) but don’t go into it thinking the big hotel or marquee is your only option.
7. Draw yer own.
For our invites I drew a sketch, scanned it into Photoshop and coloured it in. All we had to pay for was the printing and envelopes, which wasn’t much. And if you can’t draw for toffee, remember that childish-looking invites are all the go at the moment and apparently look ‘whimsical’ and ‘charming’.
For printing I recommend Daintree on Camden Street for quality, choice and great customer service.
8. Go digital (kinda)
Don’t waste cash on save the dates. Set up a Facebook event group and let everyone know early on when it’s taking place. And if you feel all paro about having it in a group forum so early on, you can tick a box so guests can’t see who else is attending.
9. Go digital (for reals)
If you’re serious about making savings here, send out an e-invite. No printing costs and no spending loads on stamps!
Lots of sites offer free printables. And they’re actually not shite! I’ve used heaps of these cool and modern Wedding Chicks ones.
11. Don’t bother with RSVP cards.
Aside from the printing costs you’ll have to put a stamp on each one. We just popped an email address on the end of our invite and asked people to confirm their attendance that way. If you want to make it more personal set up a dedicated email address like [email protected].
The Bridal Party
12. Don't miss the mismatch
Now firstly can I just stress that the bridal party don’t HAVE to match! If you want them to, grand, but it’s not necessary. Gone are the days when the bridesmaids had to wear teal and the groomsmen had to match with teal ties and teal socks on pain of death. Groomsmen wearing their own suits is totally fine. To be fair, who wants to be shelling out the price of three or four three-piece suits?
13. Believe in a hire power
Or if the matching thing is a deal-breaker then hire the suits.
14. Hit the high street
Bridesmaids of old wore stiff, satin debs-style dresses that had to be purchased from an occasion wear shop. Not anymore. Hit up high street stores like Topshop, River Island and H&M for heaps of chic, relatively inexpensive options.
15. Hit the information super-highstreet
ASOS has a brilliant range for bridesmaids called ASOS Wedding – and they seem to run a sale every five minutes. With free delivery and easy return with Parcel Connect it’s a cinch to try stuff and send it back.
16. Chi Chi cheap
Check out Chi Chi for beautifully-made dresses at surprisingly reasonable prices considering the quality.
17. Rationalise the workforce
Just go for a best man and a maid of honour and forget about the big bridal party. Multiplying the cost of bouquets, dresses, boutonnières, gifts, hairstyling and make-up application takes a huge chunk out of your budget.
18. Don't tell the bridesmaids
For accessories sales are your best friend. Waiting until the winter, summer and mid-season sales to buy shoes, bags, shawls will save you a fortune. New Look is brilliant for shoes – I got four pairs of nude heels for €40, just don't tell my bridesmaids that!