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Anniversary Love

Laugh

Last weekend we celebrated one year of marriage. It has been a challenging year, one in which we were pushed beyond where we believed our limits lay. And yet the year showed us just how strong we are when we stand together.

My husband not only looks after me and does the most amazing things like giving me massages and painting my toenails when I was heavily pregnant (earning him the title of "Angel" many times) but he also makes me laugh every day!

You know you're married to the one you love when your "arguments" take place with you sitting in the bath and your husband sitting on the bathroom floor, scoffing After Eight…

And you know you're married to your best friend when your wedding anniversary passes you by without you even thinking to blog about it because it just feels like you've been married for years, not just one (heck I don't even know what date we "officially" moved from "new acquaintances" to "friends" and then "friends" to "lovers" because it just happened).

That doesn't mean we didn't celebrate… my husband went out and bought me a new bag and hid a new smartphone in it for me to find. And I bought us tickets to go see Jimmy Carr next weekend on our first "date night" this year!

Of course, our greatest gift this year was this little man…

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who looks so very much like his daddy and makes our hearts melt every single day!

This time last year we were looking forward to starting a family, but knew it might never happen. How very blessed we are and what better reason is there to forget about blogging about our anniversary!

Our Wedding on a Budget

Wedding on a Budget

Well, it’s here at last, the Royal Wedding. I truly hope that Prince William and his bride Kate Middleton have a wonderful day. However grand and lavish the affair is, I have to say I don’t envy them the pressure they must be feeling having so many people watching them take their vows. I remember nervously hoping I’d remember my own and we only had a few guests who were all close friends and family… it must be much more nervewracking with so many people watching!

I’m sure that the day itself will run without a hitch due to immaculate planning. And you’d want it to run smoothly if you’d spent as much money as a Royal Wedding costs. Which is why I have decided to finally write a post on how we managed to have a beautiful wedding for just £1700!

When I first started thinking about wedding planning, I thought we’d be lucky to manage it for £3000, and I must say that having such a tight budget did mean our choices were somewhat limited. But with careful consideration, plenty of imagination, and a lot of shopping around, we had the day of our dreams for half our original budget. Which meant we managed to bring the wedding forward a year, and did so without breaking the bank.

Budget weddings don’t have to be cheap. They don’t have to be small. And they don’t have to be less than you dreamed of. They just take a bit of time and effort to plan. So, without further ado, here is how we did it.

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The Venue

This was our first concern, because without a venue we couldn’t have a wedding. We wanted something fairly intimate but with enough space to hold up to 100 guests. This village hall was ideal, because it has plenty of parking space, an outdoor area for photos, a large kitchen suitable for the caterers, and two function rooms plus a bar. This meant that we could set up the large room for our blessing ceremony, then move the guests into the second room for drinks and chatter while the large room was rearranged ready for the meal. Later in the day these two rooms had the benefit of giving us a place to send our guests post-meal for some live music while the tables were cleared and the disco set up.

The village hall cost us just over £100 for the day, including staff for the bar and we were able to specify if there were certain drinks we wanted the bar to provide, plus the wine we wanted them to provide for the tables at dinner (which, incidentally, was paid for by Tim’s parents, so didn’t affect our budget). So much cheaper than a hotel venue, and although it meant we had to do a fair amount of decorating, clearing and cleaning ourselves, it also gave us much more freedom. The best part being that once the caterers left, we had free run of the kitchen to make cups of coffee, grab a snack and generally just natter away from the noise of the disco.

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The Caterers

Talking of caterers (the above photo is of my mum, not the caterers, but I have no photos of the food and this is the closest thing as she is carrying the menu in her hand!), they were our largest expense at £650. But they were magnificent. They provided jacket potatoes cooked in a traditonal victorian potato oven, with a selection of 8 different fillings (cheese, baked beans, coleslaw, tuna mayo, chilli con carne, chicken curry, lentil bolognaise and unfortunately I forget what the eighth one was!) The helpings were huge and seconds were offered. A side salad finished off the dish and then the whole meal was completed with either apple pie or bread and butter pudding. Everybody commented on how much the enjoyed the meal.

The £650 paid for this for 60 guests, plus a cheese and cracker platter for 100 guests in the evening. I swear, we could have fed 200 guests for the amount of cheese and crackers we had left at the end of the night, and people were being sent home with pieces wrapped in kitchen foil!

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The ceremony

I get ahead of myself though, because before we even got to our “venue” we had our official wedding ceremony at the local register office. We opted for the most basic option (which basically meant we had no readings during the ceremony and the music was chosen for us) because we were having our own blessing ceremony later in the day. So this put us back around £300 altogether.

We chose only to have the very closest family members there, as for us this was just a legal requirement and the main part of our wedding was the blessing ceremony that I had written with a friend and which was led by family members and friends of both Tim and myself. We held this with our other guests at our venue and it cost us nothing, but meant the world to us!

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The transport

We were lucky in that my uncle owns a Bentley and got one of his mates to drive us to first the register office, then to the local Arboretum where we were having some photos taken, and then to our venue. So this cost us abolutely nothing.

Now, I know not everybody has an uncle with a posh car… but this is just an example of one of the ways we saved a ton of money, because we called in favours from friends and family alike. Everybody was so eager to help out that we had a lot of our costs cut by accepting the help of others.

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The photos

This is another example of how we cut a huge cost from our wedding day. I spent hours searching for a budget photographer, but even those who only attended for the ceremony and a few photos directly following it were charging a good £400 upwards. There was no way I was spoiling our budget that way.

So, I called on the help of friends and family. Most people have a decent digital camera these days, so to begin with we just asked people to bring a camera and be a bit “snap happy”. Then we asked three people we knew were extra keen on photography to do the same. My bridesmaid’s dad came to the house to take some photos before we left. My cousin acted as “official photographer” in the register office as we had to have a single appointed photographer during the ceremony. And then a friend offered her time following us around the local Arboretum on a mini “photo shoot”, which was so much fun and so relaxed because we could call the shots rather than a photographer making us do things we weren’t comfortable with. Between the three of them, we ended up with hundreds of photos to choose from, all of them far more intimate than if we had used a professional photographer who didn’t know us.

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The dress (and other outfits)

This is one of THE major costs for most brides and something I was unsure about when I first started looking. I considered getting a second hand dress but never saw any I liked enough to try on. So then I started looking in department stores and saw some pretty ones for around £200, but again never any that jumped out at me. And then, one lunchtime, I hit the jackpot.

My sister had seen a dress in Monsoon that she thought might be suitable for the bridesmaids to wear, so I trotted off on my lunchbreak to have a look. I didn’t like the bridesmaid dress, but I did notice some wedding dresses in the sale… and one of them was just perfect. I ran back to my office and asked one of my colleagues to come and see what it looked like on me. We ran back and I tried it on and I fell in love, but because it was the only dress I had tried on I felt a bit impulsive buying it straight off, so managed to persuade them to hold on to it for me, despite it being a sale item.

Of course, it was the perfect dress for me and I knew this about 5 minutes after returning to work. So I ran back after the office closed and bought it that evening. And guess what… the dress that should have cost £200 new, cost me a mere £60 and was in perfect condition. It was simply reduced to clear the rails for the next season’s styles.

So, I bagged my dream dress for next to nothing. So my advice to any bride looking for a beautiful yet budget dress is to scour the department stores as most only top about £200, and don’t forget sales are a great time to bag an even bigger bargain!

My shoes came next and, having only spent £60 on my dress, I was determined not to spend too much on them. I spent two days shopping with a friend looking for shoes that would match my dress and fit my style, and eventually I found some in Debenhams that were ivory silk and of a style that would work for a wedding or non-wedding function. They cost me just short of £40. I plan on having them dyed a nice bright colour like turquoise, red or purple, to wear with jeans or a skirt when going out!

The bridesmaid’s dresses came from Debenhams, their jackets came from an outlet store, and the flowergirl’s dresses came from Boyes (in fact, one flowergirl borrowed her dress from a family member who had chosen the same dresses for her own wedding and had one in the right size for my youngest flowergirl). Altogether their outfits set us back about £150, whilst they provided their own shoes and bags.

And then we bought a suit for both the groom and best man, both from Matalan and costing less than £100 each. The two ushers provided their own suits as we weren’t bothered about them matching the groom.

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The rings

These were a gift from my mother-in-law, so cost us nothing. We made practical use of wedding gifts, asking people for things like these rather than letting people buy us things that, although lovely, were not so helpful. We weren’t bothered what the metal was, so long as it was white and fairly hard-wearing, and so left the choice of rings up to my mother-in-law. In fact we didn’t even try them on until the night before the wedding, which was rather “laid back” of us, but was also quite exciting!

I know most people like to choose their own rings, but we honestly never really worried too much about this. Tim isn’t a big ring wearer and actually finds with having to wash his hands regularly at work that sometimes wearing a ring can irritate him. So we knew going in he might not wear it every day. And I had initially suggested we only buy a ring for him, as I had my engagement ring (which was a second-hand one, passed on from a family member) and was more than happy to simply keep wearing that. I know we are probably quite unique in not putting more store in the rings, but that’s just the way we felt about it.

Why am I telling you this? Well, there are usually certain things that you know you just have to have for your wedding and then there will be just as many things that, though traditional, don’t really bother you that much. Finding out what is essential for you and what would be nice but you would be just as happy either not having it or letting someone else buy it for you as a gift is a great way of meeting a tight budget!

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The flowers

All of our bouquets were made from silk flowers, bought from a local warehouse. My own bouquet was handtied red roses. We then had two pre-made bouquets with white roses for the two adult bridesmaids, a smaller red bouquet for my eldest flowergirl and two little balls of red rose buds for our two youngest flowergirls. Altogether the cost was £50… much less than using fresh flowers and we now have my bouquet to keep. In fact, it makes a lovely centrepiece when placed in a vase for celebrations such as Christmas and birthdays.

We did have fresh flower arrangements on each of the tables at our reception, as well as fresh floral corsages for the closest family members, but these were all picked out of my parents’ garden and my mum and I made them up a couple of days before the wedding. So our only outlay was on a few bits of oasis and some sweet little ramekin pots that are now in our kitchen cupboard and come in handy all the time!

Tables

The decorations

We cut a huge cost by making most of the decorations ourselves. I hand-painted the table names with autumn leaves in watercolour. The frames they sat in cost £2 each and are now used around the house to display photos. My parents made sweet little chairbacks to cover the plastic chairs provided, which were either taken home by guests as mementos or kept by me. I have a box full that still need to be turned into cushion covers or bags. We cut out leaf shapes in autumn colours and printed out information on the different trees for each table to use as placemats instead of having too strict a table plan. And friends of the family sent crocheted hearts in autumn colours which we strung around the place to carry the autumn theme throughout the venue.

I don’t have an exact cost for the materials used as first of all some of the items were gifts (like the crocheted hearts) and some of them used items I already had (like the watercolour paintings and leaf-shaped placemats). The biggest cost was the material for the chair backs, but as we used a lining material that was on offer and just small amounts of coloured material to decorate them with, this was pretty minimal too.

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The cake and the favours

Our cake was made by the mother of one of my sister’s friends. We met her before the wedding and explained we wanted a simple cake with an autumn leaf theme, and provided her with some of the paper leaves we had used on the wedding invites (which, incidentally, my mum made for us, again cutting our costs). She came up trumps with the gorgeous cake… one layer of fruit, one layer of sponge, and one layer of gluten-free cake. It was massive and we were sending pieces home with people for ages after the wedding. It set us back £165, part of which my sister paid as a wedding gift.

The favours were made up my my parents and consisted of chocolate hearts and chocolate leaves in a silver organza bag. The bags were bought off eBay and the chocolates from our local market. You’ll have to forgive me as I forget just how much it cost to provide 60 wedding favours but I it can’t have been overly expensive as I remember us discussing how much we were willing to spend and it wasn’t much.

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The Entertainment

We had two lots of entertainment at our wedding: a live musician who played a variety of songs for our guests after the meal, allowing them to relax and chat amongst themselves as the food went down; and a disco that ran all evening.

The musician (Jonathan Nowell) is someone my grandma knows through her church and she offered to pay for him to come and play for an hour, which was wonderful. We told him we wanted a repertoire that would suit a variety of age ranges and tastes, and he came up trumps… in fact the flowergirls loved dancing along while the rest of us rested our legs and had a good natter.

And the disco was provided by my cousin as a wedding gift, as he regularly did discos for events just like ours and decided it was the best thing he could offer us as a gift… and he was right! People had a good old dance, and even got to look at some of the photos from the day as my “photographers” uploaded their pics into his computer, from where he was able to display them as a montage on a screen at the front of the disco.

So, our entertainment didn’t cost us a single penny, and was much loved by all!

The Other Bits

There were, of course, odd little extras such as the wedding invites and a few bags of crisps, nuts and things for the evening, but these were so minimal that we can say that they all came to less than £50. My mum made the invites, keeping costs down, and all of the decorations like the table names were made using materials we already had at home.

The Wedding Night

Tim and I decided not to have a honeymoon because we knew we wanted to start trying for a baby shortly after the wedding was over and felt the money would be much better spent on things for a family than a couple of weeks away. We had been lucky enough to travel to Italy the year before for another friend’s wedding and as this was where Tim proposed, it was a magical holiday in itself. And after all, we had lived together for almost 3 years at this point, so we didn’t need that “adjustment” period!

We did, however, spend the wedding night at a local hotel, in a four poster bed, courtesy of my parents as a wedding gift. It was a lovely night, waking up to look over the Arboretum where we had had our photos taken the day before, and we couldn’t have asked for more.

The Grand Total: £1700 approx. 

I say “approximately” as I have rounded up certain things like the cost of materials for the chairbacks and any little extras I may have forgotten.

Everybody commented on how beautiful and relaxed the day was and Tim and I certainly had a fantastic time!

So, you see, weddings don’t have to cost as much as the average wedding costs these days, as long as you are willing to look very carefully at your budget and work out where you can make savings. Of course, if you have the money to spash out, then have fun doing so… but I wanted to write this post to inspire brides-to-be like I was who want the wedding of their dreams and don’t want to have to put it off for years just because of finances. It pays to be a bit “savvy”… many venues and suppliers will double, triple and even quadruple their costs if you even mention the word “wedding”, and cheaper options are often available, you just have to be willing to do a bit more work yourself.

I do hope that this post might help someone planning their big day, even if it just saves someone a couple of hundred pounds here and there.

 

 

Wedding Photos

At home

Photo courtesy of Terry Gunn

As many of you may know, Tim and I opted not to have a professional photographer. We are lucky enough to know three people with a keen eye for photography who we had asked to bring their cameras along. There was no way we were breaking our £1500 budget by paying a third of that just on a basic photography package: no way! Besides, most people have decent digital cameras these days, so we knew we would get some beautiful photos without spending a ridiculous amount on a photographer. We chose to have a laid-back wedding, so we wanted laid-back photos to boot.

Bridesmaids

Photo courtesy of Terry Gunn

Now, I have nothing against a professional photographer, especially if you have specific ideas in mind and you can afford one. Had we been more particular about the photos we would receive we would not have felt comfortable asking friends and family to act as budding photographers on the day. But just look at what beautiful images were captured when we left the whole thing informal and just asked people to snap, snap, snap away throughout the day’s events.

Register office outside

Photo courtesy of Terry Gunn

This photo was taken just after our arrival at the register office. Tim’s family had yet to arrive (they cut it very fine indeed!) and I was early, so early in fact that the registrar came out shortly after this photo and told us off for talking to each other before the ceremony! We were “caught in the act” in this photo, but it remains one of my favourites.

Signing register

Photo courtesy of Oliver Horn

Of course, the registrar then asked for an “official photographer” for during the ceremony and our two “unofficial photographers” who were present at that point in the day had to decide who got the dubious pleasure of holding that title. Oliver took the risk and came out trumps with some glorious photos of the first ceremony of the day, pronouncing us officially as man and wife.

Confetti

Photo courtesy of Oliver Horn

And the photos just kept on coming, capturing every magical moment of the day. It seems strange to think that it really happened as we both felt like we were “play-acting” at the whole thing. We wanted a low-key affair and were pleased we did as it meant the entire day was pleasantly relaxed for us both. But the absence of nerves was an unexpected surprise and I think back on the day and suddenly think “wow, we actually got married”.

Rings

Photo courtesy of Oliver Horn

And here’s the proof! Would you believe we didn’t actually try our rings on until the night before the wedding? That just proves how relaxed and laid-back we were about the whole thing.

Us bandstand

Photo courtesy of Oliver Horn

We then made our way to the local Arboretum for photos by the bandstand, before Tim and I wandered around having photos while the rest of the group headed to the local cafe for some snacks. The cafe owner, very sweetly, had reserved a couple of tables for the group and covered them with tablecloths and confetti. We were very well looked after by everyone involved.

Silly

Photo courtesy of Oliver Horn

We even managed to get some silly shots in there (although I have yet to see photos of the sword-fight between Tim and myself using a pair of umbrellas!!)

Speech

Photo courtesy of Oliver Horn

And then, of course, there were the speeches. This has to be my favourite photo of the lot, as our two-year-old flowergirl had just let out the biggest laugh ever during my dad’s speech and the whole room ended up roaring with laughter at her sweet giggles!

Speech 2

Photo courtesy of Oliver Horn

Tim got a few laughs himself during his speech, embarrassing the new in-laws… way to go Tim!

Cake

Photo courtesy of Oliver Horn

We had the most gorgeous cake made by the mother of my sister’s friend. One layer of fruit cake, one layer of sponge and one layer of gluten-free sponge, all decorated with hand-cut iced leaves and paper leaves left over from our invites.

Tim couldn’t help himself messing around with the knife and playing the fool during the cutting of the cake, and I think the majority of our “cake cutting” photos have me in some level of hysterics.

 

There are, of course, far more photos I wish I could share with you all, but this post would be massive if I did and, also, I don’t like to post photos of people without checking it’s ok with them first. However, I will be back with more photos and tales of the day soon, and for those of you who are on facebook, you can check them out as they come in!

The Wedding

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We did it… we married on Friday 15th October 2010 and had an absolutely glorious day.

I am slowly sifting through the photos that are starting to come in from my various "photographers" and will be back with more about the day itself over the next few days/weeks. But for now I thought you would like to see at least one photo from the day!

I will leave the "run down" of events until I have more photos to illustrate all that happened… so you'll have to be a little bit patient, I am afraid. It will also give me more time to sort out all the decorations, start writing thank you notes and get over the cold Tim and I both caught off one (or more) of our guests by hugging and kissing them all.

So do pop by again in a few days time when hopefully I'll have some more memories of the big day to share with you. 

Amanda x

p.s. Thanks for all the well wishes xx

A Happy Hen

Happy

This was me at the end of Sunday, having had a lovely day with my Hens. The wedding is less than two weeks away and I have been in crazy-land with the last minute preparations (such as trying to find a strapless bra in my ridiculously awkward size that hardly any shops stock). So having a lovely day with the girls was the best thing for me.

Ice Cream

We started off with lunch in a local pub (far too much food for us to finish) and then walked around the Bail in Lincoln (in the rain) before heading to the Ice Cream Parlour with the 14th Century Cellar.

Bowl

We then went bowling and I managed to beat my usual 100 mark to get 138 in the second game… oooh I was so chuffed! My sister was utterly shocked as we used to go when we were teenagers when on holiday and I was so skinny and small I never had enough strength to hit the pins hard enough to make them all fall down… now I regularly get strikes and spares thanks to far better muscle tone.

Dawn

My photographer friend (who is taking the photos on the day and has an AWESOME camera) let me lose with said awesome camera. This has to be one of my favourite shots… it shows the “evil” side of her character… love you Dawn!

Pout

Unfortunately the rest of my hens were not so happy with being photographed (I never quite got this because I’ve always been more than happy to have my photo taken… in fact I’d go as far to say I love it). So I entertained myself by posing and pouting for the camera…

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Telling everyone how great it was to have your photo taken, especially when there is such an AWESOME camera being used…

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Until my big sister decided enough was enough and my head would explode if she let it get any bigger!

I can’t wait until the wedding day now when I’ll be allowed to pose as much as I like… already Dawn and I have a plan for a fake sword fight with the umbrellas!

I’m not going to be around much over the next couple of weeks… the wedding is next Friday (15th) and so I am on a crazy whirlwind right now. But I shall be back with photos after the wedding, I promise! And until then, don’t forget to check out iVillage UK every Tuesday for my latest article over there.

Wedding Update – The Venue

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This is the venue for our wedding. It's not grand or plush or overly pretty from the outside, but it is functional and perfect for what we wanted.

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It has plenty of parking space and outdoor areas where, at the beginning of Autumn, the trees should be turning a beautiful golden colour for the photos. 

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There is a play park where, weather permitting, the children can play before dinner whilst their parents mingle with other guests.

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There is an entrance hall which we can use to offer a warm welcome to the guests as they arrive (well, not us personally as we will be elsewhere as the afternoon guests arrive, but our decorations can offer a warm welcome at this point). 

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There is a spacious hall, large enough to set the tables around the outside during the blessing ceremony, and put them into place ready for the meal…

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With rafters to hang bunting and balloons from…

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and room for a disco as the evening progresses.

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There's even a room for relaxing and chilling…

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which is situated right next to the bar (just behind those folding doors!)

There's even a cloakroom and a serving hatch straight from the kitchen, but I never thought to take photos of those!

I have so many plans for this place, so many ideas I can't wait to put into action, so many thrifty finds I can't wait to use. October is coming closer each day and I need to get going on making the decorations and putting the final bits and pieces together. Stay tuned, dear readers, this blog will soon be filled with all manner of wedding-goodness…  

 

Wedding Update – Blessings

Morning all!

I thought it was high time we had another "wedding update" and what better thing to update you on than the ceremony itself?

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When Tim proposed to me last summer (in Italy, of course!) we immediately began thinking about how we wanted our wedding to be. The day after his proposal we went to an awesome wedding in Rome, and then another one in Oxford the following week. Both were so different, and it made us realise very quickly that our wedding could be anything we wanted it to be.

We thought of churches and how we didn't want to have to promise things that we didn't feel in our hearts. We thought of the register office and how it all felt so clinical. We quickly realised that wanted something in between. 

We discussed eloping and having a very private ceremony. We thought of Gretna Green or Glastonbury. But, somehow, as exciting as it sounded, we couldn't bear the thought of not having our closest friends and family share that special moment with us.

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And that's when we thought about creating our own blessing ceremony.

Our wedding day is going to be interesting, to say the least. We have our "legal" ceremony at the register office at midday, followed by a walk in the park for photos (taken by family and friends, of course, as we aren't having a professional photographer). We have until 2pm to get to our other venue, where we will be holding a blessing ceremony, followed by the meal and reception, before the partying begins and our evening guests arrive. That means I have three different guest lists – one for the whole day, one for the blessing and reception, and one for the evening. Quite a lot to think about…

But even more challenging (and exciting, of course) is the fact that as we are doing this ourselves, we are creating an entire blessing from scratch. We wanted it to be personal and to celebrate what is special to us, which means we aren't following any given ceremony that is already written. Sure, we will take aspects from other ceremonies, but this is our one chance to really express who we are as we make a commitment to each other in the presence of our friends.

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Thankfully, we have the help and wisdom of some wonderful people who, whilst unable to make the wedding itself, have been there with me throughout so many of my biggest life changes and know exactly what I want to create on that day. Online friends can be true gems and the little group who I met first online and then in person at the wonderful Glastonbury Abbey have taken Tim under their wing too and are helping us shape the day as we speak.

In fact, I must give a "shout-out" to Jen, who despite being unable to make it over to England this autumn to lead our ceremony, is helping us figure out how to make it work by inviting several of our friends to lead small parts of the ceremony and make it a truly special part of the day. 

So, my lovelies, I must leave you and go dream some more of the big event coming my way rather fast these days. Have a wonderful day and I'll see you back here tomorrow xx

Wedding Update – the story so far…

Kiss
Photo credit: well, I forget who took it, but it wasn’t me!! I had to include it though, as it was taken at my friend’s wedding, in Rome, the day after Tim proposed – a holiday never forgotten!

Tim and I are really on a countdown now – just over 5 months until Friday 15th October when we will be getting married. When Tim proposed to me last August I thought that we wouldn’t be able to afford a wedding for at least a couple of years. I was all set for a “longer-term engagement” and then, just before Christmas, I realised that maybe, just maybe, we could pull it off for this year instead. But the only way we could do it would be to budget, budget, budget!

You see, my “two-year plan” was to save up enough for a £3,000 wedding and the only way we could afford to do it this year was to bring this down to £1,500. This is a long way short of the average budget for a wedding these days and I knew that we would have to say no to some of the things we would have liked – a professional photographer, for instance. But, knowing that most people have a digital camera these days and it would be so easy for us to get pretty good snaps sent directly to us from family and friends, the so-called “sacrifice” wasn’t too bad in the end. But a photographer is only a small part of the budget – how else would we manage to get all our costs down?

Well, let me give you an idea:

  • my wedding dress cost £60 in the Monsoon sale – I adore Monsoon clothing and when I saw the sale included wedding dresses whilst browsing on a lunch break I ran back to work and got a colleague to come and give her opinion. I um-ed and ah-ed and wondered if maybe, just maybe, it was a little rash to buy the first dress I had tried on, but it was stunning and it only cost £60. I got them to agree to hold on to it for a couple of days whilst I thought about it, but in the end I went back later that day and bought it there and then and have not regretted it since.
  • we are marrying in the register office, meaning the wedding is as cheap as can be, and holding our own little ceremony at the reception venue. This means that we can have whatever readings and vows we like, rather than having to fit in with the legalities or religious rules around these kinds of things.
  • our reception venue is a village hall, with a paid bar as standard, plenty of room, a kitchen, playground and parking spaces. It is costing us less than £200 for access Thursday night to decorate, Friday between 11.30am and 12 midnight, and Saturday morning to clear up (including the cost of bar staff!)
  • the bridesmaids’ dresses cost less than £50 each from Debenhams and so did my shoes (white satin, no less!) We shall be buying the little flowergirl dresses for just as cheap nearer the time.
  • Tim’s suit is coming from Marks and Spencers, and will be one he can wear again, rather than hiring one we’ll never see after the day.
  • I managed to buy silk flower bouquets for the bridesmaids and flowergirls plus silk flowers for my own bouquet for around £50.
  • we’re having jacket potatoes, with a variety of 8 different fillings, side salad, apple pie and bread and butter pudding and a cheese and grape selection provided by a lovely couple who own a jacket potato shop and have a mobile oven. Even though this is our largest cost, as we are planning on a guest list of approximately 80, it was still only around £650, leaving us money in our budget to buy some extra nibbles to place around the venue in the evening.
  • my cousin is going to do the disco for us as a wedding present.
  • my grandma wants to pay for a musician from her church to do some “after-dinner entertainment” before the disco gets fully under way.
  • my uncle has a Bentley and is getting a family friend to drive it for us.
  • my mum is making my invites for me and has also decorated some umbrellas with autumn leaves, to ensure we are kept dry if it rains (it will be October, after all).

So, you see, we’ve actually done pretty well in the whole budget department. It does mean, however, that the following 5 months will be rather full with planning, crafting and decorating bits and pieces ready for the big day, and I shall try and keep you all updated on how that is going. I would love to be able to post you some more photos here, but as Tim is likely to read this and he has not yet seen certain things (like my dress), I don’t think it wise!

However, as this is “flower week” here at Amanda’s Patch, I feel it only fair to offer you some insight into the floral decorations we are going for, so how about this:

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This is something my mum knocked together last autumn, seeing what she could come up with for centrepieces for the tables. My dad was going to have a go at growing pumpkins himself, but we’ve now bought some lovely little ramekins to use on the tables themselves and these pumpkins will adorn the rest of the spaces in the reception. Aren’t they just the sweetest, and so perfect for an autumn wedding.

Well, work calls, I have lots to plan, make, update and upload, so I’ll see you all back here tomorrow for my floral project.

Amanda x